Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Last Call For The Reach To Impeach, Con't

As expected, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the State Department will not cooperate with House impeachment inquiry depositions this week.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo fired a broadside at House Democrats on Tuesday, saying State Department officials scheduled to appear this week before committees conducting the impeachment inquiry would not be made available until “we obtain further clarity on these matters.”

The refusal, in a letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), described the demand for depositions by five officials who played a role in U.S. relations with Ukraine as “an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly, the distinguished professionals of the Department of State.”

A spokesman for the committee had no immediate comment.

The statements came as Pompeo’s role in the Ukraine investigation broadened with reports that he was a participant in the July 25 call by President Trump to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, which led to the impeachment investigation.

Before that report, first published by The Wall Street Journal, Pompeo had brushed off questions about the incident, saying last week that he had not yet read the transcript of the telephone call released by the White House, or the whistleblower complaint that it sparked.

The committee, along with the House Intelligence and Oversight panels, had requested the five officials to appear for depositions this week and next, to begin Wednesday with Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled by Pompeo as ambassador to Ukraine in May, prior to the end of her tour.

Other State Department officials scheduled for depositions include Kurt Volker, the administration’s special envoy to Ukraine, who resigned last week; Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent; U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland; and State Department Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl.

Well, ball's in your court, House Democrats. The response sure as hell better involve the words "inherent contempt".  And yes, it warrants that response because this is obstruction of justice, pure and simple.

It seems to me that Pompeo wants to have a long-drawn out court fight over this to buy the Trump regime some time, but again, the response needs to be painful enough to motivate Pompeo to comply sooner rather than later.

We'll see what happens.

We Gotta Face The Face(book) Con't

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is not silently sitting by this 2020 campaign season despite all the candidates giving his company quite a bit of money for internet advertising.  The Verge got their hands on audio and transcripts of Zuckerberg's latest employee Q&A session, and they are a doozy.  The Zuck has declared war on one candidate in particular, and given the power that Facebook commands, that alone is an argument the candidate, Liz Warren, is correct: the company should be broken up.

Question: With the recent FCC fine, investigation, and with the rise of politicians like Sen. Warren, I was wondering how personally worried you are about regulators coming in and breaking up Facebook?

Mark Zuckerberg: Well, I think you want to separate out a couple of things. I’m certainly more worried that someone is going to try to break up our company. Now, there’s a separate question about, at the end of the day, there is the rule of law — which, for all of the concern about the direction the country is going in, as someone running a company that operates in a lot of different countries, I have to say one of the things that I love and appreciate about our country the most is that we have a really solid rule of law, which is very different from a lot of other places around the world.

So there might be a political movement where people are angry at the tech companies or are worried about concentration or worried about different issues and worried that they’re not being handled well. That doesn’t mean that, even if there’s anger and that you have someone like Elizabeth Warren who thinks that the right answer is to break up the companies ... I mean, if she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge. And does that still suck for us? Yeah. I mean, I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government. I mean, that’s not the position that you want to be in when you’re, you know, I mean … it’s like, we care about our country and want to work with our government and do good things. But look, at the end of the day, if someone’s going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat and you fight.

And I just think the case is not particularly strong on this … It’s just that breaking up these companies, whether it’s Facebook or Google or Amazon, is not actually going to solve the issues. And, you know, it doesn’t make election interference less likely. It makes it more likely because now the companies can’t coordinate and work together. It doesn’t make any of the hate speech or issues like that less likely. It makes it more likely because now ... all the processes that we’re putting in place and investing in, now we’re more fragmented.

It’s why Twitter can’t do as good of a job as we can. I mean, they face, qualitatively, the same types of issues. But they can’t put in the investment. Our investment on safety is bigger than the whole revenue of their company. [laughter] And yeah, we’re operating on a bigger scale, but it’s not like they face qualitatively different questions. They have all the same types of issues that we do.

So yes, I think that the direction of the discussion is concerning. I at least believe, I think, there are real issues. I don’t think that the antitrust remedies are going to solve them. But I understand that if we don’t help address those issues and help put in place a regulatory framework where people feel like there’s real accountability, and the government can govern our sector, then yeah, people are just going to keep on getting angrier and angrier. And they’re going to demand more extreme measures, and, eventually, people just say, “Screw it, take a hammer to the whole thing.” And that’s when the rule of law comes in, and I’m very grateful that we have it.

Zuck's position is that if there's not a framework in place to keep America from getting pissed off at tech companies, he'll be forced to fight legal battles that he's sure he'll win, but the expense means it'll be bad for the company's bottom line.  My immediate next question here is summed up by Matt Yglesias:

And there we have it.  Zuckerberg is either unaware of the power his company has in shaping the 2020 election, or he does, and doesn't care.  Hard to say which is worse.

Australia...In The Membrane?

Yep, as widely expected, it wasn't just Ukraine's leader that Trump sought help in winning the 2020 election from, but Australian PM Scott Morrison as well on a different call, and this time it was to investigate the Mueller probe.

President Donald Trump sought help from the Australian prime minister to investigate the origins of former special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

A Department of Justice spokesperson Monday evening confirmed the conversation, which an administration official described to NBC News as a routine call that occurs when a head of state seeks the assistance of another country’s law enforcement agencies. It was "asking his law enforcement to work with ours," the official said.

The call to Scott Morrison, the Australian leader, came recently after Attorney General William Barr in May asked John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to lead an inquiry into whether the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign was properly predicated. The Justice Department spokesperson said Barr asked Trump to make the call to seek Australia’s help.

"As the Department of Justice has previously announced, a team led by U.S. Attorney John Durham is investigating the origins of the U.S. counterintelligence probe of the Trump 2016 presidential campaign," spokesperson Keri Kupec said in a statement. "Mr. Durham is gathering information from numerous sources, including a number of foreign countries. At Attorney General Barr’s request, the President has contacted other countries to ask them to introduce the Attorney General and Mr. Durham to appropriate officials."

The New York Times first reported this story, later confirmed by NBC News. The news comes amid an ongoing impeachment inquiry stemming from allegations that Trump pushed the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

So it's on, apparently it's open season to see which foreign government can come up with something that will help Bill Barr discredit the Mueller probe first to justify sending Justice Department investigators to jail for daring to look at Donald Trump's crimes.

Meanwhile, the Ukraine call ropes in another major player who was 100% aware of it as he was on the call listening: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on the July phone call where President Donald Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Joe Biden and his son, a senior State Department official told NBC News. 
The July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy and a related whistleblower complaint are now at the center of House Democrats' impeachment inquiry.

Pompeo's involvement in the call — during which Trump told Zelenskiy that Biden's conduct sounded "horrible" to him — was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. It's not unusual for the nation's top diplomat to be on a president's call with a foreign leader, but Pompeo has not acknowledged his involvement.

Pompeo dodged questions about the phone call and the complaint during an interview with ABC's "This Week" on Sept. 22, days before the White House released a summary of the call which showed Trump asking about the Bidens' dealings in Ukraine.

Pompeo had argued against releasing the transcript, saying it would set a bad precedent — never acknowledging he knew exactly what was in the call.
Asked about reports of the substance of the conversation, Pompeo said he wasn't familiar with them and couldn't comment on them. "You just gave me information about a [intelligence community] report, none of which we've seen," he said.

Pompeo went on the Sunday shows and lied through his teeth about the Ukraine call.  Not exactly the actions of an innocent person, huh?

All of these guys are guilty of aiding and abetting, and its starting to look like a race to get Trump out before he can trigger the mass purge of the Justice Department and start rounding up Obama officials.


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