Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Last Call For The Reach To Impeach, Con't

Impeachment proceedings against U.S. President Donald Trump for pressuring Ukraine to investigate a political rival will reach a critical stage next week when a Democratic-led congressional committee holds its first public hearings on the issue.

In a move that raises the stakes ahead of a presidential election year, Democrats said on Wednesday the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee would hold open hearings with three career U.S. diplomats who have expressed alarm about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

The public testimony will feature William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

They will testify on Nov. 13 and 15, said Adam Schiff, the committee’s Democratic chairman who wrote on Twitter that there was “More to come.” The diplomats and others have already testified to lawmakers from both parties behind closed doors.

Televised public hearings featuring U.S. officials testifying in Congress about alleged wrongdoing by Trump could crowd out other issues like the economy and immigration as voters turn their minds to the November 2020 election.

That might damage Trump, though some of his supporters say the impeachment drive could actually boost his re-election chances by showing him at loggerheads with Washington-based political foes.

Democrats had said they had enough material to move forward with public impeachment hearings, which would be a likely prelude to articles of impeachment - formal charges - against Trump being brought to a vote in the House.

“We are getting an increasing appreciation for just what took place during the course of the last year and the degree to which the president enlisted whole departments of government in the illicit aim of trying to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on a political opponent as well as further a conspiracy theory about the 2016 election that he believed would be beneficial to his re-election campaign,” Schiff told reporters.

Taylor and Kent will be a good watch, but the real main even should be Marie Yovanovich, the former Ambassador to Ukraine who was removed from her post for not going along with the Trump regime's plans to pressure the Ukrainian government into fabricating an investigation into Hunter Biden.

But that won't stop Republicans from starting their own attention-grabbing shows.

Senate Republicans are privately debating whether they should use an impeachment trial of President Trump to scrutinize former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter as some Trump allies push to call them as witnesses while others dismiss the suggestion as a risky political ploy.

The ongoing discussions are a revealing glimpse into the fault lines in the GOP ahead of a possible trial of Trump in the Senate, where there are varying appetites among Republicans for the type of political combat relished by the president and his most ardent defenders.

Among a group of Trump’s allies inside and outside Congress, there is intense and growing interest in countering the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry by delving into Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine and China. Because his father was vice president at the time, these allies think it could be a way to explain why Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 phone call to “look into” the Bidens, who have denied any wrongdoing.

That effort gained steam on Capitol Hill last week at a private lunch where Republican Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and John Neely Kennedy (La.) raised the idea of summoning Hunter Biden, said two people familiar with the exchange who, like others in this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. Paul took his private push public at a campaign rally with the president Monday night in Kentucky.

“I say this to my fellow colleagues in Congress, to every Republican in Washington: Step up and subpoena Hunter Biden and subpoena the whistleblower!” Paul told the crowd, also referring to the unnamed intelligence official who first raised alarms about the president’s Ukraine conduct.

Trump will demand that this be done.  Lindsey Graham will want to.  Mitch may stop them, I don't know, but these clowns will do anything to distract America.

The Battle For Bevinstan

Kentucky GOP Gov. Matt Bevin has not conceded after last night's loss, and not only is he planning a recount, the GOP-controlled state legislature is planning to steal the election outright from Andy Beshear.  Joe Sonka breaks it all down:

Bevin said he "wanted the process to be followed" under law before he made a concession, referring to unspecified "irregularities" that were "corroborated." 
The first step in that process under Kentucky law, when it comes to election results that are contested, should be as familiar to Bevin as anyone else in the state, as he won a razor-thin victory in the Republican gubernatorial primary of 2015 by margin of just 83 votes over now Rep. James Comer. 
The first step under Kentucky law is a recanvass of the vote, which is a review of the vote totals by each county clerk — counting absentee votes and checking printouts to make sure the numbers they transmitted to the State Board of Elections were correct. 
State law allows for a recanvassing if a county clerk or a county board of elections notices a discrepancy, or if a candidate makes a written request to the secretary of state. 
Comer requested a recanvass of the vote totals in that 2015 race, but the results were unchanged. He declined to request the next possible step in the process under Kentucky law — a formal recount that includes a physical examination of the ballots. 
There is no provision for an automatic recount under Kentucky law. A candidate must file a petition with the Franklin Circuit Court by the Tuesday following the election. 
If petitioned, the judge would take possession of the paper ballots and voting machines and conduct their own recount. After doing so, the judge would make the final decision on who won the race, but that would be subject to appeal to the Kentucky Court of Appeals or the Kentucky Supreme Court.
Joshua Douglas, a professor in the University of Kentucky Law School, told The Courier Journal that while Bevin would not be charged for the costs of a recanvass should he want one, he would have to pay for a recount. 

Most people would stop here and concede.  But Bevin won't, because Donald Trump will not let him do so.  Monday night, Trump put his neck on the line for Bevin, and Trump doesn't repay failure well.  Bevin's career is over unless he makes good on Trump's promise.  So here's where things get ugly.

The third step that a candidate could take is a formal election contest, which must also be filed by the Tuesday after the election. Under this contest, the candidate challenging the results must specify the grounds for the action, such as a violation of campaign finance rules or specific problems when it comes to how ballots were cast
Last but not least, there is Section 90 of the state constitution, which addresses a "contest of election for Governor or Lieutenant Governor." 
Section 90 states: "Contested elections for Governor and Lieutenant Governor shall be determined by both Houses of the General Assembly, according to such regulations as may be established by law."

You catch that?  Bevin is already complaining of "irregularities" in the vote that are "corroborated".  He's already on step one as of this afternoon.  He has a week for steps two and three in order to set up step four: election theft.

Sam Marcosson, a constitutional law professor at the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law, told The Courier Journal that this language of the state Constitution suggests there must be procedure established by law for a review of a contested election to take place by the House and Senate. 
“They can’t just make them up,” Marcosson said. 
Further, he said, such a review would be extremely risky for lawmakers to undertake without clear reasons for a contested election. 
“If the House and Senate were just to proceed on vague allegations without proof, that raises serious questions about disenfranchisement of the voters who voted for Attorney General Beshear,” Marcosson said. “It’s an extraordinary proposition to suggest that the General Assembly would take vague allegations of unspecified irregularities and call into question a gubernatorial election.” 
Douglas, noting that he had “no idea” what irregularities Bevin referred to in his speech to supporters Tuesday night, said in the case of a legislative election contest, Bevin would have to call a special session of the General Assembly. Douglas said his session would involve a committee of 11 members, eight from the House and three from the Senate, which “would hear evidence and make a final determination. And that determination would be final.” 
After that committee decision, no lawsuits could be filed over the decision, Douglas added.

Watch this very closely.  I promise you the GOP dirty tricks department is gaming this scenario out right now.

The Battle for Bevinstan is just beginning.

Ukraine In The Membrane, Con't

Realizing that basically all the house depositions taken after his are damning and that he was going to be left holding the bag, Trump regime EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland "revised" his sworn testimony on Monday to include that yes, Donald Trump shook down Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for announcing a fabricated investigation into Joe Biden's son in exchange for military aid already promised.

Gordon Sondland, a key witness in the impeachment inquiry, revealed that he told a top Ukrainian official that hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid would “likely” be held up unless the country’s government announced investigations into President Donald Trump’s political rivals — a major reversal from his previous closed-door testimony
The acknowledgment of a quid pro quo is an explosive shift that threatens to upend claims by the president’s allies that military aid was not used as a bludgeon to advance his domestic political interests.

In his revised testimony, released Tuesday by House impeachment investigators, Sondland said that during a Sept. 1 meeting in Warsaw, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky raised his concerns directly to Vice President Mike Pence about the suspension of military aid.
Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, added that he later told Andriy Yermak, a top Ukrainian national security adviser, that the aid would be contingent on Trump’s desired investigations. 
“After that large meeting, I now recall speaking individually with Mr. Yermak, where I said that resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks,” Sondland wrote in his addendum, which was released on Tuesday alongside a nearly 400-page transcript of his testimony. 
Sondland revealed the exchange in supplemental testimony he submitted to House impeachment investigators on Monday, saying he had failed to recall the episode when he testified in person last month. Sondland, who had a direct line to Trump and was a major donor to his 2016 presidential campaign, had previously indicated he was not aware of any effort to connect military aid to Trump’s demand for politically motivated investigations. 
Sondland was eager to maintain that public posture, even with other U.S. officials working on Ukraine policy.

So not only has Sondland obliterated Trump's last line of defense been obliterated (he's been tweeting for two weeks now that Sondland said there was no quid pro quo) but Mike Pence has been directly implicated in this entire scam by Sondland as well.

And now that Sondland's full testimony is public, we see just how much trouble Rudy Giuliani is in, too.

The nearly 400-page transcript of Sondland’s Oct. 17 testimony underscores the power and influence Rudy Giuliani had over U.S. dealings with Ukraine. 
Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, was establishing contacts on the ground in Ukraine — including with the former top prosecutor whom U.S. officials believed was not credible — and conducting what several witnesses for the impeachment inquiry described as a shadow diplomatic effort that ran counter to U.S. goals and interests. 
Sondland, for his part, said in his opening statement to impeachment investigators that he was “disappointed” Trump had directed him to involve Giuliani, but said he reluctantly agreed because the former New York City mayor was “the key to changing the president’s mind on Ukraine.” 
In fact, according to the full transcript of Sondland’s testimony released Tuesday, the ambassador said he “assumed” that Giuliani’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden was illegal. 
At least one senior official told Giuliani that he believed the allegations against Biden and his son Hunter — which form the basis of Trump’s overtures to Kyiv — were false. According to the transcript of his Oct. 3 testimony, Volker dismissed the idea that Biden pushed for the removal of a Ukrainian prosecutor in order to help his son.

“I said to Rudy in that breakfast the first time we sat down to talk that it is simply not credible to me that Joe Biden would be influenced in his duties as vice president by money or things for his son or anything like that,” Volker said. “I’ve known him a long time. He’s a person of integrity, and that’s not credible.”

So here we are.  I'm actually kind of glad Sondland was a weasel who Trump used as his shield, then smiled and ratted Trump out when given the chance, considering the half-dozen people who threw Sondland under the bus over the last two weeks.

Trump bullied President Zelensky to announce a fake investigation led by Rudy Giuliani to hurt Joe Biden's 2020 chances or he wouldn't get his military aid, and then Trump covered it up and lied about it.

Either that's an impeachable crime, or the Republic is done.


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