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  • Opening-Statement Ambassador Sondland October 17

    Posted on October 17th, 2019 cwmoore No comments

    Today I read all the 18 pages of opening testimony by Ambassador to EU Sondland. I can see why he is an ambassador. The published testimony was so convincing you just have to believe it, in spite of the fact that I do not believe that is actually how it really went down. I guess I am just one piece of the court of American opinion that will be decided in November of 2020. Who knows what the impeachment process will bring? I do know that a bully who is in your face everyday deserves a little come-up’ns now and again so I guess this is one way too.

    Later in the day:

    When the impeachment inquiry started, a little more than three weeks ago, there were only an anonymous whistle-blower’s complaint and the summary that Trump released of his July 25th phone call with the Ukrainian President. Because the investigation has moved so quickly, it is easy to lose sight of how much has been learned since then. Day after day, in fact, the House’s impeachment inquiry has produced significant revelations that point directly to Presidential culpability. The revelations come from inside the Trump Administration, from professional diplomats and experts who were dismayed that the President and his private attorney, Rudy Giuliani, would conduct a shadow foreign policy toward Ukraine that seemed to have, as its sole motive, personal political benefit. Even those who participated in the scheme, such as the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, who testified on Thursday, placed the blame squarely with Trump and Giuliani in his written testimony.

    Ever since Democrats took control of the House in January, Trump has sought to block them from conducting investigations and oversight of his Administration, defying subpoenas, refusing to send officials to Capitol Hill, and fighting Congress in court. The impeachment inquiry, however, has finally breached the Administration’s blockade. Just this past week, the fired U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch; the former National Security Council senior director in charge of Ukraine policy, Fiona Hill; the current State Department deputy assistant secretary in charge of Ukraine policy, George Kent; the Secretary of State’s senior adviser, who quit in protest over the Ukraine affair, last week, Michael McKinley; and Sondland, a wealthy Trump donor turned Ambassador to the E.U., all testified, defying Trump in order to do so, and at considerable risk to their careers. McKinley ended nearly forty years at the State Department to have his say. Kent, Sondland, and Yovanovitch remain U.S. government officials, and could be fired. Both Kent and Yovanovitch are professional diplomats who have given decades of service to their country at the State Department. This is bravery of a sort that has become so rare in our public life as to be almost unimaginable. Denny Heck, another Democrat who sits on the impeachment panel, called Kent and Hill “true American heroes” after listening to their closed-door testimony. According to the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Adam Schiff, those depositions will eventually be made public. The history books that Cummings invoked at the start of the investigation will very likely take note of his final week on this earth.

    Partway through her gruelling ten-and-a-half hours of testimony on Monday, Fiona Hill was asked how she came to understand that, despite her formal duties as the top National Security Council adviser on Russia and Ukraine, she was not only not in charge of the policy but no longer being kept in the loop about it. Neither, she would learn, was her boss, John Bolton, who was then the national-security adviser. According to a source present for her deposition, Hill described a meeting in her White House office with Gordon Sondland, whose murky role in Ukraine had alarmed her since an earlier meeting they’d attended in May. Now she asked Sondlond directly: Why was the American Ambassador to Brussels inserting himself in the affairs of a country that fell outside of his diplomatic portfolio and wasn’t even a member of the E.U.? “She challenged him on who gave him her portfolio, and he said the President,” the source told me. “It was news to her, and it was news to Bolton.”

    Trump himself, in other words, was putting together a rogue foreign-policy team, run by Giuliani, the President’s private attorney, that would go outside normal N.S.C. and State Department channels to pressure Ukraine. The effort would eventually result in Trump abruptly firing Yovanovitch, the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, at Giuliani’s behest, and withholding a White House meeting from Volodymyr Zelensky, the new Ukrainian President, until he agreed to investigate unsubstantiated allegations involving Biden’s son, and also discredited conspiracy theories involving Ukraine working against Trump in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. At the same time, Trump was refusing to release hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine, although it had been legally authorized by Congress.

    The basic outlines of the plot have been known since the start of the impeachment inquiry, but the testimony by Hill and others this week both confirms key details and adds important information that shows how much the President was directly implicated. Trump ordered Sondland, a million-dollar contributor to his Inauguration; Kurt Volker, his Ukraine special envoy; and Energy Secretary Rick Perry to take control of Ukraine policy. (Kent, the State diplomat who was, like Hill, cut out of the loop, said that they called themselves “the three amigos.”) Trump personally ordered Yovanovitch’s firing. Trump personally ordered the withholding of military aid. The scandal, as this week showed, is about a lot more than saying “do us a favor though” in a phone call.

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