Tag Archives: Ukraine

Corruption, Mr. President? That really concerns you?

Donald J. Trump’s proclaimed interest in rooting out government corruption around the world rings about as hollow as anything the president has declared since he entered the political world.

Trump has asserted that corruption in Ukraine was at the root of his concern over former Vice President Joe Biden’s business concerns and those of his son, Hunter. It was corruption that prompted the president to ask the Ukrainian president for help in investigating the Bidens before he would release money for weapons that Congress had appropriated for use by Ukraine in its struggle against Russia-backed rebel forces.

Oh … really?

Let’s take a quick look at some indisputable facts.

  • Russia is among the most corrupt nations on Earth. Strongman Vladimir Putin orders the killing of those who oppose him. He runs the nation with an iron fist. Organized crime has run rampant ever since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Where is Donald Trump’s outrage there? Once again, why hasn’t the president condemned the Russians for their blatant and malicious attack on our electoral system in 2016 and their effort to do the same thing, or maybe worse, in 2020?
  •  Turkey also is corrupt. It also is run by a strongman. It has slaughtered Kurds along its border with Syria and Iraq; and the Kurds have been allied with the United States in the never-ending struggle to put down the Islamic State.
  •  North Korea is the world’s pariah state. It is a chief sponsor of international terrorism. Kim Jong Un orders the murder of opponents. His government allows mass starvation of North Koreans. Has the U.S. president ever tied his “love affair” with Kim Jong Un with demands to bolster human rights?

All of this just touches the outlines of corruption in governments on every continent on Earth. Why has the president remained silent on the issue … until now?

It’s more than just a wild coincidence, it seems to me, that Donald Trump’s interest in “Ukrainian corruption” just happens to involve business dealings concerning a potential political rival; that would be Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Donald Trump is no more interested in curbing corruption than he is in apologizing for defaming his fellow Americans.

He is a disgrace.

Will he resign or stay … and get pummeled?

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly wants to serve in the U.S. Senate. How does he do that if he is serving in the Donald Trump administration? Obviously, he cannot.

He also is being dragged feet first into the impeachment inquiry sausage grinder that has cranked up in the House of Representatives.

Pompeo hails from Kansas. He once served in the House from that state. Sen. Pat Roberts is retiring at the end of 2020. Pompeo wants to succeed him.

Does he stay on at State or does he enter the campaign from Kansas? He ought to run for the Senate. I don’t believe he needs to be elected from that state, given that I believe he has disserved his fellow diplomats at State. How? By not standing behind one of his more stellar ambassadors, Marie Yovanovitch, who has been smeared by Donald Trump, who fired her from her post as ambassador to Ukraine.

The impeachment inquiry is getting messy for Pompeo. He now has been revealed to have been in on that phone call Trump made to Ukraine’s president in which he asked for a favor in return for weapons sent to Ukraine to use against rebels backed by Russia.

Yahoo.com reported that Pompeo wants out, that he wants to run for the Senate. The State Department denies it … naturally!

Since the denial comes from the Trump administration, I cannot accept it at face value.

I tend to believe the reports that Donald Trump is going to look for the third secretary of state who is willing to endure the misery the president seems all too willing to inflict on those he selects to serve.

This impeachment debate is getting personal … and graphic

I just performed a rare — for me, at least — social media act.

I severed a social media relationship based on something this individual posted. I don’t like admitting it, but I am doing so now.

Here’s my side of the story.

The impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump’s conduct as president has drawn some amazing commentary on both sides of the great divide among Americans. It has stormed onto social media in ways I did not expect.

This evening on Facebook, I got a message from someone I know — although not well — that made me wretch. It contained an encrypted picture that had a note that it contained a graphic image; I had to click on a link to view it, so I did.

It turned my stomach. It showed a terrible image of what was described as a U.S. envoy being tortured; juxtaposed with that image was a picture of former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch with a caption that said she had her “feelings hurt” by Donald Trump.

I put the encryption back on the picture and then “unfriended” the person who posted it from my Facebook network.

Yes, this is the kind of anger that the Donald Trump Era of Politics has brought us. I do not like it. Not in the least.

Although I have to say that the debate over Donald Trump’s fitness to serve as president and the inquiry into whether he should be impeached is revealing a lot about people I thought I knew. I am finding that some of my many acquaintances harbor some pretty nasty tendencies, such as the picture that one of those individuals posted on a social media platform.

I have lived through two serious presidential crises. The first one involved President Nixon and the Watergate scandal; the second one concerned President Clinton and the White House intern scandal. Nixon was on the way to getting impeached, but he resigned the presidency; the House impeached Clinton but he was acquitted by the Senate at trial.

In neither of those crises do I remember the intensity being exhibited by partisans on both sides of that divide. However, the image I looked at today — yes, I saw the warning, but looked anyway — goes so far beyond the pale that I parted company with someone who I thought was better than that.

I am afraid this tumult is going to damage a lot more relationships.

No one is above the law, including the POTUS

It has been said time and time again, that “no one is above the law, and that includes the president of the United States.”

It’s an article of truth to be sure. Our laws apply to all Americans.

Which brings me to this point: How does the president of the United States, Donald Trump, get away with smearing, defaming and slandering individuals?

The latest example? Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

The former envoy was removed from her embassy post earlier this year by Donald Trump, who has the authority to change ambassadors. That is his call. We all get that.

However, he smeared Yovanovitch while recalling her from her post in Ukraine. The envoy is noted for her diligence and diplomatic skill. She has been honored and decorated over her 33-year career in the foreign service. Then the president calls her “bad news” and blamed her — and this is rich — for what went wrong in Somalia, where she was posted prior to her Ukraine assignment. He made the Somalia reference while Yovanovitch was testifying — in real time — during the congressional impeachment inquiry that is under way on Capitol Hill.

The president offered no evidence of any “bad news” element. Nor has he explained in anything approaching detail why he thinks badly of Yovanovitch.

Is he above the law? Or must he adhere to the same laws as the rest of us? I’ve long believed that presidents of the United States are not deities, nor are they dictators. They are our elected heads of state and government, but they are citizens … just like the rest of us.

I just am baffled by how this individual — the president — gets away with saying the things that fly out of his mouth. He has defamed Marie Yovanovitch’s exemplary reputation.

Don’t such laws that protect citizens against such abuse exist when they regard the president?

Inquiry hearing is producing a mix of anger and frustration

Watching this impeachment inquiry unfold in real time in public view fills me with a combination of anger and frustration.

I have been more or less glued to my TV in the study in our home. Today’s testimony has been just as gripping as it has been on previous days. The “best,” if you want to call it that, may still to come later in the week.

The House’s impeachment inquiry has angered me at multiple levels.

I’ll set forth my own bias up front. I believe Donald Trump has committed impeachable offenses. The anger I feel comes from the testimony of witnesses who have said many things: that Trump placed an investigation by a foreign government into Joe Biden as his top priority; that he wasn’t really concerned about Ukrainian “corruption”; that he abused the immense power of his office to obtain a personal political favor from a foreign government; that those who heard him seek that favor thought it was “wrong.”

It infuriates me that the president of the United States would have so little regard for our national security that he would do such a thing.

My anger runs headlong into the frustration I am feeling that other Americans do not share my anger. They are Donald Trump’s “base” of supporters, many of whom have accepted that Trump’s behavior is “wrong,” but that it is not impeachable. This sentiment comes from those who 20 years ago said that a previous president’s lying to a grand jury about an affair he was having with a White House intern not only was wrong, but that it was impeachable.

I am not going to excuse the perjury that President Clinton committed while testifying before that earlier grand jury. I merely am expressing my frustration that the nature and context of that untruth somehow measures up to the level of what we are discussing today. That a president who lies about fooling around rises to the level of another president who has been accused of jeopardizing our national security and by seeking a foreign government’s probe into a U.S. citizen.

It might be, too, that my anger and frustration perhaps are born of the same emotion.

Whatever the case, I remain transfixed by what is unfolding. No one should take joy in what we’re seeing. Republicans surely are not kicking up their heels. Neither are Democrats, despite what those on the other side might be thinking or saying.

I’m just hoping I can keep my emotions in check as this impeachment inquiry slogs on.

Lt. Col. Vindman is entitled to wear his uniform whenever he wishes

Simply astonishing.

That’s my first reaction to questions raised today during Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s testimony before the U.S. House Intelligence Committee.

Vindman sat before the panel in his Army dress blue uniform. It then fell to a Republican member of the committee, Chris Stewart of Utah, to ask why he wore what was “not the uniform of the day.”

Vindman works on the National Security Council. He is an active-duty Army officer. He wears a civilian suit to work … usually. He chose to wear his uniform today, I suppose, because he thought it would be proper for him to wear the attire he is entitled to wear as a commissioned officer.

I want to mention this because other NSC officials have testified before Congress in their military uniform. One is most notable, as Roll Call notes: Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, who sat before Congress during his testimony into the Iran-Contra matter of 1987. Did anyone raise a ruckus then? I do not recall it.

Moreover, other active-duty officers have worn their uniforms while at work in the federal government. Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the former national security adviser to Donald Trump, being one of them.

Vindman  was in Congress today to testify about what he heard during that infamous phone call with Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that has prompted the impeachment inquiry against the president. He said some important things today and made some important assertions.

So, let’s not get sidetracked by something as ridiculous as whether an Army field-grade officer is entitled to wear his dress uniform.

Of course he is!

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.