Nel's New Day

December 5, 2019

DDT’s Disasters: Impeachment Inquiry, NATO

This week’s news has largely focused on the impeachment inquiry and the NATO conference in London, both of them crazy. Corrupt GOP Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz wants to impeach President Obama—who left the office almost three years ago—for wiretapping Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) which didn’t happen. DDT pretends he’s in charge of the impeachment and tweeted, “Do it now, fast …. We will have Schiff, the Bidens, Pelosi and many more testify.”

When the House Judiciary Committee entered the impeachment inquiry yesterday, three of the constitutional experts were selected by Democrats, and Republicans picked the fourth, Jonathan Turley who had already written op-eds opposing the impeachment. His weak arguments against impeachment included Democrats are acting only out of anger and moving too fast. Turley testified for Bill Clinton’s impeachment because he was a “perjurer” but now finds insufficient evidence despite DDT’s refusal to allow executive employees to comply with subpoenas, threats to deny congressionally approved funding for Ukraine without an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden, lying under oath, attacks and intimidation on impeachment inquiry witnesses, cover-ups of the scheme, setting himself up above the law, etc.

Republicans piled on by supporting Russian propaganda, claiming insufficient information, listing faults of other presidents, and crying “unfair” as well as the argument that Democrats shouldn’t polarize the country with impeachment. Outside the hearing, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) said DDT is just using “the blunt talk of a Manhattan businessman” instead of “smarmy talk of politicians.” Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) said withholding the aid for corruption in exchange for investigating a major political opponent was just a coincidence. He added that changing the term quid pro quo to bribery proves that there are no grounds for an impeachment inquiry. DDT’s latest defense is that the term “do us a favor though” is actually “doing U.S. a favor though.” That one took 130 days to think up. The GOP defenses for DDT are remarkably similar to those for Richard Nixon almost 50 years ago as shown in this Art Buchwald column during Nixon’s impeachment.  [visual Art]

In 2010, Turley defended the most recent person impeached in the U.S., Louisiana federal district court Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr, who was charged with taking a vast sum of gifts while he was a state court judge and lied under oath to the Senate and FBI to be confirmed. Although Turley didn’t disagree that Porteous had taken money and other gifts, he defended his client with claims that Porteous didn’t break any laws, although he may have been guilty of bad judgment; he didn’t act unethically; and his actions were business as usual in New Orleans. Turley described Porteous’ decades-long egregious behavior as mostly personal failings that failed to meet the “high crimes and misdemeanor” standard for impeachment. A super majority of Senators found Porteous guilty of all four counts, one of them with a vote of 96-0. This is the constitutional expert who Republicans hired to present their defense of DDT and who opposes “perjurers.”  

Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) asked House committee chairs to draft articles of impeachment.  

Angered by the House hearings, DDT had a rocky time in London from NATO colleagues. Intending to look like a statesman, he either argued or suffered ridicule. He schmoozed with reporters for over two hours on the first day but escaped more mocking by unexpectedly canceling a press conference on the second day of the 70th anniversary meeting of 29 countries to immediately leave for the U.S. The night before, a secret mike at the Buckingham Palace reception caught Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gossiping with French President Emmanuel Macron, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. DDT first called Trudeau “two-faced” and then referred to himself as “funny.”

Macron had called out Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for threatening to oppose NATO’s defense plan for Baltic countries if NATO refuses to classify as terrorists anyone Turkey wishes. Then he criticized the lack of U.S. leadership because DDT pulled troops out of northern Syria without warning NATO allies, allowing Turkey to send troops against the Kurds. DDT called Macron’s comments “nasty” and met with Erdogan at NATO, perhaps the only NATO leader who wasn’t upset with him. Up for election on December 12, Johnson avoided photographs with DDT.

NATO leaders have agreed to “a forwarding-looking reflection process … to further strengthen NATO’s political dimension including consultation.” The next meeting is scheduled for 2021 to avoid DDT’s fourth year in office.

While DDT was in London, North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui called him a dotard, a “an old person, especially one who has become physically weak or whose mental faculties have declined,” in his dotage, “the period of life in which a person is old and weak.” DDT had earlier said the U.S. would use force against North Korea if necessary and called President Kim Jong-Un “Rocket Man”–again. Despite DDT saying that North Korea was no problem for the U.S., the hostile country has regularly launched missiles while DDT called off military exercises. Kim’s latest threat is an unwelcome “Christmas gift” for the U.S.

Rudy Giuliani is back in Ukraine this week, meeting with discredited prosecutors Yuri Lutsenko, Viktor Shokin and Kostiantyn Kulyk and still looking for damaging information connected to his conspiracy theories. He’s also working on his documentary series highlighting the same falsehoods. Investigations into Giuliani’s affairs show that a major source of his income may result from selling access to DDT and the DOJ. For example, Giuliani charged Lutsenko $200,000 for a meeting with AG Bill Barr. DDT’s officials indicated irritation and frustration about the trouble that Giuliani may be causing during the impeachment inquiry.

As Giuliani digs deeper and deeper in trouble, DDT distances himself from his private lawyer. DDT told Bill O’Reilly that he “didn’t direct [Giuliani] to go” to Ukraine on his behalf, that he was just one of Giuliani’s clients, in direct contradiction to DDT’s own transcript of the July 25 phone call to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. A few days before that claim, Giuliani declared to Fox that DDT would never “throw me under the bus” but that he has “insurance.”

DDT’s aides dispute the report of Giuliani’s many calls to the White House and the Office of Management and Budget during the freeze on funds to Ukraine. They did not dispute, however, the close contact with DDT while he ran DDT’s shadow Ukraine policy pushing Ukraine’s president to announce investigations that personally benefit DDT politically. And they are refusing to comply with subpoenas to clarify who Giuliani called. Two days ago, Giuliani said that he had nothing to do with withholding aid from Ukraine and talked to the OMB about other subjects. The next day he said he didn’t talk to anyone in OMB. Russian can most likely provide the text of any phone calls to the White House.

Like Giuliani, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may disappear from DDT’s circle. In London, he visited with GOP donors, possibly raising funds for a Senate run in Kansas this coming year. Pompeo is still pushing Russian propaganda that Ukraine interfered in the U.S. election after swearing as CIA director that Russia was totally responsible for the inference.

Republicans like Sen. John Neeley Kennedy (R-LA) still behave like Russian assets by spreading Russian propaganda. Kennedy sees the false claim about Ukraine interfering with the U.S. election as “fact” and Ukrainian expert Fiona Hill’s testimony refuting this conspiracy theory as “opinion.” Senators were briefed on Russian involvement as opposed to the false Ukrainian theory, but Kennedy didn’t attend the briefing. The GOP-run Senate Intelligence Committee found no evidence that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.

Fox’s Tucker Carlson has joined the Russian assets in the United States when he said:

“Why do I care what is going on in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia? I’m serious. Why shouldn’t I root for Russia? Which by the way I am.”

Members of DDT’s base proudly wear shirts stating, “I’d rather be Russian than Democrat.” Their position about DDT? All businessmen cheat. So what? 

Get some rest this weekend. The impeachment inquiry continues on Monday with Democratic and Republican counsels to the House Intelligence and House Judiciary committees. It begins just hours before the DOJ release of the internal review of the 2016 Russian investigation origins, predicted to be a bust for AG Bill Barr who wants evidence for his personal conspiracy theories.

November 22, 2019

GOP, DDT Acting like Russian Assets

Impeachment testimony has concluded—perhaps. Republicans argue that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) had to investigate “corruption” in Ukraine because they were responsible for meddling in the 2016 election. Testimony refuted this conspiracy theory, but Republicans cannot give up support for this falsehood that was created by the Russians

Today, the public discovered that Republicans have known that Russia has pushed the “fictional narrative” of Ukraine’s responsibility for meddling since early 2017—and that senators were briefed on the Russian security services’ disinformation campaign by Russian security services. Ukraine didn’t do the hacking during the 2016 election: Russia did. Russia’s aim was to increase discord among adversaries, and Russia succeeded. Russia’s intelligence officers told prominent Russians and Ukrainians, who then told U.S. political figures and journalists unaware of the origin. U.S. intelligence agencies told senator about this campaign, and the Republicans ignored the information. Reporters Julian E. Barnes and Matthew Rosenberg wrote:

“That muddy brew worked its way into American information ecosystems, sloshing around until parts of it reached Mr. Trump, who has also spoken with Mr. Putin about allegations of Ukrainian interference. Mr. Trump also brought up the assertions of Ukrainian meddling in his July 25 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, which is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry into whether he abused his power by asking for a public commitment to investigations he stood to gain from personally.”

Despite information that their conspiracy theories about Ukraine are false, GOP House members insisted on bringing it up in questioning with no evidence to support their false theories. In his call to Fox and Friends this morning, DDT again pushed the Russian propaganda. Even those ultra-conservative hosts looked and sounded dubious, one of them asking if DDT is sure of the debunked theory that the FBI gave a Democratic server to what DDT falsely called a Ukrainian-owned company. The hosts of Fox and Friends didn’t look pleased by their interaction with DDT. 

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry/fact-check-trump-s-false-claims-about-ukraine-dnc-server-n1089596   DDT falsely claimed, “[The FBI] gave the server to CrowdStrike … which is a company owned by a very wealthy Ukrainian.” CrowdStrike is the California-based cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC to investigate a breach. The investigation showed that it was a Russian hack to create chaos, discord, and disruption of the 2016 election. Publicly traded on the Nasdaq, Crowdstrike’s biggest shareholder is Warburg Pincus who has personal ties to DDT. One of CrowdStrike’s founders, Dmitri Alperovitch, is a Russian-born U.S. citizen, who often consults with the U.S. government on cybersecurity. Common practice in investigations is to digitally copy physical servers to preserve the information as evidence. The DNC has decommissioned 140 servers and rebuilt 11, related to 2016. The RNC also used CrowdStrike after it was hacked. This falsehood from DDT was one of many during his 53-minute commentary on Fox and Friends. 

During his colloquy, DDT admitted that he shook down Zelensky for the military aid:

“We’re looking for, why should we be giving hundreds of millions of dollars to countries when there’s this kind of corruption?”

Congress passed the law with the military aid, and DDT signed it. DDT admitted he wants to prove that Russia didn’t interfere in the 2016 election to help his reelection campaign. To help DDT’s re-election, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) appears to be initiating an investigation into Joe Biden.

During her testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Fiona Hill, formerly a Russia expert from the National Security Council, spoke about the false GOP fringe notion:

“Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country—and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves. I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternative narrative that the Ukrainian government is a U.S. adversary, and that Ukraine—not Russia—attacked us in 2016.”

With their refusal to accept the truth and their continued claim that Ukraine was the meddler in the U.S. election, Republicans are joining DDT as Russian assets, weakening Ukraine and the U.S. while strengthening Russia. The right wing tried to slime her because of her British accent—she’s a coalminer’ daughter. She told them that she comes from the same area as George Washington’s ancestors. Accused of being a “Never Trumper,” she nevertheless defended him whenever possible. Sondland described Hill as “emotional,” but her demeanor during the hours-long questioning debunked his attempt to destroy her testimony. The GOP lawyer Steve Castor ended up in a trap with more damning testimony against DDT when he accused her of just being upset. While GOP representatives became more enraged at her during her testimony, she calmly sat there waiting for them to finish. Tim Miller is right by calling her Queen Fiona for her testimony. His full account is well worth reading. 

Earlier in the week, Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the EU and one of the “three amigos” on DDT’s shadow policy team to circumvent official appointees for Ukraine, saved himself and testified against the concept of a “rogue diplomacy” with Ukraine. Fox’s Chris Wallace summarized Sondland’s testimony:

 “[Sondland] took out the bus, and he ran over President Trump, Vice President Pence, Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani, Mick Mulvaney—he implicates all of them.”

Sondland said that he followed DDT’s orders when he talked to Ukraine about investigations, that there was a quid pro quo, and that “everyone was in the loop.” Pence tried to deny any knowledge, but Sondland testified that weeks before the July 25 phone call he specifically told Pence he “had concerns” about how the military aid to Ukraine “had become tied” to the investigations. Sondland also said that he had no choice but to work with DDT’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani. DDT spent the day denying Sondland’s testimony, repeating “I want nothing.” He even wrote a speech about it with his Sharpie in case he forgot the words. DDT then refused to take any questions from reporters. Pence’s office said Sondland lied. More details about Sondland’s testimony this week.

About Sondland, Hill testified, “He wasn’t coordinating with us because we weren’t doing the same thing that he was doing. He was being involved in a domestic political errand. And we were being involved in national security foreign policy.”

Pentagon Ukraine-Russia expert Laura Cooper testified that Ukraine met all of legal corruption elimination thresholds months before DDT froze the military aid and that the DOD had certified the funds before May. A claim is that DDT doesn’t want to send money to corrupt countries—at least those that don’t personally benefit him—but the military aid for Ukraine had built-in conditions to prove it has undertaken anti-corruption reforms.

The right also smeared Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the fired NSC specialist on Ukraine, after he testified that DDT’s July 25 call to Zelensky by DDT was inappropriate. Vindman heard the call. Republican attacks on Vindman are so severe that the Army is considering the need to protect Vindman and his family on a military base.

DDT complains about not having any witnesses, but two GOP witnesses testified this week. Tim Morrison, former NSC official, testified that he immediately went to NSC lawyer John Eisenberg after he heard the call and said the transcript should be restricted to hide it from the public. Morrison suggested that DDT’s July 25 call be restricted because of the “political” ramifications” if people knew about it. After White House lawyer John Eisenberg hid the transcript—which has not been completely released—in the highest classified system, Morrison said Eisenberg said that this placement was a “mistake … and administrative error.” Later Morrison said that Eisenberg told him “I gave no such direction.” Former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, the other GOP witness, changed his earlier testimony to say that he now remembered Sondland had brought up the Burisma/2016 election investigations at the July 10 meeting in the White House with a Ukrainian delegation.

Takeaways from Week Two:

  1. President Trump was directly involved in directing the investigations into Ukraine.
  2. Contrary to what Mulvaney stated in the White House briefing room, it is virtually unheard of for the president’s political interests to have an effect on foreign aid.
  3. Interfering in aid to Ukraine may have put Ukrainian lives at risk and strengthened Russia’s hand in the region.
  4. Ukraine knew in May that DDT was pressuring them. 
  5. Pompeo refuses to defend the people who work for him in the State Department. 
  6. Leading federal GOP officials and lawmakers continue to act as assets for Russia to protect them despite their knowledge that Russia, not Ukraine, meddled in DDT’s election.
  7. Giuliani is still bragging about working on the same investigations in Ukraine. 
  8. Pompeo’s and Mulvaney’s refusal to testify make DDT look even guiltier.  

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