Impeachment Witnesses Leave Republican Defenses Revealed As Absurdities

The final two witnesses in this week's public hearings before the House Intelligence Committee reduced the Republican talking points in the President's defense looking as absurd as they have always been.

In what was apparently the final day of hearings before the House Intelligence Committee, we heard from two more witnesses who confirmed the facts regarding the extent to which American foreign policy toward Ukraine was linked to the President’s domestic political interests. The witnesses, Fiona Hill, a British-born aide at the National Security Council specializing in Ukraine and Russia during John Bolton’s tenure, and David Holmes, a top aide to the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine serving in Kyiv, both testified to first-hand knowledge regarding the linkage between the two subjects that had come to obsess the Trump Administration in the months after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was elected in April. Additionally, Ms. Hill used her opening statement and her testimony to push back against the absurd conspiracy theory being advanced by Republicans, by the White House, and by conservative media outlets who continue to slavishly repeat what the White House says that it was the Ukrainians who interfered in the 2016 election, not the Russians.

Indeed, as The Washington Post reports, yesterday’s proceedings both reinforced and added to what we know and essentially reduced Republican defenses to the absurdity that they have obviously been from the beginning:

For two months, the impeachment inquiry has focused on President Trump and whether he abused the power of his office for his own political advantage.

On Thursday, the inquiry seemed to broaden into a bracing examination of the insidious forces — including the spread of conspiracy theories — infecting American politics.

The final day of scheduled public testimony in this phase of the impeachment investigation was dominated by the warnings of a former White House adviser that the country’s susceptibility to baseless allegations and partisan infighting are more than unfortunate byproducts of this political era.

Instead, Fiona Hill, who served as Trump’s top adviser on Russia for much of the past two years, testified that these tendencies pose a growing security threat that Russia, among other adversaries, is exploiting.

As a result, Hill emerged as one of the few witnesses over the past two weeks able to move from providing accounts of events inside the White House to placing the unfolding Ukraine scandal in a broader political context.

She depicted Trump’s alleged attempt to pressure Ukraine for political dirt as harmful to both countries’ security interests. She voiced dismay about the treatment of diplomats, including the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who were either sidelined or disparaged for their efforts to defend official U.S. policy or testify about the president.

But above all, she spoke with palpable concern about the extent to which partisanship in the United States’ political system has weakened the country’s ability to agree on objective reality. “Our nation is being torn apart,” she said. “Truth is questioned.”

A respected Russia scholar who previously served as a top U.S. intelligence official, Hill opened her testimony with a bristling rebuke of Republican lawmakers — and by extension Trump — who have sought to sow doubt about Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

“Some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country — and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did,” Hill said. “This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”

Her comments turned the tables on lawmakers, including Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who have pressed previous witnesses on perceived holes in their testimony, but found themselves using portions of their allotted time Thursday to dispute Hill’s characterizations.

Nunes held up a copy of a House Intelligence Committee report on Russian interference, insisting that he and other members do not question the core case against the Kremlin.

In reality, Nunes has been among Trump’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill in seeking to discredit or impede the FBI and special counsel investigations of Russian interference. He has repeatedly used the impeachment hearings over the past two weeks to argue that Trump’s suspicions about Ukraine working against him in 2016 were warranted.

And he spent much of his time Thursday questioning Hill not about what she witnessed about the campaign to pressure Ukraine but her contacts with individuals — including former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele — connected to those now-concluded investigations of Trump and Russia.

The exchange underscored the extent to which the impeachment probe has become an extension of the political battles that began in the aftermath of the 2016 election, as it became clear that Russia had waged an audacious “active measures” operation — involving the hacking of Democratic Party computers and the bombardment of U.S. voters with disinformation on social media platforms — to help elect Trump and defeat Hillary Clinton.

Trump has refused to accept that Russia’s interference was real, which officials close to him say he sees as a stain on the legitimacy of his presidency. Trump’s alleged attempt to pressure Ukraine appears to have been driven at least in part by his desire to solicit information he hoped would help to cast doubt on the case against the Kremlin.

In addition to asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to pursue investigations into the family of former vice president Joe Biden, Trump also sought to enlist the Ukrainian leader in advancing a conspiracy theory that one of the Democratic Party’s computer servers was smuggled to Ukraine to hide evidence that Ukraine, rather than Russia, had hacked its network.

More from The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — A former White House Russia expert on Thursday sharply denounced a “fictional narrative” embraced by President Trump and his Republican allies that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election, testifying that the claim was a fabrication by Moscow that had harmed the United States.

The expert, Fiona Hill, tied a pressure campaign on Ukraine by Mr. Trump and some of his top aides to an effort by Russia to sow political divisions in the United States and undercut American diplomacy. She warned Republicans that legitimizing an unsubstantiated theory that Kyiv undertook a concerted campaign to interfere in the election — a claim the president pushed repeatedly for Ukraine to investigate — played into Russia’s hands.

“In the course of this investigation,” Dr. Hill testified before the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment hearings, “I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.”

Dr. Hill’s account was an indirect rebuke of the president, as she outlined how some of Mr. Trump’s team carried out a “domestic political errand” in opposition to his foreign policy. She also underscored the national security consequences, noting that “right now” Russia was seeking to interfere in the 2020 election and that “we are running out of time to stop them.”

“These fictions are harmful even if they are deployed for purely domestic political purposes,” said Dr. Hill, the British-born daughter of a coal miner who became a United States citizen and the White House’s top Europe and Russia expert.

She added that Russia readily exploited partisan divisions to undermine the United States from within.

Both Dr. Hill and David Holmes, a top aide in the United States Embassy in Kyiv, detailed what they understood to be a concerted campaign that linked a White House meeting and vital military assistance to an announcement by Ukraine’s president that his country would investigate 2016 election interference and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

“Investigations for a meeting” is how Dr. Hill described her understanding of the deal laid out by the president’s inner circle, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer; Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union; and Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff.

The testimony came as Democrats sought to clarify the stakes of the impeachment proceedings after two weeks of detail-heavy hearings. Dr. Hill and Mr. Holmes may well have been the final public witnesses called by the committee, which has begun compiling a written report of its findings to present to the House Judiciary Committee as soon as next month.

The House adjourned for Thanksgiving after the session, and it appeared all but certain that lawmakers would vote to impeach a president for only the third time in American history, and most likely along party lines.

It was apparent that Dr. Hill’s testimony was going to be powerful from the beginning as she read from her opening statement, which I have embedded below, which is where she began her rebuke of the Russian/Fox News conspiracy theory about Ukraine and the 2016 election. This claim, she pointed out, is one that Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials have been pushing ever since Russia’s role in seeking to disrupt the election was revealed by American intelligence agencies and by the investigation conducted by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller. It’s a claim that soon found its way into the fever swamps of Reddit, 4Chan, and 8Chan, and from there made its way to Alex Jones, other far-right conspiracy sites, and finally Fox News Channel. From there, it was just a matter of time before it became what amounts to the primary defense to allegations of collusion being advanced by the President, and from there that they became linked to American policy toward Ukraine, with the President demanding an investigation into the allegations as a part of the price for releasing military aid and progress in U.S./Ukrainian relations.

In addition to this, though, Hill’s testimony, delivered in a clipped and strict British accent that belied her birth to a family of coal miners in Northeastern England, the same region, she noted, from which George Washington’s forebearers came, also detailed the extent to which responsibility for U.S. policy toward Ukraine was taken out of official channels. As others before her have testified, such policy increasingly became the purview of a side group of individuals outside of the control or supervision of either Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or National Security Adviser John Bolton. Hill also testified regarding her own contacts with Bolton who she made clear wanted nothing to do with what he referred to as the “drug deal” being cooked up by U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland, Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor and directed by Rudy Giuliani, who she said Bolton described as a hand grenade that was going to “blow everything up.” Whether Bolton, who is ironically emerging as one of the unlikely heroes of this whole saga, realized just how prescient his comments were at the time.

While Dr. Hill provided testimony that put the mess that President Trump and Rudy Giuliani had made of U.S. policy toward Ukraine front and center, David Holmes provided new details regarding that policy that made it clear the extent to which the minutest details of that policy got dragged into the narrative. Most notably, Holmes testified about overhearing portions of a phone call between Ambassador Sondland and President Trump during which Trump sought reassurance that the Ukrainians would announce the opening of investigations into the Bidens and the aforementioned debunked 2016 conspiracy theory. Holmes also testified that Sondland told him in response to a question after this phone call that Trump “doesn’t give a f**k” about Ukraine, but only cares about the “big stuff,” meaning the guarantees of the announced investigations as the price for moving forward on the relationship between Washington and Kyiv.

The testimony of these two witnesses, both of whom withstood Republican efforts to change the subject and diminish the seriousness of the charges made against the President and the evidence that has been laid out over the course of the last two weeks of public hearings. Only a blind partisan can fail to see that it is clear that the President sought to extract information favorable to himself and detrimental to his political adversaries from a foreign nation especially a foreign nation under direct attack from an adversarial power such as Russia. As I have stated before, this would seem to be in clear violation of two provisions of the United States Code dealing with the solicitation of donations or “things of value” to a political campaign from foreign sources as well as bribery, a crime specifically mentioned in the Constitution as one of the specific crimes that could lead to impeachment and removal from office. To claim otherwise at this point is to be willfully blind.

Here are the opening statements of Dr. Hill and Mr. Holmes:

Fiona Hill Opening Statement by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

David Holmes Opening Statement by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

FILED UNDER: Congress, Donald Trump, Impeachment, Politicians, Ukraine, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told me that he was not going to lose any GOP votes during impeachment.

    “I think we are going to gain Dems,” McCarthy said.

    He also rejected Fiona Hill’s testimony and said he thinks Ukraine meddled in 2016 elections.

    “I think they did.”

    They are impervious to reality.

    ETA and so are their voters.

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  2. KM says:

    Only a blind partisan can fail to see that it is clear that the President sought to extract information favorable to himself and detrimental to his political adversaries from a foreign nation especially a foreign nation under direct attack from an adversarial power such as Russia.

    And yet the Senate will not vote for removal. Their behavior here is very clear: protect Trump at all costs, damn the consequences.

    Trump has forced the GOP to the point of no return: they will have to excuse blatant violation solely because they want to preserve power. Burn down any cover or pretense of honor – they will let this man spit on our democracy just to hold on to control for just a little bit longer. They’ve spun their own reality to try and hide this, pretend they are heroes fighting back against the Deep State or whatever fantasy villain is in vogue. All in service a man who’d destroy them all in a heartbeat if it made him some cash or kept him out of jail.

    So this is how democracy dies – with thunderous, pointless lies.

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  3. mattbernius says:

    Again, another cathartic day for the reality based portion of the population and nothing moved at all.

    Beyond the fact that Fiona Hill is a stone cold bad ass, there were two big takeaways…

    Takeaway 1: Unless something dramatic changes no Republican is moving on this issue.

    Will Hurd has been the one to watch and he made it clear that his position is that “while what the President did was bad, it doesn’t rise to impeachment.” At this point, all that will be interesting to see is if he catches any flack for that from PoTUS. If not, I think that will become the go to line for moderate Republicans.

    This is a confirmation that the Republican part is now officially the standard bearers for Trump. I’m still working through what that means in practice.

    This also means that I don’t expect the Dems will stay united in the Senate and they won’t even get a unanimous party vote on impeachment. I also don’t expect that they’ll be able to peel of Gardner or Collins. At that point the question is whether or not it energizes or demoralizes the base.

    (For the record I did and continue to support the impeachment inquiry regardless of the political cost as it was the right thing to do).

    Takeaway 2: Man, the worst parts of Trump’s base keep saying the silent parts out loud

    Reading the attacks on foreign born, naturalized Americans from folks from OANN and the Claremont Institute just confirms how much of Trump’s core support is steeped in the worst forms of (white) Nationalism.

    Neither of these takeaways are particularly a surprise. Both continue to be disappointing and leave me deeply concerned about our shared future as a nation.

    For more on takeaway 1, see this Twitter thread from Tim Alberta:
    https://twitter.com/TimAlberta/status/1197692945970946048

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  4. grumpy realist says:

    Well, this is how a republic dies, I guess. When we have lost mechanisms by which people who tell lies and disseminate fake information are punished.

    I suspect we have too many people who are perfectly willing to ignore evidence invalidating their beliefs, simply due to ego, or a desire to keep power, or pandering to a certain section of the population.

    We’re seeing an equivalent level of stupidity in the U.K. with regards to the actual impact a “no-deal Brexit” would have on the U.K. economy.

    Part of the task of being adult is not allowing yourself to ignore data simply because it makes you feel better about yourself. Double-check your assumptions all the time. Don’t lie to yourself. This is a part of having integrity, self-discipline, and a coherent ethical system: truth matters.

    Unfortunately, we are now being ruled by idiots like Donald Trump, who thinks only about his ego and couldn’t care less about reality. Ditto for weasels like Linsey Graham, who has been perfectly happy to turn into Trump’s ass-kisser in exchange for political power. I hope karma hits him hard.

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  5. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    After paying close attention to all of the testimony’s, I believe it is time to write the obituary of our country.
    The witnesses have spelled out, in pretty stark terms, the crimes committed by the POTUS and others, in his name. Yet, because our Government has been taken over by a group of people who have contempt for everything this nation stands for, there is nothing we can do to stop them from their wanton destruction of our nation. We are, daily, watching the Constitution being shredded.
    What is abundantly clear, based on the actions of every Republican in our Government, is that Trump could cancel the 2020 election, and not one member of the GOP would lift a hand to stop him. And what is it that the rest of us would do? Hold hearings while they laugh?
    Our country is over. L’etat, c’est mort.

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  6. Tony W says:

    Chris Hayes, yesterday, pointed out that a huge flaw in our Constitution is that the President can literally do whatever he/she wants as long as he/she can keep the support of only ~35 Senators.

    To be above the law, as long as you keep only 35 people across the entire nation happy, is an incredible amount of power.

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  7. gVOR08 says:

    @mattbernius: Someone on Twitter listed a slightly different two takeaways. 1) Fiona Hill could, barehanded, kill every Republican in the room, and 2) how does Devin Nunes manage to dress himself?

    And yet 40% of the country are nodding “yes” to every stupid think Nunes says. Unless Pelosi, Schiff, et al have something better in mind it will move to the Senate where Trumpsky will be acquitted on a party line vote. Then the 40% will claim total vindication and another 30% will lose interest.

    I see Lindsay Graham is initiating an investigation into Ukraine, Biden, and Burisma. The DOJ IG’s report on the origin of the Russia probe will be out soon. Sounds like the IG may be playing it straight. But eventually Durham will report on his investigation into the Russia probe which looks like it may be more closely controlled by Barr. It’ll all make enough smoke to confuse the unengaged.

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  8. Monala says:

    I guess NPR assumes Trump is done . I got in my car this morning and turned on the radio, only to listen to a fluffy panegyric about Mike Pence, about his faith, his sincerity, how he worked hard to reach out to the LGBT community in Indiana but never wavered from his convictions; about his prayerfulness and godly counsel for a Trump, and how, should it be necessary, he’s ready and able to step into the presidency.

  9. gVOR08 says:

    @grumpy realist: The public have always been largely ignorant or uncaring, and always will be. I blame Republican pols and funders. The Founders thought they designed a system to restrain ambitious self serving asshats. They seem to have failed.

  10. mattbernius says:

    Three other points from this morning…

    (1) So, less than 24 hours after Hill makes an impassioned plea to stop spreading the Crowdstrike conspiracy theory (which every witness, including the Republican ones said was baseless), PoTUS goes on Fox and Friends to spread the Crowdstrike theory. Heck, even the hosts seem dubious/embarrassed about it. But in the end, it will be normalized and I expect that a commenter down-thread will provide “unquestionable” facts to support that its the real issue.

    (2) The National Review publishes the following reflective piece asking “how did we get here?”: https://www.nationalreview.com/the-morning-jolt/the-road-that-brought-conservatives-and-republicans-to-this-point/

    and the dark horse…

    (3) Out of no where John Bolton is back on twitter acting like he’s a wrassler who is unexpectedly running out to interfere in a title match:

    We have now liberated the Twitter account, previously suppressed unfairly in the aftermath of my resignation as National Security Advisor. More to come…..
    https://twitter.com/AmbJohnBolton/status/1197900337690107904

    He could be the loose canon that (borrowing spine from Hill) wrecks house, but I sadly expect this entire thing is going to a wet fart (is that a “Swalwell”?) of a November surprise.

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  11. KM says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Part of the task of being adult is not allowing yourself to ignore data simply because it makes you feel better about yourself.

    Having worked in both the medical field and as a counselor, I can assure you the number of grown individuals who lie to themselves daily about major issues is*incredibly* high. The human capacity to ignore danger signs until it’s too damn late is vast and it’s depths unplumbed. One particularly depressing assignment had me working at a major cancer center with terminal patients to help them to accept the inevitable. The number of cases where people put off treatment or dismissed huge honking warning signs till they hit Stage IV was enough to drive you to drink. So many had the “recant on my deathbed” mentality ie live life stupidly and then expect a last-second miracle to save their ass from the consequences of their actions. The desperate panic in their eyes when they realized that no, science and medicine can’t save them because they waited to long was painful. This isn’t a movie – the cavalry ain’t coming.

    Too many conservatives are like those patients. They’re aware of the damage Trump is doing, they’re aware that supporting him in order to preserve power has a cost they might not want to pay. Allowing the President to get away with this sets one hell of a terrible precedent. However, something will come to save them from the coming consequences – they’re not ruining everything irreversibly because that’s unthinkable. It’s not going to go to hell because someone (aka the libs) will step in and stop it as that’s what’s always happened. There’s time to change, to reverse course if they need to. This isn’t the Rubicon for them, nothing is. They’re the kind of people who wake up in a fascist state one morning and go “when the hell did this happen?!”

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  12. KM says:

    @gVOR08 :
    The Founders thought the concept of honor would have prevent such obvious criminality from happening in public. Trump would have been unthinkable for them because quite frankly, someone would have tarred and feathered or challenged his ass to a duel a long time ago – well before he got close to politics. They would have considered it madness that a buffoon of his caliber could ever be the choice of anyone, let alone the majority needed for election (remember it was handled different back in the day)

    Trump’s favorite, Andrew Jackson, would have solved the problem shortly after meeting him. After all, Jackson was notoriously sensitive about criticism of his wife and Trump’s all about that sort of thing…..

  13. Kit says:

    @gVOR08:

    The Founders thought they designed a system to restrain ambitious self serving asshats. They seem to have failed.

    The Founders designed an imperfect but pretty good system for their time. But we haven’t been equal to the task of maintaining it. We failed them, and we failed ourselves. And now a suicide pact, engraved on a millstone and wrapped around our neck, is dragging us under the waves.

    Lately, I’ve been thinking of the Founders in ways that mirror Aristotle. Here were serious men who studied life and history, who could think theoretically and practically, and who made real advances which they passed on. But future generations acted as if they had received engraved tablets from God, thereby placing a break on future progress. I’m confident that the Founders would have been astonished and scandalized had they been able to see what became of their work.

    Take free speech. I think the Founders reckoned that free men needed to able to learn the truth, and that government typically stood in the way. Today, companies can bury the truth under a ton of BS, thereby undermining our ability to govern ourselves. Companies do this under the banner of free speech, and there’s no lack of people ready to cheer them on! Out of principle! I reckon that the Founders would blink in disbelief to see how their grandchildren managed to so lose the plot.

  14. Kathy says:

    The GOP needs a mantra. Thus far, their unspoken one is “We refuse to recognize Trump’s criminal actions as a crime.” That’s too verbose.

    Maybe “When a Republican does it, it’s not illegal.”

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  15. grumpy realist says:

    @KM: There’s an aphorism that I try to run my life by: “Stupidity should hurt.” I’ve seen another variant often quoted over at Reddit: “play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”

    I think you’re also right about how people assume the calvary will arrive to save us. We’ve had it engrained into our mental culture: the brave hero single-handedly fighting off the enemy and able to somehow triumph when all looks dark. Of course, historically evidence shows that in such cases Mr. Brave Hero gets chopped up to bits like Custer at Little Big Horn. But we prefer our Hollywood movies with the Happy Ending….

    It must be extremely infuriating and depressing having to deal with people who have put themselves into Stage IV cancer through just ignoring what was going on, but they’re not the only ones. The father of a friend of mine ended up killing himself with a form of pneumonia by ignoring all his health conditions and refusing to go to the doctor…until he collapsed one day at home and ended up in the hospital, but by then it was too late.

  16. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: The mantra has always been IOKIYAR.

  17. DrDaveT says:

    Trump has refused to accept that Russia’s interference was real, which officials close to him say he sees as a stain on the legitimacy of his presidency.

    It is absurdly out of character for him to analyze a situation so objectively and accurately.

  18. gVOR08 says:

    @Kit: My impression is that the founders expected the constitution to be amended routinely and often. So yes, to some degree we have failed them.

    When I took required middle school civics the idea of free speech was that the government couldn’t jail me for saying things they didn’t like. Now it seems to mean the guy with the most money can buy up all the public speech.

    Much as I bitch about the NYT, which while supposedly liberal is the mouthpiece of the establishment, one of these days someone like Adelson will buy it and it’ll be game over for democracy. I give Bezos a lot of credit for letting WAPO remain a legit newspaper.

  19. Kit says:

    @KM:

    Too many conservatives are like those patients. They’re aware of the damage Trump is doing, they’re aware that supporting him in order to preserve power has a cost they might not want to pay.

    I see two mentalities playing out. First, we’ve had a good three generations since WW2, call it four since the Great Depression. Our way of life feels eternal. That feeling lends itself to a certain confident recklessness. Things will work out, and rather few of us will have to stop shopping.

    Second, if the Apocalypse does come, it will be fun. We will play the part of Mad Max popping zombies.

    All this political theater is just so much playing with the house’s money.

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  20. andros says:

    This farce deserves a place in Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. Do you really suppose your feigned outrage over Trump’s alleged intimation, to Zelensky, that aid would be delayed (aid recently characterized, by Ex-ambassador Yovanovitch, as a ‘symbol’ of support), unless he committed to an investigation of the Bidens and Burisma, will distract the broader public from your agenda? Cause them to forget that you have outdone yourselves in flooding the country with unskilled, impoverished migrants, with a view to creating a permanent Democratic majority? That you yearn to hammer Corporate America with punitive levels of taxation, forcing investment, and jobs, to flow overseas? That your solution for urban violence is forced “income equality”? That health care must be made identical (which is to say, mediocre) for the working middle-class and indigent alike?

    Dream on.

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  21. gVOR08 says:

    @DrDaveT: I sometimes almost believe Trump genuinely doesn’t know he’s a useful idiot for the Russians. Then he does something like demand South Korea pay five times as much for our troop presence and I remember his longstanding Russian mob ties and his inability to grasp the concept of truth.

  22. Monala says:

    @grumpy realist: universal healthcare might help with that problem. I have asthma, and am prone to upper respiratory infections. Sometimes when I get a bad one, I think I should go to the doctor and make sure it’s not pneumonia. But then I think to myself that if it’s not, I will have generated a huge medical bill only to be told to go home and take care of myself the way I was going to anyway. If I weren’t worried about the medical bulls, I might not be so hesitant to get checked out.

  23. Kurtz says:

    @andros:

    LOL

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  24. David M says:

    Cleek’s law applies even to impeachment: “today’s conservatism is the opposite of what liberals want, updated daily”

    Or as the political scientists say it: “negative partisanship rules everything around me”

  25. Kathy says:

    You know that I think? That the widely held notion that the GOP establishment really dislikes Trump, recognizes him as a damaging influence on the country and their party, and would give him the boot if they didn’t fear the deplorable base, I think all of that is wishful thinking.

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  26. Mikey says:

    @andros: What vapid, ignorant twaddle. Go away and let the grownups talk, fool.

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  27. mattbernius says:

    Hey @andros, you might have missed it, but I’ve twice asked you to back up your claim that we “mouth known untruths” with some examples of us “mouthing known untruths.” Also, you’ve specifically said that I’ve “intentionally misinterpreted” you and engaged in “sophistry” (all here: https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/governing-in-the-private-interest/#comments).

    Every time I bring up my request for actual examples you either ignore it or disappear from the comments… Since you’re apparently following this thread, I was wondering if you might actually back up those accusations.

    Beyond that, wow, that’s a screed… Two things immediately jump out:

    Cause them to forget that you have outdone yourselves in flooding the country with unskilled, impoverished migrants, with a view to creating a permanent Democratic majority?

    and

    That your solution for urban violence is forced “income equality”?

    “flooding the country with unskilled, impoverished migrants” and “urban violence”… huh… absolutely no dog whistles in those two… nope… nothing… nada…

    BTW, one of my favorite moments or reckoning from the National Review piece I linked to up page:

    A wave of hateful bigots just coincidentally happened to emerge from under rocks during the past three years, as if they perceived some sort of national green light, some sort of giant signal that it was okay to express these views and behave this way. God only knows what could have given them that idea. Either way, the country is coming apart at the seams, so this is no time to abandon the president! – Jim Geraghty

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  28. David M says:

    @Kathy:

    They didn’t like him when they thought he was unpredictable and might want policies they disagreed with. Once they realized he wasn’t going to oppose anything they wanted, they remembered they don’t actually have any principles beyond owning the libs

  29. al Ameda says:

    Republicans will support Trump as long as they’re running the table – rolling back environmental regulations, passing tax cuts, filling up the judiciary with movement conservative judges. They may hate Trump personally, but many fear him and/or the undying support his basebrings to the party.

    Also, Republicans are going through the motions on the House Committee.
    How do we know this? Easy, the best they have to offer are Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan, two mental midgets. Their job is to create talking points for the campaign season, not to conducta serious inquiry. Also, Republicans know that the their Senate will not vote to convict.

    I continue to believe that ZERO Republicans will vote to impeach, ZERO to convict.

  30. DrDaveT says:

    Just for the record, then I’ll stop feeding the trull…
    @andros:

    unless he committed to an investigation of the Bidens and Burisma

    You misspelled ‘announced’.

    Cause them to forget that you have outdone yourselves in flooding the country with unskilled, impoverished migrants

    So Trump is innocent and harmless because migrants? That’s at least a novel ‘argument’. (Still waiting for you to show me how all of those unskilled, impoverished, illiterate Irish and Italian and Ashkenazy trashed our economy in the 20th century… )

    hammer Corporate America with punitive levels of taxation, forcing investment, and jobs, to flow overseas

    …just like we did during the 1950s and 60s, wrecking the economy. Oh, wait…

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  31. Steve V says:

    @andros:

    Cause them to forget that you have outdone yourselves in flooding the country with unskilled, impoverished migrants, with a view to creating a permanent Democratic majority? That you yearn to hammer Corporate America with punitive levels of taxation, forcing investment, and jobs, to flow overseas? That your solution for urban violence is forced “income equality”? That health care must be made identical (which is to say, mediocre) for the working middle-class and indigent alike?

    This shows (1) you are determined to talk past people on the other side of the aisle, and (2) you are coming perilously close to saying, Republicans can do anything and it’s justified to keep the Dems out of power.

    Jesus, even Peggy Noonan apparently thinks the case for impeachment is obvious.

    11
  32. mattbernius says:

    @mattbernius:
    One other point…

    That your solution for urban violence is forced “income equality”?

    The reason this is such a dog whistle is that “urban violence” broadly defined has been on a downward slope for years (since it’s height in the late 80’s and early 90’s). There was what appears to be a temporary uptick around 2014, but that has largely resolved as well. See the following article:

    https://www.citylab.com/life/2018/08/the-geography-of-urban-violence/567928/

    That doesn’t mean that the US doesn’t have a violence problem — in particular in cities with long histories of systemic racial discrimination and redlining.

    But the invocation of the specter of *Urban* violence — not to mention tying it to the topic of equality — is a favorite move of people who like a whiter shade of nationalism.

  33. Kurtz says:

    @DrDaveT:

    …just like we did during the 1950s and 60s, wrecking the economy. Oh, wait…

    There was a moment in one of the Clinton-Trump debates when Trump was asked when America was last great. His answer was the 50s.

    Neither the moderator nor Clinton pressed him on what the top marginal tax rate was back then. I was annoyed because i knew off the top of my head that it was above 90%. Missed opportunity.

  34. Kit says:

    @DrDaveT:

    hammer Corporate America with punitive levels of taxation, forcing investment, and jobs, to flow overseas

    I think this makes a nice counterpoint:

    Amazon will pay $0 in taxes on $11,200,000,000 in profit for 2018

    Especially when combined with the recent discussion where at OTB about Sander’s proposal to tax companies whose employees require public assistance to earn a living wage.

  35. Chip Daniels says:

    @Kit:
    You touch on something important here, which is that the America that all of us have grown up in since WWII is very different than the America before it, and is historically unusual.

    Since the founding, American has been a place where democracy and the rule of law was fragile and honored in the breach more than not.

    For those who were in the out-group, like slaves, Natives, or just poor people, the freedoms we take for granted were illusory.

    And there were plenty of episode of awful violence, like the white mobs that burned Tulsa and Rosewood or slaughtered Natives with impunity.

    The America we grew up in only existed because millions of people fought like hell to create it and its up to us to fight like hell to build a new one.

    15
  36. Michael Reynolds says:

    1) The system has ceased to function.
    2) The system makes it impossible to fix the system.
    3) Only the people can save this country.
    4) The people are idiots.

    22
  37. Mikey says:

    I thought of a minor, but useful, modification to the title of this post:

    Impeachment Witnesses Leave Republican Defenders Revealed As Absurdities

  38. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @andros:
    Moderators…does J-enos need to get tossed again?

  39. gVOR08 says:

    @Chip Daniels: Picketty documents that historically the natural tendency is for wealth to accumulate. Those who have wealth will use it to accumulate more wealth. And power. In his view two World Wars and the Great Depression destroyed enough wealth to allow thirty years, in French Le Trente Glorieuses, of relative equality, and as a result prosperity and real democracy. That’s when I grew up, thinking life would continue to get better for me and everyone else. Inequality is back up to Gilded Age levels.

  40. mattbernius says:

    @mattbernius:

    But the invocation of the specter of *Urban* violence — not to mention tying it to the topic of equality — is a favorite move of people who like a whiter shade of nationalism.

    Sorry to beat an off-thread dead horse, but I forgot one other critical thing and I ran out of edit time — it’s worth noting that while Urban Crime has been on long trend decrease, rural crime in the US has been on an upswing (in large part due to the drug epidemic):

    * https://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/gov-crime-rural-urban-cities.html
    * https://thecrimereport.org/2018/05/14/rural-violent-crime-rate-rises-above-u-s-average/
    * https://atlantablackstar.com/2018/07/16/rural-red-states-that-voted-for-trump-are-experiencing-a-surge-in-crime/

    For some reason, certain people who are really concerned about the *urban crime* problem don’t seem to want to talk about this.

  41. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @gVOR08:

    The Founders thought they designed a system to restrain ambitious self serving asshats. They seem to have failed

    They were aware that there would always be asshats. Chuck Lorre posted this Hamilton quote on his “Mom” vanity card:

    CHUCK LORRE PRODUCTIONS, #635

    “When a man unprincipled in private life, desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper . . . despotic in his ordinary demeanour — known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty — when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity — to join in the cry of danger to liberty — to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion — to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day — It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.'”
    Alexander Hamilton

    Needless to say, I was stunned in the foresight.

    But with more contemplation, I came to realize that self serving asshats have strived for power throughout history.

  42. DrDaveT says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Needless to say, I was stunned in the foresight.

    Unfortunately, the Framers’ solution was the Electoral College, which would not be deluded by demagogues or grifters and would ensure that only men of parts and probity could become President.

  43. DrDaveT says:

    @gVOR08:

    In [Picketty’s] view two World Wars and the Great Depression destroyed enough wealth to allow thirty years, in French Les Trente Glorieuses, of relative equality, and as a result prosperity and real democracy.

    A similar case has been made that the Renaissance was triggered by the egalitarian eradication of half the population of Europe (with subsequent redistribution of more than half of the wealth) by the Black Death.

  44. liberal capitalist says:

    @Kit:

    Amazon will pay $0 in taxes on $11,200,000,000 in profit for 2018

    Ditto for FedEx. They paid $1.5B in taxes in 2017, and $ZERO in 2018.

  45. JohnSF says:

    @andros:

    “… flooding the country with unskilled, impoverished migrants, with a view to creating a permanent Democratic majority”

    How on earth can the Democrats ensure said immigrants, not to mention their children, permanently vote for them?
    Is their voting somehow a lifelong and hereditary pact?
    Has this always true of immigrants?
    If not, since when and why?
    If their voting patterns are markedly dissimilar to other groups, why should this be so, and why persist?

    Democrats “… yearn to hammer Corporate America with punitive levels of taxation, forcing investment, and jobs, to flow overseas?”

    Assuming you don’t mean that the yearning is actually to force investment and jobs overseas, do all Democrats really “yearn to hammer”?
    Perhaps the merely regard it as a judicious rebalancing of personal versus corporate incomes and wealth?
    And surely, large numbers of them are open to rational discussion on these matters; after all, was not Hillary Clinton, and her supporters, frequently accused of being overly solicitous of the concerns of corporate America?
    Such persons are surely unlikely to be died-in-the wool neo-Bolsheviks.

    Similarly, are the majority of Democrats really radical egalitarians, as opposed to seing themselves as being concerned with ameliorating extremes of poverty and disadvantage to the benefit of all?

    Surely it is possible to disagree on policies, methods, aims and even philosophical bases without regarding your political opponents as some sort of zombie Army of Darkness.

    You might reply “But that’s what they are accusing us of being …”
    The difference lies in your refusal to engage rationally with the evidence of the recent hearings and related events.

    To continue to proclaim that the aid to Ukraine was merely “symbolic” when Ukraine in fact faces a potential existential threat from Russia, while Russia continues to occupy Ukrainian territory, to make threats and (at least arguably) periodically violate the ceasefire agreements, is bordering on the absurd.

    In these circumstances, to leverage American assistance in the interests not of US strategy, nor of a general anti-corruption drive in Ukraine, nor even in pursuit of a well-founded legal case regarding Burisma, Biden’s and Shokin, but purely it seems in search of a publicised political “hit” on Joe Biden is surely at least a fair basis for a bit of outrage?

    Perhaps there are exculpatory rationales for all of this.
    Well, then, let the other key persons involved testify; Giuliani and Bolton in particular.
    And if there seems good cause for both side’s arguments to be judged, well, let the Senate hold a trial where the President counsel can present his case; and then let the people judge whether the Senate in it’s turn is acting as a proper High Court of Impeachment

  46. Gustopher says:

    @JohnSF:

    How on earth can the Democrats ensure said immigrants, not to mention their children, permanently vote for them?

    We force the Republicans to be racist scumbags, of course.

    If it weren’t for Democrats trying to force Political Correctness down their throats, then they would be the lambs of the earth and they would embrace immigrants.

    When we point out someone is racist, what choice do they have but to dig in their heels and double down on the racism? Gotta trigger the libs, you know.

    12
  47. Jax says:

    @JohnSF: Careful there, bud, with all those big words you’re gonna trigger poor Andros into going full Gym Jordan and screeching “Yaaaarrrgh, commie libtard porch monkeys stealin my wimmins and mah guns” while flinging scat at his tv and terrible keyboard. 😉 He appears to have skipped the drinking part of the koolaid and went straight to snorting the powder.

  48. Kurtz says:

    @JohnSF:

    The difference lies in your refusal to engage rationally with the evidence of the recent hearings and related events.

    This is well put. I have something to add to it. There is another asymmetry – – most Dems have not, until Trump, considered the GOP as an existential threat to America. However, Republicans have had a habit at least since Gingrich of portraying Democratic proposals as threats to the “American way.”

    Semi-related: I’ve recently wondered how Trump supporters would react if someone superimposed Trump’s face on Gaddafi being urinated and beaten a la the videos that get displayed at some Pro-Trump gatherings.

  49. Kurtz says:

    @Jax:

    snorting the powder.

    Turns out it wasn’t even cocaine. It was ground lead paint chips. This hypothesis has major explanatory power.

    Also, i have so far resisted making cracks about his WebTV.

  50. Jax says:

    @Kurtz: I couldn’t help it. He uses it as an excuse to not post any links to back up his statements, but it works well enough that he found us, and apparently a bunch of other websites that are feeding him misinformation. 😉 If I liked him a little more I’d send him one of the laptops I buy and repair from clients who have upgraded their systems, but this time of year I usually donate those to our local domestic violence program for use in the safe house.

  51. Kurtz says:

    @Jax:

    The worst thing about that excuse is that all he has to do is provide the name of the article and the author. Even a site and keywords would work with this crowd.

    This group of commenters are all pretty savvy. I’m sure we would all be willing to meet him halfway.

  52. the Q says:

    To paraphrase Niemoller (because we are almost at this point in our history):

    First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a socialist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a trade unionist.
    Then they came for the Republicans, and I said:
    “Make sure you get the crazy ph ucker at the end of the street, he wants to kill Obama….and don’t forget the the gunnut at the corner with his Nazi flag and Trump stickers
    And by all means, the Curtis family are totally unhinged loons and the neighbors will be glad to see those insane birthers locked up and put away……”

  53. JohnSF says:

    @the Q:

    “And then they came for the Nazis.
    And I said, well, considering they’re a bunch of evil psychotic murderous bastards, ain’t Karma a stone bitch…”

  54. Scott F. says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Only 38-42% of the people are idiots.

    Granted a lot of the remaining 58-62% of the people are lazy and disinterested, but that still leaves a lot of the people to save this country. I think they may surprise us yet.

  55. de stijl says:

    I will defend @andros to an extent.

    He constructed sentences mostly correctly and used commas mostly correctly. Yes, he argues his position by assertion, but he is miles better than @JKB and that lot.

    Of the contrarians here, he is the best.

    Engage on facts. See if she / he is worthy of a substantial conversation. We keep bemoaning that there are no viable “conservative” voices here. It cannot hurt to try.

  56. Jax says:

    @de stijl: We’ve tried. He went full bigot earlier, you can have a try if you want. 😉

  57. An Interested Party says:

    Engage on facts.

    Oh?

    …flooding the country with unskilled, impoverished migrants, with a view to creating a permanent Democratic majority…you yearn to hammer Corporate America with punitive levels of taxation, forcing investment, and jobs, to flow overseas…your solution for urban violence is forced “income equality”…health care must be made identical (which is to say, mediocre) for the working middle-class and indigent alike…

    Those “facts”?

  58. de stijl says:

    @Jax:

    Missed that. I withdraw my very extremely limited defense. I had higher hopes. At least this one was educated in high school level of American English grammar and punctuation.

  59. de stijl says:

    Test

  60. de stijl says:

    @An Interested Party:

    At least @andros did not willfully decontextualize my comment. 😉

  61. de stijl says:

    @Jax:

    Next Open Thread I have a music recommendation you might like.

  62. An Interested Party says:

    Speaking of absurdities, the same man who once said…

    If you can’t admire Joe Biden as a person, then you’ve got a problem. You need to do some self-evaluation, because what’s not to like? He’s the nicest person I think I’ve ever met in politics. He is as good a man as God ever created. I think he’s been dealt a really gut blow. I think he focuses on what he’s got to do, not what he lost. His heart’s been ripped out, but he’s going to make sure that the other members of his family are well taken care of.

    …is now leading a bogus attempt to smear Biden…what a disgusting lickspittle toady Graham has become…all so he can keep his Senate seat…John McCain is surely turning over in his grave at how low his protégé has sunk into Trump’s slime…

  63. andros says:

    “It’s a daily gut punch, to watch the impeachment hearings, and then click on Five Thirty Eight and see that, if anything, impeachment is becoming less popular, not more.” (Call Hunter Biden to Testify, Daily Kos, 11-22-19.)

    Questions, questions. Where to start? Perhaps with Burisma’s attempt, shortly after Zlochevsky’s properties had been seized, and days before Joe demanded Prosecutor Shokin’s dismissal, to get the State Dept to “call off the dogs.” (This Feb. 2016 attempt to dispute charges of corruption against Burisma was made through Blue Star Strategies, invoking Hunter’s name and relation to Burisma. See Johnson, Grassley Call for State Dept. to Release Documents on Hunter Biden and Burisma, 11-7-19, Sen. Grassley’s website.)

    “But how,” you protest, “can this be relevant?” Because once you concede that an investigation of the Bidens’ activities in Ukraine is warranted, you remove any conflict between Trump’s personal interest and the public interest. “But what about the aid — the javelins?” There was no immediate need of such weaponry, a ceasefire having been in effect since March. Ex-ambassador Yovanovitch recently testified that it was a “symbol” of support. If Trump brought a little carrot and stick suasion to bear here, no big deal. It serves the public interest to get Zelensky committed to this investigation.

  64. de stijl says:

    @andros:

    You do realize that Joe Biden was not freelancing when he signalled that Shokin should be canned?

    That it was US preference backed by the Obama administration in conjunction with the EU? There is a wiki article about it. With links to many other contemporaneous articles. Joe Biden was a bit player in that scene.

    You are flogging debunkable (totally a word shut up) conspiracy.

    You’re better than this cliche crap. You possess decent language skills. I back-handedly defended you, and you are letting me down.

    I chose the wrong horse, didn’t I.

  65. Mikey says:

    @de stijl:

    You’re better than this cliche crap.

    You’re talking to a Trumpist. They’re not better than anything.

  66. Matt says:

    @Kurtz: I had to stop watching the debate at that point because I was just unhealthily angry at the failure of both Hillary and the moderator to play that card.

  67. de stijl says:

    @andros:

    “Because once you concede that an investigation of the Biden’s activities in Ukraine is warranted, you remove any conflict between Trump’s personal interest and the public intetest.”

    What was that?

    You do realize that B does not in any possible way follow A in the way you constructed this?

    You were my dark horse. Be better!

    —-

    Russia invaded Ukraine and occupied and annexed their territory. It is an on-going war. There was and still is a need for weapon aid to Ukraine, unless you support a Russian victory there.

    I now see why my @andros is definitely a very bad interlocutor and my very limited endorsement based on language skills was complete garbage.

    I rescind it entirely in this case.

    I still have hopes that one day James Joyner will have a buddy here who is not an utter git.

  68. de stijl says:

    @Mikey:

    I briefly hoped we had a contender for a not idiot R supporting commenter. I was very wrong.

    I was appealing to his better angels.

  69. Mikey says:

    @de stijl: I thought so at first, but the continued repeat of debunked talking points convinced me otherwise. The final straw was the invocation of “the server,” which persisted despite several knowledgeable commenters’ attempts to educate him on how computer forensics actually work. It was like talking to a wall. I’ve no time for that crap.

  70. andros says:

    @de stijl:
    Were I not of such charitable disposition, it might occur to me that you are trying to mislead the ignorant. Do you suppose Sen. Grassley forged those State Dept. emails showing that Burisma, through Hunter Biden and Devon Archer, was attempting to dispute, with State, the allegations of corruption made against Burisma, shortly before Joe demanded Shokin’s head?

  71. Mikey says:

    @andros:

    it might occur to me that you are trying to mislead the ignorant

    RIP Irony, time immemorial – 11/23/2019

  72. David M says:

    A reminder that the drive to oust Shokin dates back to 2015, something that has been repeatedly pointed out to andros. It’s a mystery how he keeps from learning any new facts about this issue he cares so deeply about.

    https://www.justsecurity.org/66271/timeline-trump-giuliani-bidens-and-ukrainegate/

  73. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR08:

    The Founders thought they designed a system to restrain ambitious self serving asshats. They seem to have failed.

    It worked for 200 or so years. The fact that it took silents and boomers to find a way to reach levels of self-serving asshattery to over come the system speaks well for the general principles on which it was based.

  74. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @mattbernius:

    (2) The National Review publishes the following reflective piece asking “how did we get here?”: https://www.nationalreview.com/the-morning-jolt/the-road-that-brought-conservatives-and-republicans-to-this-point/

    Too oblique. It’s going to go right over the heads of the people who need the message, but Geraghty and his buddies will still pat him on the back for the power of his message.

  75. andros says:

    @David M:
    Then why were Hunter Biden and Devon Archer squealing to the State Dept. about the charges of corruption against Burisma, days after Zlochevsky’s properties and Rolls Phantom were seized? When the facts are in dispute, an investigation is called for. If an investigation is warranted, any conflict between Trump’s personal interest and the public interest disappears.

    Why is Joe so distraught by the specter of investigation? Why doesn’t he step out of this “candidate protection program” the media has spun around him, and share with us his reasoning? Many would be interested in knowing (among other things) his excuse for permitting Hunter’s self-enrichment spree with a “notoriously corrupt” outfit.

  76. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “Neither the moderator nor Clinton pressed him on what the top marginal tax rate was back then. I was annoyed because i knew off the top of my head that it was above 90%. Missed opportunity.”

    Not as much a missed opportunity as a passed on one. Hillary was already demonstrating her extreme mental prowess and outdebating Trump so much that bringing that up would have simply been running up the score.

  77. David M says:

    @andros:

    Biden’s actions are irrelevant, as Trump can’t extort a foreign government into publicly announcing an investigation into his domestic political opponents. Now that I’ve answered your question again, it’s your turn:

    Since this push to oust Shokin began in 2015, why are the 2016 actions relevant?

    Since the EU, the IMF and the entire Obama Administration were also involved, why is Biden viewed as anything other than a glorified messenger?

    Why does all contemporary reporting from 2016 back up the view that Shokin was viewed as corrupt, and there was widespread support for his removal?

    Why is there no current reporting that backs up the idea that this was corrupt?

  78. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jax: It’s just as good to keep doing that. Back while I still read andros, he noted that he went to Web TV surfing because he wanted the big screen effect–i.e, the screen on his laptop/desktop was too small and he didn’t like sitting up at a desk to websmurf.

  79. andros says:

    @David M: @David M:
    Shokin wasn’t appointed until Feb. 2015. What material evidence do you have to contest the media reports that, in Feb. 2016, shortly before Biden demanded his dismissal, Shokin was “lowering the boom” on Zlochevsky, Burisma’s owner?

    Don’t you find it rather odd that Biden praised Shokin’s replacement, Lutsenko, as “solid,” even though he didn’t do squat about Burisma?

  80. David M says:

    @andros:

    Those are ridiculously easy questions to answer, as Burisma was only a small part of the corruption problem, as anyone with even a passing familiarity with the issue should know.

    That’s also unresponsive to my questions. So again:

    Since this push to oust Shokin began in 2015, why are the 2016 actions relevant?

    Since the EU, the IMF and the entire Obama Administration were also involved, why is Biden viewed as anything other than a glorified messenger?

    Why does all contemporary reporting from 2016 back up the view that Shokin was viewed as corrupt, and there was widespread support for his removal?

    Why is there no current reporting that backs up the idea that this was corrupt?

  81. andros says:

    @David M:
    None so blind . . .

    1
    3
  82. JohnSF says:

    @andros:
    Shokin was indeed appointed in February 2015.
    But his investigations were supposed to be into Zlochevsky’s activities re. Burisma 2002 to 2014, as previously probed by UK SFO.
    And also into other oligarchic financial crime in that period (and it’s linkage to the Putin’s Russian elite and Ukrainians such as Yanukovych and Firtash).
    It was NOT an investigation into ongoing Burisma activities.
    Zlochevsky had fled the Ukraine in 2014, and the board was running the company.

    Shokin’s dismissal was precisely because, like his predecessor Yarema, he was dragging his heels on this; with the connivance of other influential Ukrainians who would prefer that the murkier aspects of the period of Russian dominance be forgotten. By late 2015 the EU, UK, US agencies etc. were all pressing for Shokin to be dismissed.

    It is true that Zlochevsky returned in 2018 (and subsequently left again) and remains the legal owner of Burisma; largely because the stonewalling of Yarema and Shokin owner rendered prosecution re. 2002-2014 enormously difficult.
    He is still a formal suspect of embezzlement; but proceeding are on hold because Ukraine has no legal confirmation of his current whereabouts (in fact he’s in Monaco).

    Shokin’s subsequent claims that he was dismissed to protect the Biden’s are quite obviously an attempt to exculpate his own failure, for whatever reason, to properly investigate Burisma 2002-2014.

    And, for the severalth time, a fragile ceasefire, with Russian forces dug in on Ukrainian territory, in no way renders US military assistance inconsequential.
    To attempt to maintain it was of no concern to the Ukraine is utterly surreal.

    There seems to be scant rational alternative to viewing Trump’s actions, especially via Giuliani, as intended to leverage Ukraine’s strategic vulnerability versus Russia into producing at least a politically damaging “headline bite” against Joe Biden i.e. manipulating US foreign relations for domestic advantage.

    Such an action, or reasonable suspicion of such, would plainly be impeacheable.

    And perhaps we’d best pass over for now the attempts to gin up some sort of absurd “rebuttal” of Russian interference in 2016:
    Crowdstrike! DNC server!! Steele!!! Ukraine diddit !!!1

  83. David M says:

    @andros:

    None so blind . . .

    Talk about your brutal self-owns

  84. Mikey says:

    @David M: Irony came back to life, and he killed it again.

  85. Jax says:

    @andros: What part of this is so hard for you to understand? I don’t know how many people on various threads have told you, over and over again….if any of the Biden’s did illegal stuff, we are fully on board with locking them up.

    NONE OF THAT changes what Trump did. That horse you are flogging is deader than hell, move on already. There’s 40 billion other conspiracy theories for you to get caught up on.

  86. Jax says:

    @andros: If you’re gonna troll, at least be an INTERESTING troll. 😉

  87. de stijl says:

    I chose poorly.

    If this was a game, I’d get Game Over, and the only way forward is to load a save before I’d fucked it up.

    Reload.

  88. Jax says:

    @de stijl: Don’t beat yourself up too bad, we were all thinking “Yay, this one can spell and put sentences together!” when he first showed up.

    We did not know it would be the SAME sentences, same subject, every single thread.

  89. andros says:

    @JohnSF:
    No one is disputing that the prosecutor’s office had not disgraced itself. With respect to the accusations against the recently-appointed Shokin, however, did not one of your star witnesses, George Kent, testify that the IMF and EU were here deferring to the Obama administration? And where was the “administration” getting its information, if not from Biden? Who was advising Biden, and what was the substance of that advice?

    So Zlochevsky’s properties are seized, Hunter and Devon go squealing to the State Dept. about the charges of corruption against Burisma, and Joe demands Shokin’s dismissal, all in short order. It is frivolous to claim that this set of facts doesn’t merit investigation.

  90. Mikey says:

    @andros: This garbage again? Why do you persist in lying about Biden’s role?

    Wait, you’re a Trumpist. Of course you lie. Lying is Trumpist oxygen.

  91. David M says:

    @Mikey:

    It’s not just lying. It’s equal parts aggressive ignorance and avoidance of any and all facts. It’s why andros cannot and will not post anything other than drivel. He’s proud of how little he knows.

  92. Jax says:

    @andros: You mean the Obama administration that relied on professionals for their information, and NOT two bit con men laundering money for Putin AND Trump? Or Rudy Giuliani? THAT Obama administration? ROFLMAO…….

  93. David M says:

    @Jax:

    To be fair, part of the reason andros has so much trouble with this issue is he literally doesn’t understand how a normal administration works. He sees Trump directly ordering investigations to benefit himself and going around diplomats, so he assumes that’s what everyone does. He’s deliberately consumed disinformation for so long he no longer recognizes reality. A self-inceptioning of sorts

  94. JohnSF says:

    “… did not one of your star witnesses …”
    OK, you got me.
    My name is Adam Schiff and I claim my $190,000 congressional salary 🙂

    The seizure of Zlochevsky’s property (property he had in effect abandoned two years previously when he fled Ukraine) was trivial.
    A masquerade.
    His remaining personal assets in Ukraine were insignificant compared to the amounts moved to various havens, let alone the billions total worth of Burisma.

    Said Burisma wealth was only endangered if his dealings before 2014 were placed in legal jeopardy. Which Shokin was not doing.

    After 2014 Zlochevsky was not running Burisma; the board at that time had every reason to want to keep him at a distance, and likely to strip him of ownership entirely. It would make their lives easier, and also open up valuable avenues for asset redistribution in Ukraine.

    In any event Shokin 2016 was NOT investigating Burisma 2016; he was SUPPOSED to be investigating Burisma 2002-2014.

    As Tramontano stated in 2016 there was no prima facie reason at that point to suppose Burisma the company, as opposed to Zlochevsky the nominal (and very much absent) owner, was corrupt.

    If there is evidence to the contrary, for heavens sake let it be presented. If evidentially supported accusations against Bidens H. or J. can either or both can be brought, well investigate and if appropriate prosecute.

    That is NOT what President Trump desired, though, on the evidence of testimony and “transcripts” and plain common sense.

    He explicitly pressed for a public denunciation of the Biden’s.

    He used Ukraine’s strategic vulnerability to press for such an announcement regardless of whether the the Ukraine government believed it justified.

    He directed, or at least permitted, the setting up of a “semi-official” diplomacy led by Mr Giuliani with extremely worrying links to Ukrainian/Russian actors;

    He and others linked to the administration promoted, and continue to promote, frankly ludicrous conspiracy theories of Ukrainian interference in US elections.

    Is there evidence to refute such conclusions?
    Present it.
    Let Giuliani, Bolton, Pompeo etc. testify.
    Let the House determine then if impeachment should proceed.
    If they do, let the Senate make trial.

    And I’ll say this yet again: If pressure on Ukraine reflected concern with corruption, why did that concern suddenly evaporate when the Zelensky phone calls and Giuliani “diplomacy” became public?

  95. Jax says:

    @JohnSF: John with the BOOM.

    I really love the commentariat here.

  96. andros says:

    Let’s try the Socratic method: Is it conceded that the activities of the Bidens in Ukraine warrant investigation? If so, on what reasoning would such an investigation be contrary to the public interest? Does Biden’s candidacy make him immune to investigation, above the law? If not, where do you discern a conflict between the public interest and Trump’s personal interest? And might not the public interest justify a little “carrot and stick” diplomacy here, to get Zelensky committed to the investigation, seeing that a truce had been in effect since March, to facilitate negotiation of the Steinmeier formula?

  97. David M says:

    @andros:

    You are asking the same dumb questions after they have been answered repeatedly, while also refusing to answer any. Those are not the actions of someone interested in a good faith discussion.

    So again:

    Since this push to oust Shokin began in 2015, why are the 2016 actions relevant?

    Since the EU, the IMF and the entire Obama Administration were also involved, why is Biden viewed as anything other than a glorified messenger?

    Why does all contemporary reporting from 2016 back up the view that Shokin was viewed as corrupt, and there was widespread support for his removal?

    Why is there no current reporting that backs up the idea that this was corrupt?

  98. Jax says:

    @andros: “Does Biden’s candidacy make him immune to investigation, above the law?”
    No. Lock his ass up if the investigation reveals he did something illegal.

    “If not, where do you discern a conflict between the public interest and Trump’s personal interest?”
    It was made very clear during the impeachment testimony that he only wanted an ANNOUNCEMENT of the investigation. Not an actual investigation. The buck stops right there where he was pushing for the ANNOUNCEMENT. He did not give a flying rat’s ass about an actual investigation.

    You are assuming that Trump is an animal like you, Andros. That he’d want to investigate actual corruption. He does not care about actual corruption, because he’s up to his neck in it. He doesn’t ACTUALLY want people to look into it, or they’d find Russia, and maybe some Giuliani. That’s why he only wanted the announcement on CNN. Not Fox News, did you notice that? It HAD to be CNN.

    Nobody who would potentially vote for Biden watches Fox, Andros. He assumes they watch CNN. (eyeroll). An Announcement that they were investigating Biden would hit Biden’s poll numbers. That’s all he really cared about. He didn’t care if the accusations were factual or not, this is all REALLY about his re-election campaign.

    And that’s what makes it illegal.

  99. Teve says:

    @JohnSF: Post of the Week.

  100. JohnSF says:

    Is it conceded that the activities of the Bidens in Ukraine warrant investigation?

    No, it is not.

    It might be that they do warrant investigation.
    If so, let relevant evidence be presented, and let investigation, and, if appropriate prosecution, proceed.

    At present there appears to be nothing to warrant this beyond the wild accusations of various associates and partisans of President Trump, and the self-serving statements of Shokin.

    I repeat, yet again, the investigations Shokin was supposed to be pursuing, and was dismissed for failure to proceed with, related to Zlochevsky’s dealings with Burisma 2002 to 2014, (essentially similar to original investigations by the UK Serious Fraud Office in 2014 following the Ukraine revolution).
    And, also yet again, that Burisma in 2015 and 2016 was not a prima facie corrupt operation.

    Blurring between Zlochevsky/Burisma before 2014 and Burisma, and hence H. Biden, in 2015/6 is a not something that can expected to be taken seriously without credible evidence.
    And by credible evidence I mean NOT the squiddy inkscreen of Shokin, nor the legalistic chaff thrown up by Giuliani and the two stooges.

    Even if the Biden’s H. &/or J. deserved investigation, that does not mean they should be traduced by a public statement that can hardly serve any purpose but to smear a political opponent.

    Of course Biden is not afforded immunity.
    But to quite transparently attempt a “But Her Emails!!!” v2.1 and then present it as an attempt to uphold the rule of law fails the laugh-out-loud test.

    Where is there a distinction between the interest of President Donald Trump and the public interest?
    Between the pursuit of a reasonable case for proper legal investigation of, and if appropriate prosecution for, corruption, and an attempt to produce a public declaration obviously intended to damage a political opponent.

    “… a little “carrot and stick”

    I suggest you ask a few Ukrainians if they regard the withholding of assistance a just a “little carrot and stick”, given their situation.
    Or you could ask Fiona Hill. Or Lt. Colonel Vindman. Or David Holmes. Or…

    Once again, the ceasefire.
    Please.
    Truce, shmuce; ceasefire, schmeasefire.

    The EU may be attempting to effect a peaceful resolution, via German or other proposals and mediations, and let us hope they succeed.

    But from a military point of view you want the new weapons systems NOW, during the halt of hostilities, not if/when they restart and you have no time to train or integrate.

    Re. the Socratic method: I now intend, in lieu of hemlock, to drink several pints of Guinness.
    Over and out.

  101. DrDaveT says:

    @JohnSF: Congratulations — you have just presented a correct proof of the Pythagorean Theorem. Unfortunately, the person you presented it to believes that pi = 3, for religious reasons.

  102. DrDaveT says:

    @Jax:

    And that’s what makes it illegal.

    Well, that and the fact that it is not the President’s job to investigate the overseas actions of US citizens, and that if it were he would need to recuse himself in this case due to his glaring conflict of interest, and that even setting that aside the proper agents to conduct the investigation are the State Department and the Justice Department, not his personal attorney and a foreign government potentially also implicated in the alleged crimes and with its own conflicts of interest…

    By @androsLogic(TM), when the Obama administration learned that a Halliburton subsidiary had been bribing officials in Nigeria, they should have sent Rahm Emanuel to Nigeria to demand that the Nigerian government announce an investigation into Dick Cheney.

  103. andros says:

    Such equivocation, absurdity and non sequitur is the reason you are losing the public relations battle over impeachment (Emerson: 43% support, 45% oppose.) And anyone with the cognitive ability of a pismire knows that Trump isn’t about to let the Bidens off the hook. We don’t know what is going on behind the scenes, with the assistance of the Ukrainians, but Senators Lindsey, Grassley and Johnson have made demand on the State Dept. to produce all relevant documents.

  104. Jax says:

    @DrDaveT: That’s too many words, my friend. He’s just gonna glaze over it, it’s “the thing that shall not be seen”. 😉

  105. Jax says:

    @andros: Yessssss…..the state department….I’m sure they’ll produce their documents forthwith. We didn’t see too much of that during the impeachment hearings, did we? No Pompeo, no staff, no documents, even under Congressional subpoena. What makes you think they’ll just throw that out there now?

    FOIA seems to be the way to go with state.

  106. Jax says:

    @andros: Trump will let anyone off the hook, and throw EVERYONE under the bus, if it looks like him and his kids might be headed to the big house. He is not your knighted, Sparta-level hero, he’s a two bit con man who owes a lot of money to Russians.

    Lindsey, Grassley and Johnson. That’s rich. More swaaaaamp.

  107. DrDaveT says:

    @andros:

    If not, where do you discern a conflict between the public interest and Trump’s personal interest?

    Seriously, why should we answer for a 47th time, when you’ve ignored the first 46?

    1. The President is not the appropriate authority to decide whether an investigation is warranted. It’s not part of his job.
    2. This particular President has a glaring conflict of interest that would force him (were he really worried about corruption) to entirely recuse himself from this particular case.
    3. The stupidest possible way to initiate an investigation is to announce that you are doing so. The only reason to do so is if you care only about the harm to the reputation of the accused, not about the facts or being able to get to the bottom of things accurately. If an investigation was in the national interest, the announcement of an investigation was necessarily against the national interest.
    4. If you’re going to start an investigation into corruption by US citizens, you have it done by US law investigative services, not by a foreign government that for all you know is complicit in any corruption.
    5. If you’re going to start an investigation, you do it through legal channels, not by having your personal contractor go meddle in ways that he has no legal authority to do.
    6. On no account do you make US compliance with an existing weapons sale contract contingent on whether the foreign government will do this favor that happens to be in your personal interest.
    7. There is an unsubtle difference between ordinary “carrot and stick” negotiation and extortion. This was clearly extortion; Trump threatened an illegal action against Ukraine (withholding military aid) if Ukraine did not do him the favor of announcing an investigation against the Bidens. This has been confirmed by multiple independent witnesses, including the President himself.
    8. If you really care about the investigation of corruption, you don’t withdraw the ‘request’ just because you got caught extorting political favors from foreign governments.

    Trump didn’t just do something wrong here; he did everything wrong. You ever gonna address any of these points, Mr. Socrates?

  108. DrDaveT says:

    @andros:

    Such equivocation, absurdity and non sequitur

    You have such a cute way of saying “I got nothing…”

  109. Jax says:

    @andros: Ohhhh, snap, you got had, Shokin. 😉

  110. DrDaveT says:

    @Jax:

    FOIA seems to be the way to go with state.

    Won’t work. State (and Justice, and the White House) will (bogusly) assert Exemptions 1, 3, 5, and/or 7 for anything useful. Appeals staff will be pressured by the political appointees to uphold the refusal on appeal (though some “Deep State” principled adherence to the actual law would be a beautiful thing).

    The resulting lawsuit would have a better chance, but probably not in time for it to be relevant to the Trump administration.

  111. Jax says:

    @DrDaveT: State was forced to release more last night than they released for impeachment.
    https://www.thedailybeast.com/trumps-gatekeeper-put-rudy-in-touch-with-pompeo-emails

    I remain convinced that Pelosi played this the right way. She’s gonna force Chief Justice John Roberts to decide on the Senate trial, and then we’ll know for whom the bell tolls.

  112. Jax says:

    We have a republic….if we can keep it.

  113. Jax says:

    Just for posterity, we should play some Metallica right here, For Whom the Bell Tolls.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeqGuaAl6Ic

  114. de stijl says:

    @JohnSF:

    I could only give you one thumbs up. You deserve a thousand.

  115. DrDaveT says:

    @Jax:

    State was forced to release more last night than they released for impeachment.

    Do you know when that FOIA request was originally filed? I’m curious what the leadtime was… and also if the process benefited from mostly happening before Trump’s people were in place and aware of the process.

  116. andros says:

    Jeez, the zeal and industry you guys devote to trying to bury ol’ andros under tons of “talking points.”

    My favorite threads on Democratic Underground are the ones where, in fits of moral indignation, posters preen themselves on having severed all ties with family members (even children!) because of politics. Some acrimonious Thanksgivings on the horizon.

  117. Kurtz says:

    @andros:

    You do understand that what goes on at Democratic Underground is not going on here, right? You have brought it up a few times now, and it is wholly irrelevant. And you have the gall to accuse others of non sequitur.

    Uh, and those ain’t talking points, guy. You offer speculation. Everyone else offers facts. Your speculation is based on feverish spin by a guy who lies (verified, repeatedly) multiple times a day.

    You’re a rube. You’re a mark. You’re a p-zombie. You’re radicalized. Your inability to think independently puts the rest of us in danger. Your depth of delusion is astounding.

    As for your unhinged, paranoid immigration rant earlier:

    Your guy said that our country is full. The funny thing is that our government doesn’t do shit for citizens and residents comparative to other Western nations.

    You want to limit immigration, fine. But it certainly isn’t valid to do it because of government spending on socioeconomic services, because we don’t fucking do that.

  118. DrDaveT says:

    @andros:

    trying to bury ol’ andros under tons of “talking points.”

    If everyone you meet tells you that the sun rises in the east, it’s not because it’s a “talking point”, disseminated from central propaganda source. They’ve mostly figured it out for themselves.

  119. andros says:

    @Kurtz:
    Croaking hatred of the time-honored values of Middle America, like a knot of venomous toads, is going to get you 5 more years of Trump.

  120. DrDaveT says:

    @andros:

    Croaking hatred of the time-honored values of Middle America […]

    I would be fascinated to learn which of the things criticized in this thread you consider to be “the time-honored values of Middle America”. Be specific, for once. My more-American-than-you midwestern family is dying to know.

    ETA: If you didn’t want to invite that question, you could have just said “Squirrel!”. Rhetorically, it’s the same thing.

  121. Kurtz says:

    @andros:

    First, your response shows that you cannot actually answer anything that I said. You would have to connect any part of my post as being contrary to the values of the middle of the country.

    Second, that values assertion you make is a talking point–a vague statement that is thinner than Rutherford’s foil.

    Can you list these values? Can you substantiate that a.) those values are at odds with being anything in any of my posts or any part of either faction within the democratic party; and b.) that those values are somehow upheld by a President who breaks the rules for his own benefit?

    Or specifically how immigration is at odds with those values in a country founded and populated over time by waves of migrants who came here for economic and/or social reasons.

    That is the only way to make your value claim anything more than an oft repeated soundbite. Because as it stands they are values youve been told you hold rather than values you have considered and adopted on your own.

    By the way, a WH review of documents was reported on by WaPo tonight. I haven’t read the article beyond the preview. But what I saw sl far was that the legality of Trump’s actions toward Ukraine was debated after the phone call, and that they tried to find a post hoc justification.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/white-house-review-turns-up-emails-showing-extensive-effort-to-justify-trumps-decision-to-block-ukraine-military-aid/2019/11/24/2121cf98-0d57-11ea-bd9d-c628fd48b3a0_story.html?outputType=amp

    I stand by my assessment of you in my previous post. If your posting here is purely for entertainmenf purposes, you are a truly committed masochist.

  122. mattbernius says:

    Croaking hatred of the time-honored values of Middle America

    I am genuinely curious about what those specific values are, and why they are so specifically unique to Middle America.