Friday, January 17, 2020

Something to Know - 17 January

There had been many observers who opined that Nancy Pelosi had lost the battle with Moscow Mitch by delaying the transmittal of the articles of impeachment from the House to the Senate.   However, thanks to the revelations by Lev Parnas and other pieces of continuing investigation, it is apparent that the delay of 28 days afforded a much better presentation of a case into the impeachment of "#1", than a month ago.  Speaker Pelosi has proven that she has the talent and leadership to be guiding the ship of state.  Now as we watch to see if there are enough Republicans who are truly interested in leaving the "cult of Trump" of the GeeOpie, and seeking a true impeachment trial, out democracy is in better shape of reformation than we were a month ago.

What America Learned in 28 Days

Nancy Pelosi's decision to delay transmitting the impeachment articles allowed significant new information to come to light.


The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.

  • Jan. 16, 2020

As soon as the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, made the decision to hold back the two articles of impeachment against President Trump, Republicans complained about the apparent hypocrisy. If impeaching Mr. Trump had been so urgent, why was it suddenly O.K. to delay the process indefinitely?

"From the beginning, it's been unclear what the goal of this hurry-up-and-wait tactic was or what the country stood to gain," said Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

Now that the Senate has the articles, it's clear what was to gain. Ms. Pelosi may not have won any concessions from Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, but the delay did provide time for additional evidence of Mr. Trump's Ukraine scheme to come to light.

As the impeachment trial gets underway in the Senate, here's a recap of a number of those disclosures.

A United States ambassador was surveilled and possibly targeted for harm by people directly connected to Trump aides.

"They are willing to help if we/you would like a price." "Guess you can do anything in Ukraine with money." "They will let me know when she's on the move."

These are a few of the text messages sent last spring between Robert Hyde, a Republican lobbyist from Connecticut, and Lev Parnas, a Soviet-born businessman who says Mr. Trump put him at the center of the pressure campaign in Ukraine. The men were discussing the movements and electronic devices of Marie Yovanovitch, the ambassador to Ukraine, whom Mr. Trump and his team saw as an obstacle to their efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Mr. Parnas claims he never believed Ms. Yovanovitch was in danger, and Mr. Hyde says he was just "joking around." But one month after the texts were sent, the State Department called Ms. Yovanovitch in Kyiv in the middle of the night, told her "there were great concerns" about her security and urged her to get on the next flight back home.

In early May, President Trump ousted Ms. Yovanovitch, whom he called "bad news." He has continued to attack her in tweets.


The targeting of Ms. Yovanovitch is under investigation — by Ukrainian authorities, at least. Neither the Justice Department nor the State Department has announced an official inquiry into the matter, although on Thursday the F.B.I. visited Mr. Hyde's home and business.

Russians hacked the Ukrainian gas company central to the impeachment inquiry.

President Trump wanted Ukraine's new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to announce an investigation of Burisma, the gas company on whose board Hunter Biden sat, as a way of enhancing his re-election prospects. The Times this week reported that Russian military hackers had bored into the email accounts of a number of Burisma subsidiaries, perhaps searching for material embarrassing to the Bidens. The tactics used were similar to those of Russian hackers in the 2016 campaign, when they breached the servers of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign. Ukraine has asked the F.B.I. to investigate.

President Trump personally directed the scheme to gather Ukrainian dirt on Joe Biden.

Mr. Trump and his allies have insisted that he was pursuing investigations of Joe and Hunter Biden, as well as of Ukraine's alleged interference in the 2016 election, not for any personal political reason but as part of the American government's longstanding efforts to address corruption in that country.

This claim was never believable, but now we know the president's own top aides debunked it. In a May letter, Rudy Giuliani, Mr. Trump's personal attorney, requested a meeting with Mr. Zelensky, then Ukraine's president-elect, "in my capacity as personal counsel to President Trump and with his knowledge and consent." Mr. Giuliani has been leading the charge to drum up charges of corruption by the Bidens, even visiting Ukraine to do more digging while the inquiry was underway. If Mr. Trump truly cared about rooting out systemic corruption, why was he sending his personal lawyer to do the job?

The answer is that the requested investigations were "a domestic political errand," as Fiona Hill, a Russia expert who worked for the Trump administration, testified before Congress during the impeachment hearings.

Nor were people like Mr. Parnas rogue actors. On Wednesday, Mr. Parnas told The Times, "I am betting my whole life that Trump knew exactly everything that was going on that Rudy Giuliani was doing in Ukraine."

President Trump personally ordered the hold on the Ukraine aid, even though top White House officials disagreed over the wisdom and legality of that move.

Mr. Trump ordered the suspension of aid to Ukraine about 90 minutes after the July 25 phone call with Mr. Zelensky that provided the basis for the whistle-blower's complaint that triggered the impeachment inquiry. The hold was put in place quietly because of the "sensitive nature of the request," according to a top budget official, and the president continued it despite significant debate among White House officials.

In a face-to-face meeting in August, John Bolton, the former national security adviser, urged the president to release the funds. "This is in America's interest," he said, according to The Times. It didn't work. "Clear direction from POTUS to hold," a budget official informed the Pentagon in late August.

The president broke the law by withholding the aid.

In a report released Thursday, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog agency, determined that Mr. Trump's decision to hold up hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine — spending that Congress had authorized — was illegal. "Faithful execution of the law does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law," the agency wrote.

At least one top Trump aide is willing to testify.

Mr. Bolton, whom Mr. Trump pushed out in September as the Ukraine scandal was unfurling, said that he would be willing to testify in a Senate trial. Mr. Bolton was a central figure in the administration last year and was reportedly disgusted by the Ukraine scheme, which he referred to as a "drug deal." He has firsthand knowledge of Mr. Trump's actions and motivations during that time. Curiously, while many Republicans complained that the House impeachment hearings consisted largely of "hearsay," almost none have expressed any interest in hearing from Mr. Bolton now.

All of this has come to light in barely four weeks. Imagine how much more the nation will learn in the next four.


Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

- Kris Kristofferson

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