The Basic Problem with Trump and Ukraine

Public resources do not belong to the president to use for private gain.

“#UNGA” by The White House is in the Public Domain

This week’s testimony further underscores a point I discussed a couple of weeks ago: this entire set of behaviors by Trump vis-a-vis Ukraine is that he is using public resources to try and achieve a private, personal goal.

Let’s be clear: military assistance to Ukraine was a public asset (~$400 million) that belonged, collectively, to the American people. The aid was a public resource allocated via law to further a specific public policy goal. Trump, however, wanted to trade that public asset for two actions that were of private benefit to himself: an investigation into Burisma and Hunter Biden and an investigation into a conspiracy theory about the DNC server.

This was abusing his office to trade public assets for personal gain, since the desired investigations would be a boon to his re-election campaign in 2020. The mere announcement of an investigation into Biden would directly damage the front-runner for the Democratic nomination. It would have created a talking point and media circus about Biden that would have been similar to the Clinton e-mail story.

An announcement about an investigation into the server theory would give Trump ammunition to further deflect the allegations from the Mueller probe as it pertains to Russia interference in 2016. Further, Trump clearly values anything that can help, at least in his mind, remove the taint of Russian help from his 2016 victory.

The best defense, which is no defense at all, is that he failed in his attempt to leverage military aid to Ukraine to get what he wanted. But, of course, the timeline of release of the aid clearly shows that the monies were only released after it had become public that there was something fishy going on.

Beyond that, as Ambassador Bill Taylor noted in his opening statement, the games being played with the aid was affecting Ukrainian faith in the US:

I expressed my strong reservations in a text message to Ambassador Sondland, stating that my “nightmare is they [the Ukrainians] give the interview and don’t get the security assistance. The Russians love it. (And I quit.).” I was serious.

The next day, September 9, I said to Ambassadors Sondland and Volker that “[t]he message to the Ukrainians (and Russians) we send with the decision on security assistance is key. With the hold, we have already shaken their faith in us.” I also said, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

Emphasis mine.

Note, too, Taylor fully understood that what Giuliani was coordinating was the leveraging of US aid for personal political gain for Trump.

Another defense, that these requests for investigations were nothing more than Trump pursuing foreign policy goals, are radically undercut by the fact that Trump’s demands were all being pushed via what Taylor called “irregular channels” operating outside of regular foreign policy channels. Indeed, Taylor and Undersecretary of State George Kent both clearly explained how the irregular actions of Rudy Giuliani were directly threatening the overall foreign policy of the United States in Ukraine.

Additionally, if Trump was trying to further anti-corruption policies in Ukraine, the way to accomplish such goals was not to ask for a specific investigation, but to help bolster institutional capacity. Also, praising a corrupt prosecutor (as was done in the “perfect” call) is no way to fight corruption.

The bottom line is this: presidents should not use public resources for personal gain.

Defending Trump here is defending corruption, plain and simple. (Which is why, on balance the “defenses” offered have mostly been about procedure or via assertions of hearsay instead of via facts that demonstrate innocence).

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Impeachment, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    Last night Maddow looked into the origin of the idea that Ukraine, not Russia, hacked the DNC. Apparently it started with Manafort’s oligarch, Deripaska, feeding it to Manafort.

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  2. mattbernius says:

    Defending Trump here is defending corruption, plain and simple. (Which is why, on balance the “defenses” offered have mostly been about procedure or via assertions of hearsay instead of via facts that demonstrate innocence).

    Agreed, this is why, even though the general facts are not in question, defenders haven’t embraced “the full Mulvany.”

    Of course, part of thier problem (which is part of Mulvany’s problem) is that Trump refuses to endorse this strategy. So they know if they start saying that he did anything wrong out loud, he will start to attack them.

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  3. andros says:

    I don’t care if Trump told Zelensky he would cut him off without a dime if he didn’t agree to provide information, otherwise inaccessible, and much in the possession of actors not eager to share what they know, about corruption, the unseemly activities of the Bidens, and any meddling in the 2016 election. The public interest (as opposed to partisan interest in destroying Trump) requires this information. And you ask why he didn’t work through functionaries determined to thwart him at every turn. As for using aid as “leverage,” Yovanovitch testified yesterday that the aid in question, the javelins, was but a “symbol” of our support. A ceasefire being in place, there was nothing like the battle of Kursk on the horizon.

    I will not rehash here the apparent connection between the work Crowdstrike did for Ukraine and its purported finding (eagerly embraced, without independent analysis, by Comey, Brennan and Clapper) that Russia hacked the DNC server. You really think you have all the relevant facts?

    In fine, you have not demonstrated a conflict between Trump’s political interest and the public interest. They are here seamless.

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  4. Kurtz says:

    @andros:

    Yes, we get it, you treat any convenient assertion (or Rasmussen poll) as fact while ignoring any inconvenient established fact.

    It’s curious that you post here. What do you get out of it?

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  5. wr says:

    @andros: “In fine, you have not demonstrated a conflict between Trump’s political interest and the public interest”

    That would be really compelling if anyone here believed a word you typed. Or believed that you believed, for that matter.

    If we wanted to read pathetic right wing fairy tales, we could all go to the same toxic spots from which you take dictation. The fact that we’re here means we’re interested in honest conversations.

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  6. drj says:

    Defending Trump here is defending corruption, plain and simple.

    @andros:

    you have not demonstrated a conflict between Trump’s political interest and the public interest. They are here seamless.

    I was about to type a comment along the lines of “but Trump supporters believe that they and their hero are by definition the only representatives of the “real America,” thus making the combination “Trump” and “corruption” a contradictio in terminis; and here we have an example of this exact kind of thinking in the wild.

    Another example:

    The public interest (as opposed to partisan interest in destroying Trump) requires this information.

    Destroying Trump = partisan interest
    Destroying Biden = public interest

    I can see (obviously) how someone could argue that their partisan interest coincides with the public interest, but pretending that only the other side has a partisan interest is how Republicans have been creating animus toward Democrats for a long, long time.

    And they have been so successful at it that meaningful debate is often altogether impossible, because the other side hates America and is always wrong.

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  7. CSK says:

    @andros: You know, I was wondering when a Trumpkin would come up with the “Trump had to work through irregular channels because the Deep State would thwart him if he went through regular channels” defense, and by golly, you didn’t disappoint.

    Sometimes the simplest explanation is the best: Trump used irregular channels because he was doing something illicit. Which, by the way, the so-called Deep State would have known was illicit.

    Bottom line: Trump did not want to get caught doing something even he knew was wrong, if not in his own eyes.

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  8. Gustopher says:

    @andros:

    And you ask why he didn’t work through functionaries determined to thwart him at every turn.

    Is this why the Trump Administration has one official foreign policy with respect to Ukraine, and then another run by amateurs that is directly in contradiction of the official foreign policy?

    Is this why, rather than simply removing an ambassador, to replace her with someone he trusted to implement the President’s real policy, Trump and his flunkies instead badmouthed her to the official foreign policy team and the president of Ukraine?

    These are career public servants. They serve for decades, under different administrations, executing different policies. They pride themselves on being apolitical. It’s a job I couldn’t have, because I don’t have that temperament, but they do. No other administration has had these problems.

    If Trump cannot get the career public servants to do what he wants, when every other president has been able to, maybe the problem is him. Shitty management, not being clear about policies, and trying to do illegal things.

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  9. grumpy realist says:

    @andros: The question is whether there is any corruption that Trump is involved in that you wouldn’t find an excuse for.

    Because based on your comments here, I don’t think there’s anything you wouldn’t accept.

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  10. @andros:

    As President Trump amplifies unsubstantiated claims of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee reaffirmed on Tuesday that Russian operatives engaged in a widespread social media campaign to improve his chances in the race.

    In a report, the committee backed up the conclusions of the intelligence community, the special counsel and researchers that Russia mounted a broad campaign to interfere in the election. A Russian troll farm central to the election campaign supported “Donald Trump at the direction of the Kremlin,” the committee said.

    […]

    That conspiracy theory runs counter to the conclusion published Tuesday by the Intelligence Committee: Operatives at the Russian troll farm, the Internet Research Agency, used a wide range of online platforms to share content they felt could drive a wedge through the American electorate to influence the presidential election.

    […]

    “Russia is waging an information warfare campaign against the U.S. that didn’t start and didn’t end with the 2016 election,” said Senator Richard M. Burr, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the committee.

    Source: G.O.P.-Led Senate Panel Affirms Russia Attacked Election, and Urges Action

    But, sure, it is all just a partisan attack and the Ukraine conspiracy theories are really where the truth lies.

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  11. mattbernius says:

    @andros: Jebus, you are really are what happens when discredited journalist John Solomon and QAnon have a drunken one night stand?!

    Please tell me you are at least getting paid for the disinformation campaign.

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  12. andros says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Come on, Steve, do you really believe the Russian “social media” activity amounted (as they might say in Austin) to a hill of beans? Now, the claim that Putin’s operatives hacked the DNC server, and “colluded” with Trump to release the emails, as a “quid pro quo” for relaxing sanctions, is of a different order of magnitude.

    There are a lot of unanswered questions about that server. The FBI, which was denied access to it, claims it can’t be found. What happened to it? Must have contained a lot of sensitive information.

    Well, all I know is what I read online, and I read the work Crowdstrike did in Ukraine enabled the identification of the DNC hackers as Russian. Seems awfully convenient, no?

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  13. mattbernius says:

    @andros:

    Well, all I know is what I read online

    Ok, cool, cool, so I am interested to learn more, can you list some of those online sources you are learning about this from?

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  14. andros says:

    @Kurtz:
    Solely entertainment, and this is the only wall available to me upon which to scribble the occasional thought. I can’t access other discussion forums. It seems my version of Chrome is “no longer supported.” But I’m confident like-minded individuals pass this way, leaving no trace of their visit.

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  15. DrDaveT says:

    Trump, however, wanted to trade that public asset for two actions that were of private benefit to himself: an investigation into Burisma and Hunter Biden and an investigation into a conspiracy theory about the DNC server.

    Let me propose a minor correction to an otherwise excellent article.

    Trump didn’t care whether Ukraine actually conducted any investigations. What he was extorting from them was (1) a public statement that they were investigating the Bidens and the DNC server, and (implied) (2) later announcements that they had found something incriminating. Neither of those requires an actual investigation, nor that there be any actual evidence.

    Saying that Trump wanted investigations fails to quash the androsian fantasy that Trump actually cared about corruption and was acting in American interests. That fantasy is inconsistent with the insistence on a public announcement of the investigation, even if Trump is stupid enough to believe the debunked conspiracy theories.

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  16. DrDaveT says:

    @andros:

    this is the only wall available to me upon which to scribble the occasional thought

    Awesome. Let us know when you have one of your own.

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  17. David M says:

    @andros:

    There are a lot of unanswered questions about that server. The FBI, which was denied access to it, claims it can’t be found….the work Crowdstrike did in Ukraine

    All of that is wrong and debunked years ago. And not just wrong, but completely the opposite of the truth. Like, you have to try and only read the most pure and uncut propaganda to be that clueless. It’s literally the equivalent of ranting on the streetcorner that you’re wearing the tinfoil bodysuit to protect against the mind control from the underground mole people.

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  18. Mikey says:

    @David M: Indeed, if there’s one single point in the pile of right-wing idiocy that’s most purely emblematic of how imbecilic the whole thing is, it’s “the server.” Literally none of what these morons believe about it is even remotely factual. It certainly wasn’t a single server. And the FBI was provided all the forensic images Crowdstrike took, so they didn’t need the hardware anyway.

    If these Trumpist dipshits had the merest clue what they were talking about, they would know that’s how the investigative process works, but they don’t, so they just drool stupidly on about “the server.”

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  19. CSK says:

    @andros: You know, if you’re on a PC, you can always install Firefox or use I.E.

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  20. mattbernius says:

    @andros:

    It seems my version of Chrome is “no longer supported.”

    Again serious question: What verision of Chrome are you running?! And what is preventing you from updating chrome?! And what sites are you visiting that are not backwards compatible?

    I mean if you said I.E. or Mosaic that might make sense?!

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  21. Gustopher says:

    @andros: If you cannot figure out how to update Chrome past the 14th century or whatever, why do you think you have the skills to weigh good and bad information? It typically automatically updates.

    What vintage or heirloom technology do you use? I’m genuinely curious.

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  22. Gustopher says:

    @andros:

    Come on, […], do you really believe the Russian “social media” activity amounted (as they might say in Austin) to a hill of beans? Now, the claim that Putin’s operatives hacked the DNC server, and “colluded” with Trump to release the emails, as a “quid pro quo” for relaxing sanctions, is of a different order of magnitude.

    We don’t know whether there was an explicit quid pro quo, or whether Putin was just supporting the more Russian-friendly candidate. The contacts and coordination were well established however.

    Some of the relevant crimes require intent to violate the law, and some of the members of the Trump campaign and family were protected by their ignorance. Does a rock have intent? What about a person as dumb as a rock?

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  23. andros says:

    @David M:
    Or maybe Trump knows something we don’t. In any event, I don’t see his suspicions about the validity of Crowdstrike’s “findings” as an acute threat to Democracy As We Know It.

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  24. wr says:

    @andros: “It seems my version of Chrome is “no longer supported.””

    Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you… the laziest troll in the world!

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  25. andros says:

    @mattbernius:
    Hopeless, I’m afraid. Google internet tv, unupdatable.

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  26. mattbernius says:

    Hey @andros, I noticed you seem to have slipped past my request for your “on the internet” sources for your insights into Crowdstrike. Just wanted to ping you for those again.

    (BTW, if you miss this one, be aware I will ask you about them at every chance, after all, given you are so confident that you are basing your argument on them, you must trust them enough to share)

    (PS, if you have posted them while I was writing this I extend my apologies and say “thank you” for sharing your sources )

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  27. Gustopher says:

    @andros:

    Or maybe Trump knows something we don’t.

    Something that he knows, we don’t, and we should never know?

    I welcome the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee investigating this grand deep state conspiracy that prevents Donald Trump from going through normal channels. Why must he have one official foreign policy and one unofficial foreign policy run by amateurs.

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  28. mattbernius says:

    @andros:

    Hopeless, I’m afraid. Google internet tv, unupdatable.

    Looks like it’s brand dependent. Are you using a Sony or Sling box? Those look like they can update.

    Also, I am curious, do you have a keyboard? Or are you thing this all out on a Smart TV remote?

    Seriously, what’s your set up – political disagreements aside – I am super fascinated from an interaction design perspective.

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  29. Gustopher says:

    @andros: might I interest you in a WebTV? Please remember to cancel your AOL account.

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  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @andros:

    And you ask why he didn’t work through functionaries determined to thwart him at every turn.

    You are speaking here of people charged with enforcing the law. Has it ever occurred to you to ask why he would want to avoid them?

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  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @andros:

    But I’m confident like-minded individuals pass this way, leaving no trace of their visit.

    Trust me, no “like minded individuals” pass this way, because they’ve all been institutionalized.

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  32. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @andros:

    Or maybe Trump knows something we don’t.

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…. Only if it’s in a comic book.

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  33. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Mikey: AhhAaa … So the files are IN the computer!

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  34. David M says:

    @andros:

    Given that Crowdstrike is, you know, a US company, no I don’t think the guy who won’t stop lying has any useful information.

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  35. Kurtz says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    “comic books…” maybe if it is Bazooka Joe or Family Circus (but only it’s the ones showing Billy’s path home.) I doubt Trump could figure out Alan Moore. Doonesbury would also be a doozy for him.

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  36. andros says:

    @mattbernius:
    It’s a Sony-Google TV Internet Player, NSZ-GS8, bought about a decade ago. The keyboard is on the remote. It just won’t accept a Chrome “upgrade,” and is becoming increasingly dysfunctional. Laugh all you like, but I spent too many years hunched over a computer, and with my setup, I can swap insults with you on my big-screen tv.

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  37. mattBernius says:

    @andros:
    No laughing involved. First compliments on typing so well on that style of keyboard. Beyond that your story is a good example of the limits of certain technologies (and that people are participating on the Web using unexpected platforms with very specific restrictions – especially when used far beyond the creators expectations).

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  38. mattBernius says:

    @andros:
    I forgot to say, thank you for sharing.

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  39. BTW: the whole Crowdstrike/Ukraine conspiracy theory was propagated by Roger Stone.

    Stone was just convicted of lying.

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  40. Also: setting aside, as noted above, that we are likely talking about data on multiple servers, why hide a server in Ukraine? If the server was somehow a damning piece of physical evidence, why not destroy it?

    The idea that they would take the server, with damning evidence on it, to Ukraine to hide it makes no sense whatsoever.

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  41. andros says:

    @mattbernius:
    I didn’t save any links, but I did read recently that Zelensky disputed the conclusion of Crowdstrike that Russia had “hacked” a Ukrainian artillery tracking program. It was suggested that Crowdstrike identified the DNC hackers as Russian because the “footprints” were identical to those left on the Ukrainian server. But I confess to having little interest in this issue. It seems to me that there is much to investigate here, apart from Crowdstrike.

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  42. Also:

    American intelligence agencies have told the White House they now have “high confidence” that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee, according to federal officials who have been briefed on the evidence.

    But intelligence officials have cautioned that they are uncertain whether the electronic break-in at the committee’s computer systems was intended as fairly routine cyberespionage — of the kind the United States also conducts around the world — or as part of an effort to manipulate the 2016 presidential election.

    The emails were released by WikiLeaks, whose founder, Julian Assange, has made it clear that he hoped to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency. It is unclear how the documents made their way to the group. But a large sampling was published before the WikiLeaks release by several news organizations and someone who called himself “Guccifer 2.0,” who investigators now believe was an agent of the G.R.U., Russia’s military intelligence service.

    Source: Spy Agency Consensus Grows That Russia Hacked D.N.C.

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  43. @andros: It would be extremely helpful if you would link to your sources.

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  44. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: The sources in question will probably be The Gateway Pundit, Zero Hedge, The Conservative Treehouse, and American Greatness, plus a few other semi-literate crackpot blogs whose names escape me at the moment.

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  45. andros says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Do you have “high confidence” in the likes of Comey, Brennan and Clapper? You’re untroubled by reliance on information and conclusions spoon-fed by Crowdstrike? How all this was used, with the Steele Dossier, to attempt a political assassination? Not to be uncharitable, but are you suggesting anything here amounts to evidence of “collusion”?

    I can’t post links, but I’m unaware of having said anything that isn’t in the realm of common knowledge.

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  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @andros: I don’t understand; why won’t Chrome offer you an update? If your OS is really reeeeeaaaaallllllyyyy old (which I can’t imagine if it runs Chrome), you might look for a version of Linux to add as a virtual machine. It would greatly improve your overall internet experience by allowing you to post on more modern (and congenial) sites like Conservative Treehouse and Breitbart.

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  47. CSK says:

    @andros: Why can’t you post links?

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  48. andros says:

    @CSK:
    Au contraire, I visit Democratic Underground daily. Always good for a laugh.

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  49. @andros:

    but I’m unaware of having said anything that isn’t in the realm of common knowledge.

    You are posting debunked conspiracy theories and/or talking points.

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  50. David M says:

    @andros:

    Comey, Brennan and Clapper all left the government in early 2017, but the conclusion that Russia had hacked the DNC did not change after that, so they are irrelevant to the issue. The Steele Dossier has no relevance to who hacked the DNC servers either. Crowdstrike is also a diversion, as the FBI did their own analysis when they examined the servers. (Yes, servers, plural)

    You really couldn’t know less about this issue if you tried, but in case you do actually care about the truth, here’s the assigned reading:

    The Truth About Trump’s Insane Ukraine ‘Server’ Conspiracy

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  51. CSK says:

    @andros: So you’re contending that you get your information from DU? If not, why mention them when you are asked for links?

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  52. andros says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    An allegation which does nothing to demonstrate a conflict between Trump’s personal interest and the public interest. There is far more here than Crowdstrike that requires investigation.

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  53. David M says:

    @andros:

    How does Trump withholding funds authorized by Congress until the Ukrainian government publicly announces an investigation into Trump’s domestic political rival serve the public interest?

    That’s obviously impeachable conduct

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  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I see the issue now. I don’t know enough about Internet TV, but it still strikes me as illogical that your Chrome doesn’t update. On the other hand, planned obsolescence plays a role in so many devices that we use that it wouldn’t surprise me that the goal was to sell systems, not provide services in which case, congratulations on beating the odds.

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  55. @andros:

    An allegation which does nothing to demonstrate a conflict between Trump’s personal interest and the public interest. There is far more here than Crowdstrike that requires investigation.

    A) My statement was not an allegation, but an assessment based on what you keep saying. Everything is conspiracy theories and talking points.

    B) The issue with Trump is quite straightforward. As it pertain to Ukraine he asked for two things, one had to do with Crowdstrike and the server. It is all nonsense, but the only reason it has been raised is because Trump raised it.

    C) I’ll bite: what else do you want investigated?

    D) BTW: you are mainly talking in circles.

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  56. andros says:

    @David M:
    It is undisputed that the FBI was denied access to the servers. They relied on data provided by Crowdstrike. You want a “link.” try Wiki.

    If you guys want to assume that Trump’s reference to Crowdstrike is conclusive evidence that he has gone totally daft, so be it. The issue is of little consequence.

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  57. @andros: They were not “denied access”–that language suggests that they wanted access to the physical hardware and were not allowed such access. This is not true.

    You want a “link.” try Wiki.

    What we want, and is reasonable to request, where in the world you are getting your positions.

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  58. BTW, from a statement issues by the DNI and Department of Homeland Security from October 2016:

    The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow—the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.

    But, of course, you don’t trust Clapper (and, I guess, the whole of the USIC).

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  59. David M says:

    @andros:

    Saying the FBI was denied access to the servers shows you fundamentally don’t understand the issue at all, as the data images and logs are useful, not the disconnected, powered down servers.

    When cyber investigators respond to an incident, they capture that evidence in a process called “imaging.” They make an exact byte-for-byte copy of the hard drives. They do the same for the machine’s memory, capturing evidence that would otherwise be lost at the next reboot, and they monitor and store the traffic passing through the victim’s network. This has been standard procedure in computer intrusion investigations for decades. The images, not the computer’s hardware, provide the evidence.

    This is all completely routine, but complicated, so it’s now a conspiracy theory. But it’s a lie to say the FBI was denied access to the servers, and the FBI is on record saying they had the access they needed for the investigation. This was all well known years ago, so it’s kind of sad that you cling to these lies long after they’ve been debunked.

    But anyways, even if Trump believed there was an issue with the DNC server, that’s something he should ask the FBI about, not use to extort a foreign government into publicly announcing an investigation into a domestic political rival.

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  60. DrDaveT says:

    @andros:

    An allegation which does nothing to demonstrate a conflict between Trump’s personal interest and the public interest.

    Still waiting for you to respond to the observation that, if he really cared about the facts and wanted to investigate them he would never have asked for a public announcement that an investigation was being pursued.

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  61. Fundamentally, the problem here is that the President of the United States has an understanding level of this situation that is basically the same as someone who consumes conspiracy theories and talking point from misc. web sites.

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  62. An Interested Party says:

    The next president is going to have so much shit to clean up…so much honor to restore…this pattern with shabby Republican presidents followed by Democratic presidents has already gotten old…

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  63. andros says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    He made it clear that he expected cooperation in investigating corruption. He did not recite all specific areas of concern, but one may reasonably infer that he intends to aggressively explore the Burisma situation. That will include, of course, the propriety of Joe’s procuring the dismissal of Shokin. Before you dismiss this concern as “debunked,” I suggest you peruse the letter directed to Pompeo on Nov. 6 by Senators Johnson and Grassley, detailing the apparent efforts of Hunter Biden and Devon Archer to derail the investigation of Burisma. Then there’s the matter of Hunter’s self-enrichment spree, to the tune of millions, unimpeded by his doting father. You will find the senators’ letter on Grassley’s website.

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  64. @andros:

    He made it clear that he expected cooperation in investigating corruption.

    No. This is simply not accurate. He has not made corruption fighting a goal. He has asked for public pronouncements on two very specific issues.

    If we was worried about corruption he would be working through regular channels. He would not have removed Yovanovitch,

    In regards to Burisma: Biden’s request to remove Shokin from office because Shokin wasn’t prosecuting corruption charges. Indeed, insisting on actual corruption prosecutions (which was US and EU policy at the time) would have increased the chances the Hunter Biden would have been investigated, not the other way around.

    (And kudos for at least pointing to a source.)

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  65. Here’s the link to the letter: https://cdn.cnsnews.com/attachment/PompeoLetter.pdf

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  66. David M says:

    @andros:

    As is well-documented, the Obama Administration, the EU and others wanted the prosecutor fired because he wasn’t investigating Zlochevsky and Burisma. Replacing the prosecutor placed Hunter Biden’s company at more risk of being investigated. The evidence is overwhelming on this point.

    I mean the Obama Administration called out the company by name as one they wanted investigated, and to think Biden was more than the messenger here is to fundamentally misunderstand how government works.

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  67. @David M:

    is to fundamentally misunderstand how government works.

    There’s a lot of that going around…

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  68. andros says:

    @David M:
    “Images and logs” selected, provided and interpreted by Crowdstrike. Are you seriously denying that the FBI requested access to the servers, and was refused?

    And you really believe Trump has no interest in investigating corruption in the Ukraine?

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  69. @andros: Yes and yes.

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  70. David M says:

    @andros:

    As you’re not in IT, it’s easy for you to not understand that the images and logs are more important than physical access to the servers. Physical access is equal parts useless and meaningless. This talking point is meant to take advantage of people who aren’t technical.

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  71. First, he has zero track record on fighting corruption (and often praises the corrupt, with Erdogan’s visit being the most recent example).

    Second, he has surrounded himself with corrupt individuals (Roger Stone being the most recently convicted).

    Third, if he wanted to promote anti-corruption, making a very specific request, that happens to be targeted at helping his campaign, isn’t the way to do it.

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  72. Mikey says:

    Former American ambassador to Russia, a man who knows a great deal more about how all this works than any of us, has a succinct and concise summary of Trump’s actions:

    https://twitter.com/McFaul/status/1195502656518647809?s=19

    Keep it simple & focused: Trump tried to use taxpayer money & the promise of a meeting as leverage to pressure Zelensky to find/fabricate dirt on a main Democratic challenger in the 2020 election. He dragged other USG officials into the effort & then tried to conceal his actions.

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  73. David M says:

    @andros:

    And you really believe Trump has no interest in investigating corruption in the Ukraine?

    Not only does Trump not have any interest in Ukraine or investigating corruption, he is in fact a corrupting influence on Ukraine.

    https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-10-03/trump-scandal-threatens-derail-ukraines-anti-corruption-efforts

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  74. andros says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Now you’re repeating “talking points.” Hunter protested, through Blue Star, the claims of corruption being made against Burisma, and was scheduled a meeting for 3-1-16 with Undersecretary Novelli. Devon’s meeting with John Kerry was set for the next day. According to Solomon, Shokin had caused consternation by seizing Zlochevsky’s properties. He was dismissed, pursuant to Joe’s ultimatum, on 4-3-16. Joe “welcomed” Lutsenko’s appointment on 5-13-16. Lutsenko piddled for a while, then aborted the investigation, with no objection from Joe. And you aver that this unseemly business doesn’t warrant investigation? Ok.

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  75. David M says:

    @andros:

    John Solomon is quite well known for pushing disinformation about Ukraine, and should not be relied upon

    https://www.propublica.org/article/how-a-veteran-reporter-worked-with-giuliani-associates-to-launch-the-ukraine-conspiracy

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  76. grumpy realist says:

    @andros: Considering that you haven’t said anything that hasn’t come off a conspiracy site, why in the heck should we agree with anything you say?

    Your arguments would hold more water if you could actually admit the facts that we have presented you. But no….all data against your ideas are “fake news” and “made up”.

    Demonstrate that you have intellectual integrity and we might listen to you. I’m not going to hold my breath.

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  77. @andros:

    Now you’re repeating “talking points.”

    Sigh.

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  78. @andros:

    According to Solomon

    And there we go. As @David M notes, Solomon is not a reliable source.

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  79. mattbernius says:

    @andros:

    According to Solomon

    Again, do you know that Solomon’s own employer (The Hill) no longer allows his material to be published under thier “news” section because of issues with fact checking. All of his Biden/Ukraine pieces have been published in the opinion section which means they do not have to stand behind the writing or have to fact check him.

    That is a huge issue if you are cutting him as fact. All he writes now is opinion. Which makes him as reliable as Rush or Hannity. Please don’t call that reporting because it isn’t.

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  80. Gustopher says:

    @andros: Does it concern you that there is no solid, direct reporting for any of this from any major newspaper, or the Associated Press?

    There are blogs and opinion pieces on the right, but nothing in the hard news. And no, Fox is not hard news. (Rule of thumb: if it’s boring, it’s more likely to be accurate, but if it engages your emotions… there’s likely a spin or just plain lies)

    Usually, when there is such a gulf of reliable reporting, it’s a sign that you’ve wandered a little into crazy land.

    How many of these sites were saying that Hillary Clinton was deathly ill during the 2016 campaign, and how dead is she now?

    How many of these sites were reporting on her criminal behavior, and how many things has she been charged with?

    How many were panicked about budget deficits under Obama, but don’t care about budget deficits under Trump?

    Go back three years on these sites, and see how much of their stories have just petered out?

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  81. @andros:

    And you aver that this unseemly business doesn’t warrant investigation? Ok.

    If there was a legitimate investigation to be had, it would not require Trump leveraging military aid in secret to get it.

    It would not require Giuliani running around undermining normal diplomacy.

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  82. Matt says:

    @andros: Holy crap I would go insane trying to type on that “keyboard”. I’m a keyboard snob with my cherry mx blues….

    Also thanks for sharing as a tech person I was certainly wondering wtf you were posting via.

    Also as stated by others the FBI had everything they needed. You don’t need physical access to the servers to get the data you need. That would be inconvenient to actually have to pull the blades and re-install them somewhere else…

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  83. rachel says:

    @David M:

    This talking point is meant to take advantage of people who aren’t technical.

    Like people who can’t get Chrome to update and don’t know how to post a link supporting their assertions?

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  84. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Guys? Why you botha? Andros is a Cult45 sock puppet, impervious to facts or reasoning.

    @Gustopher: ?

    Does it concern you that there is no solid, direct reporting for any of this from any major newspaper, or the Associated Press?

    This all fake news! As demonstrated by the NeverTrumper lies they repeat every day!

    There are blogs and opinion pieces on the right, but nothing in the hard news. And no, Fox is not hard news. (Rule of thumb: if it’s boring, it’s more likely to be accurate, but if it engages your emotions… there’s likely a spin or just plain lies)

    Which just shows how corrupted by the left the news media really is!

    Usually, when there is such a gulf of reliable reporting, it’s a sign that you’ve wandered a little into crazy land.

    It means I am privy to the real truth, where as all you libtards are spoonfed lies lies LIES! and are too stupid to see it!

    How many of these sites were saying that Hillary Clinton was deathly ill during the 2016 campaign, and how dead is she now?

    She was! She still is! She’s going to die any day now!

    How many of these sites were reporting on her criminal behavior, and how many things has she been charged with?

    The Deep State would never allow a true investigation into Killary much less let anyone read the results!

    How many were panicked about budget deficits under Obama, but don’t care about budget deficits under Trump?

    The budget deficits were worse, MUCH worse under Obama. Obama was cooking the books. Everyone knows this. If they were bad now Fiscal Conservatives would be up in arms about them!

    Go back three years on these sites, and see how much of their stories have just petered out?

    Old news, We don’t need to SQUIRREL!

    Don’t fall for the faux reasonable sounding words he uses. Cut to the plain meaning of what he is saying. Either he is whackadoodle looneytunes over the moon up to his ass in conspiracy bullshit and absolutely completely immune to facts, or he is a troll who gets his jollies by getting you guys to “argue” with him.

    If you have to engage with him, point and laugh.

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  85. wr says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “The idea that they would take the server, with damning evidence on it, to Ukraine to hide it makes no sense whatsoever.”

    Have you looked at a map? Ukraine is a very big place. There are lots of really good hiding places in that giant country. Where else would they take it? Give me a list of at least ten places that would be better to hide a server, and your reasons for them. Why do you hate America?

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  86. Mikey says:

    @Matt:

    You don’t need physical access to the servers to get the data you need. That would be inconvenient to actually have to pull the blades and re-install them somewhere else…

    Not to mention the stuff in RAM you’d lose when you powered things down.

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  87. Kit says:

    My I suggest that with the next scheduled maintenance to the OTB web site, that your IT guy up the browser requirements?

    @Steven L. Taylor: Steven, your patience is seemingly bottomless.

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  88. @OzarkHillbilly:

    Why you botha?

    Trust me, after doing this for 16 years, I know what I am dealing with.

    He is new (or, the name is, at least) so this sometimes leads me to be a bit more patient.

    I am an idealist (to a point) that knowledge can change minds (although usually not immediately).

    There is always the chance a reader will learn something.

    And yesterday was a an easy day to be able to respond.

    I remain interested in trying to understand how and why people allow themselves to be sucked into this stuff, if anything because I know plenty IRL who are similarly positioned.

    But, yes, @andros is unlikely to be persuaded by either logic or evidence.

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  89. @Kit:

    Steven, your patience is seemingly bottomless.

    Sometimes 😉

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  90. andros says:

    A State Dept. email quoted in the above-referenced letter of Senators Johnson and Grassley:

    “Per our conversation, Karen Tramontano of Blue Star Strategies requested a meeting to discuss with Under Secretary Novelli remarks alleging Burisma of corruption. She noted that two high-profile U.S. citizens are affiliated with the company (including Hunter Biden as a board member.)”

    “According to Tramontano, there is no evidence of corruption, has been no hearing or process, and evidence to the contrary has not been considered.”

    This from the letter: “On March 2, 2016, just one day after Tramontano was scheduled to meet with Novelli about Burisma, Devon Archer was scheduled to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry.”

    “In 2016, while Hunter Biden and Devon Archer were both working for Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s top prosecutor was conducting an investigation into the company and its owners.”

    Are we to suppose Chuck Grassley forged these damning emails? I am disappointed by the pretense that this information can rationally be ignored on the basis that Trump declined to work through leak-like-a-sieve “regular channels.”

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  91. Chip Daniels says:

    Andros’ assertion that the public interest is synonymous with Trump’s interest is an example of why the Republican cult has become so dangerous.

    In their mind, they alone are Americans, and their interest is by definition America’s interest.

    Back in 2008 we laughed at Palin’s comment about being in Real America, but it wasn’t a clumsy slip of the tongue. All the talk you see about populism and those interviews with white working class Trump supporters demonstrate that for them, white rural people are the authentic American citizens, and everyone else is a barely tolerated guest.

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  92. @andros:

    I am disappointed by the pretense that this information can rationally be ignored on the basis that Trump declined to work through leak-like-a-sieve “regular channels.”

    And I am disappointed that you, and many others, have been duped into thinking that suspicions about Hunter Biden should have been dealt with by sending Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine and the president trying to extort Zelensky over the phone.

    If you didn’t watch it, I recommend Bill Taylor’s opening statement. He is a foreign service professional with decades of bipartisan service. He clearly explains the problem with Giuliani’s sideshow.

    You are free to believe as you wish, but if you really think that Trump is, in good faith, trying to fight corruption in Ukraine, you have been fooled.

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  93. @Chip Daniels: Trump very much governs this way, which is quite frightening. He does not see himself as president of all, but rather as president of his base.

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  94. Kit says:

    The following is arguably off topic, and could probably be posted in about half of our discussions. Still, this has long bothered me, so here it goes… Why do I never hear any of our trolls say something like:

    Yeah, I admit that the optics look bad. And if the truth is anything like you guys are spinning it, then I’ll have to admit the Republicans/Trump have screwed up here. But I’m withholding judgement until more details come to light. Until then, here’s the way I think this is going to play out…

    Generally, here at OTB, people take out the magnifying glass and try to figure out which side of the line some Democrat embarrassment falls. People want the facts and then marshal various principles to buttress their conclusion. What should we think about the latest story of blackface? Should Franken have stepped down? And court case after court case.

    But on the Right? There’s not a single principle they will consistently defend. There’s not a single action that Team Red can commit that bothers them. And we are in the middle of the single most corrupt period of this country that any of us has ever lived through. Clowns like @andros and @Paul L caper through these pages to receive spanking after spanking on every point they raise, only to return the following day for more humiliation. Are they the cream of the trolls and OTB their Big Apple: If they can make it here they can make it anywhere? Their shtick might work at the water cooler, but obviously not here. Why oh why are they so hostile to the truth from the word go?

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  95. @Kit: My glib, but perhaps accurate, response is: partisanship is one hell of a drug.

    But, I also think that the media environment that they swim in teaches them this kind of argumentation. If one regularly consumes FNC and right-wing talk radio, this is the kind of “arguments” that one find. Lots of snark, ridicule, and whataboutism. I think people get so used to it, that they don’t realize that they are making arguments that only work with people who already agree.

    It reminds me of things I used to hear in church in my youth that seemed like a slam-dunk argument, but when deployed in the wild fell with a great thud because the “argument” only worked if everyone already agreed on the premise.

    I used to consume vast amounts of talk radio, FNC, and other cable news outlets. If one isn’t careful, one starts to think one is learning real evidence and argumentation, but the reality it is mostly infotainment meant to tickle the ears of the already convinced.

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  96. I would caution against assuming too much that we here at OTB don’t sometimes get caught up in our echo-chamber, or that the broadly defined left is superior in these issues over the broadly defined right at a mass level.

    By the same token, there is a current shortage of truly intellectual conservatives in these parts these days–but that may be because an intellectual defense of Trump is hard to muster.

    FWIW, @andros has done a better job than a lot of our pro-Trump commenters, although, as noted, it hardly has amounted to much a defense.

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  97. Chip Daniels says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    I’ve noticed that the Republicans don’t traffic in ideas anymore, not even bad ideas.

    There isn’t any talk about why a different sort of government would produce a happier or more virtuous society. No ideas about how to produce greater prosperity. No coherent notion of how to make America stronger against outside threats.

    The Republican base is entirely consumed with white ethnic grievance politics, to the exclusion of all else.

    Which explains their drift into outright authoritarianism. As the demographics of America tilt against them, they have to resort to increasingly desperate measures to cling to power.

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  98. Kit says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I would caution against assuming too much that we here at OTB don’t sometimes get caught up in our echo-chamber

    We are not perfect, but we do tend to agree on what constitutes evidence, and what a proper argument looks like.

    I would caution against assuming… that the broadly defined left is superior in these issues over the broadly defined right at a mass level.

    I’m not really sure that I buy that. Where is the equivalent of Trump’s rallies, for example? Even at the bottom of the pyramid, the low brow, if you will, I think there is a difference of tone, if not command of the facts. The middle brow supports a lot of solid journalism because facts matter for them, so I think that’s a win for the Left. And as you said, there is a current shortage of truly intellectual conservatives. So, yeah, I think the Left broadly defined is superior. I rather doubt that someone from 50 years back would even recognize today’s Right.

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  99. andros says:

    Why are “woke” progressives so hostile to the thought that the activities of the Bidens in Ukraine warrant investigation? Because they know that, whatever Joe’s motives in procuring Shokin’s dismissal may turn out to be (I suspect he was misled) Hunter, in disgracing himself, disgraced Joe. The inquiry won’t stop with the millions said to have been showered upon Hunter by Burisma. It will inevitably extend to the “sweetheart deal” he is said to have obtained with a China fund specializing in acquisitions requiring U.S. approval. It’s all part of a pattern of cashing in on perceived influence.

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  100. Zachriel says:

    andros: Hunter, in disgracing himself, disgraced Joe.

    Hunter Biden created an appearance of a conflict of interest, and was criticized at the time. He was hired by Burisma based on his name, and with the expectation that his contacts would be useful to them. However, this is not illegal. Nor is Ukraine (or China!) the proper venue for resolving a question of U.S. law. Furthermore, a public announcement of an investigation is not the proper course, even if there were a reasonable indication that the Bidens committed a crime, which there is not.

    This is distinct from investigating Burisma, for which there is ample evidence of corruption predating Hunter Biden’s tenure there.

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  101. DrDaveT says:

    @Chip Daniels:

    There isn’t any talk about why a different sort of government would produce a happier or more virtuous society. No ideas about how to produce greater prosperity. No coherent notion of how to make America stronger against outside threats.

    I have come to the conclusion that current Republicans do not care whether policies would produce a happier or more prosperous society. They value certain policies intrinsically, without regard to their actual consequences. They consider it virtuous to oppose abortion rights, taxation, gun control, immigration, and (urban) social support programs — not because of any anticipated consequences of those activities, but because those activities are intrinsically bad. Republicans would still oppose them even if they believed they would make America happier and more productive in the long run. They don’t value progress; they value virtue, using a very parochial definition of what is virtuous.

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  102. DrDaveT says:

    @andros:

    Why are “woke” progressives so hostile to the thought that the activities of the Bidens in Ukraine warrant investigation?

    Why do you keep repeating this lie?

    Nobody has argued that anyone’s activities do not warrant investigation. Are you really so thick that you can’t understand the distinction between “Trump should not have tried to extort a public declaration of investigation from Ukraine by withholding Congressionally-approved military aid” and “Nobody should investigate Hunter Biden, ever”???

    Everyone here would be perfectly happy to see a thorough investigation of Burisma and Biden by the proper authorities. What Trump did has exactly nothing to do with such an investigation.

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  103. David M says:

    @andros:

    It’s all part of a pattern of cashing in on perceived influence

    A Trump defender saying cashing in on perceived influence and corruption is bad. It’s a joke to them.

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  104. andros says:

    @Zachriel:
    It’s not a question of legality. It’s a question of how voters will react to such unseemly behavior. An investigation will destroy Biden’s candidacy.

    Pressing a foreign government to provide information otherwise unavailable, much in possession of actors not eager to share what they know, is hardly tantamount to transferring “venue.”

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  105. andros says:

    @DrDaveT:
    Maybe he wanted to get Zelensky publicly committed to rooting out corruption? And I have no problem with a little “carrot and stick” suasion here. As earlier mentioned, a ceasefire was in effect, to facilitate negotiation of the Steinmeier Formula.

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  106. Zachriel says:

    @andros: It’s not a question of legality.

    Of course it’s a question of legality. Trump was calling on Ukraine (a country struggling with corruption of their justice system) and China (an authoritarian communist regime) to publicly announce legal investigations of the U.S. citizens, Joe and Hunter Biden. But legal investigations should be predicated on a reasonable indication that a crime has been committed, which is sorely lacking.

    If you just want to point out that Hunter Biden created an appearance of a conflict of interest, well, you’re a bit late and a bit selective considering Trump’s actual conflicts of interest.

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  107. Zachriel says:
  108. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I have come to the conclusion that current Republicans do not care whether policies would produce a happier or more prosperous society.

    My current take is that conservatives at large accept the idea that the economy is a zero-sum proposition. From that perspective, a “more prosperous” (at large) society would be more prosperous only because it took goods, services, and (most importantly) capital from them. See how often you can hear conservatives say that other people “should learn to live within their means” (i.e. on smaller incomes, with less goods and services, in smaller houses and so on). In general, this is a good plan–indeed it is the key to my being able to live comfortably on an income in the bottom quintile–but it only works if your means are adequate to begin with, and assumes the ability to locate to wherever such adequacy would be guaranteed. How many people at the bottom meet both of those criteria?

    Conservatives don’t believe that the society can become more prosperous. It’s a closed system where, if you’re not one of them, it “sucks to be you.”

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  109. wr says:

    @andros: “The inquiry won’t stop with the millions said to have been”

    Is that by many people? Or a lot of people? I get the two confused.

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  110. andros says:

    @Zachriel:
    Relevant information about how corruption in Ukraine has affected U.S. interests must largely be obtained from Ukrainian citizens, with Ukrainian assistance, on Ukrainian soil.

    Trump’s remark, in an impromptu conference, that China “should” investigate the Bidens is simple rhetoric.

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  111. David M says:

    @andros:

    You’ve notably not ever answered these questions:

    Why Trump asked for a public announcement of the investigation?

    Why it was ok for Trump to withhold aid authorized by Congress?

    Why Trump didn’t work through proper channels rather than a foreign government alleged to be horribly corrupt?

    Why all contemporary reporting about the prosecutor indicated he was corrupt and should be removed, and why thar view was shared by the EU and others?

    Why there are no news reports indicating actual corruption by Biden, just opinion pieces by people with a material interest in pushing Russian propaganda?

    Why it is in the United States interest to help cover up for Russia hacking the DNC?

    Why if you are interested in corrupt influence by family, the Trump’s aren’t the obvious problem.

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  112. @andros:

    Why are “woke” progressives so hostile to the thought that the activities of the Bidens in Ukraine warrant investigation?

    Absolutely no one has said that. (Bonus points for the derisive use of “woke”).

    Indeed, if Hunter Biden/Joe Biden are worthy of investigation, Trump is going exactly the wrong way about it. If you think that Biden situation is serious, you ought to mad at Trump for his ham-fisted approach.

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  113. @andros:

    An investigation will destroy Biden’s candidacy.

    Which is why Trump wants at least the appearance of an investigation.

    You are catching on to the private good that Trump is pursuing.

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  114. @andros:

    Maybe he wanted to get Zelensky publicly committed to rooting out corruption?

    The ways to accomplish that are legion. Private phone chats in which one asks for specific favors ain’t it.

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  115. @andros:

    Trump’s remark, in an impromptu conference, that China “should” investigate the Bidens is simple rhetoric.

    It is highly irresponsible rhetoric. And when spoken by the President of the United States has significant weight?

    How would you like POTUS to name you in public as someone a foreign government ought to be targeting?

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  116. Gustopher says:

    @andros:

    Why are “woke” progressives so hostile to the thought that the activities of the Bidens in Ukraine warrant investigation?

    I must not qualify as “woke” since I would be fine with an official investigation of how the US policy with regards to Shokin was formed, and why Joe Biden was sent to deliver the US position.

    I firmly believe that Biden should have said “eh… send John Kerry.”

    Because they know that, whatever Joe’s motives in procuring Shokin’s dismissal may turn out to be (I suspect he was misled) Hunter, in disgracing himself, disgraced Joe.

    Shokin was dismissed after the case against Burisma was dropped. And the US policy was not Joe Biden’s call.

    Again, I would be happy to see an open investigation as to how this policy was formed. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Joe Biden was a bad, bad man.

    The inquiry won’t stop with the millions said to have been showered upon Hunter by Burisma. It will inevitably extend to the “sweetheart deal” he is said to have obtained with a China fund specializing in acquisitions requiring U.S. approval. It’s all part of a pattern of cashing in on perceived influence.

    So, you want a roving investigation into the children of major officials cashing in on their names? Biden, Trump, McConnell, etc.? Exposing appearances of conflict of interest? I’m open to that. We may need the tax returns for the entire Trump family, by the way.

    I’m pretty sure Elizabeth Warren’s family is pretty squeaky clean, with the exception of Bailey. (I have it on good authority that Bailey Warren lies down with dogs)

    But, the simple fact is that the way to go about this is not to shake down foreign governments while withholding congressionally approved aid.

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  117. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I would caution against assuming too much that we here at OTB don’t sometimes get caught up in our echo-chamber, or that the broadly defined left is superior in these issues over the broadly defined right at a mass level.

    The left, by and large, does suffer from a delusion that facts matter, and that if we just show people the right graph, they will change their opinions.

    – Comprehensive sex education reduces the number of abortions, and we have graphs to prove it!

    – Illegal immigration its a crisis, it has been dropping, and we have the graphs to prove it!

    – Budget deficits have risen under Trump, and we have the graphs to prove it!

    And on, and on, and on.

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  118. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    My glib, but perhaps accurate, response is: partisanship is one hell of a drug.

    But here’s what I don’t get Steven: I am a partisan. I make no apologies for it. I’m a liberal DEM to my bones, I believe what I believe and I loudly and proudly proclaim it on my truck as well as my sleeve. And when it comes to politics, nothing, and I mean nothing, pisses me off like a corrupt DEM. I take that betrayal personal. When St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger (D) finally got arrested for federal corruption charges, I was like, “JEEBUS! What took you guys so long!” His guilt had been obvious to me for quite a while. I was not alone.

    I did not say, “WITCH HUNT! FAKE NEWS! THE DEEP STATE IS OUT TO GET HIM! REPUGS JUST WANT TO OVERTURN AN ELECTION!!!” Neither did any of the DEMs I know.

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  119. andros says:

    Well, progress! Having been pole-axed with the Johnson/Grassley letter, some seem less inclined to dispute that an investigation of the Bidens would serve the public interest. But it is averred that Trump didn’t want a real investigation, one that would greatly damage the Biden candidacy, but the mere announcement of an investigation. This is doublethink squared. Once you concede the Bidens warrant investigation, you remove any conflict between Trump’s private interest and the public interest.

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  120. andros says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    And how would you like lying sacks of you-know-what to call you a “Russian asset”?

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  121. David M says:

    @andros:

    Nope, there is no public interest in forcing Ukrainian politicians to publicly announce investigations into Trump’s domestic political opponents, only Trump’s private interest.

    State Department official George Kent told congressional investigators Trump wanted the president of Ukraine to “go to microphone and say ‘investigations, Biden, and Clinton.’”

    That single act is grounds for impeachment and is a massive breach of the public trust and abuse of power, far greater than anything the Biden’s are accused of, which is why they are now irrelevant to the issue at hand. Extorting a foreign country into interfering in domestic politics is abhorrent.

    TL/DR: even if Biden were guilty, Trump must be impeached and removed from office

    P.S. Given how invested Trump and you are in clearing Russia for their election interference in 2016, it seems fair to wonder if you are both Russian assets, even if just as unwitting dupes

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  122. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @andros: Guys? I rest my case. The stupid, it hurts.

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  123. @OzarkHillbilly: I get that. But, if the Democratic leader was acting like Trump is acting, I fear a lot more Dems would cheer him/her on than you might think would be the case.

    Look, I am not tying to engage in bothsiderism. I was cautioning against getting only convinced that one’s side is substantially more virtuous in the aggregate.

    Beyond that, yes, the current GOP leadership (and those who are following) have a lot to answer for.

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  124. @andros: I initially misread this comment and deleted my original response.

    To answer this:

    And how would you like lying sacks of you-know-what to call you a “Russian asset”?

    1) While I personally would not call him a Russian asset, I would say that his actions have very frequently been exactly what Putin would want, so it is not an out of bounds assertion.

    2) More importantly, as POTUS, and arguably the single most powerful man in world, he has to take insults and not be a child about them. He also should not be cavalierly asking foreign government to investigate US citizens.

    Again: do you want a president of an opposing party asking the Chinese, even flippantly, to investigate you? Do you want a foreign government to think that the way to ingratiate themselves to the President of the United States is for them to dig up dirt on you?

    You aren’t thinking through the implications/you are letting partisanship blind you.

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  125. Teve says:

    @David M: Biden could be an axe murderer, it wouldn’t alter the fact that Trump is a pathologically lying criminal.

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  126. DrDaveT says:

    @andros:

    Well, progress! Having been pole-axed with the Johnson/Grassley letter, some seem less inclined to dispute that an investigation of the Bidens would serve the public interest.

    Uh, no. You are confusing “opening your eyes” with “someone turned the lights on”. Nobody here ever, at any time, opposed a legitimate investigation into Burisma or the Bidens. It just took you a long time to figure that out.

    The part you continue to miss is that any hypothetical Biden crimes would not, in any way, mitigate or excuse Trump’s crimes. Really. “It wasn’t a crime because Hunter Biden did shady stuff first” is not even close to an actual legal argument for anyone older than 6 or so.

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  127. Jax says:

    @andros: It’s doublethink squared for….somebody. 😉 If Trump really wanted an ACTUAL investigation into corruption in Ukraine, and not just an ANNOUNCEMENT of an investigation of the Biden’s and Clinton’s (his domestic political rivals), why would he make that public so they can start shredding papers and bleachbitting hard drives? I mean, what kind of keystone cop goes on CNN to warn them they’re coming?

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  128. Jax says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: That’s the really troublesome part for me. I see all this shit Republican’s are doing with Trump, and I viscerally want revenge on them, an eye for an eye. “You said it’s ok with Trump, so now it’s ok if we do it, too.”

    This is not ok. None of this is ok. Not even if it’s my party.

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  129. andros says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    The claim that Trump is in thrall to Russia isn’t mouthed as an “insult,” but as a demonstrable fact.

    A meaningful investigation here will require bringing pressure to bear on Burisma and other entities and officials reluctant to cooperate, including those involved with U.S. citizens. This will necessarily rest largely with the Ukrainian government. Your ideas about what Trump intends rest largely on the statements of officials who don’t support him. We don’t really know what he plans, much less what Barr and Durham are doing. I’m satisfied Trump won’t rest content with an “announcement.” Why should he? Hides will be nailed to the wall.

    You guys have so equivocated on your indictment that few will find it intelligible. “He’s just doing it to hurt Biden!” all could understand.

    BTW, your initial response turned up on my email.

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  130. Jax says:

    @andros: So will hides be nailed to the wall like Benghaaaazi and the eeeemails?

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  131. Jax says:

    @andros: Because I was promised hides on the wall and look how that turned out!

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  132. @andros: Time to move on. Cheers.

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  133. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “BTW, your initial response turned up on my email.”

    1) If you don’t select “Notify me of…” that won’t happen.
    2) I suspected that’s why he noted that he had deleted it before starting his new comment.

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  134. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jax: To be fair, Comey’s comment on the eeeeeeeemails contributing to Hillary’s loss is a pretty good “hide on the wall.” (Shouldn’t that be shed? 😛 )

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  135. @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    2) I suspected that’s why he noted that he had deleted it before starting his new comment.

    Exactly.

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  136. BTW: one of the reasons that the Crowdstrike/server issue is important is because it has zero to do with fighting corruption. It is simply an issue Trump wants investigated to make himself look better vis-a-vis 2016. He paired that request with the request for a Biden investigation. He is not looking into corruption. He is seeking info/behavior to help his re-election campaign.

    BTW: Bill Taylor’s testimony clearly shows this.

    Further, the current GOP talking points (that since we released the aid, no harm no foul) is not based on the notion that Trump was attacking corruption, but that since he didn’t get want he wanted, and the Ukrainians got the aid, then the attempted quid pro quo didn’t happen. Such a defense essentially acknowledges that a quid pro quo was attempted.

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  137. wr says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: “1) If you don’t select “Notify me of…” that won’t happen.”

    Actually, not necessarily true. There’s seems to be a gremlin lurking here that occasionally turns on that feature at random… to which my inbox would happily testify!

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  138. Zachriel says:

    @andros: Relevant information about how corruption in Ukraine has affected U.S. interests must largely be obtained from Ukrainian citizens, with Ukrainian assistance, on Ukrainian soil.

    Trump was asking specifically for dirt on the Bidens and about a Kremlin-propagated conspiracy theory concerning the 2016 election. There is no evidence for any of this. Nor would a public announcement of an investigation be appropriate. It is clearly meant for Trump’s personal political benefit.

    @andros: Trump’s remark, in an impromptu conference, that China “should” investigate the Bidens is simple rhetoric.

    Negotiations with China concerning hundreds of billions of dollars worth of trade were set to commence in a few days. There is no way to consider this “simple rhetoric”.

    @andros: some seem less inclined to dispute that an investigation of the Bidens would serve the public interest.

    A formal criminal investigation is not warranted unless there is an ‘reasonable indication’ of a crime. Less formal investigations, by the press, by Congress, or by government investigators, have been conducted, but found no evidence of a crime by the Bidens, and certainly no evidence suggesting Russia didn’t interfere in the 2016 election. That’s not what Trump wanted. He wanted a public announcement of a Ukrainian government investigation even though it lacked an evidentiary predicate.

    @andros: A meaningful investigation here will require bringing pressure to bear on Burisma and other entities and officials reluctant to cooperate, including those involved with U.S. citizens.

    There is substantial evidence that Burisma was involved in money laundering. But that’s not what Trump asked for. He asked for something something CrowdStrike, something something Biden.

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  139. pylon says:

    @andros: And how would you like lying sacks of you-know-what to call you a “Russian asset”?

    Boy that would feel awful, but then again, I could probably avoid it by, you know, not acting exactly like a Russian asset would.

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  140. andros says:

    The initial rationale for these “proceedings” was that Trump was pursuing baseless claims against Biden to “smear” him, kneecapping his candidacy. Suspicions that the Bidens had engaged in gross impropriety in Ukraine, we were assured, were spun of “conspiracy theory,” all claims having been conclusively “debunked.” But events now looming on the horizon have forced a change in the “party line.”

    The response to the above-mentioned letter of Senators Johnson and Grassley is due Wednesday. I think it certain we’re going to find that Hunter Biden and Devon Archer implored the State Dept. to curb Shokins investigation of Burisma and Zlochevsky. This will be disastrous for both Biden and the “inquiry.” So now we’re lectured that Trump had no real interest in the Bidens’ unseemly activities (despite having singled them out in his call with Zelensky.) No, he just wanted an “announcement” of an investigation, nothing more. The which obviates any justification for looking into the Bidens’ activities, don’t you see?

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  141. Zachriel says:

    @andros: The initial rationale for these “proceedings” was that Trump was pursuing baseless claims against Biden to “smear” him, kneecapping his candidacy.

    That’s right. There’s no evidence of a crime.

    @andros: Hunter Biden and Devon Archer implored the State Dept. to curb Shokins investigation of Burisma and Zlochevsky.

    It constitutes an appearance of a conflict of interest, but it’s not illegal. Anything else?

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  142. andros says:

    @pylon:
    And just where, specifically, do you see Trump doing Russia’s bidding?

    Trump’s mocking comparison of Putin to “Momjeans” Obama really irked you, didn’t it?

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  143. DrDaveT says:

    @andros:

    And just where, specifically, do you see Trump doing Russia’s bidding?

    Holy crap. Really? You’re going there? What rock have you been living under?

    The full list is too long for this site, but just to pick a few we have:
    1. Publicly taking Vladimir Putin’s word over his own intelligence community with regard to Russian interference in the 2016 election.
    2. Blocking government action to prevent or mitigate future Russian interference in US elections.
    3. Holding up military aid to Ukraine
    4. Undermining the President of Ukraine’s domestic position
    5. Trashing NATO and other US European alliances (this should be about a dozen separate entries)
    6. Promoting Brexit
    7. Enabling the ethnic cleansing of Kurdistan
    8. Meeting with Putin with no US translator or witness present
    9. Diverting funds from Department of Defense readiness to build a border wall

    For extra credit, name three actions that Trump has taken that annoyed Putin. We’ll wait.

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  144. @DrDaveT: Don’t forget the recent withdrawal from Syria was in line with Russian goals in the region.

    Indeed, we left them an airbase. Via Fox News: Russian troops take over abandoned US airbase in northern Syria: report.

    It is a great PR coup to have a Russian flag flying over a former US airbase. It is also operationally helpful (note that Russia is an ally to Assad).

    Also: undermining the G7.

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  145. Note: a couple of key typos were fixed in my comment for those just reading e-mails.

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  146. andros says:

    Goodness, what a mishmash of invidious conjecture, virtually all of which has been, as you know, vigorously disputed. But you touch upon one area where I disagree with Trump. I think threatening Russia with bringing Ukraine into NATO is a serious mistake. Having regained control of Crimea, its only warm-water port and home to the Black Sea Fleet, Russia won’t be driven out without serious conflict. And all of this was regrettably predictable. Just how did we expect the Bear to react when (2006, I think) we put, as part of a NATO exercise, a contingent of U.S. Marines on Crimean soil? No flag redder.

    I don’t yearn, as some, for a proxy war with Russia over the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. If Russia’s actions represent an intolerable breach of “international law,” let’s let Germany take the lead. It’s time we accepted the limitations of our power.

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  147. DrDaveT says:

    @andros:

    Goodness, what a mishmash of invidious conjecture, virtually all of which has been, as you know, vigorously disputed.

    OK, I’ll bite. Which of those widely-reported public acts do you consider to be ‘conjecture’, and who is disputing them? The same people still arguing that the moon landings were faked? Be specific.

    I deliberately listed only things that are matters of public record, and that clearly further Russian interests. Steven did likewise.

    Until you can come back with that list of three things Trump has done that Putin didn’t like, you have nothing.

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  148. andros says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Lacking your expertise in international affairs, I’m here reserving judgment. It looks like a diplomatic Rubic’s cube to me. The Kurds are surrounded by powerful enemies. Up to a point, the Turks have a point about the millions of refugees who fled Syria into Turkey. Then there’s the simmering conflict between Turks and Kurds inside Turkey. Forcing the Kurds to buy their peace with Assad may seem harsh, but are we willing to assume the burden of protecting an independent Kurdistan? How long would the American public tolerate the inevitable bloodshed? Are we willing to risk expulsion from our air base in Turkey? Again, just thinking out loud.

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  149. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The idea that they would take the server, with damning evidence on it, to Ukraine to hide it makes no sense whatsoever.

    This this this. I mean, every time this Crowdstrike nonsense comes up, the human races collective IQ drops. It posits that some sort of multi-year and very successful conspiracy involving the deep state and Democrats and probably the Illuminati successfully framed Russia and Trump, and these evil masters of the universe were sitting around in a room one day and said “You know that server that has all the evidence of what we are up to and that would send us to prison if found, we should protect ourselves by sending it to Ukraine. What’s that Comey? You think we should erase it with publically available software that overwrites everything? Or bury it in concrete and throw it into the Pacific? Or unscrew the cover and shoot it with a bullet? Burn it in a furnace? Or drop a few thousand pounds on it so it’s flattened to nothing? Nah, let’s just send it to Ukraine.”

    Seriously, how does ANYONE who believes that BS even manage to tie their shoes without help?

    PS: Fun fact at my old job, we actually did use the impact tester in our QA lab to smash hard drives with proprietary information into teeny tiny bits. Some of the most fun I’ve ever had working in IT.

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  150. andros says:

    Gee, quiet as a church mouse in here. Perhaps that makes it safe for me to drop in that Rasmussen keeps Trump at 50% approval today. And get this: “The president’s overall approval has been tracking up since Wednesday, the first full day of the House impeachment hearings.”

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  151. @andros: Yes, jobs do have that effect.

    And if you are going to go with Rasmussen, then you are confirming your media diet. That poll is problematic.

    For more accurate numbers (and from more than one source): https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/trump-approval-ratings/?ex_cid=rrpromo

    It is true that support for impeachment is slightly down: https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/impeachment-polls/?ex_cid=rrpromo

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  152. @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    “You know that server that has all the evidence of what we are up to and that would send us to prison if found, we should protect ourselves by sending it to Ukraine. What’s that Comey? You think we should erase it with publically available software that overwrites everything? Or bury it in concrete and throw it into the Pacific? Or unscrew the cover and shoot it with a bullet? Burn it in a furnace? Or drop a few thousand pounds on it so it’s flattened to nothing? Nah, let’s just send it to Ukraine.”

    It is stunning and makes absolutely zero sense.

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  153. @andros:

    It looks like a diplomatic Rubic’s cube to me.

    Which Trump “solved” by breaking it. That is a rather terrible way to conduct foreign policy.

    And you are conflating the question of whether we should have withdrawn with how we did it. And it is undeniably the case that how we did it was to Russia’s favor and not to our own (which is why I raised it in response to your question about how Trump’s actions have helped Russia, which you stopped talking about and then shifted to broader questions).

    And @DrDaveT is correct, his list is empirical and mostly does not even require much in the way of interpretation. You dismissed it, but did not counter it.

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  154. David M says:

    More evidence that Solomon was working to spread propaganda, not report the truth:

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/18/media/jimmy-finkelstein-the-hill-ukraine/index.html

    Any chance @andros will rethink his positions, knowing he’s been reading disinformation?

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  155. andros says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    The media has relentlessly savaged Trump as hatefulness personified. Look at the contempt and disdain shown for him here. Many who see Trump as preferable to what the “opposition” offers lack my thickness of skin. They are reluctant to reveal their disfavored political values to cultured-toned interviewers. Rasmussen solicits their views through an online process. That is where I think Rasmussen has an edge.

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  156. andros says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    To borrow a term from Huck, I don’t see hare-lipping Russia as the primary objective here.

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  157. An Interested Party says:

    The media has relentlessly savaged Trump as hatefulness personified.

    Are you suggesting that characterization of him is unwarranted? Surely you can’t be that oblivious to reality…

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  158. @andros: To pick the one outlier that just happens to be the poll that tells you what you want to hear is to underscore that you are not trying to apply facts and logic here, and that it is really pointless to try to persuade you.

    You were already showing a great deal of avoidance of facts you don’t like, but you are really underscoring it here.

    Conservation becomes a problem as a result.

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  159. I would note that Fox News polling also shows numbers similar to the 538 average.

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  160. andros says:

    @David M:
    In light of those damning emails relating to the Bidens and Burisma Solomon retrieved through his FOIA requests, you’re the one who needs to do the rethinking.

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  161. @andros: I have no idea what that means.

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  162. David M says:

    Um, you’re telling me to one take your word on something you won’t link to, written by a known and repeatedly discredited propagandist, that other reputable news organizations won’t touch, and has zero relevance to the issue at hand?

    That does sound convincing.

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  163. DrDaveT says:

    @andros:

    The media has relentlessly savaged Trump as hatefulness personified.

    Translation:
    “The media, despite their overwhelming disinclination to take sides, have been forced to recognize that Trump is hateful.”

    Still waiting for your answers to my questions, dude. Your need to deflect and distract is obvious to everyone.

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  164. DrDaveT says:

    @andros:

    Many who see Trump as preferable to what the “opposition” offers lack my thickness of skin. They are reluctant to reveal their disfavored political values to cultured-toned interviewers.

    Translation:
    “Some deplorables can be shamed by having their deplorable positions made explicit. I am not one of those; I revel in how disgusting my beliefs are.”

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