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Impeachment Inquiry into Trump 2019

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#1406

A Friday night surprise: David Holmes throws a wrench in Trump’s impeachment defense

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/11/16/big-developments-david-holmess-testimony/

Below are some key points from his opening statement, which CNN obtained.

1. Sondland’s testimony continues to crumble

At three distinct points, we have seen Sondland’s testimony called into question. The first time was when other witnesses said he talked about a quid pro quo with Ukrainian officials on July 10, which Sondland soon confirmed via clarified testimony. The second was this week, when Taylor disclosed that Holmes had overheard a Sondland call with Trump on July 26 that Sondland had failed to mention and in which Trump asked about the investigations he was asking for. “Sondland will address any issues that arise from this in his testimony next week,” his lawyer said Wednesday.

And now Holmes undermines a central claim in Sondland’s testimony: That Sondland didn’t know that Trump and his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani’s interest in investigating a Ukrainian company that employed Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden had anything to do with the Biden family.

“I noted that there was ‘big stuff’ going on in Ukraine, like a war with Russia,” Holmes says of his conversation with Sondland on July 26, “and Ambassador Sondland replied that he meant ‘big stuff’ that benefits the president, like the ‘Biden investigation’ that Mr. Giuliani was pushing.”

The quote about the “Biden investigation” is key. Sondland said in his deposition that he had pushed for an investigation into Burisma Holdings, which had employed Hunter Biden, but that he didn’t know there was any connection to the Bidens.

“But I did not understand, until much later,” Sondland said as of late May, “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.”

That was tough to swallow, though, given that Giuliani’s efforts to target the Bidens were reported by the New York Times in early May — and that Trump himself lodged his Biden conspiracy theory publicly on May 19. Yet even as of August, Sondland claimed in his testimony, “I did not know until more recent press reports that Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma.” Sondland explained in his testimony that he hadn’t read the news coverage, even though aides compiled it for him and he was focused on Ukraine policy during this time.

Holmes’s testimony quotes Sondland explicitly referring to this as the “Biden investigation” in July, which suggests there was a reason the ambassador’s testimony didn’t make sense. Sondland will testify alongside others on Wednesday, and his hot seat just got significantly hotter.

In the first week of open impeachment hearings, three career diplomats gave dramatic testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. (The Washington Post)

2. Another quid pro quo confirmation

Holmes says Taylor told him that on a June 28 call he had with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and the “three amigos” — Sondland, special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and Energy Secretary Rick Perry — “it was made clear that some action on a Burisma/Biden investigation was a precondition for an Oval Office meeting.”

This detail, notably, was not part of Taylor’s own testimony, though Taylor quickly came to believe that such a meeting was indeed conditioned on Ukraine launching such an investigation.

Taylor testified that on the June 28 call, before Zelensky was added to the line, Sondland said he didn’t want interagency officials on the call, because “he wanted to make sure no one was transcribing or monitoring as they added President Zelensky to the call.”

Taylor added: “Also, before President Zelensky joined the call, Ambassador Volker separately told the U.S. participants that he, Ambassador Volker, planned to be explicit with President Zelensky in a one-on-one meeting in Toronto on July 2. In that meeting, Ambassador Volker planned to make clear what President Zelensky should do to get the White House meeting.”

Taylor didn’t indicate in his opening statement what Volker said he planned to tell Zelensky.

3. He was spurred by GOP defenses of Trump

Holmes’s account is something he says he didn’t consider to be relevant — until he saw some of the defenses of Trump.

Holmes mentions that Trump defenders have argued that perhaps Trump himself wasn’t personally involved in the quid pro quos. He also mentions a GOP argument that was prominent during Wednesday’s hearing featuring Taylor and top State Department aide George Kent: that the witnesses didn’t have firsthand knowledge of some of the key events.

“I came to realize I had firsthand knowledge regarding certain events on July 26,” he said, referring to the date of his overhearing the Sondland-Trump call, “that had not otherwise been reported and that those events potentially bore on the question of whether the president did, in fact, have knowledge that those officials were using the levers of our diplomatic power to induct the new Ukrainian president to announce the opening of a particular criminal investigation.”

It’s worth noting that, despite early GOP attempts to portray Holmes as a partisan — on Friday they promoted a photo of him shaking hands with Barack Obama — he won an award in 2014 after raising concerns about Obama’s Afghanistan policy. Holmes, who served in Afghanistan, was awarded for his “constructive dissent.”

Holmes doesn’t directly say that his testimony contradicts the GOP’s arguments, but it’s certainly suggested. And it makes his full deposition, which we have yet to see, worth paying close attention to.


(David Bythewood) #1407

Discrepancy in White House Versions of First Trump-Zelensky Phone Call

Trump blows up effort to blunt impeachment damage

The White House’s release of Trump’s first Ukraine call runs into the president’s own tweets.


#1408

Did Gordon Sondland Perjure Himself?

If David Holmes’ testimony is true, then the answer is “Yes.”

This is a long post for “Impeachment Geeks” only. It’s based, not on a news report, but on a reading of key discrepancies between Sondland’s and Holmes’ testimonies. So if you’re interested in my take on how I believe Sondland lied to Congress, read on. Otherwise, you could wait a few days and I imagine Rachel Maddow will be doing a much better job of nailing this down. :slightly_smiling_face:

Holmes, an embassy staffer in Kiev, testified at the impeachment hearings on Friday that he was present when Sondland called Trump. The relevant section of his opening statement is just below.

But first, some quick background: Holmes starts this section with a reference to a meeting that just ended. This was a meeting in Kiev between Sondland and Andriy Yermak, adviser to Ukrainian President Zelensky. Significantly, Holmes was supposed to be the note-taker at this meeting, but was excluded at the last minute because he was told that “Ambassador Sondland and Mr. Yermak … insisted that the meeting be one-on-one, with no note-taker.” So Holmes waited outside the meeting. From what you will read in his testimony, it’s obvious that Sondland and Yermak were privately discussing Trump’s request for an investigation into the Bidens.

When the meeting ended, the two staffers and I accompanied Ambassador Sondland out of the Presidential Administration Building and to the embassy vehicle. Ambassador Sondland said that he wanted to go to lunch. I told Ambassador Sondland that I would be happy to join if he wanted to brief me on his meeting with Mr. Yermak or discuss other issues, and Ambassador Sondland said that I should join. The two staffers joined for lunch as well.

The four of us went to a nearby restaurant and sat on an outdoor terrace. I sat directly across from Ambassador Sondland and the two staffers sat off to our sides. …

During the lunch, Ambassador Sondland said that he was going to call President Trump to give him an update. Ambassador Sondland placed a call on his mobile phone, and I heard him announce himself several times, along the lines of “Gordon Sondland holding for the President.” It appeared that he was being transferred through several layers of switchboards and assistants. I then noticed Ambassador Sondland’s demeanor change, and understood that he had been connected to President Trump. While Ambassador Sondland’s phone was not on speakerphone, I could hear the President’s voice through the earpiece of the phone. The President’s voice was very loud and recognizable, and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume.

I heard Ambassador Sondland greet the President and explain that he was calling from Kyiv. I heard President Trump then clarify that Ambassador Sondland was in Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland replied, yes, he was in Ukraine, and went on to state that President Zelenskyy “loves your ass.” I then heard President Trump ask, “So, he’s gonna do the investigation?” Ambassador Sondland replied that “he’s gonna do it,” adding that President Zelenskyy will do “anything you ask him to.” …

After the call ended, … I … took the opportunity to ask Ambassador Sondland for his candid impression of the President’s views on Ukraine. In particular, I asked Ambassador Sondland if it was true that the President did not “give a s__t about Ukraine.” Ambassador Sondland agreed that the President did not “give a s__t about Ukraine.” I asked why not, and Ambassador Sondland stated that the President only cares about “big stuff.” I noted that there was “big stuff” going on in Ukraine, like a war with Russia, and Ambassador Sondland replied that he meant “big stuff” that benefits the President, like the “Biden investigation” that Mr. Giuliani was pushing. The conversation then moved on to other topics.

Note how the bolded statements in Holmes’ testimony contradict parts of Sondland’s testimony excerpted below.

A little more background: Sondland claimed that, until sometime in mid-August, 2019, he didn’t know Hunter Biden was connected with the gas company, Burisma. And by extension, he claimed that until that time he never understood that an investigation of Burisma was, in effect, an investigation of the Bidens. He was very, very clear about this timeline throughout his entire testimony (if you search for “August” in the transcript you will see how often he made this claim). What he was trying to do is give the impression that he was an unwitting accomplice – he knew he was asking Ukraine to make a statement about investigating Burisma, but he thought that was a legitimate attempt to uproot corruption in general. He claims he had no way of knowing that it was actually a scheme by Trump to smear his political rival.

Sondland was also adamant that he wasn’t seeking any actual investigations by the Ukrainians, just a press statement from them saying they were going to launch investigations. This is all evident as Sondland’s testimony unfolds – you can read the full testimony, but I’m just trying to save you some time. Now to focus on a relevant section.

P. 70.

[CHAIRMAN SCHIFF]: …The President directs you to talk to Rudy Giuliani. And it’s your testimony here today that you never looked at any of his TV appearances, you never read any of the articles, you never saw any of the media that Rudy Giuliani did in which Rudy Giuliani talked about his interest and the President’s interest in an investigation into the Bidens and this energy company that Joe Biden’s son worked for. You never saw any of that?

AMBASSADOR SONDLAND: Not then. Very much later, but not then.

THE CHAIRMAN: So it’s your testimony, I think, from your opening statement and what you said just now, that up until the moment you read the call record in September you were completely oblivious to Rudy Giuliani 's interest in Burisma because it involved the Bidens?

AMBASSADOR SONDLAND: I became aware of his interest in Burisma sometime in the intervening period, but I never made the connection between Burisma and the Bidens until the very end. That is my testimony. I heard the word “Burisma,” but I didn’t understand that Biden and Burisma were connected.

THE CHAIRMAN: … when you were interacting with the Ukrainians and seeking an investigation involving Burisma, did you know then that the real interest was the Bidens?

AMBASSADOR SONDLAND: I was seeking a press statement so that we could get the meeting for Zelensky to the White House. That’s all I was seeking. I wasn’t seeking any investigation. [Note from @Keaton_James: This is mid-to-late August - see for example, p. 295 of the transcript.]

THE CHAIRMAN: And my question is, at the time you were seeking that, did you know of the connection between the Bidens and Burisma?

AMBASSADOR SONDLAND: No. Because I would not – I would not endorse investigating the Bidens. I would not endorse investigating –

THE CHAIRMAN: So you completely missed all the Giuliani media appearances and all the public debate about the President’s interest and Giuliani’s interest in the Bidens, you missed all of that?

AMBASSADOR SONDLAND: Yeah. It wasn’t of concern to me.

MR. GOLDMAN: At some point you did make the connection, though, right?

AMBASSADOR SONDLAND: Yeah.

MR. GOLDMAN: And now, in retrospect, you understand that that’s what Rudy Giuliani was advocating for?

AMBASSADOR SONDLAND: Yeah, I do.

THE CHAIRMAN: Can I ask you this then. Had you known at the time that the interest in an investigation involving Burisma was really an interest in investigating the Bidens, would you have pressed the Ukrainians to do that investigation?

AMBASSADOR SONDLAND: No.

THE CHAIRMAN: Your answer was no?

AMBASSADOR SONDLAND: No.

Conclusion: If Holmes’ testimony is true, Sondland committed three lies (at least) under oath, but first note:

  • I’m setting aside the bombshell here that Sondland’s phone call with Trump and subsequent discussion with Holmes implicates Trump. I’m focusing only on how Sondland perjured himself.

  • When comparing Sondland’s testimony with Holmes’, remember that the restaurant meeting where Holmes overheard Sondland talking with the President took place in July, 2019.

  • By his own testimony, Sondland had never spoken to Giuliani until August 1 or 2, 2019, when Sondland joined Giulani’s Ukraine team (see p. 190). A couple weeks later they worked together on a press statement. Sondland references this press statement many times throughout his testimony as a means of anchoring his recollections of what happened in mid-August (e.g., p 295). He claims that it was in this mid-August time frame that he first understood Hunter Biden worked for Burisma – but that’s where he goes off the rails and commits perjury on at least three counts.

  1. Sondland lied when he said he did not know before mid-August, 2019, that Hunter Biden was connected with Burisma. He must have known this because in July, he spoke with Holmes about investigations into the Bidens.

  2. Sondland lied when he said he didn’t know before mid-August that Giuliani was interested in investigating the Bidens. He specifically mentions to Holmes in July that it was Giuliani who was pushing the investigation into the Bidens.

  3. Sondland lied when he said he was not seeking any investigations at all, but was only seeking a press statement. When Holmes hears Trump ask Sondland if Zelensky is going to do the investigation, Sondland replies “he’s gonna do it.”

I just focused on this one section, but if you browse through Sondland’s testimony, you can locate other instances where he tells these same lies and perhaps others. I’m sure every single lie that he told is now being culled out of the transcript by lawyers on the House Intelligence Committee.

Here’s another example of possible perjury from p. 216:

Q: But the press statement was about the investigations, correct?

SONDLAND: Well, all I can do is repeat to you what I heard through Ambassador Volker from Giuliani. That’s the only source this would have come from, because the President never discussed it with any of us.

But we know from Holmes’ testimony that the President did, indeed, discuss investigations with Sondland.

By lying to Congress, Sondland obstructed justice. Roger Stone was just convicted of these same crimes and for that he will most surely be spending years behind bars. I wonder if the seriousness of what Sondland has done is just now sinking into his brain. This weekend he may be contemplating what it would be like to trade a $60 million dollar lifestyle for hard time in a prison cell.


#1409

Committees Release Morrison and Williams Transcripts as Part of Impeachment Inquiry

https://intelligence.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=849

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 from joint depositions of Deputy Assistant to the President Timothy Morrison and Vice President Pence’s special adviser on Europe and Russia, Jennifer Williams.

The Chairs issued the following statement announcing today’s release:

“The testimony released today shows that President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky immediately set off alarm bells throughout the White House. Both witnesses provided the Committees with first-hand accounts after personally listening to the call in the White House Situation Room.

“Mr. Morrison confirmed Ambassador Taylor’s testimony to the Committees that the Ukrainians were told that U.S. military assistance, not just the White House meeting, was conditioned on their public announcement of political investigations that the President wanted. Additionally, following the September 1 meeting between President Zelensky and Vice President Pence, Mr. Morrison confirmed that Ambassador Sondland informed one of President Zelensky’s top aides that American military aid was conditioned on the investigations. Mr. Morrison informed John Bolton of the meeting and was told by Mr. Bolton to go see the lawyers, which he did.

“Ms. Williams testified that the President’s requests were ‘unusual and inappropriate’ and shed light on ‘possible other motivations behind a security assistance hold.’ She also confirmed, like Lt. Col. Vindman, that the Ukrainian President specifically mentioned ‘Burisma’ during the call, even though the White House call record does not reflect that. Importantly, Ms. Williams also testified that in mid-May, President Trump instructed Vice President Pence to cancel plans to attend President Zelensky’s inauguration before the date for the inauguration had been set.

“We look forward to the public testimony of both of these officials.”

The testimony of Jennifer Williams can be found here.

Key excerpts of Jennifer Williams’s testimony can be found here.

The testimony of Timothy Morrison can be found here.

Key excerpts of Timothy Morrison’s testimony can be found here.


#1410

More details from within Morrison’s transcripts relating to the ‘conditionality’ of the release of the aid. From CNN reporter, Manu Raju

And a lil jab at Rep Jim Jordan…Here you go pal.


#1411

:boom:

Sondland communicated with Ukrainian officials via WhatsApp and the State Department is withholding the messages

Waiters were coming and going as U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland spoke on the phone with President Trump on July 26 from the outdoor section of a central Kyiv restaurant and discussed the Ukrainian president’s willingness to conduct politically charged investigations, an episode that also highlighted the lack of security around a presidential call, according to testimony to Congress and a person familiar with the episode.

Sondland arrived in Kyiv and scrapped a schedule the embassy had arranged for him, which included a meeting with the man who would subsequently become Ukraine’s prime minister, instead saying he wanted to meet only with Volodymr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, and the two aides closest to him: head of the presidential administration Andriy Bohdan and adviser Andriy Yermak, according to the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity given the sensitive nature of the subject.

Sondland’s interactions in Kyiv — the day after Trump called Zelensky and exhorted him to investigate former vice president Joe Biden — will be scrutinized in public testimony Sondland is scheduled to give this week at the impeachment inquiry.

Robert Luskin, an attorney for Sondland, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Congressional focus has intensified on the episode at the Kyiv restaurant called SHO, in which Sondland pulled out his mobile phone and dialed up Trump. In a closed-door hearing on Friday, David Holmes, an embassy staffer who was sitting at the table, testified that he overheard the conversation, which began with Trump asking if Sondland was calling from Ukraine.

“Ambassador Sondland replied, yes, he was in Ukraine, and went on to state that President Zelensky ‘loves your ass,’ ” Holmes testified in his opening statement. “I then heard President Trump ask, ‘So, he’s gonna do the investigation?’ Ambassador Sondland replied that ‘he’s gonna do it,’ adding that President Zelensky will do ‘anything you ask him to.’ ”

Two other people were sitting at the table at the time and would potentially be able to corroborate Holmes’s account: Suriya Jayanti, an embassy staffer who served as Sondland’s control officer for the trip, meaning she arranged his schedule and accompanied him wherever he went, and Tara Maher, Sondland’s personal assistant, according to people with knowledge of the lunch.

Sondland didn’t receive the kind of direct assurances he relayed to Trump during the meetings he held earlier that day with Zelensky and Bohdan, according to testimony from Holmes and people familiar with those meetings.

But Sondland did slip away for a one-on-one meeting with Yermak after meeting Zelensky, and shortly after that meeting concluded, went to the Kyiv restaurant and placed the phone call to Trump. Holmes testified that he was blocked from attending the meeting with Yermak as a note taker.

Sondland was also texting back and forth on WhatsApp with Yermak throughout the trip, and had been communicating with other Ukrainian officials over the messaging app in the preceding and subsequent months, according to people familiar with his interactions.

Most of those messages haven’t been made public or handed over to the House impeachment inquiry. The messages by Sondland that have been released are those in which he was communicating in a three-way conversation with Yermak and former Ukraine special envoy Kurt Volker. Volker, who stepped down from the post after a whistleblower complaint from a CIA analyst triggered the impeachment probe, turned those communications over to the committees leading the inquiry.

The chairmen of the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight committees subpoenaed communications and documents from Sondland as the inquiry got underway, and Sondland turned over communications from his personal devices to the State Department. But according to a statement by the committee chairmen in October, the State Department withheld them from the impeachment inquiry, defying a subpoena the committees issued to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.


#1412

That restaurant, SHO in Kiev, looks really private. No chance any foreign agents at other tables would have overheard Sondland’s conversation. /s


#1413

Getting clear with the terminology. Pelosi is doing her best to keep the language of the impeachment more understood. I did not know that extortion was similar to bribery but with additional pressure.

Lots of tweets tonight…


#1414

Bolton and Trump Met Privately Over Withheld Aid, White House Official Testified

John R. Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, met privately with the president in August as part of a bid to persuade Mr. Trump to release $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine, a senior National Security Council aide told House impeachment investigators last month.

The meeting, which has not been previously reported, came as Mr. Bolton sought to marshal Mr. Trump’s cabinet secretaries and top national security advisers to convince the president that it was in the United States’ best interest to unfreeze the funds to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia. But Mr. Bolton emerged with Mr. Trump unmoved, and instructed the aide to look for new opportunities to get those officials in front of Mr. Trump.

“The extent of my recollection is that Ambassador Bolton simply said he wasn’t ready to do it,” said the aide, Timothy Morrison, referring to Mr. Trump, according to a transcript of his testimony released by House Democrats on Saturday.


(David Bythewood) #1415

More articles on this one:



And in other news…

Trump attacks Pence aide as “Never Trumper” after impeachment testimony

Trump tells Kim Jong Un that Joe Biden is ‘somewhat better’ than a ‘rabid dog’

Trump Replies ‘See You Soon’ After Kim Jong-un Calls for Biden to Be ‘Beaten to Death With a Stick’

Trump seems to respect the violence Un brings, even against his own people


(M A Croft) #1416

Nancy Pelosi stepping it up a notch or three :smile:

Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi has invited PDonald Trump to testify in front of investigators in the House impeachment inquiry ahead of a week that will see several key witnesses appear publicly.

Pushing back against accusations from the president that the process has been stacked against him, Pelosi said Trump is welcome to appear or answer questions in writing, if he chooses.

“If he has information that is exculpatory, that means ex, taking away, culpable, blame, then we look forward to seeing it,” she said in an interview that aired Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation. “Trump could come right before the committee and talk, speak all the truth that he wants if he wants,” she said.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer echoed that suggestion.

“If Donald Trump doesn’t agree with what he’s hearing, doesn’t like what he’s hearing, he shouldn’t tweet. He should come to the committee and testify under oath. And he should allow all those around him to come to the committee and testify under oath,” Schumer told reporters. He said the White House’s insistence on blocking witnesses from cooperating begs the question: What is he hiding?


#1417

Yes…and so is Schumer as well. Check him out

Nancy is tough on messaging…and calling T on his BS.

The president could come right before the committee and talk, speak all the truth that he wants if he wants — if he wants to take the oath of office or he could do it in writing,” she said. “He has every opportunity to present his case.”


#1418

Week 2 Impeachment - a recap from Axios

From @Pet_Proletariat’s sourcing…here’s a another link to the impeachment calendar.

Democrats are approaching Week 2 of impeachment hearings with one key goal: show more of President Trump’s direct involvement in the scheme to tie Ukrainian aid to an investigation of Joe Biden’s son.

What to watch: Of the eight officials testifying next week, the one with the most known direct interactions with Trump is EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland. The Trump megadonor already had to amend his testimony once. He may be the most legally vulnerable, and he has spoken with Trump about the investigations.

  • At least two othersNational Security Council top Ukraine expert Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and former Trump Russia adviser Fiona Hill — also have the potential to offer key details from within the White House, with one Democratic official describing them as this week’s star witnesses.
  • Vindman, who will appear on Tuesday, was on the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. He says acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was responsible for withholding aid to Ukraine.
  • And Hill will close out the week on Thursday. “She can put an entire bow on this thing … and speak to the president’s actions directly,” a Democratic aide said.

In addition to showing a more direct tie to Trump , Democrats also want to use Week 2 to fine-tune messaging that can reach persuadable independents and Republicans.

  • One Democratic official said they saw “great penetration” this week on Fox News, with Bret Baier calling Trump’s tweets disparaging former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch “a turning point,” and Chris Wallace stating that “you don’t have a pulse” if you’re not moved by her testimony.

The layout: Democrats know Republicans are going to continue pressuring House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff to allow them to ask more questions, but he will continue to gavel down any distracting narratives from the right.

  • Officials say they think the organization of the hearings so far has been effective at ensuring the substance of the witnesses’ testimony gets out at the top, and they plan to keep the same layout for the majority of hearings this week.

Worth noting: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has been commandeering Democrats’ impeachment strategy behind the scenes, and her team have not yet said whether they’ll announce more public hearings beyond this week.

  • But some Democratic aides say they hope David Holmes, an official in the U.S. Embassy in Kiev who told House investigators in a closed-door deposition on Friday that he overheard Trump question Sondland about investigating the Bidens, will have a chance to testify publicly.

Go deeper … Pelosi: Responding to what Republicans say on impeachment is a “waste of time”


#1419

News of how deeply Ambassador Sondland was in orchestrating what T wanted from President Zelinsky and who he’s contacted. The back-and-forth amongst this group all leads to orchestrated bribery. Sondland’s testimony is the most damning, and hope he can stay within the truth.

On July 19, a day before the president was initially scheduled to speak to Mr. Zelensky, Mr. Sondland emailed a group of administration officials including Mr. Mulvaney and Mr. Perry to say that Mr. Zelensky was prepared to assure the president that he would open investigations.

I talked to Zelensky just now. He is prepared to receive Potus’ call,” Mr. Sondland wrote. “Will assure him that he intends to run a fully transparent investigation and will ‘turn over every stone.’ ” He added that Mr. Zelensky was eager for the call to take place before the parliamentary elections.

Mr. Mulvaney responded: “I asked NSC to set it up for tomorrow.” The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment on the emails.

Mr. Sondland was relaying to Mr. Zelensky instructions from Mr. Giuliani, according to text messages. At a May meeting that Mr. Mulvaney convened after the U.S. delegation returned from Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration, the president had instructed Mr. Sondland, then-special envoy for Ukraine negotiations Kurt Volker and others to work with Mr. Giuliani to resolve concerns about Ukraine before he would agree to a White House meeting.

Mr. Giuliani subsequently told officials that Mr. Zelensky needed to announce investigations into Burisma Group and alleged election interference, according to congressional testimony. The text messages released by congressional investigators last month showed that on the evening of July 19, Mr. Volker texted Mr. Sondland: “Most impt is for Zelensky to say that he will help investigation—and address any specific personnel issues—if there are any.”

Mr. Bolton subsequently pushed to delay the call until after the parliamentary elections, according to people familiar with the discussions. When it took place on July 25, neither he nor Mr. Mulvaney were on the call.


(David Bythewood) #1420

#1421

With Ambassador Volker’s testimony coming up on Tuesday, the savvy folks at JustSecurity.com drew up some additional charts (on Impeachment timeline) on what Ambassador Volker said vrs. what others said.

@Keaton_James has also pointed out Impeachment Inquiry into Trump 2019 similar links to JustSecurity.com as well, because we don’t miss a trick around here!

It always prompts the question as to whether Volker will see to it that he makes some changes to his previous testimony. :writing_hand: :raised_hands:

Volker’s testimony was unfavorable to the President and Giuliani in many respects. However in other important instances, Volker denied allegations about his own wrongdoing and the existence of the alleged pressure campaign against Ukraine. Sondland’s original testimony (on Oct. 17) was more closely aligned with Volker’s accounts, until Sondland broke from that message and issued a supplemental deposition nearly three weeks later (on Nov. 4).

Comparing Volker’s testimony to other witnesses raises very serious concerns about Volker’s truthfulness before Congress. To be more specific, it appears that Mr. Volker lied to Congress in violation of federal criminal law (18 USC 1001). The most serious instances include his flat denial that the Ukraine “investigations” were discussed in a July 10 meeting at the White House, his denial of his own knowledge or involvement in efforts to urge Ukraine to investigate Biden, his denial of his own knowledge or involvement in a quid pro quo scheme, and his claim that efforts to get Ukraine to make a public statement about the investigations ended in mid-to-late August.

Here’s the chart - 60 pages


#1422

House investigating whether Trump lied to Mueller

The House of Representatives is now investigating whether President Donald Trump lied to special counsel Robert Mueller in written answers he provided in the Russia investigation, the House’s general counsel said in federal court Monday.

"Did the President lie? Was the President not truthful in his responses to the Mueller investigation?" House general counsel Douglas Letter told the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit about why the House now needs access to grand jury material Mueller collected in his investigation.


#1423

Yes…after Roger Stone’s trial, it would have been impossible for T to not know about the DNC emails and Wikileaks.

But this case goes beyond Stone’s alleged lies: prosecutors have revealed new information about how Trump tried to benefit from the Russian operation during the 2016 campaign that hacked the Democratic National Committee’s servers. And they are producing material undercutting Trump’s claim to Mueller that he has no recollection of talking to Stone during the campaign about WikiLeaks. This information also presents a new wrinkle in the Trump-Russia scandal: Trump might have thought in 2016 that his campaign, in effect, was colluding with WikiLeaks. That’s because the campaign was communicating with Stone about WikiLeaks’ plans and intentions and campaign officials (and perhaps Trump) believed Stone was in contact with WikiLeaks.

Roger Stone and his wife Nydia arrive at Federal Court for the second day of jury selection for his federal trial on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019.Cliff Owen/AP Photo

Roger Stone is on trial, and the proceedings are bad news for President Donald Trump, with federal prosecutors citing evidence that suggests Trump might have lied to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. And that sort of lying can be a crime.

The trial kicked off on Wednesday at a federal courthouse in Washington, DC, with a bit of a circus atmosphere. The neo-fascist Proud Boys were there, as well as other luminaries of the alt-right, to support Stone, the dirty trickster and conspiracy theorist who has been a Trump adviser since the 1980s. Facing seven felony counts, Stone is charged with lying repeatedly to the House Intelligence Committee, obstructing justice, and witness tampering. But this case goes beyond Stone’s alleged lies: prosecutors have revealed new information about how Trump tried to benefit from the Russian operation during the 2016 campaign that hacked the Democratic National Committee’s servers. And they are producing material undercutting Trump’s claim to Mueller that he has no recollection of talking to Stone during the campaign about WikiLeaks. This information also presents a new wrinkle in the Trump-Russia scandal: Trump might have thought in 2016 that his campaign, in effect, was colluding with WikiLeaks. That’s because the campaign was communicating with Stone about WikiLeaks’ plans and intentions and campaign officials (and perhaps Trump) believed Stone was in contact with WikiLeaks.

“The evidence in this case will show that Roger Stone lied to the House Intelligence Committee because the truth looked bad,” lead prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky said in his opening statement on Wednesday. “The truth looked bad for the Trump campaign and the truth looked bad for Donald Trump.

Several of the queries Mueller submitted to Trump focused on whether he was ever told Stone had been in touch with WikiLeaks and whether he or anyone associated with his campaign had spoken to Stone about WikiLeaks. In his written response, Trump replied, “I do not recall being told during the campaign that Roger Stone or anyone associated with my campaign had discussions with any of the entities named in the question regarding the content or timing of release of hacked emails.” He also noted, “I do not recall discussing WikiLeaks with [Stone], nor do I recall being aware of Mr. Stone having discussed WikiLeaks with individuals associated with my campaign.” And Trump, who has boasted of possessing a prodigious memory, claimed to have “no recollection of the specifics of any conversations I had with Mr. Stone between June 1, 2016” and Election Day. The impression Trump provided: as far as he knew, he and his campaign had had nothing to do with Stone and WikiLeaks.

Mueller’s report characterized Trump’s responses as “inadequate.” Zelinsky’s opening statement suggests Stone’s trial could show Trump’s statements were false.


#1424

IRS whistleblower case advances as Senate staff probe whether political appointee meddled with audit of Trump or Pence

Two Senators are probing a whistleblower’s allegations that at least one political appointee at the Treasury Department may have tried to interfere with the audit of President Trump or Vice President Pence, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, a sign that lawmakers are moving to investigate the complaint lodged by a senior staffer at the Internal Revenue Service.

Staff for Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the chair and ranking Democrat on the Senate finance committee, met with the IRS whistleblower earlier this month, those people said. Follow-up interviews are being scheduled to further explore the whistleblower’s allegations.

It could not be learned to what extent the senators view the whistleblower as a credible source. Trump administration officials have previously downplayed the complaint’s significance and suggested it is politically motivated.

The whistleblower, a career IRS official, initially filed a complaint in July, reporting that he was told at least one Treasury political appointee attempted to improperly interfere with the annual audit of the president’s or vice president’s tax returns. In recent weeks, the whistleblower filed additional documentation related to the original complaint, which was given to congressional officials in July, the two people said. These people spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the complaint, which pertains to a confidential IRS audit that cannot be disclosed under federal law.

The contents of the additional information provided by the whistleblower were not known.

The IRS whistleblower complaint was first disclosed in an August court filing by Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. It raises the prospect that Trump administration officials at Treasury tried to improperly interfere with the IRS audit process. That process is supposed to be walled off from political interference.

Oh good the IRS whistleblower hasn’t been forgotten.


split this topic #1425

2 posts were merged into an existing topic: Day 1030