Nel's New Day

March 16, 2020

Congress, Russia, Saudi, Corruption

Last Friday night, the House passed a covid-19 bill by a large bipartisan majority. Unfortunately, it needed a “technical fix,” which requires a unanimous vote if the House isn’t called back into session. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) delayed the vote because he didn’t want a “rushed process,” according to Bloomberg reporter Laura Litvan. He also said that he didn’t know if it can be solved soon. The fix addressed virus-related sick leave for small firms. Gohmert finally withdrew his opposition after Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin gave DDT’s stamp of approval. Because of virus concerns, the House has postponed a return to Washington for an indefinite time.

The Senate recessed for the weekend and is stalling before considering the emergency bill until after it considers the surveillance bill that the House passed last week. (That one’s a doozy: it includes the provision that AG Bill Barr must approve in writing any investigation of an elected official and/or a candidate.) Even after the Senate addresses the covid-19 bill, there will be vitriolic discussions. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) told Fox & Friends that the bill may not pass the Senate because senators don’t want sick leave for people home with the virus. He wants tax rebates which could take far more time to be reimbursed than paid sick leave.

The Senate couldn’t meet over the weekend because Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had to go home with Justice Brett Kavanaugh to celebrate the new 37-year-old federal judge, considered the most unqualified judge that McConnell has ever pushed through confirmation. It’s called campaigning for the fall election.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) [right] also complained about the paid sick leave because it might hurt businesses although the bill covers the cost with a tax credit. Without sick leave, most of these people with covid-19 will go to work and spread the disease. Johnson said it might be better for the Senate to “pass nothing at all.”

Last week, Johnson pulled a vote on a subpoena from the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that he hoped would find damaging information about Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, in Ukraine. A bipartisan group persuaded him about the Ukrainian’s unreliability as a source for the committee’s investigation. The vote, however, is only postponed. Johnson said he will issue a subpoena to a lobbying firm for the Ukrainian energy company paying Hunter Biden as a board member. Committee staff members have worked on investigations helping DDT in his reelection campaign. U.S. intelligence agencies maintain that Andrii Telizhenko, Johnson’s source, has spread disinformation about Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 election to minimize actual Russian interference. Telizhenko, a friend of Rudy Giuliani, has appeared on the ultra-conservative One America News Network.

While DDT struggles with rapidly increasing numbers of covid-19 cases and deaths in the U.S., Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman continues his path to keep power in his country. He detained four senior princes, possible heirs to the throne, in Riyadh, including MBS’s uncle Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz and cousin Mohammed bin Nayef. They were charged with treason which carries the death penalty. MBS had replaced Nayef as crown prince in 2017 and has run the kingdom since then. Prince Ahmed returned to Saudi from Britain after assurances that he would be safe. MBS consolidated his power in 2017 by arresting hundreds of princes, government ministers, and business people and detaining them in Riyadh.

Saudi is struggling with dropping oil prices and MBS’ decision to block pilgrims from Mecca because of the virus outbreak. Aramco’s profits dropped 21 percent last year to $88.2 billion, and it is lowering capital spending for 2020. The world has also not forgotten MBS’ murder of U.S. resident and journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. MBS is now repeating his 2017 actions by arresting hundreds more government officials, including military and security officers, for bribery and exploiting public office. The purge also added 16 more princes, two members of the council which decides the throne’s succession, and two judges.

In late February, MSP Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Parliament asked his colleagues to investigate DDT’s deals in which he acquired his Scotland properties, including the two multi-million dollar golf courses. Harvie said that DDT or people he’s tied with could be connected to serious crime and is seeking an “unexplained wealth order” from a Scottish court. The order is for “suspected foreign officials who have potentially laundered stolen money through the UK.” If the subject “cannot show a legitimate source for their riches,” the government can seize properties.

History will remember that Utah’s Mitt Romney was the only GOP senator who voted to impeach DDT. Payoffs for other GOP senators who claimed they voted against impeachment because DDT had “learned his lesson”:

  • Lamar Alexander (TN) – $9 million for high-speed broadband infrastructure projects;
  • Susan Collins (ME) – $9.5 million for affordable housing units;
  • Cory Gardner (CO) – $20 million for airport upgrades;
  • Lisa Murkowski (AK) – $20 million Port Infrastructure Development Program grant for Phase One costs at the Port of Alaska.

Collins, up for a difficult reelection this year, voted to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh despite his anti-abortion stand and for the tax cut benefiting the wealthy and big business even if she said she didn’t like it. She’s at the bottom of the Senate popularity contest and may lower her rating with the latest find. In 2009, she refused to include pandemic flu funding in an economic stimulus bill during the Great Recession. Democrats warned that the $870 million from the $787 billion would keep them from fighting an infectious disease outbreak, but she promised to withdraw her vote for the bill if that money was included. She said the funds “do not boost our economy” and persuaded two other Republicans to follow her example.

Eric Prince, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ brother and heir to $1 billion, advises DDT and almost persuaded him to let Prince set up a private military service for the U.S.. Congress accused Prince of lying under oath and referred criminal charges to the DOJ, a useless action since Bill Barr became AG. In the past, Prince moved to the UAE to keep from federal prosecution and claims that he is untouchable. Now the FBI is investigating Prince for trying to modify two U.S. crop-dusting planes into attack aircraft, a violation of arms trafficking regulations. He used the planes as part of the private services he suggested selling or using in Africa and Azerbaijan. The FBI investigation includes his lying to Congress and an armed aviation proposal to the UAE along with heightened scrutiny of Barr.

Prince has recruited U.S. and British spies to work with the right-wing group Project Veritas, known for doctored videos in false stings, to infiltrate at least one Democratic congressional campaign for Abigail Spanberger and organizations “considered hostile” to DDT. Ex MI6 officer Richard Seddon ran a 2017 operation to copy files and record conversations in an office of the teachers’ union AFT. In late 2015 or early 2016, Prince arranged for James O’Keefe and his Project Veritas to receive training in intelligence and elicitation techniques from a retired military intelligence operative named Euripides Rubio Jr. Rubio soon quit, saying that the Veritas group couldn’t learn.

DDT’s defense against Russian interference to elect him is to repeat that he’s tough on Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin. Here are some of DDT’s favors for Russia:

  • DDT appointed his own loyalists to head up the intelligence agencies who ordered employees not to release information and who say that there’s no evidence of Russian interference.
  • DDT sent anti-tank missiles to Ukraine under conditions that make them useless against Russia.
  • DDT spread a disinformation campaign that Ukraine was responsible for the election interference, not Russia.
  • DDT protected Russia by withholding aid to Ukraine until publicity made him uncomfortable.
  • DDT still refuses to invite Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to the White House to help Zelensky negotiate with Putin.
  • DDT’s sanctions on Iran helps Russia by boosting the price of oil.
  • DDT strengthened Russia’s longtime ally, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and ended support for moderate Syrian rebels which Russia wants.
  • DDT removed U.S. forces out of northern Syria, abandoned the Kurdish U.S. allies, and allowed Russians to move into abandoned U.S. bases.
  • DDT helped Russia in Libya by giving Khalifa Hifter information for overthrowing a UN-backed government in Tripoli.
  • Sanctions on Russia were done over DDT’ objections, and DDT persuaded the GOP Senate to lift them on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
  • DDT weakened NATO through incessant criticism and portrayal of the members as deadbeats.
  • DDT always believes Putin and never criticizes him.
  • DDT’s biggest help for Russia is his spreading chaos in the U.S. and its government through polarization of the U.S. people and denigrating U.S. intelligence officers and diplomats.

As the commentator on a popular Russian TV show said:

“I look at Trump and think: ‘May God grant him good health — and another term.’ This is a great situation for Russia.”

And the Republican Party blindly backs DDT and pro-Russia policies against U.S. benefits.

January 27, 2020

Impeachment Defense Concentrates on Revisionist History, Lies

Republicans have blocked former national security adviser John Bolton from testifying, but in his forthcoming book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, Bolton wrote that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) told him he wanted to continue freezing military aid to Ukraine until their officials investigated Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Bolton’s book also implicates Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, AG Bill Barr, DOJ Secretary Mark Esper, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and DDT’s private secretary Rudy Giuliani. Because DDT’s defense team testified under oath before the Senate that there is no evidence of DDT’s tying Ukraine aid to investigations, they may be in jeopardy of criminal perjury charges or legal disciplinary actions because they knew what was in Bolton’ book since December 30. 

The White House received only one copy of Bolton’s book, but reports show that multiple copies are being passed around, resulting in multiple leaks. For example, Bolton told Barr about his concerns about DDT’s granting personal favors to the autocratic leaders of Turkey and China.

Complaining about the impeachment, DDT tweets lies such as this one:

“The Democrat House would not give us lawyers, or not one witness, but now demand that the Republican Senate produce the witnesses that the House never sought, or even asked for? They had their chance, but pretended to rush. Most unfair & corrupt hearing in Congressional history!”

A headline from last month: “White House rejects House Democrats’ invitation to participate in impeachment process as Trump focuses on friendly Senate.” DDT has also provided no definition for “corrupt hearing.” Every time Republicans complain about “unfair,” the Democrats offer them involvement in the impeachment process, Republicans turn them down and continue to cry “unfair.”

DDT will be even unhappier with the Fox after it published an op-ed by its consultant Andrew Napolitano stating “ample” evidence exists to remove DDT from office, that DDT is wrong about his “hoax” defense:

“What is required for removal of the president? A demonstration of presidential commission of high crimes and misdemeanors, of which in Trump’s case the evidence is ample and uncontradicted.”

With no evidence to refute last week’s House presentation, DDT’s defense strategy began with anger at Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), head of the prosecutorial House Managers, and lies from Russian propaganda and conspiracy theories. The defense team is so desperate that it used video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) handing out pens from her signing of the articles of impeachment as “evidence” of something. An analysis of today’s defense performance. Knowing that Bolton’s book is disastrous to the defense, the team spent much of Monday smearing Joe and Hunter Biden with misrepresentations of the Burisma affair and revisionist history before television personality channeled the Founding Fathers to explain why no one can impeach a president. One of the team did admit the July 25 telephone call between DDT and Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky was less than “perfect” but moved on to say that DDT didn’t know any better and that it’s not impeachable. 

The defense team spent two hours on Saturday with its outline of lies:

  • He did not commit an “impeachable offense.” [Constitutional experts disagree.]
  • No witness has said the military aid was withheld to force an investigation of his political opponents. [DDT blocked any witnesses who might provide this information, but he did block aid. The defense supports an argument for witnesses.]
  • House managers are hiding evidence that exonerates DDT. [Again, no evidence.]

More Lies:  

Fiction: DDT released the “actual transcript” of the July 25 telephone call between DDT and Zelensky. Fact: The public has only a “memorandum of telephone conversation.” The “actual transcript” is concealed on the government’s highest security computer.

Fiction: DDT didn’t condition either security assistance or a meeting in the telephone call. Fact: The public doesn’t know because the complete transcript was not released.

Fiction: Zelensky didn’t state a quid pro quo. Fact: Zelensky had to be careful to not upset DDT, but a video shows DDT saying that he conditioned aid on the demand that Zelensky help him “investigate” Biden. DDT and his private lawyer Rudy Giuliani threatened to withhold a White House meeting from Zelensky to force him to announce investigations into Joe Biden when addressing Gordon Sondland’s claim that there was a “quid pro quo.” Sondland testified that he was acting on DDT’s behalf when he offered the trade of military aid for Zelensky’s announcement about an investigation into Biden.

Fiction: No witness testified that DDT said that there was any “connection between any investigation and security assistance, a presidential meeting, or anything else.” Fact: Several witnesses, including Sondland and Alexander Vindman, said that Trump had made a such a connection. DDT is blocking other witnesses who can testify about any “connection.”

Fiction: Ukraine made no announcement about investigations before the military aid was released on September 11. Fact: Aid was released after a whistleblower complaint “caught” DDT and the news went public.

Fiction: Zelensky didn’t know about the freeze on military aid until a month after the telephone call. Fact: The Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister said that Ukraine was aware of a U.S. freeze in military aid as early as July, and Zelensky discussed DDT’s reluctance to release the aid as early as May 7

Fiction: Democrats are trying to overturn the 2016 election. Fact: Impeachment doesn’t overturn an election.

Fiction: Democrats are trying to keep “the people” from electing DDT in 2020. Fact: Democrats are trying to keep foreign governments from election a president in 2020 the way that they did in 2016.

The brevity of defense  on Saturday allowed a larger audience when the team returned Monday. A few Republicans said that defense “shredded” the House managers’ arguments—but not how. In fact, the defense “shredded” the U.S. Constitution. As Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) stated in a press conference following the two hours that the defense is “trying to deflect, distract from, and distort the truth.” 

Another bogus GOP argument is that Democrats refuse to call Hunter and Joe Biden. One suggestion is that GOP senators will call a Democratic-chosen witness in exchange for calling Hunter Biden. With 53 votes, GOP Senators can do anything they want in the impeachment trial, including a subpoena for Hunter Biden, but Senate Majority Leader McConnell thus far convinced DDT that calling these witnesses could backfire on him.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is feeling the stress of the political climate. According to NPR correspondent Mary Louise Kelly, Pompeo said that he has defended “every State Department official” and then cut off the interview, leaving the room. An aide returned and took Kelly to Pompeo’s private living room where she said that he screamed and used the F word frequently. “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?” After Kelly said she could find Ukraine on the map, in response to Pompeo’s question, he demanded she do so on a map with no writing. [He evidently keeps one with him.] Kelly followed his directions. Later she released information about the interaction because Pompeo did not say that it was off the record. 

Pompeo didn’t deny his behavior but issued a statement lambasting the media and claiming that Kelly lied about not being off the record. He concluded with “Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine.” This statement may be a false insinuation that Kelly couldn’t identify Ukraine on an unmarked map—a juvenile demand—that adds to Pompeo’s many other lies. Kelly, a former national security reporter with a master’s degree in European Studies from Cambridge University, would not have selected a country (lower right) 3,000 miles from Ukraine (upper left). NPR is standing behind Kelly’s account of her exchange with Pompeo.

DDT is now threatening to do away with NPR to protect Pompeo. Pompeo’s lying, cursing, and abuse of the media appears to exemplify evangelical Christian values; he will give the commencement speech for Liberty University on May 9.

As Pelosi said, “All roads lead to Putin.” DDT’s acceptance of foreign election aid from Russia that has been made public:

June 9, 2016: Secret meeting between a Russian emissary and Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort seeking “dirt” on DDT’s opponent Hillary Clinton.

June 14, 2016: Russian government hackers gained access to DNC email and chat traffic; DDT echoed Russian denial of being the perpetrators and accused the DNC of trying to “distract.”

July 22, 2016: WikiLeaks dumped tens of thousands of stolen emails and documents, and DDT again denied that Russia did the hacking.

July 27, 2016: DDT calls on Russia to find Clinton’s “missing” emails, and five hours later Russian government hackers tried to break into emails tied to Clinton and her personal office.

Summer 2016: DDT’s campaign attempted a secret connection with the Russian government after cybersecurity experts and U.S. intelligence agencies identified Russia as responsible into the DNC hacking.

Early August 2016: Manafort shared internal campaign polling data with a Russian asset and discussed a pro-Putin peace plan for Ukraine.

Mid-August 2016: DDT received federal intelligence about Russian hacking but publicly and repeatedly denied that it happened, parroting Vladimir Putin’s false claims. DDT also lied about having no business in Russia.

October 2016: Immediately after the release of the “pussy grabbing” video, Wikileaks daily released hacked emails from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, and DDT repeatedly declared he “loved” WikiLeaks with its foreign intervention in the election. The recent trial of DDT’s adviser Roger Stone shows DDT tried to use him as a contact with WikiLeaks.

Since his election, DDT continuously denies any Russian involvement based on Putin’s disavowals, asks for China’s help in investigating political opponent Biden, and states that he would see no problem in getting damaging information on candidates from foreign governments.

In supreme irony, DDT, the man with the motto “America First,” is being impeached because he won’t put the United States first.

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