Tag Archives: Ukraine

U.S. Army losing a patriot because of politics

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The United States Army is about to lose a patriot, someone who shed blood on the battlefield for the country he loves.

And why? Because he had enough of a conscience to testify under oath before Congress about things he heard from the commander in chief … things that led the commander in chief’s impeachment by the House of Representatives.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman became a household name during that troubling episode. He has served more than two decades in defense of the nation. He once worked as a staffer for the National Security Council and reported to Congress that he heard Donald John Trump ask for a political favor from a foreign head of state in exchange for weapons the United States would provide that nation.

Trump called Vindman a “never Trumper” and dismissed his testimony as fake.

According Vindman and his lawyer, Trump’s anger reportedly got in the way of Vindman being promoted to full colonel.

This is despicable if true. I happen to believe it is true. Thus, the nation is now the poorer because a war hero and a patriot is surrendering his service to his beloved country.

This is so par for the course for this president.

“The President of the United States attempted to force LTC Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a President. Between honoring his oath or protecting his career. Between protecting his promotion or the promotion of his fellow soldiers. These are choices that no one in the United States should confront, especially one who has dedicated his life to serving it,” Vindman’s lawyer, David Pressman said.

Thus, according to Pressman, Trump engaged in standard bullying of a career public servant.

This is another chapter to add to Trump’s growing list of disgraceful acts — allegedly! — while masquerading as commander in chief.

This Trump critic is no ‘Deep State’ monster

Let’s be clear about John Bolton, who he is and the governing philosophy he represents.

The former national security adviser for Donald John Trump has written a book that shreds the president, peels the bark away from him. “The Room Where it Happened” is a memoir that tells a grim story of Donald Trump’s ignorance, his self-serving approach to government and the corruption that runs rampant through his administration.

Bolton is a hard-liner. He is a dyed-in-the-wool Republican foreign policy operative. He broke with Trump over policy differences, in that Bolton took a tougher stance against Iran, Russia and Syria than Trump.

This is my way of saying that John Bolton is not some squishy liberal “Deep State” operative, meaning that Trump cannot possibly label him as a tool for those who believe Trump poses a threat to that Deep State cabal that seeks to control the world.

All of this makes his contentions in the book all the more remarkable. He says Trump asked China for re-election help; he said the Saudi role in the murder of a Washington Post columnist took attention away from Ivanka Trump, who was facing a firestorm of her own; he acknowledges that Trump sought a political favor from Ukraine in exchange for weapons sent by the United States to help Ukraine fight Russia-backed rebels.

Were this coming from a lefty, Trump might be able to make hay over the source of John Bolton’s criticism. He cannot use that defense. John Bolton instead is a man of high principle who is laying even more bare what we have known all along.

It is that Donald Trump is unfit for the presidency.

Bolton spills more beans on Trump … who knew?

As the saying goes: The hits just keep on comin’.

Former national security adviser John Bolton is about to release the contents of a book he has written in which he details how Donald Trump — in Bolton’s view — committed multiple impeachable acts while dealing with foreign leaders.

Gosh! Who would have thought that could happen?

The White House is suing Bolton in seeking to block publication of his book, “The Room Where it Happened,” contending that Bolton is violating national security matters by publishing classified material. Bolton, to no one’s surprise, denies any such claim from the White House.

I’ve never been a Bolton fan. However, I am even less a fan of Donald Trump. So, when Bolton says that Trump curried favor with China to help him win re-election, or that he held up military aid to Ukraine in exchange for dirt on Joe Biden, well… I tend to believe him.

Bolton’s memoir is an explosive tome that alleges that Trump is ignorant about foreign policy and that Trump governs my impulse and little else.

Bolton dives straight into the heart of the issues that brought about Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives, namely the Ukraine matter and Trump seeking a favor from the Ukrainian president: Would he launch an investigation into Joe Biden before the United States would send Ukraine missiles to help fight the Russia-backed rebels fighting against the Ukrainian government?

Of course, in many respects this memoir is a bit anti-climactic. Many of us knew already what Bolton was going to say in the book. Congressional Democrats wanted Bolton to testify during the impeachment inquiry and then in the Senate trial that eventually acquitted Trump. Bolton balked. We didn’t hear from him. Until now.

Then again, it’s not as if Bolton’s testimony during the impeachment inquiry and trial would have changed any minds. It’s doubtful any minds will be changed even now.

I find it ridiculous — and certainly not funny — that Donald Trump would seek to block publication of this memoir on some phony notion of leaking “classified material.” Trump instead appears frightened by the prospect of a once-trusted national security aide exposing him for what many of us know already.

That the president is a dangerous buffoon.

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.