Morning Report; Whistleblower complaint released

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Stocks are flat this morning on no real news. Bonds and MBS are up.

 

The House Intelligence Committee released the whistleblower complaint. This is a developing story and I have not read the complaint carefully, but it seems to be all hearsay. In other words, the whistleblower is recounting things he heard from other people and did not hear directly. My guess is that the issue is going have a similar fate to the Russian Collusion story – it will fall down along partisan lines again, and the markets will largely ignore the story. At the margin, it should mean lower stock prices and lower interest rates, but it probably won’t be meaningful.

 

New Home Sales came in at 713,000, which was up 7.1% MOM and 18% YOY. The standard deviations on new home sales is always huge, so take it with a grain of salt. The South and the West experienced the biggest gains. Note that housing has been a drag on the economy for six consecutive quarters, and it appears that it will finally contribute to GDP.

 

Speaking of GDP, the third revision to second quarter GDP is out. Growth came in at 2%, and the inflation numbers were tweaked upward. The core PCE index rose 1.9%, up from the 1.7% previous estimate and the headline number was bumped up 0.2% to 2.4%. The uptick inflation doesn’t appear to have had any impact to the Fed Funds futures.

44 Responses

    • I am wondering how WaPo would have covered it if some Republican in the intelligence community had come out and said that he heard someone say that obama said that he would have more flexibility after the election.

      Like

    • This:

      “Some Russians posted some bulls**t on Facebook. The votes were what they were.”

      Like

  1. Peloton looking like $26 after a $29 IPO…

    I’m so old I remember when IPOs didn’t break price on the open.

    Like

  2. The whistleblower complaint is worth an investigation.

    The Schiff Committee Ds are truly blowing this into the sideshow that is not helpful to them if investigation is the object, and seems to me to undermine any final investigative result as well as any political impact that result may have had.

    Done right, all of this would have been in closed session. The Senate Committee is in closed session.

    These political games always obscure. I think back to the Bengazi matter. And most open committee hearings I have ever seen.

    Maguire is a good witness and anything aimed at attacking his integrity had to backfire. Ds could have easily made the most of him without ever arguing about the meaning of the word “urgent” in the statute, and by conceding that the President is not DNI’s responsibility because he is not within the intel community. Then the committee would have NOT lost points because the IG turned the investigation over to the FBI. They would have made points on it. But they acted like the DNI was a criminal.

    Ds cannot find their collective butts with all collected hands.

    Rs complaining about hearsay is misplaced, as intel is not evidence, and relies on hearsay. Always. But that just points up that this should be the beginning of a quiet investigation, not a media circus.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No rational person could think that either parties desire is the truth.

      Liked by 1 person

    • The Schiff Committee Ds are truly blowing this into the sideshow that is not helpful to them if investigation is the object

      The object is to have an excuse to impeach, and to give the media something to hammer Trump over through the election.

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    • Mark:

      The whistleblower complaint is worth an investigation.

      Have you read it?

      https://intelligence.house.gov/uploadedfiles/20190812_-_whistleblower_complaint_unclass.pdf

      I’m curious what exactly you find worthy of investigating.

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      • I am going to send it to your email. I have it. I have read it.

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        • I have read it as well. From what I can tell, the “whistleblower” has not actually witnessed a single, solitary thing about which he is supposedly “whistleblowing”. So what is it that you think is worth investigating, especially in light of the release of the transcript of the fateful phone conversation?

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        • That he is not a witness but an intel gatherer is a given. Evidence is gathered after intel is provided.

          Here the intel provided is that Trump directly blocked aid approved by the Congress to Ukraine, that he worked Ukraine outside diplomatic channels through Rudy at apparent cross purposes with US stated policy, that he sought Ukrainian investigations of “the Biden family”, and that the concern within State was of a few months standing. See, for example, the narrative on page 7. The Ukranian take on the phone call, from their transcript released before ours, was that Trump was singularly pressing for investigating Biden. See page 3. The transcript released by the White House suggests a phone call consistent with the intel background in the whistleblower letter.

          When the IG says the letter is credible it does not mean it is a proven fact. It does mean that the allegations are worth investigating. So much of the matter is conceded by both Rudy and Trump that it invites a whole lot of scrutiny, but unfortunately that will probably be trial by media rather than professional investigation.

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        • Mark:

          That he is not a witness but an intel gatherer is a given.

          Just because he works for an intelligence outfit doesn’t transform everything he might ever say into “intel”. Unless he was running an intelligence operation against Trump – which given what we know about the Russia hoax, I don’t dismiss out of hand – then the information he has provided is not “intel”. It was office gossip and rumors. And if he was running an intelligence operation against Trump, then 1) he isn’t a “whistleblower” and 2) we should find out who ordered it and why.

          Here the intel (sic) provided…

          …is based on second hand information about a phone call for which we already have a transcript. Which means that we essentially already know more than the “whistleblower” himself knew at the time he became a “whistleblower”. So, given the transcript, what do you think ought to be investigated?

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        • I guess the previous months of alleged serial involvement in pressuring the Ukraine on a domestic political agenda outside of FP concerns and outside of channels through the personal “lawyer” Rudy simply deserve no attention by you or anyone else determined to defend against an investigation.

          As for intelligence, that process is ongoing concerning foreign interference in American elections. They do their job by listening to people who have knowledge because the real nature of spycraft is collecting information. You want to characterize it as gathering information against the President. The community characterizes it as gathering information to protect against foreign interference. Your characterization is necessarily political but theirs may be a statutory duty.

          I wish the House Committee were as circumspect as the Senate Committee. The House Committee Ds didn’t do themselves or the American people any favors by accusing the ADNI of misconduct.

          Nevertheless, as the ADNI said, his IG turned the matter over to the FBI, the DoJ declined prosecution, and if there are security concerns it is now up to the Select committees to investigate them.

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        • Mark:

          I guess the previous months of alleged serial involvement in pressuring the Ukraine on a domestic political agenda outside of FP concerns and outside of channels through the personal “lawyer” Rudy simply deserve no attention by you….

          It deserves no more attention than was paid to known (not just alleged) Democratic attempts at pressuring the Ukraine over a domestic political agenda outside of FP concerns.

          https://www.foreign.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/5-4-18%20Menendez%20joint%20letter%20to%20General%20Prosecutor%20of%20Ukraine%20on%20Mueller%20investigation.pdf

          If the fainting couches weren’t broken out back then. I see no reason to break them out now. The double standards at play when it comes to Trump are truly, truly staggering.

          As for intelligence, that process is ongoing concerning foreign interference in American elections.

          This “whistleblower” allegation has literally nothing whatsoever to do with “foreign interference in American elections”. What are you talking about?

          You want to characterize it as gathering information against the President.

          No. I characterized it as office gossip and rumors. There is nothing that I have seen that suggests this allegation arose out of an actual intelligence operation about anything, much less one targeting “foreign intelligence interference in American elections”. I simply said that, in light of the whole Russian collusion hoax, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an on-going intelligence operation targeting Trump.

          The community characterizes it as gathering information to protect against foreign interference.

          You are quite literally the only person that I have seen characterize the “whistleblower’s” allegations as being the result of “gathering information to protect against foreign interference”. Where are you getting this from?

          … if there are security concerns it is now up to the Select committees to investigate them.

          Presumably you have read the transcript of the phone call which was the subject of the “whistleblower’s” allegations. What “security concerns” do you think arise from that transcript that require investigation? (As an aside, thinking that the mere presence of Trump in the Oval Office represents a “security concern” doesn’t cut it as a legitimate reason for endless investigations of him.)

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        • Scott, I don’t understand what about the allegations you are not seeing. I am not calling the allegations true. But freezing authorized military aid to an embattled Ukraine for no apparent purpose is a national security issue, as was the deployment [apparently admitted] of Giuliani with what appears to have been a counter-mission to State Department policy.

          Freezing it to coerce an investigation of a political opponent would be a separate issue, attempting to bury non-confidential files with highly classified ones to avoid embarrassment would be a separate issue. These might or might not have security ramifications on their own, that would not be something I could judge, in any event. The IG found the report credible and that makes it worth investigating. There may be a simple and banal explanation. Or not.

          That Schiff is way over the line on public remonstration and insults to the DNI because…Schiff, goes to what Brent wrote yesterday. Nobody seems concerned with fact finding, everybody wants talking points, especially Schiff, most of the Ds, and in reverse, a couple of the Rs on the House Committee.

          Also, the Ds seem more interested in possible corruption than in national security, which is unfortunate, because they will take their eyes off the ball and probably miss the significance of the FP aspect.

          Your characterization of CIA reports as “gossip” and your willingness to assume it was a malicious tender rather than a compilation of an analyst’s report from actual witnesses, is blind, even were that to turn out to have been the case, because it predetermines that there is no need to investigate further.

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        • attempting to bury non-confidential files with highly classified ones to avoid embarrassment

          Or trying to avoid his Whitehouse leaking like a sieve. May not have been the best strategy but there were likely other reasons for a man without shame to have his communications kept confidential beyond avoid embarrassment, which I don’t get the sense he worries about too much.

          Given the nature of the complain, how the whistleblower rule was basically rewritten real-time to allow it to fall under the whistleblower rule, and citing of media reports–already publically available–to increase the heft of the accusation makes this feel very much, to me, as if this is an attack of opportunity on Trump more than a whistleblowing regarding this specific instance.

          And if the IG finds there needs to be an investigation then there needs to be an investigation. I’m fine with that, too. Just my impression of what’s available to us folks in flyover country makes me think this is another bit of political battling, using the tools available, rather than an earnest, hardworking Whitehouse intern shocked by the dark secrets they learned from a friend of a friend who heard something. IG may find differently.

          But at present this seems like another case of the New Culture becoming crazily worked up over not very much. Bill Weld saying it was treason, and pointing out that the penalty for treason was death . . . I kind of think the Welds and the Schiffs of the world are off their nut. The media has struck me as, again, eager to believe the worst and also make mountains from molehills. This morning I was listening to NPR and some Republican was defending Trump, and saying Trump had a constitutional duty to ask Ukraine to investigate Biden and everything he had done was awesome, and then the reporter interviewing him was aghast and clearly angry that someone would defend Trump in any way at all–you would have thought he was defending Literally Hitler.

          Trump is neither Jesus nor Hitler, but DC is clearly a nuthouse. Nova may dissent.

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        • Mark:

          Your characterization of CIA reports as “gossip”…

          I am not talking about “CIA reports”. I am talking about a whistleblower report regarding something the whistleblower had gleaned second hand from other unnamed US officials during routine interagency discussions, specifically the contents of a particular phone call, a transcript of which is now actually available for all to see.

          What “CIA reports” have you been talking about?

          Like

        • I am guessing that you read stuff I did not and I read stuff you did not. No matter. Assuming arguendo your viewpoint, the matter deserves investigation, but the election should be decided by ballot not Impeachment. I came down to that conclusion no matter whether his sources were State, WH, CIA, or DOJ, or Def, or Homeland, or NSA, once the IG said it was credible. Absent what the DNI characterized as the IG doing his job correctly I would say blow it off. But the IG calling it credible should mean that the IG double checked sources at least on a spot check.

          BTW, I don’t read the released transcript as benign. Joe and you think it shows nothing of interest. I don’t think that in isolation it should ever have been made public, and private head of state communications have probably suffered at least a temporary setback, here. However, the point of this exposure is that the conversation was not in isolation, and taken with [months of] background, it looks like an attempt at heavy pressure directly from the President for no FP goal of the US.

          Like

        • Mark:

          Joe and you think it shows nothing of interest.

          Just to be clear, I think it shows nothing that would capture the interest of all of those people calling for impeachment or an investigation if the President’s name wasn’t Trump.

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        • Scott, I appreciate the clarification. However, I think if this were any other POTUS who had done what is alleged the call for investigation [not Impeachment] would have been more or less bipartisan.

          Like

        • Mark:

          However, I think if this were any other POTUS who had done what is alleged the call for investigation [not Impeachment] would have been more or less bipartisan.

          The allegations against Trump could not have been made against any other POTUS because prior to this year, the Urgent Concern Disclosure Form (ie the whistleblower’s report form) required first hand knowledge of the behavior being reported. That requirement was changed at some point this year. I wonder why?

          https://thefederalist.com/2019/09/27/intel-community-secretly-gutted-requirement-of-first-hand-whistleblower-knowledge/#disqus_thread

          Do you think there should be an investigation of Biden for having demanded that Ukraine fire the prosecutor who was investigating his son’s business?

          Do you think there should be an investigation of the 3 senators who sent a letter to the Ukraine government demanding that they help investigate Trump?

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        • Fallout:

          “When I was speaking to Angela Merkel she talks Ukraine, but she doesn’t do anything. A lot of the European countries are the same way.” America has given Ukraine $1.5bn in military aid since 2014. Support to Ukraine from Germany has in fact been worth €1.2bn ($1.3bn), and that from the European Union has amounted to €15bn ($16.4bn). Bild, a mass-circulation German tabloid, commented that relations between Berlin and Washington had “finally hit their low point”.

          As to your concerns about process, the process is what it is, probably not statutory or regulatory, but internal, and I assume is designed by the Administration or can be altered by it. I don’t know.

          I do share your skepticism of Senators seeking political crap from the Ukraine. They have no business doing so and it sounds like a matter worth investigating, as well.

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        • Mark:

          As to your concerns about process, the process is what it is, probably not statutory or regulatory, but internal, and I assume is designed by the Administration or can be altered by it. I don’t know.

          Don’t you want to know?. As Margot Cleveland has written:

          What matters is whether the ICIG changed its position on accepting complaints under the ICWPA. If, prior to this charge against Trump, the ICIG refused to accept complaints based on second-hand information, but altered its procedure to trigger the ICWPA for the president, that is a huge scandal and implicates many besides the so-called whistleblower.

          While the whistleblower’s plot to manipulate the ICWPA is obvious from the complaint, and so is his inaccurate partial quote of the statutory definition of “urgent concern,” the change in the form suggests complicity in the ICIG’s office. The director of national intelligence, who oversees the ICIG, should immediately investigate the investigator and determine whether there was a change in policy, when it occurred, why it occurred, and who initiated the change.

          https://thefederalist.com/2019/09/30/did-the-inspector-generals-office-help-the-whistleblower-try-to-frame-trump/

          And aren’t you curious about why the DNI and the ICIG refuse to say when and why it was changed?

          https://thefederalist.com/2019/09/30/sean-davis-intel-community-ig-straight-up-refused-to-answer-why-they-changed-the-rules/

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        • Well, I an curious now.

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        • Curious if, prior to Scott’s posting of the links, you had heard of those two issues?

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        • I had not.

          We actually talked about it in my Monday night men’s group at dinner-one of the guys had read the Federalist articles.

          So 4 others are curious about it too, this morning.

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        • “The community characterizes it as gathering information to protect against foreign interference.”

          The problem I’ve always had with the “foreign interference in an election” characterization is that at least in regards to Trump himself it’s always come down to asking foreign intermediaries or governments for information on potential overseas criminal activities by his Democratic opponents be released to the public. If it was the press doing this, it would be considered part of their core function.

          In the case of the Trump Tower meeting it was over potential Russian tax fraud and with Ukraine it’s over whether a criminal investigation into an oil and gas company associated with Biden was improperly squelched.

          And often this comes from assuming the worst possible motives from Trump and the best possible motives from his Democratic counterparts.

          Keep in mind that Obama blocked all military aid to Ukraine for his entire presidency (so as to try avoid escalating the conflict) and if Trump had said what Biden did, namely that unless a specific prosecutor in a foreign government was fired, aid would be cut off then he’d immediately be impeached on that alone.

          Does this mean Trump’s innocent? No, but if you are going to argue that this is about some sort of universal standard then it needs to be applied equally.

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    • You don’t really need to bother with the origins of the complaint at this point since the call transcript has been released. People can decide on their own if Trump’s statements in the call constitute an impeachable offense or not disregarding the chain of events that caused it to be disclosed.

      I personally found it underwhelming and noted that the talking points immediately shift from “If Trump offered a quid pro quo in the call” to “It doesn’t matter that Trump didn’t offer a quid pro quo in the call”.

      The other problem is that Democrats are going to try and make the case that Biden did nothing wrong in pressuring Ukraine to fire the prosecutor who was investigating the company that his son was on the board of, just like they tried to argue that Clinton did nothing wrong with her attempt to frustrate FOIA requests with her private E-mail server. I think Ross Douthat is correct in how that will be perceived:

      “Second, Trump is happy to pit his overt abuses of power against the soft corruption of his foes. This is an aspect of Trumpism that the president’s critics find particularly infuriating — the way he attacks his rivals for being corrupt swamp creatures while being so much more nakedly compromised himself. But whether the subject is the Clinton Foundation’s influence-peddling or now the Biden family’s variation on that theme, Trump has always sold himself as the candidate of a more honest form of graft — presenting his open cynicism as preferable to carefully legal self-dealing, exquisitely laundered self-enrichment, the spirit of “hey, it’s totally normal for the vice president’s son to get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the Ukrainians or the Chinese so long as every disclosure form gets filled out and his dad doesn’t talk to him about the business.”

      In fact this sort of elite seaminess is bad, but what Trump offers isn’t preferable: Hypocrisy is better than naked vice, soft corruption is better than the more open sort, and what the president appears to have done in leaning on the Ukrainian government is much worse than Hunter Biden’s overseas arrangements. But no one should be surprised that some voters in our age of mistrust and fragmentation and despair prefer the honest graft — some in Trump’s base, and also some in the ranks of the alienated and aggrieved middle, the peculiar Obama-Trump constituency.

      Indeed, history is replete with “boss”-style politicians who got away with corruption because they were seen as the rough, effective alternative to a smug, hypocritical elite. Trump’s crucial political weakness is that unlike those bosses, he hasn’t delivered that much to many of his voters. But that may make him all the more eager to return to the politics of comparative corruption, to have the argument again about whether he’s more ethically challenged than the swamp. He may not win it, but at least he’s playing a part that he knows well.”

      https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/24/opinion/impeach-trump.html

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      • The left needed an excuse to impeach trump, and grabbed onto this because the timing was right. It probably wasn’t ideal, but it is enough to give them a colorable argument that Trump did commit an impeachable offense.

        They should be able to drag this out for a year, which will give the media ample material to attack him heading into the election. The idea will be to flood the zone and exhaust Trump supporters. It will probably work, however Hectoring School Marm is going to have to work to be at least somewhat personable.

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      • Joe, forget impeachment. That is a liberal D pipe dream.

        But I think you know that despite the optics blurred that Biden was pursuing stated NATO and US policy toward the Ukraine which sought to oust Russian puppets from the Ukrainian government as a condition of aid. Also, that corrupt former Russian toadie prosecutor had already dropped his investigation when Biden pressured the Ukraine. But the optics, blurred, are bad. I get that.

        Trump publicly said he would accept foreign help in an election, so it is no surprise that he would or could do so.
        I suppose you have a point about the salutary effect of brazenness.

        My greatest concern is the continuing undermining of the alliances, especially NATO, done by personal whim FP.

        Like

        • Sure, and I also know that the Ukrainian company didn’t hire Hunter Biden because he was a renowned expert in corporate governance.

          “Also, that corrupt former Russian toadie prosecutor had already dropped his investigation when Biden pressured the Ukraine.”

          This is in dispute.

          “When Mr. Shokin became prosecutor general in February 2015, he inherited several investigations into the company and Mr. Zlochevsky, including for suspicion of tax evasion and money laundering. Mr. Shokin also opened an investigation into the granting of lucrative gas licenses to companies owned by Mr. Zlochevsky when he was the head of the Ukrainian Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources. Mr. Zlochevsky and Burisma have always vigorously disputed the accusations against them.

          Views about the role of the Bidens in the matter depend to some degree on questions about Mr. Shokin’s motives. Among both Ukrainian and American officials, there is considerable debate about whether Mr. Shokin was intent on pursuing a legitimate inquiry into Burisma or whether he was merely using the threat of prosecution to solicit a bribe, as Mr. Zlochevsky’s defenders assert.”

          https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/01/us/politics/biden-son-ukraine.html

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        • The left is throwing Biden under the bus to get Trump. Trading a rook for the king.

          Liked by 1 person

        • The left didn’t like Biden in the first place. For them it’s a twofer, not a trade off.

          Liked by 1 person

        • “forget impeachment. That is a liberal D pipe dream. ”

          Meaning conviction is a pipe dream or actually voting out articles of impeachment from the House?

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        • I would have said “Impeachment” before, but I guess only Removal is impossible now.

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    • But that just points up that this should be the beginning of a quiet investigation, not a media circus.

      I don’t get the sense that was ever in the cards. There is nobody interested in the truth of the matter–although I think it’s pretty likely Trump was just being Trump without a lot of concern over anything else, and at no point thought he was doing something incorrect or illegal–and the way it’s blown up and become a circus seems to me to be entirely the point.

      A lot of the R complaining about hearsay is to counteract the spin the Ds are putting on this in the media, I think.

      I think the goal is score in the battle of tribal ideology, mostly, not uncover actual facts. Certainly, what I’ve heard from the Ds on this sounds to me like they think literally anything Trump does constitute treason, from talking to a foreign leader to making a joke.

      Trump has many, many flaws–but the Democrats are demonstrating even less competence, generally, than Trump. IMO. He shouldn’t have them running around like chickens with their heads cut off and frightened of their own shadows, but that certainly appears to be the case.

      Like

  3. This is Fauxahontas at her funniest.

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  4. No way they cannot vote to impeach, the D base will freak.

    I’m guessing October Impeachment vote and a September Senate acquittal.

    https://m.dailykos.com/

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  5. Ukraine story falls apart even more.

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  6. I do find this amusing.

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    • How does the transparency make Trump seem guilty? Unless the presumption is that Trump is inherently guilty because Orange Man Bad.

      Ferreting out pressure on Ukraine to do something that makes Biden look bad in this situation requires a little too much mind reading for my taste. At least based on what we’ve actually seen thus far.

      Like

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