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U.S. Envoy to Ukraine Was Asked to Step Aside Ahead of Pompeo Visit

U.S. Envoy to Ukraine Was Asked to Step Aside Ahead of Pompeo Visit
By Michael R. Gordon in Washington and
Georgi Kantchev in Moscow
Updated Dec. 18, 2019 8:52 pm ET

Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor was instructed by a top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to hand over responsibilities for his post just days before Mr. Pompeo plans to visit the Ukrainian capital, according to a person familiar with the situation.

That timing countered earlier suggestions that Mr. Taylor’s precise departure date was predetermined, and will allow Mr. Pompeo to avoid meeting or being photographed with an ambassador who has drawn President Trump’s ire for his testimony in the congressional impeachment inquiry, according to this person and to Ukrainian officials.


Posted by babylonsister | Thu Dec 19, 2019, 06:45 PM (0 replies)

David Corn: The Inevitability of Donald Trump's Impeachment


The Inevitability of Donald Trump’s Impeachment
His decades-long record of misdeeds and wrongdoing made this moment inescapable.
David Corn


No one can say of the impeachment of Donald Trump, “We did not see it coming.” There was a boatload of indicators. Trump retaining investigators to collect muck? Check (Rudy Giuliani). Trump pushing conspiracy swill? Check (the DNC-server-in-Ukraine hogwash). Trump asking overseas government to intervene in a US election? Check (Ukraine). And check (China). Trump misusing his power for personal gain and then, once caught, both lying and bragging about it—we’ve seen this movie before. More than once. The theme does not change: Trump places his own interests over…well, anything else.

Throughout his presidency, there has been a firehose of disclosures that serve as reminders of his bottomless corruption. A few examples: Trump directed his personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, to make illegal hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election to keep her from talking about her alleged extramarital affair with Trump. Trump and his family engaged in massive fraud as part of multiple schemes over the years to escape paying hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes. Trump, during the campaign, secretly tried to score a development project in Moscow that could have earned him hundreds of millions of dollars, and his company asked Vladimir Putin’s office for assistance in sealing the deal. (Throughout the race, Trump falsely told American voters that he had no business interests in Russia.) According to the final report of special counsel Robert Mueller, Trump appears to have obstructed justice on multiple occasions as president. (The report noted that Trump repeatedly told aides he wished he had a lawyer like Roy Cohn, who died in 1986, working for him in the White House.) In September, the news broke that Trump had told senior Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting in May 2017 that he was unconcerned about Moscow’s assault on the 2016 election that helped him become president. Here was the commander in chief letting a foreign adversary that attacked the United States off the hook because its actions had benefitted him.

It seems that impeachment was practically preordained. Trump was destined to corrupt the office from the second he entered it—and he did. But initially, Democrats—at least those in the leadership—were reluctant to launch an impeachment inquiry, calculating that it would not be in their political favor. It was simple math: Impeachment could threaten the 41 House Democrats hailing from congressional districts Trump carried in 2016, and, consequently, imperil the Democratic majority in the House. (For House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, there was no worse nightmare than a 2020 election that left Trump in place with the GOP again in charge of all of Congress.)

Trump’s violation of the emoluments clause, his role as a co-conspirator in the Stormy Daniels case, his alleged obstructions of justice, his interactions with Russia—all this and more had prompted some Democrats and grassroots activists to call for his impeachment. But Pelosi resisted—until the Ukraine scandal. Trump’s malfeasance had become impossible to sidestep. Resistance in the face of this obvious transgression—Trump’s attempt to underhandedly use his office and taxpayer money to muscle an ally to influence the 2020 campaign in his favor—was futile. Impeachment had become unavoidable. Trump’s wrongdoing was not merely enriching him and his family; it was threatening the next election. The only barrier to impeachment—Democrats’ reluctance to go nuclear—crumbled.

Whatever the odds were on January 20, 2017, of Trump being impeached, this would have been a good bet to make. Trump’s past was his—and the nation’s—future. He was fated to be struck with a self-inflicted scandal, or several. The Democrats have brought him up on narrow charges focused on one specific instance of wrongdoing. (In a way, Trump is getting off easy, as I’ve previously noted.) Yet the Ukraine caper exemplifies Trump’s spree of misdeeds that began long before he became president and that did not cease once he took the oath of office. His actions in this episode that have been translated into the two articles of impeachment—abuse of office, obstruction of Congress—are not at all remarkable, given his résumé. But that does not undercut the seriousness of this impeachment. Trump’s acts reflect a deep moral and ethical rot that has for decades been at the core of his story and that now, with this vote, has come to be recognized, at least by one political party, as a threat to the constitutional order of the United States.
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Dec 19, 2019, 06:01 PM (3 replies)

Rep. Adam Schiff Is Coming After Mike Pence Next


Posted on Thu, Dec 19th, 2019 by Jason Easley
Rep. Adam Schiff Is Coming After Mike Pence Next

Rep. Schiff said that he has evidence that Pence knew more about the Ukraine scheme than he has previously stated and the American people deserve to see the proof.

Chairman Schiff said on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show:

We have acquired a piece of evidence, classified submission by Jennifer Williams, something she alluded to in her open testimony in going back and looking through her records, she found other information that was pertinent to that phone call that we asked her about and made that submission. There is nothing that should be classified in that submission but yet the vice president’s office has said they’re going to assert classification.

It is not proper to classify something because it would be embarrassing or incriminating, and that summation does shed light on the vice president’s knowledge, and we think the American people should see it. Certainly any senators in the trial should have access to it.

But it just goes to show that there is a body of evidence, documentary and otherwise that administration figures from the president on down to include the vice president do not want the American people to see or know. And the question is will they succeed? Will the cover-up succeed, or will the Senate insist on what we were not able to obtain in the house? And that is a White House that will comply with the lawful process.

Chairman Schiff has been making it clear that Pence is more involved in the Ukraine plot than he has been admitting. Trump is impeached, but that doesn’t mean that the investigations have to end. Adam Schiff is not about to let Mike Pence off of the hook just because the House has impeached Donald Trump.

Schiff has new proof and sounds like he is coming after Mike Pence.

Posted by babylonsister | Thu Dec 19, 2019, 05:40 PM (30 replies)

Chris Hayes on Trump's lifelong lack of accountability--until now


Chris Hayes on Trump’s lifelong lack of accountability--until now
Video @ link; I have no idea how to copy it.

Hayes: “This is the first time in his life that he is facing any concrete judgment on the nature of his behavior, ever.” Dec. 18, 2019
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Dec 18, 2019, 10:32 PM (2 replies)

Trump Fatigue? Spare Me


OPINION | Fourth Estate
Trump Fatigue? Spare Me
Yep, he’s exhausting. And the nation’s pundits owe us more than a plea for sympathy.
12/17/2019 04:22 PM EST
Jack Shafer is Politico’s senior media writer.

You can barely taste the opinion pages anymore without being drowned in the carping and moaning from the commentariat about how President Donald Trump’s endless Twitter devilments, preposterous executive orders, and steady, mendacious haranguing at political gatherings and in the Oval Office have rendered them fatigued and exhausted.

Columnists have been complaining about Trump fatigue since the opening months of his administration, but lately the gripe can be heard everywhere opinion journalism is practiced. In his last New York Times column, David Brooks whimpered softly about how the politics of exhaustion have warped not just American politics but those of the United Kingdom. “There’s no relief from the exhaustion of our national crackup,” New York Times columnist Tim Egan wrote at the beginning of the month. In November, the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin framed her column on how the “country, Democrats included, suffering from exhaustion.” (Earlier, Daily Beast columnist Matt Lewis diagnosed Trump fatigue even among Republicans!) And on a single day late last summer, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius wrote of his exhaustion with “Trump’s whirling-dervish” performances and New York Times columnist Frank Bruni expressed a “weariness” with Trump that has “transcended partisanship.”


To be sympathetic to the columnists, it’s apparent that many of them—having called the president a demagogue, a bully, an authoritarian, an aspiring dictator, a despot, and a monster—have emptied their rhetorical quivers and have nothing left to fire. They’re not just exhausted. They’re spent and disheartened by the fact that the biggest Trump stories—the Russia investigation convictions and guilty pleas; the exposes of Trump’s self-dealing; Scott Pruitt’s tenure at EPA, Ryan Zinke’s at Interior, and Tom Price’s at HHS; the incarceration of children at the border; Trump’s coziness with Putin; Trump’s cavalier use of pardons; Trump’s revocation of White House press passes; Trump’s role in covering up the Khashoggi murder; et al.—seem not to have weakened or even disciplined the White House. Nor have these stories failed to reverberate beyond their original soundings the way they might have in the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations.

But my sympathy has its limits. If they can’t appreciate the fact that they’ve been dealt one of the most consequential assignments in the history of political journalism, the columnists should surrender their pens and make way for writers who don’t need Adderall to remain vigilant. No matter how spent they feel now, they still have the upper hand. Trump hasn’t abolished the First Amendment; he hasn’t instituted prior restraint; he hasn’t sent any of the scribes he considers “enemies of the people” to jail; he hasn’t shuttered any news outlets; and readers aplenty await the commentariat’s findings.

Drafting the penultimate paragraph of this column, I intended to exhort columnists to set their emotions aside and get to work. But as I did, I paused as I found myself veering ridiculously close to the over-the-top speech Bluto gives in Animal House, when he rallies his fraternity brothers to action against the college administration: “Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell, no!”

But a Blutoesque enthusiasm for the mission is exactly what’s demanded of the commentariat right now. Expressions of self-pity and weariness only play into Trump’s hands by making the opinion pages sound like they’re about the writers, not the unusual president they’re paid to cover. And nobody should want that. So allow me to end my harangue as Bluto ends his. “We’re just the guys to do it,” he shouted in Animal House. “LET’S DO IT!”
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Dec 18, 2019, 08:36 PM (0 replies)

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon Torches Rep. Doug Collins By Listing GOP Who Favor Impeachment

I missed this yesterday. Brava!!


12/17/19 4:39pm
Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon Torches Rep. Doug Collins By Listing GOP Who Favor Impeachment
Since Collins refused to discuss any impeachable scenario, or admit that Trump has committed any impeachable offense, Rep. Scanlon decided to humiliate him by listing actual Republicans who have spines and consciences.
By Aliza Worthington
1 day ago by Karoli Kuns
Views: 17964

Try as she might, Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon could not get Rep. Doug Collins to specify what he felt might constitute an impeachable offense. She listed anything and everything under the sun that most with an 8th-grade civics education would KNOW was clearly impeachable, and he refused to state if he would impeach under those circumstances. All he would say is that the actions of THIS president, backed up by testimony presented by THESE witnesses, in THIS Democratic-majority House of Representatives were absolutely NOT impeachable.

Rep. Scanlon then summarily torched him with a long, humiliating list of Republicans who, as she slid in beautifully, were "not dependent on the president for continuation in their job," and had the moral clarity to state the bleeding obvious.

REP. SCANLON: One other thing I wanted to push back on what is this idea that somehow this impeachment process is some kind of radical left plot of some sort...I want to make it clear for the record that the only radical view I'm embracing here is the idea that we the people, should be governed by a constitution that divides powers between three coequal branches and establishes checks and balances on the president. Despite the rhetoric that somehow this is a completely partisan exercise, my faith in these core constitutional principles is, I believe, still a shared American value that unites Democrats, Independents, Conservatives, Libertarians.

I think there is a growing consensus even among Republicans who speak off the record who are not dependent on the president for continuation in their job, and I'd like to point to a couple of examples. This weekend, Tom Ridge, the former Republican governor of my home state, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the first Homeland Secretary of the United States, member of Congress, Vietnam vet, said that he believed the president's conduct here was an abuse of power to ask a foreign leader for a political favor. Our former colleague Mr. Dent also from Pennsylvania, said he has spoken with Republicans who are absolutely disgusted and exhausted by the president's behavior. Another former Republican colleague of ours, David Jolly, said we witnessed an impeachable moment, former Republican congressman Reid Ribble of Wisconsin said recently, "Clearly there was some sort of quid pro quo," and when asked if he believed the testimony presented warrants impeachment, he said, "I do." Former South Carolina Republican congressman Bob Inglis, who served on the Judiciary Committee during the Clinton impeachment said last month, "Without a doubt, if Barack Obama had done the things revealed in the current inquiry, we Republicans would have impeached him."

And while I'm hesitant, I don't want my colleagues to have a stroke, Joe Scarborough, who is a former Republican congressman from Florida, said "Every Republican knows that Donald Trump was asking for dirt on Joe Biden in exchange for releasing military funds." These are just a few of the folks that came out here.

REP. HASTINGS: Ms. Scanlon, would you yield just one moment, so I can add one? William Webster. The only person that has been the FBI and CIA director, said the same thing.

REP. SCANLON: At age 95. And with that I would yield back to Mr. Raskin.

Collins responded by scoffing that those Republicans didn't wear "pins" (meaning they weren't members of the House of Representatives NOW) which essentially proved Rep. Scanlon's point for her. These GOP bottom-feeders need to feed off Trump's bottomless grift-factory in order to retain power. In other words, they're terrified to cross him, and/or they're angling for whatever power/business/money they think he can shove their way. They're not about to jeopardize that for something as insignificant as upholding democracy, or retaining a shred of moral decency.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Dec 18, 2019, 08:21 PM (0 replies)

Trump impeachment: Undisputed evidence that he abused his power

Yea, the washington times actually posted this!


Trump impeachment: Undisputed evidence that he abused his power
By Andrew P. Napolitano - - Wednesday, December 18, 2019



Because Mr. Trump declined to participate in the House investigation that resulted in the construction of the articles of impeachment against him — except for his tweets and bluster and the Republicans’ personal attacks on House Democratic committee chairs — the facts underlying the charges against Mr. Trump are essentially uncontested.

Everyone who believes in the rule of law should be terrified of a president who thinks and behaves as if it does not apply to him. As the DOJ has stated repeatedly, impeachment is the proper constitutional remedy for that.

James Madison, the author of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, feared a government that was strong enough to protect the people would become too strong for the people to control. It would use its powers not for the nation’s betterment but its own. When the government fails to control itself, he argued, when the president becomes a law unto himself by violating the laws that pertain to all others, the remedy is impeachment.

The framers’ greatest fear was a president who would unlawfully put his own needs above the nation’s or who would drag a foreign government into our domestic affairs. Mr. Trump has tried to do both and threatened to repeat those attempts. That’s why the remedy of impeachment is acutely needed.

• Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is a regular contributor to The Washington Times. He is the author of nine books on the U.S. Constitution.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Dec 18, 2019, 05:43 PM (3 replies)

Joe Kennedy Explains Impeachment Vote To His Kids From House Floor: 'I Want You To Know'

POLITICS 12/18/2019 01:58 pm ET
Joe Kennedy Explains Impeachment Vote To His Kids From House Floor: ‘I Want You To Know’
“This is a moment that you’ll read about in your history books,” the Democratic congressman told his children Ellie and James.
By Hayley Miller

Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) delivered a moving speech from the House floor on Wednesday explaining to his young children why he’s voting to impeach President Donald Trump.

“Dear Ellie and James,” Kennedy began. “This is a moment that you’ll read about in your history books. Today, I will vote to impeach the president of the United States, and I want you to know why.”

Kennedy, who has Ellie, 3, and James, 1, with wife Lauren Anne Birchfield, went on to say that Trump “broke our laws” and “threatened our security.”

“He abused the highest, most sacred office in our land,” Kennedy continued, adding that it “does not feel good” to impeach the president.

“Let the record show that, today, justice won, that we did our job, that we kept our word, that we stood our sacred ground,” he said. “Let the record show that we did not let you down. I love you. Listen to mom. I’ll be home soon.”



Posted by babylonsister | Wed Dec 18, 2019, 04:55 PM (5 replies)

The Nunes Crew Is Neck-Deep in the Ukraine Scandal

December 17, 2019
The Nunes Crew Is Neck-Deep in the Ukraine Scandal
Several of the congressman’s current and former staffers have surfaced in connection with the controversy.
Matt Cohen

During the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment hearings last month, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the panel’s ranking member, angrily decried the process. He called the proceedings a “drug deal” concocted by the Democrats for TV ratings and claimed Donald Trump had done nothing wrong in his attempt to get Ukraine to launch investigations that might help his political prospects. All the while, Nunes failed to disclose his own mysterious role in the scandal, which first began to emerge when the Daily Beast reported on the California Republican’s alleged ties to Lev Parnas, the indicted Florida businessman who assisted Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, in his dirt-digging efforts in Ukraine.

When the House Intelligence Committee released its report on its impeachment inquiry at the beginning of December, Nunes’ involvement in the controversy became even clearer. Not only did the report include phone records indicating calls between Nunes and numbers associated with Giuliani and Parnas (Nunes claims the Parnas calls actually came from a number associated with Parnas’ wife and that he spoke with “someone,” he does not recall who), it also indicated deep ties between Nunes’ office and the White House. At least three former Nunes staffers currently work in the White House. A onetime National Security Council staffer in the Trump White House, meanwhile, currently works for Nunes. The names of all of these officials have surfaced in recent months in connection with the Ukraine scandal, and three of them were mentioned in the intelligence committee report.

Kash Patel, a member of Nunes’ intelligence committee staff, left that role in February to join the Trump administration as a senior adviser on the National Security Council. Politico reported in October that the former Nunes aide (whose responsibilities on the NSC do not involve Ukraine policy) supplied Trump with information on Ukraine that influenced the president’s belief that the country colluded with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 election—a debunked conspiracy theory that the White House and other members of the GOP are still running with. Patel contends that he never spoke with Trump about Ukraine-related matters and has filed a lawsuit against Politico over the story, claiming defamation.

But evidence of Patel’s alleged involvement in the Ukraine scandal popped up again during the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment hearings. Fiona Hill, a former top NSC official specializing in Russia and Europe, testified that she was told that Trump “may want to speak to Kash” concerning “some materials related to Ukraine.” Hill got the impression that Trump believed Patel was the NSC’s Ukraine director (his job focused on counterterrorism) and said she unsuccessfully tried to clarify if he “had some special…representational role on Ukraine.”According to Hill, Patel had a close relationship to both Trump and Nunes. According to call logs obtained by the intelligence committee and included in its report, Patel communicated with Giuliani on May 10, less than an hour after Giuliani spoke with Kurt Volker, the former US special envoy to Ukraine.

If Patel sounds familiar, that is because it is not the first time his name has surfaced in connection with a controversial effort to advance the president’s political interests. While working for Nunes, he helped to author a controversial and misleading four-page memo that made a number of disputed assertions concerning how the FBI obtained a FISA warrant to investigate former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page. The memo appeared to be aimed at derailing the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and it was declassified by Trump over objections from the FBI.


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Dec 18, 2019, 04:38 PM (2 replies)

Democratic Senators are Tweeting Photos of the Giant Pile of 'Dead' House-Passed Bills...


Democratic Senators are Tweeting Photos of the Giant Pile of 'Dead' House-Passed Bills on Mitch McConnell's Desk
By Blake Dodge On 12/18/19 at 1:45 PM EST
PIC at link~

U.S. Senators are sharing photographs of the growing pile of bills passed by the House only to stymie on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's desk.

The stack, a symbolic replication of legislation McConnell refuses to bring to a vote, was reportedly the brain child of Senator Debbie Stabenow. According to her office, it includes more than 300 bills about voter registration, background checks for firearm sales, domestic violence, climate change, minimum wage increases and other issues.

The do-nothing strategy spearheaded by McConnell's office seems intentional, Democrats claim. Back in September, McConnell promised to be a "grim reaper" to any and all progressive legislation. But, as multiple Senators pointed out Wednesday, more than 275 of these "dead" bills cleared the House with bipartisan support.

In a press conference meant to highlight the "legislative graveyard" Tuesday morning, Stabenow said that the American people expect Congress to pass legislation "that will improve their lives and improve the lives of their families."

"Unfortunately, though, that is not what's happening because the Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has turned the Senate into a legislative graveyard," she added.


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Dec 18, 2019, 04:31 PM (4 replies)
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