Moscow Mitch continues pretense that he’ll run a fair impeachment trial

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he wants to work out an agreement with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for the conduct of Donald Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate. The thing is, he has yet to schedule a meeting to discuss it, and his fellow Republicans are meeting regularly with Trump's people at the White House to strategize.

So when McConnell says, as he did with reporters on Tuesday, that the "first thing Sen. Schumer and I will do is see if there's a possibility of agreement on a procedure," take that with a dollop or two of salt. This is the part to take to the bank: "That failing, I would probably come back to my own members and say: 'OK, can 51 of us agree how we're going to handle this?'" See, he's pretending like that's his "backup" plan—staging the whole thing with a Republican majority that cuts Democrats out of the loop. As usual.

There is no template for Senate impeachment hearings, beyond what it’s conducted before. But there are no constitutional restrictions on them either, and the majority has maximum flexibility in determining how it would proceed, needing just 51 votes to do so. There's an exceedingly slim possibility that McConnell loses a few votes—maybe Mitt Romney, maybe Susan Collins, maybe even Lisa Murkowski, who is, as always, staying pretty mum on the whole thing.

Meanwhile, however, two of those Republican supposed "jurors" in the trial—Romney and Collins—joined a handful of colleagues being courted by Trump, while another group has been strategizing with White House staff. The Republicans will be lunching with White House counsel Pat Cipollone in their weekly conference lunch Wednesday "as part of an ongoing effort to keep Senate Republicans informed about White House thinking," says Sen. Mike Lee's spokesperson.

The fix is most definitely in and has been for months. McConnell has baldly said that he "can't imagine a scenario" in which he abandons Trump. He is certainly not going to allow a Senate impeachment trial to be anything but a sham. That's why Democrats need to make a very, very strong case to the voters, to maximize pressure on McConnell's minions.

We have to shut this down. Please give $1 to our nominee fund to help Democrats and end McConnell's career as Senate majority leader.

Democrats are telling America that Trump’s repeated abuses are urgent. We should listen

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The House Intelligence Committee’s 300-page report on its impeachment inquiry, released Tuesday and approved by the panel on a 13-9 party-line vote, received a mixed bag of reviews—both damning on one hand and incomplete on another. Donald Trump's personally directed scheme to corrupt the 2020 elections by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden was thoroughly and convincingly documented, even as Trump's inner circle almost entirely escaped being compelled to cooperate with the inquiry. So although Trump's racket to win reelection has been exposed for all to see, a plethora of loose ends remain. In fact, in a press conference following the report’s release, House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff stressed the urgency of the matter at hand even as he promised to continue investigating the possibility that Trump’s scheme began far earlier than is already known.

"There is, I think, grave risk to the country with waiting until we have every last fact," he told reporters.

But to many people, reporters and liberal activists alike, the notion that more than a few stones have been left unturned feels deeply "unsatisfying," as veteran journalist Howard Fineman told MSNBC. Indeed, there's a passionate argument to be made that cutting the inquiry short for political considerations is a complete abdication of responsibility, as our own Joan McCarter pointed out on Tuesday. And yet I admittedly find myself persuaded by the immediacy of Democrats' argument for making the referral now rather than waiting for the courts to decide the fate of multiple top Trump officials, not to mention Trump’s financial records and perhaps even his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who clearly orchestrated Trump's entire Ukraine scheme. 

One of the main problems with waiting until it's all out there in the open is that Trump's corruption is pretty much endless. There will always be another stone to turn over. What Democrats have done is detailed a distinct instance of Trump’s malfeasance that is also perfectly representative of all the ways in which he has exploited the power of the office entrusted to him by the American people. 

"What we're seeing unfolding in front of us with Ukraine is the same pattern of obstruction and abuse of power and obstruction of Congress that we saw in the Mueller report," Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, told MSNBC. But the main difference between Mueller's investigation and the House inquiry is that, while Mueller's team was probing what had already transpired in the last election, House Democrats have been examining Trump's effort to rig an upcoming election. "We can't wait for all of those things to come to the forefront because the threat to our democracy and our elections is so severe that we do need to quickly move on this," Jayapal noted.

Strategically speaking, there might be a political upside to keeping the impeachment probe from bleeding too far into 2020 and potentially overtaking the Democratic primary and alienating voters. Likewise, one could argue that dragging Trump through the mud throughout the entirety of 2020 would give voters the perfect impetus to head into the voting booth next November. Instead, it appears that we will get some hybrid of those two options: a truncated impeachment proceeding and Senate trial followed by a series of delicious revelations throughout 2020 courtesy of the courts. It's not perfect, but then again, there's also no silver bullet in this crapshoot of a political environment.  

But exposing Trump's pattern of corruption now, when there's still enough time to heighten voter awareness and maybe even take preventative measures, is a strategic imperative for saving the democracy. As Schiff told reporters, "We do not intend to delay when the integrity of the next election is still at risk."

House Intelligence report homes in on Trump’s ‘repeated and pervasive threat’ to the 2020 elections

The 300-page House Intelligence Committee report laying the foundation for Donald Trump's impeachment focuses on his explicit efforts to tilt the upcoming 2020 election in his favor and makes the case that the inherent threat Trump’s scheme poses to U.S. democracy required immediate action.

“Given the proximate threat of further presidential attempts to solicit foreign interference in our next election, we cannot wait to make a referral until our efforts to obtain additional testimony and documents wind their way through the courts,” reads the executive summary. “The evidence of the President’s misconduct is overwhelming, and so too is the evidence of his obstruction of Congress. Indeed, it would be hard to imagine a stronger or more complete case of obstruction than that demonstrated by the President since the inquiry began.”

Presidential misconduct and obstruction of the House impeachment inquiry form the two central pillars of Democrats' case against Trump. But the report devotes far more time and space to teasing out Trump's misconduct, specifically charging that Trump conditioned both a White House meeting and military aid to Ukraine on "a public announcement of investigations beneficial to his reelection campaign."   

The executive summary starts by detailing the now-infamous July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, including preparation for the call; those listening in; diplomatic efforts predating the call; the unusual way in which Trump deviated from the script; his repeated references to the Bidens and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and the false allegations of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 elections; and, finally, the immediate fallout after the call and the eventual release of the call’s contents. 

“The record of the call would help explain for those involved in Ukraine policy in the U.S. government, the Congress, and the public why President Trump, his personal attorney, Mr. Giuliani, his hand-picked appointees in charge of Ukraine issues, and various senior Administration officials would go to great lengths to withhold a coveted White House meeting and critical military aid from Ukraine at a time when it served as a bulwark against Russian aggression in Europe,” the report reads, concluding, “The answer was as simple as it was inimical to our national security and election integrity: the President was withholding officials acts while soliciting something of value to his reelection campaign—an investigation into his political rival.”

You can find the House Intelligence executive summary here, and the full report here.

 

Cattle call: Two months out from first contest, Pete Buttigieg makes a bid for front-runner status

Whoa, haven’t done a cattle call since mid-September! Where did the time go? (It went into impeachment land, that’s where it went.) At the time, there were three legit candidates—Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. Today, we must add Pete Buttigieg to the list. No one else matters. Let’s do this! And let’s start by looking at the poll aggregate: 

The one clear trend above is a sharp drop (maybe even collapse) of Elizabeth Warren’s support following the fourth debate and the rollout of her health care plan. It’s as if people said, “Wait, she’s really liberal!” and got spooked off. Is that enough to shake up the Biden-Warren-Sanders order of the mid-September cattle call? Let’s find out!

1. Joe Biden ⬆️ (Last cattle call: 1)

Biden holds on to his top spot merely by virtue of holding on to his support. Now, there’s no inherent strength in hovering in the high 20s, meaning 3/4 of Democratic primary voters would prefer someone else. However, given that he remains at the top, it’s enough to earn him top honors at the moment. 

That said, Biden is in serious risk of coming in at fourth place in Iowa and New Hampshire, which would deal a serious blow to his electability and inevitability arguments. It doesn’t help that neither of those two states has an appreciable black electorate, the source of most of his support. Polling has shown him dominant in South Carolina, where the Democratic electorate is heavily black, but he could be heading to Super Tuesday with a string of embarrassing losses. 

Furthermore, his support is maxed out. No one is undecided on Biden, and in fact, his debate and public performances have been filled with enough cringe-inducing moments to scare off any undecideds. He is nowhere near as sharp as he was when he debated Paul Ryan, and his problematic past has hampered his ability to make inroads with younger demographics. He is a product of a different country and a different Democratic Party, and he’s shown zero interest in evolving with the times. 

In other words, he is the front-runner based on name recognition and fear that only a white man can beat Trump. His lack of crowds and poor fundraising merely underscore that reality. 

2. Pete Buttigieg ⬆️ (Last cattle call: unranked)

His national numbers are surging, and a heavy advertising blitz in Iowa and New Hampshire have given him leads in the first two early states. Buttigieg may very well be the functional front-runner at this stage of the campaign. His ascent is quite remarkable, given his unremarkable background. I’ve made no secret of my disgust for his candidacy—a small-liberal-college-town mayor who failed at handling racial problems in his police force thinking he deserves a promotion to the presidency.

Buttigieg’s Achilles’ heel stems from those race issues—his black support is at zero. That doesn’t matter in Iowa and New Hampshire, two unrepresentative states that should never again play point in any Democratic nomination contest. But the rest of the country has plenty of black and brown folks, and Buttigieg’s campaign response to that lack of support has been to blame black voters of homophobia. Indeed, Buttigieg’s turn as nominal front-runner has been rocky, as was Warren’s. It’s tough to bear the full brunt of everyone’s attacks (even though he was spared any confrontation in the fifth debate). He’s unlikely to remain similarly unscathed in the December debate, and time will tell whether he can maintain what support he has. But for now, his rise is real, and so is his placing in this cattle call. In fact, he should probably be first, and would be if he could claim any support among nonwhite voters. 

3. Bernie Sanders ⬇️ (Last cattle call: 3)

Sanders just chugs along, right? He spent more money on TV advertising than Buttigieg, and got what? Zero change. His supporters are going nowhere; they’re LOCKED in. And he’s not gaining any new support. People either love him or have moved on to others, and nothing appears to change that. So … where does that leave him? He has plenty of money to spend on TV, but how can he convince people to give him a second look? Fifteen percent isn’t enough to be truly competitive, but it’s plenty enough to play spoiler. If he can’t bust out of that range by Super Tuesday, his supporters will need to decide between allegiance to their guy or strategic voting based on ideology. 

4. Elizabeth Warren ⬇️ (Last cattle call: 2)

Warren has suffered the biggest drop in the last couple of months, and her health care rollout could not have gone any more poorly. On the merits, her plan is quite amazing; on the politics, people aren’t quite ready to give up on private insurance. The problem isn’t love for that private insurance, but fear of the unknown. Those candidates with less aggressive plans, centered on personal choice and a private option, are winning the politics. It’s why Buttigieg shifted from Medicare for All to the more iterative public option. It’s why everyone except for Sanders has adopted that less aggressive stance. And it’s probably a reason that Sanders himself has stagnated. The policy merits of Medicare for All may be golden, but Democratic voters just don’t love it—whether it’s from personal choice or out of fear that the issue will be a loser during the general election. 

Warren’s strength still resides in being the second-choice option of more voters than any other candidate, and she remains strongly competitive in Iowa, New Hampshire, and in the fourth contest, Nevada. (No one does well in South Carolina except for Biden.) But at 15% and seemingly still dropping, her core base of support has proven lower than I expected, and she may still not have hit bottom. 

One other note: Warren has spent almost nothing on television so far, clearly holding fire until closer to Election Day. She has more than enough money to compete in a wider field, and she’s proven the ability to garner support in the past. Has she lost those supporters for good? Who the heck knows? But she’ll need to get them back in the early states in order to propel herself into Super Tuesday with momentum. 

The rest

Look at the ad spending numbers: 

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The two white male egomaniac billionaires have already spent a combined $100 million on TV. For Tom Steyer, it has bought him inclusion in the debates, a travesty of the process, and exhibit A on the pernicious power of the monied class. Thinking about all the good progressive infrastructure-building that money could’ve done is sickening. And yes, both Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer have spent heavily on liberal causes in recent years, but there is so much more that could be done. They’d rather piss away a fortune on their selfish self-aggrandizement than spend on things that could usher in a real progressive majority. Fuck those guys. 

Andrew Yang is himself spending a great deal of money to go nowhere outside of the Reddit set. As for the rest? No one has gained any traction. Buttigieg has proven that candidates still have time to emerge from that cellar, but time is actually running out. We’ll soon be in stretch-run territory. 

Some House Democrats need to be thinking more about their constitutional duty than their reelection

As the House works toward impeachment, there's reportedly internal discussion and some conflict over expanding the articles brought beyond the confines of the Ukraine investigation. Apparently some moderates "wary of impeachment blowback in their GOP-leaning districts."

Members of the Judiciary Committee are considering drafting articles that include the 10 possible instances of obstruction outlined in special counsel Robert Mueller's report as well as results of other investigative and oversight work into the many instances of Trump's emoluments violations. One of the members who spoke to Washington Post reporters on the record is Judiciary Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Democrat from Washington. "One crime of these sorts is enough, but when you have a pattern, it is even stronger. […] If you show that this is not only real in what’s happening with Ukraine, but it’s the exact same pattern that Mueller documented . . . to me, that just strengthens the case." Intelligence Committee member Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois agrees. "It's hard to ignore the extraordinary documentation and the weight that Mueller put behind the instances of obstruction detailed in his report."

Some of the so-called moderates pressuring House Speaker Pelosi on the issue, the Post reports, want to "keep impeachment narrowly focused on Ukraine, a strategy they believed would help them weather any political backlash in next November’s elections." Others supposedly "have actually encouraged leadership to let them vote against some articles of impeachment on the House floor while backing others, a move that would allow centrists taking heat back home to show a degree of independence from their party’s left flank and their leadership."

Here's what every House Democrat should be thinking about: the trust put in them by the citizens who voted for them to fulfill their oath of office. If they need a reminder: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God."

But if they want to think politically, they should be thinking about making the strongest possible case against Trump. That will demonstrate to voters just how craven, unpatriotic, and dangerous the Republicans supporting him continue to be.

Mike Pence’s job in 2020: Rally the nation’s hypocrites, misogynists, and racists back to Trump

Politico is reporting on the Donald Trump campaign's planned usage of Vice President and master bootlicker Mike Pence as the 2020 presidential race heats up. The short version is that the campaign intends to put distance between Trump and Pence as much as possible. "For Pence to be an effective surrogate in 2020, campaign officials say his reputation must be preserved," says the outlet, and "someone has to be the nice guy" in contrast to Trump's, you know, overpowering repulsiveness in every possible way and venue.

The plan is that Donald will have his massive, shouting, hate-filled rallies, while Mike Pence will go to battleground states and counties and attempt to reel in "suburban women" and "swing-state residents suffering from Trump fatigue."

That is, as can be expected in a piece that relies heavily on the Trump campaign itself for its descriptions, putting the most charitable face possible on it. The more accurate take is that Mike Pence will act as the Malevolent Hypocrite magnet, attempting to placate his usual base of The Worst Churchgoing People You Know and Folksy Diner-Goers Who Keep Blurting Out Racist Things To Visiting National Reporters. You know the type: People who very much like the Trump administration's brutal treatment of refugees, caging of children, cuts to food assistance, and attempted entry bans on anyone from "Muslim" countries, but who are turned off by Trump being, in public, a disgusting, boorish, blasphemous, perverted freak.

Relax, Mike Pence is there to say. I am as holy as Jeebus Himself, and if I can put up with all Trump's criminal acts, grotesque public behavior, and lifetime of treating anyone and everyone with open, seething contempt, then you can swallow the jagged shards of your folksy pride, put on your best brown shirt, and vote for Team Asshole. He's rude, but he's racist. What more do you people want?

It's the same dynamic that Pence has tried to cultivate throughout his association with Donald Trump. People have done crimes around him, from Flynn to Manafort to Cohen to Giuliani to, it seems, a good chunk of the Cabinet, but Mike Pence has been absolutely unaware of any of it, even when his staff testifies that they sent him a memo about the crimes in his daily briefing materials. Donald Trump is, in action, everything the supposedly saintly Pence pretends to abhor, an alleged sexual assaulter and a liar who takes apparent pride in harming those around him, but Mike Pence sees not a thing.

That's the voter Mike Pence is going for. People like Mike Pence: people who go to church on Sundays, praise Jesus and America, and spend every smiling hour being mean, spiteful, racist, misogynistic stains looking to hurt anyone in America who isn't them, and willing to excuse any behavior by any ally who will help them do it.

There's a lot of them, so it's not a bad strategy. Mike Pences are a dime a dozen, in the swing states and everywhere else.

But there's another, rather more obvious reason that the Trump campaign is keeping Mike Pence at a distance during this campaign ramp-up. It is true that "campaign officials say his reputation must be preserved" in order to woo disillusioned Trump voters back to Team Asshole, but, more pointedly, Pence needs to give a wide, wide berth to the crimes that have landed Donald Trump in impeachment hearings. There is a slim but measurable chance that Donald—especially as the pressure seems to be getting to him of late—will still be revealed to be involved with crimes so ostentatious that even members of his own crime-denying party will yet turn on him, and somebody has to be Plan B.

That would be Pence. He's been there the whole time, but didn't see a thing and didn't know about any of the, you know, unpleasantness. He's spent the entire administration polishing himself as Plan B, should Plan B ever become needed.

Trump adds new front to trade war with metal tariffs on Brazil and Argentina

Donald Trump is taking his impotent impeachment rage out on familiar territory for him, opening up a new front in South America in his trade wars. The White House announced Monday that it would reimpose steel and aluminum tariffs on Brazil and Argentina in retaliation for "a massive devaluation of their currencies. which is not good for our farmers."

The tariffs on imported metals from the two countries is effective immediately. In addition to lashing out against the two countries, Trump attacked the Federal Reserve, saying it should "act so that countries, of which there are many, no longer take advantage of our strong dollar by further devaluing their currencies. This makes it very hard for our [manufacturers] & farmers to fairly export their goods. Lower Rates & Loosen—Fed!"

The U.S. is one of Brazil's largest steel markets, accounting for about $2.6 billion last year for the country, which is suffering a stagnant economy and unemployment above 10%. Likewise, Argentina's economy is struggling, with high inflation and a plummeting peso. The surprise tariff move shocked leaders in those countries and could complicate efforts to get a deal on the remade North American Free Trade Agreement with the House.

The announcement also contradicts Trump’s own Treasury Department, which reports twice annually on the currency policies of the rest of the world's major economies, on the lookout for currency manipulation. It's at least the second time Trump has popped off with the charge against other countries—in August it was China—in contradiction of Treasury's findings.

Putin made Trump president. It’s not the first time Russia has subverted another country’s election

Russia has done this before. And I’m not even talking about the Soviet era, when the USSR simply took control of various governments by direct force of arms. No, I’m talking about stealthily subverting another country’s election and placing its puppet into power. That’s what Russia did to Poland-Lithuania during the 18th century.

How many of you, I wonder, knew that Lithuania was once the largest country in Europe? Moreover, that was before it joined with Poland to become, for a time, not only the dominant power in Eastern Europe, but also one with a significant degree of democracy. Before I discuss this history, I must mention the brilliant scholar and teacher under whom I studied it in graduate school, Andrzej Kaminski. One of my favorite memories from those classes was when the professor, a native Polish speaker, responded to a student’s request for more time to complete an assignment by saying, “My nose bleeds for you.” 

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Poland-Lithuania at its largest, superimposed onto today’s map.

After the enactment of the Union of Lublin in 1569, the Commonwealth of Poland-Lithuania was an elected, constitutional monarchy, where the king’s powers were counterbalanced by a parliament that was no rubber stamp. Although the right to elect the king and members of the legislature was limited to male noblemen, the nobility was estimated to be somewhere between 8-15% of the population—far higher than in any other European country at the time.

In 1610 Poland-Lithuania looked for a moment like it might come to dominate Russia after winning a series of battles with the country and having the son of its king crowned tsar.

In the end, however, the tables were turned. Russia began grabbing more and more territory from its western neighbor. The end result was the Partitions of Poland which, between 1772 and 1795, divvied up the country’s remaining territory among Austria, Prussia, and Russia—with the latter taking the lion’s share. How did this happen? It’s a long story, but in short, it’s because significant elements of the country’s political leadership sold it out to Moscow:

During the reign of Władysław IV (1632–48), the liberum veto was developed, a policy of parliamentary procedure based on the assumption of the political equality of every "gentleman", with the corollary that unanimous consent was needed for all measures. A single member of parliament's belief that a measure was injurious to his own constituency (usually simply his own estate), even after the act had been approved, became enough to strike the act. Thus it became increasingly difficult to undertake action. The liberum veto also provided openings for foreign diplomats to get their ways, through bribing nobles to exercise it. Thus, one could characterise Poland–Lithuania in its final period (mid-18th century) before the partitions as already in a state of disorder and not a completely sovereign state, and almost as a vassal state, with Russian tsars effectively choosing Polish kings. This applies particularly to the last Commonwealth King Stanisław August Poniatowski, who for some time had been a lover of Russian Empress Catherine the Great.

As Eric Lohr, an American University historian specializing in Russia, summarized it, “By the early 18th century, Russia was routinely meddling in internal Polish electoral politics.” This should sound quite familiar to Americans in the era of Donald Trump.

Vladimir Putin’s Russia interfered in our elections in 2016, as U.S. intelligence agencies have clearly documented. Not only that, but Moscow has spent years denying it and deflecting blame by spreading the false rumor that Ukraine—a country that, like 18th-century Poland, it wants to weaken and ultimately dominate—was the one who did it.

Any objective analysis would treat those Russian denials as no more trustworthy than, for another example, Russian claims that they strictly follow all the anti-doping rules that govern international athletics (not only did they cheat, they invented fake evidence to try and discredit the whistleblower who exposed their cheating. Let’s hope Trump doesn’t copy Putin on that score as well.)

Putin’s success in placing his chosen candidate in the Oval Office is so thorough that Trump and his allies are now parroting the false rumor about Ukrainian meddling—one that clearly benefits Russian interests—in their bogus impeachment defense. Reported The New York Times,

The Republican defense of Mr. Trump became central to the impeachment proceedings when Fiona Hill, a respected Russia scholar and former senior White House official, added a harsh critique during testimony on Thursday [November 21]. She told some of Mr. Trump’s fiercest defenders in Congress that they were repeating “a fictional narrative.” She said that it likely came from a disinformation campaign by Russian security services, which also propagated it.

In a briefing that closely aligned with Dr. Hill’s testimony, American intelligence officials informed senators and their aides in recent weeks that Russia had engaged in a yearslong campaign to essentially frame Ukraine as responsible for Moscow’s own hacking of the 2016 election, according to three American officials. The briefing came as Republicans stepped up their defenses of Mr. Trump in the Ukraine affair.

The revelations demonstrate Russia’s persistence in trying to sow discord among its adversaries — and show that the Kremlin apparently succeeded, as unfounded claims about Ukrainian interference seeped into Republican talking points. American intelligence agencies believe Moscow is likely to redouble its efforts as the 2020 presidential campaign intensifies. The classified briefing for senators also focused on Russia’s evolving influence tactics, including its growing ability to better disguise operations.

As Dr. Hill noted in her testimony, “The Russians have a particular vested interest in putting Ukraine, Ukrainian leaders in a very bad light.” Trump and his buddies—from Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, to Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana—are playing right along, doing Putin’s bidding (although Kennedy backtracked and pretended he hadn’t understood the question he’d been asked).

Even Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who had said in July 2017, "I am confident that the Russians meddled in this election, as is the entire intelligence community," and then declared that he stood by that assessment a few months later—after Trump said that he believed Putin’s denial—is now toeing the Kremlin’s line. Pompeo this week was asked if our government, along with that of Ukraine, should investigate the debunked claim that Kyiv, not Moscow, had interfered in our election by stealing those infamous emails from the Democratic National Committee. Rather than again reaffirm what he said in 2017, Pompeo instead backed his boss and said, ”Any time there is information that indicates that any country has messed with American elections, we not only have a right, but a duty to make sure we chase that down.” As Politico put it, he “appeared to bolster the conspiratorial claim, promoted by President Donald Trump, that it was Ukraine that hacked the DNC server in the 2016 White House race.”

We can hear the chuckling all the way from Moscow.

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Putin, ever so clever, yukked it up last month about sticking his fingers into our elections next year as well. More ominously, in 2018 he suggested that even if the people responsible for interfering in our 2016 elections were Russian citizens, they might well have been Jews.

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It’s important to remember that The Man Who Lost The Popular Vote has acted in ways that align with Russian interests since long before the impeachment inquiry began. He isn’t just cozying up to Putin to save his presidency—cozying up to Putin has defined his presidency.

There are striking parallels between the actions of some corrupt members of the early modern Polish nobility—those who placed their narrow personal interests above those of their country—and those of Trump and his ever-Trumper allies who are placing the interests of their party, or simply its leader, above those of our country.

In both cases, the actions of these sellouts allowed a foreign power—the same one, in fact—to exercise what certainly appears to be a significant degree of control over the country they were sworn to serve. Just ask the Poles how well that worked out for them in the long run.

Ian Reifowitz is the author of The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh's Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump (Foreword by Markos Moulitsas)