•   
  •   
  •   

Opinion New GOP Ukraine Defense: Trump Was Just a Patsy for Sondland

18:10  08 november  2019
18:10  08 november  2019 Source:   nymag.com

Sondland emerges as key target after Vindman testimony

  Sondland emerges as key target after Vindman testimony House Democrats are weighing whether to take action against European Union (EU) Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who some lawmakers believe misled impeachment investigators during his closed-door deposition earlier this month.Upon hearing from a series of career foreign service and national security officials, some Democrats say Sondland lied to three House committees investigating President Trump's contacts with Ukraine, particularly in regard to pressure on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch two investigations that would help President Trump politically.

The new book by an anonymous senior Trump official has another scene of the president berating an aide: “ Are you [expletive] taking notes?” And so, while European Union envoy Gordon Sondland has testified that Trump directed him to withhold diplomatic favors from Ukraine to compel investigations

Sondland will also indicate that he was merely relaying Trump ’s defense , which he had discussed with the Sondland is expected to say that for months before the Sept. 9 message, he worked at the In exchange for the statement, the president would grant Ukraine ’s new president a coveted White

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

a man wearing a suit and tie: “President” Donald trump Scott Olson/Getty Images© Scott Olson/Getty Images “President” Donald trump Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Washington Postreports House Republicans are formulating a new impeachment defense of President Trump. Rather than deny that the extortion scheme took place, or defend the extortion as a legitimate exercise in foreign policy, they plan to make the case that his deputies “could have acted on their own to influence Ukraine policy.” So the whole scheme was going on right under Trump’s nose, without his knowledge or participation?

Former diplomat Kurt Volker says Rudy Giuliani was a 'direct conduit' to Ukraine and demanded they publicly announce an investigation into the Bidens

  Former diplomat Kurt Volker says Rudy Giuliani was a 'direct conduit' to Ukraine and demanded they publicly announce an investigation into the Bidens Giuliani pushed discredited allegations that the Bidens were involved in corruption, and the conspiracy that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.Volker testified as part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry into Trump, which centers around a whistleblower complaint claiming that the Trump administration withheld a $400 million military aid package in exchange for Ukraine announcing an investigation into the Ukrainian oil and gas company Burisma Holdings - where former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden served on the board from 2014 to 2019

Gordon Sondland says he now remembers telling a Ukrainian official that US military aid "likely" hinged on a political inquiry sought by Mr Trump . The impeachment inquiry is trying to establish whether Mr Trump was prodding Ukraine 's president into launching an inquiry into Democratic White

The suggestion that Sondland , Giuliani and possibly Mulvaney made demands of Ukrainians without Trump ’s explicit blessing has emerged among several theories that Republicans have offered in Trump ’s defense , as witnesses testify that they believed Ukraine was being squeezed.

This line of defense’s advantage, such as it is, is the relative dearth of direct evidence of Trump’s orders to his subordinates. “There is no direct linkage to the president of the United States,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) told reporters.

It is true that the president has developed a lifelong aversion, honed through years of directing shady and outright criminal schemes, to any of his advisers taking notes in a meeting with him. Several accounts have depicted Trump lashing out at lawyers for taking notes, and insisting that Roy Cohn — an attorney Trump shared with several leading Mafia dons — never took notes. The new book by an anonymous senior Trump official has another scene of the president berating an aide: “Are you [expletive] taking notes?”

'A bunch of B.S.': Lindsey Graham refuses to read Ukraine transcripts

  'A bunch of B.S.': Lindsey Graham refuses to read Ukraine transcripts Sen. Lindsey Graham says he will not read newly released transcripts of private testimony given by U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker. © Provided by MediaDC: Washington Newspaper Publishing Company, Inc.Sondland and Volker testified in a closed session to House lawmakers in the Democrat-driven impeachment investigation against President Trump. The House passed a resolution approving the impeachment proceedings and authorizing the release of transcripts of the closed-door testimony on Oct. 31. "I've written the whole process off ...

Sondland , a Trump donor whose initial testimony seemed to reflect favorably upon the president, had initially testified he was unaware Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani was targeting former Vice President Joe Biden by urging Ukrainian officials to open an investigation into Ukrainian gas company Burisma

Sondland confirmed to Congress that the administration leveraged military aid to Ukraine for The three House Committees pursuing the impeachment inquiry just released excerpts from the The complaint specifically charged that Trump pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate For several weeks, the White House and Republicans' main defense was arguing that Trump was not

And so, while European Union envoy Gordon Sondland has testified that Trump directed him to withhold diplomatic favors from Ukraine to compel investigations of Trump’s domestic enemies, he has no physical evidence. That makes it Sondland’s word against Trump’s. And Trump can then run his usual play of denying everything, calling Sondland a Never Trumper — any person who opposes Trump is either a Democrat or, by Trump’s definition, a Never Trumper — who is bitter and resentful.

Yet the emerging plan to present Sondland as the true mastermind of the Trump administration’s Ukraine scheme, and Trump as an ignorant bystander, is going to run into several massive problems. The first is that any depiction of Sondland as the brains behind the Ukraine scheme is easily disabused by even a casual familiarity with Gordon Sondland. The hotelier and Republican fanboy is clearly very interested in the perks and access associated with his ambassadorship, and has zero record of deep personal investment in proving various right-wing conspiracy theories about Ukraine framing Russia for the 2016 email theft, or Joe Biden’s alleged corruption. Sondland is a pure functionary who could not possibly have taken over authority for Ukraine — from a post, E.U. ambassador, that does not cover Ukraine — without presidential authority.

Trump denies knowledge of call mentioned in impeachment hearing

  Trump denies knowledge of call mentioned in impeachment hearing President Trump on Wednesday denied knowledge of a phone call that he allegedly had with U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland in July about investigations he sought from Ukraine."First time I heard it," Trump told reporters in the East Room during a press conference with the Turkish president when asked about the call, which was described by a U.S. diplomat in public testimony earlier Wednesday.Trump also dismissed the"First time I heard it," Trump told reporters in the East Room during a press conference with the Turkish president when asked about the call, which was described by a U.S. diplomat in public testimony earlier Wednesday.

Sondland , a Trump appointee and Trump donor too, clearly wasn’t exactly looking to blow the lid off this scandal. But at certain points, he did suggest Whether Sondland thinks this was illegal doesn’t mean it is — just as Morrison saying Trump ’s phone call with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky

Download the new Indpendent Premium app. Sharing the full story, not just the headlines. In over 1,200 pages, the transcripts document depositions by former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Under questioning from Democratic interlocutors, witnesses like Sondland — a wealthy hotelier who Trump

At the risk of over-relying on Simpsons references, the ploy of pinning everything on Sondland is reminiscent of Bart Simpson getting a job working for the Mafia, only for them to tell the court that Bart was the family don:

Second, it relies on the assumption not only that Sondland was acting alone, but so too were several other Trump officials, all in pursuit of the same extortion plot. Mick Mulvaney, who has publicly admitted a quid pro quo, was not following orders from Gordon Sondland when he held up military aid to Ukraine. Mike Pence was not following orders from Sondland when he publicly affirmed that the aid was tied to Ukraine investigating the Bidens.

And Rudy Giuliani spent months carrying out his work in broad daylight. Giuliani has stated repeatedly that his work was undertaken at Trump’s direction (“I don’t do anything that involves my client without speaking with my client.”) He continues to regularly remind the world on Twitter that he is following Trump’s orders and absolutely not working alone:

Then there is the wee fact that Trump actually has revealed his own involvement. In a series of candid remarks to reporters all the way back in September that have somehow fallen down the memory hole, Trump made clear that “corruption” is his code word for “Biden,” and that he did demand investigations of this to Ukraine (“It’s very important to talk about corruption. If you don’t talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?”). Then of course there’s the rough transcript of Trump pushing Ukraine’s president to do exactly that.

Trump may be too suspicious to allow his underlings to take notes on his schemes, but he’s also dumb enough to just blurt them out himself. And this points to the greatest risk of the House Republicans’ patsy defense: Trump is very unlikely to go along with it. He cannot tolerate other people taking credit for his decisions, manipulating him in any way, or depicting him as anything other than fully in charge of his own administration. What’s more, he seems unable to grasp the accusation itself. Seeing nothing wrong with using foreign policy for his political ends, he keeps confirming he has demanded investigations of his rivals, and indeed keeps demanding new ones in broad daylight.

If House Republicans have already reached such a state of desperation as to absolve Trump from the policies of the Trump administration, one can only wonder where the defenses will go from here. Maybe Trump doesn’t actually exist and is the character of “Trump” is a Tony Clifton–style hoax. Maybe the whole Ukraine thing was just a dream!

Chris Wallace Accuses Top Republican of ‘Very Badly’ Mischaracterizing Impeachment Testimony .
Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace repeatedly confronted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) on Sunday over the top Republican’s characterization of last week’s impeachment testimony, accusing congressman of “very badly” misrepresenting the witnesses’ positions. Wallace pressed the Trump-boosting Louisiana lawmaker on the upcoming testimony of U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sonldand, asking Scalise if it was possible Sondland could “blow a hole in the president’s defense” if he testifies that the president told him Ukraine aid was being held up unless the Ukrainian president publicly announced an investigation into the Bidens.

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks
usr: 3
This is interesting!