When the Stories Don’t Get Straight

Somebody decided he’s not willing to do time for Trump. This just happened:

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland told House impeachment investigators this week that he now remembers telling a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that Ukraine would not receive U.S. military assistance until it committed to investigating the 2016 election and former Vice President Joe Biden, according to a person with knowledge of Sondland’s testimony.

Sondland’s latest testimony represents an update to depositions he gave in October to the three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. The new testimony was in a three-page declaration to the committees.

According to that sworn declaration, Sondland told Congress this week that his memory has been refreshed after reviewing the opening statements from Bill Taylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, a former adviser to Trump on Russian and European affairs.

Yeah, I bet his memory was refreshed. That must be it.

Greg Sargent has a roundup of The Scandal Thus Far, with the catchy headline The scope of Trump’s corruption is mind-boggling. New developments show how. “The broad contours of the Ukraine scandal are well understood,” he writes. But two aspects of the scandal require more scrutiny.

The first is the degree to which this whole scheme is corrupting multiple government agencies and effectively placing them at the disposal of Trump’s reelection effort.

The second is that two of the scheme’s goals — getting Ukraine to validate a conspiracy theory absolving Russia of 2016 sabotage, and to manufacture smears of one of Trump’s leading 2020 rivals — are really part of the same story. At the core of this narrative is Trump’s continuing reliance on foreign help in corrupting our democracy to his advantage, through two presidential elections, and the covering up of all of it.

Do read the whole thing.  Then read Josh Marshall:

A few two-bit, maybe three-bit hustlers have managed to take control of the President of the United States and have him not simply making decisions at their direction but actually operating outside any clear coordination with his own State Department. We need to see this as a proof of concept through which we see current US relations with Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and many other countries. Think what more sophisticated operators are able to do with him.

This may sound like I’m trying to let Trump off too easily, portraying him as a soft touch or a patsy. Not really. I do get the sense here that Rudy’s telling him that Yovanovitch had to go was probably all he needed to hear. Hearing stories that she’d badmouthed him didn’t hurt either. I don’t get the sense that Trump knew or cared just why Parnas or Lutsenko wanted her out. Maybe he didn’t even know it was their ask. The point is it didn’t matter. Rudy was going to get Biden or spring Manafort or prove the Deep State was wrong about the Russians and that was all he needed to know.

There are more layers we haven’t uncovered yet, in particular why Trump is so obsequious to Russia. See also Michelle Goldberg, On Ukraine, Trump Is a Con Man, but He’s Also a Mark.

The heart of the Ukraine scandal, for which Trump will almost certainly be impeached, is simple. Trump used congressionally appropriated aid to Ukraine, as well as the promise of a White House visit, to try to extort Ukraine’s president to announce investigations that would benefit Trump politically.

But there’s a broader story that’s still murky, because in this scandal Trump is both the perpetrator and the mark. Trump used the power of his office to try to force Ukraine to substantiate conspiracy theories. But the president was fed those conspiracy theories by people with their own agendas, who surely understood that he is insecure about Russia’s role in his election, and he will believe whatever serves his ego in the moment. The main reason Trump should be removed from office is that he has subverted American foreign policy for corrupt personal ends. But this scandal is the latest reminder of how easy sinister forces find it to pull his strings.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are reduced to complaining about the process or demanding that the original whistleblower be revealed. Because that’s all they’ve got.

ASK YOURSELF THIS QUESTION: Since the release of the first two transcripts from the impeachment inquiry Monday, have you seen a single stitch of information that helps President DONALD TRUMP? Have you found any information exculpatory for him? Can you name one single fact that’s changed the basic arc of this story?

IN FACT, as WaPo’s RACHAEL BADE and KAROUN DEMIRJIAN point out in today’s paper, “Republicans have used their time to complain that testimony has become public, going after their colleagues who were quoted in media reports commenting on witness appearances, and quizzing witnesses themselves on how their statements had been released.” WaPo story

See also Philip Bump, The desperate search for the Ukraine scandal’s Peter Strzok.

11 thoughts on “When the Stories Don’t Get Straight

  1. IMO, Rudy asked Trump to make him an unofficial envoy to Ukraine. That's pretty clear. Rudy also discussed (opinion here) with Trump the dodge of claiming attorney-client privilege in court proceedings or congressional inquiries.   By now, the Don has realized that the State Department leaves a paper trail deliberately. Nobody who isn't a Trump appointee is going to do State Dept business on the QT. Rudy's scheme was to force the State Department to refer Ukraine govt officials to him for the verbal extortion (no paper trail) but it turned out to be impossible without other people getting involved. (Sondland and Taylor)

    Here's where things will get interesting. The PLAN was for Trump to refer everybody to Rudy. Trump wasn't supposed to go on the record. Rudy was going to hide behnd the shield of privilege. Trump couldn't resist giving the orders to Sondland it appears and Sondland doesn't like how this is shaping up. 

    Abbot and Costello, the clowns arrested by DOJ with one-way tickets out of the US are busted for election violations, some connected with getting the prior ambassador to Ukraine removed because she wouldn't bow to Rudy or Trump. These two-bit clowns are looking at jail time for funneling foreign money into GOP elections. By now, they've been reminded Trump has let all his 'best people' go to jail. Their lawyer says they are willing to talk to the House inquiry. (Nervous, Rudy?)

    I don't think for a minute Rudy will go to jail for Trump. If he's charged the one thing I''m sure of is he won't do a Manifort. 

    Roger Stone is on trial this week. The Ukraine debacle killed the planned pardon for Manifort. Flynn is up for sentencing and he's bouncing off the walls with a defense unconnected with reality. (It's sentencing – you're past the point of claiming innocence and demanding a trial.) Rudy could easily get charged – Barr is looking at obstruction if he gets involved.  (IMO, but we'll see.) 

    Too soon for the dancing banana, but we're going that way.

  2. I'm doing a G U L A G – consecutive posting but.. Pence was in on it???


    "In his updated testimony, Mr. Sondland recounted how he had discussed the link with Andriy Yermak, a top adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, on the sidelines of a Sept. 1 meeting between Vice President Mike Pence and Mr. Zelensky in Warsaw. Mr. Zelensky had discussed the suspension of aid with Mr. Pence, Mr. Sondland said."

    From Digby

    • The dots are all connecting and of course Pence was in on it.  It was hard to see him out of the loop, and now we have evidence he was very much in the loop.  

      The humorous part of this whole thing is a conspiracy theory and a Putin cover story intertwined with the conspiracy theory was at the center of the whole thing.  It is as if great forces of the United States were being used to provide validation for a Putin cover regarding US election interference.  

      Funny also is Boris Johnson in the UK possibly trying to burry Russian interference in the Brexit election until after their upcoming election.  Is Boris as compromised as Trump?  

      Very Suspicious.


  3. KY now has a Democratic Governor!


    tRUMP won that state by 30 points.


    Also too:  The D's take control of the VA Senate.  YAY!!!  And so far, they're up 3 seats in the VA House.  DOUBLE YAY!  YAY-YAY!!!!!

    Also three:  Doug, you owe me a buck for copy-wrong infringement.

  4. KY – the Democrat squeaked by with a tiny .3 % > than the dwork Bevin. I'll take it. VA – the Dems won BOTH legislative houses. NYC – ranked choice voting won by an overwhelming 75% to 25%. It's a good night to be blue.

    re Abbot and Costello – read that Abbot was pissed off that Trump said he never knew him – even though there are pictures of the two of them on together on social media. And so he switched lawyers and is ready to talk.

  5. Pompeo does a pretty good Sgt.Shultz impression. He aught to take his show on the road.

     I saw nothing, I heard nothing. I know nothing.

     It can really get to your sense of decency when you hear about Ambassador Yovanovitch getting getting slimed by Trump. Knowing that she had a stellar career of exemplary service and dedication to our nation, and knowing that Pompeo wouldn't afford her the common decency of speaking a word on her behalf in defense of Trump's vile attacks against her character and integrity. Especially after he had been prompted 3 times to speak up on her behalf. Pompeo is a despicable human being, and I'm praying that some divine retribution comes his way with a ten fold magnitude attached to it.

    • I can't square Pompeo's behavior with his supposed Christian beliefs. It recalls the cognitive dissonance I felt when I was in evangelical circles. I don't know how he keeps his head from exploding.

      • I find it difficult to square Pompeo's being a West Point graduate with the character he's exhibiting now. West Point has a strong tradition of placing honor among their highest virtues. And lying is one of the the worst things a West Pointer could do.

        "A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do."

        It's not just a code that one adheres to while a cadet at the academy. It's a distinction that somebody who has been through the academy would cherish and strive to carry that virtuous distinction throughout their life. Unless you're like Pompeo and have decided to become a corrupted bag of shit who finds personal fulfillment in licking the boots of Donald Trump.

  6. The second is that two of the scheme’s goals — getting Ukraine to validate a conspiracy theory absolving Russia of 2016 sabotage, and to manufacture smears of one of Trump’s leading 2020 rivals — are really part of the same story. At the core of this narrative is Trump’s continuing reliance on foreign help in corrupting our democracy to his advantage, through two presidential elections, and the covering up of all of it.

    I think this misses something.

    See, the reason Trump needs *UKRAINE* to do this is because the DOJ won't. At least, not without opening an investigation into "the serious concerns our Ukrainian allies have brought to our attention." 

    Now, at the absolute least, we know Trump sought this investigation. We know it; because even the *cover story* involves two US persons who the DOJ have cause to investigate if they were involved in corruption involving misuse of government resources. The investigation didn't happen because it would be illegal to start one, given the lack of any evidence pointing to any wrongdoing. 

    Right there, any Republican with any understanding of their duty to the USA, would be forced to sound the alarm. "The President is trying to start an illegal investigation to support his own interests!" 

    Instead, we have this wide-ranging conspiracy, involving a lot of people, right? And every single one of them has enough information to put together the pieces. 

    Trump is trying to get Ukraine to do something that would be illegal for him to do: start an investigation based on lies – not a "conspiracy theory". 

    See, the Hunter Biden story is manufactured from coincidences. Note: I didn't say *chance* coincidences – it's likely the investment firm, for example, said "hey, we have clients about to give us a billion and a half; they'd love to get a grip and grin lunch with your dad, who is scheduled there anyway. Think you can arrange it?" So, the investment firm gets a big check – after a celebratory lunch, where they pulled in a VIP to make the clients feel important. 

    ("Grip and grin" lunch = "Biden is  there as Joe Biden, private citizen, but you can get your picture taken, noshing with the Vice President Of The United States!!!!" And Joe, being a vet of such things, knows how to make them feel worldly, wise, and important, without doing anything wrong. Note the difference between a Hunter Biden and a Junior or Jared Kushner.)

    There's nothing remotely illegal about that, and keep in mind, if it were Hunter Woods, and his dad was Tiger Woods, it wouldn't even have the appearance of potential impropriety, and no one would care about Hunter scoring some relatively easy cash. 

    So, the Joe/Hunter Biden stuff is an actual, manufactured pack of lies, and it's not possible to put it forth with good faith, much less honest intent. And if the President isn't aware of this, if he literally can't tell the difference between his rectum and a hole in the ground, after having it explained to him repeatedly… well, doesn't the GOP realize that an actual emergency *could* arise, and require, you know, rational action? 

    Anyway: the President is pushing an investigation based on flagrant lies. He can't do it himself, it's illegal, so he's asking someone else to do it. That's a lot more than just "he's willing to accept foreign help". I mean, yes, it means he is literally putting a "For Sale: Presidential Approval" out in public, and that's staggeringly corrupt.

    But there's more, and more serious issues: the President is choosing to persecute US citizens, using the power of his office, without any basis in the facts or the law. 

    And the only reason we know about it is that he tried to do so in *SUCH* a clumsy manner, that people realized they needed to cover it up *fast*, and only then did one single person involved in this vast conspiracy decide they needed to raise a concern with Congress. 

    So, first, "the President is willing to accept foreign help" is kinda like saying the mugger was using a knife that was of an illegal length. True, but missing the bigger point. 

    And second, the real story is, a massive criminal conspiracy can be covered up by the US government, up until there's such a horrible, ham-handed addition to it, that people get scared for their own personal exposure. This isn't like Iran-Contra, where you could at least *pretend* that *maybe* the President should have some rights to aid the Contras. This was pure-D partisan gain. 

    • Another thing to consider is that the Ukraine elected Zelensky in the hopes of ending corruption in that country. As Ambassador Yovanovitch said in her testimony, corruption is not part of the system in Ukraine, it is the system. And Trump attempted to corrupt Zelensky by way of extortion before he even got off the ground. Destroying the hopes of the Ukrainian people.

      On top of that is the idea and high probability that Trump would have ratfucked the Ukrainians by letting the military aid be returned to the treasury because it wasn't delivered within the allotted time frame. A win win for Putin and for Trump. Look what he did to McCabe. He gets a joy in inflicting pain on his victims..It's not enough for him to just screw over his victims, he has to make sure they experience the maximum amount of suffering.


Comments are closed.