WTF Community

The Impeachment of President Donald J. Trump


(David Bythewood) #1085

Adding this, a list of the Republicans who stormed the room:

(David Bythewood) #1086

There’s a good point to these posts. Bribery is one of the two crimes explicitly listed in the Constitution. And if this isn’t bribery (not even mentioning the Oval Office visit or the attempt to get Ukraine to exonerate Russia for an election attack it definitely committed), I don’t know what is.

(David Bythewood) #1087

Developing story:

Trump Claims He Boosted U.S. Incomes by $7,000. Data Say Otherwise


Rep. Elijah Cummings lies in state Thursday at U.S. Capitol

The body of longtime congressman Elijah E. Cummings is lying in state Thursday at the U.S. Capitol, during a day of tributes by members of Congress and opportunities for the members of the public to pay their respects.

Cummings is the first African American lawmaker to be honored in this way in the Capitol.

Two other African Americans have received the honor, known as lying “in honor” for nonelected officials: Civil rights icon Rosa Parks, in 2005, and Capitol Police Officer Jacob J. Chestnut Jr., who was killed in 1998 by a gunman who had burst into the Capitol.

Lawmakers and guests stood silently as the flag-draped coffin was slowly rolled into a packed Statuary Hall late Thursday morning, followed by Cummings’ widow, Maryland Democratic Party chair Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, and other family members.

Two military guards stood at attention at either end of the coffin.

Current and former members of Congress crowded together against velvet ropes, wearing dark suits and dresses. D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton was seated between Reps. John Lewis and Maxine Waters, also Democrats. Former congressman Jim Moran stood with Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) and freshman Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Cummings would lie in repose on same catafalque that held the remains of Abraham Lincoln. She described Cummings as a mentor to generations of young political leaders, quoting his frequent refrain that children are “the messages to a future we will never see.”

“Elijah was truly as mater of the house. He respected its history, and in it he helped shape America’s future,” Pelosi said.

Cummings (D), who chaired of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, died Oct. 17, at age 68. Former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton will be among those delivering remarks at his funeral Friday at New Psalmist Baptist Church in West Baltimore, where Cummings worshiped for decades.

All impeachment depositions have been postponed for services.


Cross-posting :pray: I recently went back to school part time so unfortunately for the forum, I will be “reclaiming my time” as I need.


Lawyers for former Trump advisor John Bolton reportedly in contact with impeachment probe panels

Lawyers for former national security advisor John Bolton have been in touch with officials working on House committees about possibly testifying in the impeachment probe of President Donald Trump, a person close to Bolton told NBC News on Friday.


NSC official plans to testify in impeachment probe even if White House tries to block him

Tim Morrison has been identified as a witness to one of the most explosive pieces of evidence unearthed by House impeachment investigators.

Morrison, however, would be the first currently serving White House official to testify. He’s also the first official believed to be on a July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during which Trump pressed his counterpart to investigate former vice president Joe Biden.

Morrison was also a crucial figure identified Tuesday by Trump’s ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor, as a witness to Trump’s effort to withhold military aid from Ukraine in order to bend Zelensky to his will.


The DOJ’s own Inspector General Slams the DOJ for blocking the whistleblower’s complaint – five dozen other Inspector Generals also sign the letter

And why hasn’t Barr recused himself since he’s part of the whistleblower’s complaint?! This makes you wonder if obstruction of justice charges aren’t in Barr’s future.

A coalition of government watchdogs assailed the Justice Department for temporarily blocking a whistleblower’s complaint against President Donald Trump from being transmitted to Congress, saying in a letter this week that its actions could deter individuals from reporting government abuse.

The six-page letter, signed by the Justice Department’s own inspector general and about five dozen counterparts from other federal agencies, is a remarkable rebuke of the agency, which argued that the whistleblower’s allegations of foreign election interference were not an “urgent concern.”

The group, headed by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, took issue with an opinion by the agency’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). The opinion overruled a determination by the intelligence community’s own watchdog that the whistleblower’s allegations, which have since sparked an impeachment inquiry, appeared credible and, therefore, should be brought to Congress. …

And the DOJ didn’t just block the complaint, it kept it secret. The attempted cover up was only thwarted when the Intelligence Community inspector general did an end run and notified the House Intelligence Committee. IMHO, this sure smacks of obstruction of justice. From last month:

The Department of Justice has been a key player in Donald Trump’s whistleblower scandal from the start. It was the DOJ that prohibited acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire from forwarding the whistleblower complaint to Congress, referring it instead to the Justice Department. The agency then determined that the president had committed no crime, shielding Trump from further scrutiny. A document released on Thursday reveals that the Justice Department went even further: It willfully ignored an accusation that the White House attempted to cover up damning evidence of Trump’s misconduct…

…The whistleblower followed the legal procedure: He sent his complaint to Michael Atkinson, the Intelligence Community inspector general, who found the complaint to be of “urgent concern” and sent it to acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, who should have forwarded the complaint to congressional intelligence committees within seven days. But he did not, because the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel told him he could not. …


Three new subpoenas issued to Trump administrators


  • House Democrats sent subpoenas on Friday to two White House budget officials and a State Department official as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

  • The subpoenas were issued by the chairs of the three committees leading the investigation into whether Trump abused his power and jeopardized national security in his dealings with Ukraine. They call for the officials to be deposed behind closed doors in early November.

  • The Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees had previously requested that each of the officials appear for interviews voluntarily. The officials declined to do so.




(David Bythewood) #1095

I have said it before.
I will say it again.

Late in the night Oct. 16, Rudy Giuliani made a phone call to this reporter.

The fact that Giuliani was reaching out wasn’t remarkable. He and the reporter had spoken earlier that evening for a story about his ties to a fringe Iranian opposition group.

But this call, it would soon become clear, wasn’t a typical case of a source following up with a reporter.

The call came in at 11:07 p.m. and went to voicemail; the reporter was asleep.

The next morning, a message exactly three minutes long was sitting in the reporter’s voicemail. In the recording, the words tumbling out of Giuliani’s mouth were not directed at the reporter. He was speaking to someone else, someone in the same room.

Giuliani can be heard discussing overseas dealings and lamenting the need for cash, though it’s difficult to discern the full context of the conversation.

The call appeared to be one of the most unfortunate of faux pas: what is known, in casual parlance, as a butt dial.

And it wasn’t the first time it had happened.

“You know,” Giuliani says at the start of the recording. “Charles would have a hard time with a fraud case ‘cause he didn’t do any due diligence.”

It wasn’t clear who Charles is, or who may have been implicated in a fraud. In fact, much of the message’s first minute is difficult to comprehend, in part because the voice of the other man in the conversation is muffled and barely intelligible.

But then, Giuliani says something that’s crystal clear.

“Let’s get back to business.”

He goes on.

“I gotta get you to get on Bahrain.”

Giuliani is well-connected in the kingdom of Bahrain.

Last December, he visited the Persian Gulf nation and had a one-on-one meeting with King Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa in the royal palace. “King receives high-level U.S. delegation,” read the headline of the state-run Bahrain News Agency blurb about the visit.

Giuliani runs a security consulting company, but it’s not clear why he would have a meeting with Bahrain’s king. Was he acting in his capacity as a consultant? As Trump’s lawyer? Or as an international fixer running a shadow foreign policy for the president?

In May, Giuliani told the Daily Beast his firm had signed a deal with Bahrain to advise its police force on counterterrorism measures. But the Bahrain News Agency account of the meeting suggested Giuliani was viewed more like an ambassador than a security consultant. “HM the King praised the longstanding Bahraini-U.S. relations, noting keenness of the two countries to constantly develop them,” it said.

The voicemail yielded no details about the meeting. But Giuliani can be heard telling the man that he’s “got to call Robert again tomorrow.”

“Is Robert around?” Giuliani asks.

“He’s in Turkey,” the man responds.

Giuliani replies instantly. “The problem is we need some money.”

The two men then go silent. Nine seconds pass. No word is spoken. Then Giuliani chimes in again.

“We need a few hundred thousand,” he says.

It’s unclear what the two men were talking about. But Giuliani is known to have worked closely with a Robert who has ties to Turkey.

His name is Robert Mangas, and he’s a lawyer at the firm Greenberg Traurig LLP, as well as a registered agent of the Turkish government.

Giuliani himself was employed by Greenberg Traurig until about May 2018.

Mangas’ name appears in court documents related to the case of Reza Zarrab, a Turkish gold trader charged in the United States with laundering Iranian money in a scheme to evade American sanctions.

Giuliani was brought on to assist Zarrab in 2017. He traveled to Turkey with his former law partner Michael Mukasey and attempted to strike a deal with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to secure the release of their jailed client, alarming the federal prosecutor leading the case.

Giuliani and Mangas were both employed by Greenberg Traurig at the time. The firm and Mangas had registered with the Justice Department to lobby the U.S. government on behalf of Turkey, according to an affidavit from Mangas.

Mangas did not return a request for comment.

Giuliani’s conversation partner can be heard responding to the “few hundred thousand” comment. But it’s possible to make out only the beginning of his answer, and even that is somewhat garbled.

“I’d say even if Bahrain could get, I’m not sure how good [unintelligible words] with his people,” the man says.

“Yeah, okay,” Giuliani says.

“You want options? I got options,” the man says.

“Yeah, give me options,” Giuliani replies.

The exchange took place at the 2:20 mark in the voicemail message. The other man does most of the talking in the remaining 40 seconds, and it’s difficult to piece together what he says.


Not the first time

By the time of that call, it was already clear that Giuliani butt dials don’t only happen after 11 p.m.

The late-night Giuliani butt dial came 18 days after a midafternoon Giuliani butt dial.

The first one happened when the NBC News reporter was at a fifth-birthday party for an extended family member in Central Jersey.

It was 3:37 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, and a pink unicorn piñata had just been strung up around a tree in the backyard.

Amid his 3-year-old daughter’s excitement, the reporter decided to let Giuliani’s call go to his voicemail.

The previous day, the reporter interviewed Giuliani for an article quoting several of his former Justice Department colleagues who said they believed he committed crimes in his effort to push the Ukrainians to launch an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden.

After the pink unicorn piñata came the bouncy castle and then cake. It wasn’t until at least an hour after the call that the reporter realized it had led to a three-minute voicemail, the maximum his phone allows.

In the message, Giuliani is heard talking to at least one other person. The conversation appears to pick up almost exactly where Giuliani’s phone call with the reporter left off the day before, with Giuliani insisting he was the target of attacks because he was making public accusations about a powerful Democratic politician.

“I expected it would happen,” Giuliani says at the start of the recording. “The minute you touch on one of the protected people, they go crazy. They come after you.”

“You got the truth on your side,” an unidentified man says.

“It’s very powerful,” Giuliani replies.

Giuliani spends the entire three minutes railing against the Bidens. He can be heard recycling many of the unfounded allegations he has been making on cable news and in interviews with print reporters.

Among the claims: that Biden intervened to stop an investigation of a Ukrainian gas company because his son Hunter sat on the board, and that Hunter Biden traded on his father’s position as vice president to earn $1.5 billion from Chinese investors.

“There’s plenty more to come out,” Giuliani says. “He did the same thing in China. And he tried to do it in Kazakhstan and in Russia.”

“It’s a sad situation,” he adds. “You know how they get? Biden has been been trading in on his public office since he was a senator.”

Shortly after, Giuliani turns to Hunter Biden. “When he became vice president, the kid decided to go around the world and say, ‘Hire me because I’m Joe Biden’s son.’ And most people wouldn’t hire him because he had a drug problem.”

Giuliani’s effort to spur a Ukrainian investigation of the Bidens is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry underway in the House. And Wednesday, two of Giuliani’s associates pleaded not guilty to making illegal campaign contributions in part to advance the interests of foreign nationals, including a former Ukrainian prosecutor who was involved in the effort to oust the country’s former U.S. ambassador.

In the recording, Giuliani doesn’t mention anything about his own activities in Ukraine and elsewhere. But he does make unfounded claims about Hunter Biden’s overseas work.

“His son altogether made somewhere between 5 and 8 million,” Giuliani says. “A 3 million transaction was laundered, which is illegal."

Last week, Hunter Biden said in an ABC News interview that he will step down from the board of the Chinese investment company that he joined in October 2017.

One of Hunter Biden’s early business partners was Christopher Heinz, stepson of former Secretary of State John Kerry. But Heinz objected to Hunter Biden’s decision to work for the Ukrainian gas company and ultimately cut ties with him. Heinz had nothing to do with the Chinese investment fund.

But in the voicemail message, Giuliani is heard telling his friend that Kerry’s stepson was working for the same foreign entities that employed Hunter Biden.

“His partner was John Kerry’s stepson,” Giuliani said. “Secretary of State and the vice president for the price of one.”

The recording ends the same way it began. “They don’t want to investigate because he’s protected, so we gotta force them to do it,” Giuliani says, before apparently turning to the president’s now-infamous call with the Ukrainian president.

“And the Ukraine, they’re investigating him and they blocked it twice. So what the president was [unintelligible word], ‘You can’t keep doing this. You have to investigate this.’ And they say it will affect the 2020 election.”

“No it….” Giuliani adds, but the recording cuts off before he can finish the thought.

Over the last 10 days, Giuliani has given few media interviews.

Calls to his phone Thursday led to a recorded message saying his mailbox was full. The call has not been returned — at least not yet.


House Judiciary Committee can see redacted materials from Mueller grand jury, judge says

The materials must be disclosed by Oct. 30 to the panel, the Friday court order states. The committee sued in July for a release of certain redacted materials and underlying records from the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
This is a developing story. It will be updated.


Cross-posting :boom:


Trump is fuming mad about this today. He wants to level the “fruit of the poisoned tree” argument against the Ukraine allegations, just as he applied it during the Russia investigation (and in fact is still doing so – or at least Barr is doing it for him with the newly opened DOJ investigation into the roots of the Russian investigation). In the case of the Russia investigation, the alt-right (which apparently now includes Barr) has some cockamamie theory that says the origins of the investigations were gamed by the Democrats, therefore (in their fantasy world), we should all have practiced willful ignorance, ignored the sea of red flags, and never conducted the investigation.

In a court of law, the “fruit of the poisoned tree” argument sometimes works. For example, if a search was made without a warrant, the target of a criminal investigation may have his case thrown out and go scot-free even though he really did commit the crime. But an impeachment proceeding is not a court of law and, far more importantly, the whistleblower followed the proper, lawful procedures to the letter. Also, the summary memo of the call corroborates the whistleblower’s complaint (despite Trump’s flagrant lying claims to the contrary) and Trump himself publicly called upon Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. On top of that, as far as we know, the testimony of other witnesses have consistently backed up the Whistleblower’s account (see articles below).

So, yes, as Democrats are pointing out, the Whistleblower’s complaint has been completely superseded by the vast trove of additional evidence and testimony that has been uncovered since the complaint was filed. Thus, testimony by the whistleblower is not needed to make the airtight case that Trump committed impeachable offenses. To put it another way:

The whistleblower pulled the fire alarm. The fire trucks have arrived and we are all standing in front of a building fully engulfed in flames. Should the firefighters fight the fire? Or should they wander around trying to find the person who pulled the fire alarm and grill him about whether or not he really saw a fire? :fire: :rotating_light: :fire_engine:

And since the above article was written on October 7, much more supporting evidence has been added:

…Trump has been insistent: There was no quid pro quo involving Ukraine. That’s hard to square with:

  • Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney saying that aid was withheld in part to get Ukraine to investigate the hacking of the Democratic National Committee in 2016

  • Taylor testifying that E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland and Ukraine special envoy Kurt Volker told him that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky needed to make clear that he supported investigations before he’d get a meeting at the White House

  • Sondland reportedly telling officials in a July 10 meeting that a meeting between Trump and Zelensky would be predicated on Zelensky opening the investigations, according to former administration official Fiona Hill

  • Volker, according to Taylor, saying he would tell Zelensky that a White House meeting depended on Zelensky opening investigations to “get to the bottom of things”

  • Volker texting a Zelensky aide before Trump and Zelensky spoke to tell him that “assuming President [Zelensky] convinces trump he will investigate / ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington”

  • Sondland telling a Zelensky aide, according to Taylor, that military assistance would be held until Zelensky committed to a Biden-related investigation

  • Sondland telling Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) that aid depended on the investigations

  • Trump denying a “quid pro quo” while confirming to Johnson that he wanted Ukraine to investigate the 2016 hacking

  • Sondland telling Taylor in response to questions about a quid pro quo that Trump wanted a public announcement about an investigation

  • After Trump’s instructions, Sondland telling Zelensky (again according to Taylor) that without an announcement about investigations, the United States and Ukraine would be at a “stalemate”

  • Trump replying to Zelensky’s mention of military aid in their July 25 call with a request for a favor: an investigation of the hacking.


Trump frustrated as White House effort to defy impeachment inquiry fails to halt witness testimony, advisers say

In a sign of the growing realization of his potential jeopardy, Trump has brought back Jane and Marty Raskin, criminal defense attorneys who were part of his legal teamduring the Mueller investigation, to help him navigate the impeachment inquiry, along with his attorney Jay Sekulow and White House lawyers. Their return is a late acknowledgment, some White House advisers say, that the facts coming out are bad for the president and that both his White House and personal attorneys need to try to get in front of what else may emerge.

The president’s reconstituted legal team is racing to master details about the administration’s dealings with Ukraine, along with the efforts of their longtime co-counsel, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to push Ukraine officials to investigate Trump’s Democratic rivals.

Meanwhile, White House officials have begun holding regular impeachment strategy meetings, often in the Situation Room. Some advisers are discussing bringing in a veteran lawyer with impeachment experience and actively seeking a communications strategist, according to advisers and officials.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment. Sekulow and the Raskins declined to comment.

The belated scramble — a month after the House formally launched its impeachment inquiry — serves as a recognition that the White House’s strategy of refusing to cooperate with the probe has failed to stymie it, according to Trump advisers and people involved in responding to House requests.

That posture was driven by Trump, who dictated much of a defiant letter sent by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to House leaders earlier this month that claimed the inquiry was constitutionally invalid, according to people familiar with his role. They, like others in this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private White House conversations.

Two things Trump is putting together an impeachment response team and he largely dictated that letter arguing that impeachment was unconstitutional. :smirk:


Key Witness in Impeachment Inquiry Asks Federal Court to Rule Over Testifying

A key witness in the impeachment investigation filed a lawsuit Friday asking a federal judge to rule on whether he can testify, a move that raises new doubts about whether President Trump’s closest aides, like the former national security adviser, John R. Bolton, will be able to cooperate with the inquiry.

House Democrats had subpoenaed the witness, Charles M. Kupperman, who served as Mr. Trump’s deputy national security adviser, to testify on Monday. But in an effort to stop Mr. Kupperman from doing so, the White House said on Friday that the president had invoked “constitutional immunity,” leaving Mr. Kupperman uncertain about what to do.

“Plaintiff obviously cannot satisfy the competing demands of both the legislative and executive branches, and he is aware of no controlling judicial authority definitively establishing which branch’s command should prevail,” the suit said.

The implications of the suit, filed in federal court in Washington, extend beyond Mr. Kupperman. His lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, also represents Mr. Bolton and is likely to address congressional requests for his testimony in a similar fashion. House Democrats have had discussions with Mr. Cooper in recent days about Mr. Bolton testifying but have not subpoenaed him.

This is an extreme testing of our constitution right now. Where in article II is this “constitutional immunity” Trump keeps talking about? It’s asinine.




Former Bolton aide asks court if he’s required to testify in impeachment probe


10/25/2019 11:48 PM EDT


There’s a lot to process here. Basically, Kupperman (who originally agreed to testify, then was blocked by Trump, then was subpoenaed) has been caught between a rock and a hard place and is looking for clarification from the courts as to whether or not he can come in and testify without adverse consequences.

The fact that this is going to the courts will undoubtedly cause some delays, but if the ruling determines that Kupperman is free to testify, it could clear the way for many other White House administrators to also speak up – Bolton is the prime example.

So what are the chances that the courts will rule Kupperman is free to testify? Judging from this article’s analysis, I’d say the chances are good. Trump is claiming a sweeping type of immunity termed “Constitutional Immunity” and it sounds like that’s going to be a real stretch to justify.

A top aide to former national security adviser John Bolton filed suit Friday to determine whether he’s required to comply with a subpoena to appear before House impeachment investigators, a move that could mire the testimony of a key witness in litigation as President Donald Trump seeks to block his cooperation with lawmakers.

Charles Kupperman, the former deputy national security — who briefly succeeded Bolton after he left the administration last month — is asking a district court judge to decide how to resolve the conflict between the House subpoena and the president’s directive.

In a Friday letter to Kupperman’s attorney Chuck Cooper, who is also representing Bolton, White House counsel Pat Cipollone indicated that Trump had directed him not to honor the House subpoena and asserted that Kupperman is “absolutely immune” from testifying because of his regular interactions with Trump.

“Absent a definitive judgment from the Judicial Branch … Plaintiff will effectively be forced to adjudicate the Constitutional dispute himself, and if he judges wrongly, he will inflict grave Constitutional injury on either the House or the President,” Cooper wrote in a court filing.

Kupperman pointed to what he described as the merits and drawbacks of both the White House and Congress’ arguments.

He noted that a court ruled in 2008 that there are limits on claims of “absolute immunity” of presidential advisers to congressional testimony, even if those limits hadn’t been tested. That court determined that President George W. Bush’s counsel, Harriet Miers and other senior administration officials, did not enjoy “absolute immunity.” But the court left the guidelines ambiguous.

“The district court in Miers further concluded that the Counsel to the President was not entitled to absolute or qualified immunity because the inquiry did not “involve the sensitive topics of national security or foreign affairs,” Cooper noted. “National security and foreign affairs are at the heart of the information that the House Defendants seek from Plaintiff in connection with the House’s impeachment inquiry.”

But Kupperman also raised questions about whether the House subpoena itself was valid, in part because of concerns raised by Republicans that the impeachment inquiry itself failed to comply with House rules.

“It is unclear whether a House committee has the authority to issue subpoenas to investigate potentially illegal conduct by an impeachable officer outside the scope of a properly authorized impeachment inquiry,” Cooper argues.

In a rebuke of that position, however, a federal judge in a separate matter ruled earlier in the day that the House’s impeachment inquiry is valid and constitutional, rejecting the Trump administration’s claim that it’s an illegitimate exercise of congressional power.

Republicans have contended that the House must hold a formal vote to launch an impeachment inquiry, but in her ruling, Judge Beryl Howell — chief judge of the federal District Court in Washington D.C. — said there is no requirement of a formal vote. Rather, Howell ruled, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s determination that several House committees were pursuing potential impeachment justifies the probe.

It’s unclear how Howell’s ruling might affect the immediate handling of Kupperman’s case.

P.S. @Pet_Proletariat - Posting at the same time! I’ll leave mine up because the Politico article offers an additional perspective. :smile:


The more the merrier. :slightly_smiling_face: Lots of legal stuff tonight.


Absolutely! This sounds like another “Hail Mary” play from Trump’s loony legal team – it’s similar to their recent crazy claim that the President could shoot someone and not be held accountable while in office. The courts swatted that one down (of course, Trump’s appealing, but his chances of winning are certainly dim). The sweeping immunity being claimed in this Kupperman filing smacks of the same desperation.


White House restores trade benefits for Ukraine after more than two months of delay

Posting this in the Impeachment Inquiry thread because it may be an additional component of Trump’s quid pro quo in the Ukraine scandal.

Some background before the article – Ambassador William Taylor testified earlier this week:

Very concerned, on that same day I sent Ambassador Sondland a text message asking if “we [are] now saying that security assistance and [a] WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?” Ambassador Sondland responded asking me to call him, which I did. During that phone call, Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelenskyy to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

Ambassador Sondland also told me that he now recognized that he had made a mistake by earlier telling the Ukrainian officials to whom he spoke that a White House meeting with President Zelenskyy was dependent on a public announcement of investigations – in fact, Ambassador Sondland said, “everything” was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance. He said that President Trump wanted President Zelenskyy “in a public box” by making a public statement about ordering such investigations.

It now appears that the “everything” Sondland was referring to included, not only security assistance, but also trade assistance in the form of trade privileges. The timing of how those privileges where held up closely matches the timeline of the military aid delays. And the privileges were suddenly implemented one day after the WaPo published an exposé on the way they were held up in the first place, back in August.

Also, it’s telling that the White House made this announcement late on a Friday night – the point in the news cycle least likely to attract attention – looks like someone tried to fly this one under the radar.

The White House trade representative restored some of Ukraine’s trade privileges Friday evening, reinstating benefits that were initially prepared for approval in late August.

The paperwork was expected to be routine at the time, but then-national security adviser John Bolton had warned U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer that President Trump would oppose any action that benefited Kyiv, said people briefed on the matter.

Following Bolton’s warning, the White House pulled the paperwork back. Bolton resigned in September but the paperwork continued to languish. It was finally approved Friday.

The move, announced by Lighthizer’s office, comes a day after The Washington Post reported on Bolton’s exhortation. The revelation of that exchange between Bolton and Lighthizer was the first sign that the administration’s suspension of assistance to Ukraine extended beyond Trump’s withholding of $391 million in military aid to the country — the action at the center of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

It’s time to subpoena Robert Lighthizer. He needs to be asked, “Why were the trade benefits for Ukraine held up? Did anyone tell you to delay them? If so, who? Why did the delay end the day after the Washington Post revealed the delay?”