Nel's New Day

October 25, 2019

‘Quid pro Quo’ Review

About 30 GOP House members, so desperate about evidence against Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in the impeachment inquiry, behaved like thugs this past week when they pushed into a closed-door committee; forced out Laura Cooper, a top Pentagon official who oversees Ukraine policy who was preparing to testify; illegally compromised sensitive information by using their cellphones; and tried to record the proceedings for DDT. They delayed the proceedings for five hours, ordering they pizza and fast food before leaving a mess to be cleaned up. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who earlier threatened DDT’s former fixer Michael Cohen if he testified, bragged about leading the group. Like a mob boss, DDT urged them to carry out their illegal activities and then praised them.

GOP representatives claimed that their objection was the secrecy of the process, but 47 of them have access to the closed-door depositions but don’t take advantage of this opportunity. Thus far, not one of them has leaked any positive information about DDT from the testimony—which they would if it were available. When former GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy from South Carolina ran the mostly secret hearings about Benghazi, he said, “Private [hearings] always produce better results.” 

Not a trial, Impeachment inquiry proceedings are comparable to a grand jury, held in secret to determine if a person should be indicted. The Senate holds the trial if the House votes in favor of impeachment; Republicans will then be in charge to call DDT’s witnesses. On Fox & Friends, GOP legal analysis Andrew Napolitano explained to Brian Kilmeade how the Democrats are following congressional regulations:

“I read the House rules. The hearings over which Congressman Schiff is presiding … are consistent with the rules…. They can’t change the rules, they follow the rules. And when were the rules written last? In January of 2015. And who signed them? John Boehner. And who enacted them? A Republican majority.”

In evidence that DDT lied about wanting to combat corruption in Ukraine, he tried to cut foreign aid programs that would combat corruption in Ukraine and other parts of the world. On Fox News Sunday, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney tried to support DDT’s false claim by claiming that he held up the aid because of rampant corruption in Ukraine although he had earlier claimed that the money was held up for political purposes. That was just before he said he didn’t say that. [visual Mulvaney – Sure we’re crooks cartoon 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wouldn’t back up DDT’s false claims that McConnell called the DDT’s version of the July 25 extortion telephone call “the most innocent phone call he’s read.” McConnell said he does not remember any conversations with DDT about the Ukraine phone call or the subject of Ukraine.

DDT got lies from Kahyap Patel, a protégé of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) who formerly chaired of the Intelligence Committee and fed information from hearings to DDT. Fiona Hill, who testified about Ukraine to the House last week, said that DDT thought Patel was in charge of Ukraine policy for the National Security Council instead of Tim Morrison who replaced Hill in early September. Patel’s name has appeared in several depositions about DDT’s shadow foreign policy campaign to get political favors from Ukraine. Nunes’ top staffer, Patel also discredited FBI and DOJ officials investigating Russia’s election interference.

A breakdown of DDT’s quid pro quo:

State Department officials Kurt Volker and Gordon Sondland testified about a May 23 meeting with DDT when he refused to invite Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky to the White House. Sondland said DDT “directed those of us present . . . to talk to Mr. Giuliani . . . about his concerns.”

Volker met with Giuliani on July 19 and testified that “he mentioned both the accusations about Vice President Biden and about interference in the 2016 election.” Giuliani said he wanted “Ukraine to investigate what happened in the past.”

Volker worked with Zelensky top aide Andrey Yermak to set up the July 25 phone call between Zelensky and DDT. On the morning of July 25, Volker texted Yermak to lay out the quid pro quo: “Heard from White House-assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate/‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington. Good luck!” During the call, Mr. Trump requested investigations of both the DNC server hacking and Biden; Zelensky promised to comply in exchange for a visit to the White House.

Giuliani called Volker and Sondland about Zelensky’s pending White House visit. Volker testified that “Mayor Giuliani then said he believed the Ukrainian president needed to make a statement about fighting corruption, and that he had discussed it with Mr. Yermak.” Giuliani said that the Ukrainians’ draft statement about corruption was too “generic” and demanded a “specific reference to ‘Burisma’ and ‘2016.’ ” (Joe Biden’s son Hunter was associated with the gas company Burisma.) Volker changed the statement per Giuliani’s requirements. Yermack accepted the statement but said that the declaration won’t be released until a confirmation of the date for Zelensky’s visit to the White House.

Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, testified about the demand for the public statement. Sondland told Taylor he had heard about the requirement directly from DDT and that DDT wanted “everything,” including military aid to Ukraine, tied to the country’s leaders’ commitment to investigate Democrats, the 2016 election, and Burisma. Taylor stated that DDT “wanted President Zelenskiy ‘in a public box’ by making a public statement about ordering such investigations.” Mulvaney declared that he had held up the military aid in exchange for the Ukrainian investigations. Mulvaney may be right that the government exchanges “favors” all the time, but using favors to help just DDT is illegal.

Ukraine learned that the $391 million military aid was being held up in early August although DDT denied it, but pressure on Zelensky started before his election last spring. DDT also delayed trade privileges with Ukraine with former national security adviser John Bolton warning the White House’s trade representative to withdraw any action benefiting Ukraine.

Taylor said that Sondland told him on September 8 about a conversation with Zelensky, based on a talk with DDT, that Zelensky needs to “clear things up” in public to end a “stalemate,” meaning that Ukraine would not get the “much-needed military assistance” to fight Russia. Zelensky said he couldn’t promise investigations of Biden and the Democrats, the statement “was shelved,” and Zelensky’s visit was canceled. The military aid, far earlier authorized by Congress, was released on September 11 after public outcry. The House Democrats announced an investigation into the reasons behind the blocking of the military aid and possible connection to help DDT’s reelection campaign. 

The July 25 phone call between Zelensky and DDT was in the midst of a three-month quid pro quo process with specific, repeated demands to Ukraine for political investigations which were orchestrated by DDT’s personal lawyer. Taylor testified that State Department Mike Pompeo was an integral part of the quid pro quo process. A federal judge gave DDT 30 days to release documents related to Ukraine, including communications between his personal secretary Rudy Giuliani and Pompeo. Giuliani’s communications are subject to public disclosure because he doesn’t work for the government.

Philip Zelikow, a history professor at the University of Virginia, explained DDT’s crimes and cited 18 U.S.C. § 201(b), that any public official who “corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally or for any other person or entity, in return for… being influenced in the performance of any official act” is breaking the law. Zelikow added that things of value don’t need to be tangible to fit the bribery law.

The Bulwark cited the GOP shifts for DDT defenses: 

  • The quid pro quo wasn’t real because only the U.S. knew it existed.
  • Maybe both sides knew about it, but it was never enforced.
  • Because the quid (withholding military aid) was illegal, then by definition it couldn’t have been an actual thing.
  • Maybe it was illegal and maybe both sides knew about it and maybe it was enforced, but executive authority allows all of this.
  • Maybe executive authority doesn’t actually allow any of this, but the impeachment process in the House was tainted, so whatever the Senate thinks of Trump’s actions, they’re duty-bound to acquit him because they have to think about future precedent.

Because Republicans have no real defense for DDT’s actions, they wail and gnash their teeth about impeachment not being “fair”—although impeachment about Bill Clinton’s affair was fine because he is a Democrat. To understand the GOP definition of fair, think about their behavior toward Democrats for the past four terms.

More information about GOP corruption comes from Giuliani’s “butt dialing.” On October, he was overheard raving about his need for hundreds of thousands of dollars and referring to “Robert” who is in Turkey, possibly Robert Mangas who is a registered agent of the Turkish government and a lawyer at Greenberg Traurig, Giuliani’s former employer. Mangas provided an affidavit in the case of Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab, charged in the U.S. with laundering money; his lawyer Giuliani had tried to persuade Turkey’s president to release the trader and and then sought help from DDT. In another butt-dial 18 days earlier, Giuliani railed against the Bidens with non-stop false allegations that he used for demanding investigations, a focus for the House impeachment inquiry into DDT.

With associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, Giuliani worked with Ukrainian officials to get damaging information about DDT’s targets such as former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, and the Bidens. DDT’s lawyers are now claiming that Parnas has “executive privilege” because Giuliani also works for DDT. At this time, the public doesn’t know whose interests Giuliani represents—or even which country.

If DDT wants to investigate, he should look inward.

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