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The Impeachment of President Donald J. Trump

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#1920

Parnas, hard up for cash, dismisses one of his two attorneys

This move is significant because it shows Lev Parnas is running out of cash to fund his legal defense. This provides all the more incentive for him to strike a deal. He is already co-operating with Congress and this means he will be even more motivated to provide the committees and the courts with information in order cast him in the most favorable light as he tries to strike the best possible deal.

Looks like he’s already burned through the $1 million he received from Putin-enriched oligarch, Dmitry Firtash. He paid $500,000 to Giuliani so that put a dent in it.

One of the attorneys who has been representing indicted Rudy Giuliani business associate Lev Parnas in a Southern District of New York criminal case has filed a motion to withdraw.

Attorney Edward MacMahon filed a motion to withdraw in Judge J. Paul Oetken’s court on Christmas Eve, saying that the well, so to speak, is running dry.

“In this action, I am joined by New York-based criminal defense attorney Joseph A. Bondy as co-counsel,” MacMahon said. “Since I entered my appearance, Mr. Parnas’ apparent ability to fund his defense has diminished. It thus would constitute a significant hardship for Mr. Parnas to continue being represented by two attorneys in this matter.”

Attorney Joseph A. Bondy will continue to represent Parnas, MacMahon said.

“I have discussed this matter fully with Mr. Parnas, who, given my location out of district and his circumstances, consents to my filing the instant request to withdraw from his criminal matter,” the Tuesday filing continued. “I have also discussed this matter with Mr. Bondy, who is prepared to assume all aspects of Mr. Parnas’ defense.”

Parnas’s money has been in the news for other reasons of late. Prosecutors accused him of lying about his income and assets, and attempted to have Parnas jailed ahead of trial.

Parnas faces two counts of conspiracy, one count of making false statements, and one count of falsification of records, in connection with a “scheme to funnel foreign money” to Republican candidates (alleged campaign finance violations).

The judge denied prosecutors’ request to revoke Parnas’s bail, saying “I find that they’re not obvious misstatements.” The judge still voiced concerns.

“There’s certainly lots of suspicious activity here,” Oetken said.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebekah Donaleski, Parnas concealed a $1 million “loan,” which was deposited in Svetlana Parnas’s (Lev Parnas’s wife’s) bank account. Prosecutors wonder if this was really a loan to buy a home or a loan disguised as a payment from Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash.

Firtash is a Ukrainian oligarch under indictment for bribery in the U.S., whose success is said to have been “built on remarkable sweetheart deals brokered by associates of Russian leader Vladimir Putin,” allegedly deposited the $1 million through Swiss attorney Ralph Isenegger.


#1921

Trump slashed funding to fight corruption in Ukraine – proof that when he extorted Ukraine to produce smears against his political rival, he was motivated purely by personal gain, not a crusade against corruption

I hope this evidence is presented by Democrats during the Senate trial. It’s something every American can understand. Trump only cares about his own personal gain; he doesn’t care one iota about our nation. If we can keep drilling on that message, maybe it will eventually penetrate the barrier of willful ignorance thrown up by Trump’s base.

In parallel with slashing anti-corruption budgets, Trump ousted the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who had built her career on combating corruption. Trump and his co-conspirators (Giuliani and the indicted Parnas, Fruman, and Correia) got rid of a corruption fighter so they could advance their own corrupt schemes. This was clearly presented during the House impeachment hearings and will be repeated in the Senate trial. That damning evidence becomes even more compelling when you add these revelations that, at the same time, Trump was drastically cutting funds to fight corruption.

The Trump administration has sought repeatedly to cut foreign aid programs tasked with combating corruption in Ukraine and elsewhere overseas, White House budget documents show, despite recent claims from President Trump and his administration that they have been singularly concerned with fighting corruption in Ukraine.

Those claims have come as the president and his administration sought to explain away a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Trump pressured his counterpart to open investigations into Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and into a debunked conspiracy theory involving a hacked Democratic National Committee computer server.

“I don’t care about politics, but I do care about corruption. And this whole thing is about corruption,” Trump told reporters earlier this month when discussing the Ukraine issue. “This whole thing — this whole thing is about corruption.”

The phone call is central to the impeachment inquiry by House Democrats. The Democrats have accused Trump of holding back a congressionally approved military aid package for Ukraine until Zelensky publicly committed to launching investigations into the Bidens. On Tuesday, the senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine — acting ambassador William B. Taylor Jr. — told lawmakers that Trump made the release of military aid to Ukraine contingent on public declarations that it would investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election.

Trump, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and other administration officials have insisted repeatedly that their goal in delaying the military aid package to Ukraine was to ensure corruption was addressed in that country — not to produce political benefit to Trump.

“There were two reasons that we held up the aid. We talked about this at some length. The first one was the rampant corruption in Ukraine,” Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Corruption is a big deal; everyone knows it,” he said. (The second reason was to ensure that other nations contributed to Ukraine’s defense, Mulvaney said.)

The administration’s professed interest in fighting corruption in Ukraine has not been reflected in its annual budget requests to Congress.

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 administration’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.


#1922

The connection here to impeachment is this has been the epicenter of where we uphold our international relations begins and since the time of the whistleblower.

Read on…


#1923

:boom:

Yes watch this space…

https://news.yahoo.com/public-support-trump-conviction-time-091925963.html

Public support for Donald Trump‘s removal from office is the highest it has ever been, according to a new poll.

Fifty-five per cent of those asked said they were in favour of the US president’s conviction by the Senate, a figure which has shot up from 48 per cent the week before.

Meanwhile, the number of people against Mr Trump’s removal has dropped to an all-time low, according to the MSN poll.

On Christmas Day, 40 per cent were opposed to the Senate voting to convict the president, who has been impeached over his dealings with Ukraine and an alleged subsequent attempt to obstruct congress.

The gap between the two views has become much wider since last week, when there was little to divide them (48 per cent in favour of Mr Trump’s removal, 47 per cent against).

The percentage of respondents who neither supported nor opposed conviction also grew.

David Rothschild, an economist at Microsoft Research, said the numbers of people shifting from opposition to removal to “don’t know” was significant. “When you follow polling daily, you learn people rarely make big jumps from Opposition to Support,” he said.

“This polling is a clear sign that [the] Republican policy of complete obstruction is not selling well to [the] voting public.”


#1924

Cross-posting :v:


#1925

Trump retweets a post naming the alleged whistleblower

President Trump retweeted a post naming the alleged whistleblower who filed the complaint that became the catalyst for the congressional inquiry that resulted in his impeachment by the House of Representatives.

On Friday night, Trump shared a Twitter post from @surfermom77, who describes herself as “100% Trump supporter,” with his 68 million followers. That tweet prominently named the alleged whistleblower and suggested that he had committed perjury.

[…]

Attorney Stephen Kohn, an expert in whistleblower protection laws, said this circumstance is unprecedented given the president’s unique duty to protect the confidentiality of intelligence agency whistleblowers.

In the whistleblower protection act that covers the intelligence community, Congress gave the president enforcement authority to protect the whistleblower because of the sensitivity of what that person could be revealing.

“The paradox is that it was the president’s duty to protect this person,” Kohn said. “It’s inconceivable that he not only doesn’t do it, but violates it.”

If our President is incapable of preforming his duties, protecting an American citizen, why should he be allowed to stay in office? How can our senate allow this gross misconduct continue?


#1926

Speaker of the House, please add “retaliating against a whistleblower,” which is a clear violation of the law, as a third article of impeachment

Spot on! :dart:

Trump has publicly stepped over the line on this one. Here’s a damning excerpt from the Atlantic piece Gangster in the White House posted by @dragonfly9:

Lawyers debate whether the naming of the federal whistle-blower is in itself illegal. Federal law forbids inspectors general to disclose the names of whistle-blowers, but the law isn’t explicit about disclosure by anybody else in government.

What the law does forbid is retaliation against a whistle-blower. And a coordinated campaign of vilification by the president’s allies—and the president himself—surely amounts to “retaliation” in any reasonable understanding of the term.

While the presumed whistle-blower reportedly remains employed by the government, he is also reportedly subject to regular death threats, including at least implicit threat by Trump himself.

Trump was recorded in September telling U.S. diplomats in New York: “Basically, that person never saw the report, never saw the call, he never saw the call – heard something and decided that he or she, or whoever the hell they saw – they’re almost a spy. I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information? Because that’s close to a spy. You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

So even if naming the whistleblower isn’t explicitly defined as a crime, retaliating against the whistleblower is. I suppose there’s some debate about what constitutes “retaliation,” but I would think a solid case could be made for any one of the following acts to constitute retaliation (and consider that Trump has committed all three):

  • An implicit death threat (Trump made one in September – see above quoted paragraphs)

  • Publicly naming the presumed whistleblower (thereby endangering his/her life) while at the same time leveling an accusation of perjury. (see @Pet_Proletariat’s post above) Such an accusation is extremely intimidating when coming from the President who currently appears to have solid control of the DOJ under his appointee, Bill Barr. The threat being: If Trump sics Barr on the whistleblower and manages to railroad a false guilty conviction, the whistleblower could wind up in prison.

  • A months-long, orchestrated campaign of shaming and intimidation which includes of over 100 tweets directed at the whistleblower, almost all of them critical (see my previous post).

Bottom Line: Before passing the existing two articles of impeachment to the Senate (or even after doing so), Pelosi should seriously consider calling a session of the House to vote on adding a third article: retaliation against a whistleblower. A crime Trump has committed in plain sight.


#1927

Behind the Ukraine Aid Freeze: 84 Days of Conflict and Confusion

New,

In a previously unreported sequence of events, Mr. Mulvaney worked to schedule a call for that day with Mr. Trump and top aides involved in the freeze, including Mr. Vought, Mr. Bolton and Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel. But they waited to set a final time because Mr. Trump had a golf game planned for Monday morning with John Daly, the flamboyant professional golfer, and they did not know how long it would take.

Late that morning, Ms. McCusker checked in with the budget office. “Hey, any update for us?” she asked in an email obtained by Center for Public Integrity.

Mr. Duffey was still waiting for an answer as of late that afternoon. “Elaine — I don’t have an update,” he wrote back. “I am attempting to get one.”

The planned-for conference call with the president never happened. Budget office lawyers decided that Ms. McCusker had inaccurately raised alarms about the Aug. 12 date to try to force their hand.

In Bedminster with Mr. Trump, Mr. Mulvaney finally reached the president and the answer was clear: Mr. Trump wanted the freeze kept in place. In Washington, the whistle-blower submitted his report that same day.

Mr. Mulvaney and Mr. Duffey should testify in the trial, they are fact witnesses.


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#1928

Apso-effen-lutely!

And the fact that the scheme to freeze the aid went on for 84 days puts the lie to Trump’s constant whining that this is all about one phone call.


#1929

:eyes: Kupperman lawsuit dismissed.


(David Bythewood) #1930

Not so bad a thing when you read on.

It seems the House wanted it dismissed also, as a loose end. Only Kupperman wanted it to continue, but the judge noted he’s not one of the 9 named people Trump stopped from testifying in the impeachment documents.

Also, it means the original ruling that rejected Trump’s claim of absolute immunity stands.


#1931

Senate has no clue about its January schedule thanks to Nancy Pelosi

The Democratic-controlled House will start its 2020 session on January 7, but the Republican-controlled Senate is clueless about when it will convene and what its January schedule will look like because they still don’t know when Pelosi will actually send them the Articles of Impeachment. I found this out because I was wondering what day in the new year Senate Republicans would start rigging the impeachment trial rules. Checking their official calendar, I found it doesn’t list any dates until mid-February. Further googling yielded this article.

The Senate has released its calendar for 2020, but the year will begin with a giant question mark because of a possible impeachment trial.

The month of January is missing from the schedule entirely.

A copy of the calendar, obtained by CQ Roll Call, also includes a notation that the weeklong Presidents Day recess is “subject to Senate floor activity.”

The schedule for days in session for January and early February is predictably in flux because, absent an agreement, the Senate could convene six days a week for the duration of an impeachment trial against President Donald Trump.

“Unfortunately due to uncertainty on the floor schedule for start of the year, the Senate is unable to establish a schedule for January at this time. When we have clarity on a date to convene and what January will look like we will get that information out as soon as possible,” a senior Senate aide said in a statement.

Call me petty, but this just makes me want to deliver a Nelson-style “Ha-ha” to Senate Republicans.


(David Bythewood) #1932

So Trump committed libel this morning and also showed he has no idea how nicknames work.
image


#1933

So maybe Sen Collins will vote towards getting the witnesses, but her technique here has always been, appease the liberals in Maine, yet go with the conservative answer…vote T ok to stay in office.

So she’s following Sen Murkowski who does speak with an independent mind, Sen Collins is too calculated to be considered from her gut.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine says she’s open to calling witnesses as part of the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, but she says it is “premature” to decide who should be called until senators see the evidence that is presented.

Collins also said it was inappropriate for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, to pledge “total coordination” between the White House and the Senate during the impeachment trial.

"It is inappropriate, in my judgment, for senators on either side of the aisle to prejudge the evidence before they have heard what is presented to us,’’ Collins told Maine Public Radio in an interview Monday.


#1934

A year-end address from Chief Justice John Roberts with some mentions of where judges can help bolster a more educated public warning us of the failings of some social media, ie fake news. Seems like Chief Justice Roberts wants to get out in front of how he views the role of the Supreme Court as a fair and deliberate body tasked with fairly reviewing the facts at hand.

He sends out a bit of a warning flare for conspiratorial, or fake news which may be driving some of the public opinion…but sees the court as fair and just to determine outcomes.

Onward 2020…let’s have Chief Justice Roberts decide what is fair with regard to T’s taxes and more importantly the impeachment trial of DJT. :boom:

In the winter of 1788, New York newspapers reported accounts that medical students were robbing graves so they could practice surgery on cadavers. In April, the chatter gelled into a rumor that students at New York Hospital were dissecting a schoolboy’s recently deceased mother. An angry mob stormed the hospital, and the mayor gave some of the medical staff refuge in the city jail. When the mob marched on the jail, John Jay, who lived nearby, grabbed his sword and joined Governor Clinton to quell the riot. In the ensuing commotion, a rioter struck Jay in the head with a rock, knocking him unconscious and leaving him, according to one ac-count, with “two large holes in his forehead.” Hamilton and Madison pressed the Federalist project forward while Jay recovered from his injuries.

It is sadly ironic that John Jay’s efforts to educate his fellow citizens about the Framers’ plan of government fell victim to a rock thrown by a rioter motivated by a rumor. Happily, Hamilton, Madison, and Jay ultimately succeeded in convincing the public of the virtues of the principles embodied in the Constitution. Those principles leave no place for mob violence. But in the ensuing years, we have come to take democracy for granted, and civic education has fallen by the wayside. In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public’s need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital. The judiciary has an important role to play in civic education, and I am pleased to report that the judges and staff of our federal courts are taking up the challenge. By virtue of their judicial responsibilities, judges are necessarily engaged in civic education.

Chief Justice Robert’s speech 12.31.19

Roberts was not explicit about whether his call for increased civics education was intended as a rebuke of Trump, although some quickly read it that way. Trump has been widely criticized for repeating false information released online and for retweeting messages posted by conspiracy theorists and racists.

The view of Roberts’ message as a critique of the president was also reinforced by the fact that the two men have clashed publicly over a topic related to the chief justice’s year-end report: Trump’s tendency to label adverse court rulings he and his administration face as the work of judges doing the political bidding of previous, Democratic presidents.

A little over a year ago, Roberts issued a highly unusual public statement that lashed back at Trump’s claims that many federal judges are nakedly partisan and illegitimate.

“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Roberts said in a statement. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”


#1935

Exclusive: Unredacted Ukraine Documents Reveal Extent of Pentagon’s Legal Concerns

“Clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold.”

This is what Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), told Elaine McCusker, the acting Pentagon comptroller, in an Aug. 30 email, which has only been made available in redacted form until now. It is one of many documents the Trump administration is trying to keep from the public, despite congressional oversight efforts and court orders in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation.

Earlier in the day on Aug. 30, President Donald Trump met with Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the president’s hold on $391 million in military assistance for Ukraine. Inside the Trump administration, panic was reaching fever pitch about the president’s funding hold, which had stretched on for two months. Days earlier, POLITICO had broken the story and questions were starting to pile up. U.S. defense contractors were worried about delayed contracts and officials in Kyiv and lawmakers on Capitol Hill wanted to know what on earth was going on. While Trump’s national security team thought withholding the money went against U.S. national security interests, Trump still wouldn’t budge.

Thanks to the testimony of several Trump administration officials, we now know what Trump was waiting on: a commitment from Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

The rest of the story goes into great detail, worth reading.


#1936

@Pet_Proletariat, thanks for the early alert on this bombshell story! :bomb:

These newly released unredacted emails are a devastating blow to McConnell’s stonewalling on witnesses in the upcoming impeachment trial. The unredacted portions show that we must hear from Duffey, Pompeo, Bolton, and, yes, Pence. The story has legs and has now been picked up by major news outlets and by Schumer.


(David Bythewood) #1937

#1938

We knew this was coming but it’s still worth noting.


#1939

Mueller Memos Part 3: The Documents The Justice Department Didn’t Want Congress To See

BuzzFeed News has obtained some of the most important and highly sought-after documents from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation: summaries of FBI interviews with key White House officials.

[Read the documents here.]

The hundreds of pages of documents, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, were the subject of a protracted legal dispute between the Justice Department and the House Judiciary Committee, which sought them over the summer as part of its impeachment inquiry. The committee had requested access to an unredacted copy of the Mueller report, grand jury testimony from the investigation, and the FBI’s summaries of 33 interviews. The Justice Department resisted, claiming the impeachment inquiry does not entitle the panel to see those records. A federal judge disagreed, ruling in October that “DOJ is wrong” and that the White House and the Justice Department were “openly stonewalling” the committee.