WTF Community

The Impeachment of President Donald J. Trump

conflicts-of-interest
russia
house-committees
trump
tax-returns

#1060

Pentagon official handling Ukraine and Russia testifies in impeachment inquiry

As she arrived at the U.S. Capitol, Cooper did not answer questions from reporters. She apparently appeared voluntarily before the lawmakers as the Pentagon had not blocked her from testifying. The Trump administration had sought to block testimony by several other current and former officials.

In an opening statement to lawmakers that U.S. media posted online, Taylor called the exchanges between Trump, his advisers and Ukraine a “rancorous story about whistleblowers … quid pro quos, corruption and interference in elections.” Quid pro quo is a Latin term meaning a favor for a favor. Trump has denied that there was any quid pro quo involved in the Ukraine aid.


#1061

Ukrainian leader felt Trump pressure before taking office

More than two months before the phone call that launched the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Ukraine’s newly elected leader was already worried about pressure from the U.S. president to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy gathered a small group of advisers on May 7 in Kyiv for a meeting that was supposed to be about his nation’s energy needs. Instead, the group spent most of the three-hour discussion talking about how to navigate the insistence from Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, for a probe and how to avoid becoming entangled in the American elections, according to three people familiar with the details of the meeting.

They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue, which has roiled U.S.-Ukrainian relations.

The meeting came before Zelenskiy was inaugurated but about two weeks after Trump called to offer his congratulations on the night of the Ukrainian leader’s April 21 election.

The full details of what the two leaders discussed in that Easter Sunday phone call have never been publicly disclosed, and it is not clear whether Trump explicitly asked for an investigation of the Bidens.

The three people’s recollections differ on whether Zelenskiy specifically cited that first call with Trump as the source of his unease. But their accounts all show the Ukrainian president-elect was wary of Trump’s push for an investigation into the former vice president and his son Hunter’s business dealings.

Either way, the newly elected leader of a country wedged between Russia and the U.S.-aligned NATO democracies knew early on that vital military support might depend on whether he was willing to choose a side in an American political tussle. A former comedian who won office on promises to clean up corruption, Zelenskiy’s first major foreign policy test came not from his enemy Russia, but rather from the country’s most important ally, the United States.

The May 7 meeting included two of his top aides, Andriy Yermak and Andriy Bogdan, the people said. Also in the room was 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. Hochstein is a former diplomat who advised Biden on Ukraine matters during the Obama administration.

Zelenskiy’s office in Kyiv did not respond to messages on Wednesday seeking comment. The White House would not comment on whether Trump demanded an investigation in the April 21 call.


#1062

Another Trump defense blown out of the water. :clap:

In parallel with this now debunked “they-didn’t-even-know-the-aid-was-held-up” defense, Trump has quoted Zelensky as saying “there was no pressure” – and, yes, Zelensky did say this, but, as is usually the case, the person being extorted does not admit to being extorted for fear of additional consequences beyond the extortion. The Ma & Pa owners of the corner grocery store who are being shaken down by the mob for “protection money,” do not admit it to the police because they know if the mob finds out they ratted on them, their store will likely be burned to ground.

At the time Zelensky said there was “no pressure” he was sitting in a press conference right next to Trump, the all-powerful guy who was shaking him down, and who could hold up more aid in the future or do even worse things to Ukraine – so, yes, Zelensky took the path of least resistance and said there was “no pressure.” It’s the diplomats and other officials behind the scenes who know full well there was pressure – that there was a quid pro quo.


#1063

Live update, committee waits for House Republicans to finish their pizza before the Impeachment Inquiry can continue.


#1064

Ahem,


#1065

White House Aides Feared That Trump Had Another Ukraine Back Channel

Colleagues grew alarmed after hearing that Mr. Trump had referred to Kashyap Patel, a National Security Council aide who figured prominently in Republicans’ efforts to undermine the Russia investigation, as one of his top Ukraine policy specialists and that the president wanted to discuss related documents with him, according to people briefed on the matter. Mr. Patel, who is known as Kash, is assigned to work on counterterrorism issues, not Ukraine policy.

The contents of the documents were not clear, nor was it clear how Mr. Trump got them. Typically, aides prepare policy briefings for presidents that several agencies sign off on in a highly controlled process. But Mr. Trump has adopted a much more freewheeling approach, taking in unverified information from sources both inside and outside the White House and seeking out and promoting assertions that fit his narrative.

Any involvement by Mr. Patel in Ukraine issues would mark another attempt by Mr. Trump’s political loyalists to go around American policymakers to shape policy toward Kiev. It was separate, two of the people said, from the irregular, informal channel led by the president’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and Gordon D. Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union, that is the subject of House Democrats’ impeachment investigation.

[…]

Fiona Hill, the National Security Council’s former senior director for Eurasian and Russian affairs, testified to House investigators last week that she believed Mr. Patel was improperly getting involved in Ukraine policy and was sending information to Mr. Trump, some of the people said.

Ms. Hill grew alarmed earlier this year when an aide from the White House executive secretary’s office told her that Mr. Trump wanted to talk to Mr. Patel and identified him as the National Security Council’s “Ukraine director,” a position held by one of Ms. Hill’s deputies. The aide said Mr. Trump wanted to meet with Mr. Patel about documents he had received on Ukraine.

Ms. Hill responded by asking who Mr. Patel was. While the aide from the executive secretary’s office did not state explicitly that Mr. Patel sent the Ukraine documents to Mr. Trump, Ms. Hill understood that to be the implication, according to a person familiar with her testimony.

Mr. Patel’s apparent communications with the president prompted Ms. Hill to raise concerns with her superiors, including John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, that Mr. Patel was meddling outside of his portfolio. As early as May, Ms. Hill had begun discussing with colleagues her concerns about whether Mr. Patel was running a shadow effort on Ukraine at the White House, according to four people briefed on the discussions.

[…]

Mr. Patel worked at the time as an investigator for the House Intelligence Committee under Representative Devin Nunes of California, who ran the panel when Republicans had control of the chamber. Mr. Patel’s efforts to discredit the Russia investigation made him a minor celebrity in conservative circles but a divisive figure on Capitol Hill.

As an intelligence committee aide, Mr. Patel helped investigate the theory that Ukrainians were responsible for spreading information about Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Trump has returned to the accusation of Ukrainian meddling repeatedly in public and private conversations.

Update:

He’s the guy who wrote The Memo ™


More Questionable Behavior from Trump, T Admin, DOJ, and R's vs Dems, Press, Justice
(David Bythewood) #1066




(David Bythewood) #1067

For background on this guy:



#1068

Trump Backed GOP Plan to Protest Inquiry: Impeachment Update

https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2019-10-23/poll-finds-highest-support-for-inquiry-yet-impeachment-update

Trump had advance knowledge and supported a protest by Republicans who told him they planned to barge into a secure hearing room on Capitol Hill where Democrats are holding impeachment testimonies, according to four people familiar with the matter.

Trump on Tuesday met with about 30 House Republicans at the White House to talk about the situation in Syria and the impeachment inquiry. During a nearly two-hour meeting, which focused mostly on the impeachment inquiry, lawmakers shared their plans to storm into the secure room, the people said. Trump supported the action, saying he wanted the transcripts released because they will exonerate him, the people said.

About two dozen GOP House members occupied the secure hearing room early Wednesday, delaying a scheduled deposition.


#1069

Trump administration sought billions of dollars in cuts to programs aimed at fighting corruption in Ukraine and elsewhere

https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2019/10/23/trump-administration-sought-billions-dollars-cuts-programs-aimed-fighting-corruption-ukraine-abroad/

Democrats have slammed White House insistence that Trump was focused on corruption — not Bidens — when he blocked Ukraine aid funds.

For example, the administration sought to cut a program called International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement. Among the goals of the program, as described in White House budget documents, is “helping U.S. partners address threats to U.S. interests by building resilience and promoting reform in the justice and law enforcement sectors through support to new institutions and specialized offices, such as Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau and Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office.”

The program directs specific sums of money to individual countries. In 2019, $30 million was directed to Ukraine, after Congress rejected an administration request to cut the sum to $13 million. In its 2020 budget request, released in March, the administration again sought to cut the program’s spending on Ukraine to $13 million. Congress seems likely to once again reject the proposed cut, although lawmakers have yet to agree on any spending bills for the 2020 budget year that began Oct. 1.

In another example, the administration sought to streamline a number of overseas democracy assistance and foreign aid accounts under one larger umbrella called the Economic Support and Development Fund. The White House believed that consolidation would cut those programs by more than $2 billion. This fund, too, is aimed at fighting corruption in countries around the world, among other goals, according to White House budget documents. Spending in Ukraine for the accounts in question was $250 million in 2018; the White House has asked for $145 million in 2020 under the new iteration of the program.

Democrats have alleged the White House’s recent comments on combating corruption aren’t consistent with the White House’s track record.

“Numbers don’t lie,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. “It’s even more clear now that President Trump is not the anti-corruption crusader he claims to be. The House impeachment inquiry must continue unimpeded so all the facts can come out.”

The Trump White House has routinely pursued deep cuts to foreign aid in its budget proposals, only to be rebuffed by Congress. The proposed cuts to anti-corruption programs were a byproduct of the administration’s larger goals of cutting the budgets of the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development and were not specifically targeted, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

“The president has consistently sought across-the-board cuts to foreign aid, and has proposed more cuts in his budgets than any other president in history,” said Rachel Semmel, spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget. “He has also strongly encouraged other countries to contribute their own efforts and resources to their defense and reform efforts.”

Nonetheless, the cuts to anti-corruption aid stand in contrast to recent claims from administration officials and the president himself about being focused on corruption in Ukraine, raising the question of why the White House has not sought a larger budgetary commitment to addressing the issue. Democrats have largely dismissed the White House’s insistence that Trump was focused on corruption, but White House officials continue to say it was a primary reason the military aid was held up.


#1070

:eyes:


(David Bythewood) #1071

Wait, isn’t that obstruction if he directly backed it?


(David Bythewood) #1072

Remember, Bill Taylor expressed concerns that Ukraine may get no aid at all…


#1073

The pizza party has wrapped.


#1074

It’s up to House Democrats, we’ll all find out soon enough. Relax, have some pizza and enjoy the show. Today is bananas. :banana::banana::banana:


(David Bythewood) #1075

Well, what I mean is, if Trump HIMSELF had a hand in this, in stalling or trying to disrupt his own impeachment, isn’t that in itself yet another offense?


#1076

Could be if the Democrats want, like I said, it’s up to them what will be in the articles of impeachment. High crimes and misdemeanors can be anything you want them to be, it’s a totally political process granted by our constitution.


#1077

Not sure where to post this now that the criminal case related to Trump’s Ukraine is scandal is intersecting the impeachment investigation. Maybe I’ll cross-post this later in today’s news thread.

Isn’t it crazy that the lawyer for one of these alleged co-conspirators (associates of Giuliani) is saying that executive privilege may apply to some of the evidence that was seized? Ah, the company Trump keeps.

One of the two indicted associates of President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, on Wednesday tied the case to the president himself, saying that some of the evidence gathered in the investigation could be subject to executive privilege.

The unusual argument was raised by a defense lawyer in federal court in Manhattan as the two associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, pleaded not guilty to federal charges that they had made illegal campaign contributions to political candidates in the United States in exchange for potential influence.

Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman have become unexpected figures in the events at the heart of the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, having played a role in helping Mr. Giuliani’s efforts on behalf of President Trump to dig up information in Ukraine that could damage former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a prospective Democratic challenger.

Prosecutors said during the hearing on Wednesday that they have gathered a large volume of materials as part of the ongoing investigation, pursuant to more than a dozen search warrants. Mr. MacMahon asked that the government use a special team of prosecutors to review the evidence, saying Mr. Parnas’s relationship with Mr. Giuliani indicates some of the materials may be protected by attorney-client privilege or executive privilege.

A dozen search warrants…whoa! :eyes:


#1078

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) released evidence on Tuesday that the Justice Department buried the whistleblower complaint about President Donald Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president by failing to refer the matter to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Klobuchar suggested the Justice Department violated a longstanding agreement between the agencies to share information about possible campaign finance violations for potential enforcement action.

The letter confirming the FEC was not notified of the whistleblower complaint.


(David Bythewood) #1079

This is the stupidest collection of criminals ever. They literally just established ties to Trump!