President Trump has shrunk America's global presence in many ways, but he has also at times placed high-risk bets on its superpower status.
Driving the news: Trump didn't want war with Iran, yet he ordered the killing of Iran's top commander. That requires enormous faith in the shield of American military superiority.
Engaging China in a trade war requires a belief that the world’s second-largest economy will blink first in a showdown with the largest.
The “maximum pressure” campaigns — first on North Korea and then on Iran — were testaments to American economic might and to Trump’s confidence that countries and companies would fall in line, even when reluctant to do so.
The results of Trump’s geopolitical muscle-flexing are uneven.
China has not made anywhere near the model-shifting concessions Trump has demanded.
North Korea’s nuclear capabilities are more formidable than before “fire and fury.”
Crippling sanctions on Iran have led not to a tougher deal but to a series of escalations. Asymmetric retaliation for Soleimani’s death remains likely.
Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro is still in power after a year of American insistence that his days were numbered.
Closer to home, Trump’s threats yielded significant tweaks to NAFTA and a pledge from Mexico to hold tens of thousands of U.S.-bound asylum-seekers.
Holding NATO hostage over defense spending infuriated allies, but budgets have nonetheless increased.
And Iran’s military retaliation to Trump’s audacious strike in Baghdad came with an early warning and was clearly designed to avoid a showdown with the world’s most powerful military.
The bottom line: Trump's America isn't much liked, and it certainly isn't trusted, as new Pew data shows. But it can't be ignored
Pelosi suddenly has a new lever as she pushes Senate Republicans to include witnesses and documents in President Trump's impeachment trial — a "trove" of text messages turned over by Lev Parnas, the indicted former Rudy Giuliani associate, Axios' Alayna Treene and Margaret Talev report.
Why it matters: A public release of some or all of the materials could give Democrats new ammunition to argue that the White House must turn over more information and allow new testimony from witnesses.
Parnas' lawyer, Joseph A. Bondy, said in a seriesof tweets over the weekend and yesterday that he turned over to the House Intelligence Committee the contents of Parnas' iPhone 11, detailing interactions "with a number of individuals relevant to the impeachment inquiry."
Bondy said he has also shared dozens of text messages, photos and materials from a Samsung phone and thousands of documents.
He is also expected to provide investigators with materials from two other devices, an iPad and another iPhone, "as soon as possible," per Bondy.
In a phone interview with Axios last night, Bondy said he anticipates that when the articles are turned over to the Senate, "there will be a public record that is transmitted with that, including information from witnesses."
"I have reason to believe that at least some of what Mr. Parnas transmitted to [the intelligence committee] will likely make the public record."
Asked if the contents of the documents Parnas provided to the committee hurt the president, Bondy replied: "They aren't helpful."
He added that Parnas is eager to testify before Congress, and hopes the document dump will help in getting his client an audience with lawmakers.
What's next: Pelosi is meeting with her caucus later this morning, and will discuss the next steps on impeachment.
Shortly after, likely this afternoon or Wednesday, the House is expected to vote on delivering the articles to the Senate and naming House managers.
A-class “Nah nah nah nah nah nah”. ...then run away like a little bitch.
The timing on all of this is NOT accidental.
I wish death on no one. ...but I’d sure love to see someone give Trump the brutal shit-kicking he so richly deserves. The one that could have made a difference before he became a reprehensible blight on modern western civilization.
Lev Parnas, Key Player in Ukraine Affair, Completes Break With Trump and Giuliani
In an interview, he said the president knew everything about the effort to push Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election.
By Kenneth P. Vogel and Ben Protess
Jan. 15, 2020, 10:48 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON — Lev Parnas, the Soviet-born businessman who played a central role in the campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate political rivals of President Trump, completed his break with the White House on Wednesday, asserting for the first time in public that the president was fully aware of the efforts to dig up damaging information on his behalf.
In an interview with The New York Times on the day the House transmitted articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump to the Senate, Mr. Parnas also expressed regret for having trusted Mr. Trump and Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer and the architect of the Ukraine pressure campaign. His lawyer said he was eager to cooperate with federal prosecutors investigating Mr. Giuliani.
Mr. Parnas made his remarks as House impeachment investigators released more material he had turned over to them. The material, including text messages, photos and calendar entries, underscored how deeply Mr. Parnas and others were involved in carrying out the pressure campaign and how new information continues to surface even as the Senate prepares to begin Mr. Trump’s trial next week. And it provided additional evidence that the effort to win political advantage for Mr. Trump was widely known among his allies, showing that Mr. Parnas communicated regularly with two top Republican fund-raisers about what he was up to.
Text messages and call logs show that Mr. Parnas was in contact with Tom Hicks Jr., a donor and Trump family friend, and Joseph Ahearn, who raised money for pro-Trump political groups, about developments in the Ukraine pressure campaign.
In the text messages, Mr. Parnas kept Mr. Hicks and Mr. Ahearn apprised of efforts to disseminate damaging information about targets of Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani, including the United States ambassador to Kyiv, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Ukrainians who spread information about Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman.
The records seem to expand the circle of people around Mr. Trump who were aware in real time of the pressure campaign. The campaign led to Mr. Trump’s impeachment in the House last month and a Senate trial that will start next week just as the 2020 presidential campaign is moving into high gear.
In the interview with The Times, Mr. Parnas said that although he did not speak with Mr. Trump directly about the efforts, he met with the president on several occasions and was told by Mr. Giuliani that Mr. Trump was kept in the loop. Mr. Parnas pointed in particular to text messages, released by the House this week, in which Mr. Giuliani refers to an effort to obtain a visa for a former Ukrainian official who leveled corruption allegations against Mr. Biden.
In the messages, Mr. Giuliani boasted of the effort to secure the visa: “It’s going to work I have no 1 in it.” Mr. Parnas said the reference to No. 1 was to Mr. Trump.
“I am betting my whole life that Trump knew exactly everything that was going on that Rudy Giuliani was doing in Ukraine,” Mr. Parnas said.
Mr. Parnas, who was arrested in October on largely unrelated federal criminal charges, expressed remorse for his role in helping the Ukrainian pressure campaign, but pinned blame on the president and Mr. Giuliani.
“My biggest regret is trusting so much,” he said. “I thought I was being a patriot and helping the president,” he said, adding that he “thought by listening to the president and his attorney that I couldn’t possibly get in trouble or do anything wrong.”
Now that he faces criminal charges in the Southern District of New York, Mr. Parnas, who has pleaded not guilty, is looking to cooperate with prosecutors in his case, who are conducting a broader investigation into Mr. Giuliani and his dealings in Ukraine
“We very much want to be heard in the Southern District,” Mr. Parnas’s lawyer, Joseph A. Bondy, said in the interview with The Times. “We very much want to provide substantial assistance to the government.”
Taken together, the comments on Wednesday capped a stunning turnabout for a man who was a Trump donor and once considered himself a close friend of Mr. Giuliani, who is a godfather to his son.
Mr. Giuliani said in a text message on Wednesday that it was “sad how the Trump haters are using” Mr. Parnas. He attributed Mr. Parnas’s willingness to share documents with congressional Democrats to a desire for “attention.”
He called Mr. Parnas “a proven liar,” and suggested he was undermining his credibility as a potential witness. “Let him run himself out then I’ll respond if necessary,” Mr. Giuliani said.