These Were Rogue Operators – Trump Was Not Involved

These Were Rogue Operators – Trump Was Not Involved

“I came to realize that I had first-hand knowledge regarding certain events on July 26 that had not otherwise been reported and that those events potentially bore on the question of whether the president did in fact have knowledge that those senior officials were using the levers of diplomatic power to influence the new Ukrainian president to announce the opening of a criminal investigation against President Trump’s political opponent.”

David Holmes
Counselor for Political Affairs at the US Embassy in Ukraine
(11/21/19)


“Ambassador Sondland placed a call on his mobile phone, and I heard him announce himself several times along the lines of Gordon Sondland holding for the President. It appeared that he was being transferred through several layers of switchboards and assistance, and I then noticed Ambassador Sondland’s demeanor changed and understood that he had been connected to President Trump. While Ambassador Sondland’s phone was not on speaker phone, I could hear the president’s voice through the ear piece of the phone.
“The President’s voice was loud and recognizable, and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume. I heard Ambassador Sondland greet the President and explained he was calling from Kiev. I heard President Trump then clarify that Ambassador Sondland was in Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland replied, yes, he was in Ukraine and went on to state that President Zelensky ‘loves your ass.’ I then heard President Trump ask, ‘So he’s going to do the investigation?’
“Ambassador Sondland replied that, ‘He’s going to do it,’ adding that ‘President Zelensky will do anything you ask him to do.’ Even though I did not take notes of these statements, I have a clear recollection that these statements were made.”

David Holmes
Counselor for Political Affairs at the US Embassy in Ukraine
(11/21/19)


“Everyone was in the loop.”

Gordon Sondland
U.S. Ambassador to the European Union
(11/20/19)


For more info, visit Trump-Ukraine Central


– rob rünt

Did President Trump Obstruct Justice on Ukraine?

Did President Trump Obstruct Justice on Ukraine?

What is Obstruction of Justice? The Legal Definition


Merriam Webster Online states that the legal definition of obstruction of justice is:

The crime or act of willfully interfering with the process of justice and law especially by influencing, threatening, harming, or impeding a witness, potential witness, juror, or judicial or legal officer or by furnishing false information in or otherwise impeding an investigation or legal process


In the Mueller Report, Special Counsel Robert Mueller described 10 different types of acts by the President that could be considered obstruction of justice. In the Ukraine case, President Trump appears to have again obstructed justice in a number of ways:

  1. Attempting to conceal evidence
  2. Impeding witnesses and potential witnesses
  3. Intimidating witnesses and potential witnesses
  4. Intimidating members of Congress


Obstruction: Attempting to Conceal Evidence



The transcript of the July 25, 2019 call with President Zelensky raised concern for many when they heard it, including U.S. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. When Vindman saw the readout of the call, he noticed a couple of omissions, and submitted them to ensure that the call record was accurate. His submissions were not included, and the call transcript was quickly put on a top secret server in the White House that only six people have access to. The server is generally used only for information related to highly sensitive national security matters. Why did the record of such a “perfect call” need to be hidden away from others?

Shockingly, when asked for a transcript of the call, President Trump quickly made the transcript available to the public, despite its supposedly highly sensitive nature. Did the released version include everything that was in the version on the server? During testimony, Vindman was asked about the reason for the transcript being put on the top secret White House server:


“My understanding is that this was viewed as a sensitive transcript.”

U.S. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman
National Security Counsel Ukraine Expert, Director for European Affairs
(11/19/19)


Adam Schiff:  “Both of you recall President Zelensky in that conversation raising the issue or mentioning Burisma, do you not?”

Jennifer Williams:  “That’s correct.”

Alexander Vindman:  “Correct.”

Adam Schiff:   “And yet the word Burisma appears nowhere in the call record that’s been released to the public. Is that right?”

Jennifer Williams:  “That’s right.”

Alexander Vindman:  “Correct.”

(11/19/19 Testimony)



Obstruction: Impeding Witnesses or Potential Witnesses



The President has made extensive use of the concept of “executive privilege,” claiming that it immunizes anyone in his Administration from testifying before Congress. Consistent with that logic, he has prevented a number of witnesses – some under subpoena – from testifying in the impeachment hearings. Among those witnesses and potential witnesses are:

  • John Bolton – Former U.S. National Security Adviser
  • Mike Pompeo – U.S. Secretary of State
  • Mick Mulvaney – Acting White House Chief of Staff
  • Rick Perry – U.S. Secretary of Energy
  • Mike Pence – Vice President


Obstruction: Intimidating Witnesses or Potential Witnesses



The President has made numerous threatening statements during the course of the impeachment hearings. Many of his statements were issued in plain sight on Twitter and Facebook, as they were during the Mueller investigation. If you do not perceive the quotes below as threatening, imagine yourself being the subject of such public pronouncements made by the most powerful man in the country – a man with legions of fanatical followers, some of whom have already become violent toward targets of similar statements that he has made in the past.


Intimidating the Person(s) Who Spoke to the WhistleBlower


“I want to know who’s the person who gave the Whistleblower the information because that’s close to a spy. You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

Donald Trump
President of the United States
(Speaking to his staff at the United States Mission to the United Nations on 9/26/19. America has executed spies in the past.)


Intimidating the Whistleblower


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Intimidating Witness Marie Yovanovitch


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“It’s very intimidating. … I mean, I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is trying to be intimidating.”

Marie/Masha Yovanovitch
Former US Ambassador to Ukraine
(11/15/19)

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Intimidating Witness Jennifer Williams


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Intimidating Witnesses in General


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Obstruction: Intimidating Members of Congress



Intimidating Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)


“Shifty Schiff – Little Shifty Schiff [audience boos]. He’s got the little, little 10 inch neck.”

Donald Trump
President of the United States
(Speaking at a rally in Louisiana on 11/15/19)


“Right now, you have a kangaroo court headed by Little Shifty Schiff. We don’t have lawyers, we don’t have witnesses, we don’t have anything,” said the President. “It’s a scam, it’s a big scam.”

Donald Trump
President of the United States
(Speaking at the White House on 11/20/19)


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Intimidating Members of Congress in General


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For more info, visit Trump-Ukraine Central


– rob rünt

Did President Trump Attempt to Bribe the President of Ukraine?

Did President Trump Attempt to Bribe the President of Ukraine?

What is Bribery? The Legal Definition


Bribery


“Colloquially, I think you would call it extortion. But the U.S. criminal code defines both as bribery (here) AND extortion (in another section). To use a dated 70’s SNL reference: it’s a floor wax AND a dessert topping!”

Jonathan Zasloff
Law Professor, UCLA School of Law
(11/7/19)


Key Quotes from the July 25, 2019 Phone Call


“…the United States has been very very good to Ukraine. I wouldn’t say that it’s reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine.”

Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
(From transcript of 7/25/19 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky)


President Zelensky:
“We. are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps. Specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins [missiles] from the United· States for defense purposes.”

President Trump:
“I would like you to do us a favor, though, because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike.”

(From transcript of 7/25/19 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky)


“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.”

Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
(From transcript of 7/25/19 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky)


“I also wanted to thank you for your invitation to visit the United States, specifically Washington DC. On the other hand, I also want to ensure you that we will be very serious about the case and will work on the investigation.”

Volodomyr Zelensky
President of Ukraine
(From transcript of 7/25/19 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky)

NOTE: As of this writing, President Trump has not hosted President Zelensky at the White House. He finally met briefly with Zelensky on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York on September 25, 2019, the day after after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the official opening of an impeachment inquiry over Trump’s pressure on Ukraine.


Key Quotes from the Impeachment Hearings


“By mid-July, it was becoming clear to me that the meeting President Zelensky wanted was conditioned on the investigations of Burisma, and alleged Ukrainian interference and the 2016 U.S. elections. It was also clear that this condition was driven by the irregular policy channel I had come to understand was guided by Mr. Giuliani.”

William Taylor
Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
(11/13/19)


“Needless to say, the Ukrainians in the meetings were confused. Ambassador Bolton and the regular Ukraine policy decision making channel wanted to talk about security, energy, and reform. Ambassador Sondland, a participate in the irregular channel, wanted to talk about the connection between a White House meeting and Ukrainian investigations.”

William Taylor
Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
(11/13/19)


“Very concerned, on that same day, September 1st, I sent Ambassador Sondland a text message asking if we are now saying that the security assistance and a White House meeting are conditioned on investigations. Ambassador Sondland responded asking me to call him, which I did. During that phone call 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 election.”

William Taylor
Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
(11/13/19)


“In mid-August, it became clear to me that Giuliani’s efforts to gin up politically-motivated investigations were now infecting US engagement with Ukraine, leveraging President Zelensky’s desire for a White House meeting.”

George Kent
Deputy Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Eastern Europe and the Caucuses
(11/13/19)


“On July 25, 2019 the call occurred. I listened in on the call in the situation room with White House colleagues. I was concerned by the call. What I heard was inappropriate and I reported my concerns to Mr. Eisenberg. It is improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a US citizen and a political opponent.”

U.S. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman
National Security Counsel Ukraine Expert, Director for European Affairs
(11/19/19)


“At the September 1st meeting, which I attended, President Zelensky asked the Vice President about news articles reporting a hold on U.S. security assistance for Ukraine. The Vice President responded that Ukraine had the United States’ unwavering support and promised to relay their conversation to President Trump that night.“

Jennifer Williams
Official at the State Department detailed to Vice President Mike Pence
(11/19/19)


“As a professional diplomat, I was comfortable exploring whether there was a statement Ukraine could make about its own intentions to investigate possible corruption that would be helpful in convincing Mr. Giuliani to convey to President Trump a more positive assessment of the new leadership in Ukraine. On August 16th, Mr. Yermak shared a draft with me, which I thought looked perfectly reasonable. It did not mention Burisma or 2016 elections but was generic. Ambassador Sondland and I had a further conversation with Mr. Giuliani, who said in his view, in order to be convincing that this government represented real change in Ukraine, the statement [from Zelensky about conducting investigations] should include specific reference to Burisma and 2016.”

Kurt Volker
Former US Special Envoy to Ukraine
(11/19/19)


“Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’ As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”

Gordon Sondland
U.S. Ambassador to the European Union
(11/20/19)


“Mr. Giuliani conveyed to Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker, and others that President Trump wanted a public statement from President Zelensky committing to investigations of Burisma and the 2016 election … We all understood that these prerequisites for the White House call and White House meeting reflected President Trump’s desires and requirements.”

Gordon Sondland
U.S. Ambassador to the European Union
(11/20/19)


“I later came to believe that the resumption of security aid would not occur until there was a public statement from Ukraine committing to the investigations of the 2016 election and Burisma, as Mr. Giuliani had demanded.”

Gordon Sondland
U.S. Ambassador to the European Union
(11/20/19)


“Mr. Giuliani’s requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelenskiy. Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing investigations of the 2016 election/DNC server and Burisma. Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the President of the United States, and we knew that these investigations were important to the President.”

Gordon Sondland
U.S. Ambassador to the European Union
(11/20/19)


“Remember, I left on July 19th, and the call took place the following week. In the months leading up to that, from May onwards, it became very clear that the White House meeting itself was being predicated on other issues, namely investigations and the questions about the election interference in 2016.”

Fiona Hill
Former White House Adviser, Former Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs
(11/21/19)


“It was quite loud when the President came on, quite distinctive. I believe Ambassador Sondland also said yesterday he often speaks very loudly over the phone. And I certainly experienced that. He — when the President came on, he sort of winced and held the phone away from his ear like this. And he did that for the first couple exchanges. I don’t know if he then turned the volume down, if he got used to it, if the President moderated his volume — I don’t know. But that’s how I was able to hear it.”

David Holmes
Counselor for Political Affairs at the US Embassy in Ukraine
(11/21/19)


“It is important to understand that a White House visit was critical to President Zelenskiy. President Zelenskiy needed to show U.S. support at the highest levels in order to demonstrate to Russian President Putin that he had U.S. backing, as well as to advance his ambitious anti-corruption reforms at home.”

David Holmes
Counselor for Political Affairs at the US Embassy in Ukraine
(11/21/19)


“My clear impression was that the security assistance hold was likely intended by the president either as an expression of dissatisfaction with the Ukrainians who had not yet agreed to the Burisma/Biden investigation or as an effort to increase the pressure on them to do so.”

David Holmes
Counselor for Political Affairs at the US Embassy in Ukraine
(11/21/19)


“Ambassador Sondland placed a call on his mobile phone, and I heard him announce himself several times along the lines of Gordon Sondland holding for the President. It appeared that he was being transferred through several layers of switchboards and assistance, and I then noticed Ambassador Sondland’s demeanor changed and understood that he had been connected to President Trump. While Ambassador Sondland’s phone was not on speaker phone, I could hear the president’s voice through the ear piece of the phone.
“The President’s voice was loud and recognizable, and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume. I heard Ambassador Sondland greet the President and explained he was calling from Kiev. I heard President Trump then clarify that Ambassador Sondland was in Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland replied, yes, he was in Ukraine and went on to state that President Zelensky ‘loves your ass.’ I then heard President Trump ask, ‘So he’s going to do the investigation?’
“Ambassador Sondland replied that, ‘He’s going to do it,’ adding that ‘President Zelensky will do anything you ask him to do.’ Even though I did not take notes of these statements, I have a clear recollection that these statements were made.”

David Holmes
Counselor for Political Affairs at the US Embassy in Ukraine
(11/21/19)


“I come back, I refer to the call, and everyone is nodding: of course that’s what’s going on. Of course the President is pressing for a Biden investigation before he’ll do these things the Ukrainians want. There is nodding agreement. So, did I go through every single word in the call? No, because everyone by that point agreed. It was obvious what the President was pressing for.”

David Holmes
Counselor for Political Affairs at the US Embassy in Ukraine
(11/21/19)


For more info, visit Trump-Ukraine Central


– rob rünt