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  1. #46

    Re: The Road to...The Senate

    House GOP looks to protect Trump by raising doubts about motives of his deputies

    By
    Karoun Demirjian and
    Rachael Bade
    November 7, 2019 at 8:06 p.m. EST

    House Republicans’ latest plan to shield President Trump from impeachment is to focus on at least three deputies — U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and possibly acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — who they say could have acted on their own to influence Ukraine policy.

    All three occupy a special place in the Ukraine narrative as the people in most direct contact with Trump. As Republicans argue that most of the testimony against Trump is based on faulty secondhand information, they are sowing doubts about whether Sondland, Giuliani and Mulvaney were actually representing the president or freelancing to pursue their own agendas. The GOP is effectively offering up the three to be fall guys.

    Since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) initiated the impeachment inquiry Sept. 24, congressional Republicans have struggled to come up with a consistent and coherent explanation for why Trump tried to coerce a foreign leader to investigate the president’s domestic political rivals.

    Their evolving strategy comes as House Democrats settle on their argument that Trump tried to force Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to undertake two politically advantageous investigations as a precondition for U.S. military aid and a White House meeting between the two heads of state.

    By raising questions about the motivation of Trump’s top lieutenants on Ukraine policy, the GOP hopes to undermine the reliability of otherwise incriminating testimony from several current Trump administration officials.

    William B. Taylor, currently the top diplomat in Ukraine, and National Security Council expert Tim Morrison told lawmakers they learned through Sondland that U.S. military aid to Ukraine was being leveraged to secure the probes.

    Sondland “made a presumption,” House Oversight Committee member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told reporters, stressing that “what Sondland was told by the president ... [is] there was no quid pro quo.”

    Republicans, however, face several potential problems if they try to pin a quid pro quo on Sondland alone.

    Sondland testified that he was “assuming” Giuliani was speaking for Trump when he said the president wanted Zelensky to investigate the Ukrainian energy company Burisma — which gave Joe Biden’s son Hunter a job on its board when the elder Biden was U.S. vice president — and also to pursue a debunked conspiracy theory about Ukraine’s interfering in the 2016 U.S. election.

    “All the communication flowed through Rudy Giuliani, and I can only speculate that the president was instructing his personal lawyer accordingly,” Sondland said, according to a transcript of his deposition.

    But while Giuliani is Trump’s personal lawyer, GOP lawmakers appear to think they can argue he was not coordinating his actions with the president.

    “There is no direct linkage to the president of the United States,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told reporters this week, contending that while lawyers normally coordinate with their clients, Giuliani is a special case. “There are a whole lot of things that he does that he doesn’t apprise anybody of.”

    The White House and a lawyer for Sondland declined to comment.

    The suggestion that Sondland, Giuliani and possibly Mulvaney made demands of Ukrainians without Trump’s explicit blessing has emerged among several theories that Republicans have offered in Trump’s defense, as witnesses testify that they believed Ukraine was being squeezed.

    In a sign of how the GOP is scrambling, however, many of those theories run counter to each other.

    In the past few days, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) has said it doesn’t matter whether Trump made a quid pro quo demand because he didn’t have “criminal intent.” Sens. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) have argued, as Mulvaney did from a White House lectern last month, that such exchanges happen “all the time” in foreign policy and are not a serious offense, let alone impeachable.

    And Trump ally Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) has floated yet another defense, suggesting Trump’s Ukraine policy was too “incoherent” for officials to successfully execute anything as calculated as a quid pro quo arrangement.

    “What I can tell you about the Trump policy toward Ukraine: It was incoherent, it depends on who you talk to, they seem to be incapable of forming a quid pro quo,” he said.

    Much of the GOP’s frustration in recent days has focused on Sondland, who amended his original testimony after Taylor and Morrison spoke to House impeachment investigators. Sondland said he did in fact recall telling Ukrainian officials that the release of military aid would be contingent on Kyiv’s opening investigations Trump wanted.

    Both Taylor and Morrison testified that Sondland told them that Trump had asked Sondland to leverage a head-of-state meeting that Zelensky greatly desired, using it to get the two investigations activated, and that the military aid also would be contingent on the investigations taking place. But Sondland, who told investigators that he was in touch with Trump far more than he was in touch with Giuliani, testified that he never heard directly from Trump on those issues, a contradiction that witnesses have yet to clear up.

    “During that phone call, Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelensky to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukraine interference in the 2016 U.S. election,” Taylor testified. “He said that President Trump wanted President Zelensky in a box by making a public statement about ordering such investigation.”

    Taylor said that during another conversation a few days later, Sondland said “he had talked to President Trump,” who was “adamant that President Zelensky himself had to clear things up and do it in public.”

    Morrison, who defended Trump’s actions to investigators, said that he wondered at the time whether Sondland was freelancing when he informed him about the apparent quid pro quo on Sept. 1, 2019.

    “Even then I hoped that Ambassador Sondland’s strategy was exclusively his own and would not be considered by leaders in the administration and Congress, who understood the strategic importance of Ukraine to our national security,” he said.

    Sondland told lawmakers that his understanding was based on conversations with Giuliani, whom Trump had already told him he should listen to on Ukraine matters.

    “It must have been Giuliani, because I wasn’t talking to the president about it,” Sondland said, according to a transcript of his testimony, later adding: “I heard that from Rudy Giuliani. I never heard it from the president. I am assuming Rudy Giuliani heard it from the president, but I don’t know that.”

    That puts Giuliani back in the spotlight — and potentially in the crosshairs of Republicans on Capitol Hill.

    Giuliani’s freewheeling approach to representing Trump has frequently perplexed Republicans, who are frustrated by the former New York mayor’s loose-lipped media appearances, in which he has pushed conspiracy theories about Ukraine and even admitted that he directly asked Ukrainian officials to investigate the Bidens. Republicans also point to Giuliani’s business interests in Ukraine as reasons to think he may have been motivated by personal gain, and not his oft-claimed loyalty to Trump, as he ran what amounted to a shadow policy on Kyiv.

    Giuliani and Sondland are not the only people that Republicans argue can take the heat off Trump. Some congressional Republicans have suggested that Mulvaney was simply exercising his own well-documented penchant for cutting foreign aid when he effectively admitted in an Oct. 17 news conference that the administration had withheld U.S. aid to Ukraine to secure investigations that could help the president politically.

    House Democrats consider Mulvaney’s comments during that news conference — remarks that Mulvaney later tried to walk back — to be a central piece of evidence in their impeachment case against Trump.

    Several witnesses have cited Mulvaney’s quiet but central role convening meetings in which pivotal decisions about Ukraine policy were made. Multiple U.S. officials have observed that Sondland appeared to have a close relationship with Mulvaney, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent testified that Sondland exploited his ties to Mulvaney to secure audiences with Trump about Ukraine policy.

    But Sondland denied to investigators that he and the acting White House chief of staff ever substantively discussed the alleged quid pro quo.

    “I don’t recall ever having a conversation with Mr. Mulvaney” about withholding a meeting with Zelensky until Ukraine committed to the investigations, Sondland testified. “I’ve had very, very few conversations with Mr. Mulvaney. I wanted to have more, but he was never available.”

    Aaron Davis contributed to this report.


    https://www.washingtonpost.com/power...5a8_story.html
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa





  2. #47

    Re: The Road to...The Senate

    How 'Congressman-1' Got Pulled Into Rudy Giuliani's Ukraine Scheme
    HuffPost Matt Fuller, Wed, Nov 6 1:54 PM MST

    WASHINGTON ― It was April 2018, and longtime Rep. Pete Sessions could already tell he was in the race of his life.

    The Texas Republican had represented parts of north Dallas for 21 years, but the suburban revolt against President Donald Trump was now threatening to end his congressional career. Hillary Clinton had beaten Trump in his district two years before, and Sessions was vulnerable.

    So when the National Republican Congressional Committee contacted Sessions, asking if he wanted to attend a meet-and-greet fundraiser with the president and high-dollar donors at Mar-a-Lago, the answer was an easy yes. He needed all the help he could get.

    Sessions was the only congressman at the April 20, 2018, event, which featured Trump and about three dozen other GOP elites, according to an NRCC document obtained by HuffPost. Among the group were Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee; Brad Parscale, who is now Trump’s reelection campaign manager; and Bill Edwards, the billionaire CEO of Mortgage Investors Corporation.

    But also in the crowd that night were two then-lesser-known names: Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.

    Parnas and Fruman are the two Soviet-born U.S. citizens who were arrested this month as they attempted to leave the United States with one-way international tickets. They’re charged with trying to funnel foreign money to U.S. politicians in order to influence U.S.-Ukraine relations, and they are thus far the biggest arrests in the Ukraine debacle.

    Trump has said he doesn’t know Parnas and Fruman, but admitted there may be pictures of him with the men at a fundraiser. They were, at least, in the same room at the Mar-a-Lago event.
    5dc2f828210000fd4e34c258.png.cf.jpg

    Lev Parnas shared a photo of himself with President Donald Trump on social media. (Photo: Lev Parnas)
    It’s also unclear how much time Parnas and Fruman spent talking to Sessions that night, though the federal indictment of the two men mentions they met “Congressman-1” at the event. Either way, they really didn’t need to talk much. They already shared an important connection: Rudy Giuliani. And through that relationship, Parnas and Fruman would later get a more intimate meeting with Sessions as part of their alleged scheme to disrupt U.S. foreign policy for personal gain.

    It was around this time that Giuliani, serving as Trump’s personal lawyer, was also trying to create controversy around Hunter Biden sitting on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. Giuliani hoped he could get Ukrainian officials to open an investigation into the son of former Vice President Joe Biden and that energy company. The investigation was supposed to stir up the suggestion of wrongdoing by the father, who, as vice president, pushed for the ouster of a Ukranian top prosecutor. Giuliani was looking for evidence to fuel a conspiracy theory that Biden did so to aid his son.

    But Parnas and Fruman had another goal for Giuliani: Get the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, removed.

    The campaign by Giuliani, Parnas and Fruman to oust Yovanovitch appears to have come about through a confluence of interests. Yovanovitch, a career foreign service officer, was an obstacle to Giuliani’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. Parnas and Fruman wanted her gone because she stood in the way of their reported scheme to purge the leadership of Naftogaz, Ukraine’s national oil and gas company. The indictment of the two men asserts that Parnas’ efforts to remove the ambassador were also made, at least partially, at the request of one or more Ukrainian government officials.

    The plan involved replacing Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolev with company executive Andrew Fovorov, NBC News reports. In exchange for making Fovorov the CEO, Parnas and Fruman wanted to be cut in on a liquified natural gas deal — a deal they believed would happen if Yovanovitch was pushed out. Yovanovitch supported the ongoing anti-corruption reforms that Kobolev had implemented, but with her and Kobolev gone, Parnas and Fruman believed they could sell American natural gas to Ukraine and get rich.

    That plan never quite worked out, despite Yovanovitch being recalled from her post in May 2019. According to NBC News, Fovorov rejected the scheme, telling Parnas and Fruman that he was loyal to Kobolev.

    Regardless, for his part, Giuliani received $500,000 from the company that Parnas had founded, Fraud Guarantee. That money opened a number of doors for Parnas and Fruman, including the one into Sessions’ office in the Rayburn House Office Building.

    The Meeting
    While Parnas and Fruman had a direct line to President Trump through Giuliani, they also sought last year to build congressional support for removing Yovanovitch. Giuliani had an answer for that, too.

    One of Giuliani’s longtime business partners, Roy Bailey, was also a GOP megadonor. He also happened to be the campaign chairman for Pete Sessions’ 2018 reelection bid. That position was largely a figurehead role ― essentially it meant Bailey raised a lot of money for Sessions ― but it also meant Bailey could get almost anyone a meeting with the congressman.

    Sessions has acknowledged that he had “a couple additional meetings” with Parnas and Fruman off Capitol Hill as well, but it was the May 9, 2018, meeting in his office that raised the eyebrows of investigators.

    Whether Parnas and Fruman realized it or not, Sessions was the perfect mark. He had ties with virtually every other Republican representative. He was chairman of the influential House Rules Committee. He was a former chairman of the NRCC, where he helped a number of GOP members get elected. And he was a Texas Republican ― a brotherhood all its own, with its powerful tentacles wrapped around virtually every issue in Congress.

    According to former staffers, Sessions, who would lose his reelection bid, was also impressionable enough to do exactly what Parnas and Fruman wanted. As any lobbyist could tell you, Sessions was a useful connection because he was willing to do things like, say, write a letter.

    When Sessions met with Parnas and Fruman on May 9 last year, a source familiar with the conversation told HuffPost, Parnas and Fruman emphasized their love of Trump. They said they had actually worked with Trump’s father, Fred Trump ― Parnas previously told The New Yorker that he sold Trump Organization co-ops in his teens ― but they also brought up Yovanovitch, telling Sessions that she was bad-mouthing the president in Ukraine.

    A U.S. ambassador in Ukraine deriding Trump was a curious issue for Sessions to take up. Sessions, who used to brag about being the congressional representative for George W. Bush, was always more of a Bush guy than a Trump fan.

    But right after Sessions met with Parnas and Fruman, his staff began drafting a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a former Republican member of Congress who came to the House when Sessions was the NRCC chairman.
    5dc2f919200000034c507ebc.png.cf.jpg

    Parnas shared photos with then-Rep. Pete Sessions on his Facebook account. (Photo: Lev Parnas)
    The Letter
    The letter to Pompeo, dated May 11, 2018, is simple and short. It says that Sessions has received “concrete evidence from close companions that Ambassador Yovanovitch has spoken privately and repeatedly about her disdain for the current Administration.”

    Sessions does not name Parnas and Fruman. In fact, he said in a recent statement that “several congressional colleagues” told him the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was “disparaging President Trump.” He claimed that the congressional chatter was the impetus for his letter, not the meeting he had with Parnas and Fruman.

    While it’s possible that Sessions heard from other members of Congress about Yovanovitch, it’s hard to imagine any lawmaker having “concrete evidence” of Yovanovitch privately expressing disdain for Trump. And the letter was sent just two days after Sessions’ meeting with Parnas and Fruman.

    More to the point, Sessions writing letters at the behest of people he met with was standard operating procedure in his office. It would have been out of the ordinary if he didn’t offer to write a letter during the meeting, according to former staffers.

    Sessions refused to answer questions on the record about last year’s meeting, telling HuffPost that he “had been asked not to do interviews.” A federal grand jury subpoenaed Sessions in October to testify about his role in the Ukraine affair, and Parnas and Fruman were arraigned around the same time as part of a case being pursued by the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan. They both pleaded not guilty.


    The Money
    Even if Parnas and Fruman didn’t mention money during their meeting with Sessions, the implication was clear. These were two men who were at a Mar-a-Lago fundraiser for the president’s top donors. They could be helpful to Sessions, if Sessions was helpful to them.

    The indictment filed against Parnas and Fruman alleges that they “committed to raise $20,000 or more for a then-sitting U.S. congressman (‘Congressman-1’), who had also been the beneficiary of approximately $3 million in independent expenditures by Committee-1 during the 2018 election cycle.”

    Pete Sessions is “Congressman-1,” and “Committee-1” is the Trump-aligned super PAC America First Action, which ended up spending more than $3 million to support Sessions. Parnas and Fruman donated $325,000 to America First Action. They also gave $2,700 each to Sessions’ general election campaign a few weeks after their May meeting ― the maximum direct contribution allowed by law.

    Those contributions violated campaign finance laws banning anyone from making a contribution in someone else’s name, according to the federal indictment. Parnas and Fruman made the $325,000 contribution to Trump’s super PAC through a shell corporation called Global Energy Producers LLC. Federal investigators say this company did no business and was not even active at the time it made the contribution.

    As for the contributions to Sessions’ campaign, those made by Parnas were actually funded by Fruman, according to the indictment. This allowed Fruman to evade campaign contribution limits and donate more than the max to the congressman. Through a series of wire transfers, Fruman gave Parnas the $2,700 for the donation to Sessions, as well as $11,000 for a contribution to the NRCC fundraising committee, Protect the House, which was also meant to help Sessions.

    Sessions has not been indicted and is not alleged to have known that Fruman and Parnas were evading contribution limits.

    Federal prosecutors also allege that Fruman concealed some of his donations by misspelling his name as “Furman.” He went even further in his April 27, 2018, donation to the House Majority Trust, a joint committee of the NRCC and the RNC for which Sessions was helping raise money at Mar-a-Lago on April 20. As The Daily Beast reported, the related Federal Election Commission filing lists the faux “Furman” with the same occupation as a real Los Angeles-based doctor named Igor Furman. A spokesperson for Dr. Furman’s company told The Daily Beast that he never made a donation to the House Majority Trust.

    Fruman was also misrepresented in the NRCC document for the April 20 event obtained by HuffPost. He was listed as “Igor Furman,” and his bio and picture were those of Dr. Furman. The NRCC did not return a request for comment on whether that was their mistake or whether Fruman sent inaccurate information.

    The Fallout
    Despite all the financial help from Trump’s super PAC and his two decades representing north Dallas, Sessions lost to Democrat Colin Allred in November 2018. Sessions is currently toying with the idea of running for another Texas congressional seat ― this one stretching from Waco to the suburbs of Austin ― that is being vacated by Republican Bill Flores. Or, he has said, he may seek a rematch with Allred for his old seat.

    But these days, instead of his Texas twang ringing out in the Rules Committee, the name “Pete Sessions” is heard most often behind closed doors in the House Intelligence Committee, as that panel investigates the Ukraine controversy as part of its impeachment inquiry. When Yovanovitch’s testimony was released earlier this week, Sessions’ name was all over the transcript.

    Still, it wouldn’t be impossible for Sessions to win his way back to Congress with the Ukrainian cloud hanging over him. In a sense, Sessions’ path hews closely to the overall trajectory of the GOP: a Bush-loving, war-fighting party that now values fealty to Trump above all else.

    And if Sessions digs in, if he insists there was nothing wrong with meeting with Parnas and Fruman or writing a letter to the secretary of state urging that a U.S. ambassador be fired, he may actually endear himself to Trump and his Republican allies.

    It would be the final transformation for a congressman whom a future Trump enthusiast ― 2016 presidential campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson ― once tried to knock off in a primary challenge.

    This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
    https://www.yahoo.com/huffpost/pete-...as-fruman.html

    While I take many of the stories on HuffPost with a small grain of sand b/c they they have a very definite partisan slant (which I generally agree with), I thought that this was an very interesting article related to Ukraine and the impeachment inquiry, even though it probably won't make it into the inquiry itself.
    Last edited by Jeff in TX; 11-07-2019 at 10:54 PM. Reason: additional comment
    "And for my next fearless prediction..."

  3. #48

    Re: The Road to...The Senate

    I've been out all day and just saw Tiny telling reporters he has no idea who Sondland is.

    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa





  4. #49

    Re: The Road to...The Senate

    Top White House official told Congress ‘there was no doubt’ Trump sought quid pro quo with Ukrainians

    By
    Shane Harris,
    Mike DeBonis,
    Elise Viebeck and
    Michael Kranish
    November 8, 2019 at 6:44 p.m. EST

    In vivid and at times contentious testimony before House impeachment investigators, the senior White House official responsible for Ukraine described what he believed was an unambiguous effort by President Trump to pressure the president of Ukraine to open investigations targeting American politicians in exchange for a coveted Oval Office meeting.

    Under questioning from Rep. Peter Welch (Vt.) and other Democrats, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman said “there was no doubt” about what Trump wanted when he spoke by phone July 25 with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — particularly in contrast with an April call between the two leaders shortly after Zelensky’s election.

    “The tone was significantly different,” Vindman said, according to a transcript of his Oct. 29 deposition released Friday. Vindman, who as a senior White House official listened in on both calls, went on to tell Welch: “I’m struggling for the words, but it was not a positive call. It was dour. If I think about it some more, I could probably come up with some other adjectives, but it was just — the difference between the calls was apparent.”


    Welch asked Vindman if he had any doubt that Trump was asking for investigations of his political opponents “as a deliverable” — in other words, as part of a quid pro quo.

    “There was no doubt,” Vindman said.

    The release of Vindman’s testimony, and that of Fiona Hill, a former senior official for Russia on the National Security Council, comes as the House enters the next phase of its impeachment investigation.

    Next week will bring two days of public testimony from three senior State Department officials who have already met with lawmakers behind closed doors. Hill and Vindman are in discussions to testify at a public hearing later this month, according to congressional Democratic advisers familiar with the plan who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing inquiry.

    Vindman’s description of a quid pro quo focused on the White House meeting desired by Zelensky as Ukraine’s new president desperately sought a show of U.S. support in his country’s continued battle with Russia-backed separatists. But the Army officer also detailed a previously undisclosed discussion in the Oval Office on Aug. 16, a conversation among senior leaders that he did not witness but understood to be aimed at persuading Trump to restore the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars in security aid to Ukraine.

    Those involved included national security adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper, Vindman said. They gathered with Trump “to discuss the hold and other issues” after Bolton instructed Vindman to draft a memo for the president explaining why distribution of the security aid — totaling almost $400 million — was in the United States’ interests.

    Vindman told lawmakers that there was broad agreement among national security officials that not providing the aid to Ukraine “would significantly undermine the message of support” for the country and “also signal to the Russians that they could potentially be more aggressive.”

    But accounts of what transpired in the Oval Office varied, Vindman told impeachment investigators. One official told him that, inexplicably, the hold on military aid “never came up,” according to Vindman’s testimony. A second account indicated that it was raised, “but no decision was taken.”


    In a discussion with impeachment investigators about what constitutes a quid pro quo, Vindman was grilled by a Republican lawmaker about why he believed Trump had made a “demand” that Ukraine launch an investigation of Hunter Biden in return for a White House meeting for Zelensky. Biden is the son of former vice president Joe Biden, a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and was once employed by a controversial Ukrainian energy firm.

    Vindman, explaining what he called the vast “power disparity” between Trump and Zelensky, told Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) that Trump’s request for a “favor” from Zelensky was fairly interpreted as a demand.

    “When the president of the United States makes a request for a favor, it certainly seems — I would take it as a demand.”

    “Fair enough,” said Ratcliffe, who went on to express doubts about the premise.

    Vindman said his reasoning was that “this was about getting a White House meeting. It was a demand for him to fulfill . . . this particular prerequisite to get the meeting.”

    Ratcliffe pressed Vindman on the word “demand,” saying, “The word when we’re talking about an allegation that there was a quid pro quo has significance, and ‘demand’ has a specific connotation.” He stressed that Trump and others have denied there was any such demand.

    But Vindman stood by his description, saying: “It became completely apparent what the deliverable would be in order to get a White House meeting. That deliverable was reinforced by the President. . . . The demand was, in order to get the White House meeting, they had to deliver an investigation.”

    Vindman also testified that Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, told him that the idea to precondition a White House meeting on the Ukrainians’ help in investigating the Bidens was “coordinated” with the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney.


    Sondland “just said that he had had a conversation with Mr. Mulvaney, and this is what was required in order to get a meeting,” Vindman testified.

    Mulvaney defied a subpoena Friday to appear for a deposition, claiming through his attorney “absolute immunity,” an official working on the impeachment inquiry said.

    Trump later told reporters that allowing White House officials to testify would validate what he sees as an illegitimate proceeding. “They’re making it up,” he said. “I don’t want to give credibility to a corrupt witch hunt. I’d love for Mick to go up . . . except it validates a corrupt investigation.”

    Sondland, a Trump donor turned diplomat, told impeachment investigators last month that the disbursement of military aid was contingent on the investigations Trump desired. A transcript of his deposition was released earlier this week.

    Within an hour of Trump’s July call with Zelensky, Vindman said, he told White House lawyers that Trump had made an inappropriate request for an investigation.

    “I thought it was troubling and disturbing” and “wrong,” Vindman told House investigators.

    He said he brought notes of the conversation into a meeting that included White House lawyers John Eisenberg and Mike Ellis, as well as Vindman’s twin brother, Yevgeny, an ethics attorney on the National Security Council.

    Vindman said what he found “particularly troubling was the references to conducting an investigation” into Hunter Biden, telling lawmakers he thought it was wrong for the president to ask a foreign power to investigate an American citizen.

    He was also disturbed by Trump’s request that Zelensky speak with his personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and Attorney General William P. Barr to “conduct an investigation that didn’t exist.”


    Many of Vindman’s concerns about politicizing the relationship with Ukraine, which the United States sees as a bulwark against Russian expansion in Europe, were shared by Hill, the former NSC Russia official.

    Hill testified that Giuliani and his business associates, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, were trying to use the powers of the presidency to further their personal interests. Fruman and Parnas were arrested last month and face federal charges of funneling foreign money to U.S. politicians while trying to influence U.S.-Ukraine relations.

    Hill said Bolton repeatedly told his staff and colleagues in the administration “that nobody should be talking to Rudy Giuliani, on our team or anybody else should be.”

    Even before Trump’s July phone call with Zelensky, during which Trump said Ukraine’s president should be in touch with Giuliani about investigations, “there was a lot of usurpation of that power,” Hill told impeachment investigators, characterizing Giuliani and his associates as “trying to appropriate presidential power or the authority of the President, given the position that Mr. Giuliani is in, to also pursue their own personal interests.”
    Hill said that, in hindsight and with the benefit of a rough transcript of the call and media reports, she believed that her “worst nightmare” for U.S.-Ukraine relations had come to pass.

    “My worst nightmare is the politicization of the relationship between the U.S. and Ukraine and, also, the usurpation of authorities, you know, for other people’s personal vested interests,” Hill said. “And there seems to be a large range of people who were looking for these opportunities here.”


    Greg Jaffe, Karoun Demirjian, Josh Dawsey, Rachael Bade, Ellen Nakashima, John Hudson, Karen DeYoung, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, Matt Zapotosky, Tom Hamburger and Paul Kane contributed to this report.


    https://www.washingtonpost.com/natio...5a8_story.html
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa





  5. #50

    Re: The Road to...The Senate

    Barb McQuade
    @BarbMcQuade

    Right to confront witnesses argument fails as to whistleblower because: (1) it is a trial right, and we are at charging stage; (2) it is for criminal cases, not impeachment, and (3) whistleblower is not a witness, he is a tipster.

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/06/polit...eck/index.html
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa





  6. #51

    Re: The Road to...The Senate

    They lie about EVERYTHING!

    State Department Freed Ukraine Money Before Trump Says He Did
    By Nick Wadhams and Saleha Mohsin
    November 9, 2019, 1:32 PM EST
    Department lawyers found the White House lacked authority
    Chain of events undercuts Trump’s account of freeing the funds

    Donald Trump says he lifted his freeze on aid to Ukraine on Sept. 11, but the State Department had quietly authorized releasing $141 million of the money several days earlier, according to five people familiar with the matter.

    The State Department decision, which hasn’t been reported previously, stemmed from a legal finding made earlier in the year, and conveyed in a classified memorandum to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. State Department lawyers found the White House Office of Management and Budget, and thus the president, had no legal standing to block spending of the Ukraine aid.

    The White House freeze on assistance to Ukraine -- including a separate $250 million package of military aid from the Defense Department -- has become a central issue in House impeachment hearings, where witnesses say Trump ordered the assistance halted to force Ukraine to announce investigations into Joe Biden and other Democrats.

    The words “investigation, Biden and Clinton” were to be required elements in a public announcement by Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the new Ukrainian president, to get the aid, State Department official George Kent testified in the Democratic-led impeachment probe. Ukraine ultimately didn’t make the announcement, and Trump says there was never a quid pro quo.

    The freeze on funds Ukraine sought for its continuing war against Russia-backed separatists was opposed by many in the administration. Alexander Vindman, director of European affairs on the National Security Council, has testified that he understood Pompeo, then-National Security Advisor John Bolton and Defense Secretary Mark Esper all recommended releasing the funds in an Aug. 15 meeting with Trump.

    The OMB has argued all along that the congressional notification by the State Department was only one step and it still had the power to hold the money after it was sent because of its authority to apportion -- or distribute -- the funds.

    “At no point was this pause inappropriate, let alone illegal,” OMB spokeswoman Rachel Semmel said Saturday in an email.

    But the State Department disagreed. Taylor, the envoy to Ukraine, said in his testimony that it was remarkable that the legal offices at the State and Defense departments had decided “they were going to move forward with this assistance anyway, OMB notwithstanding.”

    The dispute over the aid is reflected in impeachment testimony from William Taylor, the temporary envoy to Ukraine. He told the inquiry that during the summer, State Department lawyers had advised that the aid could be spent regardless of the hold by the White House budget office.

    The hold on funds provoked consternation, if not panic, at the State and Defense Departments because the law required them to spend the money by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30 or lose it. In reality, they had to get the aid moving through the system two weeks earlier -- around Sept. 15 -- because of a requirement for a two-week notification to Congress.

    The memo to Pompeo had determined that State had the authority to spend the money -- regardless of what Trump was saying through the OMB -- and would start the process by Sept. 7. But State officials were also wary of provoking a confrontation with OMB and Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff who still leads the budget office, whose team argued they could block the money through a process known as apportionment.

    By late August, bipartisan demands were building in Congress for release of the money -- and for an explanation of why it was being withheld.

    Congressional appropriators were frustrated when their inquiry on Aug. 29 about the status of the State Department funds was greeted by silence. Days passed and on Sept. 9, when they asked again, the State Department’s Legislative Affairs office told them there was no hold on the $141 million, according to a person familiar with the matter.

    What they didn’t know, according to one of the people, was that shortly before Sept. 9, Bolton had relayed a message to the State Department that the funding could go ahead. It’s not clear whether Bolton, who resigned from the job a week later, did so with Trump’s approval.

    Bolton’s handling of the funding struck officials in the White House as violating protocol and caught Mulvaney by surprise, according to another person familiar with the matter.

    An OMB spokeswoman denied that characterization, saying Bolton had done no such thing and didn’t have the authority to do so. Nonetheless, Bolton at the time was waging a battle with senior-level OMB officials over the funding and opposed putting any conditions on the aid.

    That may explain a cryptic letter that Bolton’s lawyer sent to Congress on Friday saying the former national security adviser has “new details” about the Ukraine matter that they don’t know about, without elaborating. Bolton has declined to testify against White House orders unless a judge rules he should and didn’t respond to multiple emails seeking comment.


    Once he learned of the conditions, Bolton told the National Security Council’s senior director for Europe, Fiona Hill, that he didn’t want any part of “whatever drug deal” Mulvaney was “cooking up” with U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.

    Around the same time in early September, State Department officials in charge of the money communicated to senior leaders there that they were running out of time and needed to spend the money. They got “top-level guidance” to spend it, according to two of the people.

    Notice to Congress that the $141 million was being released was sent early on Sept. 11, hours before Trump said he personally made the decision to lift the freeze. All of those events undermine Trump’s account.

    Trump’s Account

    Speaking to reporters last month, Trump said he was persuaded to release the money in a phone call that day with Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio.

    “He called up, ‘Please let the money go,’” Trump said. “I said ‘Rob, I hate being the country that’s always giving money. He said, ‘You know what? But it’s important …’ I gave the money because Rob Portman and others called me and asked. But I don’t like to be the sucker, and European countries are helped far more than we are.”

    The OMB has argued all along that the congressional notification by the State Department was only one step and it still had the power to hold the money after it was sent because of its authority to apportion -- or distribute -- the funds.

    “OMB has the statutory role to manage budget execution, consistent with the law and the President’s policy agenda,” Semmel said. “The State Department did not challenge the legality of the review with senior OMB leadership at any point. Nor does any other office, including NSC, have the authority to release such a funding hold if a policy review is underway.”

    But the State Department disagreed. Taylor, the envoy to Ukraine, said in his testimony that it was remarkable that the legal offices at the State and Defense departments had decided “they were going to move forward with this assistance anyway, OMB notwithstanding.”

    “I don’t know if they’ve ever done that before,” Taylor said. “This was a big decision for them.”

    — With assistance by Jordan Fabian, and Jennifer Jacobs


    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...d?srnd=premium
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa





  7. #52

    Re: The Road to...The Senate

    Teri Kanefield
    @Teri_Kanefield

    (Thread) Fiona Hill Issues a Warning

    She also implicates Mick Mulvaney, makes Sondland look like a fool, and shows how Giuliani tried to game Ukraine.

    Here are my Notes from her deposition (now called Over the Cliff Notes, as per followers’ suggestion)

    First, her credentials



    1/ Hill testified that Ambassador Yovanovitch’s removal was a turning point because there was no basis for the removal—her removal was based on a “mishmash” of baseless lies.

    She understood that Giuliani was responsible for these lies.

    2/ She also understood that pushing for an investigation into Burisma was part of a “package of issues” for Giuliani that included promoting the business interests of his associates.

    Her “jaw dropped” when she heard about the indictments of his associates Fruman and Parnas. . .

    3/ . . . but she’d already heard that they were up to no good.

    She also knew they had financial interests in Ukrainian energy.

    She testified that in April, Bolton said “Giuliani is a hand grenade that is going to blow everybody up.”

    4/ However Bolton didn’t think there was anything he personally could do about the Giuliani situation.
    Ambassador Sondland (businessman appointed by Trump) told Hill that Trump gave him “broad authority" and he was the “President’s point man" on all matters regarding Europe.

    5/ Hill received messages from officials who'd been told by Sondland to meet with her.

    Sondland failed to follow protocol by briefing her, so she had no idea what she was supposed to do. He gave out her personal phone number��*♀️

    She described him as a “counterintelligence risk.”

    6/ At a crucial July 10 meeting with Ukrainian and White House officials, Sondland “blurted” out: “Well we have an agreement with the chief of Staff for a meeting if these investigations in the energy sector start.”

    Bolton stiffened and ended the meeting.

    7/ As Sondland was leaving, Sondland told Volker, Perry and the Ukrainian officials to come with him to the Ward Room to talk about “next steps.”

    Bolton pulled Hill aside and told her to go find out what they were talking about.

    8/ Hill entered the room as Sondland was talking about his agreement with Mulvaney for a Trump-Zelenskyy meeting if the Ukrainians “were going forward with the investigations.”

    A few people were alarmed. . .

    9/ Yermak, one of Zelenskys’ top official, didn’t appear surprised. [Narrator: and we know why!]

    Hill told Sondland that they couldn’t make “commitments at this particular juncture.”

    Sondland cut her off and repeated that he and Mulvaney had an “agreement."

    10/ Hill reported back to Bolton, who told her to report this to NSC counsel, and to John Eisenberg.

    Then he said, “You go and tell Eisenberg that I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up on this.” [She was certain about his exact words]

    11/ Hill explained that by “drug deal” Bolton meant “an improper arrangement to have a meeting at the White House predicated on Ukrainians agreeing to restart investigations that had been dropped.”

    12/ She reported all of this to Eisenberg, who “was also concerned." He told her he would follow up.

    She testified that Eisenberg “wasn’t aware” that Sondland was “running around” conducting his own independent foreign policy.

    13/ She and Bolton warned Volker to stop meeting Giuliani.
    She said, “the more you engage with someone who is spreading untruths, the more validity you give those untruths.”

    Volker thought it better to try to “manage” Giuliani.
    She testified that Volker behaved with integrity.

    14/ Hill testified that during her first year in her White House job, she received “hateful calls” including death threats because she wasn’t sufficiently pro-Trump (she saw herself as non-partisan).

    The threats began again when she agreed to give a deposition.


    15/ Hill warned Kupperman (Deputy National Security Advisor) that, “Ukraine was going to be played by Giuliani in some way as part of the campaign.”

    She also said Giuliani was “creating a kind of a story. .. that was being packaged.”

    16/ She said the July 25 Trump-Zelensky call was her “worst fears and nightmares.”

    [Narrator: Trump really slipped up in that call because "do us a favor though" and the mention of Biden rules out the tried-and-true “I didn’t know what my underlings were doing" defense.]

    17/ By "tried and true" I meant that it's been tried and has worked (see Reagan Iran-Contra) not that it's factually true.

    Rep Zeldin (R-Fl) questioned her about “Ukrainians attempting to interfere with the U.S. election,” when she delivered a remarkable warning:




    18/ Several depositions touched on the history.

    Most Ukrainians want to break free from Russia, embrace rule of law, and join the western democracies.

    Putin & corrupt oligarchs want control of Ukraine.

    Career U.S. diplomats have spent years helping Ukraine embrace rule of law.

    19/ Under the Soviet Union, the state owned all the industries and resources.

    When the Soviet Union broke up, before rule of law could be put into place, a few people seized ("privatized") the nation's wealth.

    They became billionaires and oligarchs.

    20/ They created what are basically Mafia states.

    Fiona Hill asked: Is the GOP OK with Russia making fools of the U.S. again?

    Answer: Yes. Because the reactionaries in control of the GOP are carrying on a love affair with Putin and Russia.

    https://twitter.com/Teri_Kanefield/s...50752706727937

    21/ Trump & pals are on Russia’s side.
    Trump wants to BE a Putin-style oligarch.

    To accomplish this, Trump & pals tried to game Ukraine in order to:
    ��get��
    ��set Trump up for 2020, and
    ��undermine the Mueller findings.

    And here we are.

    22/To see how Hill's testimony fits into the narrative, see my notes here:

    https://impeachment-trump.com/

    I've wondered who the mastermind was who thought up the whole Ukrainian scheme. The scheme really kicked off right after the 2018 midterms, when Trump saw the writing on the wall.

    23/ I tried to imagine Rudy and Trump sitting around concocting this scheme, but I'm just not seeing that.

    My guess is that Manafort was the mastermind--he's the one who really understands Ukrainian politics and devious strategy. What else does he have to do all day. . .

    24/ . . . sitting there in that prison cell but come up with a plan to undermine Mueller, compromise Ukraine, help his Russian pals, rehabilitate his image, and seek general revenge on the Ukrainians who helped bring him to justice.


    https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1...251000320.html
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa





  8. #53

    Re: The Road to...The Senate

    Natasha Bertrand
    @NatashaBertrand
    OMB put a separate, earlier hold on Javelin missiles to Ukraine because Mick Mulvaney was concerned that “Russia would react negatively,” according to State Dept. official Catherine Croft. OMB was the lone objector.

    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa





  9. #54

    Re: The Road to...The Senate

    Geoff Bennett
    @GeoffRBennett
    NEWS: Lawyers for Mick Mulvaney late today said they are withdrawing their motion to intervene in the Charles Kupperman lawsuit.

    They will file their own lawsuit as a separate case, NBC'S Pete Williams reports.
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa





  10. #55

    Re: The Road to...The Senate

    Rachel Maddow MSNBC
    @maddow
    From Croft testimony...

    1 of 2.

    Provision of Javelin missiles to Ukraine formally held up by White House in 2017 and 2018 because of concerns that "Russia would react negatively to the provision of Javelins to Ukraine"...



    2 of 2.

    And who made this decision?

    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa





  11. #56

    Re: The Road to...The Senate

    Live updates: Trump asked E.U. ambassador about status of Ukrainian ‘investigations,’ diplomat reveals in new testimony

    By
    John Wagner and
    Felicia Sonmez
    November 13, 2019 at 1:06 p.m. EST

    William B. Taylor Jr., acting ambassador to Ukraine, testified Wednesday in the first open hearing of the impeachment inquiry about a July phone call between President Trump and U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland that was overheard by a member of Taylor’s staff in which Trump purportedly asked about “the investigations.”

    The conversation was said to have occurred on July 26, a day after Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden at a time when U.S. military aid to Ukraine was being withheld.

    Beside Taylor, members of the House Intelligence Committee are also hearing from George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs.

    1:00 p.m.
    Pelosi urges Democrats not to let ‘Republican disruption’ make them lose focus
    In a meeting with House Democrats on Wednesday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urged members of her caucus not to let “Republican disruption” take their focus off the task at hand.

    “I do think that we need to have a common narrative,” Pelosi said, according to a Democratic aide. “This is a very serious event in our country. We wish it could have been avoided. None of us came here to impeach a president.”

    She said today is “a prayerful day for all of us — for our country.”

    Felicia Sonmez

    12:55 p.m.
    Nunes uses GOP question time to present alternate narrative
    During the first five minutes of Republican question time, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) asked no questions but instead recited a counternarrative that denied any wrongdoing by Trump — and sought to justify his interest in Ukraine by suggesting that the country intervened against Trump in the 2016 election.

    He called the transcript of Trump’s July 25 call as “dramatically different from [Democrats’] nefarious fiction of it.

    “What it actually shows is a pleasant exchange between two leaders who discuss mutual cooperation over a range of issues,” he said. “The president did not ask Ukraine to make up dirt on anyone. The Democrats are not trying to discover facts; they’re trying to invent a narrative. And if the facts they need do not exist, then they’ll just make it up.”

    Nunes then ran through a litany of allegations that he claimed showed illicit Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election, including an op-ed a Ukrainian minister wrote in the U.S. press, contacts between a Democratic National Committee operative and Ukrainian officials, and sourcing of allegations against Trump from other Ukrainian officials.

    Nunes called it “a shocking about-face for people who, for three years, argued that foreign election meddling was an intolerable crime that threatens the heart of our democracy.”

    “If there actually were indications of Ukraine election meddling, and a foreign election meddling is a dire threat, then President Trump would have a perfectly good reason for wanting to find out what happened,” he said.

    Mike DeBonis

    12:50 p.m.
    ‘Everybody has their impression of what truth is,’ key Republican says
    Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a key Trump ally on Capitol Hill, offered a novel defense of the president Wednesday, arguing that the truth is subjective.

    “I think what happens is, when we start to look at the facts, everybody has their impression of what truth is,” Meadows told reporters at the Capitol.

    His comments were reminiscent of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway’s now-infamous statement about “alternative facts” during the early days of Trump’s presidency.

    Felicia Sonmez

    12:35 p.m.
    State Department official says there was no basis for Trump claim on Biden
    Kent told the House panel Wednesday that there no basis for Trump’s assertion that Biden, while vice president, had stopped an investigation into a Ukrainian gas company where his son served on the board of directors.

    “None whatsoever,” Kent testified.

    The issue is a crucial one in the impeachment hearings because Trump and his allies have for months alleged without evidence that Biden was seeking to prevent an investigation that could have affected his son Hunter.

    Hunter Biden served on the board of directors of Burisma Holdings, a gas company based in Ukraine. He joined the board in 2014, at the same time his father was handling Ukraine matters for the Obama administration.

    Joe Biden has said he did pressure Ukraine to fire a prosecutor that the United States believed was not cracking down on corruption or face the loss of $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees. But he has said the threat had nothing to do with his son’s work at Burisma.

    Michael Kranish


    https://www.washingtonpost.com/polit...caa_story.html
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa





  12. #57

    Re: The Road to...The Senate

    more:

    1:15 p.m.
    Republicans spar with Schiff over objections

    In his first questions to Taylor, Republican lead counsel Steve Castor asked Taylor whether Trump was justified in being suspicious of Ukrainian officials given their activities in 2016.

    “You certainly can appreciate that President Trump was very concerned that some elements of the Ukrainian establishment were not in favor of him, did not support him, and were out to get him,” he said to Taylor.

    Schiff at that point jumped in and cautioned Taylor and Kent about commenting about “facts not in evidence.”

    That prompted a retort from Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.), who questioned Schiff’s interjection: “I sat here through the first 45 minutes and literally had an objection to almost the foundation of every question that [Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman] asked regarding facts not in evidence,” he said, asking Schiff whether he believe such objections were in order: “Let me know now, because this hearing is going to change significantly.”

    Schiff said he would allow Castor’s question.

    “So you certainly can appreciate President Trump’s concerns,” Castor said to Taylor.

    Said Taylor, “Mr. Castor, I don’t know the exact nature of President Trump’s concerns.”

    Mike DeBonis

    1:10 p.m.
    Who is Ukrainian presidential aide Andriy Yermak?

    Andriy Yermak is one of a number of Ukrainian officials who now find themselves in the spotlight at the first hearing in the impeachment inquiry on Wednesday.

    Yermak is the top aide to Zelensky. He has been described in local media as a friend of the Ukrainian president who previously worked as a lawyer in the entertainment world. This year, he appears to have become a key point of contact for U.S. figures interested in Ukraine, communicating with Trump personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland at key moments.

    In an interview with the Los Angeles Times last month, Yermak said his job was to help U.S. officials understand Ukraine.

    “The fact is that some American politicians were not informed in the right degree about what is going on here,” Yermak told the newspaper. “Clearly, over the years, President Trump had developed a negative impression of Ukraine, which was not what we wanted.”

    Adam Taylor
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa





  13. #58

    Re: The Road to...The Senate

    Rep. Adam Smith
    @RepAdamSmith

    Ambassador Taylor introduced crucial and damning information in his testimony today – add it onto the pile of evidence that Trump coerced a foreign nation by withholding aid for his own political gain.

    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa





  14. #59

    Re: The Road to...The Senate

    Elizabeth Drew
    @ElizabethDrewOH
    "I covered Nixon’s impeachment, and though Trump is theoretically guilty of more serious offenses, there’s one striking similarity: both men got in the deepest trouble for failing to recognize limits on seeking revenge against political opponents."

    https://www.project-syndicate.org/co...h-drew-2019-11
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa





  15. #60

    Re: The Road to...The Senate

    More:

    1:40 p.m.
    Trump plans another lunch with GOP senators

    Trump is holding another round of lunches with Republican senators at the White House on Thursday — sessions with no real agenda that have often veered into discussions about impeachment.

    Sens. Steve Daines (Mont.) and Kevin Cramer (N.D.), both allies of the president, are among those who have been invited to this week’s lunch, the senators confirmed on Wednesday. About a half-dozen or so Republicans are expected to be in attendance.

    The White House has invited small batches of GOP senators for lunch in recent weeks. During a lunch on Oct. 31, Trump mused repeatedly about his decision to release notes from the July 25 call with Zelensky and said he was glad that the so-called transcript was made

    Seung Min Kim

    1:30 p.m.

    Questioning moves to committee members

    Questioning by lawyers for the Democrats and Republicans have concluded. The hearing now transitions to more traditional questioning by members of the committee.

    John Wagner

    1:25 p.m.

    Kent says Hunter Biden’s board position raised possibility of perception of conflict
    Kent testified that he was concerned in 2015 when Hunter Biden was named to the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company that had faced corruption allegations.

    Under questioning by Stephen R. Castor, a lawyer for committee Republicans, Kent testified that when he learned of Hunter Biden’s appointment, he contacted the vice president’s office to express his fear that “there was a possibility of a perception of a conflict of interest.”

    Kent said he did not know whether the vice president’s office took any action in response to his concerns but confirmed that Hunter Biden continued to serve on the company’s board, while his father continued to help run Ukraine policy for the U.S. government.

    In other ways, however, Kent’s testimony regarding the Ukrainian company — which came in response to a long series of questions from Castor — undermined key GOP talking points about the Burisma issue.

    For one, he said that he believed an investigation into the company’s Ukrainian chief executive had been shut down in 2014 — before Joe Biden began advocating for the removal of Ukraine’s top prosecutor.

    Republicans have argued that Joe Biden may have taken that step as a way to halt investigations into Burisma. Kent said that in fact he believed that assistants to the very prosecutor who Biden worked to oust were responsible for halting efforts to investigate Burisma’s chief executive because they had corruptly accepted bribes. Biden led an international coalition to remove Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, largely because it was believed he led a corrupt office.

    Additionally, in response to Castor’s questions, Kent declined to say that he believed that Biden’s efforts in Ukraine were problematic because of his son’s service to Burisma. Instead, he said, “the vice president’s role was critically important.”


    Rosalind S. Helderman
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa





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