Top U.S. Diplomat Confirms Quid Pro Quo On Ukraine Aid

A top U.S. diplomat involved in Ukraine policy confirmed the existence of a quid pro quo regarding U.S aid to Ukraine.

A top Trump Administration diplomat involved in the relationship between the United States and Ukraine over the past three years testified yesterday that there was a direct link between providing aid to Ukraine and the eastern European nation undertaking investigations against the President’s political adversaries back home:

America’s top diplomat in Ukraine delivered a forceful blow to President Trump’s account of his “perfect” dealings with that nation, telling lawmakers Tuesday that the White House had threatened to withdraw much-needed military aid unless Kyiv announced investigations for Trump’s political benefit.

The explosive, closed-door testimony from acting ambassador William B. Taylor Jr. undermined Trump’s insistence that he never pressured Ukrainian officials in a potentially improper “quid pro quo.” It also offered House investigators an expansive road map to what Taylor called a “highly irregular” channel of shadow diplomacy toward Ukraine that lies at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

In a 15-page opening statement, obtained by The Washington Post, Taylor repeatedly expressed his shock and bewilderment as he watched U.S. policy toward Ukraine get overtaken by Trump’s demand that newly elected president Volodymyr Zelensky “go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of [Democratic presidential candidate Joe] Biden and 2016 election interference.”

” ‘Everything’ was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance,” Taylor said he was told by Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

A seasoned diplomat, Army veteran and meticulous note taker, Taylor told lawmakers that former national security adviser John Bolton and other officials from the Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA tried unsuccessfully to get a meeting with Trump to persuade him to release the money — nearly $400 million intended to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia.

But Trump’s hold on the aid extended well into September, and Taylor said he found himself considering resignation. “I could not and would not defend such a policy,” Taylor said.

The blockbuster testimony came hours after Trump escalated his attack on the impeachment inquiry, tweeting that it was a “lynching” and drawing swift condemnation from Democrats and some Republicans for equating the constitutional process with the barbaric killing of African Americans.

Taylor’s unspooling of events not only contradicted Sondland’s testimony, delivered last week, but also posed a test for Republicans who have uniformly defended Trump amid the fast-moving Ukraine saga. Many have cast evidence of a “quid pro quo” — U.S. aid used as leverage for political favors — as the red line that would cause Trump to lose their support.

But Taylor’s testimony made plain that, even as Sondland and others told him that the president was not seeking a “quid pro quo,” it was clear to him that the arrangement met the dictionary definition.

(…)

In his testimony, Taylor told lawmakers that on Sept. 8, after he had begun raising alarms about pressure on Zelensky, Sondland explained that Trump approached the foreign policy matter as a business proposition.

“Ambassador Sondland tried to explain to me that President Trump is a businessman. When a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, he said, the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing the check.”

Sondland told House investigators last week that he recalls “no discussions” with anyone at the State Department or White House about investigating Biden or his son Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma.

Taylor also pointed to Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani as a source of trouble.

“The push to make President Zelenskyy publicly commit to investigations of Burisma and alleged interference in the 2016 election showed how the official foreign policy of the United States was undercut by the irregular efforts led by Mr. Giuliani,” Taylor wrote, using an alternate spelling for the Ukrainian leader’s name.

New York Times reporter Peter Baker calls yesterday “damning,”:

In by far the most damning account yet to become public in the House impeachment inquiry Mr. Taylor described a president holding up $391 million in assistance for the clear purpose of forcing Ukraine to help incriminate Mr. Trump’s domestic rivals. Mr. Trump’s actions, he testified, undercut American allies desperately fighting off Russia’s attempt to redraw the boundaries of Europe through force.

“If Ukraine succeeds in breaking free of Russian influence, it is possible for Europe to be whole, free, democratic and at peace,” Mr. Taylor said in his opening statement to House investigators, which was provided to reporters after he delivered it behind closed doors. “In contrast, if Russia dominates Ukraine, Russia will again become an empire, oppressing its people and threatening its neighbors and the rest of the world.”

(…)

[Walker] recalled being stunned to learn during a secure video conference call on July 18 that the aid to Ukraine had been delayed with no explanation other than that “the directive had come from the president to the chief of staff to” the Office of Management and Budget.

I and others sat in astonishment,” he testified. “The Ukrainians were fighting the Russians and counted on not only the training and weapons, but also the assurance of U.S. support.”

No one told the Ukrainians at first, and Mr. Taylor recalled meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev on July 26, the day after Mr. Trump pressed the newly elected Ukrainian leader on the telephone to investigate Mr. Biden and the 2016 election conspiracy theory.

After the meeting, Mr. Taylor joined Mr. Zelensky and Kurt D. Volker, the State Department special envoy for Ukraine, on a trip to northern Donbas, the front line of the conflict with Russian-backed separatists, where they were briefed by the commander of Ukrainian forces.

“The commander thanked us for security assistance, but I was aware that this assistance was on hold, which made me uncomfortable,” Mr. Taylor said. “Ambassador Volker and I could see the armed and hostile Russian-led forces on the other side of the damaged bridge across the line of contact. Over 13,000 Ukrainians had been killed in the war, one or two a week. More Ukrainians would undoubtedly die without the U.S. military assistance.”

As weeks went by without a resolution of the aid impasse, Mr. Taylor said he began preparing to resign. His resolve was strengthened when Mr. Sondland and Timothy Morrison, the senior director for European and Russian affairs at the National Security Council, both indicated to him that the aid was conditioned on Ukraine opening the investigations sought by the president.

Mr. Sondland explained that Mr. Trump saw it through a transactional lens. “When a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, he said, the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing the check,” Mr. Taylor said, quoting Mr. Sondland. Mr. Volker “used the same terms several days later.”

Commentary’s John Podhoretz says yesterday’s testimony essentially guarantees that impeachment will occur:

There’s no need to talk about the “whistleblower” and his findings any longer, and there’s no need for the whistleblower to be heard any further. We have a veteran U.S. diplomat on the record saying that a Trump intimate told him Trump was holding up Congressionally authorized and appropriated military aid to Ukraine because he wanted a public statement from the Zelensky government that it was investigating Joe Biden’s son.

Taylor said this of a September 1 phone call with Gordon Sondland, our ambassador to the European Union about the $275 million in U.S. security assistance to Ukraine as well as a possible meeting between Trump and Ukranian president Zelensky:

“Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelensky to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. Ambassador Sondland also told me that he now recognized that he had made a mistake by earlier telling the Ukrainian officials to whom he spoke that a White House meeting with President Zelenskyy was dependent on a public announcement of investigations—in fact, Ambassador Sondland said, ‘everything’ was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance. He said that President Trump wanted President Zelenskyy ‘in a public box’ by making a public statement about ordering such investigations.”

So that’s it. Unless Trump and Sondland deny this, and offer evidence that Taylor is wrong or lying, we now have contemporaneous confirmation that the president intended to hold up military aid to the Ukranians to secure domestic political advantage.

That’s the ballgame. That’s impeachment. In doing this Trump was contravening U.S. law, which does not give the president the right to deny Ukraine the money appropriated by Congress for Ukraine.

Podhoretz is largely correct, of course. While the laws governing the solicitation of aid for an American political campaign from foreign sources do not require a quid pro quo, the existence of one as has been indicated since the Ukraine scandal first broke has been the driving force behind the impeachment inquiry. The initial documents released in connection with that scandal — such as the transcript of President Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, the whistleblower’s complaint, and the report of the intelligence community’s Inspector General — have provided at least circumstantial evidence of such a demand on the Administration’s part.

With Taylor’s testimony, though, we have direct evidence that a quid pro quo existed between the release of the military aid being withheld by the United States as well as further advances in the relationship between the United States and Ukraine and Ukraine’s agreement to undertake investigations of the President’s political rivals. This, of course, goes against all of the denials that we’ve heard from the Trump Administration and its apologists in Congress and in the conservative media. Unless Taylor is completely fabricating his testimony, which seems hard to believe given his reputation and long career or public service, we now have direct testimony that there was, in fact, a direct link between progress in the U.S.-Ukrainian relationship and agreement of the Ukrainian government to undertake investigations of both Hunter and Joe Biden and the allegations behind a bizarre conspiracy theory involving the 2016 election and the claim that it was Ukraine that interfered in the campaign to benefit the Clinton campaign despite all the evidence pointing to Russia and its goal of assisting the Trump campaign.

Taylor’s testimony also sheds more light on the issues surrounding the role that Rudy Giuliani has played in this matter and the extent to which the White House and even the State Department was subletting American foreign policy in Ukraine to him and his cronies. Essentially, Taylor testified, Giuliani, rather than the President or even the Secretary of State, had become the point person on Ukraine-U.S. relations. To say that this is unusual is a major understatement, and would certainly seem to call into question exactly what role Giuliani has been playing in this Administration dating back to even before he became Trump’s personal attorney.

WhileTaylor’s testimony isn’t a “smoking gun” in the sense that it directly links the quid pro quo to the President himself. However, it does link that demand to people who were in direct contact with the President and suggests strongly that this was what the President wanted. Because of this, it appears that we’re at the point where impeachment is, as Podhoretz put it, inevitable. The only question seems to be when it will happen and what impact the entire process will have on the 2020 election.

Here’s Taylor’s opening statement:

Amb.. William Taylor Testimony by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

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

Comments

  1. SKI says:

    Two things not mentioned enough in the coverage in general:

    1. They were’t demanding an investigation of Biden or Burisma or into corruption in general. They were demanding the *public announcement* of such an investigation into Biden.

    2. Even without that demand, withholding military aid approved by Congress and signed into law by the President was unlawful.

    The Pentagon went so far as to conduct its own legal analysis of the holds, determining that they were illegal. A government official confirmed that such an analysis took place. So did several Capitol Hill staffers. They all described the conclusion of that analysis in similar terms.

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    This is my shocked face.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Also:

    A seasoned diplomat, Army veteran and meticulous note taker, Taylor told lawmakers that former national security adviser John Bolton and other officials from the Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA tried unsuccessfully to get a meeting with Trump to persuade him to release the money — nearly $400 million intended to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia.

    Taylor said this of a September 1 phone call with Gordon Sondland, our ambassador to the European Union about the $275 million in U.S. security assistance to Ukraine as well as a possible meeting between Trump and Ukranian president Zelensky:

    I have heard many different #s reported for how much aid was held up, $391 mil being the most common I think, but I really hate that we can’t get agreement on that most basic fact of this story from our news orgs.

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  4. grumpy realist says:

    How much do you want to bet that Republicans like Linsey Graham will find some way to excuse this and say it isn’t really a quid-pro-quo?

    I’m starting to detest Graham with the heat of a million white stars. The man has no integrity whatsoever. I hope he enjoys having sold his soul to Trump.

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  5. mattbernius says:

    Ignoring the fact that Impeachment is not a criminal process, my favorite surrogate head scratcher as of late is “sure it’s abuse of power, but that’s not a crime.” – https://twitter.com/Acyn/status/1186830516231659520

    That said, the best thing defenders could do is stop pretending that this didn’t happen and shift to there’s nothing wrong with this happening.

    Messaging that’s essentially “yeah it’s bad, just not bad enough” really isn’t helping.

    I’m starting to detest Graham with the heat of a million white stars. The man has no integrity whatsoever. I hope he enjoys having sold his soul to Trump.

    Starting?

    Though the transformation of Graham, post-McCain honestly makes me wonder how things would have looked if McCain was still alive. From a political perspective, his death may have been the luckiest thing that happened to Trump in the last few years.

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  6. Mister Bluster says:

    Meet Mitch McConnell. President Puke’s main man.

    Trump said McConnell told him, “That was the most innocent phone call that I’ve read.”
    McConnell told reporters that, despite Trump’s claim, he’s never discussed the Zelensky call with him.
    Politico reported:
    “We’ve not had any conversations on that subject,” McConnell told reporters.
    McConnell was asked Tuesday whether the president was lying when he made that statement. The GOP leader replied: “You’ll have to ask him. I don’t recall any conversations with the president about that phone call.”
    MSNBC

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  7. CSK says:

    The Trumpkins–at least the ones over at Lucanne.com, where they really love them some Trump–appear to be ignoring Taylor’s statement. Assuming that even they have to have heard about it, I’d guess they’re stymied on how to spin it. I suppose they could always scream “Fake news!”

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  8. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Not a smoking gun?!?!?!?
    Trump has admitted to this.
    Mulvaney has admitted to this.
    The WH Memo (not a transcript) on the infamous phone call collaborates their admissions.
    And now Taylor has provided the receipts…in meticulous contemporaneous notes.
    Article II, Section 4, says the president “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

    Now, this morning, Trump is reduced to admitting again that he did it, but that Ukranians didn’t know he was doing it, so it’s legal.

    Neither he (Taylor) or any other witness has provided testimony that the Ukrainians were aware that military aid was being withheld. You can’t have a quid pro quo with no quo.”

    However Taylor testified that Ukranians DID know.

    There is no question about whether this attempted bribery happened. The only question is whether Republicans consider themselves to be Americans, or members of Cult#45. Has all their talk about law and order been genuine, or just blather?

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  9. Chip Daniels says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    At this point, all we are lacking is ” one autographed copy of a book entitled ‘Ukrainian Corruption And Me, It IS My Bag, Baby’, signed by Donald J. Trump.”

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  10. Kathy says:

    @grumpy realist:

    How much do you want to bet that Republicans like Linsey Graham will find some way to excuse this and say it isn’t really a quid-pro-quo?

    I wonder how many Republicans have gotten off on a technicality, that they are so eager to manufacture one for Dennison.

    Essentially this is their argument: Yes, well, of course murder for hire is a crime. however, Mr. Cheeto Pendejo here did not “hire” anyone to “murder” anyone else. He simply offered to pay a bonus to an existing employee for stabbing someone else in the heart. There’s no hire, and no one ever said “murder.”

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  11. Jen says:

    I read Taylor’s statement in its entirety, and there’s no wiggle room. None.

    Unless we are looking for a literal smoking gun rather than a figurative one, I’d say Taylor’s statement is about as unequivocal as we’re likely to find that yes, there was indeed a quid pro quo (and someone needs to tell Republicans that).

    Military aid to Ukraine was being held up until there was a *public statement* that investigations were being opened/reopened into Hunter Biden. Everyone involved, including Ukrainian officials, understood that this had to do with the 2020 election.

    Impeach away.

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  12. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Now, this morning, Trump is reduced to admitting again that he did it, but that Ukranians didn’t know he was doing it, so it’s legal.

    Do they not know this is more blatantly ridiculous? Do they not suppose the Ukrainian government would know they had not received millions in aid up to that point? Did they not read the part where Zelensky says they want to get missiles with the missing aid?

    I guess the problem is Trump’s aides and advisers have to come up with a defense strategy Trump can actually comprehend. So something, simple, dumb, criminal, underhanded, and stupid, that makes him look complex, smart, honest, and better than everyone else who’s ever lived.

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  13. CSK says:

    @Jen: I think that all Trump can do at this point is claim that Taylor is a Deep State plant and is lying to bring down the Trump presidency. Cult45 will buy that without question. No one else will.

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  14. de stijl says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    McConnell sees a bus coming, and he’s looking at Trump, his desk calendar is open to the November 2020 page, and his internal monologue is sounding out “President Pence? With that could we possibly shimmy shimmy-shake past this mess?”.

    The bus is transforming with every wheel rotation / news cycle : it’s getting larger and uglier like some Steven King demon vehicle.

    McConnell sees the demon bus, he sees Trump, and he’s running through potential scenarios in his head right now.

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  15. Steve V says:

    From the conservative leading lights at the Federalist:

    Sean Davis

    Taylor’s bitterness at not being in charge of everything — he repeatedly whines about having less policy-making power than cabinet secretaries and Senate-confirmed appointees — makes his testimony hard to take seriously.

    Millie Hemingway

    No one said helping investigations into Ukraine’s 2016 meddling and previous corruption was done “to help Trump in 2020.” That’s Democratic/media spin to help themselves avoid accountability for same.

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  16. gVOR08 says:

    You want to see how GOPs can manage to dance around this, you have to go no further than foxnews.com where the big defense seems to be that yes we were withholding the military aid but the Ukranians didn’t know we were withholding the aid. McCarthy is going on about Taylor’s testimony being destroyed by GOP questioning, but that mean Adam Schiff won’t let us talk about it. There seems to be no mention of a quid pro quo not being necessary to criminality.

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  17. de stijl says:

    @Chip Daniels:

    It’s my Happening, baby, and it’s freaking me out.

    In fiction, this would be a comedic tragedy. In real life, this a very black comedy with very dire consequences.

    This is the sequel to “The Bonfire Of The Vanities” no one wanted. Poor little rich boy from Queens is contemptuously dismissed by Manhattan gatekeepers in his young adulthood despite his father’s wealth, hits it big, self destructs due to character flaws, ego, hubris and monumentally bad judgement.

    The man finally got what he wanted and it will destroy him. Even the people who voted for him will declare him a laughingstock.

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  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    You must leave now, take what you need, you think will last
    But whatever you wish to keep, you better grab it fast. . .
    And it’s all over now, baby blue.

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  19. grumpy realist says:

    @Ms. Cris Ericson:
    1. No one cares about your “problems”.
    2. This posting is about President Trump’s quid-pro-quo with the Ukrainian government, not about the FEC and your quarrels with them.
    3. Please post only on topics which have relevance to the thread being discussed. Your inability to adhere to the rules of this blog site may result in your being banned.

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  20. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Ms. Cris Ericson:
    As a native Vermonter, you are embarrassing me. Stop.

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  21. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    If Trump were as rich as he claims, why didn’t he just offer Zelensky a $Billion or so of his own money to manufacture dirt on Biden?
    That would have been perfectly legal.
    Yes…hypothetical…I know Trump doesn’t have a $Billion of his own to offer.

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  22. de stijl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Why do you think Trump refuses to release his tax returns?

    Well, #1 is the shenanigans therein bit, but more importantly to him is that it would reveal his darkest secret.

    It’s not that he keeps two sets of books: one with inflated asset values for potential lenders and another with deflated asset valuation for the tax man, it’s that he lied on his resume and he lost most of dad’s money and he’s a truly shitty businessman.

    He’s staked his game and his rep on being a big-deal developer. And he sucks at it. He actually lost money running a casino.

    And he’s terrified that people might find that out.

    That fragile, paranoid, power-obsessed, serial sexual predator guy is our President. Yay, us!

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  23. wr says:

    @grumpy realist: “I’m starting to detest Graham with the heat of a million white stars.”

    Then you’ll enjoy the current Pod Save America, in which Susan Rice describes Graham as “a piece of shit.”

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  24. de stijl says:

    This may be the first time Podhoretz has been right about anything.

    For R folks who were voting age adults during the Bush 43 tenure, JPod and Bolton are pissed off and gunning for Trump. That’s kinda a big deal.

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  25. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    He actually lost money running a casino.

    Actually, that’s quite common.

    These days.

    Back in the day, only Atlantic City and Vegas had legal casino gambling, plus AC is close to several major markets like, you know, New York city (maybe Dennison hasn’t heard about it?)

    But, seriously, it’s not like a casino is a money-printing machine. If you’ve been to any decent-sized casino in Vegas (and I suppose AC, which I’ve never visited), you can tell the overhead and operating expenses are huge.

    So it does take a good businessperson to make a profit from a casino. You can’t just open one and relax while the money pours in. That’s the kind of thing any common Trump might do, but not a serious person.

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  26. Sleeping Dog says:

    Reports this morning that McConnell is telling the Rethug senate caucus to defend Tiny on process, not substance. That’s damning for Tiny and a God send for senate rethugs. As was mentioned above the bus is coming.

    Relatedly, I’m very curious about Tiny’s phone calls with Putin. The particulars of course, but more basically, were others on the call and who, did Tiny use a US translator or simply rely on Putin’s

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  27. Kari Q says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    If they’re complaining about process, they’re admitting his guilt.

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  28. Joe says:

    @Kathy:
    One would have to believe that either the Ukrainians were not aware that Congress had past the appropriation or forgot to ask when they would get the check.

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  29. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kari Q:
    Yup. Of course they won’t admit that.

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  30. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Reports this morning that McConnell is telling the Rethug senate caucus to defend Tiny on process, not substance.

    Exactly…that’s why Matt DUI Gaetz is leading a sit-in in a SCIF at the Capital during an Intelligence Committee hearing. He is claiming that Republicans are not being included in the process, in spite of there being 10 Republican members of the Intelligence Committee.
    Trump had advance knowledge and supported this pre-meditated obstruction.
    It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Capital Hill Police arrest protesters all the time in non-secure locations. These fools are in a SCIF with their electronics and live-tweeting it!!!
    They should be arrested and their security clearances revoked.

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  31. gVOR08 says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Schiff and the Intel Committee had to delay a deposition from Laura Cooper today. Matt Gaetz (R-Toontown) led a bunch of Freedom Caucus idiots, who aren’t committee members, jamming themselves into the SCIF. They’re demanding the Ds open up the process, apparently hoping the general public don’t know half the members of the relevant committees are GOPs. If the fact and the law are against you ….

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  32. gVOR08 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Beat me by that much.

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  33. Kathy says:

    @gVOR08:

    The GOP has resorted to a variation of the Homer Simpson Legal Principle: “If you don’t get to hear it, it’s not illegal!”

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  34. Steve V says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: This morning as I was driving into work and listening to Rush Limbaugh, he was really going off on how terrible this whole impeachment investigation was, and he repeatedly said that Republicans were being shut out of it completely. The conservative media complex must have been spreading this for a while if it got GOP “Freedom Caucus” members to storm the deposition.

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  35. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I’m old enough to remember when Republicans considered themselves to be the adults in the room.
    Now they are nothing but frat-boi’s.

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  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jen: Even Republicans would only be satisfied with a literal smoking gun, when someone showed it to them they would simply say it’s a pastrami sandwich which only looked smoking because of the steam rising from the hot pastrami. No gun. No quid pro quo. Only a sandwich. (And yes, their mother does happen to be a tea cart, thank you very much!)

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  37. Jen says:

    @Steve V: Some of these GOP “protest” idiots *are on the committees* that are conducting impeachment inquiries.

    Empty Wheel has a list that shows which of them are on the committees (marked with an asterisk) and which voted in 2017 to condemn such protests as being against House rules.

    Idiots.

    Also, an excellent thread on Twitter that explains why these idiots bringing their cell phones in with them was such a Big Deal.

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  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy:

    Do they not know this is more blatantly ridiculous?

    I think he’s trying to riff off the Mueller ‘may not be able to be convicted of conspiracy because they were too stupid to recognize it as a conspiracy’ conclusion. And no, he may not realize that it’s ridiculous, but count on him knowing that his peeps will buy and repeat it.

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  39. Steve V says:

    BTW I would just also note that if this is how they “complain about process,” they’ve cranked it straight up to 11. It looks like a party-wide meltdown to an outside observer.

    To the base, however, I guess it looks like some kind of heroic last-ditch attempt to save the country. What a mess.

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  40. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    His peeps would believe the kool-aid is perfectly harmless, too. I’ve no doubt about that.

    On other things, we need a court ruling, if there isn’t one already, stating that executive privilege does not cover criminal activities, nor high crimes and misdemeanors.

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  41. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Jen:

    Some of these GOP “protest” idiots *are on the committees* that are conducting impeachment inquiries.

    14 of the 40 protesting a lack of transparency were already entitled to be in the room.
    You cannot make it up. But still, The Republican base is going to see this as freedom fighting heroes eating pizza in a secure location.
    ROTFLMAO

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  42. Mikey says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: It’s such performative bullshit.

    Well, except for the security violations. Those are real. Do you know what would likely happen to a federal employee who deliberately brought a smartphone into a SCIF and began recording video inside? Assuming they kept their job, that is.

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  43. gVOR08 says:

    @Mikey: I’ve read they have armed guards on the SCIF. Why didn’t they keep these idiots out? Shoot one of them maybe they’d figure out the rules apply to them, too.

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  44. Lynn says:

    @Ms. Cris Ericson:

    a little word salad, anyone?

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  45. Jay L Gischer says:

    I’m a bit curious. Why are the depositions about Trump being taken in a SCIF? Why, for that matter, is the House Intel committee leading this charge? And not the Armed Services or the Foreign Relations or something?

    I mean, I have some guesses about that, but I’m really hoping I’ll find out for real some day.

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  46. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    They’re shielding the witnesses from retaliation. We can’t be sure the ‘president’ won’t attack them publicly, and sic his rabid supporters on them. Because that’s Trump’s America.

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  47. Jen says:

    @Jay L Gischer: They were interviewing Pentagon officials today, allegedly about the withholding of security assistance. It seems to me like it’d be fairly routine to hold a preliminary round of questioning on a sensitive topic in a secure room so that committee members (including Republicans!) could ask any questions they wished to ask without worrying about bad actors listening in. House Intel is leading the charge because they’re the furthest along–plus, there are plenty of Intel issues with this whole…mess.

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  48. Kari Q says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    The Oversight Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee are also investigating, but Intelligence is getting most of the headline witnesses it seems.

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  49. Jax says:

    @Jay L Gischer: I suspect it’s because the initial whistleblower complaint initiated from the CIA. Intelligence Committee would fall under that purview, correct?

    And also, what everyone up above said.

    ReplyReply

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