Donald Trump and his allies have continually railed about how the “Deep State” of unelected national security bureaucrats has quietly worked to undermine the Trump presidency.
But the new allegations in a book by former national security adviser John Bolton turn that formulation on its head. If Bolton is to be believed — Trump calls him a liar — plenty of career diplomats, soldiers and spies kept quiet as they watched Trump abuse his office.
In Bolton’s telling, members of the so-called Deep State, including senior intelligence and defense officials, knew about actions by Trump that were unethical if not illegal — and said nothing. That would mean the press, the public, and House impeachment investigators were kept in the dark.
The reason more insiders didn’t speak out are complex, according to a former senior national security official who served for years in the Trump administration and faced the choice on a near daily basis. But broadly, the official said, unelected national security bureaucrats tend to give great deference to the president’s policy choices, and the line between bad decisions and abuse of office is not a clear one.
“Sometimes you ask yourself: Is that malfeasance, or is that just something so dumb that you know it’s not going to happen?” said the former official.
The American system of government “has developed to give the president tremendous leeway to set policy,” said John Gans, author of a book about the White House National Security Council. “Those in the executive branch are expected to kind of nod their heads and say, ‘Okay.’ There really isn’t a whistleblower system at the White House.”
Officials senior enough to be in meetings with the president don’t tend to use formal whistleblower channels anyway. Such people have long deployed anonymous leaks to the news media to flag decisions or behavior they deemed problematic. During the Trump administration, many current and former government officials have anonymously recounted startling episodes to journalists and authors, such as Trump providing classified information to Russian officials in the Oval Office, or his calling military leaders “losers” in reference to the war in Afghanistan. Once-senior officials, including former chief of staff John Kelly and former Defense Secretary James Mattis, have recently publicly questioned the president’s fitness for office, though their decisions to do so came long after they departed.
But Bolton makes a very specific case, alleging a pattern of behavior by Trump to use his presidential power in foreign affairs to further his private interests — exactly the charges in an impeachment proceeding narrowly focused on Ukraine. Bolton says the pattern went well beyond one country.
During face-to-face meetings, Trump asked the Chinese president to help get him re-elected, Bolton writes, and promised the Turkish president that he would “take care of” a Justice Department investigation deemed harmful to Turkey when he could replace Obama-appointed prosecutors with “his people.” If those exchanges happened, Bolton could not have been the only official aware of them. (Trump and one of the officials present at the summit with Chinese President Xi JinPing, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, dispute Bolton’s account.)
Bolton says Trump was willing to waive penalties on a Chinese firm, ZTE, to help with trade talks that he believed would help him politically. He writes of briefing Attorney General William Barr on Trump’s “penchant to, in effect, give personal favors to dictators he liked.”
Trump hasn’t spoken to the specifics, but he has denied exploiting his office for personal gain.
Bolton also asserts that people across the government knew that the central premise of the impeachment case against Trump was true — that the president indeed had conditioned aid to Ukraine on that government’s willingness to do him a political favor by announcing an investigation into his opponent, an allegation of quid pro quo that Trump denies.
“I think Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo understood,” Bolton said this week to ABC News. “I think the Pentagon understood. I think the intelligence community understood. I think people in the White House understood.”
Yet in the end, only a handful of national security officials were willing to testify to that during impeachment proceedings. Only one — the whistleblower — came forward voluntarily, before the process began. Spokespersons for the CIA, Director of National Intelligence and State Department declined to comment.
In his book, Bolton faults House impeachment managers for failing to investigate Trump’s “ham-handed involvement in other matters — criminal and civil, international and domestic — that should not properly be subject to manipulation by a president for personal reasons (political, economic, or any other).” He calls that “impeachment malpractice.”
That criticism sidesteps the fact that the impeachment inquiry was kicked off when a lone junior CIA officer decided to file a written complaint to an inspector general about Trump’s alleged extortion of Ukraine. No similar whistleblowing efforts have come to light about Trump’s conduct with China or Turkey.
Bolton himself kept quiet for nearly two years, declining to testify in the impeachment hearing. He seeks to justify that by arguing that Democrats mishandled impeachment proceedings and that his testimony in the Senate wouldn’t have changed anything.
Critics are unconvinced.
“I think what Bolton did was shameful,” said Brian Katullis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank. “He sat on this information for two years so he could write a book.”
If others besides Bolton are uncomfortable with what they have witnessed inside the Trump White House, why haven’t they come forward with specifics?
Look no further than what has happened to the few who have done so, experts say. Lawyers for the CIA whistleblower said publicly that he had to be protected by a security detail after the president and his Republican allies called him a traitor and a spy. Trump allies in Congress sought to put his name into the public record.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified against Trump during the impeachment hearings, was dismissed from his job at the White House, has found his promotion to full colonel in limbo as the Pentagon worries the White House will oppose it, two defense officials told NBC News.
“You see what happens to the people who speak up,” said the former senior national security official.
“This whistleblower followed the law every step of the way and look at what they got for it,” said Liz Hempowicz, director of public policy at the Project on Government Oversight, a good government advocacy group. Hempowicz says the already weak federal whistleblower system has disintegrated under Trump, noting that the board that rules on employee disputes with management has never had enough members to make such rulings during the Trump administration.
But even for those with courage enough to brave the personal repercussions, there often is another dilemma: Whether they can do more good by truth-telling or remaining in their jobs.
“Clearly people made calculations: Do you want to keep serving a president and keep our institutions intact? Or does behavior that’s so outlandish cause you to resign and report it?” said Marc Polymeropoulos, a retired CIA officer who served in senior agency roles during the first part of the Trump administration.
“There was a lot of angst about POTUS interactions with any head of state — foreign visits or phone calls,” he said.
CIA Director Gina Haspel, for one, is seen by former colleagues and Congressional observers as someone who is trying at all costs to remain at the helm of a powerful spy agency that she believes could suffer severe damage in the wrong hands.
“Thankfully, CIA has remained stable in this and that will be Gina’s legacy,” Polymeropoulos said.
Haspel was criticized for failing to speak out when Trump was bashing the CIA’s Ukraine whistleblower. But she appears to have helped defuse what has been an extremely contentious relationship between Trump and the intelligence community.
“Haspel has figured out how to not to p*** off the president and keep the agency from running off the rails,” added a Congressional aide who works on intelligence matters. “Everyone recognizes it’s a very difficult position she is in.”
Haspel’s general counsel made what she believed was a criminal referral after the CIA whistleblower brought his complaints to her, but the agency avoided becoming entangled in the impeachment proceedings. That’s in part because Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the intelligence committee chair who presided over impeachment in the House, believed it was important to keep the intelligence agencies away, as much as possible, from what turned into a vicious partisan battle, according to a person familiar with his thinking. He wanted to keep the focus on the president’s alleged abuse of office, the person said.
But if Bolton is correct that Trump broadly sought to leverage foreign policy for political gain, it’s hard to imagine the intelligence agency leaders did not become aware of it. They not only sit in high-level White House meetings — they spy on foreign officials who discuss what the American government is saying and doing.
“If the CIA learns of something that is an illegal act by a government official, it has an obligation to forward that information to the Department of Justice,” said former CIA Director John Brennan, an NBC News contributor. “If it’s an issue of ethics and appropriateness and one’s moral compass, then it’s more of a personal choice. Fortunately, as director, I never had to make this choice.”
It’s difficult from the outside to judge how senior officials are dealing with the turmoil inside the Trump administration, said John McLaughlin, a former deputy CIA director who served under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
“What you’re going to get when this administration is over is a tidal wave of memoirs, the theme of which will be, ‘You don’t know how much worse it would have been if I hadn’t been there,'” he said.
“The question is, at what point are you enabling it more so than preventing bad things from happening?”
The minute Traitor Donald J Trump withheld the Congressional approved funds and military weapons to the Ukraine, in order to use as a carrot to dangle in front of the President of the Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, to do his bidding and dig up dirt on the Bidens, Burimsa and find out about the bogus claims of Crowd Strike and the DNC server and it being the Ukraine that interfered in his election to the Presidency, not the proven fact it was Russia and Putin and their troll bots who did so? He committed High Treason Against the United States. And ANY Republican who defends and supports the actions of Donald J Trump? Have also committed High Treason Against the United States.
I shall reveal his and the Republicans High Treason Against the United States by posting three news stories and nine video links that back up my assertions and my own comments after posting those stories and videos.
Story One: Impeachment Day 3: Republicans Continue Their Attack on Reason and Reality
Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman’s testimony was devastating. So GOP lawmakers resorted to spin and conspiracy theories.
By David Corn, Washington DC Bureau Chief, Mother Jones
On Tuesday, the third day of the House impeachment hearings, the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee were confronted by witnesses, particularly Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official, who presented unambiguous evidence that President Donald Trump used his office to pressure Ukrainian officials to launch investigations to produce dirt on Joe Biden and prove a debunked conspiracy theory that absolved the Russians of hacking the 2016 US election.Vindman and Jennifer Williams, a State Department official assigned to Vice President Mike Pence’s office, each told the committee that Trump, during his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, pressed the Ukrainian to initiate these two inquiries and that Burisma—the Ukrainian energy company that Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son, worked for—was referenced by name.(The reconstructed transcript of the call released by the White House, for some not-yet-explained reason, did not mention “Burisma.”) Vindman also testified about a July 10 White House meeting with Ukrainian officials in which Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who was working with the private channel overseen by Rudy Giuliani, piped up and said that before Zelensky could get a much-desired meeting with Trump, the Ukrainians had to “deliver specific investigations.” Other witnesses have told the committee that the release of nearly $400 million in security assistance that Trump put a hold on was also tied to Ukraine pursuing investigations of the Bidens and the conspiracy theory that holds that Ukraine, not Russia, intervened in the US election.
So it’s as clear as the sky is blue: Trump was muscling the Ukrainians to help him influence the 2020 election and to clear Moscow. The quasi-transcript of the July 25 call even shows Trump saying that if Zelensky wants more Javelin anti-tank weapons, he will have to do Trump the “favor” of kicking off these investigations.(And as Vindman said, considering the power disparity between the two men, this was not a polite request that could be turned down—it was a “demand.”)Yet when Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the pro-Trump bulldog recently placed on the intelligence committee by the GOP leadership, had his chance to ask questions of Vindman and Williams, he seized his moment in the sun to declare the sky is green. Or purple. Or whatever. There is no evidence of “linkage,” he thundered. “The transcript shows no linkage…to an investigation.”
But that’s exactly what the transcript shows. You want Javelins? Then we have this favor for you to do—investigations. This is brazen linkage. And there’s now a mountain of testimony linking a White House meeting and the release of the security assistance to Ukraine opening the political investigations Trump craved. But…still…nevertheless, the Republicans on the committee won’t accept this basic reality.
Instead, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the top Republican on the committee, Jordan, and their party-mates have forged an alternative reality in which this controversy is no more than a “hoax” concocted by Democrats and the media and that the focus should be not on Trump’s action but on the whistleblower who initiated the Trump-Ukraine scandal and on the involvement of Hunter Biden in Burisma and the fact-free allegation that his dad took action to thwart an investigation of the firm.
In his opening statement, Nunes depicted a wide-ranging conspiracy of Democrats and mainstream media outlets that first cooked up “the Russia hoax” and then, when that scandal did not lead to Trump’s ouster, devised a whole new bogus Ukraine scandal. In this world, Russia’s attack on the 2016 election (which was mounted partly to help Trump win) does not exist. Rather, Ukraine was somehow the true meddler. (Republicans have repeatedly cited the public anti-Trump statements of a few Ukrainian officials who in 2016 were worried about Trump—and justifiably so, after Trump had said that perhaps Russia should be allowed to keep Crimea, the chunk of Ukraine that Vladimir Putin seized in 2014.) The Republicans were hardly slowed by Vindman’s reality-based statement that the Ukraine-meddled accusation “is a Russian narrative that President Putin has promoted.”
Nunes even exclaimed that the Democratic media conspiracy against Trump included “a concerted campaign” of journalistic organizations “smearing” John Solomon, the writer for The Hill who published a series of stories that disseminated unfounded allegations about the Bidens and former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. In a bizarre twist, Nunes pointed to the fact that The Hill is now reviewing Solomon’s articles as proof of this sub-conspiracy and an indication this despicable cabal would go to any lengths to prosecute its evil plan.
Nunes declared that what most needed exposing was the whistleblower’s contacts with the media and the Democrats on the committee. He did not explain the relevance of this. But Nunes was suggesting that the whole Ukraine business was manufactured by the Ds and the press—and the whistleblower is the key to uncovering this diabolical plot. The whistleblower’s lawyers have denied on the record that their client has been talking to the media or coordinating with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chair of the intelligence committee, or other Democrats.
Nunes also promoted the never-will-die innuendo that Joe Biden pushed for the dismissal of a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor to protect his son and Burisma. And there were other insinuations hurled by the Republicans. At one point, they dwelled on an anecdote—a Ukrainian official once asked Vindman if he wanted to serve as defense minister for Ukraine, and Vindman dismissed the offer as a joke—to hint that Vindman, who was born in Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union, possessed dual loyalties.
The Rs have concocted a dark world in which Trump is an innocent victim. In their view, he was the target of foreign intervention in 2016, not the beneficiary; there was nothing to the Russia investigation. (Don’t mention the convictions of his campaign manager, his national security adviser, his longtime political adviser, and others.) And the Ukraine scandal—based on a suspect whistleblower (disregard all the testimony from known officials)—is merely another front in the unrelenting war the Democrats have been waging against Trump because, as Jordan yelled on Tuesday, “the Democrats have never accepted the will of the American people.”
Toward the end of Vindman’s and Williams’ time before the panel, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) asked Vindman to read aloud the last paragraph of the prepared testimony he delivered at the start of the hearing: “Dad, [that] I’m sitting here today in the US Capitol talking to our elected officials is proof that you made the right decision forty years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.” Maloney asked why he reported Trump’s phone call to lawyers at the National Security Council. “Because that was my duty,” Vindman replied.
With his testimony, Maloney told Vindman, “You were putting yourself up against the president of the United States.” (Trump and his henchmen have viciously attacked Vindman.) Maloney asked the colonel, “Why did you have confidence you can do that?” Vindman, a recipient of the Purple Heart, answered, “Because, Congressman, this is America. This is the country I have served and defended…And here right matters.” The audience responded with loud applause. The Republicans on the panel looked glum. Moments later, when Nunes had the chance to make a concluding statement, he snorted, “Act One of today’s circus is over.”
Story Two: Impeachment hearings reveal the extent of the damage Trump’s inflicted on our national security
The GOP is trying to use the broken national security system to discredit and undermine the officials who are testifying, rather than fix it.
By Brett Bruen, former director of global engagement in the Obama White House. Brett Bruen was the director of global engagement in the Obama White House and a career American diplomat. He currently runs crisis communications agency the Global Situation Room and teaches crisis management at Georgetown.
We are in real danger. There are certainly many conclusions to be drawn from the recent days of detailed testimony by officials on the National Security Council and at the State Department in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. But beyond the political points scored and the possibility of removing a president, there’s an even more unsettling feeling that I can’t shake. These hearings have laid bare just how crippled the staff, systems and structures designed to protect our country really are.
This troubling state of insecurity ought to jolt even the most jaded member of Congress into sitting up straight and starting to think about how to straighten it out really fast. But instead of trying to address the damage to our defenses, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, which is conducting the inquiry, opt to exacerbate matters. They are trying to use this broken system to discredit and undermine the witnesses who are testifying to Trump’s bad behavior.
Repeatedly, these members of Congress have asked the public servants testifying— who have information about Trump allegedly pressuring Ukraine into investigating a major political rival, Vice President Joe Biden, and his son in exchange for aid and a White House visit — whether they themselves had ever met the president. The implication they hope will be drawn from their answers that they never once met him is that these individuals lack the stature and direct knowledge to be credible.
Trump himself cast the same aspersion Tuesday, specifically about the top National Security Council expert on Ukraine, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who that day provided devastating testimony about the president’s impropriety in a now-infamous July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Vindman and other staff had listened in on that call from a separate room.
At the hearing, Ohio Rep. Michael Turner asked Vindman directly: “You’ve never met the president of the United States, right?” And then followed up with, “So you’ve never advised the president of the United States on Ukraine?”
Vindman said he advised him “indirectly,” through preparing calls and
materials for him without having met him, Walked rejoined: “But you’ve
never spoken to the president of the United States and told him advice
on Ukraine?” Vindman conceded, “That is correct.”
The problem with putting down Vindman and other witnesses because they never met Trump is that it shows the president’s gross negligence in handling national security rather than the inadequacy of those testifying on impeachment. The lack of contact and communications between the National Security Council and the Oval Office, especially on critical issues such as Ukraine and ISIS, should set off alarm bells; we are precariously close to a catastrophic crash.
When I was on the National Security Council under President Barack Obama, the staff interacted fairly regularly with the big boss. Depending on the portfolio, someone at Vinman’s level could see him every week.
It was our job, as advisers on the White House
body devoted to gathering information and forming policy on
international and security issues, to brief President Barack Obama
before key calls and meetings. So even though I wasn’t particularly
senior, I occasionally spent up to two and a half hours meeting with
him, where there would be opportunities to both present and answer his
questions. Obama was notorious for calling on those sitting on the back
benches to get different views on key issues.
This president is flying blind. I was struck in listening to the testimony over the past week how few of his advisers are consulted on major policy decisions. Sure, we have long known about his tendency to freelance. Yet, there’s a difference between dismissing or discounting advice and never getting it in the first place. I was shocked that Trump had never spoken to either of our top diplomats in Ukraine prior to halting aid and endangering the country.
There are two primary effects of this
disconnect. First, as we have clearly seen in the testimony, our people
have no clue what they are supposed to do. They play an elaborate and
elusive game of telephone, trying to figure out how the heck they should
steer the ship through rough waters. Messages get relayed through
multiple layers in the Trump administration, often passed by external,
The second effect is that those who know national security best are unable to warn the president about potential risks or unintended consequences. Trump’s sudden decision to pull our troops out of northern Syria is a prime example of such impulsive and ill-informed decisions. Without the benefit of GPS, we regularly find ourselves driving far off course, as has been the case with North Korea. There is then the challenge of the president taking counsel directly from unscrupulous actors who often drive him into minefields, such as Rudy Giulliani and Lev Parnas, as they did on Ukraine.
Trump has gone even further. The president and the White House have
tweeted against Vindman and Vice President Mike Pence’s aide on Ukraine,
Jennifer Williams. During Vindman’s testimony, Trump tweeted that his boss “had concerns about Vindman’s judgment.” And he slammed Williams
as a Never Trumper “who I don’t know.” Attacks like these don’t just
shatter the confidence of Williams and Vindaman but also shake the
confidence of everyone working on the National Security Council.
country is endangered when those responsible for the most serious
threats we face have to worry about personal threats from our leaders.
And the number of those interested in taking on this difficult if
important work will only decrease. Service on this National Security
Council was already fairly unpopular these days. I know from speaking
with friends that many are already shunning the previously prestigious
positions at the White House. The developments of the last few weeks
will make it untenable for many of those who are best qualified for
We will end up in a
situation where the most important jobs for protecting our country are
going to be occupied by second- and third-string players. Again, this
creates massive vulnerabilities that should alarm lawmakers and those
responsible for the defense of our country.
What happens when the next person sees
something of concern? After having witnessed the fierce political
attacks to which we now subject whistleblowers and those such as
Williams and Vindman who reluctantly speak up publicly, many will be
simply too afraid to come forward. Instead, they will allow problems to
fester and dangerous decisions to go unchallenged. This again places our
nation in a very serious situation. Fraud, waste and abuse will spread,
eating away at the pillars of stability and security on which our way
of life has depended for so long.
Some may argue that I’m overdramatizing the risks. But the testimony has brought to light some of the dark developments of the last several years. Our national security officials now have little contact with an isolated and erratic president. They don’t have clear guidance or even a basic plan for how to execute our foreign policy. Many of them are overly afraid for their jobs, their colleagues and even their safety. It is exceptionally hard to keep America safe when you’re in the dark, alone and afraid.
Story Three: Does Ukraine have the DNC server like Trump says? We fact checked that.
During a nearly
hourlong phone interview with “Fox & Friends,” Trump defended his
administration’s freeze on military aid to Ukraine this year as well as
his July 25 call with the Ukrainian president that prompted a whistleblower complaint, saying he was simply trying to root out corruption in the country.
lot of it had to do, they say, with Ukraine,” he began, before alleging
that the country has the DNC server that was hacked in 2016.
“The FBI went in and they told them get out of here, we’re not giving it to you. They gave the server to CrowdStrike … which is a company owned by a very wealthy Ukrainian, and I still want to see that server,” Trump said of the DNC’s actions upon learning that it had been hacked in the run-up to the election. “You know, the FBI has never gotten that server. That’s a big part of this whole thing. Why did they give it to a Ukrainian company?”
Almost none of these claims are remotely true.
CrowdStrike is the California-based cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC to investigate a breach that turned out to be a Russian hack aimed at sowing discord and disrupting the U.S. election. It’s not owned by a wealthy Ukrainian — it’s publicly traded on the Nasdaq. Its largest shareholder is Warburg Pincus, a private equity firm with ties to Trump himself. One of CrowdStrike’s founders, Dmitri Alperovitch, is a Russian-born American citizen, which may be what Trump is getting at. But Alperovitch frequently consults with the U.S. government on cybersecurity, Esquire reported.
It is true that the FBI was not given the DNC’s physical computer equipment, but there’s no evidence that the Democratic Party held anything back from U.S. law enforcement investigating the breach. During investigations, it’s common for physical servers to be digitally copied and preserved as evidence, as Robert Johnston, a cybersecurity expert who led the investigation into the DNC hack in 2016, explained to NBC News earlier this year.
There’s also not just one server, as Trump seems to think. The DNC has said they decommissioned 140 servers and rebuilt 11, to be specific, related to 2016. One of them is on display at the DNC’s office in Washington, next to a filing cabinet broken into by Watergate burglars, according to this 2016 photo in The New York Times.
With those claims, Trump made clear Friday
that he is holding fast to the broader, debunked conspiracy that Ukraine
was responsible for interfering in the 2016 election. Republicans on
the House Intelligence Committee, which is leading the impeachment
inquiry, framed much of their questioning around this idea, so much so
that Trump’s former Russia expert, Fiona Hill, targeted it in her
testimony Thursday for a thorough dismantling.
“Some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country — and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves,” Hill said. “In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.”
“These fictions are harmful even if they are deployed for purely domestic political purposes,” she said.
The broader conspiracy of Ukraine election
interference Trump hints at in his interview purports that the
Democratic Party orchestrated, with that nation’s help, the hacking of
their own systems and framed Russia in order to discredit a Trump
The president has for years been alluding to this baseless theory — the origins of which NBC News’ Ben Collins traced back
to far-right message boards as early as March 2017 — though he does not
spell it out, perhaps because it’s quite a stretch to suggest that
Democrats ran a massive, international conspiracy to lose the election.
Behind closed doors, Trump has claimed Ukraine tried to stop him from winning.
Ukraine “tried to take me down,” Trump said in a meeting with his advisers, according to the impeachment inquiry testimony of U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, and Kurt Volker, then-U.S. special envoy to Ukraine.
Despite being repeatedly
dismissed by Trump’s own intelligence community and advisers, the theory
appears to have been a motivating factor behind the efforts of his
personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to run a highly unusual shadow policy
team with the goal of pressuring the Ukrainian government to announce
investigations into the 2016 election and Burisma Holdings — the
Ukrainian gas company that Hunter Biden joined as a board member in
Fox News’ Steve Doocy on Friday pressed the president on whether he was “sure” about the claims.
“Are you sure they did that? Are you sure they gave it to Ukraine?” he asked of the DNC server.
“Well, that’s what the word is,” Trump said.
what I asked actually in my phone call, if you know. I mean I asked it
very point blank, because we’re looking for corruption. There’s
tremendous corruption. We’re looking for — why should we be giving
hundreds of millions of dollars to countries when there’s this kind of
The foreign aid to Ukraine
that the Trump administration held up for 55 days is one aspect of the
Democratic-led impeachment inquiry, as witnesses have alleged that there was an effort
to condition the release of that aid on public assurances that Ukraine
would launch the politically advantageous investigations Giuliani and
Video One: Ukrainian forces at risk as Trump admin. withheld military aid
The lives of Ukrainian troops fighting a hot war against Russian forces were on the line as the Trump administration withheld aid now at the center of the Trump impeachment inquiry. Retired U.S. Navy Adm. James Stavridis reacts.
Video Three: It doesn’t matter if Trump committed a crime. He should still be impeached.
With impeachment depositions set to begin soon, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats have narrowed the focus of the impeachment inquiry to Trump’s Ukraine call and the subsequent whistleblower complaint. Corey Brettschneider, professor of political science and policy at Brown University, joined THINK to explain why he thinks that’s a mistake.
Video Five: Day 1,037: Trump floats Russian conspiracy theory on Ukraine on FOX News
After Fiona Hill blasted lawmakers on the Hill for sharing a Russian-created conspiracy theory about Ukraine hacking the 2016 U.S. election, Trump went on FOX News and again repeated the bogus allegation.
Video Six: Russia expert Fiona Hill blasts ‘fictional narrative’ of Ukraine election interference
President Trump’s former top Russia advisor Fiona Hill testified on the fifth day of public impeachment hearings, blasting Republicans for unfounded theories of Ukrainian election interference and taking aim at the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. Embassy aide David Holmes also testified, detailing a cell phone conversation he says he overheard between Ambassador Gordon Sondland and Trump.
Video Nine: ‘I don’t know what the hell Jim Jordan is doing’: Congressman says
Rep. Adam Smith discusses the impeachment inquiry hearings this week and the Republican defense of President Trump. Smith says about Rep. Jim Jordan, “I don’t know what the hell he is doing. He is obviously sticking to this narrative that is untrue.”
House Republicans make it clear they feel Trump has done nothing wrong
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talking to reporters at the
GOP House leadership press conference, was asked by a reporter if he
would say Trump has done nothing wrong.
“A very clear
yes,” he responded. The cadre of House GOP leaders standing behind him
yelled in affirmation as McCarthy responded.
to a subsequent question, McCarthy claimed Republicans in Congress will
vote on impeachment — if and when articles are formally introduced —
“based on the facts.”
“Show us the truth. We always vote based on the facts,” he said.
Rep. Jim Jordan: Americans ‘will not tolerate this’
House leaders, speaking at their post-vote press conference, continued
their criticism of House Democrats, accusing their rival party’s leaders
of going against the wishes of the American people
American people see this for what it is,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the
ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said.
“They will not tolerate this.”
Rep. Michael McCaul, a
member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, claimed the Democrats’
procedural approach to the impeachment inquiry “defies historic
Rep. Dingell ‘very disturbed by the undue influence’ being put on Republicans
Rep. Debbie Dingell, R-Mich., said Friday that she was “very
disturbed” by the pressure she said is being put on Republican
lawmakers to toe the line during the House impeachment inquiry.
on Fox News whether Democrats should move forward with impeachment
without GOP backing, Dingell responded, “First of all, I don’t know that
there is no Republican support. I have talked to a number of people who
are deeply disturbed, and they’re being very cautious in their words.
Their arms are being broken, and I’m very disturbed by the undue
influence I’m seeing put on Republicans too.”
said what she heard in testimony over the last two weeks “deeply
disturbed” her and would accurately be described as bribery.
is very clear that the Ukrainian president was — the word ‘bribe’ does
work with being told you are not going to get this aid that you need
unless you agree to do this investigation, and you do it publicly,” she
said. “And we do have evidence that money was held up.”
congresswoman added that the Intelligence Committee was already
drafting its report, after which the Judiciary Committee will make its
recommendations, and she would wait to see those before coming to any
conclusions about impeachment.
Dingell also weighed in on
the debunked conspiracy theory Trump and his allies have been chasing
that it was really Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016
election — which former top Russia expert Fiona Hill called a “fictional narrative” that echoed Russian propaganda during her testimony on Thursday.
of the things we do know and one of the reasons why I have been fearful
about impeachment, but I am getting madder and madder … is that we do
know, there were Republican Cabinet members that testified that Russia
interfered in our last elections. Russia is trying to divide us as a
country. That’s documented in the Mueller report. Intelligence agency
after intelligence agency around the world is saying that they’re trying
to destabilize democracy.
“We need a president that’s
going to protect the United States of America, not help destabilize
democracies around the world,” she said.
DONALD J TRUMP, RUDY GUILIANI, WILLIAM BARR, RICK PERRY, MIKE POMPEO, MITCH MCCONNELL, LINDSEY GRAHAM, MICK MULVANEY, DEVIN NUNES, JIM JORDAN, AND THE REST OF THE REPUBLICANS WHO SUPPORT AND DEFEND DONALD J TRUMP? HAVE ALL COMMITTED HIGH TREASON AGAINST THE UNITED STATES.
Treason is an act of disloyalty or betrayal of trust to a person’s own government. Examples include assassination of a state figure, fighting against his or her own nation in a war, assisting enemy combatants, or passing vital government information to the enemy. Historically, this crime has been severely punished, because an act of treason can destroy a nation. In the modern day, a conviction is accompanied at a minimum by a long jail sentence and a heavy fine, and may merit the death penaltyunder certain circumstances.
Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States and having knowledge of the commission of any treason against them, conceals and does not, as soon as may be, disclose and make known the same to the President or to some judge of the United States, or to the governor or to some judge or justice of a particular State, is guilty of misprision of treason and shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than seven years, or both. (June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 807; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(H), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)
While we may not be officially at war with Russia and Putin, we are in a proxy war with them through the Ukraine. The Ukraine is an ally of ours. We are supporting and helping them because of the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea and their proxy war, using Russians, to overtake the Ukraine. We are in essence? In a proxy war, defending the Ukraine against Russia and Putin against their invasion of the Ukraine.
This would be similar to what Traitor Trump just did in helping his disgusting, dicktater buddy Erdogan in Turkey and Syria and his now allowing the Kurds to be slaughtered by the Russian backed and supported Turkish government.
By Traitor Trump withholding the funds and the military weapons that were to go to the Ukraine, under the rules and laws of Congress, that approved these funds and military weapons for the Ukraine to fight the Russian invasion and Putin? All so he could have the Ukrainians dig up dirt on Biden and all the bullshit con of the DNC server? He immediately gave aid and comfort to his Puppet Master, Putin and Russia and by his actions? Caused Ukrainians to be killed. This again? Is giving aid and comfort to our enemy Russia and Putin.
Russia’s Crimea plan detailed, secret and successful
The annexation of Crimea was the
smoothest invasion of modern times. It was over before the outside world
realised it had even started.
And until Tuesday 18 March, when a
group of pro-Russian gunmen attacked a small Ukrainian army base in
Simferopol, killing one officer and injuring another, it was entirely
For much of February, thousands of extra soldiers were
quietly sent in to the bases which Russia was permitted by treaty to
own in Crimea. Civilian “volunteers” moved in too. The plan was carried
out secretly and with complete success.
The first obvious sign that Crimea was being taken over was on Friday 28 February, when checkpoints were established at Armyansk and Chongar – the two main road crossings from mainland Ukraine to the Crimean peninsula.
cut-off points were controlled by men wearing a variety of uniforms:
Ukrainian army, Ukrainian police, as well as camouflage without national
insignia. Several wore civilian clothes.
When I tried to get
through the Armyansk checkpoint on Saturday 1 March, together with a BBC
cameraman, these men were hostile and threatening.
They stole the
bags containing our body armour from the boot of our taxi, and went
through our suitcases aggressively, pulling out the things inside and
dropping some of them on the road. They took our camera away and filched
the expensive electronic recording cards from it, together with the
They knew exactly what they were looking for.
There were more bags containing body armour piled up at the side of the
road, where other journalists had tried to get through before us.
men at the checkpoint were stopping everyone except local people from
passing through. I found it hard to work out what was going on.
It was only when one of them, wearing a police uniform, called out “Welcome to Russia!” that I understood – their uniforms might be Ukrainian, but they were sealing off Crimea on behalf of Moscow.
By the next day, Sunday 2 March, it was all over. The outside world
was still expecting Russian ships to arrive and capture Crimea. But it
had already happened by stealth.
On Sunday and Monday the
Ukrainian military bases were taken over by tough-looking soldiers. They
carried the latest Russian military weapons, but their uniforms had
neither national or unit markings, nor badges of rank.
them were the “volunteers” – usually older men, many of whom had
apparently come in from Russia itself. Some wore bits and pieces of
uniform, others plain clothes. They lined up outside the Ukrainian bases
and prevented anyone getting too close.
Presumably they were
Russian reservists. They were tough and aggressive, but they obeyed the
orders of their superiors. Many were obviously heavy drinkers, and at
night a few were openly drunk.
Yet their discipline held. There was no looting, and although their behaviour was threatening they did not attack civilians.
In the days that followed, other groups appeared. These were genuine volunteers, who had come from Moscow to join what they saw as the liberation of Crimea. I spoke to three members of an ultra-nationalist group whose uniforms bore the colours of an extreme royalist organisation.
They were all from Moscow, and they all planned to move on from Crimea to the mainly Russian-speaking cities of Kharkiv and Donetsk. Why? To show solidarity, they said.
Later I came across a
group of seven or eight bikers wearing leathers with badges of rank on
them – president, vice-president and so on. They had also come down from
Moscow, and were planning to head off to Kharkiv and Donetsk. “It’s a
great day,” the “president” said.
But these were
Johnny-come-latelys – amateurs who just wanted to join the fun. There
was absolutely no sign the Russian government had sent them.
modern times, Moscow has staged three major invasions: Hungary in
November 1956 and Czechoslovakia in August 1968, when the Communist
governments there began showing dangerously Western tendencies; and
Afghanistan in December 1979, when the pro-Communist regime was on the
point of collapse.
These were huge and brutal operations, involving large numbers of tanks, and sometimes great bloodshed.
takeover of Crimea has been completely different. This was an
infiltration, not an invasion. And unlike in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and
Afghanistan it was welcomed by a large proportion of the local
According to a well-known opponent of Mr Putin’s, the
vote in Crimea to join the Russian Federation was “a referendum under
the Kalashnikov”. But it wasn’t. The outcome was what the vast majority
of Russian-speakers in Crimea really wanted, and there was little need
for Kalashnikovs in the streets.
Those who wanted to keep Crimea a part of Ukraine were far too shocked and intimidated to resist.
entire operation was very cleverly planned and carried out. But there
is absolutely no doubt what it was – a remarkable, quick and mostly
bloodless coup d’etat.
How U.S. military aid became a lifeline for Ukraine
The U.S. provided about $1.5 billion in military aid to Kiev between 2014 and this past June, according to a Congressional Research Service analysis.
The military aid scandal that spawned
the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump has a very different
significance for Ukraine, where years of U.S. assistance have just
begun to turn a ragtag army into a better-armed and professional force to counter Russian aggression.
The U.S. has provided about $1.5 billion in military support to Kiev between 2014 and this past June, according to an updated analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. And Trump’s temporary cut off of the aid represented a significant setback for the country.
“Ukraine would never be where it is without that support from the United States,” said Ash Carter, who served as President Barack Obama’s defense secretary from 2015 to 2017. “Everything we were doing there to train their military forces, their National Guard, to improve the professionalism and reduce corruption in the defense ministry … all that was critical.”
Before the aid influx, “the
Ukrainian military was in woeful shape,” said Mariya Omelicheva, a
professor of national security strategy at the Pentagon’s National
Defense University who specializes in the region.
“There has been a tangible, measurable impact,” added Omelicheva, who visited the Ukrainian training center in March. And beyond that, she said, the help created “an immeasurable, psychological impact — that the U.S. has our back.”
Now Trump’s aborted aid cutoff — first reported by POLITICO in late August
— has mushroomed into a titanic political fight, centered on
allegations that the president was using the military assistance as
leverage to push Ukraine’s government to investigate former Vice
President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. House oversight committees are
demanding more data from the White House Office of Management and Budget
on when and how the decision to sever the aid arose, including
requesting that some documentation be delivered to Capitol Hill by
The military aid program has steadily
shifted American support in recent years much more heavily toward
security after economic development, loan guarantees and anti-corruption
programs defined much of the support following Ukraine’s independence
from the Soviet Union in 1991.
The U.S. bumped up its military support in 2014, soon after a popular uprising ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Russian troops annexed the Crimean peninsula while fomenting a separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region.
The vast majority of the funds, approved with bipartisan support in Congress, has financed items such as sniper rifles; rocket-propelled grenade launchers; counter-artillery radars; command and control and communications systems; night vision goggles; medical equipment; as well training and logistical support.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is especially interested in buying more Javelin anti-tank missiles to combat Russian tanks and other armored vehicles — a topic he broached during his July 25 telephone call with Trump that is at the center of the impeachment inquiry .
“Mr. Trump brought up American aid to
that country — without explicitly mentioning that he had just frozen a
military aid package of hundreds of millions of dollars — and then
pressed the Ukrainian leader to investigate Mr. Biden,” says the unclassified
copy of the whistleblower complaint that the Trump administration
released last week. “White House officials believed they had witnessed
Trump abuse his power for personal political gain.”
The call came a week after Trump ordered his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to instruct OMB to halt the remainder of $390 million in military aid appropriated by Congress this year in the Pentagon and State Department budgets. The administration released the aid earlier this month after demands from Congress.
Even before the current furor,
questions of how much or how little to help Ukraine’s military counter
Russian aggression have embroiled Washington for years.
Nowhere was it more pointed than the Ukrainians’ request, as far back as 2014, to purchase the advanced Javelin anti-tank missiles.
The Javelin issue “became fetishized
and it became a litmus test: ‘Will you stand up to Putin or will you
kowtow to him?’” said Samuel Charap, a former senior adviser at the
State Department specializing in Russia and Eurasia. “It was like a
“It had nothing to do with the merits
of the Javelin or the question of what would actually be most effective
and important for helping Ukraine,” added Charap, who is now a senior
political scientist at the government-funded Rand Corp.
The Obama administration agonized over
the issue but never approved the sale out of fear of escalating the
conflict — despite entreaties from Carter, who served in several top
Pentagon positions at the time.
The aim was to “do everything we could within the boundaries of what was wise without baiting the Russians into doing something worse,” recalled Chuck Hagel, the former Republican senator who was Obama’s secretary of defense from 2013 to 2015.
The Javelins also helped spur a controversy over the Republican Party’s platform in 2016, after Trump’s campaign succeeded in watering down anti-Russia language and ensuring it would not call for “providing lethal defensive weapons” to Ukraine.
Yet once Trump was in office , the Ukrainian government and its allies in Congress kept pushing the request.
Finally, in 2018, long after the
Russian tanks pulled back from the front, the State Department finally
approved a foreign military sale of 210 Javelin missiles, along with
launchers and training, for $47 million.
Charap said the missiles’ military value was limited — they “ended up on the other side of the country from where the conflict is and under lock and key.” But they held significant value in eastern Ukraine, where retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John Gronski credits the missiles with helping to stabilize the military crisis by “deterring the separatists from bringing armor into the region.”
The Ukrainians “really appreciate the
Javelins,” said Gronski, who served as the deputy commanding general of
U.S. Army Europe until June of this year.
Michael Kofman, a senior research
scientist at CNA, a government-funded think tank, also called the
Javelins an “insurance policy” against Russian escalation.
But in Carter’s view, “its political significance was greater than its military significance.”
However, the less controversial military aid — including some of the $390 million dollars slated to go to Ukraine this year from the Pentagon and State Department — has come to represent a lifeline for the Ukrainian military, which has achieved key milestones in recent months.
And Trump’s recent assertion that the
aid initiated under Obama has merely provided “sheets and pillows” is
directly refuted by those who oversaw it.
The Pentagon, which opposed cutting off the
aid this summer, told Congress in May that efforts to help reform the
country’s military and armaments industry, which has historically been
notoriously corrupt, have paid major dividends.
“Through these engagements, the United
States has effectively helped Ukraine advance institutional reforms
through a number of substantial actions to align Ukraine’s defense
enterprise more closely with NATO standards and principles,” John Rood,
the undersecretary of Defense for policy, told oversight committees.
He certified that Ukraine’s military
“has taken substantial actions” to tackle corruption, improve
accountability and is “sustaining improvements to combat capability
enabled by U.S. assistance.”
That applies especially to the
U.S.-financed military training, which takes place at the Yavoriv
training center in western Ukraine near the border with Poland.
Initially, American, Polish,
Lithuanian and Canadian troops conducted the training of Ukrainian
forces — first for smaller, company-sized units of several hundred
soldiers and then up to the level of a brigade, which can include
thousands of troops.
But now, battle-experienced Ukrainian troops are conducting most of the training, Gronski said, leaving the U.S. forces “in more of an observer role.”
And U.S. instruction in combat
medicine has had a direct impact on the battlefield in the east, Gronski
said. “Several times, across several visits, Ukrainian battalion
commanders told me that those kits and that training absolutely saved
So here we see that Traitor Trump, in his actions, gave aid and comfort to our enemy Russia and his Puppet Master Putin, in his withholding the funds and military weapons to the Ukraine to fight the Russians annexation of Crimea and their proxy war against the Ukraine. And this costed Ukrainians lives by his actions.
And by Traitor Trump and the Republicans spreading the bullshit story that it was the Ukraine and not the Russians and Putin who interfered in the election of Traitor Donald J Trump? They are all giving aid and comfort to the enemy Russia and Putin.They are spreading the bullshit propoganda of Putin and Russia on Ukraine everywhere to defend the actions of this treasonous scumbag Donald J Trump.
While we are in essence a peacetime and not at officially declared war with Putin and Russia? Historical prosecution of people who have been arrested, tried and convicted and executed for Treason against the United States during peacetime? Is the case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
Julius Rosenberg and Ethel Rosenberg, Ethel Rosenberg née Ethel Greenglass, (respectively, born May 12, 1918, New York, New York, U.S.—died June 19, 1953, Ossining, New York; born September 28, 1915, New York City—died June 19, 1953, Ossining), the first American civilians to be executed for espionage and the first to suffer that penalty during peacetime.
The Rosenbergs were charged with espionage and brought to trial on March 6, 1951; Greenglass was the chief witness for the prosecution. On March 29 they were found guilty, and on April 5 the couple was sentenced to death. (Sobell and Gold received 30-year prison terms, and Greenglass, who was tried separately, was sentenced to 15 years in prison.) For two years the Rosenberg case was appealed through the courts and before world opinion. The constitutionality and applicability of the Espionage Act of 1917, under which the Rosenbergs were tried, as well as the impartiality of the trial judge, Irving R. Kaufman—who in pronouncing sentence had accused them of a crime “worse than murder”—were key issues during the appeals process. Seven different appeals reached the Supreme Court of the United States and were denied, and pleas for executive clemency were dismissed by Pres. Harry Truman in 1952 and Pres. Dwight Eisenhower in 1953. A worldwide campaign for mercy failed, and the Rosenbergs were executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, New York. Ethel became the first woman executed by the U.S. government since Mary Surratt was hanged in 1865 for her alleged role in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
If Julius and Ethel Rosenberg can be prosecuted for High Treason against the United States, during peacetime? Then the same rules and laws can be used that prosecuted them, 18 U.S. Code § 2381. Treason , and sedition: 18 U.S. Code § 2384. Seditious conspiracy for the treasonous actions on the crimes of Donald J Trump, Rudy Guiliani, William Barr, Mick Mulvaney, et al and their withholding Congressionally approved funds and military weapons to go to the Ukraine, to fight the Russians and Putin’s invasion of and annexation of Crimea and their war against Ukraine, who are our ally. This gave aid and comfort to our enemy, Russia and Putin.
Any Republican Senator or Congressperson who stands up and defends Traitor Trump and spreads the bullshit lies that it was the Ukraine that interfered in our elections and not the Russians, as has been proven? Then they are in fact? Guilty of 18 U.S. Code § 2382. Misprision of treason. Such as Senators Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, and Congressmen Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan and many others.
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