[Photo: Emily Morter via Unsplash]

ODNI Whistleblower Complaint: The Next ConFraudUS? [UPDATE-4]

[NB: Check the byline. A new Ukraine-oriented timeline appears at the bottom of the text. Updates will be noted in the text or at the bottom of the post. /~Rayne]

In my last post about the whistleblower complaint we were left with unresolved questions, including:

Q1 — What constitutes an “urgent concern” validated by the Intelligence Community Inspector General as credible?
Q2 — What constitutes an unlawful act that would compel a whistleblower to file a complaint if the president can declassify information at will?
Q3 — What kind of unlawful act characterized as an “urgent concern” could occur as a “promise” in communications with a foreign leader?
Q4 — How does the existing timeline frame this “promise”?
Q5 — Who is the “higher authority” who ordered the ADNI not to turn over the whistleblower complaint to the HPSCI, obstructing investigatory oversight?

Since then the Washington Post published another article linking the complaint to a phone call about Ukraine. It only partially answered our questions.

A1 — We have to assume the criteria the IC IG used to determine the concern as credible will eventually be revealed; the House is already asking about the determination. We still do not know what about the complaint constituted an “urgent concern” though the use of our foreign policy to further a presidential re-election campaign is definitely a concern.
A2 — The corrupt acts, based on WaPo’s two articles so far, appear to be

    • conspiracy
    • solicitation of bribery or extortion
    • violation of campaign finance laws (receiving a thing of value from a foreign entity)
    • misappropriation of federal funds for personal campaign use
    • self-dealing (not a crime per se but an abuse of power)

De-classification of information doesn’t appear to be involved so far.

A3 — The “promise,” depending on what it is, could foment increased hostilities against a NATO ally or allies, unless there was another quid pro quo involved intended to offset and tamp down friction. If Trump promised to deliver financial aid to Ukraine only on completion of solicited performance by Ukraine’s president, was there another promise between Trump and Putin that Ukraine would not be punished for receiving the financial aid? Did a second promise make this situation a more “urgent concern,” or was it the risk of hostilities that did so?
A4 — The timeline appears flexible but dependent upon Ukraine both delivering to Trump’s agent, Rudy Giuliani, and within a possible budget and/or campaign deadline.
A5 — Obviously the “higher authority” is Trump or someone who reports directly to Trump, now that we know he’s the one who badgered Zelensky eight times in a single phone call. Authority doesn’t go any higher.

We still have open, unresolved questions. An investigation could answer them (although Trump and his henchman Rudy Giuliani appear intent on dumping it all out in the open on their own).

An impeachment inquiry would work best because it would have the constitutional clout necessary to overcome obstruction this administration has repeatedly demonstrated in response to other subpoenas to non-impeachment related inquiries.

And an impeachment inquiry is wholly appropriate to the overarching criminal behavior we see unfolding in this case: yet another conspiracy to defraud the United States, this time by conspiring with Ukraine’s president to obtain illegal foreign aid for campaign purposes using taxpayer money.

There are no more rational, non-corrupt excuses the House Democratic leadership can offer for failing to move directly to an impeachment inquiry.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Timeline this version includes foreign policy items related to Ukraine in indigo blue font; some may reflect the tensions between Ukraine and Russia. This timeline is subject to additions/revisions.

19-AUG_2016 — Ukrainian journalist and member of parliament Serhiy Leshchenko revealed secret payments outlined in the ‘black ledger of the Party of Regions’ showing payments made by the former pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych to Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

________

10-MAY-2017 — Trump met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office.

15-MAY-2017 — Washington Post reported Trump revealed code word level classified information to Lavrov and Kislyak during Oval Office meeting. The information covered ISIL’s bomb-making capabilities and may have exposed allies’ intelligence gathering means and methods.

XX-MAY-2017 — Decision made to exfiltrate key Russian asset. Unclear exactly when decision made or when exfiltration occurred, only that it happened after the Oval Office meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak, and before the G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany.

7/8-JUL-2017 — Trump meets Putin at G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany.

11-JUL-2017 — European Union’s 28 member states formally endorsed the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, effective September 1.

30-OCT-2017 — Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign manager, indicted.

________

09-APR-2018 — John Bolton begins as National Security Adviser.

30-APR-2018 — U.S. State Department confirmed that Washington delivered thirty-five Javelin anti-tank launchers to Ukraine.

02-MAY-2018 — Ukraine had ceased cooperation with the Special Counsel investigation, according to NYT; “‘In every possible way, we will avoid irritating the top American officials,’ one Ukrainian lawmaker says. ‘We shouldn’t spoil relations with the administration.'” Ukraine had also halted its money laundering investigation into former President Viktor Yanukovych, who may have used stolen Ukrainian taxpayer funds to pay convicted former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to aid him in winning in Ukraine.

15-MAY_2018 — Russia’s President Putin opened a new bridge linking southern Russia to Crimea; Ukraine’s president Poroshenko said it was an attempt to legitimize the occupation of Crimea while Ukrainian critics said the bridge project violates international law. The bridge was built following the illegal 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia.

16-JUL-2018 — U.S.-Russia Summit meeting in Helsinki, Finland; Trump meets with Putin.

XX-JUL-2018 — Coats expressed opinion differing from Trump’s after Helsinki summit. Rumors began about Trump replacing Coats.

09-OCT-2018 — Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley announced her resignation; effective date 31-DEC-2018. [UPDATE-1]

11-OCT-2018 — Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople recognized the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, praised by Ukraine but protested by Russia. The move by the patriarchate heightened tensions between the two nation-states.

25-NOV-2018 — Russia seized three Ukrainian navy ships, injuring six crew after firing on them in the Kerch Straits of the Black Sea near Crimea. The attack violated a 2003 treaty which designated the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov as shared territorial waters. US representative Nikki Haley called the incident an “outrageous violation of sovereign Ukrainian territory” during an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting.

26-NOV-2018 — Ukraine implemented martial law for 30 days in response to the Kerch Straits event, due to concerns over a Russian invasion.

26-DEC-2018 — Martial law in Ukraine ended, to allow adequate time before the country’s elections.

31-DEC-2018 — Volodymyr Zelensky, a TV producer who starred in a series playing the role of President of Ukraine, announced his candidacy for Ukraine’s presidency.

________

29-JAN-2019 — Coats testified before Senate Intelligence Committee; he said North Korea “is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities,” in contrast to Trump’s claims that Kim Jong-un has committed to denuclearization.

XX-FEB-2019 — Trump discussed replacements for DNI.

05-MAR-2019 — U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch criticized Ukraine’s record on corruption; she noted the country’s high court’s decision weakens Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau.

20-MAR-2019 — The Hill’s John Solomon interviewed Ukraine’s prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko; Lutsenko claimed Amb. Yovanovitch gave him a do-not-prosecute list during their first meeting. State Department denied this claim in an email to Radio Free Europe.

~28-MAR-2019 —  In ‘early 2019’, Giuliani met with Ukraine’s prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko in New York (exact date TBD).

31-MAR-2019 — Ukraine’s first run-off presidential election narrowed down the field to the incumbent Petro Poroshenko and Volodymyr Zelensky.

21-APR-2019 — Volodymyr Zelensky won Ukraine’s presidential election over Petro Poroshenko, 73.22% to 24.45% of the vote. 12% of the population were unable to vote due to the conflict with Russia in Donbass region.

21-APR-2019 Trump called and congratulated Zelensky; the call was noted in a late evening/early morning tweet by U.S. Special Representative to Ukraine Kurt Volker:

25-APR-2019 — After two years of indecision, former VP Joe Biden formally launched his campaign for POTUS. [UPDATE-4]

07-MAY-2019 — Amb. Yovanovitch was recalledremoved from her position.

09-MAY-2019 — Giuliani said he intended to meet with President-elect Zelensky in Ukraine to push for an investigation into the release of negative information about Paul Manafort as well as former VP Joe Biden’s efforts to remove Ukraine’s general prosecutor. [UPDATE-2 — date and link changed from CNN 10-MAY to NYT 09-MAY (byline: Ken Vogel)]

10-MAY-2019 — Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) made an official request of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to investigate Giuliani’s influence operation in Ukraine. [UPDATE-2]

11-MAY-2019 — Giuliani reverses his decision and says he won’t go to Ukraine to meet with Zelensky.

20-MAY-2019 — Date Zelensky assumes office of presidency. [UPDATE-2]

21-MAY-2019 — Lawyer and film producer Andriy Yermak appointed aide to Ukraine’s Zelensky.

24-MAY-2019 — Trump issued a directive allowing Attorney General William Barr to declassify any intelligence that sparked the opening of the Russia investigation.

11-JUN-2019 — Ukraine’s president Zelensky signed a motion for Ukraine’s parliament to dismiss prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko, an ally of former president Poroshenko. Lutsenko resisted, saying he would step down after the July 21 parlimentary elections.

11-JUN-2019 In an interview released on Thursday, June 13, Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos,

“I think you might want to listen, there isn’t anything wrong with listening,” Trump continued. “If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent’ — oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”

20-JUN-2019 — In retaliation for downing a U.S. drone, Trump approved strikes on Iran which were abruptly aborted.

~11-JUL-2019 — Date TBD. On or about this time, Giuliani had a phone meeting with Zelensky’s adviser, Andriy Yermak.

22-JUL-2019 — Zelensky’s Servant of the People wins Ukraine’s parliamentary elections.

24-JUL-2019 – Special Counsel Robert Mueller appears before House Judiciary Committee. The same day that GOP Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX-4) used his time to question Mueller to accuse Mueller of breaking DOJ regulations; CNN reported that “Ratcliffe has been under consideration for a job within the Trump administration, sources told CNN, including an intelligence or national security role.”

25-JUL-2019Trump talked with Ukraine’s Zelensky on the phone “to congratulate him on his recent election.” Ukraine’s English-language readout of this call said Trump discussed “investigations into corruption cases that have hampered interaction between Ukraine and the U.S.A.” (This call is the subject of whistleblower complaint.)

28-JUL-2019 — Coats’ departure and John Ratcliffe nominated as replacement announced by Trump via Twitter.

02-AUG-2019 — Ratcliffe withdraws from consideration.

~02-AUG-2019 — Trump administration asked ODNI for a list of all ODNI employees at the federal government’s top pay scale who have worked there for 90 days or more. This was believed to be a search for a new Director of ODNI; others speculated there was an impending personnel shakeup. [UPDATE-2]

08-AUG-2019 — Primary Deputy Director DNI Sue Gordon resigned effective 15-AUG-2019, without additional prior notice, as ordered. Resignation letter without handwritten note.

Copy of former PDDNI’s resignation letter with handwritten cover: ODNI_LTR_08AUG2019

11-AUG-2019 — Giuliani debriefing with two State Department diplomats about his meeting with Ukraine’s Zelensky aide in Madrid, Spain.

12-AUG-2019IC IG received the whistleblower compaint, via Schiff’s 10-SEP letter.

15-AUG-2019 — Coats’ last day as DNI.

22-AUG-2019 — Giuliani said the U.S. State Department helped set up his meeting(s) with Zelensky’s aide Yermak, assisting “his efforts to press the Ukrainian government to probe two prominent Democratic opponents of the president: former Vice President Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee.”

26-AUG-2019 — IC IG transmitted the whistleblower complaint to the Acting DNI, via Schiff’s 10-SEP letter.

26-AUG-2019 — GOP appointee Matthew Peterson resigned from Federal Election Commission; effective date of resignation 31-AUG-2019. FEC no longer has a quorum with his departure. [UPDATE-1]

27-AUG-2019 — Russia barred a visa for entry to Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) for a trip planned in early September. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) received clearance and a visa, however. Johnson, Murphy and Lee are all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Johnson is the subcommittee chair for Europe & Regional Security Cooperation. The three senators voted in favor of the Russia sanctions bill. [UPDATE-2]

28-AUG-2019 — John Bolton met with Ukraine’s Zelensky (video). [UPDATE-2 – date revised, video link added.]

28-AUG-2019 — Bolton met his counterpart, Oleksandr Danyliuk, Ukraine’s head of the National Defense and Security Council; Bolton told Danyliuk that the U.S. support for Ukraine against Russian-backed separatists in contested eastern Ukraine would ‘intensify’. [UPDATE-2]

Late AUG-2019 — U.S. suspends $250M military aid for Ukraine – exact date TBD. Reuters’ report on 29-AUG-2019 said ‘may’ suspend’. [UPDATE-2 – remove and replace with following item.]

29-AUG-2019 — Trump stalled the $250M military assistance provided under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative by asking Bolton and Defense Secretary Mark Esper to review the package. Defense Department had already reviewed the aid and supported it. [UPDATE-2]

29-AUG-2019 — Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko submitted his resignation.

30-AUG-2019 — Trump tweeted a high-resolution satellite image of Iran’s failed Safir SLV launch while claiming the U.S. was not involved. The image may have been classified and ‘insta-declassified’ by Trump.

01-SEP-2019 — VP Mike Pence flew to Poland and met with Poland’s president Andrzej Duda and Ukraine’s Zelensky, discussing security and energy issues (remarks issued by White House). Per pool reporter, the meeting included National Security Adviser John Bolton and Energy Secretary Rick Perry; Pence avoided answering media questions whether the Trump administration would still allocate $250M for security aid.

01/02-SEP-2019 — US Special Rep. for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalizad met with Afghan president Ashraf Ghani in Kabul where the Taliban, Afghan government and the U.S. had “reached an agreement in principle” toward an eventual “total and permanent cease-fire.”

02-SEP-2019 — During news conference after the meeting with Duda and Zelensky in response to a question by AP’s Jill Colvin, Pence denied speaking about Joe Biden with Zelensky:

“Well, on the first question [about Biden], the answer is no. But we — with President Zelensky yesterday, we discussed — we discussed America’s support for Ukraine and the upcoming decision the President will make on the latest tranche of financial support in great detail.”

02-SEP-2019 — Deadline for ADNI to forward the complaint to Intelligence committees of Congress passes without a referral, via Schiff’s 10-SEP letter.

03-SEP-2019 — Sen. Murphy and Johnson began a 5-day trip to Serbia, Kosovo, Ukraine, and Germany. [UPDATE-2]

03-SEP-2019 — Russian media outlet Tass reported that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister said the U.S. and Taliban “insist that Russia must be present in one capacity or another at the possible signing of the agreements that the parties are working on now.”

04-SEP-2019 — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to sign the agreement with the Taliban.

07-SEP-2019 — Russia and Ukraine completed a major prisoner swap; some of the prisoners included Ukrainian sailors seized during the Kerch straits incident.

09-SEP-2019 — CNN broke story of a CIA asset extracted from Russia in 2017; followed by NYT on the 9th (and then NBC’s Ken Dilanian appears at the asset’s house…)

09-SEP-2019 — Trump asked for Bolton’s resignation and tweeted about it the next morning.

09-SEP-2019 — Intelligence Community Inspector General (IC IG) sent a letter to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, notifying it of a whistleblower complaint which it had determined to be credible and a matter of “urgent concern.”

10-SEP-2019 — Bolton tells Fox’s Brian Kilmeade by text that he’d quit.

10-SEP-2019 — HPSCI Rep. Adam Schiff requested the full, unredacted complaint, the IC IG’s determination about the complaint, and all documentation of ODNI’s action regarding this complaint, including correspondence with the White House.

11-SEP-2019 — Bloomberg reported Bolton pushed back Monday-Tuesday at Trump over Iran sanctions; Bolton wanted maximum pressure while Trump wanted to encourage a meeting with Iran’s Rouhani later in September.

12-SEP-2019 — Schiff and ADNI “discussed at length” the need to protect the whistleblower from any retaliation, including if the whistleblower subsequently comes forward to the committee with his/her concerns, via Schiff’s 13-SEP letter.

13-SEP-2019 — Zelensky said in a press conference that not only was the U.S. going to send $250M in military aid but an additional $140M.

13-SEP-2019 — ODNI declined the request, claiming the request as “it involves confidentially and potentially privileged communications by persons outside the Intelligence Community.”

13-SEP-2019 — HPSCI subpoenaed acting DNI Joseph Maguire for materials declined by ODNI.

17-SEP-2019 — Deadline, materials responsive to subpoena must be turned over by this date; Maguire failed to do so.

19-SEP-2019 — Date Maguire was compelled to appear before Congress in a public hearing. The Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson appeared before the House Intel Committee in a closed door session.

19-SEP-2019 — Giuliani denied asking Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden moments before admitting that he had done just that.

20-SEP-2019 — Senator Murphy published a press release about the whistleblower complaint, renewing his call for a Senate Foreign Services Committee investigation into Giuliani’s efforts to influence Ukraine. [UPDATE-2]

20-SEP-2019 — Russian armed forces bombarded front along  western edge of contested Donbas territory.

22-SEP-2019 — During an interview on Meet the Press, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin can’t explain where the additional $140M in aid for Ukraine came from.

22-SEP-2019 — In front of press on the White House lawn, Trump said he had spoken with Zelensky about Biden on July 25 in a congratulatory call. Later in the day he indicated he might allow a transcript of the call to be published.

23-SEP-2019 — TK

Future dates:

26-SEP-2019 — Maguire is scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee in a public hearing.

30-SEP-2019 — Federal fiscal year ends on September 30.

Much of the timeline in black font above is the crowdsourced timeline from September 14-15. Note how much of this latest version is Ukraine-Russia, and how little we saw going on as we considered what a whistleblower might have filed a complaint about after July 25.

Is it at all possible there are other influence operations underway at the same time to which we are equally blind, asking for help from other nation-states to shape the outcome of Trump’s 2020 run for re-election?

If you have any relevant events with dates which should be added to this timeline, please share them in comments. I’m especially interested in dates nailing down Giuliani’s meetings with any Ukrainians including former prosecutor general Lutsenko and Zelensky aide Yermak.

The sad part of all the noise generated by Trump (corruption!-corruption!-corruption!) and Giuliani (Biden!-Biden!-Biden!) is that they are actively trying to corrupt an ally’s president who ran on an anti-corruption platform, possibly unwitting collateral damage.

If Zelensky agreed to a quid pro quo knowing that Trump was using him to further his 2020 re-election, Zelensky is compromised.

_____

UPDATE-1 — items added/changed noted in the timeline.

UPDATE-2 — 3:45 p.m. EDT 24-SEP-2019 — items added/changed noted in the timeline.

UPDATE-3 — items added/changed noted in the timeline.

UPDATE-4 — 12:00 a.m. EDT 25-SEP-2019 — item added, noted in timeline.

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129 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    I have to wonder:
    — Was Trump’s down-at-the-mouth appearance after his one-on-one with Putin at the Helsinki summit due to a spanking Putin gave him about the Javelin missiles?
    — Was the reason Russia appeared to suddenly butt into the U.S.-Afghanistan agreement process because somebody wanted to talk about Ukraine under cover of the meeting in Afghanistan?

  2. Frank Probst says:

    Should we try to fill in dates regarding Paul Manafort? That was the other thing that Giuliani was working on. It’s still not entirely clear to me what was going on there, especially in terms of how hard they were pushing for information (or disinformation) on Manafort compared to disinformation on Biden.

  3. Nehoa says:

    I think the House should lead with an article of impeachment focused on Trump’s obstruction of Congress’ oversight responsibilities. This will focus the public’s attention on Trump’s abuse of power in this area, and will force the House GOP members to go on record. The stage will then be set for the Ukraine extortion article.

  4. Joseph Betthauser says:

    Overlooked/unreported datapoint in Ukraine collusion timeline:

    Monday Aug 26, 2019: Matthew Petersen, GOP vice chairman of Federal Election Commission submits letter of resignation without advance notice (effective the same week). Resignation leaves FEC without a proper quorum to conduct new investigations or vote on any enforcement actions.

    Also: Oct. 9, 2018 – Nikki Haley resigns as UN Ambassador.

    • Rayne says:

      Thank you. I meant to add the FEC date. Forgot about Nikki Haley’s exit, too; all that speculation about her running for office looks like idle chatter now.

      • orionATL says:

        no half-way decent republican wants to run in this era of trump. I read recently that 40% of house republicans have left office since trump was elected.

        any republican with a sense of politics knows that trump’s house of cards must collapse in disaster for the party sooner or later and doesn’t want to be around when that happens.

      • Stephen says:

        Pretty sure Haley didn’t mean to run for office now. But she is well positioned to run as the face of a “new” Republican Party if/when the criminal element currently in power is taken down (along with its many enablers).

        • Rayne says:

          My remark wasn’t about her running in the future. I’m sure she will. It was an observation about the chatter at the time. I wonder now if the chatter was seeded as deliberate redirection, to prevent people from poking too deeply into why she bailed out of the ambassadorship. Not like she hadn’t been at odds with the administration already but now the trigger, the last straw, isn’t easily discerned.

  5. Despairing Californian says:

    Could Coats have filed a whistleblower complaint after leaving government service? It is intriguing that he “resigned” three days after the call and four days after Mueller’s testimony.

      • BobCon says:

        My money is on career staff, not a political person. I think politicals have too many bridges to the GOP world they would be burning if they blew the whistle. I also don’t think they have the same level of commitment as the more dedicated lifetime pros. Some of the pros are posers, but a fair percentage actually care about substance and law.

        • Americana says:

          I disagree because there’s simply too much at stake if Trump is as corrupt, compromised and self-aggrandizing as is indicated by his actions as POTUS. Sure, nitwits like John Ratcliffe and Devin Nunes have done dirty deeds for Trump in hopes of scoring big time for the Trump administration. However, Republicans like Mitch McConnell have much to lose if Trump’s reign goes up in smoke thanks to the whistleblower and they didn’t take action against Trump. If that happens, Mitt Romney and Justin Amash and other GOPers may find some way of salvaging the ashes. It’s frustrating we don’t have Sen. McCain on hand to beat the drum.

          Anyone who proves Trump is what he is — whether that person/s are professional or political appointments or members of each group, which is most likely — will earn cushy berth/s somewhere even if their lives in the interim are hell. More importantly, that person or, more likely, PERSONS, will appear in numerous books for the next decade if not longer even if they cannot provide their names, ranks or intelligence or other gov’t affiliations.

  6. CD54 says:

    It would be an elegant irony if the $250/$141 million dollar value of the aid Trump used for arm-twisting ended up being the determinative “thing of value” vaulting any crime into the A felony territory for eg. ConFraudUS, campaign election violation, foreign corrupt practices, etc.

  7. OldTulsaDude says:

    We play into Barr’s hands when we worry about what criminal statutes might apply. The only concern should be “high crimes and misdemeanors” – using the power of the United States for personal gain by trying to coerce a foreign nation to help in a re-election is exactly the kind of issue the constitution had in mind with that phrase.

    • Vern says:

      This is exactly right.

      Also too: We should all be wary. It is highly likely that there is way more going on here (in the WB complaint) than just the Ukraine matter.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The Director of National Intelligence is a cabinet-level appointment, subject to nomination by the president and confirmation by the Senate. (Typically for Trump, the current DNI is an acting official unconfirmed by the Senate.) The position reports to the President. He is the only higher authority.

    Separately, while criminal acts by the president are at issue and should be pursued by a subsequent DoJ not run by Bill Barr, the bigger issue is presidential corruption and abuse of office. Those are high crimes and misdemeanors and are subject to impeachment.

    If removal by the Senate is unlikely, the House still has an obligation to investigate and document presidential wrongs. Doing nothing – and hoping that an election solves the House’s political problem – guarantees worse abuses in future.

    As for Republican cries of Partisanship!, Trump thinks the time of day is partisan. There’s no getting around it, except with a skillful messaging campaign.

      • JamesJoyce says:

        Hence the less than complimentary term, “good german.” I’m half german.

        Duty was narrowly defined by Hitler and Benito.

        Me Me and Me

        Good Germans were folks who where rather complicit.
        Many knew better but had become numb to it all. Guns were being held to heads while some said they were just following orders.

        We Americans do not have guns being held to our heads forcing US to comply with untenable actions from elected and appointed positions, yet.

        That is what is infuriating here…

        I was taught, Albert Einstein was a Whistleblower! He was, Thank god…

        What we have is a different version of Iran-Contra….

        Boland Amendment precluded ams to Contras and Iran.

        “Shall not” must mean “may” to some folks sittings on benches in robes.

        Here we have potential threat to withhold congressional aid approved for Ukraine vs. Russia for a President’s domestic political gain and more?

        Barr knows the game well.
        Iran-Contra pardons of 1992 under H.W. are ancient history.

        https://www.salon.com/2019/01/22/ap-wipes-iran-contra-pardons-from-bill-barrs-record-another-win-for-conventional-wisdom/

        “The attorney general for Bush who approved the pardons, William Barr,…”

        A good dutiful american, that Mr. Barr is, following the rule of law….

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Yes, Democrats, keep your eyes on the whistleblower complaint.

    Call transcripts might be evidence supporting that complaint, but looking just for them is a red herring.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I wish the Democrats would learn to stop threatening to do things, such as subpoenaing a recalcitrant witness. It paints them into a corner that they never get out of without needing new shoes.

    Don’t threaten. Just do it.

  11. punaise says:

    (mind spinning, going back to the well):

    Well this Ukraine gall really knock me out
    It leads the list of crimes
    And Moscow’s churl makes me sing and shout
    ‘Cuz jail always on my my my my my my my my my mind
    Oh, come on
    I’m backing the USSR
    You don’t know how fucked you all are, boys
    Backing the USSR

  12. General Sternwood says:

    We are seeing a conflict between the intelligence community and the administration/DOJ. On the IC side, the DNI is being blocked from reporting on the President’s extortion of Ukraine to Congress, and someone leaked a long-standing intelligence community grievance that Trump effectively burned their top mole in Russia. On the other side, Barr is blocking the DNI from following clear whistleblower rules in order to bury the evidence of the administration’s extortion of Ukraine, a desperate but unsurprising attack on the rule of law from the nation’s top law enforcement officer.

    Reading through this timeline, the character that really interests me is Bolton. He is a hawk, an ideologue, and pretty clearly someone who thinks he is smarter than everyone else in whatever room he is in. The hawk in him is very upset with Trump did not listen to him about the Taliban. Bolton met with Zelensky on August 26, and was part of the Pence meeting on September 1. I am sure he didn’t like Giuliani’s carrying out rogue foreign policy, and he didn’t like the fact that the extortion indirectly benefits Russia.

    So on September 9, it may have been Bolton that leaked the story about Oleg Smolenkov to CNN. The same day Trump demands his resignation. The interesting question is whether this has anything to do with the ongoing IC whistleblower coverup, of which Coats and Gordon had already been casualties, since September 9 was the same day that the IG wrote to Schiff. Did Bolton try to burn Trump twice by also leaking the story of the extortion?

  13. Vince says:

    He’s now ratcheted-up to calling the whistleblower a “traitor”, asking “what country is he from?”, and saying Biden should “get the electric chair”. Racist Donnie always goes nuclear when he gets caught tiny-red-handed.

    • Tom says:

      This is one of the reasons why I think the Democrats are so hesitant to launch a formal impeachment enquiry; it’s because they’re genuinely afraid of what Trump might do if he really starts to feel the walls closing in.

      • MB says:

        They might be “genuinely” afraid or just strategically afraid for their chances in 2020. Although just today 2 more “moderate” democratic congresspeople publically declared for impeachment. I wouldn’t use “genuine fear” as an excuse, though. Elected representatives should exhibit a modicum of courage, IMO.

        • Tom says:

          No, I think the Dems are really worried that Trump will declare martial law or cancel the 2020 election or try to do something else totally bizarre without anyone around him able or willing to talk him down and with no shortage of other people down the line who are prepared to do whatever the President tells them to do.

          • MB says:

            Hmmm…well then that begs the question as to whether Repubs are also worried about martial law or cancelling of the 2020 election. Secretly? Privately? They’ve already persuaded four (?) states to cancel primaries, Alaska being the latest in that list. Cancelling a general presidential election would be the ultimate test of whether that “5th Ave. moment” so famously immortalized during the campaign would be attempted, let alone successful. Certainly is a fear-inducing consideration. But not confronting him over clear wrongdoing is just caving, regardless of whether not-yet-manifested fears come to be or not…

            • Tom says:

              Yes, I was being a little hyperbolic, and referring to what act of desperation Trump might do under “maximum pressure” as a “5th Avenue moment” is probably a better description. But if it happens, the longer the Dems wait to impeach the worse it will be.

      • Vince says:

        The Realpolitik is that you won’t see the required 20 Repub Senators vote to impeach, unless Racist Donnie proposes raising the top tax bracket back up to 91% (even though the nation enjoyed the greatest GDP of the 20th century).

  14. Rugger9 says:

    I’m not really satisfied with the explanation / timeline until Putin is explained. Keep in mind that he was no fan of the attempts by Ukraine to join NATO and any arms shipments were intended to stop Vlad’s Russians. There was a Newsweek article link I posted in the prior board entry detailing the curious timing of dropping cooperation with the Mueller probe noted by Rayne above. FWIW Ukraine wants to be left out of it. But, Individual-1 does nothing without consulting Vlad and Biden dirt is IMHO too flimsy for the IC to really care. I think it is bigger, probably involving NATO and perhaps a drawback from the joint defense provision in its treaty. Otherwise, given that the Biden cover story has been rumbling for months, why is this blowing up now?

    The palace and its enablers at Faux are only too happy to admit the calls took place now (and I did see the Rovian idea tossed out as a super-duper head fake like when Rove burglarized his own office to smear his opponent), so it seems that there is a further line they want to mask by distractions.

    My rank speculation: the call promised to give Vlad a free hand in the Ukraine’s Donbass unless the dirt was dug and provided to the campaign, and that particular quid for the pro quo was what tipped the whistleblower over the edge to report it. Note also that the Palace will not release the transcript (says Mnuchin) and neither are the Ukrainians who instead said they’d come and testify. Let’s not forget how “kompromatized” Individual-1 really is here.

    And if it is that ugly, impeachment will be inevitable even with Hoyer and Pelosi in the leadership.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/how-giuliani-is-conning-the-world-into-buying-a-false-biden-ukraine-narrative

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/ukraine-government-us-battle-trump

    • Americana says:

      Trump has already made it public several times he thinks the eastern Ukraine and Crimea wish to vote to join Russia and leave the Ukraine and he’s OK w/that. You can’t get any more blatant than that as far as throwing the game to Putin!

      Your suspicion that Trump may have demanded Putin get the Ukrainians to dig dirt on the Bidens is possible. But there are so many tripwires involved w/that theory, I’m hesitant to endorse it even though I think there was some dickering going on between Trump and Putin. Once Trump felt he had the opposition candidates narrowed down to a smaller number, Trump’s intention would have been to get whatever dirt on them that he could and grind them down in the court of public opinion.

      It’s great Ukrainians have said they’d come to testify. I had missed that story. There’s just so much to read these days! I take it that information is in your Talking Points Memo links? (Hopefully!)

    • General Sternwood says:

      On MSNBC, Bradley Moss was hinting that the Ukraine aspect is at most just one aspect of the whistleblower complaint, which is what you seem to be saying, too. If the tone of the CNN piece about Smolenkov was anything to judge by, this is also about Russian influence on US decisions.

      • bmaz says:

        I would like to note that Brad’s law partner, Mark Zaid, has joined the legal team for the whistleblower. But has done so separately from the firm and Brad. So, Brad’s information is likely pretty good, and he is still free to talk. I fully believe this is a designed plan.

  15. Re entry says:

    With lewandowski showing the playbook last week, an impeachment effort faces an angry wall of liars coming at it. Does the whistleblower represent the only relevant witness at this point?

    • BobCon says:

      This thread details Pelosi scrambling to deal with the splintering of her position:

      https://mobile.twitter.com/heatherscope/status/1176288845584896003

      This is bad stuff. What’s clear is that she had no Plan B. She had no grand strategy beyond hoping Trump behaved.

      Now there’s vague talk of her endorsing a Judiciary Committee impeachment inquiry, which is nice, but without a commitment of money, staff and time, it’s meaningless.

      My fear is we’ll get some vague list of charges backed by skimpy evidence drawn up by an attorney or three thrown on the House floor in a month or two. We’ll see another Gingrich rush job. They need to make it clear that this is a full investigation as authorized by the Constitution itself — it’s US v. Nixon time.

      She needs to be clear this is an all hands effort fully funded and staffed. That it is operating under her rules, which will be drawn up in a way that drops the old turn taking niceties and accommodations for the fake outrage of GOP members. She can’t dither any longer.

    • Eureka says:

      (Meant for my reply 926p to go up here, oops)

      Adding, reply to BobCon 850p- that thread you linked was just updated with WaPo editorial by frontline dems, pulled up from Thursday.

  16. Tom says:

    There have been recurring stories over the past several years concerning the President’s erratic manner of speaking and what it may signify about his mental capacity. In the September 20, 2019 edition of The Guardian, for example, reporter Lenore Taylor described her shock after listening to a half-hour press conference in which Trump’s “alarming incoherence” was on full display as he spoke about his border wall. Taylor concluded that she and other journalists are not really reporting accurately when they select assorted phrases and sentences of the President’s and try to stitch together a summary of what he said and impose a meaning on his random remarks that may not really be there.

    With that in mind, I wonder if the White House’s reluctance to release the transcript of President Trump’s phone call with President Zelensky may be at least partly due to what it might reveal about Trump’s inability to express himself clearly and the conclusions that might be drawn about his mental state. White House staff know that the transcript will be scrutinized closely and if it lasted long enough for the President to raise the subject of a Biden investigation eight separate times–in itself possible evidence of Trump’s declining powers of memory–then it may contain undeniable testimony of the President’s “alarming incoherence” and unfitness to carry on his job.

    • BobCon says:

      A transcript may reinforce the idea that it’s an unending word salad that flows from his mouth, but I think there’s enough evidence of that already.

      I agree with the observation that the press does far too much to clean up after him. It’s pretty dishonest.

    • CitizenCrone says:

      On the other hand, whoever put the transcript together may have attempted the same edits–in an effort to produce coherence–that Lenore alluded to.

  17. Savage Librarian says:

    There are lots of good links in this article. The following excerpt pertains to 2018, I think. But there is also info from earlier and references to Poroshenko, Cohen, Manafort, etc. You might already have this from your own research. I shared it a couple of previous times, too. But it covers a lot of different bases:

    “L’Affaire Hampshire: Did Rudy Giuliani use a cheating scandal as cover for an illicit medical data operation?”
    …..
    The Ukraine and Israel Connections

    “Two days prior to Giuliani’s visit to Cottage Hospital on March 27, the security consultant met with a delegation of Ukrainian officials in New York City. According to a press release from TriGlobal Strategic Ventures, First Vice Mayor Igor Terekhov traveled to NYC on behalf of Mayor Gennadiy Kernes, a former Party of Regions leader and Giuliani’s primary client in Kharkiv.”

    “The TGSV release described the purpose of the visit was to “study the setup and experience of the Offices for Public Security and Offices for Emergency Management in the states of New York and New Jersey…A separate topic in the meeting was devoted to discussing software development issues related to the United States Centers for Emergency Response.”

    “It’s presently unknown whether these New York and New Jersey tours occurred. But two days later, Giuliani was joined by three unidentified men in New Hampshire for an overnight stay at Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa — alongside Dr. Maria Ryan.”

    “Giuliani traveled back to New Hampshire again on April 24, four days after announcing his new role as Trump’s personal lawyer in the Special Counsel investigation…”

    https://medium.com/@PortlusGlam/laffaire-hampshire-did-rudy-giuliani-use-a-cheating-scandal-as-cover-for-an-illicit-medical-data-b73d16667668

  18. Eureka says:

    While I missed the spiel as to why, Chris Matthews ended his show with a graphic of the congressional switchboard number. I assume it had to do with impeachment (or related) and the corruption.

    I also saw that a couple of pro-impeachment HJC dems I keep track of are re-playing a ‘subtle-cop’ and ‘overt-cop’ routine on the twitters that I have noted before to precede big announcement or shifts towards impeachment (inquiry) momentum, additional members declaring support, and so forth. My optimism here is more guarded, though, because the high crimes just so rapidly outpace any action thus far. Guess it all depends on what happens in that meeting tomorrow.

    Hope everyone is hitting the phones…

    • P J Evans says:

      Politico is saying their list is 148 (or will be soon). CNN had 138, with Angie Craig but not Phillips, so at least 139.

      • Eureka says:

        The list is rapidly changing; I know Politico has consistently had higher numbers per statements they’ve gotten.

        (ETA: Politico was also counting people like Bass per statement to them, at a time when she was appearing on cable news with impeachment-quashing/ ‘simmer-down’ type talk.)

        And of that WaPo published ahead of intended schedule, Houlahan (PA) is on the byline, one of the turns I suspected from that twitter routine hint I mentioned by the HJC dems. I am hoping for Susan Wild of PA soon (and Republican Brian Fitzpatrick of PA has NO EXCUSE– his FBI anti-corruption work includes Ukraine (etc.) as previously mentioned/ linked) (and they have all been getting constituent replies on twitter, with zip codes, to take action already).

        Seven national security Democrats: If true, Trump’s actions represent an impeachable offense
        https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/09/24/seven-freshman-democrats-these-allegations-are-threat-all-we-have-sworn-protect/

        Reps. Gil Cisneros of California, Jason Crow of Colorado, Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, Elaine Luria of Virginia, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia are all freshman Democrats.

        • Frank Probst says:

          I think it’s worth noting that the op-ed talks about the use of inherent contempt. That’s a big deal, especially coming from “purple district” Dems. Congress has a jail for that, which hasn’t been used in a long time, but I think it would be more appropriate to put the obstructors in metal cages and treated the same way that the people at the border are treated. The Department of Health and Human Services has already signed off on that, haven’t they? And Vice President Pence has inspected this method of confinement and found no problems with it. Might as well make use of the idea.

          • bmaz says:

            Congress does NOT have a jail for that. That is an old wive’s tale. And the House Segeant of Arms will never go out and arrest government officials. People, including these freshmen representative, talking about inherent contempt are nuts. It is possible it could be used as to financial penalties, but such attempted use would be tied up in the courts for years.

            Inherent contempt is a magical unicorn that effectively does not exist. So, while it is good that they came out for a formal impeachment inquiry, they do not have a clue what they are talking about. I’d also like to add that one of the main ones, Slotkin, was just on TV saying she only favors a very narrow inquiry on the Ukraine issue, and NOT all the other crimes and malfeasance of Trump. That is an asinine view. Investigate it all.

              • bmaz says:

                No, but if all seven of those “Freshman Former Intelligence Professionals” take that tack, it will hurt. And I guarantee you Spanberger will say the same thing. So, it is an issue.

            • Rugger9 says:

              Indeed, for two reasons: Lindsey in his day went sniffing around for dirt when Whitewater went bust and found Monica. Turnabout is fair play.

              Also it is very unlikely that any action involving the Palace and Individual-1 can be modularized in that way since every action we’ve seen is due to I-1’s fundamental moral standard and the slime is everywhere. Unless these seven are on the impeachment committee (whether it is Nadler’s HJC or a separate one) I don’t think it will have a real effect since it’s expected the facts will be dug out. Those new revelations would provide cover to vote for impeachment down the road.

              I’m also interested in why the Palace thought the 5-page memo (almost certainly redacted, and it’s not a transcript which would be longer) containing what it does was going to help. I wonder if AG Barr signed off on it since “summary memos” are his M.O. but I thought he’s a smart enough lawyer not to leave the legal land mines out like this document did.

  19. Areader2018 says:

    These are the positions for Democrats:

    1. Pelosi is making a political judgement that the best case scenario is to beat Trump in the election and hold the house. She thinks (with years of experience) that the best way to do that is to NOT an impeachment process that inevitably ends in Mitch McConnell declaring him exonerated.

    2. Lawrence Tribe argues that we should at least have the public impeachment hearings, as a tool to present the facts, establish the truth and move public opinion.

    3. Congress has a legal and moral responsibility to impeach, regardless of the political considerations. Otherwise the concept of congressional oversight is over. And the rule of law.

    I think I should credit Bmaz for pushing me from supporting 1, to 2, to 3. But this weekend, I think we need to consider a fourth option:

    4. Trump started conspiring with Ukraine the day after the Mueller hearings, when he decided he could get away with it. So now we know his 2020 campaign strategy. Basically doubling down on 2016. Lie, cheat, steal, use foreign espionage and dark money. Why would he draw the line at changing vote totals?

    He will not.

    Impeachment is the ONLY way to remove him from office, because he will have Russia or China or someone hack the voting machines. He will steal the election. And then in four years, he will do the same thing to steal it for Ivanka.

    • harpie says:

      Rep. Veronica Escobar [D-TX-16]
      https://twitter.com/RepEscobar/status/1176323864382431232
      7:33 PM – 23 Sep 2019

      The corruption of this administration has no bottom. From using the Oval Office for self-enrichment, to welcoming foreign interference in our elections, TWICE — the level of lawlessness is staggering.

      Our democracy needs defending, now more than ever. //

      I’m ready to impeach.

      [#WhipIt]

    • harpie says:

      Rep Dean Philips D-MN-03 https://twitter.com/RepDeanPhillips/status/1176244129703059458
      2:17 PM – 23 Sep 2019

      […] The President has invited foreign interference in our democracy. Our Constitution transcends any person, politician, or political party. If the reports are corroborated, we must pursue articles of impeachment: [link]

      Rep. Angie Craig D-MN-02
      https://craig.house.gov/media/press-releases/congresswoman-angie-craig-s-statement-regarding-investigations-corruption

      […] We must safeguard our electoral process and our very democracy from outside threats. For this reason, the current investigations into corruption must continue. And when there is an abuse of power of this magnitude, it is our responsibility to stand up for what is right. This is why I am calling to open impeachment proceedings — immediately, fairly, and impartially.”

      [#WhipIt :-) /~Rayne]

      • P J Evans says:

        The ones who keep saying “if” – they need to read the Mueller report, or at least the summary of it (not Barr’s). There’s no “if” needed: obstruction of justice is demonstrated, and everything the current occupant of the Oval Office says and does is fairly public.

        • harpie says:

          Yes…and as bmaz tweets:
          https://twitter.com/bmaz/status/1176461058879287298
          4:39 AM – 24 Sep 2019

          Two of similarly situated freshman Reps, Spanberger and Slotkin, are on Morning Joe right now saying how they now have to “vote their conscience”. Where was their “conscience” previously?

          It’s looooong past time to get on board.
          The impeachment train is leaving the station.

          • P J Evans says:

            I’m thinking that the summary needs to be extracted from the report and emailed to all the wafflers and the ones who still think it isn’t needed. (I know it’s possible to copy and paste from some PDFs. That would be quick.)

  20. J R in WV says:

    When you say that the telephone conversation with the Ukrainian president was the subject of the Whistleblower report, I don’t think we actually know that. I personally think the whole discussion of the phone call with the Ukrainian president is a smokescreen to obscure the real events discussed in the Whistleblower report.

    Until the actual report is turned over to the House committee as required by law, we have no idea what is really in the Whistleblower report. And until inherent contempt powers are used by the House, that won’t happen.

    • Matthew Harris says:

      I agree that there is always an outside chance that it could be something else entirely. There have been enough curveballs in the past three years (Praz for the Fugees being a bagman between a Malaysian financer and Eliot Broidy is the perfect example of how convoluted this is).

      But I also think we have a lot of evidence that it is the Ukraine, and that should be our practical working theory right now.

    • Rayne says:

      You know what? We, the public, may not know if Zelensky was on the call. Disclosing this information puts Zelensky at risk. Our representatives should know, however. They may already know because of the closed door meeting last Thursday with the IC IG.

  21. PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

    Agreed. I’m nervous about how the entire narrative has been driven to Ukraine call, and now the media is giving Trump the power to drive the narrative by breathlessly building up their own anticipation for transcripts that may or may not be complete and accurate.

    What are the other issues raised in the whistleblower report? This is being forgotten by MSM as they yield the narrative to Trump.

    • Rayne says:

      Have you noticed the admissions by both Trump and his lawyer? It’s not just that the Washington Post’s story attributed the whistleblower’s complaint to one call, but that a team of WaPo’s better reporters on NatSec — Ellen Nakashima, Shane Harris, Greg Miller and Carol D. Leonnig — wrote these three key grafs:

      A whistleblower complaint about President Trump made by an intelligence official centers on Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the matter, which has set off a struggle between Congress and the executive branch.

      The complaint involved communications with a foreign leader and a “promise” that Trump made, which was so alarming that a U.S. intelligence official who had worked at the White House went to the inspector general of the intelligence community, two former U.S. officials said.

      Two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed, Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian and political newcomer who was elected in a landslide in May.

      They had “two people familiar with the matter,” “two former U.S. officials” as sources about a conversation already under investigation by the House before this article was published.

      We don’t need the transcripts. What is under our noses may already be deemed a “high crime and misdemeanor” by the House; testimony by others involved including the former National Security Adviser, the vice president, several cabinet members, may be enough to seal this. We may even have intelligence from other countries to support the case against Trump.

      The president attempted to bribe or extort performance from another country using our tax dollars to benefit his personal re-election campaign. This is beyond Nixon’s petty little burglary of DNC offices, for which he was nearly impeached.

  22. Konarider says:

    I don’t think we have factored in the request for the top spies trump made. I think this is going to be one of the pieces that comes out of this whole thing. Who could he have promised to furnish those names? What possible use could he have had for that list if Putty didn’t ask for it? This is going to get uglier and uglier.

  23. Matthew Harris says:

    The only other things I would add to the time table, which might be related, are:

    1. The investigation into the Trump inaugural, which might have involved Ukrainians illegally contributing to it.
    up
    2. The Eliot Broidy investigation, which seems to be covered very little in the media, also might have been involved.

    I don’t really know if either one of these is the case, but there is a chance of it. I don’t really know if there is a timeline that coincides.

    • Eureka says:

      Great point about the investigation into the inaugural and possible Ukrainian contributions (whereupon must insert obligatory reference to Blavatnik & Mnuchin & multiple sides to Ukrainian coin).

      Isn’t that (inaugural graft, at least) one of the likely post-Mueller/ farmed-out ongoing investigations which Marcy has identified?

  24. Eureka says:

    Thanks, Rayne. You may wish to include on 09-SEP the three committees opening the investigation into this topic, sending letters to Pompeo & Cipollone (you had flagged it):

    (Adding: responsive documents were due on 16-SEPT)

    https://www.emptywheel.net/2019/09/19/odni-whistleblower-complaint-shoes-dropping-all-over-the-place/#comment-805635

    Three House Committees Launch Wide-Ranging Investigation into Trump-Giuliani Ukraine Scheme | Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
    https://intelligence.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=685

    • Eureka says:

      Separate topic that’s been nagging me with the dates: that whole name-making* (for O’Brien) ASAP Rocky diversion in (~very) late July/early August. Everything this admin does makes sense in retrospect. I wonder if it was part of the plot to push out (then just can) and replace Bolton with a more dutiful soldier.

      Perhaps it wasn’t specific to Bolton as the outcome may suggest per prior Trump admin illogistics; maybe they were just familiarizing us with another storyline character for multi-potential uses.

      *Just enough to register with the public, ‘oh, that guy’ is our new NSA.

      • Eureka says:

        To be clear, Trump had publicly involved himself in the case back on July 19th; O’Brien probably just proved himself a loyalist by going out of his job scope to follow up on the case save-face-via-stink for Trump.

        I’m just wondering if this was an audition, as far as Trump cabal was concerned, for a bigger role (while they were cleaning house). Of course he is running out of people, so there’s that.

        Trump sent America’s top hostage negotiator to Sweden for A$AP Rocky’s trial
        https://www.vox.com/2019/7/31/20748443/asap-rocky-trial-sweden-hostage-envoy-trump

        A$AP Rocky: Trump’s tweets on the rapper’s case, somewhat explained
        https://www.vox.com/2019/7/29/8931606/asap-rocky-sweden-trial-trump

        • Eureka says:

          True, there are other more plausible options. I was mostly focused on dislodging the nag from my craw.

          I think differently about the entire situation since reading WaPo’s reporting (from last night) which pushed the date of funds-withholding to at least 7-18 (possibly slightly earlier).

          Everyone knew that Trump belatedly getting involved in the ASAP Rocky case was a diversion, a pro-publicity stunt, we just didn’t know then that this was among the topical options to be potentially buried in all the trending topics and clickbait (but they did, should anyone, even an OMB rando, have piped up about it). TMZ set up the Kim and Kanye –>Jared –> Trump story on the 18th, Trump tweets 19th, etc. Every bit of cloud cover helps stanch the sunlight.

          • Eureka says:

            Adding WaPo re the hold on funds ca./by 7-18-19, as I don’t see it in the timeline:

            Trump ordered hold on military aid days before calling Ukrainian president, officials say
            https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/trump-ordered-hold-on-military-aid-days-before-calling-ukrainian-president-officials-say/2019/09/23/df93a6ca-de38-11e9-8dc8-498eabc129a0_story.html

            President Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to hold back almost $400 million in military aid for Ukraine at least a week before a phone call in which Trump is said to have pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate the son of former vice president Joe Biden, according to three senior administration officials.

            Officials at the Office of Management and Budget relayed Trump’s order to the State Department and the Pentagon during an interagency meeting in mid-July…

            Administration officials were instructed to tell lawmakers that the delays were part of an “interagency process” but to give them no additional information — a pattern that continued for nearly two months, until the White House released the funds on the night of Sept. 11.

            [… flagging small snippets lower in text…]

            According to administration officials, discussions about Ukrainian aid began in June.

            Former national security adviser John Bolton wanted to release the money to Ukraine…

            Besides Bolton, several other administration officials said they did not know why the aid was being canceled or why a meeting was not being scheduled.

            The decision was communicated to State and Defense officials on July 18, officials familiar with the meeting said.

            [#ODNIWhistleblower-2 ‘scuse the bookmark/~Rayne]

            • Rayne says:

              Thanks – the content in this piece is what I debated adding at 23-SEP. There’s some conflict about the amount; it’s ~$400M in mid-July when Mulvaney is supposed to stall it, and then there’s the stall of $250M on 29-AUG-2019.

              How’d it stall not once but twice, and why did the amount vary? is the difference closer to $140M we see discussed later on that can’t be explained? Or is it $150M and somebody is planning to skim $10M somewhere along the way?

              And with this report from yesterday we now have yet another Trump appointee involved — at least the Senate didn’t approve him.

              • Eureka says:

                That explains why I couldn’t tell it was there ;)

                There’s also *at least* one pro-admin source in that WaPo, so it’s hard to tell if they are trying to get ahead of or pre-propagandize something or backcast to explain the Sunday show cluelessness (if I am remembering the right day) about the 140m. Is it the same old “two sources” and another; is anyone trying to dime out Mulvaney or is he just happily taking the face-fall?

                It’s not like Putin would be happy with Ukraine receiving either package, but the description of the intentions for the 140m might be why it was kept on the down-low leaving the likes of Mnuchin all stammery on ~Sunday (because it hit too close to home for too many in this arrangement):

                …and $141 million, to be funneled through the State Department, for maritime security, NATO interoperability and various initiatives to help Ukraine’s military fend off Russian aggression.

                • Eureka says:

                  * all three = “current” senior admin officials in that WaPo (with one with Trump apologia remarks, including “It had nothing to do with a quid pro quo”)

  25. d4v1d says:

    This whole timeline should be focused on just two dates: July 24 when Mueller’s failure was complete, and the very next day (in rubric above) when Trump played the extortion card. Mueller should never again enjoy a full night’s sleep.

  26. MissyDC says:

    No idea if it’s relevant but what about John Huntsman’s resignation on Aug . 6 (effective Oct. 3)? The timing seems kind of odd and abrupt. Plus his excuse is to spend more time with family.

    • JamesJoyce says:

      Missy,

      Good eyes and ears… It is called the Trump Stench Factor. Like a once welcomed underarm tattoo that never wears off or goes away..

      Huntsman and Haley want nothing to do with a “liability” having multiple liabilities.

      👍

  27. MattyG says:

    Wouldn’t surprise me if the driving force behind all this is carrying out a Putin instruction to withhold military aid to the Ukraine – that was the promise – and leaning on Zelinsky was either window dressing or some DT side grifting.

  28. Nancy Oppenheim says:

    I am speculating but maybe the the whistleblower complaint pertains to promises made by Trump to Putin to take specific actions which would undermine NATO defenses of Europe, enabling Putin to further his designs on Ukraine, and which would disable and degrade the IC, especially re Russia/Putin. In exchange, Trump would get continued help from Putin regarding re-election in 2020.

    Facts in the above timeline suggest that Trump’s actions have degraded the US Intelligence capability as it pertains to Russia, benefitting Putin.

    Not included in the timeline is the September 2019 Trump announcement that Trump cut $770 million from the Pentagon, some of which pertained to an initiative started by the Obama administration to shore up European defense (Trump said he would use these monies for his wall) of Eastern Europe. The military construction defense cuts included upgrades to airfields in Slovakia, ammunition storage in Poland and Special Operations Forces facilities in Estonia. Clearly, these cuts benefit Putin.

    I am guessing that the alleged Trump/Ukrainian Quid Pro Quo (bribes by Trump (releasing withheld funds for Ukraine’s defense, plus millions more, in exchange for dirt on Biden to use in 2020 and for “facts” disputing the Mueller findings in his investigation of 2016 election interference, that the Russian Puppet Ukrainian President made corrupt payments to Manafort in the early 2000s, inter alia) is an implementation of the Trump/Putin agreement I speculate about above. Trump/Putin election interference in 2016 is reframed as Obama/Biden/Democratic interference and corruption. Trump’s obstruction of the Mueller investigation is reframed as truth finding and legitimate.

    Trump/Russia interference and corruption in 2020 is reframed as truth finding, and as Biden/Democrat/Ukraine interference and corruption.

    Although U.S. funds to defend Ukraine were released, Putin gains anyway because the Ukrainian President is either compromised, or appears to be compromised. Either way, the Ukrainian President is weakened benefiting Putin.

    Please accept my apologies in advance if this post is too far off topic or does not make sense. But, I do think that the whistle blower complaint is much broader than just Trump and the President of Ukraine.

    Confraudus all over again.

    • Naargh Nargo says:

      This again underlines the importance of finding out, in full, what the actual WB complaint alleges. As Ms Oppenheim lays out, the whole Ukrainian issue becomes a sideshow to, and even a distraction from, a much deeper and broader threat. Rayne, Eureka, bmaz, anyone– your thoughts?

  29. BobZ says:

    What I’m not seeing on this timeline anywhere is anything about Pompeo and State Department assistance to Giuliani. Was he acting as a private citizen/personal lawyer for Trump, or did he have some sort of quasi-official authorization?

    For that matter, do we know anything more about how and when the State Department assisted? Pompeo had to be in on this up to his eyebrows.

  30. Vicks says:

    It seems that even Donald Trump can’t get a thumbs up on an American President asking the leader of a foreign country to investigate one of our own citizens.
    We have now been lead over to the new version of events; Trump was withholding the money because he didn’t think it was fair that other countries weren’t carrying their own weight.
    Trump gave of list of people he complained about this too. (quick guess on what these people have in common?)
    It will be interesting to see just how hard they worked once Trump made his dissatisfaction known and how much money it took in pledges from other countries to please Trump enough to release the funds to Ukraine.

  31. AlanS says:

    There is an episode that’s missing from the timeline. Zelensky sat down with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) during their early-September trip to Ukraine and told them that he thought his country was being extorted by the White House. I can’t find the original report, but there are dozens of them that discuss this meeting since Sen. Murphy mentioned it during his 09/22 Meet The Press interview.

  32. Terrapin says:

    Hi Rayne. With all due respect, while an impeachment inquiry heightens the tension and the stakes, it won’t cause the Trump obstruction machine to skip a beat. They will simply defy subpoenas and when the Democrats go to the courts all they will get will be delays and the GOP appointed judges will, in the end, chose Trump over the country. And if the Democrats choose to impeach Trump anyway, watch Mitch McConnell either refuse to put Trump on trial in the Senate or simply engineer his quick acquittal. That is why DJT is so confident in basically fessing up to what he did with Ukraine and it looks as if his criminal actions are already bearing fruit because it would appear from press reports that the Ukrainian government is going to reopen its investigation of the company Biden’s son was associated with. I would dearly love to be proven wrong here but I fear I won’t. And expect the whistleblower(s) when their identity is revealed to be savaged by the right-wing media attack machine.

    • Rugger9 says:

      I would be more surprised if MMMcT didn’t spike the trial somehow, but that is something that can be hung around the GOP necks like an anvil when the impeachment hearings develop wave after wave of evidence, because Individual-1 refuses to pull back. After all, MMMcT doesn’t have traction if the rest of the GOP doesn’t play along with him.

      I still think this is bigger than something merely affecting Biden’s campaign (which will go down in flames, witness the latest gaffe with a female supporter), but the smoking gun is something on the statecraft level and likely involving Putin and a quid pro quo of Ukrainian territory. After all, the Palace and its minions already copped to the telecon and tried to frame the bounds of it; however they still refuse to release the full transcript. Why?

  33. harpie says:

    https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1176559966024556544
    11:12 AM – 24 Sep 2019

    I am currently at the United Nations representing our Country, but have authorized the release tomorrow of the complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript of my phone conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine….

    ….You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call. No pressure and, unlike Joe Biden and his son, NO quid pro quo! This is nothing more than a continuation of the Greatest and most Destructive Witch Hunt of all time!

    BWAHAHAHAHA!

  34. P J Evans says:

    Schiff says the whistleblower is willing to talk to the committee:
    https://twitter.com/RepAdamSchiff/status/1176564220407767042

    We have been informed by the whistleblower’s counsel that their client would like to speak to our committee and has requested guidance from the Acting DNI as to how to do so.

    We‘re in touch with counsel and look forward to the whistleblower’s testimony as soon as this week.

  35. Vicks says:

    Perhaps a couple of other dates to put in regarding the sale of $47 million in weapons to Ukraine and when the public learned Ukraine had ceased helping Mueller and his investigation?
    Dec 20 2017 US Announces PLAN to sell $47 million in weapons to Ukraine. (It appears there was a 30 day review period before the deal would become final).
    March 1 2018 US Announces the SALE of $47 million in weapons to Ukraine
    The fact it took almost double the time to review and that spokespersons for Ukraine leadership felt it important to go on the record claiming it was their choice to stop cooperating the day after the weapons were delivered still seems too convenient and some may see a pattern

  36. Rayne says:

    Looking for a trusted community member — somebody who’s been here a while — who also speaks Russian fluently. I need a translation of a 13-minute segment of a Russian news program before I can post this entry to the timeline:

    15-SEP-2019 — Russian news program News of the Week (Vesti Nedeli, вести недели, on Russia-1 Россия-1 network) “complained that #Ukraine’s president ‘didn’t heed signals from the White House,’ explicitly noting that the Trump administration is looking for dirt on Biden” [UPDATE-3]

    Vesti Nedeli ran a segment about John Bolton, US foreign policy, Ukraine, and Joe Biden beginning at about 42:42 in this video: https://youtu.be/R2YzUcA5BoA
    I’d like to put the tweet Julia Davis posted into the timeline but I really need a second set of ears to confirm this is what the program was communicating.

    I wonder if there’s something more in the bashing about Bolton (I’m guessing based on the visual content this is what was going on) that might be important as well. The program spent more time on Bolton’s exit than U.S. news programs did.

    Thanks!

  37. The Old Redneck says:

    We can all see what’s ahead. Trump and Co. will release a heavily edited transcript of the call, which will breathlessly get reported as if that were the whole story. The fact that the transcript is incomplete, and that the whistleblower had concerns far beyond that call, will get lost in the shuffle.
    Unless responsible people keep the focus in the right place, this will be the dominant narrative. Just like Bill Barr’s “no collusion” conclusion became the dominant narrative on the Mueller investigation.

    • bmaz says:

      The problem with this is that the Whistleblower is going to testify in sealed sessions of Congress, apparently not just the House, but the Senate too. There is going to be a record, whether the public sees it at first or not.

    • Rugger9 says:

      They did release a summary memo and it didn’t help their case. That the Palace thought this was safe to release makes me wonder what they are still hiding.

      Putting on the tinfoil I think Putin and leaving the Ukraine out to dry is also part of this as well. The ~400 M$ held up was for helping the Ukraine defend itself in the Donbass and elsewhere, so the threat was not trivial. There is more and it will be ugly, i.e. did Individual-1 also sell out the Baltics (who are members of NATO and part of the joint defense treaty obligation)?

      Weird Al says it best:

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