Friday, January 31, 2020

Lessons from the Senate impeachment trial.



The vote on Friday afternoon to permit witnesses and documents was 49 yes to 51 no. Collins and Romney were the only Republicans votes to permit witnesses.  The vote on acquittal will be held Wednesday.  It is a foregone conclusion, the vote will be to acquit.

There are at least twelve lessons we can take from the Senate trial to date, assuming next Wednesday the vote is to acquit.

Lesson one: We cannot trust the guy in the White House to do what is in our national interest if he can do something else to benefit himself, even if it undermines his own  publicly stated foreign policy that has bi-partisan support and funding. Quid pro quos are ok if they serve to advance our foreign policy. However, the quid pro quo that his chief of staff Mick Mulvaney asked us to get over it, was very unique and corrupt. Trump engineered with Ukraine did just the opposite: he undermined his own administration's stated foreign policy to advance his personal political goals; he used extortion to pressure a reluctant corruption reforming Ukraine president to do a favor for him that was corrupt in itself; to cook up dirt on Joe Biden. The White House defense team impeached Hunter Biden, but they never were able to prove Joe deviated from US policy to get rid of a corrupt prosecutor that refused to crack down on any corruption. More vigorous prosecution would have hurt Hunter, not have helped him. Using corruption to fight corruption does not advance ending corruption. He used a national security tool with bi-partisan support and broke a law to do it;...military aid to help Ukraine fight off Russian aggression..as the bargaining chip contrary to his own administrations stated foreign policy to give Ukraine lethal military aid; and he sent a signal to Russia that he himself did not care a "s...t" about Ukraine (per Trump political appointee EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony ) to do it just as Ukraine was trying to negotiate with Russia to settle the conflict, and to get the best deal, they had only their backs covered by the US to .give them the power to reach a decent deal.

Lesson two:   The executive branch has won a power struggle with the legislative branch damaging the balance of power., shifting more to the executive branch.  Trump just got away with his refusal to honor any Congressional subpoena whether or not it was subject to executive privilege, a claim never made by any president in the 250 years of this country. He did lose on the timing of the acquittal vote. It was after the Super Bowl and the State of the Union address so he could not tout the acquittal.

Lesson three: Trump did all in his power to keep the full story from voters by stonewalling key witnesses and documents from Congress and the public.   The Senate continued the Trump stonewalling strategy. The GOP conducted a pseudo-trial rigged to keep the truth from the American people by refusing to allow heretofore first-hand witnesses to give testimony or to allow back up documentation to corroborate witness testimony, but hidden by the Trump administration from public view.  

Lesson four: John Bolton holds the closest thing to a smoking gun that could destroy the White House claim that Trump was concerned about general corruption in Ukraine as the motivation for his scheme. Bolton has unimpeachable credibility as the long time darling of the conservative hawks.  In his leaked book manuscript, Bolton, Trump's national security advisor, was in the room as Trump told him the reason he had not unfrozen the aid was to get the Ukrainian president to announce the favors: to investigate Burisma and the Bidens and to support the Russian propaganda line that Ukraine, not Russia, hacked the DNC server in 2016.  The GOP Senate managed to keep him from testifying in the trial with their 51 to 49 vote against any witnesses. Per Bolton, Trump only cared about getting evidence damaging to the Bidens.   https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/31/us/politics/trump-bolton-ukraine.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage   Bolton's manuscript was leaked in the morning before the  Senate trial vote on permitting witnesses. Per the leaked Boston manuscript: In May Trump told Bolton to call the newly elected president of Ukraine to talk to Guiliani about the scheme to find dirt on the Bidens. Bolton never made the call.  The scheme was begun in May and the White House chief lawyer for his defense, Pat Cipollone, in the Senate trial was in on the planning meeting as were Bolton, Rudy Guiliani, and Mick Mulvaney. The White House defense team impeached Hunter Biden, but they never were able to prove Joe deviated from US policy to get rid of a corrupt prosecutor that refused to crack down on any corruption. More vigorous prosecution would have hurt Hunter,. It would not have helped him.. In short, what Joe Biden was doing did not advance Hunter Biden's cause; it had the potential of hurting him.
While it was a shame Bolton could not testify under oath at the Senate trial, expect him to testify before the House Oversight Committee under oath this spring. While the White House tries to block the publication of his book, his live sworn testimony will still echo until the November elections.

 Lesson five:  Any future presidential bad actors can get away with asking foreign intervention in our elections and pressuring reluctant foreign ally to do it. They know how they can neither be prosecuted for committing  the kind of bribery the President committed or be removed  by impeachment since the Senate concluded such acts  are not harmful enough to justify removing a president.

Lesson six: Bribery has been redefined to the Senate GOP majority mean that political favors are not something of value. That Trump withheld what Ukraine coveted, military aid and an Oval Office visit . in order to get the Ukrainian president to agree to investigate deeds committed by both an American political rival  and Ukraine’s role in 2016 elections to benefit Trump in his re-election, instead of Russia doing it. There is case law on the issue and the Federal Election Commission does consider favors are a thing of value.

 Lesson seven: The GOP is no longer the GOP, but the Trump party. This acquittal vote has just demonstrated his takeover is complete.

  Lesson eight:  Russia won the most.  They have their guy in the White House who perpetuates the myth it was Ukraine, not Russia who hacked the election in 2016. Using freezing military aid as a bargaining chip signals Trump  does not fully  have Ukraine’s back in the conflict with Russia. The Russia hawks in the GOP lost the power struggle battle, but Bolton may the hawk that wins the war.

 Lesson nine:  Any proclamation by Donald Trump he was exonerated by the Senate as not committing the acts as charged will not pass the smell test. He may have been acquitted, but that he was cleared of the charges is not believed by even all of his supporters in the Senate. That was respected retiring GOP Senator Lamar Alexander’s takeaway in his opinion. The House proved their case and justified their impeachment charges even without more testimony and documents so he would oppose the calling of more witnesses and documents in the trial.  This leaves his and others' arguments that even if true, the act itself was just not bad enough to justify removing him for office for it., leaving the question open:  if this is not bad enough, what is?

Lesson ten:  The Senate gave away another chunk of their power., in addition to failure to support their role in declaring war and war powers acts.  The GOP Senate that bellied up over accepted White House interpretations of the Constitution, refused to perform their Constitutionally granted duty to check the President and gave him a green light to defy any Congressional subpoena for any reason and their vital power to hold him accountable.  The executive branch won the power struggle with the legislative branch. Trump just got away with his refusal to honor any Congressional subpoena for any reason whether or not it was subject to executive privilege, a claim never made by any president in the 250 years of this country. His aids have absolute immunity. However, that needs yet to be litigated in test cases and one is pending regarding Don McGahn's role in the Mueller investigation, probably landing in the Supreme Court, long after the November election and years past the Mueller investigation.  https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/11/mcgahn-testify-subpoena-absolute-immunity-ruling  The first judge to rule against absolute immunity in the McGahn case concluded we do not have kings.  Appeals through layers of courts have just begun.

Lesson eleven: The door is now open for foreign actors to help Trump get re-elected in 2020, to undertake active measures on his behalf, to use psyche warfare through social media to help him, and there is no way to stop it.  If Mueller could not prove Trump himself conspired with the Russians, we saw him the next day after that publicly announced  conclusion exonerating him not only welcomed foreign interference, he put pressure on a foreign  government not willing to play his game to do the deeds for him.

Lesson twelve: It is now up to the voters in November to endorse or damn Trump's deeds and their Senators who supported him.  The Democrats have a gift delivered to them.  They can now assert the trial itself will be considered a  sham by many voters and they realize the  GOP pulled a fast one on the voters. Trump will not be able to claim he was exonerated of wrongdoing; he was simply acquitted on a party-line vote. Colorado’s Senator Cory Gardner was the first Senator from a purple state to swear his loyalty to Donald Trump to deny John Bolton or any other witness from testifying that might show his leader in a bad light.   Gardner, too, needs to be held accountable in November.  

While  John Bolton's book was leaked with bombshell allegations, Lev Parnas, Guiliani's man on the ground in Ukraine, wrote a letter to Mitch McConnell outlining what he would testify to if witnesses were allowed.  He names and says he has documentation. There were more in the loop, including Senators and Congressmen, in on the plans to get dirt on Biden, than we thought. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/lev-parnas-letter-says-he-has-information-relevant-to-trump-impeachment-trial  Now, thanks to the Senate vote against witnesses, neither Bolton or Parnas can testify under oath in the trial. That door has been shut. They may be called to testify at House hearings under oath in the future, however.


Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Trump's road to re-election: Damage Joe Biden and tout his economy

Donald Trump's road to re-election is to damage his most feared opponent, Joe Biden,  so that even Democrats fall for it. That explains the GOP fixation on  Hunter Biden in the impeachment trial. They however had a stretch to prove the link that implicated Joe Biden, relying on circumstantial and coincidental timelines of his actions and words.  Trump is putting his eggs in one basket: trumpeting an economy that is booming.  However, that strategy does have black caution flags waving. Most Americans believe the nation is on a wrong track, always a bad sign for an incumbent per a recent poll. https://apnews.com/863dbb1db71948e5801b990fb1f73e3e

The overarching message of Trump supporters, "it is the economy stupid",  is based on the belief the strong economy will outweigh any of his negatives from disgust with his character, to his White  Nationalism, to his bailouts of agriculture needed by his protectionist trade policies, to his pro-Russian inclinations in foreign policy,. Even with the bailout, farm bankruptcies are up 20% hitting family farms the hardest.   Exposed in the impeachment process was his unethical,  outside the law conduct damaging the nation's security interests whenever it benefitted him and benefits him personally in the future.

Trump may be able to make a strong case with the well-heeled but his economy also is showing weaknesses.    Ronald Reagan's famous: "are you better off today than...." question is critical.  Disturbing to the GOP should be a  November poll in the Financial Times.  Only roughly 1/3 of voters nation-wide believe they are better off since Trump took office.  The GOP is starting with warning flags flying as voters take a reality check. The effect of the Trump economy has been uneven with the rich getting richer and everyone else less so.https://www.cbsnews.com/news/farm-bankruptcies-jumped-20-percent-in-2019-even-with-billions-in-aid-from-u-s-government/?ftag=CNM-00-10aab6a&linkId=81567135&fbclid=IwAR0F495mcy6Soc4s-OW5vFBrM-C80ot72Kpu6z44jI99webHXuzykiOBezA   What really counts is whether the grassroots feel they are better off, especially those in the five or six states in the industrial midwest responsible for swinging to Trump in 2016. Those states provided the electoral college margins that put Trump in the White House. To ignore that geographic fact would be political malpractice.

Trump is right to fear Biden. He looks good on paper and in polls, but how he performs in the state by state primaries and caucuses and on super Tuesday will be more important.  The fight for the electoral college, the only vote that counts, will take place in the industrial east/midwest, as it did in 2016.  Biden has the blue-collar credentials and a long history of his connection with his roots and voters. He does not have to channel blue-collar, middle-class anger with rhetoric because his credentials with those voters are well established during his years in the public arena.  He is also supported by the overwhelming percentage and voter turnout activists in the African-American community he needs to win the nomination.  So long as he maintains evidence in the polls he is the most likely to continue getting their support. They are pragmatic. That minorities complain they have been cut out of the Democratic party nomination process need to consider their own minority candidates did not get their support early in the process even before the party kept changing the debate participant criteria.  I constantly hear comments in the media and in circles of friends from those who are independents or are disillusioned members of the Republican party might consider voting for a Democrat "if it was the right one like Biden".   Splitting Biden's vote are a number of moderate candidates in the caucus/primary races who could also reach the independents and turned-off Republicans. The two billionaires in the race are also vying for those moderate and middle of the road voters.   Few Democrats, though, in a general election, have Biden's trifecta of appeal.  Bernie Sanders has added one very important additional sector to his economic populist appeal: younger voters, and so far they have been strong enough factors to challenge Biden. Sanders but he loses in his appeal to moderates and the middle and older African Americans who drive their voters' turnout. in primaries and the general.

Those candidates viewed being more liberal and making more radical changes in the economy  such  as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are a major force and are splitting the more progressive voters.    Sanders' self-designation as a socialist would be a deal killer for the swing-voting moderates and independents.  Warren who is not handicapped with the socialist brand could be acceptable to both wings as their second choice if the party gets hopelessly split down the middle. Therein lies her strength as a  potential compromise candidate.


________________________________________________________________________
From my Nov. 5, 2019,  blog posting that discusses this theme in greater detail, reproduced here.
The impact of the impeachment action is yet to be seen and may not, in the long run, but it could the determining factors, contributing to the disgust and character turnoffs of Trump.  The Senate trial began with those wanting Trump removed at 51%. in national public polls. The key is in 6 battleground states which is what counts in the electoral college. One advantage in getting impeachment out of the way before 2020 begins in earnest is for Democrats to go for the President's weakness: he wants to make those in the battleground states worse off by repealing affordable healthcare insurance for the lower middle class, tie them and their children to the millstone of student debt, note the Trump administration is wedded to big pharmaceuticals' high costs and removing coverage of pre-existing conditions. They should take a page from their 2018 win and go about showing suburban women how Trump is not in their court, including supreme court choices who want to turn back the clock to a time before Roe v Wade.  Pocketbook issues that count can be added to the "disgust" factor" with Trump's character in a way that may offset his followers devoted to his anti-immigrant and racist stance in the exact swing states he must win in order to win in the electoral college. Remember: national polls are a mirage. Democrats usually win those, but only what counts will be the electoral college vote based on individual states.

From the Hill posting: "The Financial Times-Peterson poll released in November found that almost two-thirds of Americans said their finances haven’t gotten better since Trump has taken office.
"Thirty-one percent of respondents in the new poll said their finances have gotten worse since Trump won the White House, while 33 percent said their finances haven’t gotten better or worse in the same time frame.
"Just over one-third, 35 percent, of respondents did say they have seen a positive change in their finances since Trump took office.
"Of those who said their financial situation has worsened since Trump took office, 36 percent said their wages are to blame, while 19 percent blamed their personal or family debts."
The poll also showed an even split amongst likely voters over whether Trump’s policies help or hurt the U.S. economy. Forty-five percent of those polled said they believe Trump's policies have improved the economy, while another 45 percent said they’ve worsened the economy." https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/468802-majority-says-they-are-not-better-off-under-trump-poll
That is an interesting contradiction.  Even some of those who do not see they are better off or are worse off under Trump still think Trump's policies have improved the economy.  Politicians who think that voters are only interested in their own financial situation will vote on behalf of their own self-centered interest may overlook the optimism of hope, that others are benefitting and they may too, sometime.  That is the value of full employment, some income security even if they get laid off.  The downside to that is that they may have to take a cut in wages or income and they know that even wages are beginning to increase and minimum wage laws are gaining popularity.  What that may mean for Democrats is that their candidate should not threaten economic trends that they like, and still make their economic lives better.

 While the progressive left talks about how they would make their lives better, the cost of their proposals and shaking root and branch of the economic system with increasing debt, there is an uneasiness within those with hope and feeling positive about their gains will be threatened.  They want both: the gains and the betterment.  That may explain why Biden and Bloomberg are showing polling strength, Warren has faded, and Sanders appears peaked with a set number of dedicated supporters. It is a balancing act and many know it. They are asking themselves do they want to take risks or be cautious.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

The Senate trial fair? The GOP takes the hypocritical oath

Revised and updated January 27,2020
With apologies to the oath of Hippocrates taken by physicians, here is the oath that must have been taken by the GOP senators: the oath of hypocrites. The oath swearing in newly elected Senators is " must swear or affirm that they will "support and defend the Constitution." The oath the Senators first took in the trial was very different They swore at the trial beginning "you will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help you god ". Every Senator acting as jurors in the impeachment trial took both of these oaths. The oath unspoken by the GOP looks more like they are swearing allegiance to Donald Trump. With the GOP Senators, the choice they face is to be a team player or a truth player rendering impartial justice. That choice has never been made clearer with the leak of the John Bolton book draft and textual documents of Lev Parnas. So far, the GOP Senators are determined to forbid any new witnesses or documentary evidence in this "fair" trial. This course of action does not meet the smell test and voters are not stupid. They know what fair trials look like. If Bolton is denied the chance to testify under oath in the trial, the GOP will increase the intensity of the stench.

Like bobbleheads nodding in unison, so far GOP Senators echo the party line in unison: no new witnesses or documents While the final vote to permit witnesses has not taken place, during the first chance they had to put it on the agenda, they refused. A second chance will come at the end of case presentations and questions. If interviews of Senators from purple states deemed potential votes permitting new witnesses are an indication, the GOP leadership and the White House seem to still have control over their caucus in a unified front to oppose additional witnesses and documents, even as new witnesses and evidence emerge that shred their carefully constructed arguments.

The question of whether this is a "fair" trial has just gotten an answer. It is no. Without additional witnesses, the flim-flam of the GOP/White House case would not be exposed. Neither the Senators nor the voters will get a full picture of the President's corrupt intent. We need to hear from John Bolton, President's national security advisor. under oath. Trump immediately denied the critical conversation that addresses the main claim that Trump did not tie freezing military aid to Zelensky to the "favors" he asked, to investigate the Bidens and Ukraine's role in hacking the DNC server in 2016. Timelines, testimony from Department of Defense and Budget officials, and ambassadors indicate that freezing the aid orders from the President and the July 25 telephone happened the week before and within hours after the call. Calls from the Ukraine embassy asking where is their aid preceded the July 25. The White House attorneys had argued these were not first-hand witnesses, but now one has come forth, Bolton. Whether Bolton's book draft would shake loose the needed four GOP Senators to vote to permit witnesses is unlikely, but hope springs eternal.

Slamming the GOP Senate's opposition on permitting witnesses is John Bolton's draft of his book that directly ties the President freezing/releasing military aid to Ukraine to Pres. Zelensky announcing the investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 election DNC hack. The White House already had a copy of the draft. No wonder the GOP and the White House do not want more testimony and documentation. By distributing the draft, Bolton has his insurance policy...even if the White House tries to kill the book or excise the damning section or divert it to courts over executive privilege claims. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/26/us/politics/trump-bolton-book-ukraine.html?fbclid=IwAR3Fx2OflOdlQCgIpxKVSidjptHCDO If the GOP questions Bolton, his word against the President, then get him to testify under oath in the trial. In any case, the genie is already out of the bottle thanks to the book draft leak.

The guy on the Ukrainian ground executing Guiliani's plans to get dirt on the Bidens Lev Parnas has emerged as a first-hand witness that Donald Trump was both knowledgeable and in charge of the scheme. This was no rogue operation. Like Bolton, he too needs to testify under oath and be cross-examined.
The question of fairness of the impeachment process is one of the pots calling the kettle black. The President chortled publicly he has kept the documentary evidence and direct witnesses from the process and then the GOP in an extreme form of hypocrisy have claimed there are no direct witnesses so there is not enough proof of their case. The Bolton book draft damned that argument.

To advocate for their arguments, White House lawyers have told flat out lies. They are asking you to forget what your eyes and ears actually witnessed, and just believe the spin. One of the most often told lies by the White House lawyers in the impeachment hearings was that the impeachment was unfair because the White House and GOP House members could not participate. 47 members of the GOP House had equal time cross-examination rights in the 'basement", many of those same participating in the pizza party protest. I sat through every hearing in the inquiry phase and heard defenders of Trump called as witnesses and those from the other side have equal time to cross-examine. And then this gem: The White House was invited to participate in the House Judiciary Committee and they refused, claiming, this hearing was unfair, so let us wait until the Senate trial." What it means is that the GOP will only participate when their party is in control. So far, the GOP Senators are determined to forbid any witnesses or evidence in this "fair" trial. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry/white-house-appears-dismiss-house-judiciary-s-invitation-participate-impeachment-n1097021

.There is a contrary streak in me. Democrats would win if Republicans persisted in denying witnesses and documents in the Senate trial and their votes to acquit and to deny witnesses and documents are totally along party lines. It would bolster Democrats' point: Trump was not exonerated; this was a party loyal vote. period. It was not a fair trial. We should have heard such testimony under oath, or, if not testifying, take the fifth, or claim executive privilege. We will never get the whole truth of the President's role and purpose. What is important, though, in equal measure, Democrats will continue providing evidence outside the trial to keep their attack fact points alive right through November. Investigative journalism will carry the ball forward and Bolton's book will sell well if it escapes the White House noose.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Donald Trump's character was put on trial in the Senate

https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4848916/rep-schiff-closing-argument-president-trumps-guilt

Rep. Adama Schiff in a memorable and moving impromptu closing argument in Day4 of the Senate impeachment trial made two arguments:  we cannot wait until Nov. 20 to remove him because is dangerous and makes choices that can be harmful to the country and because he puts his interests first over those of the  American people.  We cannot trust him to do what is right. He will do what is good for Donald Trump.

Even if the GOP Senate votes to acquit in January, the character factors will linger until November.  The Senate trial will only add to a feeling of disgust with Trump the person, which will play a larger role than the economy and public policy issues in promoting the defeat of him  On that theme,  other character flaws can be hung: lying, racism, and egomania.   A closing couple of sentences of Schiff's should be played over and over in campaign advertising., edited for the campaign " YOU KNOW YOU CAN'T TRUST THIS PRESIDENT TO DO WHAT'S RIGHT FOR THIS COUNTRY. YOU CAN TRUST HE WILL DO WHAT'S RIGHT FOR DONALD TRUMP......RIGHT MATTERS. AND THE TRUTH MATTERS. OTHERWISE, WE ARE LOST."

Monday, January 20, 2020

Trump's corruption policy: let's be as corrupt as the rest of the world

A version was published in the Winter Park Times, January 23, 2020
https://winterparktimes.com/opinion/columnists/lets-be-as-corrupt-as-the-rest-of-the-world/

Trump's corruption policy is not to fight corruption in foreign countries, but to make America as corrupt as the rest of the world. Now, we have a president who wants to permit US companies to bribe foreign officials in order to get business contracts abroad. US is already no angel at home. Foreigners often point to the US campaign finance system that makes corruption legal through lax campaign contribution rules and expensive election campaigns.

This is in the midst of an impeachment process where corruption in Ukraine is viewed as a bad thing. and the president has been charged with  a form of bribery of the Ukrainian president  (called "pressuring" in the articles of impeachment described in the abuse of power section). Trump is accused of withholding needed  military aid and a visit to the White House in order to give incentives for  the Ukrainian president  to find dirt on the presidents' likely 2020 opponent and to announce the undertaking of the investigation publicly.
At the top of the anti-corruption measures was a 1977 law forbidding  US citizens to bribe foreign government officials in order to get contracts and business. Bribery is viewed as a criminal act, whether in our country or abroad. Since 2017, President Trump has been advocating overturning the Corrupt Practices Act. This year Larry Kudlow, Director of the president's National Economic Council, said the President is looking into the possibility of overturning the 1977 anti-bribery law by using administrative measures. Trump called the anti-bribery statute unfair since it puts US corporations at a disadvantage in vying for contracts abroad when they are competing against bidders who have no such constraints or scruples. From a businessman's perspective, it is much easier to do business with corrupt governments because a bribe will get you around inconvenient zoning and financing restrictions if you know which official who is open to certain under-the-table offers and who are close to the ruler or power structure.

At the same time, campaign donations are being raised for certain GOP Senators acting as jurors in the President's impeachment trial who pledge to vote to acquit in advance of the trial itself. According to an investigative report of Senators benefitting by these special fundraising efforts are those who are facing tough  re-election campaigns in purple states who may feel inclined to waffle on acquitting the president in the trial. The Hill that obtained the fundraising appeal letter.  Among those who are targeted for campaign funds raised by Donald Trump and the GOP in this special effort is our own Colorado senator Cory Gardner.  There is nothing illegal about this, nor this does not mean Gardner is corrupt, but it is an example of the difficulties that Senators have in bucking Trump if they wanted to vote to acquit and it reveals  the power of campaign contributions as a party discipline weapon. The amount of money needed to campaign successfully is enormous given the cost of advertising and the length of the campaign season. Reforms are needed in both of those cost generating factors. The recent Citizen's United decision by the US Supreme Court that overturned the federal law forbidding campaign contributions by corporations to candidates has only made that form of legalized corruption of the legislative process worse as money more easily can flow to campaign coffers.


The question on the table is what kind of a country do we want to be? The uncorrupt standard for the rest of the world or do we want to be a country that is as corrupt as the actors we so piously condemn?  Not only must we not let the Trump administration legalize bribery abroad, but we should start cleaning house in reforming campaign finance laws at home.

https://www.politico.com/news/2019/10/31/trump-impeachment-senators-donor-062084

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/01/donald-trump-bribery-laws

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/478846-kudlow-says-trump-looking-at-reforming-law-on-bribing-foreign

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/15/business/economy/trump-bribery-law.h

https://fortune.com/2018/11/30/trump-putin-penthouse-moscow/

https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/politics/new-poll-shows-majority-of-coloradans-support-impeachment-inquiry-hickenlooper-leads-gardner

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/12/10/us/politics/articles-impeachment-document-pdf.html#g-page-2

Sen. Cory Gardner is no profile in courage, Blog posting 10/2019

https://news.yahoo.com/trump-illegal-bribe-law-changes-052319359.html?.tsrc=jtc_news_index&ncid=facebook_yahoonewsf_akfmevaatca


Sunday, January 19, 2020

Should social media and advertising on the internet be regulated?

That is a thorny question.  If certain content is forbidden, who is the censor? The government? The owners of the media? The first amendment and freedom of the press are core values and enablers of our democracy.  My belief is not the most libertarian.  We need to have sources revealed because in social media and internet advertising, the writers and the funders can easily be concealed. If the owners of the media are unwilling to do it, the government may have to require them to do so, particularly if foreign interference in the elections is viewed as a threat to our national security and the integrity of the election process.
From a recent exchange on Facebook with a very thoughtful libertarian who does not believe it is the
government responsibility to regulate the content of social media:.
Me:I do believe in a free marketplace of ideas, but like anything I buy in a marketplace, I would like to see its manufacture of origin and its real ingredients, not just the label or the hype. As you see, I am not a libertarian, but I do believe in the right to express oneself short of shouting fire in a theater and fomenting a violent revolution, and I do believe in the right of the consumers of that information to be aware of national origin and contents.
Libertarian: I agree. But you’re holding the theater owner responsible and not the person screaming fire. There are already constitutional laws limiting free speech. Those should be applied to the people who break those laws. And for the record, news agencies do not reveal sources. Many go to court to avoid having to reveal sources. This isn’t about Facebook. This is about the people who post on Facebook.
Me: That is indeed a thorny problem.  How do you sort the foreign influencers from John Doe just expressing opinions? Start with fake news stories planted and originating from foreign servers and with attention to paid advertising. That is squarely in the purview of the owner of the social media. It should be in their interest to be a trusted source, but advertising dollars are more in their interest.   
It is a matter of national interest:  What has changed in current times, is that foreign actors have unprecedented ability to change the minds of Americans and Americans have no way of knowing it. In the cold war and prior hot wars, enemies had difficulty using their propaganda methods to change our domestic minds. Radio and broadcast TV and printed papers were the media. Now, with the internet, they have unmitigated access, and they can do it in disguise or with no attribution. They know what rings our chimes. They play on fears and hatred, targeting groups who already disposed that way.  Such gut appeals are strong motivators to help the candidate they think will act in ways that benefit their foreign policy. The unthinking, unquestioning bobbleheads of the vulnerable low information voter is their fondest target. This is what happened in 2016 and is happening again in 2020. The Mueller Report volume one contains 150 pages of how they did it. Thanks to the fast growth of the internet and social media, we have not had the experience and time to prepare for that kind of an onslaught. We are babes in the woods in the modern era of the internet and the wild frontier of social media.
What has also changed is our level of cybersecurity sophistication. The point you raise is that "it isn't about Facebook, it is about the people who post on Facebook is a good point." I would differentiate it. : That is indeed a thorny problem. How do you sort the foreign influencers from John Doe just expressing opinions? Start with fake news stories planted and originating from foreign servers and with attention to paid advertising. That is squarely in the purview of the owner of the social media. It should be in their interest to be a trusted source, but advertising dollars are more in their interest. lt appears. Cybersecurity methods are far more capable than John Doe's and they should be tapped to determine sources of news stories and advertising. Both the private sector and government have the tools. Use them. It is in the interest of Facebook to do it if they object to the government stepping in and doing it for them.  I would have preferred Zuckerberg to take responsibility. He didn't.  We now are left with the government to do it if they believe it is in national security interests.  If determining what is fake news is the problem, then all news that does not identify its origin would keep the government and the private sector for having to make that judgment call. 

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/russia-troll-2020-election-interference-twitter-916482/?fbclid=IwAR3x2RqeWfwfV-ZB6LgnsRdyyI53JY0g4fJ7p-fIZFnEoec0jiskNgdCZJU

Friday, January 17, 2020

Some arguments and rebuttals we can expect in the Senate impeachment trial

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/01/us/politics/trump-impeachment-hearing.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry/white-house-appears-dismiss-house-judiciary-s-invitation-participate-impeachment-n1097021

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecpF26eMV3U


Here are some of the arguments you can expect the lawyers to debate in the Senate trial. The GOP's argument has been no laws had been broken so the president did not commit high crimes per impeachment criteria. The President did indeed break laws to execute his scheme.  The government General Accountability Office just reported that Trump had broken the impoundment law by failing to provide a reason or following the required procedure in freezing the aid to Ukraine. https://www.gao.gov/assets/710/703909.pdf Another is that Federal Election Laws that forbid soliciting something of value from a foreign government in a political campaign. Trump broke that one by asking Ukraine to find dirt on a political opponent to help him in the 2020 election. That "favor" was asked of the President of Ukraine in the infamous July "perfect" phone call. Nothing in the Constitution requires the president of being found guilty of a crime before he could be impeached. If there was such a Constitutional requirement of the commitment of a crime prior to impeachment, there would never be an impeachment because no president can be indicted for a federal crime while in office due to court decisions and Department of Justice rules.

What we can expect is for the GOP to claim Trump's impeachment is baseless because Trump's attempt to play a dirty campaign scheme failed so there was no harm done.  An attempted crime is considered a crime by itself even if it is stopped in the act.  Timelines are damning evidence.

Expect the GOP to say that the President's actions were committed to helping American foreign policy objectives of ending corruption in Ukraine so therefore he did not abuse his power to help himself win re-election.  The problem the GOP faces is that every witness and document revealed in the House inquiry only proves that Trump's single-minded goal was to get dirt on the Bidens by his constant failure to cite the need to end Ukraine's corruption in general. Even two participants in executing the scheme agree Ambassador Gordon Sondland concluded that Trump did not give a "s..t" about Ukraine; he was only interested in the Bidens. Lev Parnas, Guiliani's fixer and on the ground executor of the scheme, in an interview on TV testified likewise. If he is considered a flawed witness, Parnas mostly corroborated other sworn testimony and backed up his statements with documented text messages and notes. That is also a good reason he needs to be called to give sworn testimony in the trial.   Both men also attested the President's private attorney, Rudy Guiliani, was not a rogue actor but that the president himself directed their activities. John Bolton, a party to the scheme, may also provide corroborating testimony.

The GOP leaders want to dramatize witnesses if witnesses are ever permitted are ones that put Joe Biden in a bad light, though Joe Biden is not the object of the impeachment and was not a witness or participant in the events of withholding aid and pressure on the Ukrainian president. Biden's actions may be relevant in a campaign, but he is not relevant to the issue now before the Senate. An inconvenient timeline...Ukraine corrupt prosecutor was not investigating Burisma, the company Hunter Biden was part of,.  for corruption when Joe Biden was urging the prosecutor to be removed. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry/biden-campaign-warns-against-media-use-trump-disinformation-during-impeachment-n1118681

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/10/03/what-really-happened-when-biden-forced-out-ukraines-top-prosecutor/3785620002/


The Government Accountability Office is a legislative branch government agency that provides auditing, evaluation, and investigative services for the United States Congress. It is the supreme audit institution of the federal government of the United States. Wikipedia

 https://www.foxnews.com/politics/gao-says-trump-admin-broke-law-ukraine

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Update: January 15 and 17, 2020
Lev Parnas' document dump within the week is written evidence that additionally verifies Trump's intent in the actions was not on behalf of national policy but for his own political benefit. Trump is directly tied by those Parnas documents to directing the operation through Rudy Guiliani.  Parnas and the testimony of John Bolton, Trump's national security advisor at the time, could provide further damning evidence of Trump's corrupt intent. Both indicated they would testify if subpoenaed in the Senate trial and present new evidence not available to the House inquiry.

We had made fun of Lev and Igor. No one is laughing now. Lev, born Russian, appeared both literate and accent free fluent in English and he was Guiliani's gopher. in Ukraine itself... He asked who was he himself, a nobody, and he said he would never have had access to the Ukrainian president and his brass if they did not believe he was representing Trump and was under his direction via Guiliani. His interview by Rachel Madow was most corroborating public utterance of what others had said during testimony, but he was the executor of the scheme itself on the ground there and the closest to the action. Like Fiona Hill, like Gordon Sondland, like so many others testifying at the impeachment inquiry, Trump was not interested in carrying out the US policy to reform Ukrainian corruption in general, but he was only interested in getting dirt on the Bidens. This is key since the GOP's main line of defense will be Trump was carrying out stated US foreign policy to end Ukraine's corruption. Amb. Sondland himself told those in earshot," Trump did not care "s..t" about Ukraine. It was about the Bidens." Finding dirt about the Bidens to help him in 2020 was the purpose of the scheme. The GOP will claim Lev is an untrustworthy witness because he is under indictment for campaign violations in 2016. However, whatever Lev said he had reams of text message printouts and damning notes he wrote on a hotel notepad to back his words up. His interview with Maddow was not under oath and I'll put money on it that Mitch McConnell will do all he can to keep him from being a witness under oath at the Senate trial.

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The Parnas documents also expose another deal in the works.  The Ukraine prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko,  fingered by the US Ambassador Maria Jovanovitch as corrupt, said he had dirt on the Bidens he would provide if Jovanovich was removed. She was removed quickly in fear she was in danger. and Parnas revealed the threat that she was being followed.   That explains how Jovanovitch got reassigned so abruptly without explanation..For Guiliani to get the dirt, the deal was to get Jovanovitch out of her post first. Both the Ukrainian government and the US Secretary of State announced they would open an investigation to check into the implied threat of Yovanovitch being followed and for what purpose. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/16/world/europe/ukraine-yovanovitch-investigation.html
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__________________________________________________________________________________https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/11/20/20974201/gordon-sondland-impeachment-hearing-testimony-biden-show-trump Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s Wednesday, Nov. 20,  House testimony was full of revelations. One of them is that President Donald Trump never seemed to ask Ukraine for an actual investigation of Vice President Joe Biden or his son, Hunter.
All he wanted, according to Sondland, was a public announcement of an investigation. He wanted a show.
There is a great discussion of the meaning of high crimes in Wikipedia and the various interpretations.
I have copied it for my own quick reference with thanks and acknowledgment to Wikipedia
"High," in the legal and common parlance of the 17th and 18th centuries of "high crimes," is activity by or against those who have special duties acquired by taking an oath of office that are not shared with common persons.[5] A high crime is one that can be done only by someone in a unique position of authority, which is political in character, who does things to circumvent justice. The phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors," used together, was a common phrase when the U.S. Constitution was written and did not require any stringent or difficult criteria for determining guilt but meant the opposite. The phrase was historically used to cover a very broad range of crimes.
The Judiciary Committee's 1974 report "The Historical Origins of Impeachment" stated: "'High Crimes and Misdemeanors' has traditionally been considered a 'term of art', like such other constitutional phrases as 'levying war' and 'due process.' The Supreme Court has held that such phrases must be construed, not according to modern usage, but according to what the framers meant when they adopted them. Chief Justice John Marshall wrote of another such phrase:
It is a technical term. It is used in a very old statute of that country whose language is our language, and whose laws form the substratum of our laws. It is scarcely conceivable that the term was not employed by the framers of our constitution in the sense which had been affixed to it by those from whom we borrowed it.[6][7]
Since 1386, the English parliament had used the term “high crimes and misdemeanors” to describe one of the grounds to impeach officials of the crown. Officials accused of “high crimes and misdemeanors” were accused of offenses as varied as misappropriating government funds, appointing unfit subordinates, not prosecuting cases, promoting themselves ahead of more deserving candidates, threatening a grand jury, disobeying an order from Parliament, arresting a man to keep him from running for Parliament, helping “suppress petitions to the King to call a Parliament,” etc.[8] Some of these charges were crimes. Others were not.[citation needed] They can be thought of as serious cases of power abuse or dereliction of duty, without a requirement for these cases to be explicitly against the law.
Benjamin Franklin asserted that the power of impeachment and removal was necessary for those times when the Executive "rendered himself obnoxious," and the Constitution should provide for the "regular punishment of the Executive when his conduct should deserve it, and for his honorable acquittal when he should be unjustly accused." James Madison said that "impeachment... was indispensable" to defend the community against "the incapacity, negligence or perfidy of the chief Magistrate." With a single executive, Madison argued, unlike a legislature whose collective nature provided security, "loss of capacity or corruption was more within the compass of probable events, and either of them might be fatal to the Republic."[9]
The process of impeaching someone in the House of Representatives and the Senate is difficult, made so to be the balance against efforts to easily remove people from office for minor reasons that could easily be determined by the standard of "high crimes and misdemeanors". It was George Mason who offered up the term "high crimes and misdemeanors" as one of the criteria to remove public officials who abuse their office. Their original intentions can be gleaned by the phrases and words that were proposed before, such as "high misdemeanor," "maladministration," or "other crime." Edmund Randolph said impeachment should be reserved for those who "misbehave." Charles Cotesworth Pinckney said, It should be reserved "for those who behave amiss, or betray their public trust." As can be seen from all these references to "high crimes and misdemeanors," the definition or its rationale does not relate to specific offences. This gives a lot of freedom of interpretation to the House of Representatives and the Senate. The constitutional law by nature is not concerned with being specific. The courts through precedence and the legislature through lawmaking make constitutional provisions specific. In this case the legislature (the House of Representatives and the Senate) acts as a court and can create a precedent.
In Federalist No. 65Alexander Hamilton said, "those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself."[10]
The first impeachment conviction by the United States Senate was in 1804 of John Pickering, a judge of the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire, for chronic intoxication. Federal judges have been impeached and removed from office for tax evasion, conspiracy to solicit a bribe, and making false statements to a grand jury.[11]
Andrew Johnson was impeached on February 24, 1868, in the United U.S. House of Representatives on eleven articles of impeachment detailing his "high crimes and misdemeanors",[12] in accordance with Article Two of the United States Constitution. (The Senate fell one vote short of conviction.) The House's primary charge against Johnson was with violation of the Tenure of Office Act, passed by Congress the previous year. Specifically, he had removed Edwin M. Stanton, the Secretary of War from office and replaced him with John Schofield, but it was unclear if Johnson had violated the act as Stanton was nominated by President Abraham Lincoln and not by Johnson.
During the impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1999, White House Counsel Charles Ruff described a "narrow" interpretation of "high crimes and misdemeanors" as requiring "a standard that the framers intentionally set at this extraordinarily high level to ensure that only the most serious offenses and in particular those that subverted our system of government would justify overturning a popular election". Writing in 1999, Mark R. Slusar commented that the narrow interpretation seemed to be most common among legal scholars and senators.[13]

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Both GOP Senate and the President are on trial

Revised. updated, and edited January 17, 2019.
Both  GOP Senators and the President are on trial with verdicts proclaimed by future historians. and voters in  November. The  GOP conduct of the Senate trial has serious consequences for the interpretation of the Constitution,  the future of democracy, the balance of powers, the rule of law,  and the acceptability and legality of actions taken by this and future presidents. If the trial is viewed as unfair, a show trial or one in which evidence was suppressed,  the outcome of the Senate trial will also not be taken seriously and will be considered a partisan whitewash. If Donald Trump claims the partisan acquittal exonerated him, that, too, will not be taken seriously.  The trial will not only be judged by historians, but it will also be about reaching the hearts and minds of voters in 2020. The political impact of this cannot be denied.

Here is what is at stake. The danger to American democracy and the rule of law is that is if a president thinks he can get away with his kind of misdeeds,  then in the future other corrupt presidents and he could be tempted to do likewise. Trump's withholding foreign aid, using it as an inducement to get a foreign ally to help his own political interests and soliciting foreign interference to help him with his next election are lessons he will learn he and others could do if he gets away with it this time. He also claimed "blanket immunity", granting himself the power to defy any Congressional subpoenas and oversight.  He has asserted that presidential power overrides any action by Congress. Trump has raised his middle finger at laws and Constitution that would keep him in check from being a dictator or king.

How serious is this impeachment? So what if what Trump did is found to be true? Does it rise to the reason to remove him from office? If Bill Clinton could have been impeached for lying about his sexual activities with an intern, then the Trump impeachment charges are far more worthy of a guilty vote. His accusers contend that he withheld Congressional approved military support from a fragile ally that was trying to hold off a Russian attempt to retake them and eventually other former USSR satellites.  National security interests are at stake versus lying about marital infidelity.

Also at stake also is whether the President can get away with claiming he can ignore the powers the Constitution granted them to check executive branch power. The White House and GOP supporters of Trump first tried to stonewall all witnesses subpoenaed by the House, forbidding executive branch members from testifying in the House inquiry. This blanket immunity has never be asserted by any president before and the challenge to the balance of power intent as constructed in the Constitution is profound.  White House refused to appear when they were subpoenaed. They then tried to say there was no evidence to prove Trump abused his power or did what he was accused of doing. That was a cynical maneuver. First, they hid the evidence and then tried to say impeachment should fail because there was a lack of evidence. It did not work.. When given the chance to appear or send his lawyers to refute the evidence in open hearings, Trump refused. Fact witnesses braved wrecking their own professional futures and testified. Many inquiry witnesses had been active supporters of Trump. Many were not hearsay witnesses, as GOP and Trump media falsely contend. Many were actively involved in executing the scheme. Another result was that one of the articles of impeachment became the obstruction of Congress.

The Senate trial process is unfolding as this is being written.
 It is assumed that the GOP party discipline will hold. The possibility of acquittal is also helped by the Constitution's provision that requires that a guilty finding to have a yes vote by two-thirds of the senators. No sitting president has ever been removed because no impeachment reached the two-thirds requirement.   Here is the fanciful  line you can expect in response to acquittal from the President: "I was not impeached because I was acquitted."  Andrew Johnson and  Bill Clinton were never impeached because they were acquitted if you follow Trump's illogic.  Of course not. History calls Johnson and Clinton impeached just as Trump's biography will also have that tag attached to his name forever regardless of how he tries to redefine it.

 The GOP  claiming impeachment is a purely political hoax conducted by a Democratic-dominated House is worse than a  pot calling the kettle black since they,  their media cohorts and the White House provided no fact-based refutation and witnesses in the House inquiry hearings when they had an opportunity to do so. Instead, they thumped the table, claiming it all was so unfair. .  Now in the Senate trial, they have that opportunity in a body dominated by their own party. They can no longer duck and shout slogans. It is game time. So what are they doing? Sen. Mitchell, GOP majority leader wanted to stop any witness testimony from either side and make it a drive-by, quicky, boring trial of argumentation of legal theory and the meaning of words,  with limited press access. Perhaps they hope voters will tune it out in a few days, lost in the fog of legalese.  Donald Trump, on the other hand, is wanting it to be a reality show since he sees the ultimate trial will be the November vote. His defense managers contain Fox and conservative media lawyers. The show is on. Trump's case is that he did nothing wrong. He is taking a risk. A  fair and open Senate trial including newly discovered evidence and testimony from key witnesses could damage his case based on evidence and facts that the President did not do what he was charged with doing.  He would be left with the GOP's preferred defense argument, he did what he did, but it was not bad enough to warrant removing him.  Either way, reality show or legal wrangling,
this is bound to leave a bad taste in voters' mouths who are already tired of the chaos of his presidency and are disgusted with his personality traits that are inappropriate for the office he serves. It will not be helpful to his re-election because evidence of his misdeeds will be on prime time and not buried in Fox News. Voters are now tuned in and alert; the Senate trial has gotten their attention and media reporting will be fed into their information base used to make decisions in 2020. The battle for their hearts and minds also annot be confined to a sham trial in the Senate.
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This segment has also been reposted as a separate post 1/17/20
Here are some of the arguments you can expect the lawyers to debate in the Senate trial. The GOP's argument has been no laws had been broken so the president did not commit high crimes per impeachment criteria. The President did indeed break laws to execute his scheme.  The government General Accounting Office just reported that Trump had broken the impoundment law by failing to provide a reason or following the required procedure in freezing the aid to Ukraine. Another is that Federal Election Laws that forbid soliciting something of value from a foreign government in a political campaign. Trump broke that one by asking Ukraine to find dirt on a political opponent to help him in the 2020 election. That "favor" was asked of the President of Ukraine in the infamous July "perfect" phone call. Nothing in the Constitution requires the president of being found guilty of a crime before he could be impeached. If there was such a Constitutional requirement of the commitment of a crime prior to impeachment, there would never be an impeachment because no president can be indicted for a federal crime while in office due to court decisions and Department of Justice rules.

What we can expect is for the GOP to claim Trump's impeachment is baseless because Trump's attempt to play a dirty campaign scheme failed so there was no harm done.  An attempted crime is considered a crime by itself even if it is stopped in the act.  Timelines are damning evidence.

Expect the GOP to say that the President's actions were committed to helping American foreign policy objectives of ending corruption in Ukraine so therefore he did not abuse his power to help himself win re-election.  The problem the GOP faces is that every witness and document revealed in the House inquiry only proves that Trump's single-minded goal was to get dirt on the Bidens by his constant failure to cite the need to end Ukraine's corruption in general. Even two participants in executing the scheme agree Ambassador Gordon Sondland concluded that Trump did not give a "s..t" about Ukraine; he was only interested in the Bidens. Lev Parnas, Guiliani's fixer and on the ground executor of the scheme, in an interview on TV testified likewise. If he is considered a flawed witness, Parnas mostly corroborated other sworn testimony and backed up his statements with documented text messages and notes. That is also a good reason he needs to be called to give sworn testimony in the trial.   Both men also attested the President's private attorney, Rudy Guiliani, was not a rogue actor but that the president himself directed their activities. John Bolton, a party to the scheme, may also provide corroborating testimony.

The GOP leaders want to dramatize witnesses if witnesses are ever permitted are ones that put Joe Biden in a bad light, though Joe Biden is not the object of the impeachment and was not a witness or participant in the events of withholding aid and pressure on the Ukrainian president. Biden's actions may be relevant in a campaign, but he is not relevant to the issue now before the Senate.




 https://www.foxnews.com/politics/gao-says-trump-admin-broke-law-ukraine

____________________________________________________________________ _____________
Update: January 15, 2020
Lev Parnas' document dump within the week is written evidence that additionally verifies Trump's intent in the actions was not on behalf of national policy but for his own political benefit. Trump is directly tied by those Parnas documents to directing the operation through Rudy Guiliani.  Parnas and the testimony of John Bolton, Trump's national security advisor at the time, could provide further damning evidence of Trump's corrupt intent. Both indicated they would testify if subpoenaed in the Senate trial and present new evidence not available to the House inquiry.

We had made fun of Lev and Igor. No one is laughing now. Lev, born Russian, appeared both literate and accent free fluent in English and he was Guiliani's gopher. in Ukraine itself... He asked who was he himself, a nobody, and he said he would never have had access to the Ukrainian president and his brass if they did not believe he was representing Trump and was under his direction via Guiliani. His interview by Rachel Madow was most corroborating public utterance of what others had said during testimony, but he was the executor of the scheme itself on the ground there and the closest to the action. Like Fiona Hill, like Gordon Sondland, like so many others testifying at the impeachment inquiry, Trump was not interested in carrying out the US policy to reform Ukrainian corruption in general, but he was only interested in getting dirt on the Bidens. This is key since the GOP's main line of defense will be Trump was carrying out stated US foreign policy to end Ukraine's corruption. Amb. Sondland himself told those in earshot," Trump did not care "s..t" about Ukraine. It was about the Bidens." Finding dirt about the Bidens to help him in 2020 was the purpose of the scheme. The GOP will claim Lev is an untrustworthy witness because he is under indictment for campaign violations in 2016. However, whatever Lev said he had reams of text message printouts and damning notes he wrote on a hotel notepad to back his words up. His interview with Maddow was not under oath and I'll put money on it that Mitch McConnell will do all he can to keep him from being a witness under oath at the Senate trial.

__________________________________________________________________________________
The Parnas documents also expose another deal in the works.  The Ukraine prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko,  fingered by the US Ambassador Maria Jovanovich as corrupt, said he had dirt on the Bidens he would provide if Jovanovich was removed. She was removed quickly in fear she was in danger. and Parnas revealed the threat.  That explains how Jovanovich got reassigned so abruptly without explanation..For Guiliani to get the dirt, the deal was to get Jovanovich out of her post first. Both the Ukrainian government and the US Secretary of State announced they would open an investigation to check into the implied threat of Yovanovitch being followed and for what purpose. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/16/world/europe/ukraine-yovanovitch-investigation.html
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__________________________________________________________________________________https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/11/20/20974201/gordon-sondland-impeachment-hearing-testimony-biden-show-trump Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s Wednesday, Nov. 20,  House testimony was full of revelations. One of them is that President Donald Trump never seemed to ask Ukraine for an actual investigation of Vice President Joe Biden or his son, Hunter.
All he wanted, according to Sondland, was a public announcement of an investigation. He wanted a show.