Tag Archives: Ukraine

Good luck getting POTUS to come clean on this one

I want to wish U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley all the luck he can muster as he tries to get Donald Trump to explain fully why he fired a dedicated inspector general.

Trump canned intelligence community IG Michael Atkinson because he had “lost confidence” in the man who revealed to Congress a complaint that whistleblower brought regarding that “perfect phone call” Trump made to the president of Ukraine.

The report led to Trump’s impeachment in the House of Representatives. Why? Because Trump asked the Ukraine president for a political favor; he wanted dirt on Joe Biden. In return, Trump would release money appropriated by Congress to supply Ukraine with weapons to fight Russia-backed rebels.

Grassley, a Republican, has joined a bipartisan group of senators who want a thorough explanation for Trump’s firing of Atkinson. A loss of “confidence” is insufficient.

The whistleblower law is intended to provide an ability for government officials to report fraud, waste and abuse of power. That was the case here. The whistleblower did what the law allowed … as did Atkinson, the inspector general.

The law requires the president to notify Congress of his decision to fire an IG; the notification must come 30 days prior to the IG’s removal. Trump didn’t do that. He acted impulsively, which according to Grassley is an inappropriate way to handle this matter.

Will the president do as the senators have demanded? He might if he had any appreciation or understanding of the limits of his power. He doesn’t. Which is one of the many reasons why he is unfit to serve in the office he occupies.

Trump undermines IG’s authority, ability to serve the public

U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff — to no one’s surprise — has condemned Donald Trump’s decision to fire the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson.

Why did the president can the IG? Because, in my view, Atkinson was doing the job to which he was assigned, which was to root out allegations of government fraud and abuse of power.

Trump, though, sees it differently.

Atkinson had revealed to Congress a report from a whistleblower who had reported that Trump had placed a phone call to the president of Ukraine in which he sought a political favor in exchange for weapons that Congress had approved for Ukraine’s fight against Russia-backed rebels.

The phone call led ultimately to Trump’s impeachment by the House and a Senate trial that acquitted him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Trump this week called Atkinson’s report “fake news.” He said Atkinson did a “terrible job” as inspector general and that the report of alleged abuse of power was discredited by his acquittal in the Senate.

Indeed, the report was not “fake.” It was credible. The acquittal in the Senate trial came about only because insufficient numbers of senators voted to convict Trump.

So, for Trump to fire an inspector general simply for doing his job amounts to one more example of presidential bullying.

As for Schiff’s criticism, the congressman said that Trump is trying to undermine the independence of the IG. As Newsweek reported: The congressman warned that the president was “retaliating” against perceived enemies and placing “cronies” to lead oversight, all while the nation is reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.

Retaliation against “perceived enemies” sounds completely believable to me.

Trump’s revenge machine kicks back in

Let’s add Michael K. Atkinson to the growing list of federal public servants who’ve been kicked out of the way because they were doing their job.

Atkinson happens to be the intelligence community’s inspector general who brought to light the complaint of a whistleblower who revealed to the world that Donald J. Trump committed an impeachable offense in an infamous phone call to the president of Ukraine. You remember that one, right? That was the call where Trump asked the Ukraine president for a “favor, though,” asking him to dig up some dirt on Joe Biden in exchange for sending him money for weapons he needs to use in his ongoing war with Russia-backed rebels in Ukraine.

Did the former IG commit a firing offense? Was he acting illegally or unethically? Did he violate government policy? Oh, no! He was doing what he was charged to do, which is reveal misconduct in the government.

And, oh brother, did he reveal it … bigly!

The Ukraine phone call of course led to Donald Trump’s impeachment in the House of Representatives and then to a trial in the Senate, where senators acquitted Trump.

So now the president is exacting revenge. He said in a letter that he had “lost confidence” in Atkinson. Yeah, no sh**, not because he was doing his job badly, but because he was doing it well.

So now the president has appointed a White House aide to act as the independent IG who will monitor the disbursement of coronavirus pandemic relief funds to millions of Americans. The IG’s job is to ensure that the funds are going to the proper individuals and businesses in accordance with legislation that Trump signed into law the other day.

As The New York Times reported: The slew of late-night announcements, coming as the world’s attention is gripped by the coronavirus epidemic, raised the specter of a White House power play over the community of inspectors general, independent officials whose mission is to root out waste, fraud and abuse within the government.

Hmm. Let’s see. It looks to me as though Michael Atkinson fulfilled his mission to the letter.

Grifter in Chief offers a weird challenge

Donald John Trump Jr. long ago became a serious pain in the backside for millions of Americans.

He continues to pop off on behalf of his embattled father, the current president of the United States. He fights and fusses against the media, ripping a page out of Daddy Trump’s playbook.

Now Don Jr. wants to debate Hunter Biden, the son of the Democratic Party’s front runner (yet again) for the 2020 presidential nomination. The Don Jr.-Hunter debate would be — as the younger Trump has proposed — over who between them has profited more from their father’s position.

Don Jr. thinks Hunter Biden has profited more. So he wants to debate him over it.

This is preposterous on its face.

Hunter Biden has become a political sideshow because Republicans — such as the president — want to use his business dealings to undermine the candidacy of his father, the former vice president of the United States.

You know how this has gone. Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukraine natural gas company. He raked in some serious dough. GOP operatives say he got the gig because his father pulled some strings. Oh, but wait! Ukraine prosecutors have said neither Biden did anything illegal. That hasn’t stopped the GOP smear machine from kicking in.

Now we hear from Don Trump Jr., who wants to interject himself into the fray. For what purpose remains unclear, other than the son is as much in love with himself as Dad is with himself. 

One final point. Don Jr. has done not a single thing in his life that is worthy of any sort of honor. Nothing.

My advice to Don Jr.? Shut … up. Go … away.

GOP dredges up Biden probe yet again

OK, so this is how it goes.

Joe Biden resurrects his flagging presidential campaign with a stunning Super Tuesday ballot performance and — bingo, just like that! — congressional Republicans decide it’s time to bring back a probe into the Democratic candidate’s son’s business dealings in Ukraine.

It doesn’t matter to Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson that prosecutors in Ukraine say there’s nothing wrong, that Joe Biden broke no laws, or that other political observers dismiss the investigation as a fishing expedition. Nope. Johnson’s going after the former vice president.

Sen. Johnson alleges that Biden committed a conflict of interest act by interfering on Hunter Biden’s behalf while he was vice president of the United States. Says who? Sen. Johnson, that’s who!

Johnson thinks he can summon enough votes to subpoena Hunter Biden to testify about his Burisma work and whether Dad played any role in his work for the company.

Johnson says his seeking a probe into Biden has nothing to do with the former VP’s surge and his return to frontrunner status in the Democratic presidential primary. Sure thing, senator … whatever you say.

Some of us out here think differently. This probe, as they say, just doesn’t pass the smell test.

Kelly vs. Trump: Who’s more trustworthy?

Donald John Trump is engaging in a verbal skirmish with another of his top former advisers.

The foe this time is a decorated combat veteran, a retired U.S. Marine Corps general, a Gold Star parent whose son was killed in Afghanistan, a gentleman who served as White House chief of staff: John Kelly.

Gen. Kelly has come to the defense of Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, whom Trump fired after he testified to the House about concerns he had over the phone call Trump made to the Ukraine president. This was the call in which Trump asked Ukraine for a political favor. Vindman said the nature of the conversation worried him.

Kelly said Vindman was following military protocol when he reported his concern to his superior officers.

Kelly, in an article in Atlantic, had questioned the president’s decisions relating to North Korea and has challenged Trump’s description of immigrants as murderers and rapists.

Trump’s response has been to say that Kelly can’t keep his mouth shut.

Hmm. Who am I to believe? An honorable Marine who spent his adult life serving the public and defending this nation against its enemies? Or do I believe an admitted philanderer, a man who couldn’t tell the truth under any circumstances, and someone who spent his entire adult life seeking to enrich himself, quite often at others’ expense?

I believe I will stand with the general on this one.

It was the manner of the firing that rankles us, Mr. POTUS

Hey, I absolutely understand that a president of the United States needs to trust those who are closest to him and that the POTUS has the authority to hire and fire staffers at will.

Thus, when Donald John Trump, the nation’s current president, fied Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from the National Security Council staff after Vindman offered negative impeachment testimony to congressional questioners, I get it.

However, the manner of the dismissal and the spectacle that Trump and his senior White House staff made of it is what gets under my skin.

Lt. Col. Vindman is a war hero. He is a decorated Army officer who has shed blood on the battlefield in defense of his adopted country. He is a Ukraine native who came to this country as a toddler when his parents fled the Soviet Union.

How did the president let him go? By ordering him escorted out of the White House in broad daylight. He was shown the door and told, in effect, to “hit the road.” What’s more, so was Vindman’s twin brother, who had not a single thing to do with the Ukraine matter that got Vindman on the wrong side of the president. Yevgeny Vindman’s only “sin” is to be related to twin bro Alex.

Why couldn’t Trump have shown just a touch of discretion, of class, of empathy for a war hero? He could have issued a private directive, told Vindman to vacate his White House office. Then he could have issued a simple statement declaring that he had relieved Vindman of his duties based on, oh, “differences in policy.” Sure, those who had paid any attention to what Vindman said during the House impeachment hearings would know what he means … but that would be for us to determine.

That isn’t how Donald Trump rolls. He wants to make spectacles of others around him, not to mention of himself.

Trump’s scorched-Earth policy taking hold

Gordon Sondland is a goner. So is Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.

What did these two men do to lose their high-powered jobs within the Donald John Trump administration? They told the truth to congressional committees seeking answers to a phone call that the current president made this past July to the president of Ukraine.

Sondland, a hotel magnate, was the U.S. ambassador to the European Union. Vindman, a native of Ukraine (which was part of the Soviet Union when he was born) served on the National Security Council staff as an expert on Ukraine; oh, and Vindman also is a decorated Army hero who was wounded in battle.

The men told the truth as they understood it. They told congressional questioners about Trump’s phone call in which he asked Ukraine for political help. Vindman said the request troubled him when he heard the president ask for it. Sondland said it was “understood” that Trump was asking for a favor.

Trump won his acquittal this week from the Senate. He went to the National Prayer Breakfast and trashed Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Mitt Romney, the first senator in U.S. history to vote to convict a president of his own party. It was Donald Trump at his vengeful worst.

Now he has canned two men. One of whom, Vindman, is a proven patriot; the other, Sondland, is a dedicated Trump supporter who gave lots of money to elect the president in 2016. I should mention as well that Trump canned Vindman’s brother, who also served on the NSC. Vindman’s brother, Yevgeny, another Army officer, did not testify. Trump fired him, I guess, because his brother Alexander might have said something to him about the Ukraine matter. So, if one Vindman gets fired, let’s make it a clean sweep and get of them both.

Trump is mad as hell at them. There likely will be more firings to come.

Hmm. Rather than invoking the call for harmony and unity in the wake of his acquittal of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Donald Trump appears to be setting a course that seeks to exact maximum vengeance.

Yes, he is entitled to act this way. It still packs a serious stench.

About to throw in the towel on impeachment

As an interested American observer of this impeachment trial, I am afraid my impeachment fatigue has reached critical mass.

I am officially ready for it to end. It’s not that I want it to end. It’s just that the finish line is appearing out there and we all know the outcome that the end of this grueling event will produce.

Donald John Trump is going to survive this trial. The U.S. House of Representatives sought to make the case that Trump abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress. The House trial managers’ message has fallen on deaf ears. The Senate Republican majority is hearing none of it.

I do have some hope that former national security adviser John Bolton will be able to testify, telling senators what he heard — that Trump sought a foreign government to interfere in our upcoming presidential election. It won’t matter. Bolton’s testimony won’t sway enough Republican senators to convict Trump; he might not sway any of ’em! They’re wedded to the president, ignoring what I believe is an obvious violation of his oath of office.

I am worn out. I am whipped, man! I am ready now to get on with the next phase in what I hope is a concerted effort to get rid of the man I deem to be unfit for the office of president.

The election is coming on.

Let’s get busy. Shall we?

Mr. POTUS, doesn’t Bibi’s indictment matter?

Hey, wait a second!

Donald John Trump allegedly is so worried about corruption in Ukraine that he decided to ask the Ukrainians to investigate whether a potential political foe here at home, Joe Biden, was stained by ill deeds.

It has gotten the nation’s current president into a heap of trouble. The House of Representatives impeached him for it and the Senate is conducting a trial this very moment.

However, why isn’t our president concerned about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s indictment for — um, let’s see — oh yeah, corruption? The indictment alleges fraud, bribery and breach of trust. That’s a big deal, right?

He and Bibi stood in the White House to announce a draft Middle East peace plan. Netanyahu calls Trump the best friend Israel can possibly have.

The Israeli courts have indicted him, though, on corruption charges that one would think should rankle the world’s No. 1 corruption fighter, Donald Trump.

Wouldn’t they?