Friday, November 15, 2019

Last Call For The Reach To Impeach, Con't

So far, and it's very early in the public hearing process, national opinion about impeachment hasn't changed minds...yet.

The televised impeachment hearings that began this week in the U.S. House of Representatives do not appear to have changed many minds about President Donald Trump, with public support for his impeachment about the same before and after the first U.S. diplomats testified, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

The national online poll, which ran from Thursday to Friday morning, showed that 44% of U.S. adults said Trump “should be impeached,” while 40% said he “should not be impeached.” A similar poll that ran earlier in the week found 45% supported impeachment and 42% opposed it. 
The Reuters/Ipsos poll also found that about 68% of Americans said they were following the hearings. That includes 28% who said they were watching or listening to the hearings on live broadcasts. About 25% said they had not paid any attention to the impeachment proceedings in Congress. 
Among those paying attention, 41% said the hearings had made them “more supportive” of impeaching Trump, while 25% said they had made them “less supportive.” That finding, combined with the overall lack of movement in public opinion regarding impeachment, suggests the hearings so far have mostly provided people with a rationale for their earlier support or opposition to impeachment.

More Americans will follow the hearings I suspect.  Today was particularly bad for the Trump regime as former US Ambassador to Ukraine testified about Donald Trump's intimidation efforts, which happened in real time because he couldn't stop himself from tweeting threats at a witness testifying while he watches her on TV.

House Democrats are calling Donald Trump’s decision to attack Marie Yovanovitch mid-hearing on Friday a blatant example of witness intimidation, further building the case to charge the president with obstruction in potential articles of impeachment. 
Lawmakers of both parties were stunned to see Trump’s disparaging tweet about the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in the middle of a hearing where she had already described in great detail how she felt personally threatened by the president.

“What you saw today — witness intimidation in real-time by the president of the United States,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told reporters during a brief pause in the hearing.

“Once again, going after this dedicated and respected career public servant in an effort to not only chill her but to chill others who may come forward,” Schiff added. “We take this kind of witness intimidation and obstruction of inquiry very seriously.”

Trump's attack was vile, stupid, and thuggish even for him.

Yovanovitch was laying out to House investigators in often-emotional detail how she had been recalled early from her post as the U.S. ambassador in Kyiv amid a smear campaign orchestrated against her by Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and others.

"Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad," Trump tweeted out as Yovanovitch spoke. "She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him." 
He continued: "It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors. They call it 'serving at the pleasure of the President.' The U.S. now has a very strong and powerful foreign policy, much different than proceeding administrations. It is called, quite simply, America First! With all of that, however, I have done FAR more for Ukraine than [Obama]."

Again, real-time witness threats and intimidation, real-time obstruction of justice, in front of all America.  The opinion polls aren't moving toward critical mass...yet.

They will after today.

Stone Cold Guilty

The jury in the Roger Stone trial took less than 48 hours to find the Trump confidante guilty on all seven counts, including lying to Congress and witness tampering, in his trial for covering for Donald Trump over the Russian hacking of DNC emails in 2016.

The panel of nine women and three men deliberated for less than two days before finding Stone, 67, guilty on all seven counts resulting from his September 2017 testimony to a House intelligence committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Kremlin’s efforts to damage Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Stone, in a gray-blue suit, stood at the defense table with his left hand in his pants pocket, watching impassively as the verdicts were read. He sighed and frowned as he left the courtroom, offering a half-smile to reporters who had covered the proceedings while his wife hugged crying supporters.

Michael Caputo, a Stone friend, was kicked out of the courtroom for refusing to stand for the jury after the verdict and — when ordered to do so — turned his back to the panel.

Roger Stone was found guilty on Nov. 15 of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice over remarks about WikiLeaks’ 2016 email releases. (Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)

Stone and his attorneys departed the courthouse without comment and went with their legal team into a waiting vehicle.

A judge set Stone’s sentencing for Feb. 6 and allowed him to remain free until then. Stone faces a legal maximum penalty of 50 years in prison — 20 years for the witness tampering charge and five years for each of the other counts, although a first offender would face far less time under federal sentencing guidelines.

Stone’s indictment was the last brought by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, revealing important details about the Trump campaign’s keen interest in computer files hacked by Russia and made public by WikiLeaks. He was accused of lying to Congress and tampering with a witness, an associate whom prosecutors said Stone threatened in a bid to prevent the man from cooperating with lawmakers.

Stone is essentially facing a life sentence for his role in facilitating the WikiLeaks dirty tricks screw job of Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign, and suddenly there's a very real federal guilty verdict tying Donald Trump to Russian collusion.

Does Trump pardon Stone to monkey-wrench the impeachment parade?

We'll find out.

Ukraine In The Membrane, Con't

We've known for some time now that Rudy Giuliani was most likely under investigation for criminal wrongdoing involving his role in Trump's Ukraine bribery and extortion scandal, now we know he definitely is under investigation.

Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, is being investigated by federal prosecutors for possible campaign finance violations and a failure to register as a foreign agent as part of an active investigation into his financial dealings, according to three U.S. officials.

The probe of Giuliani, which one official said could also include possible charges on violating laws against bribing foreign officials or conspiracy, presents a serious threat to Trump’s presidency from a man that former national security adviser John Bolton has called a “hand grenade.”

A second official said Giuliani’s activities raise counterintelligence concerns as well, although there probably wouldn’t be a criminal charge related to that. The officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter, provided the first indication of the potential charges under investigation.

Giuliani is a central figure in the U.S. House impeachment inquiry, which focuses on an effort led by the former New York City mayor to pressure Ukraine’s government to investigate the president’s political rivals. If Giuliani is charged or indicted, he could expose Trump to a new level of legal and political jeopardy, especially if he’s accused of committing a crime on the president’s behalf.

“I would not be surprised if he gets indicted,” said Mimi Rocah, a former federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. “It’s clear Giuliani is up to his ears in shady stuff and there’s tons of smoke.” 
Witnesses in the impeachment inquiry have described how Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine and a White House meeting for the country’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to force him to investigate a company connected to former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Biden is a Democratic frontrunner to challenge Trump in 2020.

Democrats have called Trump activities with Giuliani’s assistance as a potential abuse of presidential power, while some Republicans have argued that Trump’s conduct doesn’t merit his removal from office.

Giuliani is under investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, which he once led. The office began to scrutinize his activities in Ukraine as prosecutors investigated two of his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. The two were subsequently charged in the U.S. with illegally funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to U.S. officials and a political action committee that backed Trump.

Parnas and Fruman were working for Giuliani on matters related to Trump. It’s not clear, however, whether the investigation of Giuliani is focusing on the work he did for the president.

Giuliani, his lawyers and the White House didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Two observations: first, so far, not even Bill Barr has been able to make this investigation disappear.  A trial set for next year would be devastating for anyone related to the Trump regime and everyone knows it.

Second,  the case against Giuliani must be devastating.  We know Lev Parnas, one of the two Ukranian associates of his, is now cooperating and says Trump contacted him last year about Ukraine and how Ambassador Marie Yovanovich had to be fired.  Things are moving quickly here on this front.

The April 2018 dinner was designed to be an intimate affair, an opportunity for a handful of big donors to a super PAC allied with President Trump to personally interact with the president and his eldest son.

In an exclusive suite known as the Trump Townhouse at Trump’s Washington hotel, the group — including Jack Nicklaus III, the grandson of the famous golfer, and a New York developer — snapped photos, dined and chatted about their pet issues with the president for about 90 minutes.

Among those in attendance were two Florida business executives who had little history with Republican politics but had snagged a spot at the dinner with the promise of a major contribution to the America First super PAC. They turned the conversation to Ukraine, according to people familiar with the event, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private dinner.

One of the men, Lev Parnas, has described to associates that he and his business partner, Igor Fruman, told Trump at the dinner that they thought the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was unfriendly to the president and his interests.

According to Parnas, the president reacted strongly to the news: Trump immediately suggested that then-Ambassador Marie ­Yovanovitch, who had been in the Foreign Service for 32 years and served under Democratic and Republican presidents, should be fired, people familiar with his account said.

Parnas declined to comment. Todd Blanche, a lawyer for Fruman, declined to comment.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Parnas’s account of personally discussing Ukraine with Trump more than 18 months ago suggests that he and Fruman had more personal interaction with the president — and potentially more influence over his views on that country — than the White House has acknowledged.

The Rudy factor is about to explode this wide open.


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