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The Week in Washington: Promises, Promises—Trump Phones Up the Leader of Ukraine

Lynn Yaeger

Whistle-blower-gate! It’s complicated and murky, so stay with us: On August 12, someone working in the U.S. intelligence community filed a complaint that alleged wrongdoings at high levels of the government. This whistle-blower was so alarmed by this behavior that he or she went to the boss, Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who reviewed the complaint and deemed it not only credible but a matter of “urgent concern.” According to the Washington Post, “the complaint involves [President] Trump and alleges that he made some kind of a ‘promise’ to a foreign leader . . . . ” More details emerged; the New York Times reported on Friday, “President Trump pressed the Ukrainian president in a July call to investigate former vice president Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son, according to a person familiar with the conversation, an apparently blatant mixture of foreign policy with his 2020 reelection campaign . . . . Mr. Trump also repeatedly told the Ukrainian leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, to talk with his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who had been urging the government in Kiev to investigate Mr. Biden and his family, according to two other people briefed on the call.”

The president responded to these mind-blowing allegations by staking out a number of contradictory positions. He tweeted that the whistle-blower was partisan, then later that same day admitted that he doesn’t know who this person is. He said he didn’t do anything wrong, but even if he did it would be okay! On Thursday morning he tweeted: “Another Fake News story out there—it never ends! Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. No problem! . . . Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!”

Friday at 5:30 a.m. found him even more riled up. “The Radical Left Democrats and their Fake News Media partners, headed up again by Little Adam Schiff, and batting zero for 21 against me, are at it again!” he tweeted. “Strange that with so many other people hearing or knowing of the perfectly fine and respectful conversation, that they would not have also come forward. Do you know the reason why they did not? Because there was nothing said wrong; it was pitch-perfect!”

Needless to say, congressional Democrats had a pitch-perfect hissy fit when they learned about all this. Ordinarily, a whistle blower’s complaint is supposed to go straight to congressional intelligence committees—but not these days, not with this administration. Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire has refused to share the complaint with Congress and—big surprise—the White House Office of Legal Counsel is also stonewalling. So where does this leave the matter? With the Democrats heading back to court, trying to get the documents released. On Thursday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told reporters, “Come hell or high water, that’s what we’re going to do.”

In other news, the week began with the odious Corey Lewandowski testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, which is conducting what tepid Dems are calling an “impeachment inquiry.” Lewandowski, a former Trump campaign manager, was surly; he was evasive; he filibustered; he was determined to run out the clock. But then, at the end of the hearing, he actually broke down and fessed up, admitting that he is a lying liar who lies. Caught in a big fat whopper he told on MSNBC, Lewandowski declared, “I have no obligation to be honest to the media. Because they’re just as dishonest as anybody else.” When Barry Berke, the attorney questioning him, said, “So you’re admitting, sir, you were not being truthful?” Lewandowski replied, “My interview with Ari Melber . . . can be interpreted any way you like.”

Meanwhile, Trump continues his own bizarre attacks on the truth, to be interpreted any way you like. On Wednesday, he alleged that in San Francisco, hypodermic needles are washing into the ocean, a claim that that city’s mayor characterized as “ridiculous.” On Monday, at a rally in New Mexico, he offered, “We got a lot of Hispanics. We love our Hispanics. Get out and vote.” This creepy racism was reminiscent of the June 2016 California campaign event during which Trump pointed to Gregory Cheadle, a supporter in the audience, and said, “Look at my African American over here. Look at him. Are you the greatest?” That particular African American has had enough of this administration—earlier this month Cheadle told PBS, “To stay on this ship now, as a black Republican, I couldn’t do it.”

Lastly, we offer up a bit of comic relief, a shred of fluorescent polyester to cheer you in these dark times. On Monday former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, famous for lying about Trump’s inauguration crowd size among numerous other notorious fibs, debuted as a contestant on Dancing With the Stars. He was clad in a beruffled lime green monstrosity, was paid $125,000 to swoop and gyrate on national television, and was pretty much universally panned for his performance, though he had at least one fan. “Clearly the judges aren’t going to be with me. Let’s send a message to #Hollywood that those of us who stand for #Christ won’t be discounted. May God bless you,” former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee tweeted after Spicey’s dance routine. Which begs the question: Can we expect the governor’s daughter, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who succeeded Spicer as press secretary and outdid him in mendacity, to be warbling on America’s Got Talent sometime soon?

Originally Appeared on Vogue