New tab on the House Intelligence Committee’s website.
I love the sound of Republicans turning on each other.
Lindsey Graham trashes Gordon Sondland that donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration: “Why did Sondland change his testimony?” “Was there a connection between Sondland and Democratic operatives?"
Scoop: House committees subpoena Mick Mulvaney
The House committees investigating President Trump and Ukraine issued a subpoena Thursday night for acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to testify at 9 am on Friday as part of their impeachment inquiry, two sources familiar tell Axios.
Why it matters: Mulvaney is the highest-ranking White House official to be subpoenaed yet, and the midnight-hour move suggests the committees are reaching into the final phase of their private investigation as they prepare to take their inquiry public next week.
- The committees first subpoenaed Mulvaneyto turn over documents in October, but subpoenaing him to appear for a hearing is a further escalation, and signals the committees are determined to hear him describe firsthand his role in the Ukraine saga.
Handy document treasure trove.
Committees Release Vindman and Hill Transcripts as Part of Impeachment Inquiry
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 transcripts from joint depositions of one current and one former White House official responsible for Ukraine policy: Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman and Dr. Fiona Hill.
The three Chairs issued the following statement announcing today’s release:
“Lieutenant Colonel Vindman—an active duty military officer who was awarded the Purple Heart after being injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq—performed another duty to the country by testifying before the Committees about presidential misconduct that he witnessed during his service at the White House. Lt. Col. Vindman testified that the July 25, 2019, call between President Trump and the Ukrainian president led him to report immediately to lawyers at the White House his serious concerns about political investigations the President pressed for on the call.
“Lt. Col. Vindman also told the Committees that the ‘demand’ by President Trump for the announcement of a politically-motivated investigation into a U.S. citizen by a foreign country forced him to make a‘moral and ethical’ judgment, and led to his concern that the act could ‘undermine U.S. national security.’ He also detailed a pressure campaign waged by the President and his allies ahead of the call, and how he properly reported this activity to the same White House legal advisors.
“Dr. Fiona Hill—a respected Russia and Ukraine expert who served as Lt. Col. Vindman’s supervisor—detailed how senior officials at the White House, including National Security Advisor John Bolton, shared her serious concern about efforts prior to the July 25 call to push Ukraine to undertake these politically-motivated investigations, and about her efforts, at Mr. Bolton’s direction, to report this activity to senior White House officials.
“Lt. Col. Vindman and Dr. Hill—two courageous and patriotic Americans—testified despite pressure by the White House to silence their testimony. Their superiors in the White House have declined to cooperate with the inquiry, but transcripts released today show clearly that individuals close to the President were alarmed by a presidential scheme as illicit and corrupt as a ‘drug deal.’”
The testimony of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman can be found here.
Key excerpts of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman’s testimony can be found here.
The testimony of Dr. Fiona Hill can be found here.
Key excerpts of Dr. Fiona Hill’s testimony can be found here.
Mulvaney defies House subpoena, cites immunity ‘one minute’ before deposition
The big take away connection people are noting is that the two transcripts released directly implicate Mulvaney. So this is getting interesting. I doubt they play into his decision to troll the House, though.
Lawyer for Ukraine whistleblower sends White House cease and desist letter to stop Trump’s attacks
A lawyer for the Ukraine whistleblower, whose complaint document triggered the House impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, has sent a letter to the White House warning the President to “cease and desist” attacking his client.
"I am writing out of deep concern that your client, the President of the United States, is engaging in rhetoric and activity that places my client, the Intelligence Community Whistleblower, and their family in physical danger," Andrew Bakaj wrote to White House counsel Pat Cipollone in a Thursday letter obtained by CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
"I am writing to respectfully request that you counsel your client on the legal and ethical peril in which he is placing himself should anyone be physically harmed as a result of his, or his surrogates’, behavior," he said.
Bolton Knows About ‘Many Relevant Meetings’ on Ukraine, Lawyer Says
The former national security adviser would be an important witness in the impeachment inquiry, but his lawyer wants a court to rule on whether he should testify.
ATLANTA — John R. Bolton, President Trump’s former national security adviser, has knowledge of “many relevant meetings and conversations” connected to the Ukraine pressure campaign that House impeachment investigators do not yet know about, his lawyer told lawmakers on Friday.
The lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, made that tantalizing point in a letter to the chief House lawyer in response to House committee chairmen who have sought Mr. Bolton’s testimony in their impeachment proceedings but expressed unwillingness to go to court to get an order compelling it.
Mr. Cooper did not elaborate on what meetings and conversations he was referring to, leaving it to House Democrats to guess at what he might know.
Mr. Bolton did not show up for a deposition scheduled on Thursday because, his lawyer said, he wants a judge to determine whether he or his former deputy, Charles M. Kupperman, should testify in defiance of the White House. In effect, Mr. Bolton and Mr. Kupperman are asking for a court ruling on competing demands by the executive branch, which does not want them to testify, and the legislative branch, which does.
The House chairmen have withdrawn a subpoena for Mr. Kupperman and indicated they would not seek one for Mr. Bolton because they said they did not want to get dragged into lengthy court proceedings. Instead, Democrats have suggested that they may cite the refusal to testify by Mr. Bolton and Mr. Kupperman as evidence of obstruction of Congress by the president, which could form its own article of impeachment.
In representing Mr. Bolton and Mr. Kupperman, Mr. Cooper denied that they were trying to delay proceedings and insisted that their legal position was not coordinated with the White House. Mr. Cooper argued that if the House was serious about an inquiry, then Mr. Bolton would be a logical person to question.
Mr. Bolton “was personally involved in many of the events, meetings, and conversations about which you have already received testimony, as well as many relevant meetings and conversations that have not yet been discussed in the testimonies thus far,” Mr. Cooper wrote in the letter.
Many witnesses who have testified so far have placed Mr. Bolton at the center of key events, describing him as exasperated by the efforts by people around the president — led by his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani — to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democrats. He said he wanted nothing to do with the “drug deal,” as he put it, that other presidential advisers were orchestrating and called Mr. Giuliani a “hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.”
He also directed aides to report their dealings with Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union who was involved in the pressure campaign, to a White House lawyer. And he objected to Mr. Trump’s decision to suspend $391 million in security aid to Ukraine and the decision to call President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine on July 25.
During that call, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Zelensky to “do us a favor” and investigate Ukrainian connections to Democrats in 2016 and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden.
Unlike most of those who have testified so far, though, Mr. Bolton would bring knowledge of what the president himself said about the matter. Most of the witnesses have described what people around the president said, but few recounted any direct conversations with Mr. Trump. As his national security adviser who saw him daily, Mr. Bolton presumably could take investigators into the Oval Office as none of their witnesses have.
House Democrats have argued that ongoing court proceedings to compel Donald F. McGahn II, the president’s former White House counsel, to testify on other matters should guide Mr. Bolton and Mr. Kupperman. But Mr. Cooper said any final judgment on Mr. McGahn would still not answer the question about whether his clients should testify because they would be asked about national security matters in a way that Mr. McGahn would not be.
Mr. Cooper cited the House Judiciary Committee’s own brief in the McGahn case, which made the point that the panels interest in the former White House counsel “did not involve the sensitive topics of national security or foreign affairs.”
“Here, unlike McGahn, information concerning national security and foreign affairs is at the heart of the committees’ impeachment inquiry, and it is difficult to imagine any question that the committees might put to” Mr. Kupperman or Mr. Bolton “that would not implicate these sensitive areas,” Mr. Cooper wrote.
Jim Jordon wins spot on House Intel Committee on same day 2nd witness says he knew about prolific sexual abuse by doctor on his wrestling team, but did nothing
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced Friday that Rep. [Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) will be placed on the House Intelligence Committee for the duration of the impeachment inquiry.
Jordan, who currently serves as the top Republican on the Oversight and Reform Committee and is one of President Trump’s most vocal defenders in the lower chamber, has played a leading role in the impeachment hearings held behind closed doors.
In tapping Jordan, Republicans have a member who is a vocal defender of the president and a regular on cable news at a time when the House enters a highly visible phase of the impeachment investigation.
Proponents of the move feel Jordan will help strengthen the GOP’s ability to fight back against Democrats’ attacks on the president as the majority party prepares to bring forward witnesses they see as having the most damning testimony against Trump’s handling of Ukraine policy.
Jordan will do his best to malign the impeachment witnesses who are bringing Trump to justice, but he lives in a glass house and shouldn’t be throwing stones. NBC just posted this bombshell report that Jordan has been further implicated as enabling sex abuse during his time as a wrestling coach by hushing up reports of the abuse that were made directly to him.
Normally, I would post this in Mentionable News, but I’m posting it here because I believe that just as the impeachment hearings go public and Jordon begins his usual ugly grandstanding in defense of Trump, this developing story could severely damage his credibility.
Referee says he told Rep. Jim Jordan that Ohio State doctor performed sex act in shower
A professional referee says in a lawsuit filed Thursday that disgraced doctor Richard Strauss masturbated in front of him in a shower after a wrestling match at Ohio State University, and that he reported the encounter directly to Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who was then the assistant coach.
“Yeah, that’s Strauss,” Jordan and then-head coach Russ Hellickson replied, according to the lawsuit, when the referee, identified in court papers as John Doe 42, told them about the incident. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Ohio, implies that Jordan’s response to the incident, which the referee said happened in 1994, was essentially a shrug.
John Doe 42 is the second person to say he told Jordan directly about either being approached or molested by Strauss, who was found by independent investigators to have sexually abused 177 male students over two decades.
Jordan, a powerful Republican congressman and a top defender of President Donald Trump in the ongoing impeachment inquiry, has repeatedly denied knowing anything about what Strauss did to the wrestlers he helped coach from 1986 to 1994.
John Doe 42 said that when he informed Jordan and Hellickson about what happened, their response was, “Yeah, yeah, we know.”
Former Ohio State wrestler Dunyasha Yetts was the first person to say he spoke to Jordan directly about Strauss. He previously described how he went to see Strauss for a thumb injury, and when the doctor tried to pull down his pants, he stormed out and complained to Jordan and Hellickson.
“It’s good that people are starting to come forward and say the truth, which is that Jordan and the other coaches knew what was going on and they blew it off,” Yetts told NBC News.
This is not just an impeachment. It’s the endgame for Trump’s relentless assault on the institutions, norms, and practices of America’s liberal democracy for the past three years. It’s also a deeper reckoning. It’s about whether the legitimacy of our entire system can last much longer without this man being removed from office.
I’m talking about what political scientists call “regime cleavage” — a decline in democratic life so severe the country’s very institutions could lose legitimacy as a result of it. It is described by one political scientist as follows: “a division within the population marked by conflict about the foundations of the governing system itself — in the American case, our constitutional democracy. In societies facing a regime cleavage, a growing number of citizens and officials believe that norms, institutions, and laws may be ignored, subverted, or replaced.” A full-on regime cleavage is, indeed, an extinction-level event for our liberal democratic system. And it is one precipitated by the man who is supposed to be the guardian of that system, the president.
Let us count the ways in which Trump has attacked and undermined the core legitimacy of our democracy. He is the only candidate in American history who refused to say that he would abide by the results of the vote. Even after winning the 2016 election, he still claimed that “millions” of voters — undocumented aliens — perpetrated massive electoral fraud in the last election, and voted for his opponent. He has repeatedly and publicly toyed with the idea that he could violate the 22nd Amendment, and get elected for three terms, or more.
In the current scandal over Ukraine, Trump is insisting that he did “nothing wrong” in demanding that Ukraine announce investigations into Joe and Hunter Biden, or forfeit desperately needed military aid. If that is the president’s position — that he can constitutionally ask any other country to intervene on his behalf in a U.S. election — it represents a view of executive power that is the equivalent of a mob boss’s. It is best summed up in Trump’s own words: Article 2 of the Constitution permits him to do “anything I want.”
We have become so used to these attacks on our constitutional order that we fail to be shocked by Trump’s insistence that a constitutional impeachment inquiry is a “coup.” By any measure, this is an extraordinary statement, and itself an impeachable offense as a form of “contempt for Congress.” We barely blink anymore when a president refuses to cooperate in any way, demands his underlings refuse to testify and break the law by flouting subpoenas, threatens to out the first whistle-blower’s identity (in violation of the law), or assaults and tries to intimidate witnesses, like Colonel Alexander Vindman.
If Trump’s base has the capacity to learn just one truth about Trump during the impeachment hearings, this should be the one. He’s not a maverick, he’s a mob boss.
Trump and Giuliani remain in touch as impeachment drama heats up
Republicans want Hunter Biden, Ukraine whistleblower as impeachment inquiry witnesses
EXCLUSIVE: House Republicans plan to call Hunter Biden, the Ukraine whistleblower and a range of other witnesses to testify in the upcoming public Trump impeachment hearings, according to a witness list obtained exclusively by Fox News.
It is unclear, at this point, how many of the Republicans’ proposed witnesses will be approved by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and the Democrats, because the newly-approved resolution governing the impeachment inquiry give the approval power to the chairman and the members of the majority
Read the Letter from Nunes to Chairman Schiff
Did anyone post this yet? The Trump administration’s crack shadow foreign policy team had been pushing Ukraine to investigate the Bidens since before Zelenskiy was elected.
Giuliani Associates Urged Ukraine’s Prior President to Open Biden, Election Probes
The meeting, which hasn’t previously been reported, shows associates of the U.S. president’s personal lawyer as early as February were pressing the president of Ukraine to open investigations that could benefit Mr. Trump politically in exchange for a White House visit. No White House meeting resulted from the discussions. Mr. Poroshenko lost his re-election bid to Volodymyr Zelensky, who Mr. Trump in a July call urged to investigate the Bidens, as well as other matters.
Mr. Poroshenko at the time was in a tight re-election race and had expressed interest to aides in visiting Washington. A visit to the White House could have improved his electoral chances with Ukrainian voters because it could have enhanced his stature, and he was open to the idea proposed by Mr. Giuliani’s associates, one of the people said. “He wanted to come to Washington and meet with Trump and then after the state dinner he would have an interview” with a major news outlet, the person said of Mr. Poroshenko. “Then he would say he would investigate meddling in 2016 and the Bidens.”
Robert Costello, a lawyer for Mr. Giuliani, said his client had no knowledge of the meeting. Representatives of Mr. Poroshenko and Mr. Lutsenko didn’t respond to requests for comment. Lawyers for Messrs. Parnas and Fruman declined to comment. The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Yes! And this, right here, is why so many dedicated Democrats worked tirelessly to win a Democratic majority in the House in 2016. Imagine if we were still in the minority? Not only would Schiff be unable to stop the Republicans’ dangerous and destructive grandstanding, we wouldn’t even be having these impeachment hearings. Trump’s crimes would have once again been swept under the rug by a Republican majority.
Now we’ve got to win the Executive Branch and the Senate in 2020. Onward!
It’s great to see the WSJ throwing a spotlight on what many have been calling Trump’s first bribery attempt with Ukraine.
Here’s a previous post featuring a recent editorial by the WaPo and some earlier, in-depth reporting by the NYT.
In that post, I assembled a list of uncanny parallels between the first bribery/extortion attempt and the second one. I’ll drop the list here, too:
The highly suspicious interactions between the Trump administration and Ukraine in 2017/18 and in 2019 are eerily similar. The question arises, in 2019 when Trump extorted the President of Ukraine, was he simply re-running a play he’d already executed earlier with the previous President of Ukraine?
Both cases involve Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
In both cases, meetings were stalled between Trump and the President of Ukraine (Petro Poroshenko in the first case, Volodymyr Zelensky in the second). Such a meeting is highly coveted by a Ukrainian leader needing to legitimize his rule.
In the first case, the stalled meeting was suddenly given the green light two weeks after Giuliani’s visit to Poroshenko and Ukraine’s Prosecutor General who was handling the Manafort investigation.
In the second case, the stalled meeting was OK’d after Trump’s extortion demand in his July 25 phone call with Zelensky.
In both cases, Trump was vitally interested in influencing investigations in Ukraine for his own personal benefit.
In the first case, Trump wanted to stop Ukraine’s investigation of his ex-campaign manager, Paul Manafort, which could lead to Robert Mueller receiving damning evidence against Trump.
In the second case, Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate his political rival, Biden, to further his chances of re-election.
In both cases, Ukraine’s need for Javelin missiles to defend against Russian attacks was at the center of the interaction.
In the first case, Javelin missiles were indeed released to Ukraine after they stopped their investigations into Manafort and stopped cooperating with Mueller. And Trump did indeed meet Poroshenko.
In the second case, Javelin missiles were also released, but Trump did not get the investigation of the Bidens that he was demanding. That’s very likely because the whistleblower exposed his extortion attempt and Trump was forced to release the missiles anyway in an attempt to make it look like he really wasn’t extorting Ukraine. Trump also did indeed meet with Zelensky, but again, that’s likely because his hand was forced by the revelations about his extortion attempt.
Update to the above list: The recent WSJ reporting that @Pet_Proletariat posted expands our understanding of the first extortion attempt. In my original list (first bullet above), Rudy Giuliani’s involvement is given as a common factor between the two attempts. Now we know for certain that both attempts involved, not only Giuliani, but also his recently indicted co-conspirators, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.
And here’s Rachel Maddow’s spot on reporting.
Here’ something explosive…Bolton released the Ukraine funds…not Mick Mulvaney…just prior to his resignstion.
The timeline in the administration’s Ukraine scandal changed again on Saturday with a bombshell new report from Bloomberg News.
“President Donald Trump says he lifted his freeze on aid to Ukraine on Sept. 11, but the State Department had quietly authorized releasing $141 million of the money several days earlier,” Bloomberg reported, citing “five people familiar with the matter.”
“The State Department decision, which hasn’t been reported previously, stemmed from a legal finding made earlier in the year, and conveyed in a classified memorandum to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. State Department lawyers found the White House Office of Management and Budget, and thus the president, had no legal standing to block spending of the Ukraine aid,” Bloomberg explained.
The report highlights how the administration was divided over the funding, with acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — who is also the director of the Office of Management and budget supporting Trump’s decision to block the aid, while others, including then-National Security Advisor John Bolton, reportedly wanted the funds released.
“The OMB has argued all along that the congressional notification by the State Department was only one step and it still had the power to hold the money after it was sent because of its authority to apportion — or distribute — the funds,” Bloomberg explained. “But the State Department disagreed. Taylor, the envoy to Ukraine, said in his testimony that it was remarkable that the legal offices at the State and Defense departments had decided ‘they were going to move forward with this assistance anyway, OMB notwithstanding.’”
The memo to Pompeo had determined that State had the authority to spend the money — regardless of what Trump was saying through the OMB — and would start the process by Sept. 7. But State officials were also wary of provoking a confrontation with OMB and Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff who still leads the budget office, whose team argued they could block the money through a process known as apportionment,” Bloomberg reported.
The new report suggests that Bolton went around Mulvaney to release the aid.
“What they didn’t know, according to one of the people, was that shortly before Sept. 9, Bolton had relayed a message to the State Department that the funding could go ahead. It’s not clear whether Bolton, who resigned from the job a week later, did so with Trump’s approval,” Bloomberg noted.
State Department Freed Ukraine Money Before Trump Says He Did