Proof Of A Quid Pro Quo On Ukraine Is Coming From Inside The White House

The proof of a quid pro quo is coming from inside the President's own Administration.

A top aide at the White House who until recently worked at the National Security Council has confirmed the existence of a quid pro quo between military aid and better relations between the United States and President Trump’s demand that the nation investigate President Trump’s political enemies:

A White House adviser on Thursday corroborated key impeachment testimony from a senior U.S. diplomat who said last week he was alarmed by efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate President Trump’s political rivals in exchange for nearly $400 million in military aid.

Tim Morrison, the top Russia and Europe adviser on President Trump’s National Security Council, told House investigators over eight hours of closed-door testimony that the “substance” of his conversations recalled by William B. Taylor Jr., the acting ambassador to Ukraine, was “accurate,” according to his prepared remarks and people familiar with Morrison’s testimony.

In particular, Morrison verified that Trump’s envoy to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, conveyed to a Ukrainian official that the military aid would be released if the country investigated an energy firm linked to the son of former vice president Joe Biden. Morrison, who announced his resignation the night before his testimony, said he did not necessarily view the president’s demands as improper or illegal, but rather problematic for U.S. policy in supporting an ally in the region.

His testimony is significant given his proximity to decision-making in the White House and his status as a Trump political appointee rather than one of several career officials who in recent weeks have offered critical testimonies of Trump’s Ukraine policy. Democrats hope Morrison’s testimony will take away an often-cited Republican complaint that many of the accounts from U.S. officials describing a quid pro quo are secondhand.

(…)
Morrison corroborated that he spoke with Taylor at least twice in early September. The first conversation was to alert him that Sondland had told the Ukrainians that no U.S. aid would be forthcoming until they announced an investigation of Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company that had hired Biden’s son Hunter, a person familiar with Morrison’s testimony said.

Morrison also told lawmakers that he spoke with Taylor again on Sept. 7 to share his “sinking feeling” about a worrisome conversation between Trump and Sondland, this person said. Morrison said that, during that conversation, Trump said he was not seeking a “quid pro quo” but then went on to insist that Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky must publicly announce he was opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference. Trump has espoused a debunked theory that the campaign to undermine American democracy was carried out in Ukraine and not Russia, as the U.S. intelligence agencies unanimously concluded.
Robert Luskin, an attorney for Sondland, said that Sondland never mentioned Biden by name and did not know that Burisma was linked to the vice president’s son.

Despite confirming Taylor’s account about the pressure Trump’s associates placed on Ukraine, Morrison did not come off during his closed-door testimony as outraged or particularly troubled by the effort, said people familiar with his deposition.

Yet Morrison twice reached out to the National Security Council’s attorneys with apparent concerns about Trump’s conversations pertaining to Ukraine policy, according to various witness’ testimony. People familiar with his deposition said that Morrison reported the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky — as another White House official, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, had done. In September, Morrison also alerted NSC lawyers about a separate conversation between Trump and Sondland, according to Taylor’s testimony to Congress.

Morrison told lawmakers he notified the lawyers because he had specific concerns that a rough transcript of Trump’s call with Zelensky could be leaked. Its disclosure could prove problematic in politically polarized Washington, he said, adding that he was worried, too, it could affect bipartisan support for Ukraine in Congress, and that it could affect how Ukraine perceived its relationship with the United States.
He said the rough transcript “accurately and completely reflects the substance of the call,” which some Democratic lawmakers have challenged in recent days.

Morrison told investigators he learned “that the White House was holding up the security sector assistance passed by Congress” from former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman, who directed him to design a policy to show the U.S. government still supported giving military aid to Ukraine. Morrison said he was “confident” that the cadre of high-ranking national security officials “could convince President Trump to release the aid” because Zelensky and the Ukrainian legislature “were genuinely invested in their anti-corruption agenda.”

He added, however, that he had “no reason to believe” the Ukrainians knew U.S. aid was being withheld until Aug. 28, and that he did not suspect a possible quid pro quo surrounding the aid until Sondland told him as much on Sept. 1 — information he relayed to Taylor later that day.

Morrison’s testimony differs from Taylor’s slightly on the details of what the arrangement entailed. Morrison recalled Sondland having told a senior Ukrainian official that the United States would be satisfied if Ukraine’s prosecutor-general would publicly commit to conducting the investigations Trump desired. Taylor’s account said Ukraine’s president would need to be the one who committed to the probes.

Morrison has been on the job for about 15 months, having joined the National Security Council during Bolton’s tenure as national security adviser. In a statement on Wednesday, a senior U.S. official said Morrison “decided to pursue other opportunities — and has been considering doing so for some time.”

Morrison has been brief with lawmakers about why he is leaving the White House and appears uncomfortable answering those questions, said people familiar with his testimony.

You can read the full text of Morrison’s Opening Statement at the link.

As I’ve said before, the relevant law that makes it illegal for campaigns or candidates to solicit or accept donations of cash or “things of value” from foreign citizens, officials, or governments, which can be found at 50 U.S.C. 30121, does not require that there be a quid pro quo accompanying the exchange. All that is required that there be a solicitation (or donation) and that the solicitation or donation involves money or some “thing of value” to the campaign. While Trump, and his surrogate Rudy Giuliani, who has spent much of the past year traveling to Ukraine, did not necessarily receive anything from Ukraine there can be no question that they were soliciting the newly installed President of Ukraine to give something of value to the President’s campaign, namely damaging information about the man who at the moment appears to be the President’s most formidable adversary.

Of course, even though there is no legal requirement for a quid pro quo to establish that the President broke the law there are tremendous political advantages in being able to do so as it relates to the ongoing impeachment investigation. Mainly this is because the existence of a direct relationship between what the Ukrainians needed, and the case of a Trump-Zelensky summit wanted, and cooperation on the investigations makes it much easier to explain the matter to the public. Finally, the mounting proof of a quid pro quo undercuts what has been the main defense of President Trump and his Republican acolytes, who are increasingly running out of things that they can legitimately object to in connection with the ongoing impeachment investigation.

The fact that there is mounting evidence that the President specifically linked military aid and diplomatic progress between the two countries to Ukraine investigating his political rivals is far more damning for impeachment purposes than the mere solicitation for such information. This damaging information includes two items. First, there is the investigation of both Joe and Hunter Biden regarding the circumstances under which Hunter received a high paying job with a Ukrainian gas company. Second, there’s the bizarre conspiracy theory that its own previous President and his government were somehow the ones behind the foreign interference in the 2016 election rather than Russia, which is the conclusion that the Mueller investigation and all of the President’s own intelligence chiefs have reached.

What makes it worse for the President is the fact that confirmation of the existence of a quid pro quo is coming from inside the Administration:

At the end of the day, the specific question of “quid pro quo” doesn’t matter much in the question of impeaching President Trump. Impeachment is politics, loosely predicated on wrongdoing. If Congress determines that an action is impeachable, it’s impeachable.

That said, the impeachment inquiry targeting Trump is specifically focused on his interactions with Ukraine and, secondarily, whether he withheld aid or a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to force Zelensky to announce new investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election or into former vice president Joe Biden.

Trump’s obvious and open requests that Zelensky open those investigations, requests documented in the rough transcript released by the White House last month, are by themselves questionable. It’s illegal to solicit foreign assistance for a political campaign, and Trump’s insistence that he wanted a probe of Biden because he’s worried about corruption in Ukraine and not because he wants to damage a possible 2020 opponent has not been universally accepted as believable. That Trump may have leveraged congressionally approved aid or the power of his position to get an announcement of investigations that would be politically useful is another thing entirely.

Philip Bump, the author of the article quoted immediately above, goes on to recite in detail too lengthy to be fairly quoted the extent to which witnesses comprised of current and former White House officials who have provided corroboration for the existence of the same quid pro quo that the President and his supporters have been denying. So far, we’ve only heard summaries of what these people have testified to. In a few weeks, we will start to hear from them publicly, and that will only make it harder for the White House, Republicans on Capitol Hill, and the pro-Trump conservative media, to deny what happened.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Donald Trump, Impeachment, Law and the Courts, Politicians, 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. Jon says:

    … that will only make it harder for the White House, Republicans on Capitol Hill, and the pro-Trump conservative media, to deny what happened.

    Man I wish I believed that. I’m just not sure there is any correlation between the strength of evidence *against* Trump and the ease with which his supporters deny that evidence. As Steve M. points out, they’ll continue lying even while their lies are being debunked, while they are in the midst of lying.

    ReplyReply
    13
    1
  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    It won’t have any impact on the majority of Trump supporters. They know he’s a criminal. They know he’s a traitor. I predicted years ago that in the end they would openly support treason. They’re bad people.

    ReplyReply
    16
    1
  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    It certainly is making difficult for Republican senators, who are becoming increasingly quiet about Tiny.

    ReplyReply
    3
    1
  4. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    I doubt more than three GOP Senators will pay even passing attention to the evidence or the law. They don’t care about the law, they don’t care about the constitution, they don’t care about the United States or Jesus Christ or anything but keeping their titles. That’s it. That’s as far as their sad, sick little minds will go. If it means keeping their jobs they would happily cut the throats of children on the Capitol steps.

    And if you think that’s hyperbole, scroll back three years to all the things you thought were just wild hyperbole three years ago that have each been shown to be factual.

    Let’s be clear. The United States was attacked by Russia, and Republicans welcomed that attack. Pearl Harbor 2.0, 911 2.0, was welcomed by Republicans. This isn’t just a treasonous president, it’s a treasonous party.

    ReplyReply
    16
    1
  5. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Not all of them, Michael. A substantial number of them persist in claiming that Trump is the smartest, most honest and ethical, and most patriotic, America-loving president we’ve ever had. Some genuinely believe that; certainly practically all the idiots who congregate at The Consevative Treehouse, Gateway Pundit, and Lucianne.com do. Some others may be desperately trying to convince themselves.

    You remember how the Palinistas adored Sarah Palin? She was their Christian goddess warrior who’d gallop down from the north astride her white charger and rescue them from perfidy.

    Trump worship is like that. Only much, much worse.

    ReplyReply
  6. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Being quiet and moving toward convicting Tiny are two different things and there is no evidence of the second. My point is that they have stopped defending him.

    They will go through the motions of a trial, putting on a concerned front that it is a serious investigation, then vote to acquit and hope that the fallout blows over quickly.

    Following the senate trial the only ones talking about it will be Trump and the Dems.

    ReplyReply
  7. KM says:

    What I want to know is where this sudden right-wing notion that “if Trump is impeached and removed, he’s still eligible to run and be President again” came from.

    Article I, Section 3, Clause 7
    Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor

    That seems pretty clear and is consistent with the logic of the Founders / textualism. In other words, what’s the point of removing someone from a position of power for their crimes if they’re just going to go right back to work shortly? A successful impeachment’s whole point was this Executive was a serious problem that needed to be removed from Office and thus this drastic step was taken. Quite a few safeguards were built in to prevent misuse and that it was the clear will of Congress and thus their constituents. *WHY* would the Founders allow such a person to come back??

    Trump’s lying. He’s lying about lying and doing it so badly the only defense some of his supporters have is he’s too dumb to be able to do crimin’ successfully. He’s the one providing evidence against himself. This is *not* the President people are going to test this clause out on – there’s no way the GOP lets him run on their platform again if he’s removed.

    ReplyReply
  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    @CSK:
    I don’t give two cents for what people say they believe. Their true beliefs are evidenced by their actions. A man can easily claim to believe he’s going to heaven, but if he bankrupts his family to cling to another week of pain from terminal cancer, I call bullshit.

    If they thought Trump was innocent they’d be demanding he cooperate with investigations because they’d be confident his innocence would be proven. But that’s not what they do, they participate actively in obstruction of justice, and there’s really only one explanation for that: they know he’s guilty. Everything else they say is bullshit. They know he’s guilty, they know he’s a traitor, they lie about it, but they know. Their actions make it perfectly clear.

    ReplyReply
  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    In particular, Morrison verified that Trump’s envoy to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, conveyed to a Ukrainian official that the military aid would be released if the country investigated an energy firm linked to the son of former vice president Joe Biden.

    So now we know the name of the first person being thrown under the bus. I wonder how loudly he’ll squeal.

    Morrison, who announced his resignation the night before his testimony, said he did not necessarily view the president’s demands as improper or illegal, but rather problematic for U.S. policy in supporting an ally in the region.

    Opinions may differ!

    ReplyReply
  10. andros says:

    But sometimes there is no conflict between private interest and public interest. The media, when defending Joe, tells us that Burisma was notoriously corrupt. Does this not put Hunter in the position of serving a “notoriously corrupt” master? No, when defending Hunter, in a curious twist of doublethink, the media avers that no impropriety in the part of Burisma can be detected. Then we have the awkward circumstance that Joe had no problem with the replacement prosecutor, who seems to have taken no action against Burisma. The public interest requires a thorough investigation of this matter, even if suasion must be brought to bear on those who are not eager to share what they know.

    ReplyReply
    1
    14
  11. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Ah, but they claim that the impeachment process is, at least in this case, illegal. So they see themselves and Trump as fighting back against the forces of evil.

    In their view, the Democrats and the Republicans are wresting power from the people. Trump, the people’s champion, is trying to wrest it back.

    ReplyReply
  12. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Trump admitted doing it.
    Mulveny admitted it.
    The memo the WH issued confirmed it.
    The facts of the case are not in dispute.
    The only question is if Republicans care about the Constitution and this Country, or they care about Donald Trump.
    That’s all this is about at this point.

    ReplyReply
    12
  13. Steve V says:

    This notion that Trump just wanted to go after corruption reminds me of Trump’s efforts to spin the June 9, Trump Tower meeting as being just about “adoption.” These are “dog ate my homework”-level cover stories that are being pushed by some of the supposedly most sophisticated political messaging people in the world. If they weren’t being propped up 24/7 by the conservative media complex this would have been over with a long time ago.

    Btw no one has pointed out that Trump’s little game with Ukraine was a specific threat to deny them protection from … Russia. What a coincidence, as Glenn Beck would say.

    Also btw, I constantly have in the back of my mind that The Mueller report mentions a so-called “Ukrainian peace plan” being pushed by Paul Manafort, if I recall, after the election. Does anyone else wonder what this “peace plan” was, and whether the label “peace plan” is just another cover story like “fighting corruption” and “adoptions”?

    ReplyReply
  14. mattbernius says:

    Again, this is why the primary avenue of attack is to go after the process.

    The problem is that Republicans are ultimately going to have to go “Full Mulvaney” — “Yes this did happen and either (a) there is nothing wrong with it or (b) it doesn’t rise to an impeachable offense.”

    Unfortunately for them, when Mulvaney floated the (A) option, it sank. And right now, they’re largely afraid of (B) because it requires criticizing an exceptionally thin-skinned bully of a party leader who they know will attack them.

    ReplyReply
  15. Kathy says:

    @Steve V:

    These are “dog ate my homework”-level cover stories that are being pushed by some of the supposedly most sophisticated political messaging people in the world.

    Yup.

    If I were, gods forbid, a deep red Republican partisan, I’d still be furious at the level of idiocy, stupidity, ignorance, and incompetence displayed by the deep orange Cheeto.

    See, if I wanted Biden to be investigated for corruption, the last, the very last thing I’d ever do is utter the name “Biden” to the people I want to investigate him for corruption. That blows away any deniability that you manipulated foreign policy for personal political reasons.

    No, what you do is talk about corruption, especially that involving foreigners, perhaps even some Americans. Then you can make the quid pro quo in the open, warning Zelensky the aid is held up until they get serious about such investigations. On the side, meantime, using State Department diplomats, NOT your personal lawyer, you make it very clear, and very secret, that you expect them to mention Biden when they announce their investigation. And there’d better not be any leaks, nor any suggestion that they are acting on your behalf.

    This is all fraught with risk, of course, as are all criminal enterprises. But at least you’ve taken precautions, you’ve made the request in a roundabout fashion, you personally never suggested Biden be investigated in particular, and your denials if/when the thing blows up will be convincing to people who don’t like you.

    Consider the Iran-Contra scandal. here we have a US administration, not an incompetent one BTW, circumventing Congress (a high crime if there ever was one), rewarding hostage-taking state-sponsored terrorists and their sponsors, and usurping other Congressional powers such as disbursing state moneys.

    Sure, people went, temporarily, to prison for their roles in this affair. But Reagan, who surely approved it and was aware of at least some of the details, not only wasn’t impeached, but left office with a rather high approval rating.

    There are two differences here: 1) Reagan, for all his many faults, wasn’t acting for personal political gain, but rather to achieve foreign policy objectives in Central America, and 2) Reagan wasn’t a f***ng moron.

    ReplyReply
  16. Michael Reynolds says:

    @mattbernius:
    If a dozen GOP Senators stood united it would be the end of the bully’s power. How does Trump bully 10 or 12 Senators when primarying them would risk losing incumbent advantage and endanger Republican control? Even #MoscowMitch wouldn’t stand for it. The Senate has all the power it needs, what it lacks is courage.

    ReplyReply
  17. mattbernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Completely agree. Again, I suspect the politics of this could have been really different if McCain was still alive.

    All that said, when all this is said and done and people write the “tell alls” I wonder how much of this comes down to Congressional Republicans wanting/believing its better for Trump to be voted out (versus impeachment) versus actually thinking Trump didn’t do anything wrong.

    ReplyReply
  18. CSK says:

    On a somewhat related note, Rep. David Cicillini (D-R.I.) received a threatening voice mail about impeaching Trump this week. He posted it on his Twitter account. It’s really vile, calling Cicillini “a punk-ass bitch” (among other things) and asking him if he wants to start a civil war.

    ReplyReply
  19. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @mattbernius:

    Again, I suspect the politics of this could have been really different if McCain was still alive.

    Imagine poor Lindsey if McCain were still alive?

    ReplyReply
  20. gVOR08 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Let’s be clear. The United States was attacked by Russia, and Republicans welcomed that attack.

    That Trump did nothing about it, or to prevent future attacks, should be an article of impeachment.

    ReplyReply
  21. just nutha says:

    I don’t get to hear what is being said as I don’t wear earbuds in the gym, but based on what I see on the screen footers and closed captioning, it seems as though Trump’s minions are following the basic rule/practice:
    1) argue the facts
    2) if you can’t argue the facts, argue the law
    3) if you can’t argue either, then shout and gesticulate as wildly as possible.

    Alas, if they only had a step four to go to…

    ReplyReply
  22. just nutha says:

    @KM: The text is ambiguous (well, duh…) in that “no further than” carries the implication that the named items are at the far end of a range of choices where as “shall” requires an action. The Republicans and MAGAots are asserting that an action may be required but removal and disqualification are not mandated. YMMV.

    ReplyReply
  23. just nutha says:

    @Michael Reynolds: On the one hand, participating in the investigation does not have to go along with being innocent. There is the YouTube video about why not to ever talk to the police as an example.

    On the other hand, it’s also valid to note that the reason the truth don’t “set you free” is because you ain’t got no freedom comin’.

    ReplyReply
  24. Gustopher says:

    @KM:

    Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor

    This clearly sets a limit to the punishment, not a mandatory punishment.

    Also, a textualist might say that so long as Trump is perpetually miserable, he can run again, as he would then hold, but not enjoy, the office.

    Other questions:

    does thirty lashes in public extend further than removal from office? Removal and thirty lashes clearly would.

    Why do MAGA enthusiasts believe Trump could win an election if he was impeached and removed from office?

    ReplyReply
  25. Gustopher says:

    @Steve V:

    Also btw, I constantly have in the back of my mind that The Mueller report mentions a so-called “Ukrainian peace plan” being pushed by Paul Manafort, if I recall, after the election. Does anyone else wonder what this “peace plan” was, and whether the label “peace plan” is just another cover story like “fighting corruption” and “adoptions”?

    Ukraine would give up Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, in exchange for nothing, and then the US would drop sanctions.

    Really.

    Similarities to the Turkish-Kurdish Ceasefire are just a coincidence.

    ReplyReply
  26. just nutha says:

    @Michael Reynolds: The GOP Senate caucus doesn’t merely lack the courage to act, they also don’t have any particular reasons to act beyond their objection to Trump as boorish and thuggy. As you noted on another (IIRC) thread, Trump is the exemplar of what the GOP and conservatism at large represents. He gives them what they want without exposing them to the motives and consequences of their desires. Even a friend of mine from teaching who is now a GOP county councilperson notes “but I’m not like Trump” as he says the same sort of sh!t, only with more gentility.

    ReplyReply
  27. Kathy says:

    @just nutha:

    On the one hand, participating in the investigation does not have to go along with being innocent. There is the YouTube video about why not to ever talk to the police as an example.

    You should never talk to the cops without a lawyer present, true. But this doesn’t mean you can keep everyone else who knows you, or knows what you did, from talking to the police.

    But the situation isn’t exactly alike.

    For one thing, the cops don’t usually consist of opposing parties, one of which favors the suspect. But in the first place, the reason not to talk to the cops without a lawyer if you’re a suspect, is that they are very good at tricking suspects into admissions or other forms of self-incrimination.

    Testimony from an NSC staffer counts, but it requires confirmation, be it with corroborative testimony or physical evidence. Testimony from the suspect including an admission, is taken as valid, probative, and true.

    A lawyer can impeach testimony from witnesses, and question the meaning or validity of evidence. But short of coercion, they can’t impeach an admission, or a confession, from their client.

    The suspect not talking to the cops is understandable, and not indicative of anything. The suspect not allowing anyone to talk to the cops, is not understandable, and does indicate that something is being hidden or concealed, especially if you also don’t allow any evidence to be seen.

    ReplyReply
  28. de stijl says:

    No one has pegged to the obvious “It’s coming from inside the house!” horror movie trope.

    ReplyReply
  29. Jax says:

    Well, if Trump’s going to read the transcript of the Ukraine call in a “Fireside Chat”….somebody should slip the unedited version in there. He probably wouldn’t even know the difference.

    ReplyReply
  30. DrDaveT says:

    @just nutha:

    Alas, if they only had a step four to go to…

    Step 4 is the Chewbacca Defense. “If a Wookie lives on Endor, you must acquit!”. The GOP has been all in on that tactic for years now.

    I recently heard an actual lawyer recount an actual case of an attorney interrupting a cross-examination that was about to fluster his client by shouting “Objection! ‘Defenestration’ is not a verb!”. This stunned the court for a moment, and when the judge asked counsel to expand, he said “Never mind, objection withdrawn.” By which time the client had regained her composure and was able to answer the question with a straight face.

    ReplyReply
  31. de stijl says:

    Graham needs a mentor. He wobbles like a weeble absent a master. Beta – true born. His compass lost true north.

    ReplyReply
  32. andros says:

    The problem with all this sound and fury is that Hunter’s exercise in self-enrichment strikes many as not only unseemly but intolerable. And we’ve only begun to peel the onion on his Bohai adventure. Does he deny that he and a partner retain a 10 per cent stake in some related private equity fund? How long do you think you you can keep Joe in what Axlerod calls a “candidate protection program”?

    ReplyReply
  33. Jax says:

    @andros: Yeah. If that strikes you as intolerable, we ought to maybe investigate what those Trump kids are doing.

    ReplyReply
  34. de stijl says:

    @andros:

    Even granting that Hunter and / or Joe Biden did something illegal, it would in no way excuse Trump’s actions. The federal election law here is really clear.

    Any Biden misbehavior is not a get-out-of-jail-free card.

    ReplyReply
  35. andros says:

    @de stijl:
    But in the Court of Public Opinion, the edicts of which are final and unappealable, the claim that Biden’s candidacy makes him immune to investigation isn’t going to fly. As I have argued above, a thorough investigation of this matter serves not only Trump’s personal interest, but the public interest.

    ReplyReply
  36. de stijl says:

    @andros:

    I would welcome a fair and thorough Congressional investigation of Hunter and Joe Biden’s actions. If they did something wrong or illegal, it is our national best intetest to know that and react appropriately. Unearned nepotistic benefits are stupid.

    As well as other Congressional investigations of other, you know, *actual* crimes. That happened on US soil. On camera. By the President.

    You do realize that if Hunter Biden did a bad, punishable thing it does not in any way excuse or obviate Trump’s actions, yes?

    Most of the time, the House spins its wheels on meaningless busy work anyway, so why not. Bring it, I say.

    We had 34 pointless investigations into Benghazi, so why the hell not.

    Here is the difference between us: I want all officials to be held responsible for illegal activities.

    ReplyReply
  37. andros says:

    @de stijl:
    You speak of falsehoods after your confreres have viciously slandered Trump as a Russian agent.

    There has been a tacit conspiracy here, on the part of the media, to stamp out any discussion of Joe and Hunter’s activities in Ukraine and China. Why do they refuse to discuss the particulars of these seemingly dubious activities? You know full well that this business can’t survive the light of day.

    I am hardly a Trump “cultist,” but I know of no crimes he has committed.

    ReplyReply
  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @andros: Neither do I, in the sense of personal knowledge of fact. I “only know what I read in the papers.” Still, the absence of knowledge on either your or my part does not make for an argument against investigating; it makes an argument for. On, as de stijl notes, all open questions.

    ReplyReply
  39. andros says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Do you deny that what we do know supports a reasonable inference that an investigation into the Bidens’ activities abroad would be in the public interest?

    Joe is now gut-shot. That leaves you with the illustrious contributor to Pow Wow Chow.

    ReplyReply
  40. de stijl says:

    @andros:

    What falsehoods have I spoken? Please tell me where, and I promise to respond factually.

    I am not fooling. Let’s investigate Hunter Biden. Let’s investigate Joe Biden. Let’s fully and properly investigate everyone involved in the Ukraine pay for play scheme. All of the dirty secrets.

    We should flush this whole thing out. See what comes out. Punish the wrong-doers. All of them. To the full extent of the law.

    ReplyReply
  41. de stijl says:

    @andros:

    No one here on this thread has advanced an argument stating or implying Trump is, in fact, an asset of Putin.

    That you accuse us of that is meaningful and telling. You expected it. Why?

    ReplyReply
  42. de stijl says:

    @Kathy:

    No President or appointed official can withhold properly authorized funds.

    Seperation of powers thing.

    (My autocorrect wanted to make “seperation” into “desperation” which is hilarious.)

    ReplyReply
  43. andros says:

    @de stijl:
    My apologies for the “falsehoods” comment. My memory failed me. But I accused not you, but your “confreres,” of charging Trump with being a Russian agent. That term is broader than the participants in this thread. But if I here fell into error, my apologies.

    ReplyReply
  44. Michael Reynolds says:

    @andros:
    He is a Russian asset. To what degree he’s aware that’s what he is, we can differ. But he is the best president Russia has ever had. He’s done wonders for Russia – attacking NATO, backing Brexit, running from Syria and stabbing the Kurds in the back on the way out, being made to look like a clown by Kim Jong Un, attacking the CIA and FBI, starting a trade war with China, tried to get rid of sanctions, tried to get Russia into the G7, cutting off effective arms to Ukraine. Did you know that he specified the anti-tank weapons we grudgingly gave Ukraine could not be used against Russia? The only reason for the missiles in the first place?

    The power and prestige of the United States have never in modern history taken the plunge they have under this baboon. He could not possibly have done more for Russia. Of course he’s a Russian asset. Bought or blackmailed, he is Putin’s little butt boy.

    ReplyReply
  45. andros says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    It’s geniuses like you who thought it a bright idea to force the Black Sea Fleet out of the Crimea (Russia’s only warm-water port) by threatening to bring Ukraine into NATO. That would be the Crimea annexed by Catherine the Great in 1783, where a certain Lt. Tolstoy manned an artillery placement in the Crimean War. (He may even have got off a round or two at the Light Brigade.) The Crimea where the Russians suffered over a million casualties driving out the Nazis.

    We taunted the Bear when he was ailing. His response was predictable. Sometimes the better part of diplomacy is to accept the inevitable. The Russians will never again risk losing control of Crimea and the approaches thereto. (All of which seems fine to the residents of the area.) Egging on the Ukrainians to do battle with Russia over the Crimea is idiocy.

    ReplyReply
  46. de stijl says:

    All of these shenanigans over a guy who will not be the nominee.

    Trump and his shallow state minions targeted the wrong guy. Ineptly.

    Mayor Rudy Can’t Fail hired the Ukrainian version of Skinny Pete and Badger to manufacture and solicit dirt.

    Rudy Come From Jamaica and Paul Manafort can be yard buddies. Trading ciggies for favors. A poster of Rita Hayworth, perhaps. Soapstone and alabaster to carve a chess set.

    ReplyReply
  47. de stijl says:

    Since Rudy aka Natty Dread is Trump’s pro bono personal attorney, where exactly is the money coming from?

    Enterprising journalists and dedicated FBI professionals are certainly investigating that right now.

    These idiots make G. Gordon Liddy look like Machiavelli.

    This is a real-life version of Burn After Reading.

    ReplyReply
  48. DrDaveT says:

    @andros:

    I am hardly a Trump “cultist,” but I know of no crimes he has committed.

    You mean, apart from the ones he has confessed to on television? Or the ones he has committed on television? Or the ones involving trying to obstruct investigation into those?

    Or do you mean that if you close your eyes and stick your fingers in your ears and shout “La la la” loud enough, you can manage to avoid knowing of the crimes he has openly committed?

    ReplyReply
  49. andros says:

    What I see here is what Thucidides described as “phthonos,” a spirit of seething, rancorous, logic-free hatred of “the rich.” You guys so glory in moral outrage that you imagine crimes where none exist.

    I’ll make a clean breast of it: I don’t believe we hold the “American dream” in trust for the world’s impoverished minorities. I believe Michael Brown got what he had coming. And I have yet to see an intelligible refutation of the thought that making the US the the most attractive place to invest will result in greater investment, spurring economic growth, and reversing the transfer of jobs overseas.

    ReplyReply
  50. DrDaveT says:

    @andros:

    What I see here is what Thucidides described as “phthonos,” a spirit of seething, rancorous, logic-free hatred of “the rich.”

    Then you are remarkably unperceptive. No, really.

    (I mean, after all, we hate Trump too. [rim shot])

    I don’t believe we hold the “American dream” in trust for the world’s impoverished minorities.

    So all of this American affluence is an illusion? It’s not really possible for a nation of poor immigrant farmers and shopkeepers to create wealth and gain international power? Is that what you’re claiming? It seems an odd claim for someone who immediately goes on to say:

    I have yet to see an intelligible refutation of the thought that making the US the the most attractive place to invest will result in greater investment, spurring economic growth, and reversing the transfer of jobs overseas.

    Then you haven’t been paying attention. In particular:
    1. Greater investment doesn’t help if it just sits in the pockets of the owners, which is what you seem to prefer.
    2. Nothing is going to reverse the transfer of jobs overseas (or, more relevantly, the transfer of jobs from humans to machines) until local labor is no more expensive than offshoring and automation. You could probably bring the American standard of living down to that level with enough protectionist tariffs and wealth disparity and sabotage of education, but that no longer counts as a win — and it abandons your goal of making the US a place people want to invest their money. (Of course, an influx of poor immigrants would provide that cheap labor, but you don’t seem to like that option. I suspect that the word ‘minority’ was the key tell in your sentence.)
    3. Economic growth is useless if only a few people benefit from it. “Trickle-down” was a bad theory; now it’s a proven lie. If you want America to be the place where people want to invest, you need to reinvigorate the upward mobility of the working and middle classes — which is exactly the opposite of what the GOP wants (and is getting).

    ReplyReply
  51. DrDaveT says:

    @andros:

    You guys so glory in moral outrage that you imagine crimes where none exist.

    The President of the United States delayed the delivery of weapon systems needed to counter Russian aggression against Ukraine in order to extort a promise from the Ukrainian government that they would publicly announce an investigation into an already-discredited conspiracy theory involving the opposition party and, in particular, the son of one of the President’s potential opponents in the upcoming election.

    All of these facts have been verified by multiple independent sources. The act is clearly a violation of federal election law. The President himself has released a summary of a conversation in which he personally committed this crime, and his Chief of Staff has not only confirmed the substance of the act but has said that he doesn’t see anything wrong with it. This act hurt US credibility and US relations with allied nations, and helped Russia.

    That’s one. We could waste a lot of time working down the list of other crimes, ending with violation of 18 USC 2074, of all things.

    You can continue to support your lying criminal racist incompetent champion, but you cannot credibly claim to be someone who reads Thucidides but has somehow missed the fact that he’s a liar, a criminal, a racist, and an incompetent President. (Unless you want to entertain the theory that he’s actually a Russian asset, in which case he’s doing a fantastic job and I take back the ‘incompetent’ part.)

    ReplyReply
  52. andros says:

    @DrDaveT:
    Actually, I “did” Thucidides in the original, along with Herodotus, the tragedians, Aristotle, Homer, et. al. My youth was misspent in the Groves of Academe.

    What do you suppose the Ukrainians make of this arrangement whereby Hunter was paid millions by Burisma? How could they not see the appearance of corruption? This sordid affair is a stain on our image. It is intolerable. It demands thorough investigation. Trump should have told Zelensky he would cut him off without a dime unless he committed to investigating this matter. That an investigation would damage a political rival is of no consequence whatsoever. Biden is not above the law.

    ReplyReply
  53. andros says:

    @DrDaveT:
    You glory in seeing these hordes pour across our border, don’t you? Because you see them as future Democratic voters.

    Economics is obviously not your long suit. Corporate America seeks to grow. It doesn’t get more basic than that. Growth, and jobs, result from investment. Investment flows to the potential for profit. That is why we need to make the US the best place to invest.

    Krugman argues that increased profits don’t increase demand, which he sees as essential to growth. This is myopic. There is a vast ocean of demand out there being satisfied by our foreign competitors. Trump aims to increase our share of that market, floating all boats.

    ReplyReply
  54. DrDaveT says:

    @andros:

    You glory in seeing these hordes pour across our border, don’t you? Because you see them as future Democratic voters.

    “Hordes”??? Seriously, you went there?

    What fraction of our population are we talking about here? Go ahead, take a guess…

    I welcome these people partly because I see them as people, and partly because they (in aggregate) make America stronger, more competent, more able to grow in the ways you claim to want. They always have, even when faced with people like you who hate and fear their brownness, or Irishness, or Catholicism, or Jewishness, or whatever.

    Corporate America seeks to grow. It doesn’t get more basic than that. Growth, and jobs, result from investment. Investment flows to the potential for profit. That is why we need to make the US the best place to invest.

    Why do you think keeping out the brown people has anything to do with that, even if it were true? (The relationship between jobs and people buying stocks is not what you think it is.) If you really understood growth, you would not think that economics is a zero-sum game.

    ReplyReply
  55. DrDaveT says:

    @andros:

    What do you suppose the Ukrainians make of this arrangement whereby Hunter was paid millions by Burisma?

    Probably pretty much the same thing they make of any business deal involving Trump’s kids, or kid-in-law. Or any other child of inherited privilege.

    Why do you think any of this is relevant to Trump’s crime? If he was really desperate for justice against corruption (excuse me while I cough my lungs out), there are perfectly good channels through the Department of Justice and Department of State to pursue nonpartisan, objective policies against corruption.

    ReplyReply
  56. andros says:

    @DrDaveT:
    Sure, let’s just let millions of the hopelessly unemployable (many of whom can’t utter a word of English) waltz across the border and disappear into the interior, there to agitate about being oppressed. And who will fund their multitudinous needs?

    Comprehensive Immigration Reform: “We’ll discuss border security when you create a path to voting the straight Democratic ticket for the ‘undocumented’ already here.”

    I spoke of the investment of corporate profits, but you knew that.

    ReplyReply
  57. DrDaveT says:

    @andros:

    Sure, let’s just let millions of the hopelessly unemployable (many of whom can’t utter a word of English) waltz across the border and disappear into the interior, there to agitate about being oppressed. And who will fund their multitudinous needs?

    Do you have an actual argument for why you think future immigrants will be so very different from past immigrants, or are you just making stuff up?

    ReplyReply
  58. andros says:

    @DrDaveT:
    63% of Non-Citizen Households Access Welfare Programs
    Center for Immigration Studies, 11-20 18.

    Been to a hospital emergency room lately?

    ReplyReply
  59. DrDaveT says:

    @andros:

    Been to a hospital emergency room lately?

    That’s an indictment of our healthcare ‘system’, not of immigrants. As you well know.

    I’m looking around for the lasting crushing drag on the economy caused by all of those penniless Russian Jews, Italian peasants, Irish potato farmers, Vietnamese boat people, etc. etc., but I’m not finding it. Again, where is your argument for why things will be different this time?

    ReplyReply

Speak Your Mind

*