Thoughts on the Impeachment Hearings into Donald Trump (11/25/2019)
25 November 2019 at 10:14:44 AM
I, like a whole lot of people, watched almost all of the impeachment hearings that took place over the last two weeks. I watched on Over the Air television stations in Dallas/Fort Worth, and notably, although ABC, CBS, and NBC carried the hearings, FOX4 did not.. not on ANY day. I wondered why Fox4 (DFW) would put daytime shows over real education of the public in such a serious matter and it has made me consider simply blocking Fox4 as a channel.
The issue at stake is a question every American has to answer for him or herself. Is it proper for a president to use the power of his presidency to withhold aid from a foreign country in order to get dirt on a political rival? This would not be in the public interest for the American public but for the purpose of being able to use a foreign power to influence an election. I believe this is not only odious but against the law. See FEC law on banned contributions.
Here's what happened. Trump held back aid to Ukraine that was supposed to be released, and if there was a holdup, they were supposed to go back to Congress to explain. That didn't happen but instead Trump, in a phone call on July 25, 2019,asked Zelensky of Ukraine to do him a favor. This included looking into a crowdstrke computer connected to the 2016 election and also into Biden and his son. The call so alarmed some people who either listened into the call or heard about it that one them acted as a whistleblower and took his or her concerns to the OIG (Office of Inspector General) of the Intelligence Community The OIG, on August 26, 2019 said that the whistleblowers complaint "appears credible". In that same document, the OIG says that the whistleblower had sent letters to Richard Burr of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and also to Adam Schiff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The Complainant's letter alleged, among other things, that the President of the United States, in a telephone call with Ukranian President Volodmyr Zelensky on July 25, 2019 "sought to pressure the Ukranian Leader to take actions to help the President's 2020 relection bid". Us laws and regulations prohibit a foreign national, directly or indirectly, from making a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State or local election.. Further in the ICIG's judgment, alleged conduct by a senior US public official to seek foreign assistance to interferer in or influence a Federal election would constitute a "serious or flagrant problem or abuse under 50 USC 3033(k)(5)(G)(i) which would also expose such a US public official (or others acting in concert with the US public official) to serious national security and counterintelligence risks with respect to foreign intelligence servies aware of such alleged conduct" The way I read this is that if a President or other US official attempted to bribe a foreign national into doing something for improper or illegal purposes, that one could be subject to blackmail.
It's important to note that at that point the aid to Ukraine was being withheld, as well as a hoped for meeting between Trump and Zelensky and conditioned on Zelensky doing Trump a favor. Although Trump says "Read the transcript", he surely can't be hoping people actually do because the memo shows that he not only asked Zelensky for a favor into private matters, did not mention corruption even one time, and Zelensky said he would do it.
Back to the aid Ukraine hoped to receive as well as a face to face meeting with Trump.
On July 3 2019, Lt Col Alexander Vindman, received a notice from the State Department that the military aid had been held up.
On July 10, 2019, there was a meeting at the White House with Ukranian officials that Gordon Sondland attended at which he said he had a agreement with acting White House Chief of Staff (who would be Mike Mulvaney) that Zelensky would get a meeting with Trump is Ukraine agreed to launch investigations. That's when John Bolton, according to Fiona Hill, stiffened up, ended the meeting and told Hill to report it to the National Security Council's lawyer.
On July 18, 2019 there was a secure call with National Security officials in which someone from White House Office of Management and Budget announced a freeze on Ukraine aid till further notice.
On July 25, 2018, the phone call between Trump and Zelensky occurred, as per above, which Trump later called "perfect".
In August, Catherine Croft, special advisor for Ukraine at the State Department, said that two Ukrainians reached out to ask what the status of the military assistance was.
On August 12, 2019, the whistleblower filed the complaint addressed to Congress. BUT the complaint was withheld from Congress until over a month later, on September 25.
On August 28, 2019, Politico published an article that the military aid was on hold.
On Sept 9, Michael Atkinson, IG of the intelligence committee, sent a letter to the House intelligence committe that he had received a whistleblower complaint and sent his own determination as well as a copy of the complaint to Joseph Maguire, Acting Director of National Intelligence. BUT Atkinson said, Maguire didn't forward the complaint to Congress within 7 days of receiving it.
On September 11, 2019, the aid to Ukraine is sudently released. "Senate Republicans said that happened in part because Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, threatened to block $5 billion in Pentagon spending for 2020 if the aid wasn’t given to Ukraine. They said the aid was held up while Trump looked into whether Zelenskiy was serious about fighting corruption. Taylor and other diplomats involved in Ukraine were not given a reason for the aid being released."
To put a fine point on it, the aid was not released until the information about the whistleblower went public
On October 2, 2019, Trump was asked what action he wanted Ukraine to take with Joe and Hunter Biden. Notice his "No Quid Pro Quo" istn't in evidence here, and remember, nothing about corruption was in that Zelensky phone call, but he brings up the Bidens. And then he deflects to his usual baloney about fake news.
On October 3, 2019 Trump said China should investigate Joe Biden. THIS IS like Nixon's enemies list.
On October 17, 2019 , Mick Mulvaney said there was a quid pro quo
William Taylor's testimony which was backed up by David Holmes who was there
David Holmes, who was THERE
David Holmes opening statement
Lt Col Alexander Vindman tesfield that the call was "wrong" and Jennifer Williams, an advisor to Vice President Mike Pence, said the call was unusual and inappropriate. These two actually HEARD the call. Vindman also testified that Trump's request to investigate the Bidens was in return for a Ukraine White House meeting
Guiliani said he has insurance should Trump turn on him
Incidentally, there's a strong chance that Devin Nunes has been involved in the pushing of this 0 narrative on Ukraine and if it turns out that is 1, WHY IS HE ON THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE or, at the least, shouldn't he recuse himself from any proceeedings?
And after the fact justification to withold aid AFTER TRUMP WITHHELD IT>
And, with all this backdrop, IF Trump's call was so innocent, why has he been trying to prevent people in his cabinet or others from testifying and also disobeying a subpoena. I was subpoenaed to testify in a case a couple of years ago and I couldn't just up and say I wasn't going to do it, I would have been fined or sent to jail. Imagine that Trump apparently does not care about upholding the law nor does he recognize, as any high school civics class teaches, that the executive branch is only one of three co-equal branches. Certainly Trump cannot be said to be anyone you'd hold up as a good example for your children or anyone else of decency, to emulate.
Now here's what funny. Here are a number of Republican elected officials who are asked if what Trump did was wrong
Rep Lee Zeldin (R-NY)
The argument that the aid was eventually released is a silly one.