Welcome back to Impeachment Corner! Before we get started, I’m going to throw a bunch of new names at you today, so it’s important to remember that none of this actually matters, because the impeachable offense — that the President of the United States blackmailed a foreign country to dig up dirt on a political rival — it has already been made perfectly clear thanks to both the transcript of the phone call the White House released and STATEMENTS THE LUNATIC MADE ON THE SOUTH LAWN JUST YESTERDAY. So while this gets into the weeds, it’s important to remember, this is actually very, very simple.
So what shenanigans have our criminal president managed to get himself into since we last checked in?
Today’s big story is TEXT MESSAGES. As I mentioned yesterday, Kurt Volker gave a deposition to the House Intelligence Community, and in the process, turned over a series of text messages between himself (an unpaid special envoy to Ukraine who resigned a week ago), William B. Taylor Jr., America’s ambassador to Ukraine and career diplomat, and Gordon D. Sondland, who is the ambassador to the European Union and a a huge Trump donor — huge as in donated $1 million to the inaugural committee. So to be clear, we have two career diplomats and one Trumplicker in these messages.
The text messages are here, with some very helpful annotations by The New York Times, and IT IS NOT GOOD. So, the early messages are mostly between Sondland and Volker where they discuss introducing Rudy Giuliani to the Ukrainians and making sure that the Ukrainians knew they were expected to not just open an investigation into Joe Biden, but also make an announcement that an investigation was happening before they would be allowed to meet President Best Deals. This message on the morning of the infamous phone call is particularly damning:
[7/25/19, 8:36:45 AM] Kurt Volker: Good lunch – thanks. Heard from White House—assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / “get to the bottom of what happened” in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington. Good luck! See you tomorrow- kurt
After the call, Sondland talks to Volker about President Corruption wants a “deliverable” before he’ll meet with President Zelensky:
[8/9/19, 5:35:53 PM] Gordon Sondland: Morrison ready to get dates as soon as Yermak confirms.
[8/9/19, 5:46:21 PM] Kurt Volker: Excellent!! How did you sway him? 🙂
[8/9/19, 5:47:34 PM] Gordon Sondland: Not sure i did. I think potus really wants the deliverable
Later, the Ukrainians, understanding what is expected of them, tells the Americans that as soon as they have a date for a meeting, they’ll put out a press release announcing investigations:
[8/10/ 19, 5:42:10 PM] Andrey Yermak: Once we have a date, will call for a press briefing, announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for the reboot of US- UKRAINE relationship, including among other things Burisma and election meddling in investigations
[8/10/19, 5:42:30 PM] Kurt Volker: Sounds great!
But then the Grifter-in-Chief yoinked the military aid away and the Ukrainians were NOT HAPPY.
[8/29/19, 2:28:19 AM] Andrey Yermak: Need to talk with you
[8/29/19, 3:06:14 AM] Andrey Yermak: https://www.politico.com/story/2019/08/28/trump-ukraine-military-aid-russia- 1689531
[8/29/19, 6:55:04 AM] Kurt Volker: Hi Andrey – absolutely. When is good for you?
And that’s when the diplomat to Ukraine — a career guy — is like, HOLY SHIT WHAT IS GOING ON IN HERE TODAY and begins making sure everything is PUT. IN. WRITING.
[9/1/19, 12:08:57 PM] Bill Taylor: Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?
[9/1/19, 12:42:29 PM] Gordon Sondland: Call me
Yeah, I just bet Sondland wanted to have that conversation on the phone…
[9/8/19, 11:20:32 AM] Gordon Sondland: Guys multiple convos with Ze, Potus. Lets talk
[9/8/19, 11:21:41 AM] Bill Taylor: Now is fine with me
[9/8/19, 11:26:13 AM] Kurt Volker: Try again—could not hear
[9/8/19, 11:40:11 AM] Bill Taylor: Gordon and I just spoke. I can brief you if you and Gordon don’t connect
[9/8/19, 12:37:28 PM] Bill Taylor: The nightmare is they give the interview and don’t get the security assistance. The Russians love it. (And I quit.)
[9/9/19, 12:31:06 AM] Bill Taylor: The message to the Ukrainians (and Russians) we send with the decision on security assistance is key. With the hold, we have already shaken their faith in us. Thus my nightmare scenario.
[9/9/19, 12:34:44 AM] Bill Taylor: Counting on you to be right about this interview, Gordon.
[9/9/19, 12:37:16 AM] Gordon Sondland: Bill, I never said I was “right”. I said we are where we are and believe we have identified the best pathway forward. Lets hope it works.
[9/9/19, 12:47:11 AM] Bill Taylor: As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.
[9/9/19, 5:19:35 AM] Gordon Sondland: Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign I suggest we stop the back and forth by text If you still have concerns I recommend you give Lisa Kenna or S a call to discuss them directly. Thanks.
A few things here: 1. Look at Bill Taylor being like, “I know I said this on our phone call, but since there’s no way to prove that this was said, I’m going to put it in this text message THAT WE ARE DOING QUID PRO QUO AND I AM UNCOMFORTABLE WITH IT.” And then 2. there’s a five-hour break between that and Sondland’s measured, “You misunderstood” statement that sure as hell sounds like it was drafted by a lawyer. Also, 3. strange how Sondland didn’t want any more conversations about this via text. GEE, WONDER WHY?
I can not wait for Bill Taylor to testify to Congress. LET’S PLEASE BROADCAST THOSE, GUYS. (Oh, and also there might be more text messages incoming? Stay tuned.)
In other delicious news … so, the thing that President TinFoil Hat wants investigated (or “investigated”) is that Biden pressured Ukraine to remove a prosecutor that Biden and the international community believed was corrupt. Hey! Guess who else thought that the prosecutor should be removed? A WHOLE GAGGLE OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS WHO WROTE A LETTER ABOUT IT. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) all signed the letter which read in part: ”[We] urge you to press ahead with urgent reforms to the Prosecutor General’s office and judiciary.”
Ron Johnson would like you to know that he’s developed a serious case of amnesia.
GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, who signed the 2016 letter asking for the same reforms in the general prosecutor’s office as Biden — and now wants Biden investigated — said today he doesn’t remember signing the letter.
“I don’t engage in hypocrisy,” he added.https://t.co/E37Yy5Wjzp pic.twitter.com/WtExjmpWlo
— andrew kaczynski🤔 (@KFILE) October 3, 2019
And put a pin in Ron Johnson here — the Wall Street Journal just reported that he claims Sondland, Ambassador Let’s Have This Conversation on the Phone from earlier, told him that the Ukrainian aid was dependent on an investigation into “certain matters,” and he asked President Fatass about it, who was like, “Nah,” and Johnson was like, “cool, cool, cool.” He still doesn’t see any problem here, by the way.
OH! AND ALSO! TOO: Looks like Energy Secretary Rick Perry will be returning to our great state of Texas soon enough. If you’ll remember, one of the strings the White House pulled to get Ukraine to “play ball” was to cancel Pence’s appearance at Zelensky’s inauguration, and they sent Perry instead. But in addition to that, CNN reported that Perry met Zelensky at least two other times, and when that got out, suddenly girlfriend became homesick for our bluebonnets and barbecue and he announced he will be resigning next month.
You’ll still have to testify to Congress, Governor Good Hair.
And ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the one Republican who appears to maybe, possibly, it’s not entirely out of the realm of the impossible, be growing a spine:
By all appearances, the President’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) October 4, 2019
Because yesterday was so crazy, I somehow neglected to include the funniest part of this whole scandal: the time Nickelback hit President Copyright Infringement with a complaint about tweeting out a video of theirs that had been altered to include a photograph of Joe Biden and his son. Dude, when Nickelback is the good guy in any situation …
LOOK AT THIS PHOTOGRAPH! pic.twitter.com/QQYTqG4KTt
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2019
And this isn’t “news,” but at the core of this whole story is a conspiracy theory hat Giuliani is trying to pedal, and it’s more than just “Biden pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor he thought was a threat to his son.” The Bulwark does a great job of untangling Giuliani’s theory. Well, as much as it possibly can be, because this shit is COMPLETELY BONKERS. If you read one link that I’ve included today, let it be this one.
Finally, if you were secretly wondering how impeachment works but were too embarrassed to admit that you’d forgotten some of the details you were taught in seventh grade, Late Night with Seth Meyers has you covered:
And in conclusion, the Senate is never going to convict because Mitch McConnell loves power more than this country.
Other TV News
Hey, here are a bunch of pictures from the upcoming third Walking Dead series which still doesn’t have a name.
Do you love the theme song to Succession? Yeah, you’re not the only one.
here's an Arrested Development/Succession intro i made that absolutely no one asked for pic.twitter.com/jX14biyOGD
— ellie sunakawa (@elliesunakawa) September 27, 2019
Here’s everything we know about The CW’s next DC crossover event which will launch in December.
You’ll soon be able to stay in a Chip and Joanna Gaines hotel when you go to Waco. Shiplap fuckin’ EVERYWHERE.
Luke Perry’s son is a professional wrestler who goes by the name “Jungle Boy” and now that’s a fact you’ll never forget.
Joe Meatball Giudice is headed to Italy — not permanently (yet).
WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR BRAINS, YOU DUMB DUMB DUMMIES?
The straights are not okay pic.twitter.com/jm7Ody6yY4
— Caitlin Van Horror ⚰️ (@HelloCVH) October 3, 2019
James Franco is being sued by two women for using an acting school to exploit and abuse female students. It’s bad:
“Franco’s targets were even duped to pay for their exploitation through a fraudulent ‘acting school’ designed to benefit Franco and his production companies wherein employment opportunities for women supposedly increased when they agreed to overt sexual acts, nudity and performing in sex scenes — often in an orgy type setting.
“Moreover, Defendants forced Plaintiffs and all student-talent to sign over their rights to explicit nude and sex scene auditions and filming. Plaintiffs were told that Franco wanted to personally review each of the auditions and scenes himself only to learn this explicit footage would be stored, maintained and used by Defendants at their will.
“While James Franco touted that one difference between Studio 4 and other acting schools was its ability to funnel promising talent into his projects, the reality was that he was looking to create a pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation in the name of education.
“Defendants’ scheme, like many, started slow, first encouraging female student actors to appear topless, then perform in sex scenes, then orgies and gratuitous full nudity for no other reason than Defendants could make them do it.
“And while men and women participated in the Studio 4 program, the majority of actual roles in legitimate productions typically went to non-students or young, attractive women who acquiesced to the extreme requests of Defendants.”
Robert DeNiro is being sued by Graham Chase Robinson, a former female vice president at Canal Productions, for gender discrimination, unwanted physical contact, harassment. it should be noted that Robinson had been sued by DeNiro earlier for embezzlement and “watching excessive amounts of “Friends” on Netflix while on the job.”
Placido Domingo has stepped down as the general director of the Los Angeles Opera in the midst of his sexual harassment scandal.
So Bob Woodward moderated a panel with the two New York Times reporters who wrote a book on the #MeToo movement, and whose reporting broke open the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and IT DID NOT GO WELL. He apparently questioned their reporting, argued with the authors over whether the Weinstein case was about power (he argued it was about sex), and interrupted them so many times that the audience yelled at him to let the women talk.
Harvey Weinstein lost his case to move his rape trial out of Manhattan. GOOD.
And R. Kelly is staying in jail until his 2020 trial. DOUBLE GOOD.
Stacey Dash will not be facing charges for domestic battery.
- Florida Girls has been renewed for a second season on Pop.
- Elite has been renewed for a third season on Netflix.
- Sesame Street has been renewed for five more seasons on HBO Max.
- Human Resources, a spinoff of Big Mouth, has been ordered at Netflix.
- The International, a drama from Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren, has been given a put pilot order at NBC.
- Tough as Nails, a competition series from Phil Keoghan, has been bought by CBS.
- The Hill, a political journalism drama from Dana Bash, is in the works at NBC.
- Cupcake Men, a comedy from Lee Daniels has been given a put pilot order at ABC.
- Forever Family, a comedy, is being developed at NBC.
- Opus, a family music drama starring Nicole Ari Parker, is being developed at Fox.
- A Blindspotting series is coming to Starz.
- Four new Sesame Street spinoffs have been ordered by HBO Max.
- A Herman Cortes miniseries starring Javier Bardem and produced by Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna is being produced for Amazon.
- Fox stations have acquired syndication rights to Schitt’s Creek.
- Rachel Brosnahan, Travis Fimmel, Christina Ricci, Jacob Batalon, Ming-Na Wen, Taissa Farmiga, Asa Butterfield, John Marshall Jones, and Ron Livingston will star in the Quibi series 50 States of Fright from Sam Raimi.
- Cynthia Erivo has been cast as Aretha Franklin in the upcoming season of Genius on Nat Geo.
- Bernadette Peters is joining the cast of Katy Keene on The CW.
- Jesse Williams is joining the cast of Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu.
- Colton Haynes is returning to Arrow.
- Joel McHale will guest star on Will & Grace.
- Cynthia Harris and Cloris Leachman will guest star on the reprisal of Mad About You.
- Shahadi Wright Joseph, Alison Pill, Ryan Kwanten, Melody Hurd, Javier Botet, and Percy Hynes White have been cast in the Amazon anthology series THEM: Covenant.
- Richa Shukla has been cast in Never Have I Ever on Netflix.
- Garcia and Sol Rodriguez are joining the cast of Party of Five on Freeform.
- Millicent Simmonds is going to star in Close Up on Freeform.
- LeeAnn Rimes is going to guest start on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on HGTV.
- Neil Patrick Harris, Olly Alexander, Keeley Hawes, Stephen Fry, Tracy Ann Oberman, Shaun Dooley, Omari Douglas, Callum Scott Howells, and Lydia West will star in Boys on Channel 4.
- Stephanie Sigman is indeed leaving S.W.A.T. on CBS.
Mark Your Calendar
- Servant will debut on Apple TV+ on November 28.
- His Dark Materials will debut on HBO on November 4.
- Eli will debut on Netflix on October 18.
- Reprisal will debut on Hulu on December 6.
- Tell Me a Story returns on CBS All Access on December 5.
- Harley Quinn will debut on DC Universe on November 29.
Diahann Carroll, Legendary actress
Bruley, The Queer Eye French Bulldog
The Blacklist: Liz and the Task Force race to find Red who has been abducted. Season premiere. 7 p.m., NBC
Big Mouth: Season premiere. Netflix
Peaky Blinders: Season five premiere. Netflix
Into the Darkness: “Uncanny Annie”: Don’t play possessed board game, kids. Hulu
Raising Dion: A single mother raises a tiny superhero. Netflix
Light as a Feather: Season premiere. Hulu
Goliath: Season premiere. Amazon
Haunted Salem: Live: A four-hour ghost hunt broadcast live from Salem, Massachusetts. 7 p.m., Travel
Saturday Night Live: PHOEBE WALLER-BRIDGE AND ALL OF HER EMMYS. Oh, and someone named “Taylor Swift.” 10:30 p.m., NBC
No Country for Old Men: Listen, this is an amazing film, one of the Coen Brothers’ best. But the real reason I’m including it is because it’s being aired on The Outdoor Channel, a cable network that usually traffics in shows like Wildlife Heroes and Wild Boar Heroes. I mean, I guess there is a cattle gun involved? Does that make it “outdoorsy?” 9:30 p.m., The Outdoor Channel
The Walking Dead: The group continues training in preparation for another confrontation with those assholes, The Whisperers. Season premiere. 8 p.m., AMC
Batwoman: Kate Kane returns home when her father and girlfriend are targeted. Series premiere. 7 p.m., The CW
Supergirl: CatCo has a new owner and a new star reporter in the season premiere. 8 p.m., The CW
Kids Say the Darndest Things: Tiffany Haddish talks to cute kids. Series premiere. 7 p.m., ABC
Mr. Robot: This is the official description: “xmas time. elliot+mrrobot are BAK. darlene deals with real sh*t. tyrell’s bored. dom’s paranoid AF.” Season premiere. 9 p.m., USA
Madam Secretary: The First Gentleman goes on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and makes trouble. Season premiere. 9 p.m., CBS
Witches of Salem: An exploration of the original American witch hunt. I’m sorry, I mean WITCH HUNT! Series premiere. 9 p.m., Travel
- Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (Friday): Joaquin Phoenix, Zoey Deutch, Gary Vaynerchuk
- The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: (Friday): Jon Hamm, Pete Alonso
- Watch What Happens Live (Sunday): XXX
|Fresh Off the Boat
|CW||Masters of Illusion
|The Big Stage
|FOX||Friday Night Smackdown
|Dateline||News/Local||Saturday Night Live
(Phoebe Waller-Bridge & Taylor Swift)
|ABC||America’s Funniest Home Videos
|Kids Say the Darndest Things
|God Friended Me
|NCIS: Los Angeles
|Bless the Harts
|NBC||Sunday Night Football