House approved guidelines for the public phase of the Impeachment Inquiry: 232-196.
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (11/4/19)
Dear Fellow Readers,
I am amazed at the latest wave of news confirming Trump-Ukraine-Russia as ‘one story, 2016-2019’. Yes there is much confirmation of Trump’s recent pressure on Ukraine to produce dirt on a political opponent, but there is also a great deal of information on Trumpster pressure on Ukraine for similar reasons going back to 2016. And yes, all the names we’re familiar with: Trump; Trump clown-lawyer Giuliani; convicted former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort were on the play list back then, too.
Trump Did It, and Trump Did It Again! A criminal returns to the scene of the crime and repeats the crime.
But first – here’s Trump’s ever-changing, shape-shifting defense.
Trump always puts his personal interests ahead of our national interests with his foreign policy. Sometimes he’s trying to curry favor from fellow authoritarians, such as giving Erdogan free rein for Turkey, Russia and Syria to do whatever they want while turning his back on our allies, the Kurds; who did the real work against the ISIS caliphate and leader Baghdadi. The even more common version is “Russia if you’re listening”.
No matter the accusation, you know Trumpster politicians would offer the ‘Pence Denial’ – stalwart, stern, serious, or the ‘Rubio Denial’ – snarky, dismissive, insulting to the person questioning. If he uses foreign policy to ask personal favors from a foreign government like “Russia if you’re listening” or China, you can apply the ‘Rubio’ denial. If like Trump-Russia-Ukraine and it’s done out of the public eye, apply the ‘Pence’ denial.
To be clear – Trump did it. Trump manipulated US foreign policy with Ukraine to get ‘dirt’ on a political opponent. Trump manipulated Ukraine multiple ways over a number of months – holding back congressionally-approved military aid, holding back recognition of a newly elected Ukraine president, demanding an investigation with public acknowledgement of crazy disproven conspiracy stories. He used an informal channel by putting his personal lawyer Giuliani in charge while dismantling the formal State Department channel by replacing ambassadors and staff. And in a few paragraphs we’ll look at the 2016 version.
Did he do it? Yes. Here’s MSNBC host Chris Hayes running through a list of nine confirmations of guilt over only one of many instances.
This is a bit late because Trumpsters are on the cusp of agreeing to agree Trump issued a quid pro quo to manipulate Ukraine. The new defense will look more like Trump acting Chief of Staff Mike Mulvaney’s, “get over it” approach.
Trumpsters know the “no quid pro quo” gig is up given the public statements, written statements and private testimony before Congress. The attacks on witnesses like Purple Heart Iraq war veteran Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman aren’t working. Vindman reported the Trump quid pro quo to legal staff twice, he has shared that the Trump rough transcript was edited to make the quid pro quo less obvious.
Lt. Col. Vindman associates are now adding that “a top White House lawyer instructed a senior national security official not to discuss his grave concerns about the leaders’ conversation with anyone outside the White House”. The lawyer, John Eisenberg, was also a ringleader in hiding the rough transcript by moving it to “a highly classified computer server”. The security of this server means there are witnesses – only a limited number of persons have access and whoever moved the transcript is now part of a security audit trail. The same would be true should someone want to ‘disappear’ the transcript.
We already know a lot about what led to Trump’s violation of his oath of office, we know a lot about the one call that is getting so much attention and we now know much more about the attempted cover-up. Even before upcoming public Congressional hearings a recent poll shows support for “Impeach and Remove” at 49% versus “Do Not Impeach and Remove” at 47%. Surprisingly the 49% reflects 18% of Republicans “in favor”.
Trumpsters want to focus solely on the single “perfect call” and their proof of innocence is whether or not Trump’s quid pro quo is crystal clear – he never actually says, ‘here’s my quid pro quo pitch’ as an example. But now they’ll resort to arguing, “sure, what the heck, quid pro quo, but you can’t impeach him for that”.
Trump-Ukraine, the 2016-2017 version. David Ignatius writing for the Washington Post, now reports that there was another Trump-Ukraine quid pro quo that took place in 2017 and was tied to the Trump-Russia special counsel Robert Mueller investigation.
Trump clown-lawyer Rudy Giuliani negotiated a quid pro quo with then Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko. Remember that convicted former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort resigned from heading the campaign in 2016 after a secret ‘black ledger’ was found showing the Ukraine president and Manafort client at the time, Viktor Yanukovch had paid Manafort $12.7 million in “undisclosed cash payments”. Giuliani was able to get Poroshenko to drop the Ukraine investigations of Manafort and end cooperation with Mueller’s investigation. Poroshenko then got his desired meeting with Trump in the White House and all was good until the election of now Ukraine president Zelensky. And Trump and Giuliani went back to twisting Ukraine arms.
Ignatius also reports that US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was fired because her US efforts to push Ukraine anti-corruption efforts was getting in the way of “contacts of Mr. Giulinani… and their personal financial ambitions”. This likely refers to Giuliani’s indicted associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.
THERE’S MORE Trump-Ukraine-Russia new news.
Jason Leopold, who has followed Trump-Russia for years, succeeded in getting Trump-Russia FBI investigation documents — 500 pages worth — through Freedom of Information requests (FOIA). It turns out the originator of the conspiracy theory of Ukraine hacking Democrats emails was Manafort and his also convicted associate and deputy campaign chair Rick Gates. Their “false idea” was that Ukraine did it, not Russia. And Giuliani is still frantically waving around pieces of paper he claims are proof of this set of lies.
Convicted former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn is shown agreeing with Gates that they’d use their intelligence contacts to find Hillary Clinton’s ‘missing emails’.
Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump were vacationing in Croatia with “an unnamed Russian billionaire” and were hurriedly called back to the US by Trump adviser Steve Bannon to fire Manafort, according to what Bannon told the FBI. Bannon’s communications also remind us of a Kushner real estate deal with another Russian oligarch, one tied to the crimes that led to the US Magnitsky Act – the subject of the Donnie Jr. Trump Tower meeting with Russians.
Gates told Trump that “more leaks were coming”… “right after Russian hackers stole DNC emails”. The Trump campaign had advance knowledge. A good reminder that long-time Trump associate Roger Stone’s trial is starting up soon.
Leopold’s reporting is a great read. You can catch it here: The Mueller Report’s Secret Memos.
Even that is not all – MSNBC host Rachel Maddow reports on how recent Congressional testimony showed how Trump blocked condemnation of Russia after the Russian navy attacked a Ukraine vessel and took the crew hostage and held them for one year.
Recounting the 2016-2017 Trump-Ukraine-Russia new news can be every bit as confusing as the entirety of the Mueller Report. The point is – we are learning much more through Leopold’s Buzzfeed report based on the 500 pages of FBI interviews investigating Trump and Russian election interference. It is a damning disclosure for Trump. And there are going to be more FOIA document releases.
We’ll end on one final scary note. Remember when Trump told us not to worry about escaping ISIS prisoners because they’d just go to Europe, not our problem. Maybe no surprise, but he is right about ISIS prisoners going to Europe.
“ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Saturday Turkey would send captured Islamic State members back to their home countries, and he complained about European inaction on the matter.”
Trump has no allies, only countries that are willing to align with his personal interests and vice versa. This started in 2016 with Trump-Russia and the same story is unfolding again in 2019 as Trump-Ukraine. These are impeachable offenses.