Showing posts with label Trump-Corruption. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trump-Corruption. Show all posts

October 22, 2019

"The Three Amigos" Update on Impeachment of Trump

 President Trump deputized lawyer Rudy Giuliani to run a shadow foreign policy for Ukraine outside the State Department, witnesses told Congress this past week — and the White House said people should "get over it."
It has been a busy week. Here's what you need to know about the latest in the Ukraine affair and the impeachment investigation.
Image result for Ukraine three amigos
 These dudes ran the show under Mayor Giuliani in the Ukraine and Trump as
Chief in Law-Breaking and Bandolero ( Tres Amigos + dos bandoleros)
 Mister mayor and Bandolero in Ukraine
Giuliani has been an important figure in Trump world for years, but what investigators heard was how central he was in the plan to get Ukraine's government to launch investigations that Trump wanted.
Trump wanted Ukraine's new government, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to investigate a conspiracy theory of Trump's about the 2016 cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee and the family of former Vice President Joe Biden, ostensibly over "corruption."
In exchange, it appears, Trump was prepared to engage with Zelenskiy and continue the flow of military assistance, appropriated by Congress, that had been flowing to Kyiv since it was invaded by Russia in 2014.
Although Trump may not have told many officials about that plan in real time, Trump did ask early on for many of them to work with Giuliani in their dealings with Europe and with Ukraine, the witnesses said.
The "hand grenade"
Top aides including then-national security adviser John Bolton and Trump's former top Russia adviser, Fiona Hill, may have worried about the Ukraine pressure strategy on its merits. Ukraine is a U.S. ally resisting a military incursion by an adversary, its neighbor Russia.
Because the depositions are closed, it still isn't fully clear what witnesses have told Congress.
But what has become clear is how unhappy the national security and foreign policy professionals were at being asked to involve someone they viewed as an interloper in Giuliani.
Bolton warned he was a "hand grenade" in danger of blowing up and hurting everyone around him, Hill told members of Congress, according to people familiar with her testimony. She also was said to have flagged concerns within the National Security Council about what she considered departures from official process.
Bolton and Hill resigned earlier this year.
People still within the administration, however, also are said to resent what they considered the interference represented by Giuliani — along with what may have been incomplete awareness in real time about what Trump was orchestrating with U.S. policy toward Ukraine.
Three top current and former State Department officials — Michael McKinley, George Kent and the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland — are understood to have told House investigators they thought foreign policy should be conducted by diplomats and professionals.
McKinley said he resented the scourging — led by Giuliani — of then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, which resulted in her being discredited inside the administration and withdrawn from Kyiv prematurely.
Members of Congress earlier reviewed materials submitted by a State Department whistleblower that were described as "propaganda" about Yovanovitch that led to her ouster. She testified on Oct. 11
Why did Trump sideline the diplomats?

Kent told members of Congress that the White House wanted a reliable cadre of "three amigos" handling the Ukraine portfolio, according to one account of his testimony given by Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va.
If correct, this suggests the president or Giuliani did not consider Yovanovitch, Hill or others trustworthy enough as the White House was shaping its pressure campaign for Ukraine.
Instead, Trump or acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney commissioned the "amigos:" Sondland; Kurt Volker, another State Department envoy to Ukraine; and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
Sondland talked to Congress on Thursday. Volker appeared on Oct. 3
Perry has been subpoenaed, but it isn't clear whether he'll appear. He said on Thursday that he's resigning at the end of this year. Trump has reportedly credited — or blamed — Perry for the call with Zelenskiy.
Game of telephone
Many details still aren't clear and accounts differ as to who decided what and when or communicated which version of events. The public could get a clearer picture if and when members of Congress release the full transcripts of the depositions they've been conducting with the witnesses. 
According to an anonymous intelligence community whistleblower, whose complaint about the pressure scheme was what animated this saga, Ukraine's president was primed before his July 25 call with Trump about the need to "play ball" with Trump's requests for the investigations.
Investigators want to know who primed him and how. This week brought more of that into focus. Giuliani, Volker and Sondland all are known to have been in touch with Zelenskiy or people in his camp.
But what Sondland told Congress was that he was kept in the dark about the full dimensions of Trump's plans for Kyiv. Once he and the others learned military assistance to Ukraine had been frozen, Sondland said he opposed the picture he was piecing together.
Who knew what when
Sondland's account is important for two reasons: First, he told members of Congress that the account he was given of Trump's call with Zelenskiy did not mention the request for investigations about the Democrats' server or Biden.
That suggests, if correct, that the White House was hiding those details even from members of its own administration handling Ukraine.
Second, it's important for Sondland's sake because he's the one who sent a text message — among those released earlier by Democrats — that declared to other diplomats dubious about the Ukraine pressure scheme that Trump had made clear it was not a quid pro quo.
What Sondland told members of Congress on Thursday was that as he and others within the State Department realized that Trump expected concessions from Zelenskiy and then had frozen the military aid, Sondland phoned Trump to ask personally about what they were doing.
In what Sondland described as a brief conversation with a grouchy Trump, the diplomat recalled the president repeating the words "no quid pro quo with Ukraine."
Sondland reportedly was prepared to tell House investigators that all he was doing in his subsequent text message was conveying to the others what Trump had said, not validating or endorsing that position.
The question about a "quid pro quo" is important in case there are legal issues for the diplomats involved, Giuliani or, theoretically, Trump — although one lesson from the Russia imbroglio was that Trump needn't worry about indictment by the Justice Department.
That's why some Democrats argue their only recourse now is the quasi-legal, mostly political — and historically rare — path toward impeachment.
"Get over it"
What also makes the Ukraine affair unusual in the pantheon of Washington scandals is how quickly the facts about it flashed into public view and how readily the White House has acknowledged so many of them.
Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff, told reporters on Thursday that, yes, Trump expected concessions from Zelenskiy in exchange for engagement with the United States — but that's how this game is played, he said.
And as for what Mulvaney called the complaints by the State Department and national security officials about Trump giving the Ukraine portfolio to Giuliani, he called it sour grapes by jealous bureaucrats.
The administration works for the president, all foreign policy is political and everyone, Mulvaney said, needs to "get over it."
Trump's campaign later put that epigram on a T-shirt.
Mulvaney later sought to walk back some of what he said in his press conference — specifically that Trump's request that Zelenskiy investigate the Democrats' "server" was a "quid pro quo."
But the words already were out in the open, and another point he made also endures: The Ukraine affair, for everything else it is, isn't a cover-up.
The investigation wears on
Republicans have faulted the impeachment inquiry as illegitimate and White House counsel Pat Cipollone vowed that the administration wouldn't participate in it — but the stream of witnesses into the Capitol hasn't slowed.
Although Cipollone's objections may mean that members of Congress don't hear from some of the boldfaced names they might request, including Pompeo, Bolton, Giuliani and Vice President Pence, investigators do have a full dance card.
Starting on Tuesday, House investigators are scheduled to hear from the current top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, who took over the mission to Kyiv after Yovanovitch was withdrawn and whose texts were among those released earlier.
On Wednesday, the House is scheduled to hear from another State Department official, Ambassador Philip Reeker, as well as Michael Duffey, associate director for national security programs within the Office of Management and Budget.
On Thursday, investigators are set to take depositions from Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. And that's not all, according to one official working on the impeachment inquiry.
"The committees are in ongoing discussions with other witnesses, and we look forward to their testimony," the official said.

March 26, 2019

Impeachment is Less Likely Thanks to Barr, Americans Need to Get Use to The Idea They Elected A Crook and This Nation Will Never Be The Same

 This is what we have been saying all along, the system is dirty and how can it just judge itself and put itself in jail where most of all these characters belong including the guy Trump brought in as Attorney General to make a call such as he did. You will notice Trump never said anything bad about him, why he knew he was saved,  But that he was praising him as a good man and trustworthy, yet trustworthy and good to Trump not to justice! (Adam)


There was two headlines "principal conclusions" out of Attorney General William Barr's publicly released letter to Congress about the now-concluded Russia probe conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller:
  1. It "did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election." 
  2. Mueller's report "did not draw a conclusion" about whether President Trump obstructed justice in the investigation, but "it also does not exonerate him." Mueller deferred to Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on whether they thought charges would be appropriate, and Barr contended "the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense." 
  3. After a 22-month investigation, the four-page letter is being viewed far differently by Democrats and Republicans, is almost certainly not the end of the story and will go down in political history.
But it also has some tangible immediate effects, like making impeachment less likely. Here is that and six other takeaways:
1. Impeachment just became less likely
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has already set a very high bar for impeachment. "I'm not for impeachment," she told The Washington Post, adding, "Unless there's something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don't think we should go down that path, because it divides the country."  
There's nothing in the Mueller report, according to the Barr letter, that meets those thresholds. If there was "something so compelling and overwhelming," Barr would almost certainly have had to have written about it. At best, Democrats will pull at the obstruction string, hoping for evidence in a fuller version of the report or underlying documents that help make that case.
But at this point, there doesn't appear to be anything that will lead to "bipartisan" condemnation of Trump, though one could argue, very little would.
The question is: Will the activist base of the Democratic Party, which already thinks the president should be impeached based on his actions and public conduct, accept moving on?
2. This is a big short-term win for Trump 
Trump and his supporters have been saying there was "no collusion" with Russia for two years. This letter adds momentum to Trump's argument. He and his supporters are celebrating it.
The president described the investigation Sunday as "an illegal takedown that failed" (something Barr himself has said is not true) and noted, "Hopefully somebody looks at the other side." Whether that's real or just boastful talk is something to watch.
Trump also tweeted that the letter represented "total EXONERATION." (That's not true, but we'll get to that shortly.)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, tweeted, "The cloud hanging over President Trump has been removed by this report."
And on Sunday, very quickly after Barr's letter went public, Trump's re-election campaign put out a video — meant to build a campaign text message list — touting there was no collusion. It's complete with buzzer sounds over various Democrats' faces who said there was evidence of it.
Undoubtedly, until or unless something is released that contradicts Barr's letter, it does inoculate Trump politically to a degree.
3. But the report did not "exonerate" Trump of obstruction

It should not be overlooked that Mueller made a point of noting in the report – and quoted in Barr's letter – that while he was leaving it to Barr to make the call on whether to charge Trump with obstruction, his report "does not exonerate him" on that question. 
That is quite the tease for Democrats, and they certainly want to pull at that string and find out more. Many Democrats have called on Barr to release more information, including the underlying documentation that led to the report.
And while Barr's letter makes impeachment less likely, remember, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., who would shepherd an impeachment process, has said, "There can be crimes that are not impeachable offenses and impeachable offenses that are not crimes."
4. This isn't the end of the investigations
After Barr's letter was released, Nadler called on Barr to testify because of "concerning discrepancies."
So, clearly, the Democratic investigations won't stop. Democrats have launched investigations into a wide range of issues involving the president, from his campaign and administration to his business. Nadler has put out requests to 81 people in Trump's orbit, and House oversight committee Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., sent 51 letters to the administration insisting on compliance with previous requests.
And now that the Mueller probe has wrapped up, the focus will move to the investigation underway in the Southern District of New York that's already ensnared Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney and fixer. That investigation could take a much more expansive view of Trump world, including the Trump Organization and the Trump inaugural committee instead of the narrow focus Mueller had on coordination or conspiracy with Russia and obstruction of justice.
5. Democrats have to figure out what their focus will be

The investigations will continue, but the Barr letter was undoubtedly a blow to Democrats. And while there are plenty of other avenues to ply when it comes to Trump, with the 2020 debates just a few months away, congressional Democrats and Democratic presidential candidates have to figure out what their focus will be.
Polling has shown lots of support for a message of transparency – three-quarters said in a December NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey that they want the Mueller report made public in its entirety. That included two-thirds of Republicans. So, as Republicans call for an end to the investigations, there is probably some merit to Democratic calls for more to be released.
Still, many have taken a wait-and-see approach on whether they would back impeachment, depending on what evidence Mueller unearths, but many now have to be blowing out their Saint Robert Mueller Prayer Candles.
6. More will likely have to be released for the Justice Department not to be viewed as partisan and political 
Many of America's democratic institutions are facing stress tests. The president, for example, has criticized the judicial system ("Obama judges"), the intelligence community and FBI ("deep state") and, of course, the news media ("fake news").
And the response to the Barr letter shows more will likely have to be released if the Justice Department wants to be seen in a nonpartisan way like the military and law enforcement.
Democratic leaders Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer fired this shot:
"Given Mr. Barr's public record of bias against the Special Counsel's inquiry, he is not a neutral observer and is not in a position to make objective determinations about the report."
That's a reference to a 19-page memo Barr wrote nine months ago to top Justice Department officials, arguing against Mueller being able to demand answers on the obstruction part of Mueller's investigation. That became a flashpoint during Barr's confirmation hearings — and is back, right in the middle of making sense of Mueller's findings.
7. This could fire up Democrats for 2020
One potential consequence of all this is that it could wind up firing up Democrats even more for 2020.
With impeachment looking less likely, Democrats will likely feel even more of a sense of urgency to get out every single vote to defeat Trump next year.
They may be coming around to the realization that the only way to get Trump out of office is to rally together, go to the ballot box and just win.
Here’s a handful:
  1. Why did Mueller decline to make a judgment about whether Trump was guilty of obstruction?
  2. Why didn’t Mueller talk to Trump?
  3. If Mueller couldn't prove collusion beyond a reasonable doubt, how close did he get?
  4. Will we ever see Mueller’s full report, including the underlying evidence?
  5. How did Barr decide so quickly that Trump didn’t obstruct justice?
  6. What about Mueller’s unfinished cases?

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