Nel's New Day

November 18, 2019

Open Impeachment Inquiry Hearings: Week One

Open House impeachment inquiry hearings, instigated by a whistleblower, began last week with new revelations about the attempts of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to use his office for his personal benefit. 

Highlights of the week:

DDT’s furious tweets impugning witnesses Marie Yovanovitch and Jennifer Williams that DDT calls “free speech” but resemble witness tampering, a conviction for Roger Stone: Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, described DDT’s smear and intimidation campaign  against her for the past six months, one which made her seek safety in the U.S. and which DDT continued in tweets at the same time that she testified. His goal was to replace her in Ukraine with someone who would carry out his investigation into conspiracy theories to destroy a political opponent. DDT tweeted nothing about George Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, and Bill Taylor, U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, instead falsely attacking only two women. While GOP representatives readied themselves to leave the hearing, Yovanovitch (center right) left to thunderous applause and a standing ovation. DDT claimed he “mostly never heard of” Williams, VP Mike Pence’s special adviser on Europe and Russia, although he called her a “Never Trumper.” She heard DDT’s phone call, but he told her to read the transcript. Williams, a career foreign service official, called DDT’s requests to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky unusual and inappropriate, especially when he specifically referred to investigations into the Bidens and mentioned the Burisma gas company.

Direct knowledge of DDT’s corruption in closed-door hearings: After Republican attacked the testimony of Bill Taylor and George Kent for mere hearsay, more witnesses testified about direct knowledge of DDT’s demands for investigation and holding up military aid. Taylor’s staffer David Holmes overheard DDT talk about the investigations in a Kiev restaurant where Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the DU, called DDT on his cell phone. The call began with Sondland’s comment to DDT that Zelensky “loves your ass” and continued with DDT asking if Zelensky was “gonna do the investigation.” Sondland answered in the affirmative and said that Zelensky will do “anything you ask him to.” Holmes heard DDT’s end of the conversation because he was so loud that Sondland held the phone away from his ear. After the call, Sondland said that DDT didn’t “give a sh*t about Ukraine,” only the “big stuff” that benefits himself such as the “Biden investigation” that Giuliani was pushing. Holmes also told about being asked to take notes for a meeting with Sondland and Zelensky’s aide Andriy Yermak before he was not allowed in the room because they didn’t want any note-taker.

Another staffer, Suriya Jayanti, also reported overhearing Sondland’s phone conversation with DDT. Bill Taylor had testified that the reference was to the Bidens and that Sondland told DDT that the Ukrainians “were ready to move forward.”

Senior White House budget official Mark Sandy also testified last week about DDT freezing the military aid to Ukraine. Laura Cooper, the Defense Department official who oversees military aid to Ukraine, had already testified that a senior OMB official had announced this hold on July 18 after all departments and agencies except OMB had signed off on the aid. Receiving no reason for the freeze, Sandy was told to sign the first of several letters freezing the funds for Ukraine, starting on July 25, the same day as DDT’s call with Zelensky. All the other letters were signed by Sandy’s boss, political appointee Michael Duffey, who said he wanted to learn more about the apportionment process. Duffey said on July 26 that the hold “relates to the President’s concerns about corruption.”

Release of new transcripts: Advisers to U.S. envoy Kurt Volker, Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, testified that DDT pushed his shadow foreign policy to pressure Ukraine into investigating political opponents. Laura Cooper added that Volker demanded an investigation into specific U.S. citizens, a violation of civil liberties because it’s not based on a suspected crime but pushed by a politician. DDT went beyond an investigation into insisting on prosecutions even if evidence did not warrant them. The testimony shows that, contrary to Volker’s claims, he knew about the links of the quid pro quo as well as the Ukrainians knowing about the ultimatum before Sondland delivered it.

The transcript of Tim Morrison’s testimony describes Sondland’s actions and statements, confirming Sondland’s amendment to his original testimony after he decided he should tell the truth. Gordon Sondland, EU ambassador, operated at DDT’s request and talked to a Ukrainian about exchanging military aid for political investigations to benefit DDT. He told Yermack that if his country did not announce the investigations into the Bidens that DDT would withhold the military aid. Immediately after his conversation with Yermack, Sondland told Morrison that the prosecutor general should publicly announce he was opening the Burisma investigation. Hunter Biden had served on the company’s board while his father was working on Ukraine policy for the Obama administration. Morrison said that he didn’t remember the name “Burisma” mentioned in the July 25 phone call, but Williams, who heard the July 25 call, said that Zelensky referenced the name of the gas company. Morrison said that he told the administration to “restrict access to the package” after hearing the call between DDT and Zelensky but moving the call transcript to a highly classified system was a “mistake.”

Williams’ transcript filled in some details of Pence’s involvement in which she reported on DDT’s phone call with Zelensky and Zelensky’s concern about DDT’s withholding the military aid. She also told Pence about how DDT’s demands would benefit him far more than the country.

Today, the House released two more transcripts, those from David Holmes and David Hale, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs. 

Trying to look innocent, DDT released a transcript of his first phone call with Zelensky, which Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), read into the House record. It illuminates more of DDT’s lies. The readout of the call: DDT promises to work with Zelensky to “implement reforms that strengthen democracy, increase prosperity, and root out corruption.” The call: DDT’s brief congratulation for Zelensky’s election followed by a discussion of DDT’s ownership of Miss Universe and a vague invitation to the White House. Missing: Mention of general “corruption” or anti-corruption efforts and a time for the invitation. DDT refused to attend Zelensky’s inauguration, instead sending Energy Secretary Rick Perry to cut a business deal benefiting GOP donors in the U.S.

Federal prosecutors are investigating DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani for potential campaign-finance violations; failure to register as a foreign agent; crimes with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman who are charged with conspiracy, falsification of records, and lying to the FEC about political donations; participation in removing Yovanovitch from Ukraine because she obstructed Giuliani’s efforts to investigate Biden; and maybe other crimes. Giuliani is also in the midst of a divorce with his wife of 15 years, Judith Giuliani, who said, “I’m sad to know that the hero of 9/11 has become a liar.” A trial is set for January because Giuliani is concealing his income.

An overview of Republicans’ attempts—and lies—to defend DDT:  

  • Ukraine interfered to help Democrats in the 2016 election.
  • Ukraine eventually got the military aid so there was no crime.  
  • Joe Biden is a bad person.
  • Witnesses aren’t credible because they don’t have firsthand information, but they want the whistleblower who didn’t have firsthand information.
  • The direct testimony isn’t related to the inquiry.
  • The impeachment is only about the July 25 phone call, and there’s nothing there.
  • Public hearings are a “sham.”
  • Hearings are boring.
  • The hearings are too hard to understand
  • The Mueller investigation was a fraud. 
  • DDT is too dumb to carry out the corruption.

Nothing on the substance of the inquiry. 

Witnesses in the upcoming week’s open hearings: Gordon Sondland, Jennifer Williams, Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman (top National Security Council expert on Ukraine), Kurt D. Volker, Tim Morrison, Laura Cooper, David Hale, and Fiona Hill (a former National Security Council official with expertise in Russia). Mark Sandy will testify if he receives a subpoena. Russell Vought, acting OMB director, and Michael Duffey, OMB’s national security chief, refuse to appear of turn over documents as does acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

Unhappy with State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo for months, DDT is now furious because the people Pompeo hired are testifying against DDT. A new Cabinet member may be on the horizon.

Today DDT said that he will “strongly consider” testifying in writing as part of the impeachment inquiry. If DDT can’t tell the truth, he should stay quiet: House investigators are looking into whether he lied to Robert Mueller in his written responses.  

July 25, 2019

Mueller Testimony Shows Republicans Live in an Alternate Reality

The week of Robert Mueller’s testimony about his investigation before two House committees began with a letter from DOJ Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer, who earlier declared that he had nothing to do with the investigation, ordering Mueller about what he can and cannot tell say. Attorney Neal Katyal, formerly a DOJ member,  described the letter’s tone as “bizarrely adversarial” and “not a way to treat a former FBI director.” Another former DOJ official, Matthew Miller, commented:

“DOJ’s position is it’s OK for [AG Bill] Barr to talk about decision making, findings that go beyond the report, etc., but Mueller can’t.”

Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) tried to seem casual about Mueller’s testimony. Asked if he was worried, DDT said:

“No, I’m not going to be watching. Probably. Maybe I’ll see a little bit of it. I’m not going to be watching Mueller.”

DDT then launched into his lies and “no obstruction” speech:

“Robert Mueller, I know he’s conflicted—he had a lot—there’s a lot of conflicts that he’s got, including the fact that his best friend is Comey. But he’s got conflicts with me, too. He’s got big conflicts with me. As you know, he wanted the job of the FBI Director. He didn’t get it. And we had a business relationship where I said, ‘No.’ And I would say that he wasn’t happy. Then, all of a sudden, he gets this position. But you know what? He still ruled—and I respect him for it—he still ruled ‘no collusion, no obstruction.’”

The day before Mueller’s testimony, DDT lied to an audience of conservative teenagers sponsored by Turning Point USA by claiming that the constitution’s Article II states that “I can do whatever I want.” This article explains impeachment if the president does anything that he wants. More DDT lies: immigrants “vote many times”; Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) is a “bad,” “sick,” “vicious” person; mainstream media companies are close to failing; liberal judges are not following the Constitution and “trying to take your arms away”; 2016 was the most important election ever because the country was “going wrong”; the U.S. is “respected” again; Nike is trying to take “heritage” away from young people; two years ago the military was on the brink of collapse; only 11 percent of the people support impeachment (although the number from one poll is 37 percent to begin proceedings); and the FBI is “crazy.”  DDT then moved on racist comments and lies about foreign policy before, luckily, C-SPAN’s web feed died.

During his speech, DDT stood in front of a “revised” presidential seal that showed a two-headed eagle, reminiscent of empire and dominance like the Russian coat of arms and flags of Serbia, Albania and Montenegro. The 13 arrows in the left talon have been replaced by golf clubs, and the talon on the right is holding cash. The white objects on the blue background above red and white stripes in the flag crest are hammer and sickles. The seal also replaced the nation’s motto with “45 es un titere,” Spanish for “45 is a puppet.” Graphic designer Charles Leazott sells the seal on his web site, https://one-term-donnie.myshopify.com/. No one noticed the error until later.

The morning before Mueller’s testimony, DDT tweeted several attacks against Mueller, Hillary Clinton, Andrew McCabe, and James Comey while accusing the hearings of being unfair and accusing political opponents of fabricating crimes against him. DDT also complained about Mueller’s aide, Aaron Zebley, testifying with him as a witness, and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) did the same in the committee meeting on Wednesday morning.

Robert Mueller’s testimony before two different House committees for six hours stuck to Barr’s demands. He was careful with his answers, to the point of looking to conservatives as if he were flustered and confused. 

 

Pieces from Mueller’s testimony:

DDT “was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed” and could be indicted after he leaves office.

The investigation did not “fully exonerate” DDT, and Mueller did not find that DDT did not obstruct justice. Mueller confirmed multiple examples of DDT’s obstruction in his report. 

Mueller didn’t bring charges against DDT, not because of lack of evidence but because of DOJ rules that refuse to charge a sitting president with a crime.

DDT did not cooperate fully with the investigation because he refused to an interview and would not answer written questions about obstruction. Mueller also found DDT’s “written answers to be inadequate.” He also indicated that DDT had not been truthful in some answers.

Mueller did not subpoena DDT because DDT’s fight against it would prolong the Russia investigation. 

DDT lied under oath and asked his staff to falsify records for Mueller’s investigation. 

DDT lied when he said that Mueller was upset about not being appointed FBI director; Mueller said he was not a candidate for the post.

DDT’s encouragement of WikiLeaks are “problematic [as] an understatement.”

DDT and his campaign team lied about events in 2016 during the Russian election attacks.

Several people interviewed for the investigation lied.

Russia wanted DDT to win in 2016 and Russia worked to boost his election in a “sweeping and systematic fashion,” according to Mueller.  

Russia tampered in U.S. elections in the past, and “they’re doing it as we sit here.” DDT’s campaign welcomed this interference in 2016.

The investigation is “not a witch hunt.”

Mueller registered objections to GOP congressional members’ false interpretations of his report:

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) falsely accused Mueller of ignoring the FBI probe origins and not investigating a diplomat who said that DDT’s campaign aide said Russians had dirt on Clinton.

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) falsely accused the investigation of being politically motivated.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) falsely accused Mueller of irresponsibly impugning DDT because he didn’t make a determination about DDT’s committing a crime and obstructing justice.

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) falsely claimed that Mueller agreed with AG Bill Barr’s representation of the report to the public.  (She also told Mueller that he didn’t use Fox “news” enough times in his report.)

Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) falsely accused Mueller of leaving out evidence.

Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) falsely accused Mueller of weighting his team with anti-DDT members. (Two of them had each donated $2,700 to Clinton for her election. Democrats didn’t point out that Barr donated $51,000 to Republicans in the six months before he was appointed as AG.)

Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) used his questioning time as an interview for replacing Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

Most of the questions/comments from Republicans came from false Fox material. (Fact-checking the falsehoods.) Individually and collectively, Republicans treated Robert Mueller, a Republican who has served his country well in six other administrations, with complete disrespect while defending a person who dodged the draft and sold out the United States. 

Not all Republicans supported the GOP “head in the sand” denial practices toward DDT’s criminal behavior. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, a former representative who helped DDT during his campaign, tweeted:

“Jesus, forgive me for ever being a Republican.”

After Mueller’s testimony, Republican politicians had only two talking points: DDT is guilty of nothing, and Mueller gave a bad “performance.” They lied about the first and presented the second as if behavior, like reality TV and DDT’s rallies, are the substance. Republicans attacked Mueller for not memorizing 448 pages and a two-year investigation while they give a pass to DDT who can’t memorize ahalf page of notes. To summarize for the GOP, Mueller made clear that DDT was not exonerated, that DDT would and did benefit from Russia’s massive election interference, that DDT’s behavior met all three criteria for criminal obstruction of justice, that only being sitting president saved DDT from criminal prosecution, and that only DOJ saves DDT from indictment while he’s in the Oval Office. Less than two hours after Mueller’s testimony, DDT lied about all Mueller’s statements.

Transcript of Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees.

If the Mueller investigation exonerated DDT, why are he and Republicans so bent out of shape about the findings? These ongoing activities may frighten the naysayers. They should become afraid when anti-DDT countries start their own election interference—like Iran. 

Senate Republicans polished off Mueller’s testimony about the danger of Russian interference in the next election by blocking two election security bills and a cybersecurity measure. The next day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked the measures on Thursday, accusing Democrats of trying to give themselves a “political benefit.” One rejected House bill requires paper ballots and provides funding for the Election Assistance Commission. To McConnell, blocking Russian interference is “partisan legislation.” The other bill mandates notification of the FBI for “assistance offers” from foreign powers. Ironically, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report at the same time showing massive election interference from Russia since 2014. Republicans know, however, that they might not get elected if the United States has a free, unfettered voting system.

 In the past, fighting Russian control of the U.S. was bipartisan. Those days are gone, and DDT’s supporters live in an alternate reality.  

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