Friday, September 27, 2019

The Whistleblower/ Ukraine matter and an epic political miscalculation

Update Oct. 9, 2019

Update: Oct. 1, 2019: Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) on Morning Joe this AM stated the reason the President should be impeached in one sentence; President Trump compromised national security by seeking dirt from on a political rival for his own benefit from a foreign country.'s leader.

Update: October 4, 2019 Amb. Kurt Volker who resigned recently as an envoy to Ukraine provided the House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry with emails that show before the July 25 phone call and after, military aid and the Bidens were subjects on the table in an attempt to get the President of Ukraine to commit in writing he would look into the Bidens as a condition of even meeting with Trump and the military aid was linked.

Update: Oct 2, 2019:  Pompeo lies to press.  timeline and his denial he even read the whistleblower complaint and finally admits he was listening to the July 25 conversatio.

Update Oct.3, 2019:  for a discussion on whether just asking a foreign government to provide something of value to help the asker in a political campaign breaks the law. So now Trump is asking China to investigate the short, he is defying the law again after he asked Ukraine. . The major difference between Mueller and this regarding collusion, Mueller could find no evidence that Trump and friends actually and intentionally beyond reasonable doubt collaborated with Russia to interfere in the election. In this case, just initiating the ask puts Trump in violation, especially when he did it 8 times. Quid pro quo is not needed to make this a violation of the law...just doing it in private or in public t is enough to break the law. That dirt on an opponent is not a thing of value is a losing argument, but expect the GOP to offer that as a defense anyway. The real court of public opinion and impeachment do not depend on a guilty finding or a criminal prosecution. It can be what the House defines it. Is there a requirement in impeachment that the same standards for charging a crime..proof beyond a reasonable doubt of intent... Nope. The task of those seeking impeachment is providing convincing proof..or the accused's admission of doing it , as in this case.,.that the impeachment is justified and that the proof will stand up in a trial..or the Senate, in this case. Public sentiment is important, but not necessary. or a requirement. It is good political sense, though, to provide credible evidence and to get the public sentiment behind them to avoid a backlash in the next election

No excuse. Here is the whistleblower complaint you can read yourself. Whistleblowers do not need to have first hand information, but document their sources, which he/she did. They can operate on the "hear something, say something" principle...but they should also present their evidence, which both the IG and the DNI found credible and urgent. The text of the 25th telephone conversation was the same that Trump the point he asked was this whistleblower a spy he had it so right?

The complaint filed by an intelligence officer about President Trump’s interactions with the leader of Ukraine.

On September 24 the Senate on a  bipartisan 100-0 vote urged the President to release the Whistleblower complaint text. On September 25 the President also released a report of his July 25 conversation with the Ukrainian president and on September 26 the White House released the text of the Whistleblower complaint. Trump must have been thinking this would put the matter to rest since the magic phrase smoking gun: "I'll release the military aid if you dig up dirt on the Biden family". .did not appear in the telephone conversation narrative readout. It may have been the largest political miscalculation in the history of US politics.  Trump had dodged the Mueller bullet, but something was different this time, and the President did not see it.

The GOP answer to the whistleblower is that it was just hearsay. Unfortunately for them, Trump and Guilliani have publicly stated they did ask Ukraine to re-open the investigation into Hunter Biden Unfortunately for them, the released transcript of the July 25 did condition release of military aid on a favor, to open the investigation into Hunter Biden. "I have a favor to ask, though". In addition, Trump et al are amazed the whistleblower got the telephone call transcript right and theorize he was a spy (against Trump, we note, not the United States) No hearsay, GOP. Your leader himself verified the whistleblower complaint. and so did his personal attorney, Rudy Guilliani:…/giuliani-biden-ukraine-trump-150…

That Hunter Biden should be investigated for being on the board of a Ukraine energy company and Joe Biden tried to get the  Ukraine prosecutor fired to protect his son has some fatal flaws:
1. Hunter Biden was not on the board of directors of that company then at the beginning of the 2012 Ukraine investigations into corruption and the company Hunter later jointed was not an object of those investigations. .Hunter did not join until two years later.
2. Biden's urging the firing of the prosecutor was to find a more active prosecutor.  His intervention would have hurt Hunter, not help him.Biden and the entire western world asked the prosecutor to be fired because he was a pro Russian holdover himself being charged of corruption. In fact, the whole western world, every international loan agency and the EU demanded that he be fired and, including Biden, urged more vigorous prosecution of corruption, not less.  Biden's "invervention " would have hurt Hunter Biden

If the public confessions of Trump and Guilliani are not enough to verify "the hearsay" as they did, and we can expect the witnesses the whistleblower named refused to come forward...and stonewall the subpoenas,,the most important public witness should be the Inspector General who did interview the witnesses and verified the whistleblower was credible...and what he alleged was urgent. A bit of dates: if the military aid to Ukraine was not given to them by Sept 30, the aid was "dead". A few days before the July 25 conversation, Trump froze the aid. On Sept 13, he released the aid...about the time the whistleblower became known. The date we do not know is when the tape or actual transcript of the Jul 25 telephone call was put in the ultra-secret server reserved for national security matters...not political ones.

I have some theories of why the reason the GOP and White House thought the releases would not hurt the President that much. Their experience with the Mueller investigation confirmed a belief that the bulk of the American electorate would give them a pass since Americans really did not care if foreign powers interfered in US elections since either it helped Trump, their candidate, get elected,  or they were not sure it made a difference in the election outcome. It was just dirty politics as usual even if it involved a foreign adversary. The Mueller Report ended in a political fizzle in spite of the overwhelming evidence that the Russians conducted effectively targeted social media and advertising measures on behalf of Trump.  The only ones who thought the Mueller Report provided a reason for impeachment were some members of the opposition party. Even the majority of Democrats did not think it was worth the pain of impeachment and they feared a voter backlash in swing districts.  That the Mueller Report provided plenty of evidence the White House obstructed the investigation into the Russian interference in the 2016 elections, Mueller also gave the President a pass because of a Department of Justice policy not to indict a sitting president.  Public opinion polls backed up Democrats' fears that the public was not with them in impeachment. The President thought he could get away with any similar action in the future since he got away with the issue of foreign interference revealed in the Mueller Report.  Overnight with the release of the report of the telephone conversation between Trump and the Ukraine president and the Whistleblower complaint text, public opinion in favor of an impeachment inquiry increased by 13 points, though public opinion was still split 50-50 and hearings and testimony bringing the issue to more public attention and verification just begun.

What was different this time? Why did this complaint and telephone call did not have the same anemic impact that followed the Mueller report? Unlike the Mueller report which dwelt on the 2016 campaign, the sitting president himself is the active perpetrator now, not just a passive and arms-length beneficiary of foreign election interference. The smoking gun implicating the President 's collusion was never found by Mueller. This time the gun revealed in the released documents had enough smoke to implicate the president. To force an unwilling foreign country to interfere in an upcoming election on behalf of his political interest, Trump applied a strong-arm tactic using a  bargaining chip of a policy that ran counter to US national security interests.   While the exact magic words of a quid pro quo did not appear in the ill-fated telephone conversation notes,  the report readout did show the sequence and the condition attached.  It was  "though, we ask a favor "that immediately followed the Ukraine president asking to release military aid the president had held up. That was evidence enough of Trump's actions and intent to indicate that needed military aid would be released if Ukraine "played ball" by providing dirt on the Biden family.  Earlier the Wall Street Journal documented eight attempts by Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Guilliani and even a public TV admission by Guiliani that indicated that the request to find dirt on the Bidens was the issue between Ukraine's newly elected president and Trump.  This ill-fated telephone call further left no doubt of Trump's motivation. The conditional withholding of military aid to force Ukraine to re-investigate the Bidens was the new public element in the saga. Perhaps Trump thought he could divert attention from his actions by making noise about Biden's son's wrongdoings as if two wrongs made Trump's wrong a right.  Perhaps he could blame a partisan Deep State again. It worked for him in the Mueller investigation.

What was also different was that US policy toward Russia, to arm Ukraine to stop Russian attempts to take back USSR's former satellites, had strong bipartisan support in the Senate which had appropriated the military aid to the western leaning Ukrainian government. GOP sentiment toward Russia had hardened while Trump continued licking Putin's boots with his public pronouncements. Even Republican  Senators believed it was in US security interests to stop Russian aggressive designs on  Eastern Europe.  Both Senate Republicans and Democrats agreed in voting 100 to 0  for military aid to Ukraine. Using the big stick of withholding military aid to Ukraine for Trumps's personal political advantage is no small matter.

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