Also, 'the sexiest man alive'
Rudy Giuliani's ride with New York magazine reporter Olivia Nuzzi en route to a two-Bloody Mary brunch was almost too revealing. Like when he picked her up in his bodyguard-chauffeured SUV, and she noticed his fly was open.
The interview was an eye-opener into the state of mind of President Donald Trump's personal lawyer. For starters, Giuliani is all in on George Soros conspiracy theories popular on the far right, including with anti-Semitic groups who depict Soros as a global puppet master.
Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine he forced out, is “controlled” by Soros, Giuliani said. “He put all four ambassadors there. And he’s employing the FBI agents.” Giuliani insisted what he was saying wasn't crazy. “Don’t tell me I’m anti-Semitic if I oppose him … Soros is hardly a Jew," he said of the Holocaust survivor. "I’m more of a Jew than Soros is."
Later, Giuliani said "I have no business interests in Ukraine." Then he said, “I’ve done two business deals in Ukraine. I’ve sought four or five others.” Drool dribbled onto his sweater as he spoke, Nuzzi reports.
He said that if the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office is investigating his dealings in Ukraine with two indicted associates, as is widely reported, "they’re idiots … I know how not to commit crimes." He suggested the prosecutors there were "knee-jerk … logically impaired anti-Trump people" and driven by "jealousy" of his record as U.S. attorney in the 1980s. "They’ve never done anything like me since me," Giuliani said.
Giuliani mused over how he would attack the credibility of impeachment witnesses, such as "that guy that overheard the telephone call," apparently meaning the U.S. Embassy staffer in Kyiv who was present when U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland called Trump. Maybe he was really deaf, Giuliani suggested. "How do we know he isn’t a paranoid schizophrenic? … How do we know he isn’t an alcoholic?”
On Monday, as Nuzzi's story was published, Giuliani tweeted repeatedly in defense of Trump and, digressing, retweeted an account, "women for rudy giuliani," that describes itself as "Patriotic Ladies supporting the sexiest man alive."
ADL: Not OK
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, chided Giuliani for his comments on Soros.
"Opposing Soros isn’t what’s #antiSemitic. Saying that he controls ambassadors, employs FBI agents and isn’t 'Jewish enough' to be demonized is," Greenblatt tweeted.
Asked by NBC News if his comments about being more Jewish than Soros were made in jest, Giuliani responded by text: "I'm more Jewish than half my friends."
McConnell on trial witnesses: Maybe
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that he was not ruling out calling witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial, but he doesn't want to decide until the proceeding is underway. Lawmakers remained at an impasse over the form of the trial.
McConnell said that waiting until both sides presented their cases would match the procedures followed during President Bill Clinton's 1999 impeachment trial. "Fair is fair,” he said on "Fox & Friends."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer argued that the circumstances in the Trump trial are different from Clinton's, which followed a lengthy independent counsel investigation in which witnesses testified numerous times. Schumer also is demanding documents from the Trump administration.
He told The Associated Press that he stands ready to negotiate with McConnell, but "if there are no documents and no witnesses, it will be very hard to come to an agreement.” If McConnell won’t agree, “We can go to the floor and demand votes, and we will,” Schumer added.
More impeachment charges?
The House Judiciary Committee held open the possibility Monday of recommending additional articles of impeachment against Trump as it urged a federal appeals court to order testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn.
The White House has blocked McGahn from cooperating with the committee's examination of whether Trump tried to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation.
In a court filing, the committee's lawyers said, “If McGahn’s testimony produces new evidence supporting the conclusion that President Trump committed impeachable offenses that are not covered by the Articles approved by the House, the Committee will proceed accordingly — including, if necessary, by considering whether to recommend new articles of impeachment."
The House voted last week to impeach Trump on two charges related to seeking investigations of his political rivals by Ukraine.
Windmills of Trump's mind
Trump's hatred of windmills was sort of understandable when he fought — and lost — a legal battle to stop installation of a wind farm near his Aberdeenshire golf course in Scotland. He complained the turbines would mar the view.
Many of his claims, such as that the windmills cause cancer or are unreliable for power generation, are false. Others can be hard to follow. Here's what he told a group of young Trump supporters Saturday:
"We’ll have an economy based on wind. I never understood wind. You know, I know windmills very much. I’ve studied it better than anybody. I know it’s very expensive. They’re made in China and Germany mostly — very few made here, almost none. But they’re manufactured tremendous — if you’re into this — tremendous fumes. Gases are spewing into the atmosphere.
"You know we have a world, right? So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint — fumes are spewing into the air. Right? Spewing. Whether it’s in China, Germany, it’s going into the air. It’s our air, their air, everything — right? So they make these things and then they put them up."
Not a Trump tweet: 'Touché, Andrew'
Will Trump be stung by a veto recently issued by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo? You be the judge.
The New York governor killed a bipartisan bill that would have allowed all federal judges to officiate weddings in the state. Cuomo's problem with it: Some of the judges might have been Trump picks.
"President Trump does not embody who we are as New Yorkers," Cuomo's veto message said. "The cornerstones that built our great state are diversity, tolerance and inclusion. Based on these reasons, I must veto this bill."
The legislation passed the State Senate, 61-1, and the Assembly, 144-2. The veto surprised Manhattan Democrat Liz Krueger, who sponsored the bill in the State Senate. "I'm certainly no fan of the judges this president is choosing to appoint — but since any New Yorker can become a minister online for $25 and legally perform weddings, I didn't consider this to be a major issue," she said.
Canada: We can't solve U.S. drug costs
Many of Canada’s drug suppliers cannot, or will not, agree to ship cheaper prescription medicines into the United States, a new challenge to the Trump administration’s push to reduce drug prices, companies and industry officials told Reuters.
Some of Canada’s major distributors are subsidiaries of U.S. companies, who are unlikely to participate in a program to lower prices.
Canada’s acting ambassador to the United States, Kirsten Hillman, said last month that her country's market for pharmaceuticals "is too small to have any real impact on U.S. drug prices,” noting that Canada represents 2% of global pharmaceutical consumption, compared with the United States’ 44%.
What else is happening:
- Bill Clinton was contrite after he survived impeachment. No one expects that from Trump if he's acquitted, Politico reports. “I think his behavior will get more extreme going into the election,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). "A virtue of this president is he has been the same person yesterday, today and tomorrow, and I expect that will continue,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
- Hillary Clinton doesn't have the most-talked-about account on Twitter. But Politico writes that her 26.1 million followers see a looser, more spontaneous Clinton then when she ran for president, along with a dash of lingering victimhood and a self-aware sarcasm.
- Michael Bloomberg is closing in on Trump's 2020 campaign for the most spending on Google ads at $9.2 million to $9.5 million as of Monday afternoon.
- Trump's campaign is competing for cash with unaffiliated pro-Trump PACs, dark money groups and off-brand Facebook advertisers who have raised more than $46 million so far, Politico reports. Much of what they collect goes to those running the groups. Little is spent to help Trump.
- The ADL's Greenblatt rejected White House aide Stephen Miller's claim that his critics target him because he's Jewish. "Stephen Miller has elevated white supremacist ideas & transformed them into national policy," Greenblatt tweeted. "Using claims of #antiSemitism as a shield to defend himself against those calling out his bigotry is wrong & trivializes actual #antiSemitism."