Trump + Trade

I just thought the link below really said everything.  Trade is one area which Trump has nearly complete control.  Except every time he slaps on a tariff against a country, they retaliate with tariffs on the US.   It is a “lose-lose” policy as the tariffs are passed through to the consumer.    Nothing positive ever seems to emerge from Trump’s actions.  He has threaten Brazil and Argentina with tariffs, because their currencies are weak. A lot of this is not particularly rational.

Trump was handed a reasonable and rational approach to China’s violation of trade agreements.  It was called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.    But, it unified  our Asian, Canadian  and South American  trading partners to  force compliance of fair trade with China.   But it was long and complex,  It was also negotiated by President Obama.   So, the US withdrew from the agreement.

Withdrawing from international agreements, and going it alone, may look like it’s putting US interest first.  Actually, it puts us last.    We’ve lost our leadership role in the UN, NATO and the Paris Accords on Climate Change.  Because Trump wants all the glory, all he can do is eliminate regulations and agreements.   And disrupt free trade with tariffs.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Link

Trade is the one area Trump has complete control

 

 

What Trump wanted

Sondland testified:

“He [Zelenskiy]  had to announce the investigations. He didn’t actually have to do them, as I understood it.”

That’s really huge admission.

Dr. Pamela Karlan, the Stanford law professor testifying today, got it so perfectly right, what Sondland’s statement implied.  It was a smear campaign, not for the FBI or the Department of Justice, but for commentators on Fox news and Trump campaign rallies.   Those dealing in alt-right sleaze conspiracies were all primed and ready to go.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

CNN (Nov 21, 2019) The huge Gordon Sondland revelation almost everyone missed

Kudos to Chris Cillizza of CNN.

 

More on the Sondland call that may not exist

I was glad that the House Intel Committee also raised doubts on the existence of a  second September call between Sondland and the President.    In their December 3, 2019 report, it is stated:

“A call on September 9, which would have occurred in the middle of the night, is at odds with the weight of the evidence and not backed up by any records the White House was willing to provide Ambassador Sondland.”

Just heard CNN saying the same thing .  News travels fast!

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

Ukraine Scandal – the call that perhaps never occurred

Nov 27 (Washington Post):

“This is Ambassador Sondland speaking to me,” Trump said outside the White House last week, looking down to read notes he’d taken of Sondland’s testimony. “Here’s my response that he just gave: ‘I want nothing. . . . I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo.’ ”

Seems Trump feels  his defense is ironclad, because it is based on the sworn testimony of Ambassador Sondland.  If the Democrats are going to accept everything else that Sondland testified to, as the truth and was incriminating, then it stands to reason that they have to accept his recollection of this phone call.

I don’t agree that everything that came from Sondland was the truth.  The other phone calls could  be corroborated.   This “September 9 call” is suspicious and  I think evidence is mounting that the call did not occur.    The White House could immediately dispel this idea, as they have the phone records.  The State Department has Sondland records and will not provide them to Sondland.  Note Sondland is still the Ambassador to EU.

The Republicans on the House Intel Committee kept after Ambassador Sondland to be more detailed on the “no quid pro quo” call.  Sondland said that because the State Department would not allow him access to his records and he wasn’t much of a note taker, he could not be sure of the details.

It is very possible that the Sept 6 to 9 time period, just one phone call was made to Trump.  In this phone call, he stated that there was “no quid pro quo” but then said what was specifically required to release the aid.   An announcement by the Chief Prosecutor was not enough.   It had to be from Zelenskiy.  I think in Trump’s mind, he was on the winning side.  The worse the fighting was with the Ukraine, the more likely that he would comply with Trump’s demands.

Unlike Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump doesn’t email.  I think by using 3 amigos (Kurt Volker, Gordon Sondland and Rick Perry) as plus  Rudy Giuliani, to the Ukraine, Trump thought he could by-pass normal Foreign Service protocol.  Of course, it meant getting rid of our US Ambassador to Ukraine, Maria Yovanovitch, because she had three undesirable qualities:  honesty, intelligence and experience, and wasn’t going to be a good fit in the dirt seeking political  missions of Donald Trump, helping him get re-elected.  See CNN link.

The links below are very compelling.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Link:

Just Security:  Here’s the Proof that the Quid Pro Quo call never occurred

Washington Post Witness testimony and records raise questions about account of Trump’s ‘no quid pro quo’ call

CNN  Opinion (Nov 17)  What Rudy and ‘Three Amigos’ were up to

Ambassador Sondland – Appeasing the boss

I listened to Ambassador Gordon Sondland and found him very straight forward, honest and sincere.  He confirmed his cell phone call to  Trump on July 26, 2019, while having lunch in a restaurant in Ukraine.  His testimony highlighted he understood how Trump operated – as the call was very short and to the point.  It was an all good news for Trump as he let Trump know that the Ukraine President would do anything Trump asked.   But there was more to Soldland’s “special assignments” with the Stockholm brawl.   This probably flew under the radar, except for those in the hip-hop world.   See CNN link.

Sondland was the founder and CEO of Provenance Hotel chains, which owns 19 hotels across the US.  He was many ways, like Trump, because his company  created distinct and classy hotels,  13 of which  received reader-choice awards from Conde Nast.  He is a very generous man,  Sondland made contributions to the Oregon community, including a $1 million endowment to the Portland Art Museum, where he served as its chairman from 2009 to 2011, to allow free admission for children. He had limited governmental work before Donald Trump nominated him as Ambassador to the EU.  He was nominated by Trump and confirmed as Ambassador in  July 2018.  See links below.

Since Ukraine is not part of the EU normally Ambassador Sondland would not be involved in US foreign relations with this country.  “President Trump has not only honored me with the job of being the US ambassador to the EU, but he’s also given me other special assignments, including Ukraine,” he told a Ukraine media outlet in July (see CNN link).

The impeachment inquiry heard testimony from Ambassador Sondland and David Holmes.  David Holmes is serving as Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.  He testified at the House Intel Committee on November 21.   Holmes testimony pretty much confirmed what others were saying – that Trump was looking for political dirt on the Biden’s and the 2016 election.

Adam Schiff was laser focused on the Ukraine scandal and Holmes testimony was critical, as he overheard Trump on Sondland’s cell phone.    Sondland contributed one million dollars to Trump’s Inauguration – not to his campaign.    Smart business man to wait until there is a victor before making a contribution.

Trump doesn’t give a shit about the Ukraine, just winning the election

Trump figured Ambassador Sondland to the EU would be his “go to” man.  (The Atlantic Monthy agrees with me and the link is shown at the bottom).    However, Sondland loyalty did not extend to ignoring a subpoena or pleading the Fifth in front of the committee.   Ambassador  Sondland called Trump on July 26, a day after Trump’s call to Zelensky.  As reported by CBS News (link is provided at bottom with transcript of the David Holmes  testimony):

Holmes said he was sitting near Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, at a restaurant in Kiev and could hear him speaking to Mr. Trump, who said, “So, he’s gonna do the investigation?” referring to Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Holmes testified that Sondland replied, “He’s gonna do it” and added that Zelensky would do “anything you ask him to.”

Holmes testified that the call was also unusual because such a call with the president would generally take place in a more secure setting, not on a cell phone. He noted that at least two of the three mobile networks in Ukraine are owned by Russian companies, and the U.S. generally assumes mobile communications in Ukraine are being monitored.

This followed by a comment by Sondland that Trump doesn’t give a shit about Ukraine, just winning the election.

Stockholm Street Brawl: the bizarre  saga of Mr. Rakim Mayers enters the impeachment inquiry

But the overheard conversation  delved into some really critical international crisis,  the infamous  Stockholm street brawl.  (Yes, I am being facetious!).

The quick summary:  A rapper from the US by the name of A$AP Rocky (Rakim Mayers) and 3 of his group  got into an altercation as they were walking on the street in Sweden on June 30,  2019.  Mayers’s group is on a hot streak and were in the middle of a European concert tour.    Mayers was arrested by authorities, totally messing up his European tour.    Mayers’ lawyer said he  acted only in self defense.  (see link).  Almost immediately,  this street brawl went viral, with hashtag #JusticeforRocky with various clips of the fight on network station TMZ.  In court,  Mayers was accused of assault against  Jafari  Mustafa who was beaten, kicked, and cut with broken bottles and taken to the hospital.   Mayers plead innocent and lost in  court  The court ruled, based on the injuries that this wasn’t self defense.    Mayers got off very lightly with a fine of $1,270, served no additional  jail time and could go home.

And you have to be thinking, how could this Stockholm street brawl possibly get to the level of the President of the US and Ambassador to the EU, when he was on a special assignment to the Ukraine (helping Trump dig up dirt on the Bidens).  And then into testimony in the House Impeachment inquiry.

From June 30 to late July, 2019,    things really snowballed.   Trump on July 19 said First Lady Melania Trump first brought Rocky’s detention to his attention. At the time, he said: “Many, many members of the African-American community have called me, friends of mine, and said, ‘Could you help?’ So I personally don’t know A$AP Rocky, but I can tell you he has a lot of support from the African-American community in this country. And when I say African-American, I can really say from everybody in this country, because we are all one.”  Kanya West and Kim Kardashian husband  got involved.   Mayers family contacted Al Sharpton, obviously to turn up the heat.  Congressman Adriano Espillant was a Democrat from Mayers district, so he contacted the State Department, which in turn contacted the Embassy in Sweden.   This is pretty routine if an American is in jail for some time in a foreign country,  particularly if it is a hostile country,  just to get the basic facts.  But, my God this is Stockholm, where the justice system is just fine.   Contrary to reports, Mayers was doing just fine in jail.

Being this story was all over the Internet and TMZ, the entertainment network,  Trump sent his Presidential Envoy for Hostage Negotiations, Robert O’Brien to Stockholm.  There wasn’t really much to do, as the  On top of that, Sweden was warned that there would be serious consequences if Mayers was not released.

— Sondland:  Play the race card

Now back to what happened on July 26 as David Holmes recounted his lunch with Sondland.   David Holmes testified at the impeachment inquiry that Sondland told Trump that Rocky “should have plead guilty.”  Sondland then told Trump that Sweden “should have released him on your word” and advised him to “let [Rocky] get sentenced, play the racism card, give him a ticker-tape when he comes home.”

Note this is Amb. Sondland talking.   We don’t know what Trump said.  It is Sondland first stroking Trump’s ego by telling him that Sweden should have upended their legal system for Trump, letting the 6 million dollar man go (it would be also illegal).  Then he tells Trump, he could still come out the hero against the obvious Swedish racism, winning votes at home after the trial.  Six million dollars Mayers, with a $1200 fine and no jail time for being found guilty of assault, doesn’t get a ticker tape parade.

I think what Trump saw in Gordon Sondland someone who understood marketing.  Everything done to make the President Trump look good.  What happen to Mayers wasn’t important, it was the perception of power and  Trump could bully world leaders. In this case, to free Mayers would require the Prime Minister of Sweden to violate their laws of non-interference.

Links:

Wikipedia Gordon Sondland

CNN: Gordon Sondland, hotelier turned diplomat, wasn’t always a Trump supporter

Wikipedia:  ASAP Rocky

Atlantic Monthly: As the Rich Get Richer, the Ambassadors Get Worse

Atlantic Monthly Gordon Sondland’s Damning—But Delayed—Testimony

Swedish PM warns Trump rapper ASAP Rocky won’t get special treatment

CNN: Trump blasts Sweden PM over ASAP Rocky

Daily Show (pretty funny) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjVUgIaSQdE