By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (12/23/19)
Dear Fellow Readers,
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s response to Senate Leader ‘Moscow’ Mitch McConnell has been to hold onto the two Articles of Impeachment authorized by the House. The Daily Kos reported that Pelosi explained, “This is what I don’t consider a fair trial, that Leader [Mitch] McConnell has stated that he’s not an impartial juror, that he’s going to take his ‘cues’ from the White House, and he is working in total coordination with the White House counsel’s office.”
The Daily Kos article references a recent ABC/Washington Post poll that showed “71% of Americans want Trump’s top aides to testify in the Senate trial, .”
Does anyone trust McConnell or Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) to run a fair process if Dems don’t get guarantees now? If you take both of them at their word, the answer has to be ‘No’. The Hill reminds us:
“Acting White House chief of staff is the witness that Democrats most want to hear from, along with former national security adviser . They would also like to call in acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought, who could testify as to why assistance to Ukraine was held up.”
In the same report, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) reminds us that the White House “has engaged in unprecedented obstruction regarding documents and witnesses”.
Witnesses and documents.
The Center for Public Integrity reported: Immediately After Zelinsky Call, White House Puts Hold On Aid (12:05 a.m.).
Center for Public Integrity National security reporter Zachary Fryer-Biggs reports “the Department of Justice sent a batch of documents to the Center for Public Integrity showing communications between the White House and the Pentagon regarding U.S. military aid to Ukraine.” The heavily redacted documents resulted from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIS) suit.
The heading above is about a July 25 Trump administration email to the Pentagon:
“The email includes a written instruction that the Pentagon “please hold off on” distribution of the funds and says that “given the sensitive nature of the request” the information should be “closely held.” It went out 91 minutes after the end of the now-infamous call between Trump and Ukraine’s prime minister, Vlodymyr Zelensky, timing that may have been coincidental given that the aid was held up by Trump earlier that month.”
The emails are arranged in handy chronological order so it’s easy to scroll down to the 12:05 AM email. The author suggests (above) that the ““please hold off” might have been coincidental”. I disagree; scroll to the 12:34 AM heading, you will see an email response to Michael Duffy on July 2 clarifying that “$7 million (6 percent) of tranche 1 is obligated. None of tranche two is obligated”.
Meaning Trump asked for a “favor” on his July 25 call with Ukraine president Zelensky knowing that little of the Congressionally authorized $400 million in military aid had been sent. Trump knew that was his leverage.
No wonder Dems want assurances of a fair Senate impeachment trial including ‘witnesses’ (and documents) like Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and OMB Budget Director Vaught. Michael Duffy, who sent the email above to “hold off on” is an Office of Management and Budget manager who reports to OMB Director Russ Vought and Mulvaney. Further on in the 12:05 AM email Duffy offers this about his request to “hold off on”:
“Given the sensitive nature of the request, I appreciate your keeping that information closely held to those who need to know to execute direction.”
It looks like Duffy knew exactly what he was doing ahead of Trump’s call with Zelensky. But don’t take my word for it, remember that Mulvaney went on the offensive in October and justified White House bribery of Ukraine with:
“Absolutely, no question about that. But that’s it. And that’s why we held up the money. … “We do that all the time with foreign policy. I have news for everybody: Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.”
Mulvaney is rumored to be leaving the White House after the Senate impeachment trial.
While Trumpsters take exception to the impeachment of Trump, they continue to do all the things that are part of the case against Trump that led to impeachment by the House. In the last edition I shared that Trump’s Sec. of State Mike Pompeo recalled acting Ukraine ambassador Bill Taylor over his House testimony that showed him pushing back against Trump’s bribery of Zelensky.
Now: this sub-head from a Daily Beast article – “The secretary of state will visit Kyiv in January. But he was supposed to make a trip there in November—until the plans were abruptly canceled.”
Even more damning is this Washington Post report from December 19: Former White House officials say they feared Putin influenced the president’s views on Ukraine and 2016 campaign.
“Almost from the moment he took office, President Trump seized on a theory that troubled his senior aides: Ukraine, he told them on many occasions, had tried to stop him from winning the White House.
“After meeting privately in July 2017 with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Trump grew more insistent that Ukraine worked to defeat him, according to multiple former officials familiar with his assertions.
“…One former senior White House official said Trump even stated so explicitly at one point, saying he knew Ukraine was the real culprit because “Putin told me.””
The authors state “this article is based on interviews with 15 former administration and government officials…” This may be the most damning summation:
““He would say: ‘This is ridiculous. Everyone knows I won the election. The greatest election in the world. The Russians didn’t do anything. The Ukrainians tried to do something,’ ” one former official said.”
Trump never offered proof.
What does all this look like?
Trump embraces and repeats Putin talking points to move election interference blame from Russia to Ukraine.
Trump and Pence penalize honest testimony; feels like witness retribution or witness intimidation, obstruction, should anyone testify at a Senate trial.
The bank robbers didn’t get out the door with the money – poor execution doesn’t excuse criminal intent or criminal action.
Impeach and Remove.