A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
“The integrity of U.S. democracy depends on how Congress and the nation respond.”
That’s how WaPo’s editorial board spells out the situation the country finds itself in.
We’ve seen the rough transcript of President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. We’re about to see the whistleblower’s report. And what we already know is disturbing.
Thursday’s Post front page opens with this headline: “Trump offered Justice’s aid for a probe of Biden.” And in the back of the A section, the Post’s editorial board calls the readout a “devastating indictment” of Trump.
“That Mr. Trump believed that this exchange would somehow exonerate him from charges that he abused his office is astonishing,” the editorial board said… “Trump has confirmed that, at a minimum, he heavily pressured a foreign leader to intervene in the 2020 election, while dangling a political favor and withholding congressionally approved aid.”
NYT: July phone call “only a slice” of Trump’s Ukraine obsession
More details are continuing to emerge about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. In a story published Wednesday night, the NYT reported that the July phone call “showed only a slice of Trump’s obsession with Ukraine.” The Times reported that Trump had placed a phone call to the Ukrainian president in April, and urged him to work with Rudy Giuliani to investigation “corruption.” The details of that phone conversation had not been previously reported…
When will we see the whistleblower complaint?
Several Democrats who have read the complaint have said it is shocking. Chuck Schumer said he was “even more worried” after reading the document. Eric Swalwell told Wolf Blitzer it is a “five alarm concern,” adding, “it’s actually shocking that so many people saw this conduct and didn’t come forward.”
Jackie Speier told Rachel Maddow the complaint is “nothing short of explosive. It is so much more than the summary of the telephone call that has been presented by the White House.” And Ben Sasse, a lone wolf in the GOP, warned fellow Republicans that they “ought not to be rushing to circle the wagons” given “there’s obviously lots that’s very troubling” in the report.
So when will we get to see it? Here is what CNN’s Dana Bash reported shortly before midnight: “Two sources confirm” that the report “has been declassified. However the report will not be released at least until Thursday morning.”
>> Dan Rather tweeted: “This story is moving faster than a hummingbird’s wings…”
When will the whistleblower testify?
The still-anonymous whistleblower “has tentatively agreed to meet with congressional lawmakers,” CNN reported Wednesday night. Thus far, “Lawmakers have not been told the identity of the whistleblower or where the complainant works in the government,” the story said. But a meeting, according to the correspondence obtained by CNN, could take place if the acting director of national intelligence “approves appropriate security clearances for the individual’s legal counsel so that they can accompany their client.”
Thursday will be another dramatic news day
Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is set to testify at 9am ET Thursday before the House Intelligence Committee. The hearing will be carried live on all the cable news networks.
→ Also happening Thursday morning: Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy will be holding their weekly pressers…
Right-wing media still loyal
Don’t expect any of this to change the tune of Trump’s allies in right-wing media. I don’t expect they’ll break with the President. Trump’s friends on Fox and in the conservative media universe are remaining largely loyal to him. On Wednesday, Fox personalities, websites like Breitbart, and talk-radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh all defended Trump in their own ways.
That trend continued into Wednesday night, with Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham all showing support for Trump in their different styles. A lot of the talking points Trump’s right-wing media allies are using were noticeably aligned with the talking points the White House sent to its allies.
>> Related: When Juan Williams noted that Fox personalities were using many of the talking points pushed by the White House, “The Five” panel nearly imploded…
…but one big exception
Notably, the influential Drudge Report has continued to spotlight news critical of the Trump administration. The website, operated by recluse Matt Drudge, who was at one point extremely supportive of the president, highlighted critical commentary on Wednesday from George Conway and Judge Napolitano.
>> It’s also worth mentioning: Sites like the National Review and Washington Examiner also featured a mix of commentary on Wednesday, including some which were sharply critical of Trump.
The Trumpworld leaks continue…
Brian Stelter emails: The NYT’s Trip Gabriel made an astute point after reading this story, “Trump’s Not-So-Excellent Day,” written by three of his colleagues: “On one of his most challenging days in office, intimates of POTUS continue to reveal — anonymously — inside details to well sourced NYT reporters.”
The story, by Maggie Haberman, Michael Crowley and Katie Rogers, cited aides who said Trump’s “anger and anxiousness took over his day…”
Will the Dems command the TV stage?
Brian Stelter emails: Numerous Democratic lawmakers gave floor speeches and interviews on Wednesday. Will this continue in the weeks ahead? The onus is really on House Democrats to make their case. It’s been proven that Trump knows how to communicate with his supporters incredibly effectively. As for Democratic leaders, well, it’s debatable. Will lawmakers be holding daily press events? Televised hearings? What will they do to rally public support for the impeachment inquiry? We shall see…
FOR THE RECORD
– Chris Cuomo sparred with Trump attorney Jay Sekulow Wednesday night: This is quid pro quo…
– In an interview on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Joe Biden said “it’s awful hard to avoid the conclusion that it is an impeachable offense…”
– Jake Tapper on CNN’s 11pm special report: “Whether he’s gaslighting or truly of the belief that there was nothing inappropriate about his actions, POTUS tried to argue today that the transcript, the rough transcript, would exonerate him.” But it “did not exonerate the president…”