I’m allowing this because I believe this is an impeachable offense but it’s not quite on topic, so it won’t be recorded in the wiki timeline unless a House Committee responds to the President’s comments.
‘Crazy to withhold security assistance’ to Ukraine for political campaign: Top US diplomat
In newly disclosed text messages shared with Congress, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine at the time writes to a group of other American diplomats that "I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
The exchange, provided by former U.S Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker as part of his closed-door deposition before multiple House committees Thursday, shows what appears to be encrypted text messages he exchanged with two other American diplomats in September regarding aid money President Donald Trump ordered to be held back from Ukraine.
@Keaton_James more on that “transcript”
Odd markings, ellipses fuel doubts about the rough transcript of Trump’s Ukraine call
“This is an exact word-for-word transcript of the conversation, taken by very talented stenographers,” Trump said.
White House officials previously had portrayed the document as not a verbatim transcription but rather a summary that closely tracked the words the president used in his July 25 call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. They said it was being released in a bid to bring transparency and clarity to a call at the heart of a consuming political scandal that has sparked a House impeachment investigation.
But the whistleblower complaint that spurred the investigation described an “official word-for-word transcript” of the call — words closely matching the ones used by Trump on Wednesday — creating uncertainty about what was included in the document the White House released last week and what may have been left out.
Current and former U.S. officials studying the document pointed to several elements that, they say, indicate that the document may have been handled in an unusual way.
Those include the use of ellipses — punctuation indicating that information has been deleted for clarity or other reasons — that traditionally have not appeared in summaries of presidential calls with foreign leaders, according to the current and former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the elaborate, non-public process.
In two of the cases when ellipses were used, they accompanied Trump’s reference to cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, which is at the center of a conservative conspiracy theory about a computer server central to the company’s investigation of the Russian hack of Democratic Party computers that, according to those pushing the theory, is hidden away in Ukraine.
The use of ellipses in this passage fueled questions about what may have been removed and why.
The five-page document reports Trump said, “I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it.”
In the third use of ellipses, Trump was asking Zelensky about a different theory — also sometimes aired in the extreme corners of the Internet and on some conservative news networks — that Democratic presidential candidate Joseph Biden had, while vice president, demanded the removal of a prosecutor looking to investigate Biden’s son Hunter.
“Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me,” according to the call document.
The White House declined to comment Wednesday about the unusual markings or other apparent discrepancies. Shortly after the document’s release last week, a White House official had said that the ellipses did not indicate missing words but referred to “a trailing off of a voice or pause,” and called it standard practice for records of presidential phone calls.
Ex Ambassador Volker said to the House Committees that Volker warned T and Giuliani that their sources for any Ukranian information re: Biden were not credible. Sounds like Volker is setting up the lines of division in their points of view…
The former U.S. special envoy for Ukraine told House investigators on Thursday that he warned President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, that Giuliani was receiving untrustworthy information from Ukrainian political figures about former vice president Joe Biden and his son, according to two people familiar with his testimony.
Kurt Volker, who resigned last week after being named in a whistleblower complaint that sparked the House impeachment inquiry of Trump, said he tried to caution Giuliani that his sources, including Ukraine’s former top prosecutor, were unreliable and that he should be careful about putting faith in the prosecutor’s stories, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the closed door meeting.
Volker’s testimony offers the first inside account of the Trump administration’s efforts to press for a Ukrainian investigation into Trump’s political rival.
Volker also said that he and other State Department officials cautioned the Ukrainians to steer clear of U.S. politics. Getting involved, he said he told them, would open the nation up to allegations that they were interfering in an election and could be detrimental to Ukraine long-term, according to these two individuals.
@dragonfly9 there are two whistleblowers right now.
IRS whistleblower said to report Treasury political appointee might have tried to interfere in audit of Trump or Pence
An Internal Revenue Service official has filed a whistleblower complaint reporting that he was told at least one Treasury Department political appointee attempted to improperly interfere with the annual audit of the president or vice president’s tax returns, according to multiple people familiar with the document.
Trump administration officials dismissed the whistleblower’s complaint as flimsy because it is based on conversations with other government officials. But congressional Democrats were alarmed by the complaint, now circulating on Capitol Hill, and flagged it to a federal judge. They are also discussing whether to make it public.
The complaint has come amid the escalating legal battle between the Treasury Department and House Democrats over the release of President Trump’s tax returns. Part of that inquiry from Democrats is over how the IRS conducts its annual audit of the president and vice president’s tax returns. That process is supposed to be walled off from political appointees and interference.
Way and Means have the IRS one and Intel is handling the Ukraine one.
And a potential bribery scam for T and Wayne LaPierre…which Rep Lieu and Rice are urging FBI head Wray to look into.
@Pet_Proletariat - More circling of the wagons
October 3, 2019
WASHINGTON – Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) and Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (D-NY) today sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking him to investigate whether the Chief Executive of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, attempted to bribe President Trump after it was reported that he met with the President and offered him some form of support in exchange for a commitment to oppose new gun control measures.
Dear Director Wray,
We are writing with serious concerns regarding a September 27 meeting between President Trump and Wayne LaPierre, the Chief Executive and Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association. We respectfully request you investigate whether Mr. LaPierre attempted to bribe the President.
During the meeting, which was first reported by the New York Times, it is alleged that Mr. LaPierre and President Trump discussed gun control legislation and the potential for the N.R.A. to provide support to the President as he faces an impeachment inquiry in the House. The New York Times reported that the Mr. LaPierre offered such support if the President would “stop the games” with gun legislation and cease pursuing new gun control measures.
As former prosecutors, we are deeply troubled that Mr. LaPierre discussed with the President these two subjects in the same conversation. Depending on what exactly was said, it would either be massively inappropriate or an attempt at bribery, which is prohibited under 18 U.S.C. 201 (b). In executing its “top criminal investigative priority” of combatting public corruption, we believe the FBI has a duty to swiftly examine this potentially illegal behavior.
We appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to hearing from you in a timely manner.
Ted W. Lieu
Member of Congress
This a must read! The President and his aids are pushing 4chan conspiracy theories about his election as part of US foreign policy efforts. Wow, I feel like we all knew President Trump believed this stuff but to push it out through official channels to extort our allies for political gain in an election was unthinkable. Who knew the Trump Presidency could get even weirder and more bombastic?!
An anonymous post from March 2017 on the far-right 4chan message board teased a conspiracy theory that would eventually make its way to the White House.
“Russia could not have been the source of leaked Democrat emails released by Wikileaks,” the post teased, not citing any evidence for the assertion.
The post baselessly insinuated that CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm that worked with the Democratic National Committee and had been contracted to investigate a hack of its servers, fabricated a forensics report to frame Russia for election interference. The 4chan post was published three days before then-FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress about Russian interference in the 2016 election.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters Thursday that President Trump’s call for China to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden is “repugnant” and “ought to be condemned by every member” of Congress.
"A president of the United States encouraging a foreign nation to interfere again to help his campaign by investigating a rival is a fundamental breach of the presidential oath."
Why it matters: Schiff has been tasked with leading the impeachment investigation into Trump’s alleged efforts to push the government of Ukraine to investigate Biden. As that investigation heats up, Trump on Thursday appeared to again call for a foreign power to interfere in the 2020 election — this time in public.
The big picture: Schiff spoke to reporters outside an ongoing deposition with former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, who resigned last week after being named in the whistleblower complaint.
- Volker is expected to testify that he did not know that military aid to Ukraine had been frozen at the time of Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but that he was aware of Rudy Giuliani’s interest in having Ukraine investigate Biden, per the New York Times.
- Volker reportedly told Giuliani that he believed allegations about the Bidens were baseless and has told colleagues he was not involved in the pressure campaign.
- The whistleblower complaint notes that after the July phone call, Volker and U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland met with Ukrainian officials and provided them with advice on how to “navigate” Trump’s demands.
President Trump ordered the removal of the ambassador to Ukraine after months of complaints from allies outside the administration, including his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, that she was undermining him abroad and obstructing efforts to persuade Kyiv to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, according to people familiar with the matter.
The recall of Marie Yovanovitch in the spring has become a key point of interest in the House impeachment inquiry. A whistleblower complaint by a CIA officer alleges the president solicited foreign interference in the 2020 elections by pressing Ukraine’s president in a July 25 call to pursue investigations, including into the activities of Mr. Biden, a Democrat who is running for president.
The complaint cites Ms. Yovanovitch’s ouster as one of a series of events that paved the way for what the whistleblower alleges was an abuse of power by the president. Mr. Trump has described the call with his Ukrainian counterpart as “perfect” and the House inquiry as a “hoax.”
Presidents have the authority to nominate and remove ambassadors. But senior officials at the White House and State Department say they had been unaware of the president’s displeasure with Ms. Yovanovitch and surprised by her removal.
Mr. Giuliani isn’t the only figure outside the administration to have expressed concerns about the ambassador. As early as the spring of 2018, Pete Sessions, at the time a GOP congressman from Texas, sent a letter to Mr. Pompeo asking for her removal, saying he had been told Ms. Yovanovitch was displaying a bias against the president in private conversations.
Mr. Sessions told the Journal he didn’t follow up on the matter and didn’t hear until months later about Mr. Trump’s interest in replacing her. He declined to say where his information about the ambassador came from but said his letter was in line with a broader concern among members of Congress that the administration wasn’t moving swiftly enough to put new ambassadors in place.
In a March 2019 interview with a columnist at The Hill, Mr. Lutsenko complained that the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv was obstructing corruption investigations, including by providing a “do not prosecute” list and restricting Ukrainian access to the U.S. Mr. Lutsenko’s claim is mentioned in the whistleblower complaint.
The U.S. State Department at the time called the untouchables list claim an “outright fabrication.” Mr. Lutsenko later retracted the allegation about the list and said had no evidence of Biden wrongdoing. He was dismissed in August.
More from Ex Ambassador Volker and some details are coming out regarding how two American diplomats wanted to fully investigate the Biden angle in Ukraine, and acknowledge that military funds were being withheld. And they were just following what was asked…they are adherents to the T presidency.
Two of President Trump’s top envoys to Ukraine drafted a statement for the country’s new president in August that would have committed Ukraine to pursuing investigations sought by Mr. Trump into his political rivals, three people briefed on the effort said.
The drafting of the statement marks new evidence of how Mr. Trump’s fixation with Ukraine began driving senior diplomats to bend American foreign policy to the president’s political agenda in the weeks after the July 25 call between the two leaders.
The statement was drafted by Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt D. Volker, then the State Department’s envoy to Ukraine, according to the three people who have been briefed on it.
Mr. Volker spent Thursday on Capitol Hill being questioned by House investigators as Democrats pursued their impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump’s actions. He disclosed a set of texts in September in which Bill Taylor, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, alluded to Mr. Trump’s decision earlier in the summer to freeze a military aid package to the country. He told Mr. Sondland and Mr. Volker: “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
After speaking with Mr. Trump, Mr. Sondland texted back that there was no quid pro quo, adding, “I suggest we stop the back and forth by text.”
It was not clear if the statement drafted in August by Mr. Sondland and Mr. Volker came up in the closed-door session on Capitol Hill.
The statement was written with the awareness of a top aide to the Ukrainian president, as well as Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer and the de facto leader of a shadow campaign to push the Ukrainians to press ahead with investigations that could be of political benefit to Mr. Trump, according to one of the people briefed on it.
And yet, T did ask Xi for some help with the Bidens as well as Elizabeth Warren. Details of the phone call on June 18 were stowed in the super secret file.
Thursday’s comments weren’t the first time Trump has injected Biden into his relationship with China, though he said Thursday he has never pushed Xi to investigate the former vice president. Nor is it the first time he has sought to trade favors with Xi, who this week celebrated the 70th birthday of his ruling communist party with a note of congratulations from Trump.
During a phone call with Xi on June 18, Trump raised Biden’s political prospects as well as those of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who by then had started rising in the polls, according to two people familiar with the discussion. In that call, Trump also told Xi he would remain quiet on Hong Kong protests as trade talks progressed.
The White House record of that call was later stored in the highly secured electronic system used to house a now-infamous phone call with Ukraine’s President and which helped spark a whistleblower complaint that’s led Democrats to open an impeachment inquiry into Trump.
This seems pretty big…‘ample evidence’ of more ‘requirements’ to get Zelensky to do T’s bidding. Rep Swalwell would have been in those Committee meetings today with Volker.
Let’s hope it is an impeachable amount.
That text, from our top Ukranian diplomat, says it all! I hope Democrats read this at the start of every press conference for the next week.
And it’s just as enlightening to see who pushed back: Gordon Sondland, the United States Ambassador to the European Union. Sondland texted back to Taylor that he was incorrect. Is it just a coincidence that Sondland is a Republican megadonor who contributed over $1 million AND was then subsequently appointed as the U.S. Ambasssodor to the EU?
Sondland is scheduled to testify next week. Based on his history of enabling Trump’s schemes, I believe we can expect that he will be a hostile witness.
In newly disclosed text messages shared with Congress, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine writes to a group of other American diplomats that "I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
The exchange, provided by another American diplomat, former U.S Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, as part of his closed-door deposition before multiple House committees Thursday, shows what appears to be encrypted text messages he exchanged with two other American diplomats in September regarding aid money President Donald Trump ordered to be held back from Ukraine.
In the Sept. 9 exchange, obtained by ABC News, the concerns are expressed by Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine. Gordon Sondland, the United States Ambassador to the European Union, responds to Taylor, saying that charge is "incorrect."
“Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelenskiy promised during his campaign,” Sondland says.
Sondland then suggests … the group take the conversations off line, typing, “I suggest we stop the back and forth by text.” …
Sonland, a hotelier and Republican megadonor, contributed over $1 million to the president’s inaugural committee before eventually being nominated and confirmed to be the United States representative to the European Union, serving since July 2018. He has assisted the effort by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to contact Ukrainian officials about an investigation, according to Giuliani, who says he briefed Sondland and Volker after his meetings.
Yes I wonder this too.
25 page letter/recap from Rep Schif (Intelligence) , Rep Engel (Foreign Affairs) and Rep Cummings (Oversight) of where we are as of today on the Impeachment Inquiry. The Dems are making a concerted effort to keep Americans informed with press conferences (Rep Schiff & Pelosi - 10.2.19, and hearings - multiple)
Schiff is getting criticized by some R’s asking him to step down because he was aware of the Whistleblower complaint prior to it’s release.
This may duplicate some of what has already been posted, but I believe there is some crucial new information here as well.
Text messages released on Thursday between US diplomats and a senior Ukrainian aide show how a potential Ukrainian investigation into the 2016 election was linked to a desired meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and US President Donald Trump.
The text messages, which were released by the House Intelligence Committee, also show how Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was closely connected with US policy on Ukraine and was involved in setting up the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky in which Trump urged an investigation into Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
They show how cognizant the Ukrainians were about the importance of the election investigation to Trump and Giuliani’s role.
On the morning of the call, in an exchange with a key adviser to the Ukrainian President, then-US Special Envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker made clear that it was important to the White House that Zelensky convince Trump that an investigation into the 2016 election would happen.
"Heard from the White House – assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate/‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington," Volker said via text to the Ukrainian adviser on the morning of July 25.
It was a message that seemed to register with the Ukrainian administration. A source familiar with the matter tells CNN that the Ukrainian government wrote a statement for public release committing to pursue investigations of corruption.
The New York Times was first to report on the existence of the statement, saying instead that it had been drafted this summer by Volker and US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. But the source told CNN that Ukrainians’ purpose in drafting the statement was to try to reinforce with Giuliani, who the Ukrainians knew had influence with Trump, that there was a new team in Ukraine with Zelensky that was committed to cleaning up corruption in Ukraine.
According to the Times, the statement would have committed Ukraine to investigate an energy company that employed former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. The statement also would have called on the country to investigate what Trump has perceived as Ukrainian interference in the 2016 US election to benefit Hillary Clinton, the paper reported.
The statement was shared with Volker and Sondland, who then shared it with Giuliani, according to the source. It was Giuliani who said to Volker that it did not go far enough and suggested inserting references to pursuing probes of Burisma and the 2016 election. Burisma is the Ukrainian company that hired Hunter Biden to be on its board.
Volker and Sondland then exchanged text messages about the draft, which Volker said he would share with an adviser to Zelensky. The Ukrainians told Volker they were not comfortable with the suggested statement, and the matter was ultimately dropped while a meeting between Zelensky and Trump continued to be pursued, the source said.
The source explained the context of the statement about the investigation after the discussion was included in text messages provided to Congress ahead of Volker’s closed-door testimony on Thursday. …
Great job everyone!! Did you see @matt, put us in the newsletter! And we have a new url to share for just this thread
I did not see, where? Also, with how fast stuff is coming out now, I fully expect a lot of these avalanche news days going forward!