S1: The demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he was ordered to withhold funding to the VA. Look back to what happened in 2016. Investigator Douglas was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation in withholding and withholding the funding which which ultimately then flowed. I think that vote the size that vote more than to the one of the Republicans voted to oppose what the president did.
S2: Probably got to the president because he was shaken up by it.
S3: He has called the press the enemy of the American people and I will tell you I fought a lot of America’s enemies. The press is not the enemy of the American people.
S4: Hello and welcome to Trump cast. I’m Virginia Heffernan. Parts of Speech are meaningful. We talk a fair amount about pronouns in the culture lately and rightly. But I want to say a word today about prepositions. On this day when Representative Elijah Cummings of Baltimore a masterful restoration in addition to a man of surpassing dignity and grace has died as Cummings said to Michael Cohen as Cohen was bound for prison When Bad Things Happen to You don’t ask the question why did it happen to me. Ask the question why did it happen for me. I don’t know he said. Why this is happening for you. He might have been speaking to the whole country. Why is Trump happening to us now. I may be showing my religious cards but I second Cummings’s choice of prepositions. Why is this happening for us. That’s what we’ve had to think about for three years and that’s what we will continue to pass for decades to come. As listeners may know one of the moments of testimony I’ve found most powerful during this catastrophic period in American history and we’ve heard a lot of testimony was Cohen’s second hearing before the House Oversight Committee which is chaired was chaired by Congressman Cummings as an authentic statesman Cummings really presides over proceedings and Republicans and Democrats alike seemed to aim to curry favor with him while fearing his impatience and formidable side eye. Chief among the terrified that day was Representative Mark Meadows the loud Republican from North Carolina kind of Trump attack dog. When Cohen said in his opening statement that Trump is a racist a cheat and a con man. Meadows leapt in to present one of Trump’s employees a silent and young black woman as token certification somehow of Trump’s lack of racism of his magnificent commitment to social justice proceeded to lay brightly spotted this tokenism especially trotting out of a black woman by a white man as a racist set piece. But rather than let that factual observation stand. We all had to turn to Mark Meadows who was affronted by this point and suddenly near tears and that’s where Cummings came in. Meadows appealed to Cummings as a friend to say sob that he wasn’t a racist and we know by now that white men have been hysterically seeking to discharge their pain and being caught on their victims. And Cummings was in what seemed like a tight spot. But then he did something that I now try to reproduce with my children. He didn’t deny Meadows. He didn’t starve him of that fellowship that Meadows so needed. But Cummings made it clear that his job is not to clear the consciences of others. It is not his job. That’s Meadows work that will be the work of all the Trump enablers from Bill Barr to Cohen to Gordon Sandlin to Anthony Scaramucci to a Vodka Trump because as Cummings said in his closing statements to Cohen when we’re dancing with the angels the question will be asked in 2019. What did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact. Did we stand on the sidelines and say nothing. Did we play games. And now that Cummings himself is dancing with the angels we can all be grateful that the son of a sharecropper as Trump pummeled him on Twitter never stood on the sidelines. He never played games. He fought like hell to keep our democracy intact. And now we will continue that fight for him. Rest in peace and power Elijah Eugene Cummings my guest today to talk about national security foreign policy and Trump world corruption is the great Kate Brannon. She’s the editorial director of Just Security and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council. Kate welcome to Trump cast. Thanks so much for having me. I love having you in studio. I can see you face to face. Yes we meet a good experience you’re with a person not just on Twitter.
S5: So I want to talk about Gordon Sand Land and his fall which is where we first experienced him and then his redemption. But to get into this topic I think call me. Yes. As Gordon Sandlin would say right. Yes. When things get sketchy he tries to jump off the Internet and not text. Let’s not text exactly exactly at Goldman Sachs did you know they used to when they were talking about junk mortgages would say let’s discuss live LDL. Wait. These mortgages seem really trashy and then the other guy would write back. LDL and they’d run to an alley. All right. So Gordon on land who said Call me who seemed very much like he was piping in Trump’s agenda to obscure the fact that this was quid pro quo or at least a bid for interference in an American election that Trump made to President Zalewski. We’re back talking about Zelinsky by the way not Irda on not yet. But now Sunland has his statement which redeems him a little bit.
S6: His statement to Congress would you think of it right. So he is up on the Hill as we speak testifying in the basement in his gift to House investigators. And on the call me point I thought it was funny. He says you know when I said let’s not taxed call me it’s not because I was trying to hide anything or not leave a written record. I just meant diplomacy is better conducted in person it’s too complicated to do over text you can’t we should really get on these emojis you’re just not capturing that nuance. But he also talks about so Taylor texted him and said I really don’t like this quid pro quo path we’re going down basically. Yes. And I’m paraphrasing him which I know now is a criminal treasonous offense. So I apologize to Adam Schiff style. Yes. I think what he said was something like Are we saying that support is conditioned on Zelinsky reopening this investigation into the Biden is that something like that. That’s not a parody. Right. And so that’s when Simon said let’s not text again I’m paraphrasing. And then five hours pass and we know because it had been reported that Simon had picked up the phone and talked to Trump in the intervening time and then texted back. There’s no quid pro quo. And so in his opening statement he talks about this phone call he had with Trump. He says Trump repeatedly said no quid pro quo no quid pro quo. And that Trump was in a bad mood when he had that we call. I’m not I’m saying I mean I’m not. We don’t know what happened. We’re just taking this on so let’s. It doesn’t sound like Trump the bad mood and the chronic self repetition. It just is just not it’s unusual for him. He never gets stuck on a phrase no quid pro quo no good record no collusion all that. Yeah. So. OK. He says no quid pro quo which is the new phrase for collusion the thing that Trump needs to get away from himself. Right. OK. And then someone says well to zoom out so that’s that’s just that one exchange that Sunlen addresses in his opening statement. More broadly Sunlen confirms that at Trump’s direction which is really important. It was clear to Sunlen that Trump wanted to delegate Ukraine policy to Rudy Giuliani and that all sort of Ukraine policy should go through him. And this disappointed and was not the preferred route for people like Sunlen Volker who is the special envoy to Ukraine and Bill Taylor who had become the ambassador to Ukraine after Jovanovic was kicked out and so he sort of confirms that yes and publicly that yes although Ukraine policy then had to go through Trump’s personal lawyer which was super bizarre and that this happened because Trump wanted it to and that it was signed Lin’s impression that Rudy was merely conveying Trump’s preferences and wishes. And so connecting that dot to Trump I think is important even though to us it’s obvious that if Giuliani is involved it’s because Trump wants him to. Otherwise why on earth would Giuliani be playing a role in any of this. But for Simon to say that out loud I think is really important just to connect the dots back to the president. Absolutely. I
S5: mean doesn’t this remind you of the ways that Michael Cohen a little bit tried to connect the dots that he remembered Don junior consulting with his father upstairs in Trump Tower about the meeting that he had just proudly organized to get dirt on Hillary Clinton from a Russian lawyer from an Italian vessel. That’s Guy.
S7: There’s something there. It’s like the Muller report is or some of the details of that repeating themselves here and it’s like he’s like a serial killer with a clear M..
S6: Oh yes. You know another key part of that that comes from Cohen is Trump talks in code and you know you know when he’s saying a certain thing that it means his other thing and so that’s so obvious with this story with the corruption go after corruption in Ukraine. What will what is corruption apparently the number one issue of corruption in Ukraine is Hunter Biden’s job at the oil company vs. the far larger issues that if you were truly tackling corruption in Ukraine that you would actually be interested in right.
S5: The American nepotism is not really their worry. And Hunter Biden did virtually nothing on the board seat. He had bigger fish to fry with his own personal problems. Correct. Anyway so yes.
S6: And Zalewski does he even use in that call and I know we’re going back a bit but does he even use them called Biden’s name. I can’t remember. Trump does. The other key part of this Sunlen statement a few things he says he was not on the July 25th call between Trump and the Lansky and that the versions of the call he saw didn’t mention Biden didn’t even mention that Trump made a request of Zelinsky. And so it sounds like he saw some version of this call that was scrubbed. He also says versions of the call which make you think well how many sort of loose transcripts of this call were put out there by the White House. And also if there’s a still more scrubbed version Why did Trump released to the public. One that we know is is partial but it’s plenty damning right. And Sandlin says he didn’t see that transcript until we saw it when the White House released it. And so he didn’t know the extent to which Trump had asked quite specifically of Zelinsky to investigate the Biden’s. But what Sunlen leaves out of his opening statement is the Washington Post reported in a story earlier this week about the big role that Mick Mulvaney has played in all of this. Yes that as they prepared for this July 25th phone call between Zelinsky and Trump Bolten wanted to prepare the president Bolten could sort of see that this was like off the rails he saw that Giuliani was playing this bizarre role in all of this and was really sort of worried about it. And so Bolten wanted to be the one to prep the president but Mulvaney made sure that Sunland was able to prep the president as well because they were sort of running this parallel side Ukraine policy track. Yes. And so Mulvaney put Sunlen through to the president. And Sunlen on the day after the call told a Ukrainian television station I actually spoke to the president minutes before he got on the phone with President Zelinsky. Now in someone’s opening statement he goes through all of what he believes are the relevant sort of moments in this whole story.
S8: And he leaves that out which is obviously I think that the House investigators today will probably ask him about that and what was said. But it was not in his opening statement.
S5: One of the things and I think Matt Miller dug this up a huge use of Twitter to me is that there’s so many archivists on it. But remember exactly where something appeared and they remember so quickly. Anyway Matt Miller found in one of the early reports on Russian interference and this is like from Nick from 20s early 2017. Another another Miller report but some other kind of write up I’m not sure what but he’s he found an example of Shawn off ski the far right Russian politician saying cheering Trump’s victory and saying Now we get something like Now we get Ukraine and Syria right. Yeah. You know it’s like the way that Trump used to say erroneously that Muslims were cheering 9/11 American Muslims that you know really the very far right that has this very clear agenda around very far right in Russia very clear agenda in getting back Ukraine which it thinks it’s owed or it’s rightfully rightfully belongs to the Russian Federation. And then also getting its way in Syria. And this is payback time for Trump.
S7: I mean as Pelosi said yesterday all roads lead to the Kremlin with Trump right. It’s astonishing. National security is your beat. I mean how has this been for you and your team at just security. Is it shocking. I mean really this is like unshakable people like we’re losing the Pax Americana but worse our president is a bad actor. He’s a rogue state in himself.
S9: Yeah well it just security. I’m sort of one of the few journalists among a lot of lawyers and a lot of former government lawyers and I really am often shocked but also not surprised there’s that weird feeling in Trump in the Trump era we are like I know as this is going to get so bad. Yes. And so when it does you like yep that’s what I expected. Yes. And at the same time you’re shocked by the details of it but I find him often less shocked sometimes than people who you know worked in the Obama administration have worked in you know other pretty other administrations Bush Obama etc. A lot of you know career civil servants foreign servants defense officials are truly shocked. Yeah. Because this isn’t the way things are supposed to go. These aren’t the people who are supposed to have these jobs. Yeah.
S6: And I think it really does. You know it rattles all of us but it really rattles people who have been on the inside and I think have a better sense of how much is at stake than this on the outside.
S5: One of the ways that anyone who’s been in a career especially career diplomats are probably their jaws have dropped including we know for a fact. Marina Yeah Ivanovich was just appalled and devastated by what she saw happening. So yesterday we saw the letter of Donald Trump to Recep Erdogan of Turkey that is on the one hand beyond parody.
S10: It was so seemed so satirical but even that you know the New York Times had to kind of triple check that this was really what the present United States had written to you know erred on the brutal head of a autocrat head of a theocracy. Every Turkey now is travel banned from returning to Turkey. And then Trump had this exchange with him that I don’t even know what to liken it to. I don’t know what did you think when you saw that letter. Well a few things about it. First we know I think it was dated from last week. Yes that’s right. And so we know it was ignored. Yes because he asked for Urdu one to not be responsible for the slaughter of thousands or something by taking advantage of Trump’s withdrawal of troops right from the border and actually rushing in to Syria right.
S6: Yeah it’s not clear. I mean both Trump and we’re not Trump but his administration and Republicans on the Hill are trying to draw a line that autobahn can’t cross when clearly Erdogan has already crossed the line. But I’ve seen discussion like if they enter Kobani that’s it. They’re kind of trying to create a line in the future when the line has already been crossed. But back to the letter I thought what was so interesting was the White House released this letter to Trish Regan at Fox News showing that this is something they’re proud of. Like this is what your president did you know did on this talk. They sent this letter dealmaker and I thought yesterday the letter combined Trump released this photo from his meeting with the Democrats in the White House where Nancy Pelosi the speaker was standing up pointing her finger at him.
S9: Yes. And and he looks kind of flushed and angry and yet he while standing up in Stern doesn’t look out of control and the White House thought both the letter and that photo work to their advantage. This is a brilliant point. Yes. And it shows how Trump has an utter lack of self-awareness. Yes. That both of those things are so completely damning. Yes yes.
S7: And together they just added to this feeling yesterday that he has this you know internal worldview that distorts reality. And every now and then he tries to supply receipts to show that he is right. And then when you see through his eyes you see like Pelosi she looks as you said dignified and stern and exactly the way we would have her in a meeting which has a general oil. You know all white men. I think there’s a there’s you know one of the one of the aides is a woman or maybe one or two of the aides but she’s there in blue at all these men around the table all Trump’s side men around the table except Schumer. And there she is you know making this clear point and he decides to call it a meltdown.
S6: It’s I mean the photo as as a woman as a critic of Trump in the photo. Yeah. That would be a great screensaver to keep out. Well and Nancy Pelosi made it her backdrop on her Twitter. You know it shows sort of how that went down.
S10: You know what is funny about that I don’t know if you saw that this morning. But Bill Kristol put maybe I am a feminist after all at the top of it. And then this is just another sign of our times. George Conway retweeted that and said maybe I’m a feminist also. That’s what it took. That’s what it took for these two very right wing men to decide do you know. Forget forget Gloria Steinem forget me to forget. They like finally saw what that looks like to be alone in a room. And now I mean Pelosi I do not know how a mother of five and a grandmother is at this crux of history and now without Elijah Cummings at her side.
S6: Well it’s interesting you mentioned her as a mother because as a mother myself when I saw that photo I thought I look like that sometimes. It’s like pick it up or you’ll go to your room. Yes.
S7: I mean she has to do a lot of that. I mean we finally really do have an adult in the room. Yeah with her. I mean there was a lot of zeroing in on that photo which as you say Trump used as an advertisement for himself and against Pelosi. But there were some generals are very big looking old men in the room looking down like scolded schoolboys you know. And that was also I thought a powerful effect in the photo.
S9: Well because there’s so much turnover in the administration. And then a lot of people sort of walk into their job and are handed a shit show. Oh shit. Yeah. So you had Joseph McGuire the acting director of national intelligence who on probably day one is handed this you know insane whistleblower complaint. Yeah he has to manage. Then you’ve got Mark Esper who becomes the defense secretary because Patrick Shanahan’s nomination implodes in his face and he now is handed.
S6: Is that the big that the big guy who is decorated. I mean. That’s who General Mark Milley who’s the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He he is in his job not because of just sort of out of regular rotations. Yeah but he’s brand new on the job. And so he’s also walked into this. And so you could see just all of them like can I please be somewhere else. And yeah this is what the job entails.
S10: Yeah I mean I think that we’re delaying I’m a little bit that I think the fact that guys like million I cannot believe I don’t recognize one of the Joint Chiefs he’s brand new.
S7: So you’re right. You know still though the fact that they’re all and acting and floating positions I mean I was looking round for a familiar face and I was like That’s Mattis Oh no Mattis is long gone. All right and then you have Robert O’Brien who’s the new national security adviser who is he is a little like badass. He’s a he I actually don’t even remember. Well they’re also quite hard to tell apart because they all really do look alike. Yeah. But also the idea that some of these guys are having to think all the more of moral authority in the room is going to the speaker of the House who’s a woman like a senior citizen woman they probably are not used to. I think that’s why I was so interested in Crystal changing his mind is that it took all this for the Democrat in the room from Congress who you know these guys would usually look down on Cabinet members generals to really contain all that moral authority. I mean it seems like the pins have been pulled out of any any Trump ite position any position that this is not I don’t know what constitutes Logan Act violations fair violations. We all know that Giuliani is in league with a company called fraud guarantee. I mean how much more I think of a scale it’s like Nancy Pelosi has everything and all these guys have nothing they’re like holding you know a bag of us you say isn’t that word you use. Shit.
S11: Yeah I think for some of them especially the ones who are still in the military like Milly Yeah who you know aren’t political appointees are you know probably just trying to get out of this with their reputations intact and Milly’s predecessor the chairman General Dunford I think did.
S12: But obviously you know it’s nearly impossible to do so.
S5: I mean you think they can get out with their reputations intact if justice they fly under the radar. I mean and we don’t really learn their names. Maybe that’s why they keep their heads down they’re like they’re like you know no pictures no pictures because if I can hang in here for you know six months then maybe I won’t be associated with Trump because none none of these guys are acting especially heroically.
S6: Well with experts interesting because on two fronts. And what we’re seeing now is two fronts is this Ukraine story going hand in hand with the serious story. Yeah. And it’s kind of fascinating to watch them happening at the same time because Republicans on the one hand are defending Trump to the hilt on Ukraine and yet are horrified by what’s going on in Syria. Yeah. Why do you think it’s a really good question. I think his foreign policy decision is actually not an impeachable offense because yeah it really is where the president has the most latitude to. I think I saw Quinto say this and do you agree.
S10: Quinto Jurassic Yeah yeah I probably Duke I agree with yes yes whatever she says but that as much as we may disagree with foreign policy decisions even if they seem to be piped in by the Kremlin that those aren’t themselves impeachable offenses. I don’t know what an impeachable offenses. But but I do think that’s interesting and that we’re not talking about. I don’t know if you saw but Lynne Cheney said Trump allowed this invasion of Syria the potential sparking of a kind of genocide of the Kurds the potential sparking of the re rise of ISIS which you’ve seen a little evidence of already because the Democrats moved to impeach.
S6: I mean I’m thinking out loud here. But I think also with the Syria decision it doesn’t flirt with being criminal whereas the Ukraine stuff does flirt but is maybe. But then also it could be an opportunity for the Republicans to say See we don’t green we aren’t green lights not the right way but we don’t whitewash everything. We’re actually criticizing him in this corner and I before I came in here I think Mitch McConnell said that he plans to hold a vote in the Senate today on the resolution to sort of condemn Trump and his Syria decision that’s even harsher than what was passed in the House yesterday which is really interesting that McConnell sort of you know the Republicans I think also they’re moving as a pack on Syria they’ve decided all right we’re going to go for him on this. I mean they’re also at risk of abandoning I think that they already have abandoned most of their platform of the Republican Party. Yes. But I think if they allow this to go on criticized you know it’s about being tough on terrorism it’s about being tough against Russia. It’s about you know staying with your allies supporting the military all that’s wrapped up in yes. And if they go you know it’s fine we’re going to get us back on this. They really have just thrown up their hands and kind of given up what the Republican Party is supposed to stand for. I think that’s a great point.
S10: And it gets even though Giuliani is involved it gets the focus off the real carnies around Trump that nobody really wants to dip into and for a while these you know the goons that Giuliani was involved with. They’re Frumin at least isn’t in the center and Dimitri four types of person person that you and I studiously avoided knowing exactly anyway. But he’s definitely Giuliani side Trump side. But by talking about Turkey I will also say that I just went to. Do you ever go to intelligence squared debates. They have these formal Oxford style debates on subject they’re great. They’re so good. But this one had a group of four. The most recent one about was about Middle Eastern foreign policy. They talked about Turkey’s role in NATO. And one of the figures on the on the far right I assume he’s I think he’s on the far right right to far right said that he didn’t want to talk about Khashoggi. He only wanted to talk in Saudi Arabia. He only want to talk about the Kurds the Kurds like pull at the heartstrings or at least it they justify a hawkish foreign policy. I mean we have to remember when Saddam Hussein used weapons of mass destruction and I’m doing air quotes on his own people. Those people were Kurds. So if we’re going to tee up hawkish foreign policy in the Middle East it’s often done to a to defeat terrorism like ISIS and b to defend the Kurds. I mean this is so central to Republican and thinking about the Middle East on the right that you know I hadn’t really given a lot of thought to this I’m happy to say everything Trump does is bad. But I had to look pretty deeply into what the military was doing there and what what a withdrawal what what a conscientious withdrawal might look like if it were ever justified.
S9: And you know I think for now I’ve come around to the view that we needed to have those troops there brings us back to the letter yesterday sort of the letter was released but also Trump did two separate press availabilities a press conference and Trump said you know Turkey Kurds Syrians a lot of sand that they can play with over there basically. That’s right and I’m paraphrasing. Yeah and committing a crime. So I treason. And then he said you know the Kurds aren’t angels throwing them under the bus again although he’s already has literally. And then saying you know the P.K. K. which is this Kurdish separatist movement in Turkey are basically as bad as ISIS. So all of these things that he’s saying are you know flying in the face of what Republicans are saying on the hill. Yeah. And at the same time he this presidential delegation traveled to Turkey. They’re meeting with Urdu on this morning their photos already from that but to deliver the exact opposite message. Pompeo and Pence went on this trip to basically plead with Irda one to stop to pull back to not kill any more Kurds. And then Kelly Kraft who is our U.S. ambassador to the U.N.. That’s right. OK who’s very much like Sunland who’s just a big political donor who got this job that she’s not qualified for. She delivered this message at the U.N. that I mean Trump just is undermining not only the Republic his party but he’s undermining his very own cabinet on this on you know in one day. And it’s just astonishing and it was already the case. But it was just hammered home yesterday I mean I if you were a foreign ally or if you were a hostile nation I mean the U.S. government the Trump administration does not speak with one voice Ertegun had said before Pence arrived. I don’t wanna meet with Pence I only when meet with the president and he’s got a point because what other people are saying to him at the end of the day does not match with the president saying. And so yeah I just don’t. Nobody knows what to make of us.
S5: I mean you’re right to say that he’s he’s now crossed up his cabinet and his appointees. I mean he’s always quarreled with the Republicans in the Senate from McCain to McConnell. Remember when McConnell and Trump seemed like they were at odds with each other. That’s another long time ago. But to just completely openly you know say the opposite do the opposite.
S10: And you know in plain view of all these foreign leaders who have us over a barrel in so many ways. Yes. And I mean Pence and Pompei I saw a picture of them in Ankara today you know walking around you know they’ve just both got the rapture on their minds like what are we doing. I mean that’s my main question for you this this Pax Americana we had we had my friend ask barley on the show really early on after the election. She’s Turkish American and she teaches at UCLA. And she just said you know our careers are now going to change now that the Pax Americana is over. That was the first thing she said after Trump’s election. It. Is that any. Is that a phrase you even use at just security and is that I mean was that a pipe dream. Always the post-war world order being stabilized by the U.S. by things like these the troops that we that Trump just withdrew.
S9: I think the like so-called American era yes. Host You know yes it started taking hits. I’m now I’m no expert on this but it started taking hits before Trump. I was there think people pinpoint the decision to go into Iraq as you know. Yes a major self-inflicted wound. Yes it was going to be hard to recover from. And now Trump is exactly that. And you know that’s why I think Trump is like into Brexit. It’s these insane self-inflicted wound. Yes. You were the leader of the free world. Yes. You chose not to be. Yeah. And I think everyone’s looking to 2020 if Trump doesn’t get re-elected there’s a chance. I don’t think to restore what once was but to you know maybe count like write it off as an anomaly.
S10: Yeah but if he you know if he gets another four years then yeah that’s not a phrase we use in this studio. That’s a particular counterfactual but we just don’t. We’re intellectually lazy that way we don’t think about another term but it’s just. Yeah it’s just it’s not good for the.
S8: The system the cortisol levels you watched the debate Tuesday night. What did you think of booted judges there. Pete’s invocation of the day after Trump is president.
S10: Whether that’s in 2024. We don’t talk about that or when he’s resigns or is defeated or is indicted or whatever that there will be this day after and Buddha judge really made the point we’re going to have a lot of work to do. It’s not like that’s just a day to like send up balloons or launch a new revolution as some of. In particular Bernie Sanders to the left a British judge is saying that that’s when we really need. We really need these these repairs. This kind of remediation of all this damage and I think for someone like you to judge who is focused on foreign policy that means in the region we’ve been talking about we’ve got to realign with our allies and make it clear to our enemies that we’re no longer their puppets.
S9: I think that allies will continue to be skeptical of the reliability of the United States. Even you know if Trump isn’t re-elected because after that president who knows when Trump 2.0 shows up and I think whether it’s the climate accords the Iran agreement. You know how reliable is a U.S. commitment to a certain cause and then also what happens to the Republican Party. Yeah. If the Republican Party continues to embrace Trump ism yeah then you know what. I have no idea what happens to the Republican Party but I think if both part political parties in this country sort of embrace like basic standards like rule of law and alliance building and things like that then maybe foreign countries will feel better about things. But if you have this one party that is willing to burn the house down on the world stage then yeah always at risk of having to do business with them.
S10: I think that was my concern about Biden is we’re concerned about people you know Sanders talking using the word revolution and then is the opposite of that is my concern that Biden will come in and his first meeting will not be in Saudi Arabia or Paris or Canada. It will be to go re greet his buddies in the Senate like Mitch McConnell you know and just say we’ve been out this a long time and you know good to be working with you again. And I don’t think that can happen here either. That there have to be consequences. And I mean strategic organizational consequences not like anybody you know needs to go to prison or get down on their knees and beg forgiveness but just more I think I’m thinking about to judges and he’s not necessarily my candidate but I just like the order of his thinking. You know he’s a McKinsey guy. And so he thinks strategy and organization can save things and I’m enough of a technocrat to kind of cotton to that that rhetoric.
S9: I do think it also depends on how you get from point A to Point B. I mean we have no idea where this impeachment situation is going. I am shocked if the Senate remove Trump yet events are unfolding on an hourly basis here. And again this Syria decision is putting so much pressure on them. It also shows I mean not only was Trump’s green light to Urdu on which it was despite all the denials from his administration yes it was a bad decision for United States. Yeah bad decision for U.S. partners but also a terrible political decision for Trump at the moment when you’re facing an impeachment crisis. Don’t piss off your party with one of the worst foreign policy decisions. And he did and it either shows that he’s a horrible negotiator which I think it does. I think he caved to Urdu ones pressure. Yeah also I mean also his his fondness for strong men. I mean I don’t really know why Trump made this decision to cave and and withdraw U.S. troops.
S5: Well you don’t think it’s what you’re Noffs. You said that now we’re going to get Russia speaking for Russia and now we’re gonna get Ukraine and Syria.
S11: It certainly could be because Trump and Russia’s just still a giant open question. We have no idea. We have no idea why he acts the way he does.
S10: Do you think you’re just Ockham’s Razor are you. Or does it feel like going. You know one is unlikely these match. But when Nancy Pelosi is saying all roads with you lead to Russia do you think that it’s time to really say what Hillary Clinton said in twenty sixteen. You know Trump is Putin’s puppet and that is whatever our domestic politics that needs to be taken into account. I mean that the cabinet needs to acknowledge that that’s what’s happening here. The Senate needs to act now. Republicans in the House and in Congress need to acknowledge it. And what would be our marching orders if that were the case. I think Trump is Putin’s puppet. Yeah we just don’t know why.
S11: Yeah yeah but everyone should be operating as if he is because he. Because he acts like it. Yeah. He only I think doesn’t when enough pressure is put on him by either Congress or forces within his administration. But those forces are either weaker or they’re not exist anymore. And I’m thinking even though like they didn’t you know there are a million reasons to criticize them. But people like Mattis and John Kelly I do think were at least doing a better job than the current crew of not enabling him keeping misinformation away from him. Not completely but I mean I think we’re looking at what it looks like when Trump is unleashed.
S5: Yes. Yeah. Yeah exactly and he. What I also wonder about and this calls for speculation. They say in the courtroom but is if. OK. So Trump gets the Mueller report and then he turns to Ukraine. So the most alarmist reading of that is that the Mueller Report and a spectrum particularly bars framing of it and spin of it and misrepresentation of it gave the signal to Trump that he could keep priming or at least. Right. So it looks like you’re gonna get away with this astounding set of things that you did to obstruct justice but also to enable to accept help from from the Russians to cross lines we’ve never seen crossed before in tampering with an election. And you know he decided that it meant no obstruction no collusion. It just once again I get away with this I’m above the law and just what days later he’s on the phone to Zelinsky asking him to in July asking him to interfere with 2020 just I’m going to do this again.
S11: That’s totally true. The message that that has sent is there are no consequences to your behavior. You are above the law as your lawyers are arguing. But I do think Ukraine activities go back further than the conclusion of the Mueller report in that I don’t think I think Trump was sort of full speed ahead regardless. Yeah. As I was reading Sunderland’s opening statement today he talks about how in April 20 19 Petro Schenker is it. Yes. He says he lost the election to Zelinsky and that’s when Zelinsky became the president. Insulins he had run on a reform platform and it occurred to me that maybe that was a really pivotal moment. Maybe Petro Chango was their guy. Yeah. And Zelinsky is Wynn sort of through their plan up in the air and all of a sudden they had somebody who was less vulnerable to corruption because his whole platform was anti-corruption. Yes.
S5: We’ve had we had Molly on who who knows about Ukrainian politics and she was saying that actually is a Lansky for all he’s a comedian and in some ways looks like Trump like Carney. You know you have a TV career. He’s actually like pushed through various reforms very quickly when he got there. And and this prosecutor the like that Trump of course has completely inverted. The prosecutor was actually being quite tough on corruption. The corruption that they actually worry about in Ukraine. But Trump styled this prosecutor of as weak on corruption because to him Biden is the you know is the is the centerpiece of what Biden’s just as bet nor Yeah so. So that I think is interesting right. As you say to keep in mind that Ukrainian politics obviously were in their own even more than usual state of disarray or change.
S11: Right. And you can tell that this crew even even Sunlen and Volker and Perry who appear to have done things you know pushing pushing some of these things that they shouldn’t have been. If Sunlen is to believe sort of be believed at some level on face value what he’s saying. They met Zelinsky in there like he seems good. He supports General U.S. policy toward Ukraine like rule of law anti-corruption. And so we really think Trump and him should like get together and it’s Trump and Giuliani were like. Let’s. I don’t know. He seems to be surrounded by bad people. Yeah. And you Ivanovich to I’m sure was you know pushing a very straightforward basic traditional U.S. policy and were like No that’s not what we’re here for. Yeah we want to do shady stuff. And so you get so Volcker and Sunlen and Perry are kind of like come on like get let’s get these two guys in the room we like this guy Zelinsky. Yeah. And they’re getting this pushback from Giuliani who’s essentially speaking for Trump like holding him at bay and wanting him to make these promises to do Trump’s requests which are investigated Biden and get deep in the weeds on a 2016 conspiracy theory about that the rush investigation was a hoax set up by Ukraine and that that’s sort of the back and forth and I don’t quite get that dynamic fully until I was reading this today.
S5: That’s definitely an interesting twist and I should admit I have to now study that statement because it came in justice yesterday right before you got here. We learned also yesterday that McConnell is saying buckle in to the Senate and be ready for impeachment. And now I can’t remember where this is from but there’s been talk of it going quite quickly now that we may see the Senate called for you know we may see a trial in the Senate. We may see articles impeachment filed even this as early as this month and that something will happen that in November we may see of that real trial and a vote in the Senate. What do you think. I mean I don’t know to make some make some predictions for me help me.
S11: Oh my goodness. I also saw yesterday John Yoo who’s the former lawyer in the Bush administration who wrote the torture memos. He was on Fox News yesterday saying you know impeachments are not allowed to happen so close to an election against the framers vision which sounds a lot like Merrick Garland. You can’t have he can’t do anything. Yeah. If you’re within three years of an election. Right. So maybe McConnell’s thinking is partly that this has to happen sooner rather than later. I can’t let this be part of the election cycle. Yeah. I think though that the House I mean they’re doing depositions every day but every deposition is critical. I mean enormous amounts of information I feel like are coming out with each one and yes I know with each one they’re getting new names. I mean even in this online opening statement I was like ha that’s a name he’s putting people in the room for some of these moments that I haven’t heard before. You know obviously that person now has to come in and testify. Yes. And Bill Taylor of the don’t text me call me. Yes. Or I would like to text you. Yes I believe he’s scheduled for next week. And so that’s really critical. You know McConnell’s kind of putting a I think he’s kind of putting the pressure on the house when the house is still developing their case.
S4: My guest today has been Kate Brannon she’s the editorial director of Just Security also a senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.
S13: Thanks so much for being in the studio with me Kate. Thank you. That’s our show for today. What do you think. Join us on Twitter.
S4: And let’s reflect on this mad mad world together. I’m at page 88. The show is at real Trump cast our show today was produced by Melissa Kaplan and engineered by Merritt Jacob. I’m Virginia Heffernan. Thanks for listening to Trump cast.