Tag Archives: Ukraine

Secretary of state: derelict in his duty

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brought a lot of heft to his post as the nation’s top diplomat: top of his class at West Point; active-duty Army service; member of Congress; CIA director.

It’s the West Point chapter in his life that gives me concern, though, but not because I intend to disparage his academic record at the nation’s Military Academy.

Pompeo has violated a fundamental tenet of service in the military. One of the individuals under his command as secretary of state, former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, has seen her record smeared by the president of the United States.

Did the secretary of state stand up for her? Did he have her back? Has he vouched for her honor and affirmed that she isn’t “bad news,” as Trump has described her? Has he affirmed his support for her gallant service to the country over he past three decades? No. He has allowed the president to run roughshod over her.

Yovanovitch testified this past week before the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, which is overseeing the impeachment inquiry process launched against the president. While she was in the middle of her testimony, Trump decided to fire off a Twitter message that denigrated her service and — in the minds of many observers — contained a threat to her and others who might be so inclined to cooperate with House congressional questioners.

Why in the world has the nation’s top diplomat, the secretary of state, allowed this defamation to continue against one of the individuals under his command? Secretary of State Pompeo has been a profile in cowardice.

The president says he is entitled to express himself. Actually, what Donald Trump doesn’t grasp is the gravity of any statement he makes as the nation’s chief executive, as its head of state. Mike Pompeo surely should understand what has gone over the president’s head and he surely should have stood foursquare behind a highly honored and decorated diplomat, such as Marie Yovanovitch.

He didn’t. Pompeo choked. He disgraced himself as well as the long-standing tradition he brought to his high office.

House offers POTUS an ‘invitation’ he won’t accept

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer have offered Donald J. Trump an “invitation” that should be called by another name.

It is a political stunt that at one level seems like a reasonable offer, but in reality is something that will never occur.

Trump has complained incessantly that the House impeachment inquiry is unfair to him. The House is seeking to determine whether to file impeachment articles against the president in connection with his asking a foreign government for a personal political favor, an action that House Democrats deem to be an impeachable offense.

Trump keeps insisting it’s all a hoax, a witch hunt, a sham, a political hatchet job. So, what did Pelosi do? She invited him to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, to tell his side of the story, to put to rest any allegation that he jeopardized our national security by holding up weapons to an ally until it produced dirt on a potential political rival.

Schumer echoed Pelosi’s invitation.

Well, let’s get real. POTUS isn’t going to accept it. He will assert some rationale that he is somehow above and beyond being questioned in person by members of the House of Representatives.

Then again, Schumer did go a step further. He said that if Trump doesn’t like what’s being said, “he shouldn’t tweet” his disagreements. He should subject himself to questioning by House members. Moreover, Schumer said, he should allow those closest to him to testify before the House panel.

That, of course, assumes he has nothing to hide, according to Schumer.

I’m going to presume that he has plenty to hide, which is why Pelosi’s invitation is nothing more than a stunt.

Impeachment inquiry confirms many of our worst fears about POTUS

As I watch the Donald Trump impeachment inquiry drama unfold, I am drawn back to what many of us said about this man when he declared his presidential candidacy.

We said he was unfit for office. We wondered how in the name of political sanity could this guy ever get elected to anything, let alone to the presidency of the United States. We feared the worst about this guy’s instincts.

I do not relish watching this drama play itself out, let alone delivering evidence that our worst fears are being revealed to all the world.

Yes, I am acutely aware that not everyone shares the view of many of us. Many other Americans are lining up behind this guy. They are attacking the process that has produced the impeachment inquiry. They question the motives, even the patriotism and love of country of many of Donald Trump’s critics.

But at the base of all this drama we are left with wondering about the core values of the man who scored arguably the most remarkable political fluke in U.S. history by being elected to the only public office he ever sought.

He brought not one single moment of public service to the 2016 presidential campaign. He crafted his entire adult life around one goal: self-enrichment. He worried exclusively about his own fortune. He didn’t know a thing about the complexities of governing, let alone how the nation’s government was constructed.

Now we are in the midst of an inquiry to determine whether he should be impeached for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” What lies at the base of those crimes? Complete ignorance, or perhaps willful flouting, of what the Constitution prohibits.

It doesn’t allow a president to solicit foreign governments for political favors. That is what has been alleged against Donald Trump. Nor does it allow a president to profit from his public office. That allegation hasn’t been made formally, but it well might be in the offing once the House completes its impeachment inquiry.

This all arcs back in my mind to the very questions that so many millions of us had from the very beginning of this man’s candidacy for America’s highest and most exalted public office.

Donald John Trump had no business being elected to this office. Yet he was elected. He had some unforeseen help, to be sure. We now are watching the drama resulting from that election play out before our eyes.

It isn’t pretty. However, none of us should turn away. We need to stay alert and engaged while awaiting the final curtain.

And yes, many of us saw this drama coming.

Trump’s penchant for lying goes on and on and on …

Donald Trump declared he was “too busy” to watch the televised impeachment inquiry hearings in the House of Representatives.

“Too busy ” doing what remains a mystery to many of us, but that’s what he said.

What, then, did the president do on Friday during the second day of hearings? He fired off a Twitter message that former Ukraine envoy Marie Yovanovitch said would “intimidate” future witnesses. Indeed, the president commented in real time on what the ex-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was telling members of the House Intelligence Committee.

Therefore, the president was watching the hearings. He wasn’t “too busy” tending to statecraft.

Why does the Prevaricator in Chief continue to lie?

I have referred to his “gratuitous” lying. He lies when he doesn’t need to lie. He lies for the sake of saying the first thing that enters his skull and flies out of his mouth. Why would he tell the nation he would be “too busy” to watch the hearings when he was watching them?

I don’t get this guy. I don’t understand what rattles around inside his noggin that compels him to lie. What’s more, he’s proven to be a bad liar. He’s not good at it. He says things that are demonstrably fictitious.

Case in point: He has told the nation that he lost “many friends” on 9/11 inside the Twin Towers as they collapsed. He did not. It has been shown that he didn’t attend a single funeral for anyone who died on that terrible day. Yet he lies about losing friends?

To my way of thinking, that fits the description of a “gratuitous lie.” It is something he says because, well, he can.

Donald Trump is never “too busy” to tear himself away from a TV set whenever he is the subject of whatever is being broadcast.

Prepare for a major GOP resistance to the truth

Marie Yavonavitch laid it out there. Donald Trump was entitled to replace her as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, she said, but she wonders why he felt the need to smear her before terminating her service.

Then the president entered the fray with a Twitter message that would “intimidate” future witnesses. He said something weird about Yavonavitch being responsible for — get this! — the turmoil in Somalia, in addition to Ukraine. He said this while the former envoy was testifying before the House Intelligence Committee.

Oh … my … goodness! The evidence keeps piling up.

But then again, is any of this going to move the Republican resistance in Congress to standing for the truth instead of standing behind the president? I am not anticipating such an event.

My strong fear is that the congressional Republican caucus is going to stand firm. They’re going to continue to disparage and denigrate the accusers who say that Trump effectively offered a bribe to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, which the Constitution declares to be a crime worthy of removal from office. What did the president say to Zelenskiy? He needed a “favor, though” in exchange for shipping weapons to Ukraine, which is fighting Russia-backed rebels; the “favor” was dirt on Joe Biden, a political rival.

That’s a crime, man! So, will Republicans interpret it that way? No, they’re continuing to sound as though they’re going to blow off Trump’s conduct as “inappropriate” but “not impeachable.”

Sigh …

I believe the president has committed at least two acts worthy of removal. He has sought a “favor, though” from a foreign government to help him win re-election. He piled on today with that Twitter message that can be construed correctly as an effort to intimidate a congressional committee witness.

Donald Trump sought to smear a career public servant who has earned multiple honors for the work she has done on behalf of the United States overseas.

I’ll say it once more — and likely not for the final time: Donald Trump is an absolute disgrace. His Republican allies are in danger of shaming themselves while they stand with him.

Trump’s incompetence rivals his corrupt intent

Donald Trump, with a single Twitter message, managed to send his Republican allies on the House Intelligence Committee scrambling to cover up for his ridiculous and destructive impulses.

While a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, was testifying before the panel today, Trump decided to fire off a tweet that said she was “bad news” while serving at her post. Trump fired her, which was well within his authority to do. He did so after insulting her performance. She testified today about the circumstances that led to her dismissal as ambassador to Ukraine.

But then the president decided to tweet that ridiculous message, committing what Committee Chairman Adam Schiff called a potentially impeachable offense “in real time.”

The result of that astonishing message was to produce glowing salutations to the former ambassador’s three decades of service to the country. I suppose they were intent on roughing her up, but they relented when word got out about Trump’s remarkably ignorant tweet.

I don’t know what prompted the president to say such a thing while Yovanovitch was testifying. He well might have committed yet another impeachable offense by tossing out a message that could prove intimidating to future committee witnesses.

My goodness, this president’s incompetence is beginning to approach the level of what I believe is his corrupt intent.

Weird.

Has the POTUS added another impeachable offense?

Good grief! All the president of the United States had to do with sit back along with many millions of the rest of us and listen to what this former ambassador had to say in response to questions from the House Intelligence Committee.

Did he do that? Oh, no! Donald J. Trump instead decided to unlimber his Twitter fingers and insult and denigrate Marie Yovanovitch while she was in the middle of her congressional testimony.

The tweet that Trump fired off prompted Committee Chairman Adam Schiff to stop the testimony and read the president’s message out loud and into the record.

“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him,” Trump tweeted. “It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.”

As we used to say in high school, “No sh**, Sherlock!” Of course it is a president’s right to appoint ambassadors. It’s also within his right to fire them. The question at hand, though, as it regards this former envoy is: Why did you choose to insult her publicly and demean her before dropping the hammer?

Now we hear that the president, in the minds of some on Capitol Hill, might have added witness intimidation to the list of offenses for which he is likely to be impeached by the House of Representatives.

Trump defended his tweet saying he has the right of “freedom of speech” afforded to all Americans. Well, yeah, sure he does. However, he happens to the president of the United States who is being investigated for allegations that are likely to lead to his impeachment.

Therefore, does the president of the United States have the freedom to say whatever the hell he wants? I guess he does … if he has some sort of political death wish!

This guy, Donald Trump, is out of control. He needs to go!

Husband of key Trump aide brings it!

Oh, to be a fly on the wall in George and Kellyanne Conway’s dining room.

George Conway is a noted lawyer and a vocal critic of Donald J. Trump. Kellyanne Conway is the former Trump 2016 campaign manager who now serves as a senior policy adviser to the president of the United States.

Trump is in the midst of a fight over whether he should be impeached in connection with allegations that he sought a political favor from a foreign government, an action that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now refers to as “bribery.”

As I watch this impeachment inquiry proceed, I am struck by the same question that George Conway has posted in this Twitter message. Many of Trump’s defenders are — in other contexts — honorable men and women who are going to the mat for a man who does not share their basic values of decency and morality. I know a number of individuals for whom I harbor personal affection even though they continue to stand with this president.

I am baffled and amazed at the level to which so many of these individuals continue to “defend” this guy. I want to qualify the word “defend,” because what we hear from these Trump allies doesn’t constitute a defense of Trump’s character, his own morality or his own values. Their “defense” has been a full frontal assault on the motives of Trump’s accusers and the process by which they are bringing their complaints.

We watched much of that strategy play out during the first round of public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry earlier this week. It is a sorry continuation of what has been done ever since former Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation and the Justice Department hired Robert Mueller III to become the special counsel who would examine whether Trump’s campaign “colluded” with Russians who attacked our electoral system.

George Conway speaks for many millions of Americans — such as me — who cannot fathom the extent to which otherwise straitlaced Americans keep casting their lot with the charlatan masquerading as president of the United States.

Day One proved more eventful than some of us expected

The first day of public hearings into the Donald Trump impeachment inquiry could have turned into a snoozer.

It didn’t. Far from it. The daylong testimony was riveting on a couple of levels.

On one level we got to hear from the mouths directly of two career public servants about the things they said in private to the House Intelligence Committee. Their public testimony was as damaging as what we were led to believe their private testimony had been.

William Taylor is the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine; George West is a deputy secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. They were strong. They were forthright. I believe they told the truth.

They told us that Trump sought political favors from a foreign government. They said the president was more interested in digging up dirt on Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, than in rooting out corruption in Ukraine.

I believe they helped shore up the belief among many Americans that Trump has committed at least one impeachable offense. There might even be a bribery count thrown into the impeachment mix once the House of Representatives votes on the issue.

With several more days of hearings to go, the other aspect of this spectacle deals with how the Republicans on the committee and elsewhere in Congress are going to respond.

I will acknowledge my bias, but to my eyes and ears, the GOP didn’t fare as well as their Democratic colleagues. They struck out hard against Democratic motives and challenged what the witnesses saw and heard. Stunningly, they didn’t say a single word — that I heard — in defense of Donald Trump’s character. Which makes me wonder: How are they going to defend Trump against this impeachment tide?

They won’t defend their political main man. They will continue to attack, which will seek to divert our attention from the issue at hand: whether the president broke the law while violating his oath of office.

There will be more to come. This serious matter is likely to demonstrate — no matter how this drama concludes — that our Constitution does work.

Hoping for the truth; fearing that we’ll get a circus

I have every intention of watching as much as I can of the public hearing on whether the U.S. House of Representatives should impeach Donald J. Trump. The hearing will convene Wednesday morning.

Believe it or not, I am going to keep an open mind. Yes, I believe the president has committed impeachable offenses. However, I want to hear from the principal witnesses themselves what they knew, what they heard and saw and whether they — as men and women who are closest to the situation — have drawn any conclusions about what the president has done to deserve impeachment.

OK. That all said, I have a fear that some House Intelligence Committee members will have another agenda. They will seek to destroy the credibility of these witnesses. I am referring to Republicans on the panel. Their strategy is shaping up: attack the critics and do not seek to defend the president as a man of high honor and integrity, as someone who would never do the things that have been alleged.

And what has been alleged? As I understand it, there are allegations that Trump sought a political favor from the president of Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy sought weapons from the United States to help him fight Russia-backed rebels; Trump said he wanted a “favor, though” before he would send the weapons to Ukraine. The “favor” involved obtaining critical information about Joe Biden and his son, Hunter; Biden is running for president and might oppose Trump in 2020.

Abuse of power? Violation of the presidential oath? Obstruction of justice? It’s all on the table.

I am hoping to hear from these individuals who were “on the call” to tell the world what they heard. These individuals are patriots, career diplomats, military personnel. They, too, take oaths to defend the nation and to serve the Constitution.

Intelligence Committee Republicans, though, seem hell bent on destroying their credibility.

I want some discernment to come from these public hearings. Republicans have clamored for public testimony. The impeachment inquiry has gone according to rules established by GOP House leadership. So now the hearings are going to unveiled in full public view.

I fear the worst, which is that the hearings could become a sideshow.

I will hope for the best, which will be that dedicated public servants will be able to clear out all the rhetorical underbrush and reveal what we need to know.

I am all ears for as long as it takes.