President Trump’s woman troubles never seem to go away. A recording aired by ABC News today indicates that Trump himself demanded the ouster of the American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, during a dinner with Lev Parnas, whom he claims he never knew. He did. Trump declared at an April 30, 2018 dinner that included Parnas, ‘Get rid of her! Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it.’
It took a while but eventually Trump’s paladins did. They understood that by ‘take her out’, the president didn’t mean ask her to go to a fine restaurant or the ballet. They had other ideas. Eventually, Yovanovitch was dismissed and replaced by William Taylor. Look how well that turned out. Both ended up testifying before the House about Trump’s Ukraine caper.
Now it appears that the Southern District of New York has the tape and that Igor Fruman, Parnas’s former partner, made it. Is Fruman cooperating with the feds? Is the Southern District on the case? In the Washington Post, Greg Sargent observes, ‘The recording also suggests new detail about just how involved Trump was in the campaign to oust Yovanovitch. As you’ll recall, Yovanovitch had to be removed — which Trump ultimately did — to clear the way for the corrupt scheme that Giuliani was preparing to orchestrate in an effort to extort Ukraine into announcing investigations that would help Trump politically.’ For Senate Republicans, this little morsel can hardly be reassuring. It may hasten their desire to acquit Trump before any further damaging evidence emerges. And Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Trump votary of the highest order, said that the efforts of Trump’s lawyers to defend him didn’t match an ‘eighth grade book report’. All that’s left is Trump expostulating about a hoax and witch hunt, his old standbys.
Even as Trump pours scorn on the impeachment trial, however, he may face trouble on another front. He tweeted in praise of China today: ‘China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!’ But how does he know?
The coronavirus could be a black swan event that damages not only the Chinese regime but also the Trump presidency. If an ill-prepared Trump administration flounders in its response to the virus and it spreads in America, the president will be blamed for the calamity.
Still, Trump’s approval rating is climbing. A new poll indicates that he is at 44 percent, matching his high-water mark. In late October he was in the doldrums at 38 percent. The booming economy remains his calling card. Small wonder that Republican senators continue to cower before him. Rep. Adam Schiff told the Senate, ‘Do you think for a moment that any of you, no matter what your relationship with this president, no matter how close you are to this president, do you think for a moment that if he felt it was in his interest, he wouldn’t ask you to be investigated? Do you think for a moment that he wouldn’t?’ Which is exactly why Susan Collins and co are not about to tempt fate by crossing Trump before 2020.