Who are Schumer’s four witnesses?

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Shumer has referred to the Senate hearings as a sham trial, as McConnell in the initial rules, rejected calling witnesses or issuing subpoenas for documents.  Yet, after the Bolton’s unpublished manuscript was leaked to the New York Times,

There are two names I think everyone recognizes:  Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the White House’s Chief of Staff and John Bolton, former National Security Adviser.  Then there are two lesser known officials :  Robert Blair and Michael Duffey, both working for Mulvaney in different capacities.     I think if Schumer has his way, he would start with Blair and Duffey.  It would put pressure on Mick Mulvaney to tell the truth.   Just working up the food chain, of course.

Robert Blair: An assistant to the President, appointed by Mick Mulvaney as Trump’s Chief of Staff 

Blair, who was associate director for national security programs in the Office of Management and Budget, followed Mulvaney in January to the White House when Mulvaney became acting chief of staff. Mulvaney made Blair an assistant to the President. Blair serves as Mulvaney’s senior adviser for national security issues.  Blair’s hiring allowed Mulvaney to have a hand in national security issues without having to go through former White House national security adviser John Bolton. After Bolton was fired, one administration official said that Blair could be a favorite to replace Bolton because of his support from Mulvaney.

Blair was one of just a small group of officials on the line during Trump’s controversial phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Mulvaney was not.  During the July 25 call, Trump asked Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden — despite there being no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe Biden or his son, Hunter, in Ukraine. The phone call was part of a whistleblower’s complaint that alleged Trump sought “to solicit interference” from Ukraine in the upcoming 2020 election, and that the White House took steps to cover it up. Trump has denied doing anything improper.

Before joining the Trump administration, Blair worked for the past 14 years as a staffer for several committees in the House of Representatives. His last position was staff director on the House Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations. He previously worked as a regional adviser for Africa at the US State Department of State from 2001-2003.  According to his LinkedIn profile, he received a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and two master’s degrees from Tufts University. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa during the mid-1990s.

Michael Duffey, OMB, associated director of national security programs  

Michael Duffey, a politically appointed Office of Management and Budget official, was given authority by the White House to keep aid to Ukraine on hold after career budget staff members questioned the legality of delaying the funds.  Duffey previously served as executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin.  “While career civil servants put an initial hold on the aid, Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs in OMB, was given the authority for continuing to keep the aid on hold after the career staff began raising their concerns to political officials at OMB, according to people familiar with the matter,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Duffey also began overseeing the process for approving and releasing funds for other foreign aid and defense accounts, according to the report.  Trump’s order to withhold nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine in July is at the heart of House Democrats’ move to launch an impeachment inquiry into allegations that Trump used U.S. foreign policy powers to benefit himself politically.  Duffey, 41, left Wisconsin’s Republican Party in December 2016 when he was named to then-President-elect Donald Trump’s national security team at the Pentagon. He joined the administration when another prominent Wisconsin politician, Reince Priebus, was Trump’s chief of staff. Priebus held that post until July 2017.

What makes Michael Duffey’s testimony so important, is an email he wrote about 90 minutes  following   Trump’s  phone  call  to  Zelensky,   notifying  the  Department of  Defense,  that  a hold had  been  put  on  the  Ukraine military  aid,  and  given  the  sensitive  nature  of  this  hold,  this  information  limited to those with a need to know.  It further confirms the testimony of Sondland and others,  that it was a “dollars for dirt” deal.

This memo was released in December 2010 as part of a FIOA requestl

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Globalization – Not an option

Donald Trump tells his loyal base in his rallies that he is a nationalist, and does what’s best for our country. This distinguishes himself from the Obama era, which looked for global cooperation, usually ending in a compromise.  I mean putting American interests first really does  sound good..   But then something comes along like coronavirus,  a terrible contagious disease and we have a crises that needs international cooperation like never before.

The broad drop off in the stock market yesterday was at least in part due to the announcement that the  incubation period (time until the disease displays symptoms)  of coronavirus could be about 14 days and during that time, the person infected with the virus could be spreading it to others.  Previously, it had been reported that the disease could only be spread through close contact, which sounded like good news.  France officially became the first European country to be touched by the viral pneumonia, which has already contaminated almost 2,000 people and killed 56 others, mostly in Wuhan. Small number of cases have also been reported in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Thailand, United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and Nepal. Yes, the World Health Organization has to be very busy.

My point is this attitude of “We can take care of our own problems”  and the rest of the world should do similar, just doesn’t seem to be working on so many levels.  I like the saying more over, “What goes around, comes around.”   We’ve seen the horrors of climate change in Australia and the immense forest fires in the Amazon forests of Brazil.  Our dry periods have become longer increasing our vulnerability to devastating fires.  We have seen equally terrifying fires in California and the increase in hurricanes in the Caribbean and Gulf Coast states.  Yet,  Trump was among other world leaders downplaying the impacts (can that seriously be done!),   criticizing Greta Thonberg and others as “prophets of doom.”   Constructive steps to working with others was not on Trump’s agenda.

Under Trump,  we seem to be involved in a series of trade wars, which result in almost an immediate retaliatory tariffs imposed on the US.   Most notably is the current trade war with China.   I view the current Phase 1 agreement as simply an agreement to delay the trade war escalation.  After the election, should Trump win, things could get very grim as Trump will not be constrained by the need to be re-elected.   The US in the past, relied on the World Trade Organization to resolve disputes, which wasn’t always effective.  However, this going it alone, with increasingly higher tariffs, seems not only fail, but with real economic consequences for US businesses (primarily agriculture, but also primary materials)  and Chinese companies which rely on exports.

The list of what doesn’t work with the nationalistic approach is pretty long.  I could add pressuring North Korea to abandon its intent to abandon its nuclear program, has truly backfired.   Yes,  North Korea had no problem meeting with Trump and agreeing to denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in general terms, but it was all for show.   We hardly can expect China’s support as we engage in a trade war with them.   The uncompromising position of the US on the electronic firm, Huawei, seems just another bargaining chip, rather than a real security risk, as the Trump administration claims.  From Wikipedia:  “In September 2019, Microsoft’s top lawyer and president Brad Smith expressed concern about the continued US ban of Huawei products and services. In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, he remarked that the ban shouldn’t be imposed without a “sound basis in fact, logic, and the rule of law”. Microsoft Corporation, which supplies Windows 10 for Huawei PCs, says the allegations by the Trump administration that Huawei is a genuine national security threat to the US are not supported by any evidence.”

And I’ve saved the worst for last – the Iran Nuclear Deal.  It appears to be falling apart, and the last thing I want to see, is Iran joining the list of nuclear nations.  Iran argues it is no longer bound by the agreement along with inspections and limits on enriched uranium, because the US re-imposed sanctions on Iran.   The US will not be able to put pressure Iran through sanctions, the way Obama did, through cooperation of China and Russia.  It looks bad.

Nationalism sounds good, but fails really to fix the problems.  Globalism may seem at times to be slow, and not fully solve problems,  but it at least makes progress in the right direction.  Health issues involved in the coronavirus really must be addressed as a global problems.  Similarly climate change, trade issues and nuclear non-proliferation (Iran and North Korea at present, there will be more to come) are global in nature, and there isn’t any other choice on how to solve them, except by international cooperation on a very large scale.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Excellent Presentations in Senate Impeachment Trial

“Dollars for Dirt” – Congressman Jason Crow nailed it.  So did Adam Schiff.   What Trump’s people were up to and why, became so clear yesterday.   Through one phone call, Trump put himself as the director of the dirty and illegal scheme of using his authority to corrupt the 2020 election.   Trump was circumventing his own administration. “Talk to Rudy” was a way of keeping the “investigation announcements”  out of the way of normal channels – including the National Security Council,  FBI,  CIA, and Foreign Service.  It did not go unnoticed.

It was Trump’s scheme to  demand that Ukraine’s  President Zelensky help Trump to smear Joe Biden and the Democrat Party in return for desperately needed military assistance.

Trump wanted to cheat in the elections, even before a Democratic candidate was nominated at the convention.

I believe now “Drain the Swamp”  must be replaced with “Dirt for Dollars.”

The acquittal of Trump is almost certain, but I so hope he loses in his second trial, in November 2020, where the American electorate can vote him out.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Impeachment

Comments and responses

Alice Steward: Democrats need to realize they had their chance to make an overwhelming and bipartisan case for impeachment — and they failed.

My Response:  House Manager Adam Schiff  made it clear months ago, that to win in an impeachment trial is a very difficult, even if all the facts are solid and in your favor.  I and others believe Adam Schiff used his time very effectively to lay out the case against President Trump based just on evidence given at the hearing.   I fully expect an acquittal, because Trump is the Republican candidate for re-election and the voting will be along party lines.  The Republicans and Donald Trump will champion the acquittal as some kind of victory for justice and fairness.  I think most Americans will see through this as a trial absent of witnesses will likely be perceived as a coverup.    Americans are more likely to be aware  of the dishonesty and disrespect of the electoral process by soliciting the help of the Ukrainian President to support false accusations against his rivals – even if the Senate acquits Trump.

 Alice Steward: But then Rep. Adam Schiff, lead impeachment manager, touting crushing evidence to support the two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — said additional testimony and documents are needed. If House Democrats had met their constitutional threshold for a conviction, they would not need additional information. They realize the only potential for an impeachment game-changer is additional evidence — and, ideally, witnesses.

My Response:  I don’t see the contradiction.  Yes – the House Managers stated there was already clear and convincing evidence and they wanted more collaborating testimony from 4 – 5 witnesses.  Anyone who has ever served in jury duty understands there isn’t a threshold of proof based on written law, but it is in the minds of the jurists, in this case, 100 senators with 53 of them Republicans, whose threshold for violations of the constitution is sky high.  Democrats wanted a new series of high level witnesses such as Mick Mulvaney to  come forward and firmly collaborate in detail the plan to delay badly needed military aid to Ukraine solely improve Donald Trump’s re-election in 2020 to show how tightly all their evidence fit together.   If this failed to convince the 53 Republican Senators, then there would be an appeal in the form of an election in 2020.

Anyone who sat in a jury, knows that if a prosecutor shows DNA evidence, fingerprint evidence, and even video recordings (obviously clear and convincing evidence), they still present eye witnesses.  Mulvaney and Trump were in the meetings with Trump and they are the best eye witnesses of what happened.

Alice Steward: Here’s the thing, though, House members could have subpoenaed Bolton already. They did not, and they should not expect the Senate to do the job they failed to do.

My Response:  I agree.  The House should have subpoenaed Bolton to appear.  But they could see a lengthy court process as Bolton’s assistants were fighting the subpoenas.  It seemed that Bolton was complying with the President’s order not to testify.   Mick  Mulvaney was subpoenaed.

Alice Stewart is a CNN political commentator, Resident Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University and former Communications Director for Ted Cruz for President.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Link: Schiff Brilliantly Crushes Trump’s Defenses

What’s next (from Vox’s news, their best guess):

A rough outline of the schedule is below: (managers and counsel may decide not to use all the time allocated.  It may be on Monday that Alan Dershowitz will make his presentation defending Trump because he did not break the law. No crime, no impeachable offense).

Wednesday:    House impeachment managers have roughly eight hours for opening arguments.
Thursday:        House impeachment managers have roughly eight hours for opening arguments.
Friday:            House impeachment managers have roughly eight hours for opening arguments.

Saturday: Trump’s defense counsel has roughly eight hours for opening arguments.
Next week: Defense counsel could continue to build their case on Monday and Tuesday. Senators will also have up to 16 hours to ask questions of both the impeachment managers and Trump’s counsel.
A vote on hearing more evidence isn’t expected until sometime next week, and then the pressure will be on a subset of moderate Republicans and Democrats yet again. That vote will ultimately determine if any additional witnesses will even be considered or if Republicans will be content wrapping up the trial without this testimony.

 

 

Reporting Fake News

Facebook is asking help in removing false postings.  A false or fake posting is one that is presenting information or content, which one can prove to be false.  Particularly alarming are images or videos, which have been altered.  How do you find out if a Facebook post is false?   The easiest way is to search the fact checking sites on the Internet.

See Facebook help link: 

There are many comments made everyday that many might disagree with, but are nevertheless, can not be considered false.  It is not helpful to Facebook to report comments which one finds to be disagreeable.

I have said in the past, I never reference any news story from social media.  This is my first link to Facebook, and very likely will be my only one.   I watch cable news, and my favorite at the moment is the BBC news.

I am working on a longer post on the impeachment proceedings.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

Real news

I want to hear from the real journalists who provide real news because they are there on location.  I don’t get my news from people sitting on couches or social media.  I want it timely and accurate.

Warren Buffett typically reads six newspapers each day: The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The New York Times, The USA Today, The Omaha World-Herald and American Banker.  Warren Buffett, of course, is  one of the richest men in the US.

I try to get through the New York Times every day.  The central headline is pro-gun rally in Richmond, Virginia, obviously a highly charged issue, but it is clear that the Times reporters were there, interviewing the people at the rally.   Thankfully, it ended without violence.  I want to know more, because it will be, like it or not,  a big election issue.

Impeachment preparations are front and center with the headlines “McConnell plans for Senate Trial on a tight pace” outlining the Republican strategy of defending the president.   I heard bits and pieces of this last night on CNN, but a much more comprehensive discussion is in today’s paper.  There is thoughtful news analysis in a column entitled, “An Analysis of No Crime and No Case” further discussing Trump’s defense.  The next article was news to me, “Criticism stifled in a Boeing crash” really questioning the openness and thoroughness of Boeing internal investigations of crashes.

There’s a lot more in today’s Times.  I am particularly interested in the mysterious respiratory illness in China. There is the coverage of the outrage in Puerto Rico over the discovery of aid that wasn’t being distributed.  How could people be so callous?  I’m just getting started.   The World Economic Forum is starting in Devos, Switzerland and the climate crisis will be center stage.  There will be intense posturing, to be sure.  The fires in the Amazon and Australia are obviously too big to ignore.  And I’m still catching up on the Phase 1 China Trade Deal.  It sounds like negotiations have stalled out, and Trump has decided it isn’t the right time to escalate.

I don’t tweet. I don’t do messaging on Facebook.  I read.  I cringe every time I hear our President talk about the fake news, because it gives people an excuse for not being well informed.

It’s all about the joys of learning.  It can be seen in children raising their hands, to ask a question.   It has to flow from natural curiosity about what is happening in the world.  Learning new things keeps you young.  I really believe in this.

Because we elect our leaders, and their decisions affect our lives,  it is so important to be informed.

Real news is out there.  It generally isn’t free.  It takes time.  It requires reading.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

Democratic candidates

The Democratic challenger will officially be known on July 16, the last day of the Democratic convention.   It will likely be known months before this.   It will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Donald Trump will officially be a candidate for the Republican party on August 27 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Conventions are not where candidates are chosen anymore.  It is where the party celebrates their candidate,  And along the way,  others make some unflattering remarks (“lock her up”) about the opposition candidate.   That’s just the way it goes.

I’m certain Wisconsin and North Carolina (Democrat and Republican conventions) were chosen because they  are one of the 7 to 9 toss up states.  The 7 states with electoral votes (EV’s) in parentheses are:   AZ  (11), FL (29),  MI (10), NC (15), NH (4), PA (20), WI (10).   I consider NH (4), ME (4) and NE (5) are “semi toss ups” because they permit the EV’s to be split.   While every vote counts, I don’t think these 3 states really are going to swing the election.    The 3 biggies (FL, NC and PA) are all on the east coast.

The best site so far on the prediction of the 2020 election is www.270towin.com


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

Trump has a distinct advantage.  While the Democratic candidates focus on the primaries, Donald Trump will focus his campaign rallies on swing states.

Early Democratic primary battles in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Iowa may not be the best way to spend contributions.  The Democratic party needs to appeal to the sometimes voter, not that interested in the issues.  The month of March will greatly narrow the field.   Joe Biden is now out in front, and by March, he may have enough primary votes, for the other candidates to concede.  March 3 is Super Tuesday which ends primary voting in 14 states.  If none of the candidates have sufficient pledged candidates,   then it is a contested convention.  I don’t see this happening, as the Democrats lose their chance to laud praise on one candidate.

The most informative  link on the primaries is from Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_Democratic_Party_presidential_primaries

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Boeing Crash in Iran

Iranian investigators rushed to the scene of the accident for a reason, the evidence must be preserved.  They reported that the black boxes were found.  This was very important.   Boeing offered to help in the investigation, and they have very good reason for this, as it was a Boeing 737-800 which crashed.  Iran responded that it will not share the black box with Americans.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board are the ones who should be assisting Iranian authorities.    Bloomberg News posted this opinion on their website:

“NTSB experts are widely recognized as among the best crash investigators in the world and they regularly participate in investigations at the behest of foreign governments, under a process outlined in Annex 13 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation.”

However, as pointed out in their post, US sanctions against Iran makes it difficult for the NTSB to act immediately.   The Bloomberg blog states:

American sanctions on Iran require NTSB investigators to procure a license from the Treasury Department in order to work with Iranian counterparts—such clearances can take as long as a year to be issued.

That’s terrible!   There are obvious safety concerns with sending Americans to Iran, but they would have to be invited to help in the investigation.   I suspect the details of the investigation will be shared with Canada and Ukraine, so through these countries, NTSB can gain important information.  Of the 176 passengers who died,  20 were Ukrainians, and 11 were Canadians.    The nationalities  of those who died is not really relevant when countries solicit the assistance of the NTSB.  but unfortunately in this case, the sanctions have interfered with the  highly technical matter of plan crash investigation.

It is a chance to cut through all the hostile rhetoric and help Iran with our expertise.    If the crash is due to a problem with the Boeing 737-800, then the knowledge gain can help improve the US fleet of aircraft.

A win-win situation.

See link below

Stay tuned,

Dave

Link:

An Opportunity in Iran’s Latest Tragedy
Trump should allow American experts to join the investigation into the crash of the Ukrainian airliner.

 

Delay in Impeachment

House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi made a tactical decision not to immediately deliver the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate, in hopes of adding pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to call witnesses.   Two key witnesses were former National Security Advisor John Bolton and Director of Office of Management and Budget, Mike Mulvaney.  I did not think either would actually appear if subpoenaed.

McConnell said on the floor: “Some House Democrats imply they are withholding the articles for some kind of ‘leverage’ so they can dictate the Senate process to senators. I admit, I’m not sure what ‘leverage’ there is in refraining from sending us something we do not want!”

Did Pelosi’s ploy fail?  Maybe not.  McConnell needs a majority of Senators to vote for the impeachment rules.  There are only 51 Republican senators.   So,  McConnell needs all Republicans to be in agreement on the rules.   He will be not be negotiating with Pelosi but members of his own party.   The Senate will re-convene on January 7, 2020 and there will intense pressure to get the impeachment done.   The outcome is a foregone conclusion.   The Republicans will claim victory, and the Democrats will claim a totally sham Senate trial.

Pelosi’s tactic may backfire, if this drags out.  Trump will not waste a minute in shifting attention to the Nancy Pelosi as the one who is obstructing justice.  As least his kind of justice.  It will be followed by a chorus of Republicans.

The evidence Trump is very strong.  But, this must be decided in November by voters.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

Trump’s Approval

Trump’s approval rating has  increased from 39% on October 1 -13 to 45% on Dec 2 – 15 and numerous commentators have mentioned this as a sign of Americans disapproval of impeachment.  This is really hard to say, because other polls show a high percentage of Americans support the impeachment.   Polls always contain noise and no commentator likes to say the polls are inconclusive, but that may be the truth.   A 6% change over 3 months, is not particularly significant and I look at graphs to identify trends.   Gallup tries to pick a random representative sample but surveys are always imperfect.   The links provided below are the best ones I could find.  Time will tell if there really is a trend as a result of the House actions yesterday.

The country is divided.   Except for brief periods of extreme events, it has been this way for the past two decades.  A breakdown of approval ratings, shows a rock solid support by Republicans (89%) and a similar lack of approval by Democrats (8%).  This recent small uptick in approval ratings seem to be coming from independents, who show a 10% increase in approval ratings over the last 3 months, to 43%. approval.

The really striking feature of Trump’s approval ratings, as compared to the past 12 presidents from Truman to Obama, is how flat  (little variability)  his approval ratings have been to date.   He never gets above 50% or below 35% in the polls.   So, the variability as measured by Trump’s high to low is around 15%.  Obama’s was 25%.  George W. Bush ratings ranged from 90% to 25%, or an incredible 65%.   Bush became extremely popular right after the 9/11 attack in 2001, and then his popularity began to slide as the US attacked Afghanistan and Iraq.

Without any extreme event,  approval ratings often hit their  high mark  in about the first 100 days following inauguration of the first term.   Obama had his  highest approval ratings (62 to 67%) from January to May, 2000 in the honeymoon period.   G. W. Bush had a similar honeymoon period of  57 to 62%, however this approval rating soared immediately after 9/11.   Neither Clinton nor George H.W. Bush had their highest ratings during the  honeymoon period of their first term,  but both Reagan and Carter did.  What sent George H.W. Bush’s ratings through the roof (89%) was the beginning of the Iraq war.

Nixon’s approval rating was generally quite high (above 50%) even though the perception is that he was an unpopular president due to the numerous anti-war rallies.  He was re-elected in Nov 1972 in a landslide election, and definitely enjoyed high approval of 67% in the first week of the honeymoon period.  The Watergate scandal galvanized public opinion in October 1973  with the battle for the tapes and the  firing of  the Special Prosecutor Cox, termed the “Saturday Night Massacre.”  Nixon’s approval ratings sank to below 30% in October  and never recovered in the next 10 months before his resignation.

Returning now to Trump’s flattish (trendless)  ratings and coming events,  In January,  the Senate will acquit Trump of the two articles of impeachment.  The headlines from the New York Times, Washington Post and all the print media that Trump hates so much , will have in big bold letters “The Senate Acquits Trump.”   This should help fuel his rallies.  Whether this translates into a boost in ratings, we shall see.

If Trump can sustain  approval ratings above “the line”  (50%) I will immediately concede that impeachment boosted his approval.   Likewise, if the Gallup approval  ratings fall in the usual range (35 to 45%), then the conclusion should be that impeachment had no discernible affect.   Sinking below 35% is rare, but it could happen, particularly if the Democrat campaign intensifies.

A couple caveats:  (1)  It takes time to do polling, so the period to watch is 4 to 8 weeks after the acquittal and  (2) I use Gallup polls for consistency.   I’ve included a link for the 538 website, which compares many surveys, and gives each of them a score.  Trump seems to do better by a couple of percentage points, when surveys include likely or registered voters.   I would think these surveys are better indicators of results of the 2020 election.

A final caveat is that surveys only ask if one approves of the president’s performance.  The 2020 election will give voters a chance to select which of presidential candidate they feel would best lead the country.   Obviously, the big unknown is the registered voters who do not vote. Also, to win an election, you have to be get a majority of votes in the swing states (PA, FL, MI, AZ, etc), not necessarily be the most popular in the country.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Gallup poll 

(you can select various presidents, and their support from Republicans, Democrats and Independents)

Wikipedia – Presidential Approval Ratings (historical) 

Wikipedia = Presidential Approval Rating (Trump)

538 Website

(shows about an even split on those for and against impeachment.

 

Truth Matters 2

Wow. What a day!  Trump’s letter to Pelosi sent on Dec 17, 2019 repeats Politifact  “Lie of the Year” for 2019 and also the lie that I thought should have won (my personal favorite).  It adds some “golden oldies”  well known to be false.

Here’s the lie that got  Trump the 2019 award:

“…  so-called whistleblower who started this entire hoax with a false report of the phone call that bears no relationship to the actual phone call that was made.”

As so carefully analyzed by Politifact, the whistleblower’s report coincides very well with what the transcript says.

Trump’s lie is embedded in another misleading statement, that the White House was denied the right to call or  cross examine witnesses.  CNN reports:

Allowing the subject of an impeachment inquiry to call witnesses or present counter evidence is not required in either the Constitution or House rules. Furthermore, the House voted in late October to allow Mr. Trump’s lawyers to cross examine witnesses once the impeaching hearing moved to Judiciary Committee. But the White House declined to participate. If the House successfully votes to impeach a federal official, the Senate then holds trial. The impeachment rules in the upper chamber do offer the impeached person some rights.

But, this letter also contains my personal choice the lie of the year, as follows:

You know full well that Vice President Biden used his office and $1 billion dollars of U.S. aid money to coerce Ukraine into firing the prosecutor who was digging into the company paying his son millions of dollars.

That’s exactly the line Trump planned to use to gain the support of the Americans in 2020.  Except he would add,  “This is based on an ongoing investigation by the President Zelensky of Ukraine as announced in 2019” if the whistleblower hadn’t ruined his plans.  You know what – he’ll probably still use it.   He can say that this is based on an investigation by Rudy Giuliani or an  OANN investigation or Attorney Joe DiGenova research., passed on to the FBI.

Well, of course Rep. Pelosi knows this is  total rubbish, because the firing of Ukraine’s General Prosecutor Shokin was very well explained  in the House Judiciary Committee report as follows:

Similarly, there is no legitimate basis for President Trump to claim former Vice President Biden behaved improperly in calling for the removal of Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin. When he called for Mr. Shokin’s removal, then-Vice President Biden acted in accordance with and in furtherance of an official United States policy and the broad consensus of various European countries and the International Monetary Fund.615 Indeed, in late 2015, the International Monetary Fund threatened Ukraine that it would not receive $40 billion in international assistance unless Mr. Shokin was removed.616 Vice President Biden was subsequently enlisted by the State Department to call for Mr. Shokin’s removal—and in late 2015 and early 2016, he announced that the United States would withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees unless Mr. Shokin was dismissed.617 Ultimately, in March 2016, Ukraine’s parliament voted to dismiss Mr. Shokin.618 Moreover, multiple witnesses confirmed that the removal of Mr. Shokin would have increased the likelihood that Burisma would be investigated for corruption, not the opposite, given that Mr. Shokin was widely considered to be both ineffective and corrupt.619 Any suggestion that former Vice President Biden called for Mr. Shokin’s removal in order to stop an investigation of Burisma, the company whose board Hunter Biden sat on, is inconsistent with these facts.620

I’ve left in the footnotes 615 to 620, which are references to documents in the report.

The letter is nasty, with numerous false or misleading statements, including:

Speaker Pelosi, you admitted just last week at a public forum that your party’s impeachment effort has been going on for two and a half years

Just the opposite is true.  The 2 1/2 years is the Mueller investigation, which was initiated by the Justice Department.  After the report was completed, the Speaker was reluctant to begin impeachment proceedings.  Yes, other Democrats felt the impeachment case was strong, but Pelosi held out.  The obstruction of Congress would have occurred in either the Russian or Ukraine case.  With the Ukraine scandal, Trump really handed Pelosi a much more straight forward violation of the constitution.

And Trump adds one of his all time favorite lies:

Congressman Adam Schiff cheated and lied all the way up to the present day, even going so far as to fraudulently make up, out of thin air, my conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine and read this fantasy language to Congress as though it were said by me.

Fact checkers know this as the “short version” of the big lie.  The longer version of the lie, told at Trump rallies, is that Schiff first invents the conversation, then Trump reveals to the public the real transcript exposing Schiff as a liar.  Great at rallies, but twice as false as the shorter version.  I call the longer version, the comic book one, because it not only has a villian (Schiff) but a hero to boot (Trump).     From the New York Times critique of the letter:   In a congressional hearing in September, Mr. Schiff said he was conferring the “essence” of the conversation that was meant to be partially “parody.” His account veered from the transcript in chronology and details at points, but it generally tracked with the transcript’s version of what Mr. Trump said on the call.”  The longer version is absolutely wrong, because Schiff’s summary of the conversation was done after the transcript was released in September.

The tone of the letter is angry and inappropriate for anyone holding high office.   It is taking aim at elected representatives, who come to Congress to represent their constituents.  It attacks the FBI.    The critical information is the letter has been proven to be untrue.

The letter was characterized by Rep. Pelosi as “sick.”  The headlines in the New York Times,  “Trump’s 6-page Diatribe Belittles Impeachment as an “Attempted Coup,”  The polemics are disgraceful.  The lies are consistent with the last 3 years of Trump’s presidency.  See link for the letter.  There are dozens of analyses of the letter on the internet.

I would just say it is sad when we have a president with so little regard for the truth.

Please don’t count on Facebook postings, Twitter,  Fox and OANN commentators, Trump rallies  and other sources for factual news, particularly on impeachment.   These are sources of misleading and frequently false information.

I invoke the Daniel Moynihan admonition: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”   If we start to get straight the facts, our differences are likely to be less.

I also like to recent comment Judge Amy Berman Jackson, ‘”If people don’t have the facts, democracy doesn’t work.”

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

There is a lot of good fact checking website as I list under the links.

Letter-From-President-Trump-Final

Politifact website

CNN Fact Checking

Factcheck.org

 

 

 

 

Truth Matters

I believe in truth.  Lying from high officials can do great harm.  They use social media to rapidly spread lies.  Political parties use lies to increase their base.

Politifact 2019 lie of the year goes to Donald Trump.  He is now the four time award winner (2015, 2016, 2017, and 2019).  Yes, I was unhappy that he did not get the award in 2018,  but I suspect they wanted to draw attention how very harmful lies  from anonymous sources or obscure websites that go viral  on social media.   The headline for the 2018 lie was: “Online smear machine tries to take down Parkland students” and it relates to the protests movement after 17 students were gunned down at a high school in Florida.  “Claiming some of the students on TV after #Parkland are actors is the work of a disgusting group of idiots with no sense of decency,” wrote Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on Twitter on Feb. 20.  Kudos to Rubio and others who quickly denounced this lie.  Politifact did  not attributed to any one person, but to obscure unnamed  websites.  Politifact names  OANN commentator Graham Ledger for broadcasting the theory that students were “crisis actors” and Donald Trump, Jr. liked a tweet stemming from the Ledger commentary.  It is the commentators on  OANN (Outside Any Normal News) that conspiracy theorists find an audience.  Anything for a rating, right!

Ok, back to 2019 Lie of the Year:  ” Donald Trump’s claim whistleblower got Ukraine call ‘almost completely wrong'” won the award.  There are a whole slew of lies, Trump has originated or re-tweeted,  on virtually every topic,

But this one seems to be one of his all time favorites.  According to Politifact:

Since the Sept. 26 release of the whistleblower complaint about his call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump has insisted more than 80 times that the whistleblower’s account is fake, fraudulent, incorrect, “total fiction,” “made up,” and “sooo wrong.” (sounds like Trump)

It was likely a tough choice, because Donald Trump  lies continuously.  I liked the 2017 lie of the year:   Russian election interference is a ‘made-up story’  or in 2016: Fake news.  Trump is not considered the source, but the enabler of this lie.    The 2015 award is for  campaign misstatements of Donald Trump.    President Obama also won an award for a lie in 2013: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it”  but I think the real difference is, that he apologized for this lie.

My choice of the lie for 2019 would be: “Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire its prosecutor …. the prosecutor said he was forced out for leading a corruption probe into Hunter Biden’s company. … Democrats want to impeach President Trump for discussing this investigation with Ukraine’s President.”   which was part of an ad campaign for Trump’s re-election.   It is very clever, because the real lie is in the information not provided.  The prosecutor was corrupt and had sidelined the Burisma investigation,   The pressure to fire Prosecutor Shokin came from the US, IMF  and EU leaders.  See links below.

The Washingon Post calculated  Trump has lied 15,413 just in the last 3 years since becoming president.  It looks like the lying is going to get worse (hard to imagine).   See last link.

Wake up America, – We are much better than this.  (Elijah Cummings)

Stay tuned,

Dave

10 things Donald Trump got wrong about impeachment in 2019, fact-checked

The silence of the year: What did Hunter Biden do for Burisma?

Lie of the Year 2019: Donald Trump’s claim whistleblower got Ukraine call ‘almost completely wrong’

A look back at Lie of the Year, 2009 to 2018

President Trump has made 15,413 false or misleading claims over 1,055 days

 

Impeachment Trial in the Senate

By the end of next week, the Articles of Impeachment will be approved and sent to the Senate.  The trial of impeachment in the Senate will likely be confined to two to three weeks  in January 2020.   It will be run by Republicans and made to help Donald Trump.   In fact, at times, it may seem an impeachment trial is  a honorable exercise, to undo the damage from the House of Representatives.   It is a foregone conclusion that Trump will be acquitted of two articles against the him.  The voting in the Senate will be nearly entirely along party lines – meaning Trump will be acquitted.   I am 100% certain of this.

After the acquittal vote, there will be a moment of party unity among  Republicans.   Their speeches will be similar,  using such phrases as “totally exonerated” and “proved to all that the charges were baseless.”   They will in the process vilify Rep. Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler and Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.    The Democrats acted deplorably and despicably.  The only reason for the impeachment was because they knew none of their candidates could beat him in November.   At least that will be the spiel – are we that naive?

There is intense discussion right now among Republicans on how to make the trial in the Senate one of “vindication and exoneration.”   Trump sees this as a time to glorify the achievements of the Republican party and vilify the Democrats.  It is as if you went to a ball game, and one team could pick the umpire.    This is free time on television, so why not?  I won’t watch much.

For me, it will be a sad day.  It will say to all future presidents that as long as you hold the majority in the Senate, then Article 2 of the Constitution doesn’t really apply.   I agree the bar for impeachment must be high.  The evidence must be solid.  The conduct of the president must clearly show he committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.”  Each of the Articles has been proven:  I.  Trump approved military aid for Ukraine conditional on announcements of two investigations to help him win elections and II.  He obstructed justice by refusing to let key witnesses testify at the impeachment inquiry.

Obviously, Trump has the authority to veto military assistance.   He also could have made an announcement, that he would attach conditions to the aid.    He did neither of these.  Instead, he had his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani and Ambassador Gordon Sondland to set up the “announcements” which would help support false accusations against Joe Biden.

It will be a sad day for the idea of elections free of outside interference.  It will be a sad day for the role of Congress to investigate wrong doing by the president, because the subpoenas now don’t mean much.  Trump and Republicans can celebrate his “exoneration” but he will forever be remembered in the history books, as the fourth president to be impeached by Congress.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Articles of Impeachment

The Articles of Impeachment as a pdf document can be open and saved in the link shown below.  It’s only 9 pages.   Many have commented on the narrow focus of the articles is likely  to keep them simple for the public to understand.  I agree but  I suspect there are other reasons.  Due to the Republican majority in the Senate, it is a foregone conclusion that  Senate will vote to acquit the President on all charges.   It’s just the way a political trial goes. If there had been more articles, there would have been more acquittals.  The Senate vote will be a sad day, as Donald Trump will be celebrating his victory over the “Dems”  as broadcasted over Fox News,  it will reinforce the idea that all this was one big “witch hunt.”  The vote will just political, as the evidence makes a powerful case for Trump to be found guilty.

The inquiry proceeded rapidly.  Adam Schiff made a good point, that to work through the courts to compel appearances by the witnesses and production of documents would likely have given Donald Trump an extra year to continue the abuse of power.    A second reason is political.  Democratic candidates such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders need to be free to campaign and not held captive to impeachment proceedings.   Donald Trump had started with big rallies in the swing states, such as Florida,  while Democrats are focused on the primary races.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

articles of impeachment