One result is that some things once disparaged or dismissed by Trump and his defenders later become part of Trump’s defense. This is probably an almost necessary result of the rapid expansion of the issue, compounded by the White House’s general failure to offer a coordinated response. But the effect is some often-awkward reversals in which things once pilloried come to be embraced.
Holding open impeachment hearings is now BAD.
For weeks, one of the central lines of attack deployed by Trump allies was that the impeachment inquiry, launched in late September, was unfair because witnesses were interviewed behind closed doors. Republicans regularly criticized the Democratic majority for holding “secret” hearings (although dozens of Republicans were allowed to attend and to ask questions).
Last week, the House approved a formal impeachment inquiry, moving the effort into a new phase. Public hearings begin next week.
On Friday, though, Trump announced that such hearings are unwelcome.
“They shouldn’t be having public hearings,” Trump told reporters outside the White House. “This is a hoax. This is just like the Russian witch hunt.”
Again, this is not the only issue where positions have flipped.
Making the rough transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky public was GOOD.
This one evolved quickly. On Sept. 24, the day before the release of the rough transcript, Trump was asked if it should be made public.
“I’d rather not do it from the standpoint of all of the other conversations I have,” Trump said. But hours later, he announced that the document was being produced. Since then, he’s embraced the rough transcript, urging supporters to read it and presenting it as definitively exculpatory.
The New York Times reports that Attorney General William P. Barr’s advocacy for releasing the transcript has been a source of tension with the president.
“Since the release of the reconstructed transcript, Mr. Trump has grown irked when he sees news coverage asserting that the call was problematic, harkening back to the fact that Mr. Barr was among those who told him it would be wise to release it, according to two people close to the president,” the Times reported. “One of them said that [acting White House chief of staff Mick] Mulvaney has fueled the president’s concerns about Mr. Barr, telling Mr. Trump that it was a mistake to make the document public.”
Speaking to reporters Friday, the president reiterated that he didn’t like to release transcripts.
Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland is NOT GOOD.
Sondland has emerged as a central character in the impeachment inquiry, appearing repeatedly at the nexus of efforts to influence Ukraine and the administration. In early October, Sondland was blocked from offering testimony to the impeachment inquiry, with Trump calling him a “great American.”
Several weeks ago, though, Sondland did testify, eventually amending his testimony to include an admission of making a direct quid pro quo request to an aide of Zelensky’s.
On Friday, Trump distanced himself from Sondland, saying he “hardly knew” the ambassador he’d nominated.
Quid pro quos are NOT BAD.
One common refrain from Trump and his allies since the Ukraine scandal emerged is that there was no “quid pro quo” at play. At first, this claim centered on the rough transcript of the call, but it later expanded outward to cover nearly everything Trump did.
Mind you, there is still plenty of evidence that Trump and his team sought to exchange something desired by Ukraine for something Trump wanted. But Trump (and Mulvaney, after his disastrous news conference last month) wield “no quid pro quo” the way they used “no collusion” — as a blanket denial largely distinct from the actual meanings of the terms.
Earlier this week, though, Trump changed his tune slightly: If there were a quid pro quo, it wasn’t a big deal anyway, since it wouldn’t be impeachable.
But, he hastened to add, there wasn’t a quid pro quo.
The effect on the markets is NOT BAD.
Trump invests a lot of energy in hyping the strong economy as a measure of the effectiveness of his presidency, and he often uses stock prices as a tangible way to do so.
There have been times, though, when stocks have turned south, forcing Trump to figure out a way to explain what happened without undermining his narrative. In February 2018, for example, he declared that stocks were sinking because of a surfeit of good economic news.
When stocks dipped on Halloween as the House was voting to formalize impeachment, Trump quickly drew a line between the two.
“The Impeachment Hoax is hurting our Stock Market,” he tweeted. “The Do Nothing Democrats don’t care!”
In short order, the markets rebounded, because, it seems, the impeachment inquiry was no longer having a negative effect.
“Stock Markets (all three) hit another ALL TIME & HISTORIC HIGH yesterday!” Trump wrote. “You are sooo lucky to have me as your President (just kidding!). Spend your money well!”
At another point, Trump decided that, far from hurting the economy, the impeachment inquiry was an effort to distract America from the economy.
Of course, stocks have been on the rise. Should the markets drop again and Democrats receive the blame, we’ll update this article.