Speed Reads

this is fine

Listen to Trump suggest White House Ukraine leakers should be executed, impeachment stopped by the courts

A whistleblower complaint released Thursday morning accused President Trump of abusing his office by trying to extort Ukraine's president into investigating a domestic political rival, mafia-like. After landing at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland later Thursday, Trump lashed out at Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and the other Democrats leading the impeachment push against him. "What these guys, Democrats, are doing to this country, is a disgrace, and it shouldn't be allowed," Trump said. "There should be a way of stopping it, maybe legally, through the courts."

Brendan Nyhan, a Dartmouth political scientists who specializes in presidential spin, took Trump's comments to mean "it should be illegal to impeach him, which is a provision of the Constitution that he swore to uphold. What would you say if you saw it in another country?" There may be more charitable ways to interpret Trump's remarks, but earlier in the day, at a ceremony to thank U.S. diplomatic officials at the United Nations, Trump was less ambiguous about his meaning.

The whistleblower is "almost a spy," Trump said, and "the person who gave the whistleblower the information" is "close to a spy. You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now." The Los Angels Times posted videos of the comment, first reported earlier Thursday.

Trump is "so angry that this all got out he is seemingly longing for the death penalty for the officials in his own administration who cooperated with the whistleblower," Jake Tapper surmised at CNN. "I'm appalled," former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell told CBS News. "I mean he's basically saying that this person should be killed." He added that he fears for the soon-to-be-unmasked whistleblower's safety.

Schiff said Trump's warning, though made behind closed doors, was meant to "intimidate the witnesses" his committee intends to interview. In a subsequent joint statement with Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Schiff warned Trump that "our nation's laws prohibit efforts to discourage, intimidate, or otherwise pressure a witness not to provide testimony to Congress."