The Trump-Ukraine whistleblower scandal and how Trump is trying to twist it in a dangerous way

As has been well reported in the media, Trump has asked, encouraged or demanded that the leader of a foreign government undertake an investigation designed to produce information that could damage a potential 2020 campaign rival, Joe Biden.

The contents of the Trump phone call prompted a government official to file a whistleblower complaint, a necessary but unprecedented grievance aimed at the president. The inspector general for the intelligence community found the whistleblower’s charge credible and urgent, in which case the information is required by law to be relayed to Congress. That hasn’t happened because the White House and Justice Department are fighting it.

In weekend tweets, Trump has redoubled efforts to draw attention away from himself and shift it to Biden and Biden’s son. “Someone ought to look into Joe Biden,” he said Friday.

This has a very familiar pattern. Remember when Trump started harping on Hillary’s emails? He’s trying to twist things around.

If you read comments in social media by Trump supporters (be they real or trolls or paid agitators) the essence of their remarks is that the “deep state” is involved in trying to get Trump, and that Biden is up to criminal activity. We’ve been here before. And it needs to be stopped in its tracks.

“This appears to be an overwhelming abuse of power, to get on the phone with a foreign power who is looking for help from the United States and ask about me, if that’s what happened, that’s what appears to have happened,” Biden told reporters. “Trump’s doing this because he knows I will beat him like a drum and is using the abuse of power and every element of the presidency to try and smear.”

Biden also challenged Trump to release a transcript of his phone call with the Ukrainian leader.

The Biden campaign sent a lengthy memo to reporters Saturday listing quotes from various news outlets, including the Kyiv Post in Ukraine, discrediting Trump’s attack.

Will it be Uncle Joe and Mayor Pete?

Strange premonition today: It could be Biden / Buttigieg. Think about it:

  • Buttigieg come out with his “Medicare for all who want it” plan which is almost verbatim the same as Biden’s public option plan.
  • Buttigieg at the same time attacks Warren for being evasive on how she is paying for her plan.
  • Biden thrills the left wing of the Democrats with his daring choice of Buttigieg. And injects youth into his campaign. Californians go wild.
  • Buttigieg faces off against Pence! Both from Indiana, both with a history.
  • All the strong blue states are ok anyway. All the strong red states are probably lost anyway. But this could play well in those key midwestern states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin because Buttigieg is not far left, has a good military record, and is smart and intellectual and a good debater.
  • And, finally, get this: somebody has bought up all the JoeAndPete domains.

Remember – you heard it hear first!

Democrats and the progressive path that beats Trump

It’s been pointed out, over and over again, that three traditionally Democratic midwest states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin), which Trump narrowly won, need to be turned back in 2020 in order to defeat Trump.

Democrats should choose policies that a majority of progressive and moderate voters support, all across the country, and not fall into the trap of supporting just the most left-wing proposals out there.

Here is an interesting graph showing recent NPR/PBS poll results of what most registered voters agree with, and don’t agree with.

Most people don’t want to get into slavery reparations. Or decriminalize border crossings.

And most people don’t want to repeal Obamacare. They want to improve it with a public option – the ability to buy into Medicare. The feeling is if there is a viable, affordable public option that people will drift towards that and we will eventually get “Medicare for All” as a result. But people don’t want their current health insurance taken away in the meanwhile. They want choice.

Most people want gun background checks. And taxing millionaires more, and the “Green New Deal” and environmental protections. And an increase in the minimum wage. And regulation of drug prices. And a pathway to citizenship.

These are progressive, great ideas. And Trump loses on all of them. These are the ideas Democrats should concentrate on to win in 2020.

A Biden-Warren ticket?

‘It’s too late in the game to keep saying it’s too early.’

Philippe Reines, former Hillary Clinton advisor

For all practical purposes, it’s fair to say the Democratic race has come down to Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. They are the only candidates polling in double digits. Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg are in the next, outside circle, but polling in single digits. And everybody else is way behind.

So it has one thinking – for the purposes of unity and beating Trump, could there possibly be a Biden-Warren ticket?

It would mean getting practical and compromising on some moderate-vs-left positions. But isn’t that what always happens after the primary season is over and we’re facing the entire electorate?

The problem is they have a history. For example, Warren had been an antagonist of Biden’s in 2002, when she criticized him in a New York Times op-ed for his support of a bill that made it harder for consumers to declare bankruptcy.

The headline of Warren’s piece read: “A Quiet Attack on Women.” Warren, then a law professor at Harvard, detailed how the legislation would have a disproportionate impact on women, and implied that Biden was supporting the bill because of the finance industry’s outsized influence in Delaware, his home state.

This critique was clearly still on Biden’s mind in 2015, when he talked about reforms to the credit card industry enacted by President Obama’s administration.

“The credit card change we made, that alone has saved consumers over $20 billion a year,” he said. “If you look at Elizabeth Warren’s argument on this: ‘You should have just shut the suckers down.’”

But lately they have been quieter about directly criticizing each other. A spokesman for Warren, asked to comment declined to do so. A Biden spokesman also declined to comment. They both seem to be laying low on their differences.

In 2015, when Biden was considering running, he invited Warren to lunch at the vice presidential residence. He apparently was by that time convinced that if he ran for president in 2016, he would want her to be his running mate.

Since then he has also expressed regret on some of his past votes involving banking regulation, bringing himself more in line with Warren.

“The biggest mistake I made in my whole career,” he said, was voting to get rid of Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era law that prohibited commercial banks from engaging in investment banking.

The law was partially repealed in 1999. Biden defended President Bill Clinton, who signed the 1999 legislation, as doing “a good job in the economy at the time, shifting us toward capital formation.”

“But,” he said, capital formation “became a holy grail,” and Democrats became too afraid of regulating Wall Street. “We got to change that. We got to put this back in a lane where there is genuine oversight, where the cowboys can’t take the risk we have to pay for,” Biden said, bringing himself more in line with Warren’s views.

Of course there are also differences in their approach to health care reform which would need to be adjusted on both sides – both for good policy and also for appeal to the general electorate.

But it would sure be interesting if we had a Biden-Warren ticket.