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Impeachment Inquiry into Trump 2019

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(David Bythewood) #1226

I was just reminded that the attacks on Lt. Col. Vindman are the dual loyalty canard raising its ugly head again.

Here’s my thread on that, updated:

And some related posts and articles:


Trumpworld’s New Impeachment Defense: Smear Iraq War Hero As a Spy

Trumpists Hurl Desperate, Despicable Dual Loyalty Charges


#1227

Yes, all eyes on Sec of State Mike Pompeo as he can not cough up the truth as to his conversations with Ambassador McKinley, and Pompeo’s denying denial - sort of “I can not divulge private conversations.”

WASHINGTON — As President Trump’s first C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo was briefed by agency officials on the extensive evidence — including American intercepts of conversations between participants — showing that Russian hackers working for the government of Vladimir V. Putin had interfered in the 2016 American presidential campaign. In May 2017, Mr. Pompeo testified in a Senate hearing that he stood by that conclusion.

Two and a half years later, Mr. Pompeo seems to have changed his mind. As Mr. Trump’s second secretary of state, he now supports an investigation into a discredited, partisan theory that Ukraine, not Russia, attacked the Democratic National Committee, which Mr. Trump wants to use to make the case that he was elected without Moscow’s help. “Inquiries with respect to that are completely important,” Mr. Pompeo said last month. “I think everyone recognizes that governments have an obligation — indeed, a duty — to ensure that elections happen with integrity, without interference from any government, whether that’s the Ukrainian government or any other.”

Mr. Pompeo’s spreading of a false narrative at the heart of the Ukraine scandal is the most striking example of how he has fallen off the tightrope he has traversed for the past 18 months: demonstrating loyalty to the president while insisting to others he was pursuing a traditional, conservative foreign policy. Mr. Pompeo, 55, now finds himself at the most perilous moment of his political life as veteran diplomats testify to Congress that Mr. Trump and his allies hijacked Ukraine policy for political gain — and as congressional investigators look into what Mr. Pompeo knew of the machinations of Mr. Trump and Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer.

Have been watching a lot of the pundits say Mike Pompeo is readying himself for a Senate seat in Kansas and seems to be spending a lot of time there…trying to escape this huge imbroglio. The State Department has been gutted, and Pompeo’s staff are resigning - see McKinley because Pompeo is not keeping up a strong institutional front, and is essentially weakening State.

Looks like Pompeo could just walk away.

What has Mike Pompeo got to swagger about and why is he doing it in Kansas?

The under-fire secretary of state claims to have brought ‘swagger’ to his department but some suspect he is eyeing a Senate run in his home state

Mike Pompeo has a new badge he has been handing out to students and aspiring diplomats in the midwest. “United States Department of State” it says around the outside, with the word SWAGGER stamped in red capitals diagonally across the middle.

In the background, printed in pale blue like subliminal messages are a list of attributes, such as “patriotic”, “confident”, “respected” as well as “cool vibe”.

In the state department right now the vibe is anything but cool, and Pompeo’s dogged insistence on making “swagger” a catchphrase has become the punchline to a thousand wry jokes in Foggy Bottom.

It was Mr. Pompeo who helped Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani oust the respected American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, in April. Both Michael McKinley, a senior adviser to Mr. Pompeo and a four-time ambassador, and Philip T. Reeker, the acting assistant secretary for Europe, testified that they asked State Department leadership to defend Ms. Yovanovitch from false accusations, only to be rejected. Mr. McKinley said he personally urged Mr. Pompeo three times to issue a defense; the revelation of that detail in a transcript released on Monday undercut a declaration Mr. Pompeo made in an interview last month that he “never heard” Mr. McKinley “say a single thing” about Ms. Yovanovitch’s ouster.


#1228

R’s blame the process…never the facts. And they can not get the facts right.

RE: Whistleblower -

  1. Rep Schiff did not have face-to-face contact with Whistleblower, but his staff learned of the Whistleblower’s complaint. No need to put Rep Schiff on the stand to testify.
  1. Whistleblower’s identity needs to be kept secret…that is the way it is done. None of these bullying techniques need to happen, but that’s the path the R’s and Rand Paul need to go down. Such flagrant disregard for personal safety…and just plain a misconstruing of the facts.

But that is the R’s only defense…attack the process.

And turn us into a Banana Republic…with their savage retorts.

As the late and honorable Rep Elijah Cummings would say - “Com’mon, we’re better than this.”


#1229

House impeachment investigators ask John Bolton to testify next week

Former national security adviser John Bolton has been formally asked to testify before House investigators in the ongoing impeachment inquiry, a person familiar with the matter confirmed to ABC News on Wednesday.

Bolton, whose name has surfaced repeatedly as being opposed to President Donald Trump’s pressure campaign with Ukraine, has been asked to appear on Capitol Hill next week, on Nov. 7.

His legal team, however, told ABC News that Bolton is not willing to appear voluntarily.

"I stand ready at all times to accept service of a subpoena on his behalf," Bolton’s attorney Chuck Cooper told ABC News.


#1230

The Democrats are also calling John Eisenberg, the lawyer for the NSC who fielded an Army officer’s concerns over Trump’s phone call with the Ukraine president, and Michael Ellis, another security council official, according to a person familiar with the invitation and granted anonymity to discuss it.


#1231

#1232

New DOJ memo says executive branch witnesses must be allowed to bring lawyers to testimony

The Justice Department said attempts by impeachment investigatorsto compel testimony from executive branch witnesses about President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine are “legally invalid” unless they allow for the witnesses to bring a government lawyer.

The guidance, from the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel, amounts to a new legal reasoning that the White House and other agencies can use to stymie House depositions after Democrats curtailed the previous legal argument that the House wasn’t in a formal impeachment inquiry with a vote last week. The memo is certain to anger Democrats as it furthers a strategy of non-cooperation from the White House in the inquiry, and once again puts the Justice Department in the position of blocking the President from further scrutiny.

Impeachment investigators had so far benefited from several depositions from current and former national security officials about the Ukraine saga, but in recent days, a number of current and former government witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton and a top national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence, have all skipped out on scheduled depositions.

In the memo, OLC lawyers write that the President, who has not been asked or subpoenaed to testify, must be allowed to have a representative present in depositions to be able to protect privileged information from disclosure. The House Intelligence Committee, which is leading the ongoing investigation, has so far only allowed witnesses to appear for depositions with personal counsel.

The five-page memo appears limited in scope but potentially sets up a future fight over the impeachment investigators’ ability to pierce the administration’s shield of executive privilege, which could block witnesses from providing valuable information about Trump’s direct involvement in the case.

OLC attorneys cite a DC Circuit court opinion comparing an impeachment inquiry with a grand jury investigation in a criminal probe, setting up the need to meet a high threshold to overcome the protections of the privilege.

The administration’s new legal memo is untested in court. Witnesses are not permitted to bring lawyers into criminal grand juries, and federal courts have generally not allowed administration blocking attempts to stand in the way of criminal investigators or of Congress’ needs during impeachment proceedings. As recently as last month, a federal judge told the administration it couldn’t block the House’s pursuit of confidential grand jury information sought for the impeachment proceedings, for example.


(David Bythewood) #1233

Interesting article about this all.


We knew this was coming, right?

Trump floats new defense: The quid pro quo didn’t happen, but if it did, so what?

https://news.yahoo.com/trump-no-quid-pro-quo-perhaps-not-impeachable-143731986.html?soc_src=hl-viewer&soc_trk=tw


#1234

Committees Release Sondland and Volker Transcripts as Part of Impeachment Inquiry

https://intelligence.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=785

Today, Rep. Adam B. Schiff, the Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Eliot L. Engel, the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Acting Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, released the transcripts of Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt Volker, the former United States Representative for Ukraine Negotiations.

The Committees also released additional text messages previously produced by Ambassador Volker that provide context to the transcripts and new information relevant to the inquiry.

The three Chairs issued the following statement announcing today’s releases:

“The testimony of Ambassadors Volker and Sondland shows the progression of efforts by the President and his agent, Rudy Giuliani, to use the State Department to press Ukraine to announce investigations beneficial to the President’s personal and political interests.

“As early as May 2019, President Trump directed the Ambassadors to work with Giuliani on Ukraine policy, and over the course of the summer, an effort was made to extract a public statement from the new Ukrainian president that the Ukrainian government was investigating Burisma or the Biden family and a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 U.S. elections.

“It is clear from their testimony that, in exchange for the statement, President Trump would award the Ukrainian president with a highly coveted White House meeting and, later, with millions of dollars in critical military aid being withheld. Ambassador Sondland called this changing U.S. policy toward Ukraine a ‘continuum’ that became ever more ‘insidious’ over time.

“Finally, with the release of the full production of text messages provided to the Committees by Ambassador Volker, and an additional declaration by Ambassador Sondland, the President’s scheme comes into clearer focus.

“In an effort to prevent further incriminating information from coming to light, the State Department is continuing to obstruct our investigation by refusing to provide subpoenaed records, including additional text messages provided to the Department by Ambassador Sondland. This blanket stonewalling will only continue to build the case against the President for obstruction of Congress, especially in light of the damning evidentiary record the Committees have already gathered.”

The testimony of Ambassador Sondland can be found here, including an addendum he filed on November 4, 2019.

Key excerpts from Ambassador Sondland’s testimony can be found here.

The testimony of Ambassador Volker can be found here.

Key excerpts from Ambassador Volker’s testimony can be found here.

In addition, the Committees released all additional Volker text messages received by the Committees, which can be found here.

Key excerpts from these additional text messages can be found here.

The Committees first released excerpts of text messages produced by Ambassador Volker on October 2, 2019, which can be found here.


#1235

Sondland Updates Impeachment Testimony, Describing Ukraine Quid Pro Quo

A critical witness in the impeachment inquiry offered Congress substantial new testimony this week, revealing that he told a top Ukrainian official that the country likely would not receive American military aid unless it publicly committed to investigations President Trump wanted.

The disclosure from Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, in four new pages of sworn testimony released on Tuesday, confirmed his involvement in essentially laying out a quid pro quo to Ukraine that he had previously not acknowledged.

The testimony offered several major new details beyond the account he gave the inquiry in a 10-hour interview last month. Mr. Sondland provided a more robust description of his own role in alerting the Ukrainians that they needed to go along with investigative requests being demanded by the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. By early September, Mr. Sondland said, he had become convinced that military aid and a White House meeting were conditioned on Ukraine committing to those investigations.


#1236

Summary of Impeachment Inquiry into Trump 2019

October 28th - November 5th

Calendars:

News:

Documents:

  • 10/29/19 Full text of the House resolution on Trump impeachment process
  • 10/28/19 Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, European affairs director at the National Security Council Prepared remarks
  • 11/04/19 The testimony of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch from October 11, 2019 can be found here . Key excerpts from Yovanovitch’s testimony can be found here
  • 11/04/19 The testimony of former Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State Ambassador P. Michael McKinley from October 16, 2019 can be found here. Key excerpts from McKinley’s testimony can be found here
  • 11/05/19 The testimony of Ambassador Sondland can be found here 1, including an addendum he filed on November 4, 2019.
  • 11/05/19 Key excerpts from Ambassador Sondland’s testimony can be found here 1.
  • 11/05/19 The testimony of Ambassador Volker can be found here.
  • 11/05/19 Key excerpts from Ambassador Volker’s testimony can be found here 1.
  • 11/05/19 In addition, the Committees released all additional Volker text messages received by the Committees, which can be found here 1.
  • 11/05/19 Key excerpts from these additional text messages can be found here 1.
  • 11/05/19 The Committees first released excerpts of text messages produced by Ambassador Volker on October 2, 2019, which can be found here 1.

Closed Door Hearing:

  • 10/04/19 Appeared - Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community

Closed Door Depositions:

Note: All depositions for Oct. 24 and 25 have been postponed due to services for the late former House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.

  • 10/24/19 Postponed - Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council director for European Affairs and an expert on Ukraine
  • 10/24/19 Postponed - Kathryn Wheelbarger, the acting assistant secretary for international security affairs
  • 10/25/19 Postponed - Suriya Jayanti, a foreign service officer stationed in Kyiv who specialized in energy issues
  • 10/25/19 Refused - Russell Vought, White House Office of Management and Budget acting director
  • 10/26/19 Appeared - Philip Reeker, the acting assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs
  • 10/28/19 Refused/filed a lawsuit - Charles Kupperman, former Deputy National Security Adviser to John Bolton
  • 10/29/19 Appeared - Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, European affairs director at the National Security Council
  • 10/30/19 Appeared - Catherine Croft, State Department Ukraine expert
  • 10/30/19 Appeared - Christopher Anderson, State Department Ukraine expert
  • 10/30/19 - Refused - Kathryn Wheelbarger, the acting assistant secretary for international security affairs
  • 10/31/19 Appeared - Timothy Morrison, the former senior director for Russian affairs at the National Security Council
  • 10/04/19 Refused - Robert Blair, a senior adviser to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney
  • 10/04/19 Refused - Brian McCormack, director of natural resources, energy and science at the White House Office of Management and Budget
  • 10/04/19 Blocked - John Eisenberg, National Security Council lawyer
  • 10/04/19 Refused - Michael Ellis, National Security Council lawyer

Full House Sessions:

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


(David Bythewood) #1237

I remember when “changing testimony” used to be called “admitted to perjury”.

Sondland changes testimony, acknowledges delivering quid pro quo message to Ukraine

Sondland has revised his testimony to include a new 4 page sworn statement that admits there was a quid pro quo, that Pence was aware of the arrangements and that he was a key player in getting Ukraine to play ball.


https://www.politico.com/news/2019/11/05/sondland-reverses-himself-on-ukraine-quid-pro-quo-000318

https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2019/11/sondland-revises-and-extends-loops-pence-into-ukraine-scandal/




https://www.washingtonpost.com/context/ambassador-gordon-sondland-s-supplemental-declaration/50217038-5265-4017-a37b-3c0627c4902e/

The big smoking gun:

image

Pence didn’t just know, he helped.


#1238

Sondland reverses himself on Ukraine, confirming quid pro quo

https://www.politico.com/news/2019/11/05/sondland-reverses-himself-on-ukraine-quid-pro-quo-000318

In his supplemental testimony, Sondland said he initially believed the public declarations for new investigations could be made by Ukraine’s top prosecutor, but said he later “came to understand that, in fact, the public statement would need to come directly from President Zelensky himself.”

Just three days before Sondland’s conversation with Yermak in Warsaw, on August 28, POLITICO first revealed that the military aid had been frozen.

The transcripts released by impeachment investigators on Tuesday were accompanied by a tranche of text messages chronicling communications among Sondland and two other senior diplomats involved in the Ukraine controversy — Volker and William Taylor.

In one exchange, Volker sent Yermak the precise language that the U.S. wanted Zelensky to use when he announced Trump’s preferred investigations.

“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 was to say. “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, which in turn will prevent the recurrence of this problem in the future.”

Sondland said he “always believed that suspending aid to Ukraine was ill-advised,” and although he claims he did not know why the military assistance was initially suspended, Sondland said he later “presumed” that the aid “had become linked to the proposed anti-corruption statement.”


#1239

Cross-posting :pray:


#1240

:eyes:

After two days of no-shows, David Hale appeared on Capitol Hill to testify. More transcripts may also be released.

RIGHT NOW

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, just announced the first public hearings in the inquiry.

Here’s what you need to know:

House Committees will hold the first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry next week.

House Democrats will begin convening public impeachment hearings next week, they announced on Wednesday, initially calling three marquee witnesses to begin making a case for President Trump’s impeachment in public.

The hearings will kick off on Wednesday, with testimony from William B. Taylor Jr., the top American envoy in Ukraine, and George Kent, a top State Department official, said Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. On Friday, Mr. Schiff’s committee will hear from Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former American ambassador to Ukraine, he said.

All three witnesses have already spoken privately with investigators.

House Intelligence Committee Announces First Week of Open Hearings With William Taylor, George Kent and Marie Yovanovitch

Today, Chairman Adam Schiff announced that on Wednesday, November 13, 2019, and Friday, November 15, 2019 the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will hold its first open hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald J. Trump.

On Wednesday, November 13, 2019, the Committee will hear from Ambassador William Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent. Taylor currently serves as the Chargé D’affaires for the U.S. State Department in Ukraine. Kent serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau at the U.S. Department of State.

On Friday, November 15, 2019, the Committee will hear from former Ambassador Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch. Until May 2019, Yovanovitch served as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.

https://intelligence.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=792


#1241

This just in…the hearings begin next week, per House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff


#1242

In a previous post above, @Pet_Proletariat linked to this breaking news along with images of Sondland’s revised testimony (which is a bombshell of cataclysmic proportions). I’m posting the testimony again here because someone at CNBC has now converted the images to text so it’s easier to read.

… In the addendum, Sondland admits that he told a top Ukraine official that hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine — which had been withheld without clear explanation at the time from the Trump administration — would likely not be delivered until Ukraine agreed to make a “public anti-corruption statement” that had been under discussion.

Read the update to Sondland’s testimony below:

[Bold highlights are mine - @Keaton_James]

DECLARATION OF AMBASSADOR GORDON D. SONDLAND

I, Gordon Sondland, do hereby swear and affirm as follows:

  1. I have reviewed the October 22, 2019, opening statement of Ambassador William Taylor. I have also reviewed the October 31, 2019, opening statement of Tim Morrison. These two opening statements have refreshed my recollection about certain conversations in early September 2019.

  2. Ambassador Taylor recalls that I told Mr. Morrison in early September 2019 that the resumption of U.S. aid to Ukraine had become tied to a public statement to be issued by Ukraine agreeing to investigate Burisma. Ambassador Taylor recalls that Mr. Morrison told Ambassador Taylor that I told Mr. Morrison that I had conveyed this message to Mr. Yermak on September 1, 2019, in connection with Vice President Pence’s visit to Warsaw and a meeting with President Zelensky. Mr. Morrison recalls that I said to him in early September that resumption of U.S. aid to Ukraine might be conditioned on a public statement reopening the Burisma investigation.

  3. In my October 17, 2019 prepared testimony and in my deposition, I made clear that I had understood sometime after our May 23, 2019, White House debriefing that scheduling a White House visit for President Zelensky was conditioned upon President Zelensky’s agreement to make a public anti-corruption statement. This condition had been communicated by Rudy Giuliani, with whom President Trump directed Ambassador Volker, Secretary Perry, and me, on May 23, 2019, to discuss issues related to the President’s concerns about Ukraine. Ambassador Volker, Secretary Perry, and I understood that satisfying Mr. Giuliani was a condition for scheduling the White House visit, which we all strongly believed to be in the mutual interest of the United States and Ukraine.

  4. With respect to the September 1, 2019, Warsaw meeting, the conversations described in Ambassador Taylor’s and Mr. Morrison’s opening statements have refreshed my recollection about conversations involving the suspension of U.S. aid, which had become public only days earlier. I always believed that suspending aid to Ukraine was ill-advised, although I did not know (and still do not know) when, why, or by whom the aid was suspended. However; by the beginning of September 2019, and in the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid, I presumed that the aid suspension had become linked to the proposed anti-corruption statement. As I said in my prepared testimony, security aid to Ukraine was in our vital national interest and should not have been delayed for any reason. And it would have been natural for me to have voiced what I had presumed to Ambassador Taylor, Senator Johnson, the Ukrainians, and Mr. Morrison.

  5. Also, I now do recall a conversation on September 1, 2019, in Warsaw with Mr. Yermak. This brief pull-aside conversation followed the larger meeting involving Vice President Pence and President Zelensky, in which President Zelensky had raised the issue of the suspension of U.S. aid to Ukraine directly with Vice President Pence. After that large meeting, I now recall speaking individually with Mr. Yermak, where I said that resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks. I also recall some question as to whether the public statement could come from the newly appointed Ukrainian Prosecutor General, rather than from President Zelensky directly.

  6. Soon thereafter, I came to understand that, in fact, the public statement would need to come directly from President Zelensky himself. I do not specifically recall how I learned this, but I believe that the information may have come either from Mr. Giuliani or from Ambassador Volker, who may have discussed this with Mr. Giuliani. In a later conversation with Ambassador Taylor, I told him that I had been mistaken about whether a public statement could come from the Prosecutor General; I had come to understand that the public statement would have to come from President Zelensky himself.

  7. Finally, as of this writing, I cannot specifically recall if I had one or two phone calls with President Trump in the September 6-9 time frame. Despite repeated requests to the White House and the State Department, I have not been granted access to all of the phone records, and I would like to review those phone records, along with any notes and other documents that may exist, to determine if I can provide more complete testimony to assist Congress. However, although I have no specific recollection of phone calls during this period with Ambassador Taylor or Mr. Morrison, I have no reason to question the substance of their recollection about my September 1 conversation with Mr. Yermak.

I declare under penalty of perjury that the aforementioned is true.
Gordon Sondland

Executed on November 4, 2019.

What does Sondland’s revised testimony tell us?

  1. Sondland perjured himself during his original testimony. IMHO, the House Intelligence community should make an immediate criminal referral. There is no reason to simply let him off the hook. If he wants to strike a deal to tell more of what he knows, that’s up to the committee, but the only reason for Sondland to strike such a deal is if he is living under the cloud of a possible prison term – which is entirely justified, based on his flagrant perjury.

  2. As @Pet_Proletariat pointed out above, Pence aided and abetted.

  3. There were definitely, positively, absolutely two quid pro quos. We can say this because now Sondland, one of the people executing the crimes, has admitted to it and his admission is backed up by the previous testimony of other witnesses (e.g., Taylor and Morrison).

  4. The first quid pro quo was in the from of a bribe: Mr. Zelensky, you can have a meeting with Trump if you smear Trump’s opponent by announcing an investigation.

  5. The second quid pro quo was in the form of an extortion: Mr. Zelensky, we will withhold military aid until you smear Trump’s opponent by announcing an investigation.


(David Bythewood) #1243

Possibly three quid pro quos, as Ukraine backing off on the Mueller investigation seems to be the original one, and I wonder now if it wasn’t their trial run, their proof that they could get more.


#1244

Ah, yes! Forgot about that one. The alleged original quid pro quo (the “dress rehearsal” for these two most recent quid pro quos) was first exposed by the NYT (post above). Recently, Rachel Maddow further developed the damning allegations (post above).


#1245

Awful jerk that Don Jr is…

Thx @rusticgorilla