Trump wants to impeach Nancy Pelosi for “looking for a quid pro quo with the Senate” because he doesn’t comprehend boundaries or morality or laws.
He thinks might makes right.
Remember his “but Obama has a Netflix deal” argument? Enough said.
Trump wants to impeach Nancy Pelosi for “looking for a quid pro quo with the Senate” because he doesn’t comprehend boundaries or morality or laws.
He thinks might makes right.
Remember his “but Obama has a Netflix deal” argument? Enough said.
During this entire scandal, Trump released only two documents: the call readouts. However, those were not released to Congress as a result of a subpoena; the were released to the public in response to public pressure. The committees also received some text messages, but those were not received from the White House, but directly from the witnesses who possessed them.
It’s interesting to review the list of crucial documents Trump refused to release (see the section below, “What documents did Trump block?”). His stonewalling, along with nearly every Republican in Congress, continues to this day. They protest that the process is unfair, yet that claim is laughable when you consider that they categorically refuse to release a single document beyond the call readouts that could actually get to the bottom of what happened.
These documents are absolutely critical to conducting a fair trial. As one example, consider how Amb. Gordon Sondland, during his testimony before the House, strongly asserted that he wished he could refer to his call records and many other documents that would help him refresh his memory of events, but he was denied access to all of them (video).
On a day that ended with President Donald Trump becoming the third U.S. president to be impeached, House Democrats hammered Trump for refusing to comply with their investigation, saying his stonewalling proved he has something to hide.
"(This) was an attempt by Donald J. Trump to aim Ukrainian corruption straight at the heart of the presidential election of 2020," said Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut, a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. "The president knows this, which is why he has not given this Congress a single email, phone record or document."
The White House did release summaries of Trump’s April 21 and July 25 phone calls with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
But when we examined whether the administration transmitted any other records to Congress, we found that it defied the House’s multiple requests and subpoenas for documents.
The White House pledged not to cooperate
In response, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to Congress saying the executive branch would not be participating in the investigation. At the White House’s direction, several top administration officials also defied subpoenas seeking testimony or documents.
The night before European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland was expected to testify, for example, his attorneys received a last-minute call from the State Department informing them that the Trump administration would not allow his testimony.
Sondland eventually testified against the White House’s orders and in response to a subpoena, but his recollections in both his private and public testimony were limited because the White House refused to turn over documents and call records.
Nine administration officials defied similar subpoenas from the House.
What documents did Congress get?
According to the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees’ reports, “not a single document” was produced by the White House, the vice president’s office, the Office of Management and Budget, the State Department, the Defense Department or the Energy Department.
In total, those agencies received “71 specific, individualized requests or demands for records,” the committees’ reports said.
The House did obtain some documents, such as text messages that former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker exchanged with Sondland and other U.S. and Ukrainian diplomats, that were in witnesses’ “personal possession,” according to the Judiciary Committee’s report.
What documents did Trump block?
… multiple witnesses testified to the existence of other key White House documents that Congress never received. These materials included:
Talking points prepared ahead of Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky by Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director for European affairs at the National Security Council.
A memo prepared by Vindman that former National Security Adviser John Bolton was expected to present to Trump conveying “the consensus views from the entire deputies small group” that “the security assistance be released.”
Call records between Trump and Sondland.
Notes from NSC legal advisor John Eisenberg detailing his discussions with Vindman about a July 10 meeting with a top Ukrainian official, during which Sondland suggested that investigations could help secure a White House meeting for Zelensky.
The readout of Trump’s Sept. 25 meeting with Zelensky in New York.
The House Intelligence Committee’s Republican minority report does not dispute that Trump’s White House withheld these and other documents. But it notes that Trump made readouts of his April 21 and July 25 phone calls with Zelensky publicly available, calling them “directly relevant.”
Himes spokesman Patrick Malone said the readouts were released in response to public pressure rather than congressional subpoenas. The White House published the July 25 call summary on Sept. 25, days after news of the whistleblower complaint broke and one day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched the House impeachment inquiry.
“They weren’t released to Congress in response to our requests,” Malone said. “They were released to the public.”
Himes said Trump “has not given this Congress a single email, phone record or document.”
The White House told Congress that it would not cooperate with the House’s impeachment inquiry, and all evidence suggests that the White House stood by that pledge.
The White House did, however, release two call readouts. They were not in response to congressional subpoenas as part of the House’s investigation.
We rate Himes’ statement Mostly True.
And for those who were prevented from testifying…some sage advise from Law Professor Lawrence Tribe who is writing Sen McConnell.
Did someone mention Ukraine? Why should the WH ok this…requirement that funds be forwarded to Ukraine within 45 days of their approval?
Well, it’s complicated…and the WH would not sign off on this.
Senior Trump administration officials in recent days threatened a presidential veto that could have led to a government shutdown if House Democrats refused to drop language requiring prompt release of future military aid for Ukraine, according to five administration and congressional officials.
The language was ultimately left out of mammoth year-end spending legislation that passed the House and Senate this week ahead of a Saturday shutdown deadline. The White House said President Trump signed the $1.4 trillion package Friday night.
The Ukraine provision was one of several items the White House drew a hard line on during negotiations to finalize the spending legislation, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the developments. It would have required the White House to swiftly release $250 million in defense money for Ukraine that was part of the spending package.
The White House this year refused to release congressionally appropriated defense aid to Kyiv during a period when President Trump had asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president and 2020 candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who had served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. Trump’s request of Zelensky as the White House delayed the aid was at the heart of House Democrats’ decision to impeach Trump this week on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
This is a fascinating, in-depth exposé of the conspiratorial entanglements that developed between Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas, and Igor Fruman as they orchestrated a campaign of corrupt shadow diplomacy in Ukraine – highly recommended for a “weekend read.” However, I’m going to focus on just one revelation that is buried halfway through the article: According to Giuliani, he and Fruman have entered into a joint defense agreement:
Mr. Fruman has not spoken publicly since his arrest, and his lawyer, Todd Blanche, declined to comment. Mr. Giuliani said in the interview that his and Mr. Fruman’s legal teams entered into an agreement about two months ago allowing them to share information.
This news flew under the radar until it was picked up on Friday by Brian Williams during an interview with legal analyst and former Federal prosecutor, Joyce Vance – here she points out what this type of agreement signifies:
UPDATE – The video link to the interview didn’t work so here’s a transcription of Vance’s remarks (if you have access to MSNBC’s 11th Hour, 12/20/19, you can view this exchange about halfway through the show):
WILLIAMS (referring to the above paragraph in the NYT article): What do you think this is all about?
VANCE: So this is a joint defense agreement. We’ve seen this before. There was actually some reporting, ironically it was Rudy Giuliani who let it slip, that during the Mueller investigation the President was involved in a joint defense agreement that let them talk with other potential subjects or targets of the investigation and that’s what a joint defense agreement is for – it’s for people who believe that they are about to be indicted, probably in a conspiracy together, and it lets them share information without taking that information outside of the attorney-client privilege. The information is still protected while they’re sharing it. They can coordinate on a defense strategy. They can learn what people are telling prosecutors. This is what you do when you think that you are going to be indicted and this is what Rudy Giuliani, the President’s lawyer, is doing.
Newly released documents show the White House ordered a freeze on aid to Ukraine less than two hours after President Donald Trump’s now-infamous July 25 phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky. The documents were obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, a non-profit news organization, through a Freedom of Information Act request. Among the heavily redacted documents that the Center for Public Integrity received after a legal battle there is a memo that sheds new light into the timeline of the actions that are at the heart of impeachment proceedings.
A mere 91 minutes after the call that ended at 9:33 a.m., Michael Duffey, a political appointee at the Office of Management and Budget, sent an email to the deputy secretary of defense, David Norquist, the Acting Secretary of Defense Chief of Staff Eric Chewning, and a Pentagon comptroller, Elaine McCusker, telling them that all aid to Ukraine should be halted. “Based on guidance I have received and in light of the Administration’s plan to review assistance to Ukraine, including the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, please hold off on any additional DoD obligations of these funds, pending direction from that process,” Duffey wrote at 11:04 a.m.
Duffey seemed to know that calling for the hold on the aid could raise questions and he sought to limit the amount of exposure the order would receive. “Given the sensitive nature of the request, I appreciate your keeping that information closely held to those who need to know to execute direction,” he wrote. CPI explains that while “a formal notification would be sent later that day” this email “was the first clear sign that the aid was being held, and it came immediately after the phone call.”
The question, of course, becomes who exactly gave Duffey the “guidance” that he wrote about in the email. As some were quick to point out, Sen. Chuck Schumer has demanded Duffey be called as a witness in the impeachment trial. Duffey wrote another email on Sept. 11 explaining that the aid would be released. He was asked what happened and the first part of his response is redacted but goes on to say he was “glad to have this behind us.”
The Center for Public Integrity points out that the heavily redacted emails show many government officials were worried that the White House was “asking the officials involved to take an action that was not merely unwise but flatly illegal.”
The law in question is known as the Impoundment Control Act and “says that once Congress appropriates funds – like the Ukraine assistance – and the president signs the relevant spending bill, the executive branch must spend those funds,” explains CPI. For the funds to be withheld, Congress must be informed and must approve, which obviously did not happen in this case. Government officials were worried that by delaying the aid it would make it difficult to make sure all the money was spent by the deadline of Sept. 30. Officials at both the OMB and the Pentagon were so concerned about the freeze in aid that they tried to think of ways to convince Trump to let the aid flow. None of their efforts seem to have worked.
Here’s Schumer’s tweet insisting that this email shows Duffey must testify:
Here’s the email (if you click on it and then use the download link at the bottom of the image, you can enlarge it once it’s on you computer):
And here’s the Center for Public Integrity’s report on the most recent batch of released emails, including a link to the searchable archive.
The National Review, the ultra-conservative publication founded by William F. Buckley Jr., calls for Trump’s impeachment.
Republicans involved in the impeachment inquiry have repeatedly touted the Trump administration’s sale of anti-tank missiles to Ukraine as evidence the president is supportive of the country against Russian aggression, but they’ve left out key details in the process.
Under the rules of the sale, the Javelin missiles have to be stored in western Ukraine, which is far from the frontlines of the ongoing conflict in the eastern part of the country (the Donbas region) against pro-Russia separatists.
In short, the Javelins were essentially provided to Ukraine under the condition that they not be used in the conflict zone.
Accordingly, the Javelins have yet to be used in the fighting, though US personnel are training some Ukrainian forces how to use them against tanks.
‘They’ve had symbolic and psychological impact’
Experts on Ukraine have offered mixed reviews on the impact of the US-provided anti-tank missiles, but largely seem to agree they serve as a deterrent against Russia.
Charles Kupchan, former director for European affairs on the National Security Council in the Obama administration, recently told Slate that the missiles “have not been deployed anywhere near the battlefront.”
Kupchan added: “They’ve had symbolic and psychological impact.”
Meanwhile, David Holmes, a top staffer at the US embassy in Ukraine and witness in the impeachment inquiry, told House investigators on Thursday that the Javelins provide an “important strategic deterrent.” He added that the weapons are “not actively employed in combat operations right now.”
The Javelin missiles were mentioned in a phone call at the center of the impeachment inquiry.
Javelins were mentioned in the July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that led to a whistleblower complaint and spiraled into an impeachment inquiry, and they’ve repeatedly come up in the public impeachment hearings. During the call, Trump urged Zelensky to launch investigations into his political rivals - including former Vice President Joe Biden.
At the time, Trump had placed roughly $400 million of congressionally-approved security assistance to Ukraine on hold, and the president is accused of dangling the aid over Zelensky as part of a broad scheme to pressure him into launching the investigations. The aid was ultimately released on September 11, less than a week after three House committees launched investigations into his administration’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to help his reelection camapgin.
As the impeachment inquiry has escalated, Trump has faced harsh criticism for freezing the security assistance, and allegations of risking both US and Ukrainian national security for personal gain.
But Republican lawmakers like Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York have pointed to Trump’s sale of the missiles to Ukraine to counter the narrative that Trump places his personal political agenda above national security concerns.
Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted a clip of one such exchange in defense of the president.
Trump, however, was reluctant to sell the missiles to Ukraine and did so only after he was persuaded it would be good for US business, current and former officials familiar with the decision told Foreign Policy.
The Trump administration first approved the sale of Javelins to Ukraine in December 2017. The sale was competed in March 2018, when the State Department announced it would sell Ukraine 210 Javelin anti-tank missiles and 37 launchers worth $47 million. The State Department approved an additional sale of the anti-tank missiles to Ukraine in October.
The Obama administration provided assistance to Ukraine as well, but would only offer non-lethal aid for fear of exacerbating the conflict and tensions with the Kremlin. There were also concerns that the anti-tank missiles could fall into the wrong hands.
The nonlethal aid provided to Ukraine under former President Barack Obama included US personnel to train Ukrainian forces, Humvees, night-vision goggles, advanced radar, patrol boats, body armor, and humanitarian assistance.
Olga Oliker, the director for Europe and Central Asia at the International Crisis Group, recently told Foreign Policy that nonlethal aid is actually considered more helpful than the Javelins, even as Ukrainian officials have celebrated their arrival.
“While generals and politicians in Kyiv played up the Javelins, in my own experience, soldiers in the field talked more about getting insufficient quantities of the nonlethal aid that they really needed - secure communications, armored vehicles, counterbattery radars,” Oliker said.
‘Even as we sit here today, the Russians are attacking Ukrainian soldiers’
Witnesses in the impeachment inquiry, including the current top diplomat to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, have underscored the importance of US assistance to Ukraine in thwarting Russia. Taylor was on the frontlines of the conflict less than a week before his public testimony to House investigators earlier this month.
In his testimony, Taylor said: “Even as we sit here today, the Russians are attacking Ukrainian soldiers in their own country and have been for the last four years. I saw this on the front line last week; the day I was there a Ukrainian soldier was killed and four were wounded.”
Taylor added: “The security assistance we provide is crucial to Ukraine’s defense and to the protection of the soldiers I met last week. It demonstrates to Ukrainians- and Russians - that we are Ukraine’s reliable strategic partner. It is clearly in our national interest to deter further Russian aggression.”
The Ukraine conflict began in 2014 and has led to roughly 13,000 deaths and displaced roughly 1.5 million people.
The House of Representatives said in court filings Monday that more impeachment charges against President Trump are possible based on the testimony they are seeking from his former White House counsel and grand jury material they want to review from the Russia investigation.
“The Committee is continuing to conduct its inquiry into whether the President committed other impeachable offenses,” attorneys for the House Judiciary Committee wrote. “The Committee’s investigations did not cease with the House’s recent impeachment vote.”
That assertion was made in response to an argument from attorneys for the Department of Justice that the impeachment vote has undercut the rationale behind the House’s demands.
“It is far from clear that the Committee. . .will have any further role in the impeachment process at all,” they wrote. “The Committee has referred articles of impeachment to the House; the House has approved those articles; once the articles are transmitted to the Senate, the next steps are for the Senate to determine.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes watch this space…
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.
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.”
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?
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.
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.
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.