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Has U.S. Democracy Been Trumped? Bernie Sanders wants to know who owns America?

#14301 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-November-20, 08:23

How a Ukrainian responds to the right-wing echo chamber:

Quote

Thus, the conspiracy theory of congressmen Jordan, Nunes and counsel Castor is falling apart, as I was not the original source of information about Manafort’s shady payments in Ukraine. I wouldn’t mind being the first one to publish the information about Manafort, but I simply didn’t have it. I found out about it the same way that everyone else did — from a New York Times article.

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#14302 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-November-20, 18:26

James Poniewozik at NYT said:

The explosions at the House impeachment hearings Wednesday were not the work of a mad bomber. The man deploying the bombshells seemed oddly to be enjoying himself.

The testimony of the ambassador to the European Union, Gordon D. Sondland, was deeply serious in substance: that he and his colleagues “followed the president’s orders” in pressuring Ukraine to investigate Donald Trump’s political rivals; that there was a “quid pro quo” expected; and that “everyone was in the loop” on the plan, including several high-level officials.

But in the Trump era, drama and farce are often inseparable. Mr. Sondland, a hotel entrepreneur who came into his position after donating a million dollars to the president’s inauguration, could have been a minor character in “Succession”: a wealthy megadonor anxious to avoid being tainted, yet somehow seeming to relish the spotlight.

In the Watergate hearings, John Dean (now serving as a commentator on CNN) played the part of the heavy-hearted insider testifying against his administration out of grim duty. Mr. Sondland showed up wearing the smirk of a man able to imagine himself the toast of any room — even if that room was investigating an international scandal that he had a major role in.

Told that Tim Morrison, a national security aide, had referred to his actions as “the Gordon problem,” he cringe-joked, “That’s what my wife calls me. Maybe they’re talking. Should I be worried?” He grinned through rounds of exasperated questioning, through recollections of a cheerfully profane phone call with the president, through the memory of buying a “V.V.I.P.” ticket to the inaugural.

Mr. Sondland was the V.V.I.P. on Wednesday. But there were serious stakes, for the country and for him personally. He had already emerged as an offscreen figure in the hearings, described in phone calls and text chains, orchestrating the efforts to muscle political favors out of the Ukrainians.

He showed up in person as the defendant in the legal drama who refuses to be the fall guy. Beyond the bombshell explosions, if you listened closely, you also heard a series of clicks: Mr. Sondland handcuffing himself, one by one, to a list of officials attempting to stay out of the scandal.

More than any statement, the faces on the screen seemed to tell the story on Wednesday. Adam Schiff, given copious material to work with by Mr. Sondland, kept an intent headlight stare throughout. After the first round of Democratic questioning, the ranking minority member, Devin Nunes, appeared to be digesting a bad clam. And Mr. Sondland seemed to take the high-pressure appearance with a look of enjoyment, even impishness:

It all felt disorienting, partly because Mr. Sondland wasn’t plainly as friendly or hostile a witness to the opposing parties as his predecessors. On Tuesday, for instance, Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman was hailed by Democrats, while Republicans insinuated that he was disloyal.

Mr. Sondland, on the other hand, came into the session with a statement devastating to the White House, but his answers grew cagier as the day went on.

Democratic representatives praised him as a successful child of immigrants, then pushed him for more clarity. Republicans commended him for his service, then laid into him for relying on his presumptions of the president’s motives. Under blistering questioning from Jim Jordan, a Republican, and Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat, his grin melted to a grimace.

Perhaps being the V.V.I.P. was less than entirely fun.

Even President Trump, who has not hesitated to assail others for testifying against him, went back and forth on Mr. Sondland. Early Wednesday, he dismissed him as “not a man I know well.” (“Easy come, easy go,” the ambassador said when he heard about the remark.)

Then, after the ambassador related a phone call in which a “cranky” Mr. Trump had said “I want nothing” from Ukraine, the president met reporters to give a dramatic, self-exonerating reading of his own secondhand testimony, scrawled in Sharpie:

The president’s performance omitted a lot of context: that he had made those comments the day the whistle-blower’s complaint came to the intelligence committee’s attention; that Mr. Sondland himself had said that the quid pro quo was widely understood among his colleagues; and that, in a hearing earlier this year — a sort of prequel to today — Mr. Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen testified that he had a practice of giving orders “in a code.”

But Mr. Trump knows the value of a dramatic televised statement. In fact, that value was central to Wednesday’s testimony. Mr. Sondland testified how important it was to Mr. Trump that the president of Ukraine publicly announce an investigation involving Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter: “He had to announce the investigations. He didn’t actually have to do them.”

As we now know, the whistle-blower’s charges came out, the aid to Ukraine was released and the Ukrainian president never gave that statement to CNN. Instead, the spectacle is playing out on every news channel.

And by the end of the day, it had even wiped the smile off Mr. Sondland’s face.

https://www.nytimes....pgtype=Homepage

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#14303 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-November-20, 18:28

Susan Hennessey @Susan_Hennessey, Lawfare Executive Editor said:

These hearings have produced testimony that has systematically eliminated the Republican defenses of Trump, one by one.

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#14304 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2019-November-21, 10:21

Quote

These hearings have produced testimony that has systematically eliminated the Republican defenses of Trump, one by one.

Yet they persist in repeating the same defenses, as well as simply mocking the proceedings.

It seems like they consider this all just a game. The Dems bring up witness after witness who all corroborate the same story, but the GOP just brushes it aside, calling this a travesty, witch-hunt, kangaroo court, attempted coup, etc. They keep bringing up the whistle-blower, even though his testimony at this point would be totally superfluous (it would just be hearsay, and they've already complained about that). When the hearings were behind closed doors they whined that it was a secret trial; now that it's on TV, it's just pandering to the audience -- there's no satisfying them.

And the ever-Trumpers lap it up -- they believe the deep-state conspiracy theories. A poll found that only 30% of Americans say that they can imagine anything coming up during the inquiry that would change their mind.

https://www.npr.org/...nge-their-minds

#14305 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-November-21, 17:09

Let's be clear. According to Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare, Trump is guilty not of high crimes and misdemeanors but bribery.

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Schiff: Well, here's what you said in your testimony a moment ago, page 18: "But my goal at the time was to do what was necessary to get the aid released, to break the logjam." Okay, that's still your testimony, right?

Sondland: Yes.

Schiff: So the military aid is also an official act, am I right?

Sondland: Yes

Schiff: This was not President Trump’s personal bank account he’s writing a check from. This is $400 million of U.S. taxpayer money, is it not?

Sondland: Absolutely.

Schiff: There was a logjam in which the president would not write that U.S. check, you believed, until Ukraine announced these two investigations the president wanted.

Sondland: That was my belief.


Quote

Remember the words of the statute: Whoever, being a public official, directly or indirectly, corruptly demands anything of value personally in return for being influenced in the performance of any official act has engaged in the crime of bribery.

This exchange seems to me unambiguously to describe a corrupt demand for something personally valuable (investigations of political opponents) in return for being influenced in the performance of two official acts (granting a White House meeting and releasing hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance).

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#14306 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-November-21, 22:00

Vox @voxdotcom said:

Democrats have spent 2 weeks building their case. Fiona Hill did it in 2 minutes.

https://twitter.com/...674806575030272

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#14307 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-November-21, 22:09

From Mark Leibovich at NYT:

Quote

WASHINGTON — They are, in a sense, the permanent, beating, bipartisan heart of the government of the United States.

They are deeply credentialed, polyglot, workaholic and respectful before Congress. They are graduates of Harvard and West Point, and veterans of Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. They take meticulous notes, are on key phone calls and give “readouts.”

Of the dozen witnesses who have testified in the House impeachment inquiry, 10 are career professionals — members of the “deep state” that President Trump derides — who normally toil far from television. But over the past two weeks of hearings, they have been enduring, if not enjoying, rare turns in the spotlight on Capitol Hill, at times in defiance of the White House.

They have put faces on a Washington bureaucracy often dismissed and disparaged. Their stories are compellingly human, uniquely American, often immigrant.

“I am an American by choice, having become a citizen in 2002,” Fiona Hill, the former top Europe and Russia expert at the White House, and one of three immigrants among the 10, told the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday. “I was born in the northeast of England, in the same region that George Washington’s ancestors came from.” As with other witnesses, she was eager to frame her service to the United States in terms of her immigrant experience.

“I can say with confidence that this country has offered me opportunities I never would have had in England,” said Ms. Hill, the descendant of coal miners. “I grew up poor, with a very distinctive working-class accent. In England in the 1980s and 1990s, this would have impeded my professional advancement.”

A similar note of first-generation gratitude came from Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the National Security Council’s Ukraine expert who testified Tuesday. He said he never could have spoken up about his concerns — that a phone call between Mr. Trump and the president of Ukraine was inappropriate — had his father not fled the Soviet Union four decades ago. On the contrary, he offered that as a reason he felt compelled to appear.

“In Russia, my act of expressing concern to the chain of command in an official and private channel would have severe personal and professional repercussions,” Colonel Vindman said. “Offering public testimony involving the president would surely cost me my life.”

The theme carried unmistakable subtexts. Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, spoke of how undermined she felt when she learned of a smear campaign against her, ostensibly because she was viewed as unhelpful to Mr. Trump — “bad news” in his words.

“What U.S. ambassador could be blamed for harboring the fear that they can’t count on our government to support them,” Ms. Yovanovitch said last week, in an opening statement that also included a chronicle of how her father fled the Soviets and how her mother grew up “stateless” in Nazi Germany. “Their personal histories, my personal history, gave me both deep gratitude toward the United States and great empathy for others like the Ukrainian people who want to be free.”

The Republicans were not always impressed. Representative Devin Nunes of California, the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, made repeated references to the witnesses “auditioning” for the right to play in “the Democrat’s star chamber.”

But an essential part of the witnesses’ refrain was that they have served multiple presidents of both parties. Anodyne in some ways, the point makes a statement central to the identity of so many civil servants who populate every administration.

“I take great pride in the fact that I am a nonpartisan foreign policy expert, who has served under three different Republican and Democratic presidents,” Ms. Hill told the committee.

Laura K. Cooper, a career Pentagon official, said on Wednesday, “I have proudly served two Democratic and two Republican presidents.”

William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, let people know where he stood last week exactly three paragraphs into his opening statement. “I am nonpartisan and have been appointed to my positions by every president from President Reagan to President Trump,” he said.

An uglier subtext questioned their patriotism. Colonel Vindman, who was born in Ukraine and came to the United States when he was 3, faced doubts about what nation he was actually committed to serving. In that hearing, Steve Castor, the counsel for the panel’s Republicans, pressed him about whether he considered accepting a job offer as the defense minister of his birth country.

Colonel Vindman said it would have been a great honor but quickly shot down the prospect. “I am an American,” he said. “I came here when I was a toddler and I immediately dismissed these offers.”

Although none of the witnesses were angling for cable news gigs, by the close of the last hearing on Thursday, they had become unwilling symbols of the Washington “establishment” — tarred as embedded resistors by a president who is just trying to “shake things up.”

In a sense, they have also become proxies inside a larger battle at the heart of the impeachment debate.

Molly Montgomery, a former Foreign Service officer who did not testify, said the hearings revealed a “huge gap between the reality that is experienced by public servants on the ground and the rhetoric in the political world.”

Ms. Montgomery, whose last position was as special adviser for Europe and Eurasia to Vice President Mike Pence, said she was heartened to see so many “everyday Americans” on social media express their appreciation, even awe, over so much of the testimony in recent days.

“The one silver lining here,” she said, “is that the American people are getting to see firsthand that there are Americans who serve all over the world, under difficult circumstances. And that they are just as patriotic and just as admirable as anyone who wears a uniform.”

Despite the aversion of the witnesses to anything that might suggest grandstanding or partisanship, it did not preclude some of them from expressing points of view. Ms. Hill was adamant Thursday that she would not take part in any “alternative narrative” promoted by Mr. Trump and some Republican allies on the committee that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

“These fictions are harmful even if they are deployed for purely domestic political purposes,” Ms. Hill said of these notions.

She issued a broader plea. “When we are consumed by partisan rancor,” she said, “we cannot combat these external forces as they seek to divide us against each other.”

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#14308 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2019-November-22, 03:23

View PostWinstonm, on 2019-November-21, 17:09, said:

Let's be clear. According to Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare, Trump is guilty not of high crimes and misdemeanors but bribery.

Since when did, inter alia, taking emoluments, lying under oath, witness intimidation and obstruction of justice stop being HC&M?
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#14309 User is offline   PeterAlan 

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Posted 2019-November-22, 03:38

View PostZelandakh, on 2019-November-22, 03:23, said:

Since when did, inter alia, taking emoluments, lying under oath, witness intimidation and obstruction of justice stop being HC&M?

The grounds for impeachment in the Constitution are "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors". Whilst the transgressions you list are indeed liable to be regarded as HC&M, they are not as clearly delineated as the other two grounds, and I think that Winston's point is that one doesn't have to get into the possibly contentious issue of what constitutes a "high Crime[s] [or] Misdemeanor", but can instead focus on the more clearly defined Bribery.

What's really depressing is that Republicans are so willing to subvert the Constitution to keep this manifestly unfit President and his administration in place, and the lengths that they will go to for this end.
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#14310 User is online   johnu 

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Posted 2019-November-22, 04:13

Donald Trump Fans Get Tricked Into Defending Richard Nixon Over Watergate

Quote

Jimmy Kimmel’s crew went out among Donald Trump’s supporters to canvas opinion about the president on Tuesday night.

They asked people claiming to be fans of Trump what they thought of a bunch of White House scandals. But there was a twist. All of the events they quizzed them over actually involved disgraced former President Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal that forced Nixon to resign the presidency.

So fans of Trump is what they are calling Republican members of the house and senate these days :rolleyes:
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#14311 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-November-22, 08:18

View PostZelandakh, on 2019-November-22, 03:23, said:

Since when did, inter alia, taking emoluments, lying under oath, witness intimidation and obstruction of justice stop being HC&M?


He has committed both. But to cut through the political spin, it is better to concentrate on the most easily explainable offense. No one can argue that bribery is not an impeachable offense; they can (and will) both argue and lie about the meaning of high crimes and misdemeanors.

Keep in mind that impeachment is a not a criminal trial but a political solution; as such, it requires a solid majority of the public to demand action if removal of the president is to happen. (It won't happen) The real value of these hearings is to expose the corruption that is rampant not only within this administration but throughout the entire Republican Party as that party has elected to become a co-conspirator with Russia's security services in promulgating Russian propaganda. The end goal is not to remove the president but to alert the electorate of the criminal enterprise that is currently in power.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#14312 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2019-November-22, 09:46

So Sondland was asked point blank during his testimony if there was any quid pro quo, and he answered simply, "The answer is yes".

The next day, while Trump was touring an Apple plant, he was asked about the testimony, he said "They have to end it now, he said there was no quid pro quo".

WTF? Do words have no meaning any more?

#14313 User is offline   PassedOut 

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Posted 2019-November-22, 10:10

View Postbarmar, on 2019-November-22, 09:46, said:

So Sondland was asked point blank during his testimony if there was any quid pro quo, and he answered simply, "The answer is yes".

The next day, while Trump was touring an Apple plant, he was asked about the testimony, he said "They have to end it now, he said there was no quid pro quo".

WTF? Do words have no meaning any more?

Republicans have been contending for years that facts are known to have an unfair "liberal bias." The most effective way to counter that is to construct a web of "alternative facts" with a bias in the opposite direction. Part of that counter requires ignoring the meaning of words. That's one of the reasons that educated people are being forced to abandon the party.
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#14314 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-November-22, 11:46

According to Nate Silver, the number of people supporting impeachment has declined from 50.3% on Oct 14 to 46.3% on Nov 21. That's more than the 38.7% who supported impeachment on Sep 24 but it does not look like the hearings have been effective for increasing support or that there is a strong case for extending them vs impeaching the mofo ASAP and getting back to normal levels of dysfunction.
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#14315 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-November-22, 12:00

Anyone with a pulse should read this from Andrew Sullivan about Fiona Hill and her testimony:

Quote

Hearing Hill’s still voice of calm in this storm moved me deeply, and not just because she comes from the country of my birth too, but because her immigrant, accented voice revealed an understanding of America in a way this president simply doesn’t understand

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#14316 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-November-22, 23:39

From Katie Benner at NYT:

Quote

WASHINGTON — A group of conservative-leaning lawyers criticized Attorney General William P. Barr for the expansive view of presidential power he espoused in a recent speech and for his conclusion this spring that President Trump had not obstructed justice in the Russia investigation.

“In recent months, we have become concerned by the conduct of Attorney General William Barr,” the group, Checks & Balances, said in a statement that was shared Friday with The New York Times.

Members of the group have sharply denounced what they described as abuses of power by Mr. Trump, who is facing a fast-moving impeachment inquiry. The speech by Mr. Barr last week, in which he argued that the president had never overstepped his authority, so alarmed them that they felt compelled to push back publicly.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

At a conference hosted by the Federalist Society, an influential conservative legal group, Mr. Barr said in his speech that those who have sought to hem in Mr. Trump were denying the will of voters, subverting the Constitution and undermining the rule of law.

The president’s opponents “essentially see themselves as engaged in a war to cripple by any means necessary a duly elected government,” he said.

Checks & Balances is made up of Republican and conservative lawyers, including some who served in recent administrations. George T. Conway III, one of Mr. Trump’s most vocal critics and the husband of the White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway, is one of the group’s most prominent members.

Mr. Barr’s view on executive power is a misreading of the unitary executive theory, said Charles Fried, a Checks & Balances member and Harvard Law professor who endorsed the theory while he was solicitor general during the Reagan administration. In Mr. Fried’s reading of the theory, “the executive branch cannot be broken up into fragments.”

While that branch acts as a unified expression of a president’s priorities, with the president firmly at the helm, “it is also clear that the executive branch is subject to law,” Mr. Fried said. “Barr takes that notion and eliminates the ‘under law’ part.”

While Mr. Barr did not use the word “impeachment” in his speech, he laid out a new defense of Mr. Trump that was taken up by Republicans on Capitol Hill. In an effort to invalidate the inquiry, lawmakers had argued that the president did not withhold a White House meeting or military aid to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that would benefit Mr. Trump politically.

After a week of damaging public hearings in which multiple witnesses offered new details of the president’s pressure campaign and said that he spoke openly of his desire that Ukraine publicly announce investigations, Mr. Trump’s supporters began to argue that he had acted within his rights.

Mr. Trump has also begun to echo Mr. Barr’s assertions. In an interview on Fox on Friday, he said that the decision to investigate his 2016 campaign’s ties to Russia “was an overthrow attempt at the presidency.”

Now that the claim that Mr. Trump never pressured Mr. Zelensky no longer holds, “the argument has got to be a ‘so what’ argument — Bill Barr’s argument that the president did all these things, but this is what a president can do,” said Stuart Gerson, a Checks & Balances member who was a senior campaign adviser to George Bush and a Justice Department official in his administration.

“The Republicans in the Senate and in the House think they’re in a Parliament, and their responsibility is to a prime minister to whom they owe party loyalty,” Mr. Gerson said. “That’s not the American tradition. One can recognize substantial executive power, but that doesn’t mean the legislative branch should be dead.”

Mr. Barr has argued that his view of presidential power stems directly from the Constitution. It delineates the responsibilities of the three branches of government, he has said, rather than allowing the legislature and the judiciary to check the powers of the president as two of three co-equal governing powers.

That interpretation of history “has no factual basis,” Checks & Balances wrote in its statement, including the claim that “the founders shared in any respect his vision of an unchecked president, and his assertion that this view was dominant until it came under attack from courts and Congress a few decades ago.”

The group said that the “only imaginable basis” for Mr. Barr’s conclusion that Mr. Trump did not obstruct the Russia investigation “was his legal view that the president is given total control over all investigations by the Constitution.”

Mr. Fried suggested that Mr. Barr’s interpretation of the law set a dangerous precedent. “Conservatism is respect for the rule of law. It is respect for tradition,” he said. “The people who claim they’re conservatives today are demanding loyalty to this completely lawless, ignorant, foul-mouthed president.”

Mr. Gerson echoed that sentiment. “It’s important for conservatives to speak up,” he said. “This administration is anything but conservative.”

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#14317 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-November-22, 23:51

Susan Rice @Ambassador Rice said:

That’s the charitable explanation.

David Ignatius at WaPo said:

Eye-popping story from NYT. It says, in essence, that Trump and his GOP allies have been caught in a Russian intelligence deception in their 2016 conspiracy allegations about Ukraine.

https://nytimes.com/...tcore-ios-share via @NYTimes

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#14318 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-November-23, 06:14

More from Susan Rice at NYT:

Quote

After two weeks of compelling testimony in the House impeachment inquiry, it’s worth weighing what has emerged. Four conclusions stand out.

First, there is now overwhelming testimony and evidence that affirm the deeply troubling revelation contained in President Trump’s summary of his “perfect” July 25 phone call with the newly elected president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. Mr. Trump withheld an important Oval Office meeting and nearly $400 million in urgently needed military assistance from Ukraine to compel Mr. Zelensky to open, or at least announce, two investigations — one that would seek to exonerate Russia and dishonestly implicate Ukraine in interference in the 2016 election, and another that aimed to tar former Vice President Joe Biden with false corruption charges in relation to his work on Ukraine during the Obama administration.

Both of the long-sought investigations were based on manufactured and discredited allegations, and both served only one purpose: to advantage Mr. Trump politically. It is clear that Mr. Trump abused his power to extort bogus dirt on his chief rival for personal political gain.

Some allies of the president have insisted that this is no big deal because the United States routinely leverages White House meetings and assistance to obtain concessions from foreign governments. Yet they fail to acknowledge that such leverage is properly used only to advance American policy objectives — not to service the personal interests of any individual, including the president. Thus, when Vice President Biden threatened to hold back economic assistance unless a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor was removed, he was acting in support of bipartisan American, European and International Monetary Fund policy to curb official corruption in Ukraine. Mr. Biden did it openly, transparently and not, as Mr. Trump has falsely claimed, to protect his son Hunter.

Second, these hearings have amply demonstrated the extraordinary caliber and character of our nonpartisan career Foreign Service officers, civil servants and uniformed military personnel. The intellect, integrity, selflessness and sense of duty displayed by each of the officials who testified — even in the face of harsh personal attacks and efforts at witness intimidation orchestrated by the president — are extraordinary. They reflect the commitment to country that I witnessed every day for 16 years when I was privileged to serve alongside these kinds of apolitical officers.

Yet Mr. Trump and Republicans in Congress have denigrated and demeaned these public servants, placing them in physical danger — just because they prioritized their duty to the law and the Constitution above slavish devotion to any president. Beyond this disgrace, the president and his acolytes are assassinating the collective character of all career public servants — disparaging them as the “Deep State,” “Never-Trumpers” and un-American.

In rhetoric that recalls the darkest days of McCarthyism, Republican leaders will seemingly stop at nothing to destroy public faith in our public servants. This is the very “deconstruction of the administrative state” that Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, heralded as the administration’s goal. And who wins when the State Department, intelligence and law enforcement agencies and the Pentagon struggle to attract and retain top talent? Not Americans. It serves only our adversaries who want to hollow out our bureaucracy, weaken our national institutions and discredit our democratic model.

Third, it is now abundantly apparent that most Republicans in Congress have abandoned all semblance of serving the national interest. Their desperate resort to distortions, discredited conspiracy theories and blatant lies to distract from damning facts that implicate President Trump has replaced any pretense of performing their duties. From attacking the press to smearing witnesses and refusing to engage in congressional oversight responsibilities, the Republican Party has sacrificed its principles and traditions to preserve its political power — at the expense of our country.

Our separation of powers, the guard rail of our Constitution, fails when half the legislative branch abdicates its duty to hold the executive branch accountable. The cost of this failure will endure long beyond this presidency and is already signaling that our democracy is not only diminished but also increasingly dysfunctional.

And last, as Fiona Hill ably testified on Thursday, the primary beneficiary of our domestic dysfunction and divisions is President Vladimir Putin of Russia. Republicans in Congress are spouting Russian-sponsored conspiracy theories that disparage Ukraine and obscure Russian interference in our democracy. President Trump consistently takes actions with respect to NATO, Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere that accrue to Russian rather than American interests.

While Americans spew venom at one another, Russia is working overtime to pour salt into our wounds. Using social media every day to inflame distrust, fear and hate, Russia is pitting Americans against one another by fueling extremes on both sides of every divisive issue, whether race, immigration or guns.

Mr. Putin seeks to dismantle democracy and destroy America’s standing as a global leader. The only question is whether we will allow him to succeed.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14319 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2019-November-23, 09:14

The latest development to emerge in the shadow diplomacy story.
(-: Zel :-)

half-wit -- Chas_P the racist
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#14320 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2019-November-23, 21:24

I just had a horrible thought. Could the GOP argue that advancing Trump's political interests is promoting the interests of the country? If they beiieve that the country is best served by Trump winning in 2020, anything that furthers that goal meets their oath to "protect and defend the United States".

It would be different if Trump were just lining his pockets rather than trying to help his Presidential campaign.

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