Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Last Call For Ukraine In The Membrane

Today's impeachment inquiry deposition from Acting US Ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, is the most devastating yet to the Trump regime, and essentially confirms everything we've been discussing here at ZVTS for the last four weeks.

The senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine said Tuesday he was told release of military aid was contingent on public declarations from Ukraine that it would investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election, contradicting President Trump’s denial that he used the money as leverage for political gain.

Acting ambassador William B. Taylor Jr. testified behind closed doors in the House impeachment probe of Trump that he stands by his characterization that it was “crazy” to make the assistance contingent on investigations he found troubling.

Upon arriving in Kyiv last spring he became alarmed by secondary diplomatic channels involving U.S. officials that he called “weird,” Taylor said, according to a copy of his lengthy opening statement obtained by The Washington Post.

Taylor walked lawmakers through a series of conversations he had with other U.S. diplomats who were trying to obtain what one called the “deliverable” of Ukrainian help investigating Trump’s political rivals.

Taylor said he spoke to Ambassador Gordon Sondland, the U.S. envoy to the European Union.

“During that phone call, Amb. Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President [Volodymyr] Zelensky to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election,” Taylor said in the statement.

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter had been a board member of Burisma, a large Ukrainian gas company. Joe Biden is a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.

“Amb. Sondland also told me that he now recognized that he had made a mistake by earlier telling the Ukrainian officials to whom he spoke that a White House meeting with President Zelensky was dependent on a public announcement of investigations — in fact, Amb. Sondland said, ‘everything’ was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance,’” Taylor told House investigators.

He said that President Trump wanted President Zelensky ‘in a public box’ by making a public statement about ordering such investigations.’

Taylor was called to testify before committees considering whether to impeach Trump because he had raised alarms about Trump administration interactions with Zelensky.

It was just the most damning testimony I’ve heard,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said in an interview partway into Taylor’s testimony.

Donald Trump wanted Ukrainian President Zelensky to publicly announce an investigation into Joe Biden's son in order to get military aid approved by Congress.

Straight up quid pro quo.  Straight up mobster shakedown.  Straight up impeachable.  Giuliani is the side show, the undercard.  This is the acting ambassador to Ukraine saying the quid pro quo was real and demanded by Donald Trump himself.

The NY Times lays it out in six key statements:

1. Taylor described an explicit quid pro quo.
2. The White House had two channels on Ukraine policy: official and unofficial. The unofficial one included Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer.
3. Taylor was told Ukraine had to ‘pay up’ before the president would ‘sign a check.’
4. Taylor said Ukrainians would die at the hands of Russian led-forces as a result of the delay in American military aid.
5. Bolton fought the effort to hijack the policy toward Ukraine and Pompeo did not respond directly to complaints, Taylor said.
6. Demands were made for secrecy and career officials, including Taylor, were left in the dark about key events.

Gordon Sondland?  He's getting the Manafort special after this.  I hope he enjoys a box.  This is an outright engineered conspiracy from step one.  The goal was to get Zelensky to announce Biden was being investigated in order to help Trump win, and it was 100% pay-for-play with the billions in military aid.

And yes, I'm predicting it now after this.

Donald Trump is going to be impeached.


Stay tuned.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

The Trump regime continues to be breathtakingly, cartoonishly evil from the word go and the country will not survive a second term intact as America.

President Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale reportedly discussed using facial recognition technology at Trump’s campaign rallies to analyze reactions from supporters in event crowds, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Parscale discussed the move with political operatives, but he was told by at least one company that the technology is not reliable yet, according to people familiar with the conversations, the Journal reported.

A campaign spokesperson denied that Parscale ever pursued the technology.

The Trump administration has utilized other technology at campaign rallies, including collecting millions of phone numbers, email addresses and other personal information from rally attendants when they register for tickets or sign up for text alerts.

The Trump team reportedly uses the data to look up the rally attendees’ political registrations and the elections in which they have voted. They cross-reference it with the data on the attendee’s consumer habits, which is collected by the Republican Party to forecast how likely each attendee is to vote in 2020 and who they may support campaign officials told the Journal.

That's bad enough, and today's impeachable offense:

The Journal also reported that Trump himself lobbied to bring cabinet members to his June rally in Orlando, Florida. The outlet said that acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney warned the president about potential violations of the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from participating in political activities under their official titles.

Trump responded “I’m in charge of the Hatch Act” in a meeting with top aides and accused Mulvaney of being “weak,” according to the Journal.

"The enforcement of the law is whatever I say it is, and it doesn't apply to me" should again, be the immediate end of this regime, but of course it's normal behavior for the Chief Executive now, isn't it?  Oh, and "weak" Mulvaney is reportedly being replaced soon by either Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin or WH Advisor Kellyanne Conway.

Fun times all around.

The Fight For Oversight Might Be Right Slight

With the death of Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is looking to quickly name a new House Oversight and Reform Committee chair in order to continue the House's work on the Trump impeachment inquiry, but that still means some long-time, powerful Democrats are going to be passed over for arguably the strongest committee gavel in the House.

In any other year, the race to lead the House Oversight and Reform Committee would be a full-out caucus brawl. But amid the Democrats’ impeachment push, it could end up being a coronation.

Passed over for the top Oversight post nearly a decade ago, New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney could soon become the panel’s permanent chairwoman and a leading face of Democrats’ impeachment probe.

Maloney, the panel’s most senior Democrat, was tapped last week as interim head after the unexpected death of the beloved chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). A handful of other Democrats both on and off the committee have been floated as potential replacements since then, including Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Reps. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Jackie Speier (D-Calif.).

But several House Democrats are quietly signaling they’re hoping to avoid a messy public grab for the chairmanship that would divert attention away from their impeachment probe and spotlight long-festering fissures within the caucus. And that could put Maloney in prime position to assume the gavel, according to lawmakers and aides.

“Obviously, no one is going to be able to fill the shoes of Elijah Cummings,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who is in his second term on the panel, said Monday, without expressing support for a specific member. “I think what’s important in the position is that they’re also going to be able to work closely with [House Intelligence Committee Chairman] Adam Schiff and with the speaker.”

Democrats must hold an election for the chairmanship within 30 days of the vacancy, according to the caucus rules. But no public announcements on timing are expected until after Cummings’ funeral services at the end of this week.

The opening on the Oversight panel puts Democrats in a difficult position: multiple lawmakers and aides acknowledge that the committee lacks a deep bench of battle-hardened lawmakers ready to take on Trump.

But most also realize that a caucus-wide contest could expose ugly divisions across generational and racial lines — drowning out the Democratic Party’s message on impeachment in what could be the final weeks of their inquiry.

Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus have privately said they are willing to accept Maloney, even if it means losing one of their five chairmanships. But if anyone else wins the post — jumping over two of their own members — “all hell’s gonna break loose,” one aide said.

We'll see.  Pelosi's pretty shrewd and Maloney is already interim chair, and she thought she had the ranking member position sewn up nine years ago with Charlie Rangel's backing, but the CBC indeed backed Cummings and he won the post.  If Pelosi dumps her, it's going to get nasty.

She won't, though.  Too smart.  Maloney will be fine.


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