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Trump’s weakest impeachment defense yet somehow blew up in his face

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- Commentary

When President Donald Trump said he was planning to release the record of his April 21 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, many observers yawned. In the controversy surrounding the July 25 call, some had raised questions about Trump’s only other call with the new leader, but interest in the April 21 conversation died down as the evidence against the president in the broader Ukraine scandal became so overwhelming and damning.

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It was easy to assume that since Trump was so eager this week to release the record of the April 21 call, it would likely be insubstantial and only amount to a distraction for the core issues at impeachment. Jokes were already circulating about the idea that Trump would claim that, since he didn’t commit any crimes on one call, he couldn’t have possibly committed other crimes.

Yet somehow, the release of the new records — again, a decision made largely of Trump’s own initiative — completely backfired.

The reason? The call transcript further undermines Republicans’ already implausible defense of Trump’s effort to induce Ukraine to investigate his political enemies: that he genuinely cares about fighting corruption.

Despite the fact that the original White House statement about the call claimed Trump and Zelensky discussed “reforms that strengthen democracy, increase prosperity, and root out corruption” — the U.S. president didn’t mention corruption once on the April 24, according to the records. Likewise, Trump didn’t mention fighting corruption in his July 25 call, either — he only mentioned investigations of his opponents.

These two facts dramatically undercut the argument that Trump was pursuing legitimate anti-corruption policy, rather than his own craven interests. But it gets worse.

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Politico reported Friday night that “advisers suggested President Donald Trump raise the broad issue of corruption in his first call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on April 21, but Trump chose not to, according to a person familiar with the matter.”

So, instead of supporting the idea that Trump really cares about fighting corruption — which always sounded like a joke — the focus on the April 21 call just emphasizes that the president is, in fact, actively uninterested in this foreign policy objective.

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Trump spoke with Giuliani on unsecured phones that were vulnerable to Russian surveillance: report

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On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump has communicated with his lawyer Rudy Giuliani via unsecured and unencrypted phone lines that are potentially vulnerable to interception and monitoring by Russian intelligence officials and other hostile foreign powers.

"Trump is not identified by name in the House phone records, but investigators said they suspect he may be a person with a blocked number listed as '-1' in the files," stated the report. "And administration officials said separately that Trump has communicated regularly with Giuliani on unsecured lines."

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Internet debates ‘the dumbest thing Brian Kilmeade has ever said’

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Fox News personality Brian Kilmeade has received a great deal of attention -- and criticism -- during the Trump era.

Kilmeade co-hosts one of the President's favorite shows, "Fox and Friends," with Steve Doocy and Ainsley Earhardt on weekday mornings. He also a show on the Fox News Radio network and frequently appears on "The Five."

The former Ultimate Fighting Championship play-by-play sportscaster has also been harshly criticized for the type of comments that make the show a favorite for the president.

Journalist Molly Jong-Fast, who was widely praised her interview of Lisa Page, decided to explore Kilmeade's comments.

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Trump was ‘in denial’ he would be impeached — until he watched TV yesterday: CNN reporter

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On Thursday's edition of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," White House correspondent Boris Sanchez said that President Donald Trump believed for weeks that Democrats were not really going to go through with impeachment — but after watching the House Judiciary Committee testimony on Wednesday, he finally realized they were serious.

"Is it clear how the president is handling this behind closed doors?" asked Cooper.

"Well, for weeks we've been hearing that the president has sort of been in denial about all of this, that he did not actually believe that Democrats in the house would vote to impeach him," said Sanchez. "We're actually told that he's come to terms with that reality in part because he was watching testimony yesterday as he was returning from a NATO leaders meeting in London."

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