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Impeachment Inquiry into Trump 2019

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#1009

CNN includes a copy of his opening statement

US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland was directed by President Donald Trump to work with Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine, he plans to tell Congress Thursday, and was left with a choice: Abandon efforts to bolster a key strategic alliance or work to satisfy the demands of the President’s personal lawyer.

Sondland plans to say he wasn’t aware until “much later” that Giuliani’s agenda might have included an effort to “prompt the Ukrainians” to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter and to involve the Ukrainians in the President’s campaign, according to his opening statement, which was obtained by CNN.


#1010

According to a copy of his opening statement obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Sondland will say that Mr. Trump refused to take the counsel of his top diplomats, who recommended to him that he meet with the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, without any preconditions. The president said that the diplomats needed to satisfy concerns both he and Mr. Giuliani had related corruption in Ukraine, Mr. Sondland will say.

“We were also disappointed by the president’s direction that we involve Mr. Giuliani,” Mr. Sondland will say, according to the 18-page prepared statement. “Our view was that the men and women of the State Department, not the president’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for all aspects of U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine.”

His account is at odds with testimony from some foreign policy officials who have portrayed Mr. Sondland as a willing participant who inserted himself into Ukraine policy and was a central player in Mr. Trump’s efforts to win a commitment from the new Ukrainian government to investigate his political rivals.

Mr. Sondland arrived on Capitol Hill on Thursday morning to take his turn in the secure rooms of the House Intelligence Committee, as the latest top foreign policy official to appear before impeachment investigators who are digging into a whistle-blower complaint about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. His testimony, which the Trump administration initially sought to block, is a matter of intense interest for the investigators as they try to fill out a picture of what transpired this summer as Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani ratcheted up the pressure on the Ukrainians to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

Testimony from career diplomats and a former top White House foreign policy adviser in recent days have suggested that Mr. Sondland, a wealthy hotelier from Oregon who had no political experience, was at the heart of the effort to go around normal diplomatic channels to pressure the Ukrainians.

But his prepared remarks offer a more complicated account, casting him as a well-meaning and at times unwitting player who was trying to conduct American foreign policy with Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump standing in the way.

Mr. Sondland will say that Mr. Trump put him and top diplomats and administration officials dealing with Ukraine in an impossible position, as they tried to conduct diplomacy with an important European ally.

“Please know that I would not have recommended that Mr. Giuliani or any private citizen be involved in these foreign policy matters,” he planned to say. “However, given the president’s explicit direction, as well as the importance we attached to arranging a White House meeting between Presidents Trump and Zelensky, we agreed to do as President Trump directed.”

Sondland is going to throw Trump and Giuliani under the bus today to save his own skin. Interesting :thinking:


#1011

McConnell tells Senate Republicans to be ready for impeachment trial of Trump

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Republican senators Wednesday to be ready for an impeachment trial of President Trump as soon as Thanksgiving, as the Senate began to brace for a political maelstrom that would engulf the nation.

An air of inevitability has taken hold in Congress, with the expectation Trump will become the third president in history to be impeached — and Republicans believe they need to prepare to defend the president. While McConnell briefed senators on what would happen during a Senate trial, House GOP leaders convened what they expect will be regular impeachment strategy sessions.

In their closed-door weekly luncheon, McConnell gave a PowerPoint presentation about the impeachment process and fielded questions alongside his staff and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who was a manager for the 1998 impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

Impeachment is the first step to remove a president, with the House voting on formal charges and the Senate holding a trial in which it either convicts or acquits him.

McConnell said the Senate would likely meet six days a week during the trial, lawmakers said.

“There’s sort of a planned expectation that it would be sometime around Thanksgiving, so you’d have basically Thanksgiving to Christmas — which would be wonderful because there’s no deadline in the world like the next break to motivate senators,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said.


#1012

Mr. Cummings, the consummate defender of democracy. This is one of my favorite speeches he gave in committee this year. He is a personal hero.
Click link to watch video. :point_down:


#1013

:eyes:


(David Bythewood) #1014

Mick Mulvaney literally admited quid pro quo and told us to “get over it” openly

https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2019/10/mulvaney-admits-quid-pro-quo-says-we-should-get-over-it/

Trump’s chief of staff admits it: There was a Ukraine quid pro quo

By the by, I think this moves us from stage 2 straight to stage 5, complete with an actual “get over it” from Mulvaney:


General Congressional Impeachment News: September - October 2019
#1015

This central claim in Gordon Sondland’s testimony just doesn’t add up

Sondland isn’t the first to say he didn’t know what Giuliani was up to. But that’s extremely difficult to swallow — for this reason.

But Sondland also suggests any wrongdoing was hardly systemic. In his opening statement, he painted himself and his fellow diplomats as ignorant of Giuliani’s desire to push for specific Ukraine investigations that could carry political benefits for Trump. The implication: Maybe Giuliani did something wrong, but we didn’t really know about it.

That’s extremely difficult to swallow.

Sondland says in his testimony that at a May 23 briefing at the White House, Trump directed the diplomats to work with Giuliani. He said the diplomats were faced with a disappointing choice: work through Giuliani, as Trump demanded, or risk serious harm to relations with the new Ukrainian administration led by President Volodymyr Zelensky. They chose the former, Sondland says.

Whether it was truly such a binary choice is up for debate. But then Sondland makes a big claim:

But I did not understand, until much later, that Mr. Giuliani’s agenda might have also included an effort to prompt the Ukrainians to investigate Vice President Biden or his son or to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the President’s 2020 reelection campaign

Sondland isn’t the first to make this claim. Energy Secretary Rick Perry also told the Wall Street Journal this week that he had never heard Trump or Giuliani talk about Ukraine investigating the Bidens.

If Sondland and others were indeed ignorant of Giuliani’s intentions, though, it was apparently a willful brand of ignorance.

The reason is the timeline. In the weeks leading up to that May 23 White House briefing, Giuliani’s and even Trump’s interest in spotlighting the Bidens’ actions in Ukraine were hardly a secret. Giuliani’s, in particular, were big news.

The full Trump-Ukraine timeline

  • On May 1, the New York Times reported on questions about Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine and noted, “The Trump team’s efforts to draw attention to the Bidens’ work in Ukraine … has been led partly by Rudolph W. Giuliani.”
  • By May 7, Bloomberg News cast doubton a central premise of the Times’s reporting: that then-Vice President Joe Biden’s efforts to push out Ukraine’s top prosecutor could be viewed as benefiting his son’s company.
  • On May 9, Giuliani told the Times that he was traveling to Ukraine to explicitly push for two specific investigations: one involving the origins of the 2016 Russia investigation, and the other involving the Bidens. (These are the same ones that would come up on Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky.) And Giuliani was upfront about the political nature of his trip. “There’s nothing illegal about it,” he said. “Somebody could say it’s improper. … I’m going to give them reasons they shouldn’t stop [investigating], because that information will be very, very helpful to my client and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”
  • On May 11, Giuliani canceled the trip amid an outcry.
  • On May 19, Trump explicitly pointed to potential wrongdoing by the Bidens. “Biden — he calls them and says, ‘Don’t you dare persecute, if you don’t fire this prosecutor’ — the prosecutor was after his son,” Trump said. “Then he said, ‘If you fire the prosecutor, you’ll be okay. And if you don’t fire the prosecutor, 'We’re not giving you $2 billion in loan guarantees,’ or whatever he was supposed to give. Can you imagine if I did that?”

So according to Sondland, despite all of that, as of May 23 he “did not understand … that Mr. Giuliani’s agenda might have also included an effort to prompt the Ukrainians to investigate Vice President Biden or his son.” He even says Giuliani mentioned the Ukrainian company that employed Hunter Biden, Burisma Holdings, in August, but “I did not know until more recent press reports that Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma.”

Sondland’s portfolio as E.U. ambassador includes many other countries. But he acknowledges in his opening statement that Ukraine is a big one.

“My involvement in issues concerning Ukraine, while a small part of my overall portfolio, was nevertheless central to my ambassadorial responsibilities,” he said. “In this sense, Ukraine is similar to other non-E.U. countries such as Venezuela, Iran and Georgia.”

Sondland also notes that he attended Zelensky’s inauguration on May 20. So you would think he would know about such a major news story involving that country and sensitive diplomacy issues there. And if not, you’d think he might brush up or be fully debriefed by his aides after being instructed on May 23 to go outside the normal process and work with Giuliani. “ Why does the president want me to work with this specific guy?” he might ask himself. Even a cursory check would have quickly yielded the above stories.

Sondland maintains in his opening statement that he’s not there to toe anybody’s line. “Some may want me to say things to protect the president at all costs; some may want me to provide damning facts to support the other side,” he said. “But none of that matters to me. I have no interest in pursuing higher office or taking political shots. Simply put, I am NOT here to push an agenda. I am here to tell the truth.”

If it is indeed the truth that he and Perry didn’t know what Giuliani wanted from Ukraine, they should probably adjust how they consume the information necessary for their jobs.


(David Bythewood) #1016




#1017

Cross-posting


(David Bythewood) #1018

He said it on live TV. He can’t walk that back!

Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe

Jay Sekulow just tossed Mick Mulvaney under the bus: “the legal team was not involved in the acting chief of staff’s press briefing.”

Trump’s legal team is reportedly ‘stunned’ after Mick Mulvaney admitted to a quid pro quo


(David Bythewood) #1019

Rick Perry is resigning.

Again.


#1020

Yes, we are trying to…RIP


(David Bythewood) #1021

There are two types of emoluments clause violations: domestic and foreign.

Trump will violate both of them if he goes through with his Doral G7 summit, receiving payment from foreign countries while ALSO receiving benefits and money from the government.

Both are impeachable offenses.


#1022

Law school 101: “No backsies.”


#1023

Cross-posting :pray:


(David Bythewood) #1024



#1025

Looks like a somber Friday, testimony has been postponed. Any bombshells today will be coming from another camp.

The Trump Impeachment Inquiry: Latest Updates

The House has postponed testimony in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, but fallout might be coming from the acting White House chief of staff’s on-again, off-again quid pro quo admission.

RIGHT NOW

The House completed its final votes of the week. The Senate has left Washington.

Here’s what you need to know:


#1026

THIS is the testimony we are awaiting - Bill Taylor, the ex Diplomat in Ukraine who demonstrated some major pushback to the Administration, when he write Amb of the EU Sondland various texts saying - my phrasing “It sure seems like there is some quid pro quo going on - holding back military fund, for political dirt.” It is on TUES, Oct 22nd.

(SIDE NOTE - I will be in DC for a tourist-type visit for a few days and it falls on this date, even have a scheduled walking tour of Congress and WH that day!!..so I am going to keep my eyes peeled for the press conferences, sightings and buzz about his testimony. This was long in the planned trip and just falls within this crazy time. :boom:)

WASHINGTON — The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine who questioned why military aid for Kyiv had been held up by the White House has hired a veteran Republican attorney to help him navigate a request from House Democrats to testify in their impeachment inquiry, according to a letter obtained by NBC News and what sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

Bill Taylor, who came out of retirement to serve as charge d’affaires in Kyiv in June, will be represented by John Bellinger, who served as a senior official in President George W. Bush’s administration, including stints at the National Security Council and as the State Department’s top lawyer, the sources said.

Taylor is expected to testify Tuesday.

Bellinger is also representing P. Michael McKinley, the former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who testified Wednesday, the sources said. Bellinger accompanied McKinley as he arrived on Capitol Hill for the deposition, which was held behind closed doors.

Bellinger, partner with the Arnold and Porter law firm, was one of a number of prominent “Never Trump” Republicans in the foreign policy establishment who publicly opposed Donald Trump’s candidacy in 2016. He drafted an August 2016 letter signed by 50 senior officials, many of them Republicans, warning of the dangers of electing Trump as president, and predicting he would be the “most reckless President in American history.”

Bellinger has since said that every word of the letter “has turned out to be true, and worse.”

Ambassador William Taylor in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 19, 2019.Barcroft Media / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Colleagues of both Taylor and McKinley described Bellinger, with his experience in the White House, the State Department and national security law, as uniquely qualified to represent diplomats in the Ukraine inquiry.

Apart from Bellinger, Taylor’s legal team includes Jeffrey Smith, a former CIA general counsel during the Clinton administration with extensive experience in national security legal issues.

Taylor has emerged as a key witness based on recently released text messages between him and the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, and the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker. Taylor expressed his concern about where the administration was headed in its approach to Ukraine’s newly elected President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, warning against tying a White House meeting or U.S. military assistance to investigations meant to benefit Trump’s re-election effort.

“As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Taylor wrote to Sondland on Sept. 9, according to text messages released by the congressional committees conducting the impeachment inquiry.

The confrontation between the executive branch and Congress over the impeachment inquiry has put Taylor and other diplomats in a difficult bind.


#1027

Have fun on your trip @dragonfly9!


#1028

More cracks in the dam. Now we need some sitting Republican lawmakers to step up to the plate and serve their country instead of betraying it.