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.

 

 

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

Who is telling the truth in the impeachment hearings

Politicians lie.  They all do it.  But they also get caught doing it.  That’s the purpose of fact checking organizations.  Trump supporters have a lot to explain, and their defense of Trump includes a lot that is just not true.  I encourage my followers to fact check what they read here, and it really isn’t hard. Also, “main stream media” such as CNN and the print media, including  the New York Times and Washington Post are very reliable sources of information.  The House Intelligence Committee puts an incredible amount of raw information,  i.e. transcripts of testimony and documents on their website.  It is hard to keep up with all of this, but it is out there.

It is very consistent for Trump to launch a counter offensive attack on impeachment, by supporting and often retweeting  statements by Republican senators, which are without foundation, when his actions are indefensible.

Here is a short list of statements  which are absolute rubbish:

Question 1: Did President Barack Obama immediately fire all Bush-appointed ambassadors “the day he was elected office”?

FALSE

As is the custom, Obama immediately replaced most — not all — of Bush’s politically appointed ambassadors. Obama did not remove any of the career appointees to ambassadorships.

Sources:  Factcheck.org and politifact.com

Question arises because Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was recalled after a smear campaign was launch against her by people close to Donald Trump, including Rudy Giuliani and Representative Pete Sessions.  There is a lot more to this story, but Trump got caught before he could put a political appointee into the Ambassador position.

Question 2:   Is it true that several news organizations reported that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election. Senator Kennedy states, “It’s been well documented in the Financial Times, in Politico, in The Economist, in the Washington Examiner, even on CBS, that the prime minister of Ukraine, the interior minister, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, the head of the Ukrainian Anti-Corruption League, all meddled in the election on social media and otherwise,”

A:   From Politifact.com:

FALSE

We found that these articles paint a picture of Ukrainian leaders fearful of Russia and of Trump’s comments that took a more conciliatory stance on Russian aggression. The news coverage shows Ukrainians preferred Hillary Clinton because she was tough on Russia. However, the articles don’t show a vast, top-down approach ordered to boost Clinton.

Kennedy mentioned The Economist multiple times. The Economist’s U.S. editor John Prideaux told us: “We are a bit puzzled by Sen. Kennedy citing us to the effect that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 elections.”

Republicans frequently mention a 2017 Politico article, which focused on the work of a Democratic political contractor who tried to dig up dirt on Trump and his advisers. We vetted it and found that the GOP has used its findings selectively.

Question 3:  Is Sen. John Kennedy similar accusation true?  The Senator says former Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko “actively worked for Secretary Clinton.

FALSE

Answer by Politifact.com – see link.

His sources are  completely lacking.   It didn’t get the “Pants on Fire” designation, but it should.

Question 4:  What about the 2017 Politico story that shows the Sen. Kennedy statements are true?

FALSE

A:  “The article did not state that the Ukrainian government conspired with the Clinton campaign or the DNC,” said Melissa Cooke, a booking manager for Politico, in an email. “It also emphasized that the acts of Ukrainian officials to raise questions about Trump were not comparable to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, and reported that the then-Ukrainian government was trying to make amends with then-President-elect Trump.”

Senator John Kennedy is a Republican from Louisiana.

Question 5: Is Trump’s statement true: “They never thought, Dan, that I was going to release that call, and I really had no choice because Adam Schiff made up a call,” Trump said Nov. 15. “He said the president said this, and then he made up a call.”

FALSE 

Trump has repeated this statement numerous times.  Schiff already had the released memo, and was just giving a “dramatized synopsis” of key points.  See link.

—-

I’m stopping at 5 false statements for now.  For more false statements,  please follow this link to politifact.org   (Fact-checking Impeachment Claims) .    One of the few true claims came surprisingly from Fox News, and their legal analyst who stated it is perfectly legal to have witnesses testify in private.  I’ve included this link at the end.

There will be an enormous number of false statements, coming from Rep. Jim Jordan,  Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Attorney diGenova and his wife, Victoria Toensing (see link below), Sen. John Kennedy from Louisiana, and of course, Donald Trump.  I encourage everyone to check out these links and dig in more to get the truth.  It doesn’t come from Facebook or Twitter, that’s for sure.

In the coming few weeks, the false statements will increase.   Republicans know when the impeachment goes to the Senate, they have the votes to acquit Trump.   It is highly likely they will not only acquit him, but cast the Democrats as the true villains,  is concocting false evidence against Trump, because they can’t  deal with their loss in 2016 or because they can’t  win the election

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Sen.  Kennedy claims that Ukrainian President Poroshenko actively worked for Clinton is False

What we know about the Politico story at the heart of a Ukraine conspiracy theory

Did Obama Fire All Bush-Appointed Ambassadors?

Donald Trump gets Ukraine phone memo timeline backwards

Exclusive: Giuliani Ally Pete Sessions Was Eyed for Top Slot in Ukraine

Fox News analyst correct: Impeachment inquiry is following rules by questioning witnesses in private

Other Fact checking resources:

AP FACT CHECK: Trump and the people he forgets he knew

Politifact.com

Republicans Cherry-Pick Facts on Impeachment

Factcheck.org

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

 

 

Hunter Biden

Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and likely Mike Mulvaney were out to smear Joe Biden, because he looked like the most likely Democratic candidate in 2020.  In the process, they would have to smear his son, Hunter Biden.  Trump didn’t care about the truth.    There were enough bits of truth  where falsehoods could be inserted.  Giuliani and Mulvaney just did what the President wanted.   There was a lot of collateral damage, including the firing of Ambassador Yovanovitch.     Burisma was code for the Bidens.

The Republicans wanted Hunter Biden to testify at the impeachment inquiry in order to create a false narrative  that the good mayor of NYC, Rudy  Giuliani  was so concerned about the Ukrainian company, Burisma, and prior connection with Hunter Biden, that he flew to Ukraine to launch his own investigation and uncover the truth.  The truth of the matter is   Giuliani went to Ukraine for two reasons – as Trump’s personal lawyer to help Trump win 2020 by creating a scandal built on lies , and to make himself rich (really richer) dealing with corrupt politicians in Ukraine and two con artists posing as investors with a made up company, called Global Energy Partners.

What was revealed in the inquiry, was that after the Ukrainian revolution, corruption was widespread, and the US and other countries grew concern that at the very top of government, Chief Prosecutor Viktor Shokin, would do nothing  to investigate corruption including the natural gas company, Burisma.  Typically, when faced with illegal actions, corrupt officials seen a chance to get a piece of the action.    I have included the biographical summaries of Viktor Shokin and others.  .

Here’s the complete story as summarized by Wikipedia:

In the aftermath of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, Mykola Zlochevsky faced a money laundering investigation,[27][28] and his company Burisma Holdings, the largest natural gas producer in Ukraine,[8] assembled a “high-profile international board” in response.[29][28] Biden, then an attorney with Boies Schiller Flexner, was hired to help Burisma with corporate governance best practices, and a consulting firm in which Biden is a partner was also retained by Burisma.[30][31][32] Chris Heinz, John Kerry’s stepson, opposed his partners Devon Archer and Hunter Biden joining the board in 2014 due to the reputational risk.[28] Among those who joined the board of directors in April 2014 were Biden, Archer and former Polish president Aleksander Kwaśniewski.[33] Biden served on the board of Burisma until his term expired in April 2019,[34] receiving compensation of up to $50,000 per month in some months.[15][35][36] Because Vice President Biden played a major role in U.S. policy towards Ukraine, some Ukrainian anti-corruption advocates[37][38] and Obama administration officials expressed concern that Hunter Biden’s having joined the board could create the appearance of a conflict of interest and undermine Vice President Biden’s anti-corruption work in Ukraine.[8][28] While serving as vice president, Joe Biden joined other Western leaders in encouraging the government of Ukraine to fire the country’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin,[39][40] who was widely criticized for blocking corruption investigations.[41][42] The Ukrainian parliament voted to remove Shokin in March 2016.[43][44]

In 2019, President Donald Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, claimed that Vice President Biden had actually sought the dismissal of Shokin in order to protect his son and Burisma Holdings,[45][37] however, there is no evidence that this was what happened.[39][46] There has also been no evidence produced of wrongdoing done by Hunter Biden in Ukraine.[47] The Ukrainian anti-corruption investigation agency stated in September 2019 that the current investigation of Burisma was restricted solely to investigating the period of 2010 to 2012, before Hunter Biden joined Burisma in 2014.[48] Shokin in May 2019 claimed that he was fired because he had been actively investigating Burisma,[49] but U.S. and Ukrainian officials have stated that the investigation into Burisma was dormant at the time of Shokin’s dismissal.[28][49][50] Ukrainian and United States State Department sources have maintained that Shokin was fired for failing to address corruption, including within his office.[46][38][51]

As usual,  Wikipedia backs up it facts with several references, which can be found online.

The Board of Directors do not run a company.  It is very commonplace to select outside directors to help establish the legitimacy of a company. A former Burisma board member, ex Polish President Kwasniewsky,  has stated that Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma because of his name.   See link below.  I usually don’t quote from Fox News, but this article comes from a first hand account of Hunter Biden, and directly contradicts the Trump- Giuliani narrative.

It seems Hunter Biden and Joe Biden were part of the solution, not the problem with Burisma.   According to Wikipedia:  “Ukrainian prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko said in May 2019 that Hunter Biden had not violated Ukrainian law. After Lutsenko was replaced by Ruslan Ryaboshapka as prosecutor general, Lutsenko and Ryaboshapka said in September and October 2019 respectively that they had seen no evidence of wrongdoing by Hunter Biden.[39][58][59]”  According to the testimony at the impeachment inquiry,  the IMF and others in the European community were glad when VP Biden demanded the firing of Viktor Shokin, so anti-corruption prosecutions could go forward.

The Republicans would love to put Hunter Biden  in the spotlight because he has abused drugs and alcohol in the past by his own admission.   He was divorced in 2016, and Republicans would have a field day with his ex-wife’s accusations, as reported in Refinery29:  “In 2016, Hunter’s wife Kathleen Biden filed for divorce, stating in the motion filed a year later that Hunter “created financial concerns for the family by spending extravagantly on his own interests (including drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, strip clubs, and gifts for women with whom he has sexual relations), while leaving the family with no funds to pay legitimate bills.” After the divorce, he went on to date his late brother’s widowed wife, Hallie Biden.”   Pretty juicy stuff.  Republicans would also love to focus on Hunter Biden’s dismissal from the Naval Reserves because he tested positive for cocaine.

So:  Republican talking points would be a long one,  really coming down hard  on Hunter Biden’s past personal problems.   Somehow, this made the dirt collecting mission of Giuliani permissible.   Trump continues his attacks on Hunter Biden.

None of these problems seem to affect his legal and business consulting career.  Today, he is re-married and by all appearances, is doing well.  See links below.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Wikipedia: Hunter Biden 

Wikipedia:  Viktor Shokin

Refinery29:  Hunter Biden Opens Up About Struggles With Addiction

Why Giuliani Singled Out 2 Ukrainian Oligarchs to Help Look for Dirt

AP/ Fox Business News:  Hunter Biden hired because of his name: Burisma board member

Nice to see Fox Business News doing some news reporting!

USA Today: Trump’s conspiracy theories thrive in Ukraine, where a young democracy battles corruption and distrust

And there’s tons more:   Wikipedia: Dmytro Firtas    

(Conspiracy advocates, take a look at the names,  William Barr,  Victoria Toensing, Joseph diGenova,  Rudy Giuliani,  Dmytro Firtas accused of bribery).  Money doesn’t talk, it swears (Bob Dylan).

Wikipedia:  ” As vice president, Joe Biden had urged the Ukrainian government to eliminate middlemen such as Firtash from the country’s natural gas industry, and to reduce the country’s reliance on imports of Russian natural gas. Firtash denied involvement in collecting or financing damaging information on the Bidens.[86]”

The bigger scandal is how Putin worked with the corrupt oligarchs in Ukraine.

Investigation #1 – 2016 elections interference

I’ll admit this – the narrative of the two investigations in return for aid money gets long and complicated, due to the many official involved and various meetings and encounters.   And as in any organization, there were a lot of short hand expressions, such as “2016 elections” which needs some explanation. So, here is how Trump laid it all out:

Trump began, “A lot of it had to do, they say, with Ukraine. They have the server, right? From the DNC — Democratic National Committee. The FBI went in and they told them ‘get out of here, you’re not getting it, we’re not giving it to you.’”

He continued, “They gave the server to CrowdStrike, or whatever it’s called, which is a company owned by a very wealthy Ukrainian. And I still want to see that server. You know the FBI has never gotten that server, that’s a big part of this whole thing. Why did they give it to a Ukrainian company?”

When Doocy asked Trump “Are you sure they did that? Are you sure they gave it to Ukraine?”, the president seemed to wobble, saying “Well, that’s what the word is.”

It’s is very wrong on a whole series of levels.   It begins with a huge lie.  One of the founder of Crowdstrike, is Dmitri Alperovitch, is  a Russian-American who has lived in the US since 1994 with no connections to the Ukraine.  The other two co-founders are George Kurtz and Gregg Morrison and are as American as apple pie.   I felt a bit silly looking up where each of the co-founders were born.  So the narrative begins with a “Pants on fire” lie.   When a computer gets hacked, the signs of the hack can be pretty subtle and not discovered for months.  A small piece of code, had been inserted into the server, which facilitated unauthorized  access to critical files.  There is no need to physically remove the server and dust for fingerprints.

The  Democratic National Committee (DNC) called Crowdstrike,  to determine if, in fact, the security had been breached and information stolen.    The top priority  is to remove any unauthorized code on the system to prevent future access. A secondary objective would be to figure out the origins of the code.   The code in this case, has been identified as

Now, there is a badly misconstrued morsel of truth, in what Trump is saying.    The DNC did decline an odd request by the FBI to allow the illegal access to continue, in order to get more evidence on the hacker activities.  I think this was very reasonable given the elections were 5 months away and a miserable time to conduct a sting operation.  From the Daily Beast website:

The DNC turned down one unusual FBI request early in the hack investigation. The bureau wanted access to the DNC’s network while the Russians were still in it, most likely to stage a counter operation against the GRU. The DNC declined, perhaps reluctant to have two intelligence agencies playing capture-the-flag in their systems five months before a presidential election. The DNC later authorized Crowdstrike to share full copies of the hacked servers with the bureau, giving the FBI access to the same evidence Crowdstrike had.

The GRU is the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian military.  The full copies of the server would generally be referred to as “cloned copies”  allowing the forensic experts to examine an exact copy of the operating system at the time the copy was made.  Crowdstrike turned over all  copies of the servers it made and all analysis to the FBI, who reached the same conclusion that the hack came from Russia.   Other organizations made the same conclusion.     Robert Mueller secured Grand Jury indictments on 12 GRU agents responsible for interference in US elections, including hacking.

But just for grins, let’s follow the Trump’s crazy story.   The FBI comes knocking on the door demanding the DNC  turn over the server.  Instead of complying with the FBI,  the IT guys at the DNC call Crowdstrike,  which takes physical possession of  the server  and puts it on a plane to the Ukraine.  I guess they do this in the dead of night, so nobody sees them pulling out all the equipment.  (fails the laugh test).      Now, Ukraine has total access to all the Democratic emails, by way of Crowdstrike operating under the orders of the DNC and they subsequently  leak them to Wikileaks.  We know that the FBI and others involved in computer forensics got the cloned copy of the server and concluded that this hack was done by the Russians.   So it follows that Crowdstrike would have to alter the cloned copy, inserting a false Russian code,  and putting their growing billion dollar company at risk.  Also, after removing the server,  Crowdstrike had to install an exact duplicate server, also in the dead of night, so nobody would notice the equipment is missing.   These systems work 24/7, with all kinds of security checks and backups.

So, is there anyone besides Trump  promoting this stuff?   Yes.  Vladimir Putin for one, who early on pointed the finger at the Ukraine, after the usual denials.  Similarly, he denied the assassination attempt in 2018,  on Sergei and Yulia Skripal.    There are three other individuals as far as I can tell.  Two other conspiracy have been convicted for lying to the FBI:  Paul Manafort and Roger Stone.  It was pretty obvious that these two individuals were desperately looking for ways  to avoid long sentences.  Also, helping the general cause cause was Julian Assange (Wikileaks)  who said he did not get the emails from Russian agents, but did not point the finger at Crowdsource or Ukraine.    Julian Assange remains in prison in England,   Obama did not extradite him to the US, so this of course feeds into the conspiracy narrative.   Trump said he would, but the stature of limitations may run out.  Also, he will be claiming his right as  journalist,  Of course, there are a whole slew of radical right wing websites which love to spin conspiracy theories.  But it isn’t easy to find a promoter who hasn’t been sued or imprisoned.    Almost forgot- Rudy Giuliani promotes this stuff because Trump wants him to.    When you are a personal  attorney, you stick with your client come hell or high water.   And Mike Pompeo has turned his head so many times, he’s getting neck pain.

Dr. Fiona Hill really nailed it at the inquiry, when she pleaded to the committee to reject these wild conspiracy theories, and accept the collective conclusions of the intelligence community and Mueller investigation, that Russia had interfered with the US elections.  Trump attempted to resurrect and reinforce a debunked theory about Ukraine’s “theft” of the DNC servers via Crowdstrike by withholding military aid to Ukraine is an impeachable offense.  Yet I believe the Senate will acquit him, as the Republicans hold the majority.   I am hoping that this victory will be short lived, when the US electorate overturns his Senate win.

I’ve only included a few links, because so much can be found by Google searches, including the incisive statements by Dr. Hill.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Wired:  July 16, 2016:   Here’s What We Know About Russia and the DNC Hack

(Wired got it right more than 3 years ago!  –  yet this, the FBI and Intelligence community couldn’t convince Trump)

Daily Beast:  Updated Oct 16, 2019: The Truth About Trump’s Insane Ukraine ‘Server’ Conspiracy

Trump Explodes About Ukraine Conspiracy on ‘Fox & Friends’

“Are You Sure They Did That?” Even Fox Questions Trump’s Ukraine Conspiracy Theory

Wikipedia:  Crowdstrike company

Daily Beast: June 17, 2018:  Trump’s ‘Missing DNC Server’ Is Neither Missing Nor a Server

Impeachment Inquiry and Bribery (Nov 21)

Ok, I plead guilty to watching the impeachment inquiry  testimony for hours at a time.  I listen to both Republicans and Democrats members of the Intel Committee.   It is  like a courtroom drama, except there is no neutral judge to disallow certain testimony, the defense is not allowed to call their own witnesses, and the jurors on impeachment are obviously  biased.  Democrats get to decide on the rules.    The partisan nature of impeachment is part of our system.   The general charge is that Trump violated the constitution by conditioning the military aid to the Ukraine on an announcement of two investigations, one involving Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 elections and the second on the Bidens, to help Trump win in 2020.

Several tactics have been used to defend the president.  The first is to attack the witnesses as partisan, just out to embarrass Trump  which has been a terrible disaster.   Trump started this attack in very disrespectful attacks on  Ambassador Yovanovitch, who was subjected to a smear campaign in the State Department, and officials there knew about it.  Rep Jim Jordan is easily identified in the hearings as he does not wear a suit jacket.  His job is  the witness attack dog and he sought to discredit Lt. Col. Vindman, who received excellent reviews from his superiors.  All witnesses strongly supported Trump’s policies of providing lethal military aid to the Ukraine.  So, really every time he questions a witness, they seem partisan, but in the direction of Trump rather than Obama’s policies.  It continually backfired.

The second line of defense is to focus on the ultimate outcome, which is Ukraine  got the aid without having to announce an investigation.  But as every lawyer knows, bribery does not require the completion of the bribe in exchange for something of value.  The third line of defense is to consider holds on assistance a fairly routine occurrence.  Again, this fails because the reasons for the hold were for political dirt to for the 2020 election.   There is no other analogous case.   Finally, Jordan has forcefully put forward that none of the witnesses have proved that a specific demand for “Biden dirt” came from an email or conversation with Trump.   Schiff was quick to point out that proof of bribery does not require this and corrupt officials are not likely to put into writing that they are interested in bribing the government of a foreign government.

So, as the testimony goes on, you can mark down the number of times we have (1) Character attack, witness bias (2) They got the money anyway  (3) Holds are common place and (4) Evidence lacking tying Trump to a bribe.  I might also add a number 5 defense, in that Trump’s aid to Ukraine was much better than Obama’s, which has failed because witnesses, if asked, are agreeing with this, and it tends to weaken the character attack defense.  I might add a number 6 defense in which to point out inconsistencies from prior testimony.  It is a kind of “are you lying now or were you lying in your first deposition” or “how is it that you claim this, as other witnesses/documents show the direct opposite?” .  I call  this a bit of the war of words.

Democrats have their tactics too, as they are trying to show how all the testimony fits together, and at times they oversimplify things.

Throughout all of this, I still wish the impeachment inquiry was finished with as I feel it will end with the Senate acquitting Trump, and he will be using the word “hoax”  – as in impeachment hoax and Russian investigation hoax about a million times from now until election day.  Still the evidence is strong – see CNN summary.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

CNN Opinion: Trump and bribery claim: Does the shoe fit?

Trump-Ukraine Scandal: Public Opinion

C-Span has a program called Washington Journal, which allows callers to give their opinions.  They must identify themselves as being either Democrats,  Republicans or Independents and it seems they try to get a good blend of callers from these three groups.   In this case, the moderator was completely neutral.

On the issue of the impeachment inquiry, a caller described it as a totally “made up” story.  And she had her facts.  Adam Schiff had talked to the whistle blower before the whistle blower had submitted a complaint.  Also,  Schiff denied he or anyone on his staff had contact with the whistle blower.  So, this proved to the caller that everyone was lying and what was going on was just a lot of dishonest people out to get the President.   The conspiracy idea was that Adam Schiff told the whistle blower what to report, so he could get the president impeached.   He then rounded up a few dozen traitors in the State Department and told them what to say.   He must have manufactured other evidence like text messages and emails.   The news media was either complicit or just went along with this giant  hoax.

One piece of this conspiracy  immediately begins to fall apart.  Adam Schiff did not have any contact with the whistle blower – but apparently someone on his staff did, but not at a detailed level of the issues.  The whistle blower was asking what the proper way to file a complaint under the whistle blower protection laws.   What this staff person told the whistle blower is you need to get an attorney and go through proper channels.  No short cuts permitted to the House Intelligence Committee.

The evidence is really mounting against President Trump of trying to get dirt on Biden in exchange for approved military aid.   I  think this is a crime of  extortion and an abuse of presidential power.   The first day of public hearings will be on Wednesday, November 13.   The current chargée d’affaires,  to Ukraine, Bill Taylor and the Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of State, George Kent, will testify.  I believe Counsel for the Democrats and Republicans  will do the questioning for 45 minutes each.   There won’t be any surprises.   I can say this because both individuals have testified extensively in closed sessions and the transcripts have been released on the House Intelligence Committee website.   So this hearing is not likely to add to the House inquiry.   It is more to legitimize the inquiry to the public.

Trump said today (Nov 8)  that there should be no open impeachment inquiry.  Pretty amazing as  Trump and other Republicans were highly critical of the closed sessions.

I hope the C-Span caller will tune in along with many Americans who have doubted the process.  This is not a witch hunt, hoax or fake news.  It is real and extremely serious.    I have included the biographies of both Bill Taylor and George Kent below.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Wikipedia:  William Taylor

Wikipedia:  George Kent