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AP Photo / Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, arrives on Capitol Hill, Friday to testify before congressional lawmakers as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump

The Ukraine drain

The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch — the one removed from her post on President Trump's order apparently because she fought corruption rather than instigating it as the president's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani seems to have done — defied the Trump administration and met with House lawmakers at a closed-door deposition Friday.

And two men reported to have been involved in helping Rudy Giuliani try to dig up dirt on Joe Biden in Ukraine were arrested and charged in New York with campaign finance violations.

Now, more than half of U.S. voters want President Trump impeached and removed from office, according to a Fox News Poll released Wednesday.

 

Who's paying for the wall?

On Friday, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the president's proclamation of a national emergency to build a wall along the southwestern border violates federal law. The judge said the president could not override Congress to appropriate funds for the wall.

That same day, another a federal judge, this one in New York, issued a nationwide injunction blocking the start of a new federal policy that would deny legal residency to immigrants who are likely to depend on public welfare.

Judge George B. Daniels, of the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York, said those potentially affected by the new regulation could suffer "irreparable harm" if the rule goes into effect. "The balance of equities and the interests of justice favor issuance of a preliminary injunction," he wrote.

The injunction, which the Justice Department is likely to appeal, came just days after the president moved to deny immigrant visas to those who cannot prove that they will either have health insurance or can afford to pay for their own health care.

"The rule is simply a new agency policy of exclusion in search of a justification," wrote Judge Daniels, a Clinton appointee. "It is repugnant to the American Dream of the opportunity for prosperity and success through hard work and upward mobility."

 

Then there's Trump tax returns

Meanwhile, a federal appeals panel of judges in the District of Columbia ruled — also on Friday — that President Trump's accounting firm must comply with House Democrats' demands for eight years of Trump's financial records.

It was a major victory for House Democrats who have struggled against the Trump administration's vow to stonewall "all" House oversight subpoenas.

In a 66-page ruling, the panel rejected Trump's argument that Congress had no legitimate legislative authority to seek his business records from the firm, Mazars USA, because the committee was trying to determine whether he broke existing laws — not weighing whether to enact a new one, according to The New York Times.

This ruling, too, is likely to be appealed by the president.

 

The GOP bites its tongue

And it wasn't a good week for Republicans like Lamar Alexander, either.

On Tuesday, Alexander released a statement disagreeing with Trump's Syria troop withdrawal, urging the president to continue to keep U.S. troops there.

"We can't walk away from our Kurdish allies, who are among our best allies in the Middle East," Alexander said. "The president needs to support a targeted U.S military presence in Northern Syria to combat ISIS and maintain stability in the region."

But withdraw, Trump did. With the predictable results.

Adding insult to injury, on Thursday, the U.N. Security Council failed Thursday to agree — because the U.S. didn't agree — on a statement condemning Turkey's military operation in Syria, defeating the efforts of Europeans who warned of an ensuing humanitarian crisis and the revival of Islamic State militants.

Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the Trump administration does not endorse Turkey's military action and warned of unspecified "consequences" but stopped short of condemning it.

In short, we aligned with Russia and Turkey against our Democratic allies to support the slaughter of Kurds.

And all we've heard from Republicans is crickets.

 

And then there's China

There might have been one bright spot last week for Trump, but time will tell.

The president claimed Friday afternoon that he had reached a "substantial" deal with China that will forestall a planned Oct. 15 tariff increase. If true, it could provide what The New York Times called "a temporary détente" in the yearlong trade war.

Trump in the Oval Office called it a verbal "phase one" agreement. He said it would take several weeks to write and could be signed by both sides in November.

The initial deal, which Trump said was reached "in principle," would involve China buying $40 billion to $50 billion worth of American agricultural products, along with agreeing to guidelines on how it manages its currency. The agreement also includes some provisions on intellectual property, including forced technology transfer and would give American financial services firms more access to China's market.

In exchange, the United States will not go ahead with plans to raise tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods to 30 percent next week. The president said he has not made a final decision on whether to increase tariffs further on Dec. 15, as he has threatened.

There's still a long time yet in which he can mess this up.

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