On Tuesday, Jonathan Last, the executive editor of the conservative anti-Trump website The Bulwark, mapped out a damning timeline of how President Donald Trump's defenses to the Ukraine scandal have shifted over time as the revelations have gotten more damning — and harder to deny.
"The Ukraine story did not emerge as a public concern until late September. The whistleblower complaint was filed to Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson on August 12. Congress did not subpoena the whistleblower’s complaint until September 13," wrote Last. "By September 18, press reports were suggesting — still only vaguely — that President Trump had made some sort of promise to some foreign leader during a phone call."
"On the same day he tweeted that polling shows no support for his impeachment," continued Last. "Interesting that his mind would go there. Because this was before the public knew anything substantive about his call with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky."
From there, Last noted, the tone of Trump's tweets shifted again and again.
First he called it a "Fake News" story and said people would be "dumb" to think he would say "anything inappropriate" to a foreign leader. Then, as more details came out, he claimed the whistleblower was a "spy" illegally listening in on his call. Then, after the White House released a transcript corroborating everything, he claimed that it was actually fine to ask foreign leaders to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden. Then he retweeted that the inspector general determined the whistleblower had "political bias" (which is not true), said that the whistleblower rules were "changed" to make the complaint valid (which is also not true) and claimed that lawyers working for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) helped the whistleblower write the complaint (which is completely unsubstantiated.)
Meanwhile, he also went from denying there was any quid pro quo, to denying there were any high crimes and misdemeanors.
"As it happens, Trump’s personal campaign is lagging behind the vanguard of his defenders. Because it turns out that just about everyone thinks that his conversation with Ukraine’s president was a big deal and not in a good way," wrote Last.
As he noted, even Tucker Carlson — who doesn't think Trump's behavior is impeachable — has acknowledged it is improper, writing, "Donald Trump should not have been on the phone with a foreign head of state encouraging another country to investigate his political opponent, Joe Biden. Some Republicans are trying, but there’s no way to spin this as a good idea. Like a lot of things Trump does, it was pretty over-the-top. Our leaders’ official actions should not be about politics. Those two things need to remain separate."
"On the day this saga began, Trump boasted about how the public did not support impeachment. That was true three weeks ago. Today, support for impeachment is up to 44 percent," concluded Last. "As I write this, the RealClear Politics average for Trump’s job approval is 43.4 percent."