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Impeachment Inquiry into Trump 2019

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(David Bythewood) #1105

Trump Pressed Ukraine’s President to Act Out a Fake News Script, Live on CNN

Before agreeing to release nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine, President Donald Trump extorted a promise from his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, to appear on American television and act out a script prepared for him by Trump’s aides, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, told the House impeachment inquiry on Tuesday.

The scene a desperate Zelensky finally agreed to perform would have been the very definition of fake news: a dramatic announcement by the Ukrainian president, during a CNN interview, that he was opening criminal investigations on Joe Biden’s family and other Democrats.

The plot, which would have duped American voters into believing that there was some substance to a debunked conspiracy theory about Biden’s work in Ukraine as vice president, came very close to working.

According to Taylor, a career foreign service official who has served four Republican and two Democratic presidents, until early September, Zelensky and his aides had resisted pressure from Trump to help him smear Biden. Zelensky was supposed to do this by investigating Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company the former vice president’s son Hunter was once paid to advise, as well as claims that Ukrainian officials had revealed evidence of financial crimes by Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort in 2016 to help elect Hillary Clinton.

But once the Ukrainians became aware that the much-needed security assistance Trump had personally held up might never be delivered, Zelensky agreed to play his part in a ruse intended to lend credibility to baseless conspiracy theories about Biden and other Democrats.

By the first week of September, Taylor said, the “favor” Trump had alluded to in vague terms in a July phone call with Zelensky had become a very specific demand: Ukraine’s president, a former actor, would be required to deliver lines on CNN prepared for him by two American diplomats acting on orders from Trump and his shadow secretary of state, Rudy Giuliani.

Text messages released earlier this month between those two diplomats — Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union — show that they drafted language for Zelensky’s statement in August to send to the Ukrainian president’s close friend and personal aide, Andrey Yermak.

“Special attention should be paid to the problem of interference in the political processes of the United States, especially with the alleged involvement of some Ukrainian politicians,” Zelensky would tell CNN. “I want to declare that this is unacceptable. We intend to initiate and complete a transparent and unbiased investigation of all available facts and episodes including those involving Burisma and the 2016 U.S. elections.”

The White House plot to unwittingly involve CNN in the dissemination of false information created by Trump’s aides was revealed in Taylor’s written opening statement to the House impeachment inquiry, which was obtained by several news organizations on Tuesday.

A screenshot of Ambassador Bill Taylor’s statement to the House impeachment inquiry.

It was not immediately clear if an interview with CNN had been scheduled by the Ukrainian president’s office, but the choice of the network was rich with irony, given that Trump has regularly described accurate reporting on his presidency by its correspondents as “fake news.” It also seems instructive that the president was aware that it would be less politically useful to him to have Zelensky appear on a Fox News show and pretend that he was opening investigations of Biden and other Democrats based on the merits.

As Asha Rangappa, a lawyer and former FBI special agent, pointed out, the White House plot to manipulate the Ukrainian president into making statements to CNN that were secretly dictated by Trump’s aides might also have been illegal. “The 1991 Intelligence Authorization Act,” Rangappa wrote earlier this month, “prohibits the U.S. government from using covert actions — which include propaganda — to ‘influence United States political processes, public opinion, policies, or media.’”

“Black propaganda attempts to conceal the true source of information so that the target (in this case, the American public) cannot accurately assess the credibility of the message or the motives of the source behind it,” Rangappa explained. “By having the information emanate from a separate and more credible outlet, the target audience is more likely to believe it.”

“It’s called legitimizing propaganda,” she observed on Twitter, after Taylor revealed the plot to place Zelensky on CNN. “You place the information you want people to believe in what appears to be an independent source unconnected to you. Then you can cite it as further ‘evidence’ of your own claims, making them appear more credible.”

Taylor testified on Tuesday that, despite his firm opposition, the White House-directed plot to manufacture news footage that could be used in Trump campaign ads attacking Biden very nearly succeeded.

Taylor, who has been the temporary chief of mission in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, since the previous U.S. ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, was forced out for supposed disloyalty to Trump, told the impeachment inquiry that he and two United States senators who met Zelensky on September 5 — Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn. — had urged him not to take sides in American politics. Zelensky’s “first question to the senators was about the withheld security assistance,” Taylor wrote. “My recollection of the meeting is that both senators stressed that bipartisan support for Ukraine in Washington was Ukraine’s most important strategic asset and that President Zelenskyy should not jeopardize that bipartisan support by getting drawn into U.S. domestic politics,” he added.

“I had been making (and continue to make) this point to all of my Ukrainian official contacts,” Taylor continued. “But the push to make President Zelenskyy publicly commit to investigations of Burisma and alleged interference in the 2016 election showed how the official foreign policy of the United States was undercut by the irregular efforts led by Mr. Giuliani.”

Three days later, Taylor testified, he was told by Sondland, a Trump donor who was reportedly angling for a cabinet position, that the Ukrainian president had agreed to make the required statement during an interview with CNN.

The next day, September 9, Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the U.S. intelligence community, notified the House intelligence committee of a whistleblower complaint and three House committees launched an investigation of the White House campaign to press Ukraine to smear Biden. The investigation of the whistleblower’s complaint appears to have derailed the White House campaign to force Zelensky to make the statement to CNN at the last moment.

When the U.S. aid to Ukraine was finally released two days later, Taylor testified that he “again reminded Mr. Yermak of the high strategic value of bipartisan support for Ukraine and the importance of not getting involved in other countries’ elections.”

“My fear at the time,” Taylor said, “was that since Ambassador Sondland had told me President Zelenskyy already agreed to do a CNN interview, President Zelenskyy would make a statement regarding ‘investigations’ that would have played into domestic U.S. politics.” Taylor reported that he spent two days pressing an aide to Zelensky “to confirm that there would be no CNN interview, which he did.”


(David Bythewood) #1106

WaPost Ed Board Rips GOP: ‘If You’re Arguing About Process, You’re Losing’

https://www.yahoo.com/huffpost/washington-post-editorial-board-old-saying-gop.html

Republicans are wrong on process, too


(David Bythewood) #1107

Is there ANY Trump aside from Barron who isn’t corrupt through and through?

Company with ties to Trump’s brother Robert awarded $33 million government contract


#1108

______________________________________________

POLITICO

DOJ: Negotiations with House for McGahn interview are ongoing

By KYLE CHENEY

10/25/2019 11:14 PM EDT

______________________________________________

I’m not giving this any fanfare since, these days, I don’t trust the DOJ as far as I could throw Bill Barr. I’m wondering if this is all a big show by the DOJ and even if McGahn is questioned, he might be so restricted that his testimony is useless. One source even says that so far any proposals from the DOJ have not been acceptable to the House committees (see below) – I trust them not to get gamed here.

I thought I’d still post this because I’m wondering if the DOJ is getting desperate to strike a deal where McGahn would be on Barr’s leash to at least some degree and to get that in place before they are forced by the courts to surrender all leverage over witnesses – the Trump administration keeps losing its cases where it’s trying to block its people from testifying.

Negotiations to make former White House counsel Don McGahn available for a House interview have been active throughout October, the Justice Department indicated Friday, revealing that it has had discussions with the Judiciary Committee five times since Oct. 8.

Those talks — on Oct. 8, 11, 15, 21 and 24 — came despite an Oct. 8 letter from McGahn’s successor, Pat Cipollone, declaring that the White House would refuse to cooperate with Democrats’ ongoing impeachment inquiry.

“Although the Speaker of the House has announced publicly that, in her view, the House has now commenced an impeachment inquiry … the Administration remains open to continued discussion of a possible Committee interview, under appropriate terms and conditions, of Mr. McGahn,” Justice Department attorneys wrote in a brief filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., in response to Democrats’ efforts to enforce a subpoena requiring McGahn’s testimony.

House attorneys have argued that they’re at an impasse with the Justice Department over obtaining McGahn’s testimony, which they have been seeking since special counsel Robert Mueller revealed in April that he was a central witness to potential obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump. McGahn refused to comply with a subpoena for his testimony in May and the Judiciary Committee filed suit in July, declaring that his testimony is crucial to determine whether the House should file articles of impeachment against Trump. Since then, sporadic talks with the Justice Department have reached no conclusion.

DOJ argues that the House’s impeachment inquiry is “different” than the Judiciary Committee’s pursuit of McGahn, even though Pelosi has blessed the panel’s pursuit of potential articles of impeachment based on Mueller’s findings.

The Justice Department’s suggestion that talks were ongoing in October is misleading, a source briefed on the discussions told POLITICO.

“We have an obligation to try to reach an accommodation, even now,” the source said, “but the White House has only ever discussed terms they know are unacceptable to us.”


#1109

:boom: :boom: :boom:

This is from Sondland’s own attorney!

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, told House committees during his impeachment inquiry testimony last week that he believes President Trump’s actions with regards to Ukraine amounted to a quid pro quo, The Wall Street Journal reports. According to Sondland’s attorney, Robert Luskin, the top diplomat told lawmakers that a meeting with Trump was contingent upon the Ukrainian president agreeing to open an investigation into Burisma—the gas company that Hunter Biden once sat on the board of. When asked by a lawmaker during his testimony if this exchange amounted to a quid pro quo, Sondland qualified that he is not an attorney, but that he believed it was a quid pro quo, according to Luskin.

Remember the recent reporting below? Earlier it was leaked that Sondland said Trump dictated to him over the phone the one (and only one) text that seemed to support Trump’s defense that there was no quid pro quo. Trump spoon fed that to Sondland just like he spoon fed to his son the statement that the Trump Tower meeting was all about adoptions.

President Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, plans to tell Congress this week that a text he sent denying a quid pro quo between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July phone call was dictated by Trump himself.

So that reported leak was true. Sondland sent that text, which was dictated to him by Trump, even though he knew it was a lie.

Here’s the lying text that Sondland planted at Trump’s request in a ruse to “exonerate” him:

sondland%20text

And now watch this. Here’s Trump on the White House lawn singling out that one text that he himself planted. Crowing that it “nullifies” all the allegations against him. Liar, liar, liar. Obstructing justice in plain sight.

:lying_face: :lying_face: :lying_face:


#1110

Well, uh…then yes, it would appear that Pence is lying…


#1111

Yes – by “not saying” Pence really “is saying.” It’s obvious that he knew about the quid pro quo (aka extortion). More from Mother Jones:

This morning, Vice President Mike Pence refused to answer whether he knew about President Donald Trump’s efforts to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless President Volodymyr Zelensky authorized an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, a quid pro quo that has been corroborated by several top diplomats in their testimonies in the House impeachment inquiry.

During his appearance on Face the Nation, CBS News’ Margaret Brennan pressed Pence four times whether he had “knowledge of the deal that these US officials have described under oath.” The vice president avoided directly answering the question, instead pointing to his own interactions with Zelensky, in which said he “focused entirely on President Zelensky’s agenda to bring about reforms to end corruption in Ukraine and to bring together the European community to provide greater support for Ukraine.”

He’s using the same playbook as Trump’s China trade negotiator who repeatedly dodged questions about whether an investigation of the Bidens was discussed during trade talks with China.


#1112

Yes, by any other description it is a called a ‘sin of omission’ - but Pence is as duplicitous as they come. Wooden delivery…same old lie.

And probably Mother would agree…

(didn’t realize this was a religious term but…from wiki)
Sin can be divided by reason of:
manner : commission, omission;


#1113

Senate Judiciary Committee sending a letter to Barr asking him to recuse himself from matters on Ukraine. (letter attached to tweet)


#1114

From WSJ too, for the timeline.


#1115

Ex-Trump deputy national security adviser Kupperman a no-show for impeachment testimony

Former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman will not appear for a scheduled deposition Monday before three House congressional committees involved in leading the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, congressional leaders said Monday.

The White House is trying to block his appearance, and Kupperman, who worked under former national security adviser John Bolton, filed a lawsuit Friday asking a federal judge to rule on whether he must testify under a congressional subpoena.

House Oversight Committee ranking member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told reporters on Capitol Hill on Monday that Kupperman will wait to testify until the judge rules on the subpoena.

Speaking to reporters moments later, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told reporters it was “deeply regrettable” that Kupperman was a "no-show."

"He was compelled to appear with a lawful congressional subpoena," Schiff said. "Witnesses like Dr. Kupperman need to do their duty and show up."

Kupperman’s refusal to appear “may warrant a contempt proceeding against him,” he added.

"I think we can infer from the White House opposition to Dr. Kupperman’s testimony that they believe that his testimony would be incriminating of the president," Schiff said. "It is also, I think, very plain additional and powerful evidence of obstruction of Congress and its lawful function, by the president, that yet again, and even after a court decision affirming the right of Congress to proceed with this impeachment inquiry, the White House has obstructed the work of a co-equal branch of government."


#1116

Moving Closer to Trump, Impeachment Inquiry Faces Critical Test

At stake is not just how quickly the investigation concludes, but how much evidence ultimately undergirds the case against Mr. Trump.

Many Democrats involved in the inquiry already believe they have collected enough to impeach him for abusing his power by enlisting a foreign government to smear his political rivals. But to persuade the public — and the necessary number of Republican senators — that the president should be convicted and removed from office, they may need additional proof tying him directly to certain elements of the alleged wrongdoing. They could potentially unearth stronger evidence by turning to the courts, but that could also stall the case for months and risk losing public support, much as some Democrats believe happened in the Russia inquiry.

“As in many investigations, you get to a point where you have to decide how much is enough and whether the incremental value of the additional juice is worth the squeeze,” said Ross H. Garber, a lawyer who is one of the nation’s leading experts on impeachment. “If anything, they may be surprised by how much cooperation they have gotten from witnesses already, notwithstanding the position of the executive branch.”

For now, Democrats have not yet exhausted testimony from officials who appear willing to cooperate and have at least peripheral knowledge of the case. At least two more White House officials are scheduled to testify this week, and are expected to confirm key events. Other officials from the State and Defense Departments involved in Ukraine policy are set to appear, as well.

[…]

They have indicated that they want to talk to John R. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser, who is said to have been deeply alarmed by what he saw transpiring with Ukraine. They may also seek testimony from Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff who helped carry out Mr. Trump’s order to freeze the aid; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who was deeply involved in implementing the president’s agenda. And then there is Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s private lawyer, who appears to have orchestrated the campaign to secure the investigations.

The president has greater powers to shield from Congress his conversations with close aides, as well as greater pull on the loyalties of potential witnesses, who have already begun to indicate they cannot simply defy White House orders like others who have already testified.

[…]

Though they have not entirely ruled out using the courts to knock down claims of immunity they view as spurious, Democrats led by Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, have hinted for weeks now that they do not intend to wait around for decisions. They still, however, want to force each witness to decide how to respond, testing for additional cracks in the president’s stonewall.

On Saturday, Mr. Schiff and two others leading the inquiry wrote to Mr. Kupperman’s lawyer that if Mr. Kupperman fails to show up on Monday as scheduled, he will expose the president to further charges of obstructing Congress — possibly an impeachable offense — and run the risk of being held in contempt of Congress.

The House, they wrote, may well assume “that your client’s testimony would have corroborated other evidence gathered by the committees showing that the president abused the power of his office by attempting to press another nation to assist his own personal political interests, and not the national interest.”


#1117

DOJ appeals ruling allowing House Democrats access to Mueller grand jury evidence

The Justice Department on Monday appealed a federal judge’s ruling granting congressional Democrats access to grand jury evidence from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and asked that judge to place a hold on the production of the material pending resolution of the appeal.

In a court filing Monday, government lawyers argued that the Justice Department would be “irreparably harmed” if the grand jury materials were to be handed over to Congress, as the judge ordered on Friday.

“Once the information is disclosed, it cannot be recalled, and the confidentiality of the grand jury information will be lost for all time,” Justice Department lawyers wrote.

On Friday, D.C. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell ruled that the Justice Department must turn certain portions of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury evidence over to the House Judiciary Committee.

Last week’s ruling followed the House Judiciary Committee’s first request in July for access to “certain” Mueller grand jury materials, marking an early step toward impeachment, and the DOJ’s resistance to the request, stating law that prohibit the disclosure of information shared with grand juries.

Judge Howell ordered the Justice Department to hand over the material by Oct. 30.

Shortly after the DOJ filed its appeal on Monday, the judge ordered the Judiciary Committee to respond to the department by noon on Tuesday.

In the ruling, Howell wrote that in light of the House’s ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, the Justice Department is “wrong” to assert all grand jury material need be kept secret, noting that several portions of the Mueller Report “are of interest” to the House Judiciary Committee, including the Trump Tower meeting, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s sharing of of internal polling data with a Russian business associate, and WikiLeaks’ dissemination in July 2016 of stolen emails from Democratic political organizations and the Clinton campaign.

Howell ruled it was appropriate for the House to consider the grand jury evidence as part of a judicial process such an an impeachment inquiry.


(David Bythewood) #1118

Predictably, here is the part where Trump accuses Bill Taylor of being crooked and claims both the Mueller Report AND the Impeachment Inquiry are unconstitutional

Oh, and according to him, Taylor set all of these “fake” texts up in a plot against him.

image

image


#1119

Shifting Course, Democrats Plan First Floor Vote on Impeachment Inquiry

The House plans to take its first formal vote Thursday on the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, Democratic leaders said Monday, ushering in a new phase as they prepare to go public with their investigation into his dealings with Ukraine.

Democrats described the vote, in which they plan to “affirm” the inquiry, as a necessary next step to be able to push it forward, rather than a response to sustained criticism from Republicans and the White House, who have accused them of throwing out past impeachment precedents and denying the president due process rights.

But it will be the first time that the full House has gone on record with regard to an inquiry that has been underway since late September. And it comes after Democrats have insisted for weeks that they did not need a formal vote of the full House to authorize the proceedings.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the vote in a letter to colleagues Monday afternoon.

“This resolution establishes the procedure for hearings that are open to the American people, authorizes the disclosure of deposition transcripts, outlines procedures to transfer evidence to the Judiciary Committee as it considers potential articles of impeachment, and sets forth due process rights for the president and his counsel,” Ms. Pelosi said in a statement.

Interesting development :thinking: I don’t think the Speaker would hold this vote if it wasn’t absolutely necessary to move forward.


(David Bythewood) #1120

It will lay some big time foundations and shoot down one of the big GOP arguments. What do you suppose the GOP excuse will be after this happens?


#1121

Good question, the GOP is running out of reasons to excuse Trump’s failings, I guess we’ll find out the next talking points soon. :woman_shrugging:t2:


#1122

Cross-posting


#1123

Summary of Impeachment Inquiry into Trump 2019

October 16th - 28th

Calendars:

General Congressional News:

News:

Documents:

Judiciary Committee Investigations into Trump 2019:

News:

Oversight And Reform Committee Investigations into Trump 2019:

News:

Intelligence Committee Investigations into Trump 2019:

News:

Forgeign Affairs Committee Investigations into Trump 2019:

News:

Other House and Senate Committees:

News:

Documents:

:newspaper: Timeline has been updated. Breaking news starts below. :point_down:


Day 1012
#1124

Army Officer Who Heard Trump’s Ukraine Call Reported Concerns

A White House national security official who is a decorated Iraq war veteran plans to tell House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he heard President Trump appeal to Ukraine’s president to investigate one of his leading political rivals, a request the aide considered so damaging to American interests that he reported it to a superior.

Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman of the Army, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, twice registered internal objections about how Mr. Trump and his inner circle were treating Ukraine, out of what he called a “sense of duty,” he plans to tell the inquiry, according to a draft of his opening statement obtained by The New York Times.

He will be the first White House official to testify who listened in on the July 25 telephone call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine that is at the center of the impeachment inquiry, in which Mr. Trump asked Mr. Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine,” Colonel Vindman said in his statement. “I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus farmaintained.”

Read his opening statement,

https://int.nyt.com/data/documenthelper/5197-read-vindman-s-opening-stateme/451770f94b62c504f723/optimized/full.pdf#page=1

:boom::boom::boom: