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Impeachment Inquiry into Trump 2019

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#1426

Bill Taylor aide David Holmes to testify publicly in impeachment inquiry

David Holmes, a State Department official working at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, will testify publicly in an impeachment hearing on Thursday alongside President Trump’s former Russia adviser Fiona Hill, according to House officials.

Why it matters: In a closed-door deposition, Holmes testified that he overheard a phone call between EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland and Trump on July 26, the day after the infamous call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Holmes claimed he heard Trump ask Sondland, “So, he’s gonna do the investigation?” to which Sondland responded, “He’s gonna do it,” adding that Zelensky would do “anything you ask him to.”


split this topic #1427

A post was merged into an existing topic: Day 1030


#1428

Supreme Court temporarily halts court order requiring accountants to turn over Trump’s tax returns to Congress

KEY POINTS

  • The Supreme Court temporarily blocks a ruling requiring accounting firm Mazars to turn President Donald Trump’s tax returns over to House Democrats.
  • The House Committee on Oversight and Reform has until Thursday to respond.
  • The president is trying at the top court to block two efforts to obtain his tax returns.

(David Bythewood) #1429

The GOP was happy to show up when the cameras were rolling to storm an impeachment inquiry deposition, but in actuality have been dodging sessions repeatedly:


#1430

Cross-posting :pray:


(David Bythewood) #1431

House releases testimony from official who overheard Trump call

David Holmes Transcript:


(David Bythewood) #1432

US officials knew of Ukraine’s Trump anxiety

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. State Department officials were informed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was feeling pressure from the Trump administration to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden even before the July phone call that has led to impeachment hearings in Washington, two people with knowledge of the matter told The Associated Press.

In early May, officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, including then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, were told Zelenskiy was seeking advice on how to navigate the difficult position he was in, the two people told the AP. He was concerned President Donald Trump and associates were pressing him to take action that could affect the 2020 U.S. presidential race, the two individuals said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic and political sensitivity of the issue.

State Department officials in Kyiv and Washington were briefed on Zelenskiy’s concerns at least three times, the two sources said. Notes summarizing his worries were circulated within the department, they said.

The briefings and the notes show that U.S. officials knew early that Zelenskiy was feeling pressure to investigate Biden, even though the Ukrainian leader later denied it in a joint news conference with Trump in September.

Congressional Republicans have pointed to that public Zelenskiy statement to argue that he felt no pressure to open an investigation, and therefore the Democrats’ allegations that led to the impeachment hearings are misplaced.

“Both presidents expressly have stated there was no pressure, no demand, no conditions, no blackmail, no corruption,” one Republican lawmaker, John Ratcliffe of Texas, argued on the first day of public hearings last week.

The central allegation in the impeachment inquiry is that Trump, through his allies, demanded that Ukraine, which is fending off Russian aggression, launch an investigation that would benefit him politically in exchange for crucial military and strategic support.

Witnesses have detailed, in closed-door depositions and public impeachment hearings, that allies of Trump pressed Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son while withholding military aid and a coveted meeting between the newly elected Zelenskiy and Trump.

The U.S. briefings — and contemporaneous notes on Zelenskiy’s early anxiety about Trump’s interest in an investigation — suggest that Democrats have evidence in reach to contradict Republican arguments that Zelenskiy never felt pressure to investigate Biden.

The Associated Press reported last month about Zelenskiy’s meeting on May 7 with, two top aides, as well as Andriy Kobolyev, head of the state-owned natural gas company Naftogaz, and Amos Hochstein, an American who sits on the Ukrainian company’s supervisory board. Ahead of the meeting, Hochstein told Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador, why he was being called in.

Zelenskiy’s office has not replied to requests for comment about the May 7 meeting.

Notes circulated internally at the State Department indicated that Zelenskiy tried to mask the real purpose of his May 7 meeting __ which was to talk about political problems with the White House __ by saying it was about energy, the two people with knowledge of the matter said.

After the meeting with Zelenskiy, Hochstein separately briefed two U.S. Embassy officials, Suriya Jayanti and Joseph Pennington, about Zelenskiy’s concerns, said the two people who spoke to the AP. Jayanti and Pennington took notes on the meeting, the people said.

Hochstein told the embassy officials about Zelenskiy’s concerns and then traveled to Washington to update Yovanovitch on the meeting. The ambassador, who was facing a smear campaign, had just been called back to Washington, where she was informed that she no longer had the confidence of the president. She was relieved of her duties as ambassador on May 20.

Jayanti was also one of three witnesses to a phone call in which Trump discussed his interest in an investigation of Biden with his ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland. The call occurred while Sondland was having lunch with three embassy officials in Kyiv. David Holmes, political counsel at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, has already detailed to House investigators what he overheard. Jayanti and the third witness, Tara Maher, have not been interviewed.

Hochstein, a former diplomat who advised Biden on Ukraine matters during the Obama administration, has also not been questioned in the impeachment proceedings.

The Republican arguments about Zelenskiy’s lack of concern stem from a Sept. 25 joint media appearance by the American and Ukrainian leaders in which Zelenskiy discussed the July call with Trump that effectively launched the impeachment inquiry.

The appearance came shortly after Trump released a rough transcript of the call.

“You heard that we had, I think, good phone call. It was normal. We spoke about many things. And I — so I think, and you read it, that nobody pushed — pushed me,” Zelenskiy said in the appearance with Trump on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York.

“In other words, no pressure,” Trump spoke up to add.

In the impeachment hearings, Democrats have countered that Zelenskiy’s public comments came when he was trying to calm the waters with the U.S. president in the immediate wake of the transcript’s release. The burgeoning scandal has brought further uncertainty for Ukraine with its most important Western partner as the country faces simmering conflict with Russia. Zelenskiy’s May 7 meeting suggests that he had been concerned about U.S. support from the start.

Notes summarizing his worries were circulated within the department, they said.

In other words, there’s a paper trail.


#1433

Testimony from David Holmes, who worked as a political affairs consultant for the Ukrainian Embassy was released late in the day. His first-hand knowledge of T’s loud conversation with Amb Sondland was definitively a real clincher in proving the extent of T’s intent.

And just puts a lot more color into the story…with the zealous attempts to pressure Pres Zelinsky to do T’s bidding, notwithstanding the heavy use of trash talk.

And not to be missed…" potential release of rapper A$AP Rocky," who is in Sweden. WTF

Let’s see how the R’s come at him during his testimony on Thursday. Holmes knows the story inside out…and has direct knowledge that ties the whole gambit together.

Holmes says Trump-Sondland call became “touchstone piece of information” to understand unfolding US-Ukraine policy

From CNN’s Clare Foran

State Department aide David Holmes described the phone call between President Trump and Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, “as sort of a touchstone piece of information” to understanding the unfolding US-Ukraine policy.

I repeatedly referred to that call as sort of a touchstone piece of information as we were trying to understand why we weren’t able to get the meeting and what was going on with the security hold," he said.

Holmes went on to say embassy officials knew President Trump "doesn’t really care about Ukraine."
>

“I would refer back to it repeatedly in our, you know, morning staff meetings. We’d talk about what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to achieve this, that. Maybe it will convince the President to have the meeting. And I would say, well, as we know, he doesn’t really care about Ukraine. He cares about some other things. And we’re trying to keep Ukraine out of our politics and so, you know, what’s what we’re up against. And I would refer – use that repeatedly as a refrain," Holmes said.

He added, “I believe Ambassador Volker had good intentions to try to achieve things he thought the Ukrainians needed, to try to achieve important things like peace. I believe that. I believe as the situation became increasingly clear that the investigations were the thing that was required for them to get the support they needed, you know, I can’t speak for Ambassador Volker, but that’s, in my view, again, advancing our understanding of our Ukraine policy veered into the Washington politics lane.”

President Trump was speaking so loudly into the telephone during a phone call with American Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland that Sondland “winced” and moved the phone away from his head, according to a US embassy official who witnessed it.

David Holmes told lawmakers last week that Sondland placed the call through a switchboard, and appeared impatient as he waited for Trump to get on the line.

When he did, the volume was so excessive that he appeared in pain.

Sondland “winced and then moved the phone away from his ear, because the volume was loud,” Holmes recalled in his testimony.

He said eventually the wincing ceased.

“He stopped doing that. I don’t know if he turned the volume down or got used to it or if the person, the President, I believe, on the other line moderated his volume,” Holmes said.

He said he was seated at a two-top directly across from Sondland in the Kiev restaurant where the phone call occurred.

“It was close enough we were sort of sharing an appetizer together,” he said.

When it became clear Trump and Sondland were discussing diplomatic issues — like Ukraine and the potential release of rapper A$AP Rocky — Holmes took notes of the conversation in the Notes app on his phone.

When he returned to the embassy, he was not shy in recounting what happened.

“I recall like, frankly, telling this story to almost anyone I encountered, because it was so remarkable,” he said.


#1434

Look for Live Feed starts 9am ET. Monster day of testimonies! I’ll see if I can find the real link in the AM.

Watch House Republicans, they haven’t been able to refute the evidence or testimony so far, I’m sure tomorrow won’t be any different.


(David Bythewood) #1435

Prosecutors in Giuliani investigation interested in talking to Ukrainian energy company

Federal prosecutors in New York who are investigating Rudy Giuliani are seeking to interview people with knowledge of Ukraine’s state-run oil-and-gas company, Naftogaz, according to two people familiar with the matter, suggesting investigators have opened a line of inquiry into whether Giuliani and his associates sought to secure energy deals by asserting influence on the company.

Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have contacted people associated with the company in recent weeks, said the sources, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter. A spokesman for SDNY declined to comment. There is no indication of wrongdoing by Naftogaz.

Naftogaz stands at the center of an effort by Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, and their purported natural-gas company, Global Energy Producers, to replace Naftogaz’s chief executive officer with someone who would be more beneficial to their own business interests earlier this year.

They pursued that outcome, CNN has reported, around the same time they were working with Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, to encourage Ukranian officials to investigate Trump’s political rival, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. They were also actively pushing to have the US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, removed.

An American energy consultant who operates in Ukraine, Dale Perry, described the efforts to oust Naftogaz’s CEO, Andriy Kobolyev, who is known for his anti-corruption reforms at the company. At an energy conference in Houston last March, Parnas and Fruman asked a senior Naftogaz executive Andrew Favorov if he would go along with their plan to oust the company’s current CEO and become its head, according to Perry, who is Favorov’s former business partner.

“(Parnas and Fruman) basically just flat out said to him, hey, to do the deals we want to do, we were not able to get through to your CEO, and we think that the business needs a new CEO,” Perry told CNN.

Parnas and Fruman also told Favorov that Trump would soon replace the then-US ambassador to Ukraine, and that an ambassador more amenable to their energy-business interest would be appointed, according to Perry.

“What they said was, not that we can, but they are removing her, and that has already been agreed at the highest level of the US government,” Perry said.

Giuliani also pushed for the removal of Yovanovitch, who was recalled from her post in May. Giuliani has maintained he’s acted appropriately in the interests of his client, President Donald Trump.

Perry believes Parnas and Fruman, who have no prior experience in the gas business, may have had assistance from indicted Ukranian oligarch Dmitri Firtash, who made his fortune being the intermediary between Naftogaz and Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy corporation. The two men mentioned Firtash in their meeting with Favorov, according to Perry, saying Firtash believed Naftogaz owed him money. Firtash has been fighting extradition into the United States since he was indicted on bribery charges in 2013. Firtash’s spokesperson told CNN Parnas was just a translator for Firtash, and the two have no business arrangement.

Two sources familiar with the matter told CNN that Perry’s description of the meeting between Parnas, Fruman and Favorov was accurate. The Associated Press first reported the details of that meeting. An attorney for Fruman declined to comment, an attorney for Parnas did not reply to a request for comment.

Giuliani’s role

As they pursue interviews with associates of Naftogaz, prosecutors in New York are also investigating Giuliani’s ties to Global Energy Producers, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Wall Street Journal first reported prosecutors’ examination of whether Giuliani stood to personally profit from GEP.

Robert Costello, an attorney for Giuliani, told CNN, “Mr. Giuliani had no interest in GEP at anytime. This is quite simply a false story and I am sure counsel for Mr. Fruman will say the same thing. Someone is spending a lot of time and imagination dreaming up one false story after another.”

Parnas, Fruman and Giuliani’s activities have been raised multiple times in Congressional testimony in the impeachment inquiry into Trump.

Fiona Hill, Trump’s former top Russia adviser, said an American member of Naftogaz’s board told her in May that a number of Ukrainians had complained to him about Giuliani discussing investigations and pushing to change the board of Naftogaz.

Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert, testified before congress that the board member was aware of effort by Giuliani to “facilitate financial transactions.”

Parnas and Fruman told Ukranian officials that Giuliani was involved in their liquified natural gas venture, according to Kenneth McCallion, a former federal prosecutor who has represented Ukrainians, including Ukraine’s former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, he said learned of the natural gas plan.

McCallion added that they mentioned Giuliani in order to lend credibility to the project.

“It’s really not just about the Bidens,” McCallion said of their interactions with Ukrainian officials. “It’s really about the money.”

Prosecutors’ interest Naftogaz indicates they may be conducting an examination far beyond the campaign-finance scheme with which they charged Parnas and Fruman in October. Along with two other men, Parnas and Fruman were indicted for allegedly funneling foreign donations to US political campaigns.

As part of that scheme, prosecutors said, the two created Global Energy Producers and used it to donate $325,000 to a political action committee, America First Action, which supports President Donald Trump. Prosecutors allege Parnas and Fruman used the company to hide the source of their donation.

At the time of the donation in May 2018, according to the indictment, “GEP had not engaged in the [liquified natural gas] business, and had no income or significant assets.”

Parnas and Fruman have pleaded not guilty.

Naftogaz did not respond to questions for this article, but a spokesperson previously told CNN Naftogaz has met with potential suppliers of liquified natural gas, and as part of that effort met with Parnas and Fruman. A non-profit media organization, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, reported that Parnas and Fruman met with Naftogaz in May.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to accurately reflect when the energy conference Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman attended took place. It was last March.


Conservative Groups Are Teaming Up to Defend Trump, and Raise Money

A coalition of conservative groups is harnessing the outrage and money of its grass-roots networks to defend President Trump against a fast-moving impeachment inquiry.

Possible pay-to-play scheme for Bahamas ambassador role in Trump regime uncovered by CBS News



#1436

Watching Day 3 of Impeachment Hearings :eyes:

Jennifer Willliams - Special assistant in Foreign Affairs/Pence
Lt. Col Vindman - NSC

Opening statements - most notable Rep Nunes brings up all the ‘conspiratorial’ reasons that this is a false investigation, particularly due to lefiist media carrying the message, Rep Schiff’s connection to the Whistleblower (false connection) and overall Democratic zealous endeavor to get the President out.

Nunes endorses John Solomon’s work at The Hill and submits some of his ‘work’ to the records.

Buckle up…

Michael S. Schmidt

Washington Correspondent

In law, they say if you don’t have the facts, argue the law. If you don’t have the law, argue the facts. If you don’t have either, pound the table. On Capitol Hill, where it’s more about politics than the facts or the law, Nunes has shown that instead of pounding the table, you can just attack the media.
9:29 AM ET


#1437

Already riveting testimony…Vindman’s opening statement shows respect for being an American, and being in a position to testiify in front of the House Impeachment inquiry without fear for reprisals. Vindmans calls the criticisms of his colleagues “Reprehensible” - aka to Ambassador Yovanovitch. He mentions his father’s fear of Vindman telling the truth.

Danny Hakim

Investigative Reporter

Vindman says that in Russia, “offering public testimony involving the president would surely cost me my life.”
9:46 AM ET

Katie Rogers

White House Correspondent

“We are better than personal attacks,” Vindman says. Little doubt the subtext.

Nicholas Fandos

Congressional Correspondent

Vindman addressing his father. “Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.”

Michael S. Schmidt

Washington Correspondent

Get your head around this: Vindman laid out how he, as a representative of the Trump White House, told the new Ukrainian president to avoid getting involved in American domestic politics — the exact thing the president’s close allies wanted the Ukrainians to do at the time.

Andrew Kramer

Moscow Correspondent

Michael, that’s an important point. Different people were telling the Ukrainians different things. “Investigate!” say some U.S officials. “Stay out of U.S. politics!” say others. By midsummer, Zelensky administration officials were searching around for the right person in Washington to clarify.

Danny Hakim

Investigative Reporter

Vindman says of the July 25 Trump-Zelesnky call: “Without hesitation, I knew I had to report this.”

Nicholas Fandos

Congressional Correspondent

Goldman, the questioner, is using Vindman to establish why the security assistance and, especially, public shows of American support are critical for Ukraine in its military conflict with Russian-backed separatists and efforts to combat widespread corruption in Ukraine.

Update


(David Bythewood) #1438

Devin Nunes keeps hitting with the Ukraine conspiracy, and then rudely asks Jennifer Williams “are you prepared for this hearing” when she has repeatedly stated this was NOT within her knowledge.

He’s not pushing facts, just attacks.

In other news:

New details of active federal investigation into Rudy Giuliani

Joy Reid talks with Joyce Vance about a new report about the possible charges Rudy Giuliani could be facing and why he is talking publicly about his “insurance.”


(David Bythewood) #1439

I should note, if Lt. Col. Vindman looks nervous, I don’t blame him; the military has stated it is prepared to move his family to a military base to ensure their safety, which almost definitely means he’s been getting death threats.

And yet he’s still here, testifying.

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman Doesn’t Scare Easily. But It’s Shameful We Have to Say So.

One of Tuesday’s witnesses in the impeachment inquiry has grave and justified concerns about his family’s safety.

“Dad, it’s safe to tell the truth here.” Who didn’t have tears in their eyes at that?

While Devin Nunes called him Mr., not Lt. Col., and that slimeball Castor effectively accused him of dual loyalty.


#1440

WTF WTF WTF

Katie Rogers

White House Correspondent (NYT live blog)

The president just shared a video attacking one of the whistleblower’s lawyers, Mark S. Zaid, accusing him of setting up a “coup” attempt on his presidency. This was an attack the president brought out at the top of a recent rally.


(David Bythewood) #1441

image

I looked up the tweet; they doctored it. It is referring to something Trump did, the firing of Sally Yates. Notice that the version they have there does NOT show the tweet attached; looking at the context of his other tweets, he is accusing Trump’s regime of the coup.
image


(David Bythewood) #1442

Lt. Col. Vindman spoke often of his father today. His father was sitting right behind him. You could see his well-deserved pride in his son.

“Dad, my sitting here today, in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected officials, is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here,” Lt. Col. Vindman said.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be fine for telling the truth.”

Rep. Maloney asked Vindman why he was so certain he wouldn’t have to worry about reprisals over his testimony.
“Because this is America. This is the country I have served and defended, that all of my brothers have served. And here, right matters,” Vindman said.



The official White House twitter account used to smear Lt. Col. Vindman:

Who is Tim Morrison, and why does his public testimony matter?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/11/18/who-is-tim-morrison-why-does-his-public-testimony-matter/


#1443

Ambassador Volker and Tim Morrison’s Impeachment hearings…

Some Biden Revelation from Ambassador Volker…

Update


#1444

Ambassador Volker and Tim Morrison’s Impeachment hearings

Some of Morrison (replaced Fiona Hill - Russia expert) comments:


#1445

Lt. Col Alexander Vindman’s testimony today was compelling. We do not get to see that kind of patriotism too often, in our daily reflections on areas of the State Department/Military. Vindman is untouchable…forthright, truthful, brave and full of integrity.

The attacks on Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council official who testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday morning, began well before he sat down at the witness table. Vindman, who is still an active-duty officer in the U.S. military, was born in Kyiv, and his family moved to Brooklyn in 1979, when he was three. Last month, in a closed-door session of the committee, he testified about the July 25th call between Donald Trump and the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, which he had reported to the N.S.C.’s lead counsel because he thought it was inappropriate; after his testimony, some right-wing commentators accused him of being a Ukrainian sympathizer or even a double agent.

These scurrilous attacks mainly came from members of Trump’s media chorus, but, as Vindman prepared for Tuesday’s public testimony, he also came under assault by prominent Republican politicians. In an open letter to the G.O.P. members of the House Intelligence Committee, Senator Ron Johnson, the head of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, suggested that Vindman perhaps “fits the profile” of “bureaucrats” who have “never accepted President Trump as legitimate and . . . react by leaking to the press and participating in the ongoing effort to sabotage his policies and, if possible, remove him from office.” On Monday evening, the Republican congressman Douglas Collins, who is the ranking G.O.P. member of the House Judiciary Committee, also sent a letter expressing concern regarding Vindman’s “credibility and judgment.”

If this barrage intimidated Vindman, it didn’t show during his testimony. Dressed in his full Army regalia—with a Purple Heart that he received after being wounded outside Fallujah, in 2004, pinned to his breast and two gold epaulets on his shoulders—he began by saying, “I have dedicated my entire professional life to the United States of America.” Then he ran through a chronology of the Ukraine scandal, beginning in April, 2019, when he “became aware of two disruptive actors—primarily Ukraine’s then prosecutor general, Yuri Lutsenko, and former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney—promoting false information that undermined the United States’ Ukraine policy.” Speaking in a firm voice, Vindman explained that he reported the July 25th phone call “out of a sense of duty,” because it was “improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and political opponent.”

At the end of his opening statement, Vindman gave a shout-out to the other public servants who had agreed to testify before the committee, despite “vile character attacks,” and expressed his pride in serving in the Army, “the only profession I have ever known.” Then he got personal, pointing out that next month “will mark forty years since my family arrived in the United States as refugees.” His father’s “act of hope” to leave Ukraine, which was then part of the Soviet Union, and start over in the United States, he said, had “inspired a deep sense of gratitude in my brothers and myself, and instilled in us a sense of duty and service.” Then he smiled and briefly acknowledged his two siblings, sitting behind him in the hearing room, who also serve or have served in the U.S. armed forces.

Vindman wasn’t quite finished. He recognized, he said, that “my simple act of appearing here today” would not be tolerated in many countries, and in Russia it would “surely cost me my life.” He added that he was grateful for the privilege of being an American citizen and a public servant, then he read out his closing paragraph: “Dad, my sitting here today, in the U.S. Capitol, talking to our elected officials, is proof that you made the right decision forty years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America, in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth.

That final sentence was the quote of the hearings so far. In just eleven words, it cut through all the partisanship, the spectacle, and the carefully orchestrated diversions. It was an American soldier’s expression of belief in the U.S. Constitution that he had sworn to protect and serve and in the political system that embodies its values. It was an immigrant’s expression of faith in the continued existence of the country that welcomed him and his family forty years ago. And it was a Brighton Beach “Screw you!” to the right-wing thugs and mugs that would love to silence him and rob him of his dignity.