Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
This writer has now read several of the transcripts of depositions given by the gaggle of witnesses Adam Schiff and company have dragged before his kangaroo court, otherwise known as an “official impeachment inquiry.” Here are some of my humble take-aways from this sham:
1. What Are Democrats Afraid of in Ukraine?
It becomes obvious from the line of questions from Republicans on this committee, that virtually everyone has testified that corruption in Ukraine was a major concern of the past three administrations, including Trump’s. Corruption is endemic in Ukraine and is evident across every sector. As many testified, one particularly troublesome area is the energy sector and we are not just talking about Burisma, the company that employed Hunter Biden to the tune of $83,000 per month. When that was brought up, some said it was common practice to place Americans on boards of companies to give them greater gravitas. Too bad too many of us were born with the wrong last name or whose father was not a Senator or vice-president.
All of the witnesses said that corruption was a big problem in breaking Ukraine from their reliance on Russian energy sources and infrastructure, and in diversifying Ukraine’s energy portfolio. Hence, it would stand to reason that our government would seek necessary reforms and put pressure on a country to which we provide billions in aid- economic and military- to clean up corruption in a vital sector of their economy. If that includes investigations and prosecutions of past and present energy sector corruption, then so be it.
The only difference between this and past such requests is the name Hunter Biden because his father is running for president. Usually these lines of inquiry, when even allowed, are shut down by the Democrats, or sometimes by the witness. According to the former ambassador to Ukraine and latest martyr, the investigation by Ukraine into Burisma is “dormant,” not “closed. If there is nothing there, let Ukraine determine that and let the facts stand as they may. Would this be a problem if Joe Biden were not a candidate? Closing off legitimate lines of inquiry because someone’s father is a presidential candidate smells of cover-up and using the ruse of impeachment inquiries to circle the wagons around a vulnerable candidate.
2. There Sure Are a Lot of Patriots These Days
Practically every witness has described themselves as loyal patriots to America who got into public service to help protect the United States. That ambassador- Marie Yovanovitch- is a career State Department official who touted her credentials spanning several administrations- Republican and Democrat. That is supposed to let us know that Yovanovitch is the dutiful public servant who has absolutely no political beliefs or preferences. Fiona Hill said she joined the administration and left the Brookings Institute because of Russian interference in the 2016 election and what she could do to help the Trump administration avoid similar Russian efforts. And the list goes on. All these people right down to the unknown whistleblower who everyone now knows is a patriot fighting for democracy, America, the flag, mom, and apple pie.
Nobody has a political ax to grind. They are, they tell us, all nonpartisan. They do not talk about politics with their families and certainly not in their offices. If this is true, then the intelligence community and State Department is perhaps the largest collection of nonpartisan US citizens in history.
3. The Deep State Protects Its Own
This is obvious in the answers to questions where they are quick to rush to the defense of their own. A lot of Hill’s testimony was about the recall of Ambassador Yovanovitch and her consternation over the treatment of a “well-qualified” diplomat. Having worked for three administrations, perhaps Ms. Hill just forgot that ambassadors, despite their qualifications, serve at the pleasure of the President.
There is a lot of “throwing under the bus” in the testimony. One person who stands central to this issue is Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the EU. According to Fiona Hill’s testimony, Sondland injected himself into matters concerning Ukraine even though that was not in his portfolio. She mentioned that he spent more time in DC than in Brussels. He was present at a meeting where the pressure to investigate Burisma was discussed in front of Ukrainian officials. Perhaps he is a target because he is everything all these witnesses are not- a Washington outsider. He came from the hotel and finance industries, not the gristmill of Washington, DC. He may be blunt and clumsy. In short, he’s not a diplomat (which is interesting considering his job title).
In the end, perhaps we are not listening to self-described patriots and more to people protective of their pensions, tarnished reputations, or possible television and book deals.
4. Rudolph Giuliani Has a Big Mouth
If there was this grand conspiracy to pressure Ukraine to reopen their investigation into Burisma generally and Hunter Biden, specifically, it was the least-kept secret in the history of conspiracies. As practically every witness testified, they were all aware that Guiliani was on the news many, many times complaining that Hunter Biden’s role with Burisma should be investigated. This happened well before all the [email protected]*t hit the fan. Yet these career experts, many of whom whose sole responsibility was Ukraine, did not connect dots and realize “a grand conspiracy” was in the works.
Admittedly, Giuliani does have verbal diarrhea at times. In this case, perhaps his efforts were well-intentioned: investigate corruption in Ukraine, especially as it relates to the energy sector. However, the only problem with that is he had apparent “nefarious” clients whom he was trying to help vis-a-vis the Ukrainian energy sector. Regardless, this sounds less like an impeachable offense and more like Giuliani being Giuliani.
5. When Is a Quid-Pro-Quo Not a Quid-Pro-Quo?
The quid pro quo line, in this instance, goes something like this: “Hey Ukraine…open an investigation into this Hunter Biden guy and his dealings over there and we’ll give you these Javelin antitank missiles and other aid.” In the infamous phone call, Trump did mention an investigation, but not that aid or anything else was attached to it.
What you are left with, then, is third and fourth-hand hearsay and speculation. Then things get somewhat confusing. According to Hill’s testimony, the alleged quid pro quo was not about aid or antitank missiles, but about a White House visit between Ukrainian President Zelensky and Trump. If this was the basis of the alleged quid pro quo, then it has to be the silliest “quid pro quo” in history.
Now it did come to pass that aid to Ukraine, despite approvals from several agencies, was held up. Left out of the equation was that Ukraine was not alone in that budgetary snafu. Regardless, under questioning from Rep. Jordan (R-OH), we learned that (1) the hold on aid was at the request of the OMB which was reviewing all foreign aid packages and (2) Ukraine received their aid, including the Javelins. A third fact can be added: Ukraine has not opened an investigation into Hunter Biden or Burisma.
Because an inexperienced non-diplomat parading as a diplomat (Sondland) discusses some alleged tit-for-tat relationship may call into question who is running foreign policy as it concerns Ukraine, but that is not an impeachable offense. Throwing out a suggestion is not a quid pro quo unless the quid pro quo comes to fruition. Here, it did not.
And when you think seriously about it, all foreign aid is nothing but one big quid-pro-quo. We offer foreign aid in exchange for certain things in return: reform your justice system, make human rights reforms, don’t attack your neighbor, and the list goes on.
6. Mulvaney’s Name Surfaces
According to testimony, if there is any impeachable offense, it would not be Trump. The highest up the chain anything goes is Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney. Hill testified that Sondland’s attempts to get a White House meeting between Zelensky and Trump was apparently approved by Mulvaney. We do not know if Mulvaney even gave that impression. Perhaps it was a “We’ll see what we can do” by Mulvaney being interpreted as a deal by Sondland.
Of course, this whole meeting between two world leaders met with much consternation by career officials. Why they would be against a meeting with a newly elected leader of Ukraine running on a commitment to crack down on corruption which they admit was a major problem in that country meeting with Trump boggles the mind. Were they afraid Trump would press the Burisma issue? Were they afraid of a verbal agreement? Was it because they may not be in the loop and couldn’t leak anything?
The fact is they- the Democrats and the witnesses- have proven squat against Trump. All they have is second, third and fourth-hand hearsay, speculation, an personal opinion. They, at times, seem to be repeating back CNN and New York Times analysis of this whole thing. Most of their sources are the mainstream media. That should say it all.
And How Did This All Start?
With pearl-clutching consternation over a phone call. Looking at the transcript of that call, Trump was correct in every issue he brought up. Germany and the EU could do more to help Ukraine. Mueller may have cleared Ukrainian actors, but maybe he did not look deep enough. Regardless, questions DO remain. Perhaps this would not even be an issue today if Biden was not running around the country telling whoever would listen (not many) of how he threatened to withhold $1 billion in aid if Ukraine did not fire the prosecutor looking into corruption involving Burisma, the company that then hires his son to the tune of $83,000 a month. You want a quid pro quo? There it is… with a little graft thrown in for good measure.
This was an “Oh my God! He mentioned Biden’s name in a phone call” hissy fit. If this is the criteria for impeachment, we have set a very low bar. If this can set off an alleged whistleblower and cause so much disruption, worry, and hand-wringing in the foreign policy team, then all those underlings need to go…and fast.