Trump Team’s Extortion Demands To Ukraine Started Before The April 21 Call To Zelensky

Jim here.

As we prepare for the release of the “transcript” of Donald Trump’s first phone call to Volodymyr Zelensky, it is important to put the call into perspective with events surrounding it in the overall timeline of the Ukraine events at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

Pressure on Poroshenko Administration: January-February 2019

First, it is extremely important to note that Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman began their campaign to force Ukraine to re-open their investigation into Burisma and to expand it into an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden, along with an “investigation” of Ukraine meddling in the 2016 US election, before Zelensky was elected. On Friday, the Washington Post filled us in on more details of that effort:

Two associates of Rudolph W. Giuliani pressed the then-president of Ukraine in February to announce investigations into former vice president Joe Biden’s son and purported Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election in exchange for a state visit, and a lawyer for one of the associates said Friday that they were doing so because Giuliani — acting on President Trump’s behalf — asked them to.

The Giuliani associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, met with then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Kyiv, said Edward B. MacMahon Jr., a lawyer for Parnas. He said they were working on behalf of Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, who was operating on orders from Trump.

“There isn’t anything that Parnas did in the Ukraine relative to the Bidens or the 2016 election that he wasn’t asked to do by Giuliani, who was acting on the direction of the president,” MacMahon said.

The article goes on to note that Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko was also at this meeting, and that there had even been a meeting of Giuliani, Parnas and Fruman with Lutsenko in January.

As a result of this pressure, Lutsenko announced in March that he would investigate the Bidens. This opened the door for the infamous Ken Vogel hatchet job on the Bidens, published in the New York Times on May 1. Buried deep into the article, Vogel did at least grudgingly admit the previous investigation by Ukraine found nothing and that re-opening the investigation was in response to “pressure”:

The decision to reopen the investigation into Burisma was made in March by the current Ukrainian prosecutor general, who had cleared Hunter Biden’s employer more than two years ago. The announcement came in the midst of Ukraine’s contentious presidential election, and was seen in some quarters as an effort by the prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko, to curry favor from the Trump administration for his boss and ally, the incumbent president, Petro O. Poroshenko.

We now know, as described above, that the pressure was applied primarily through Giuliani, Parnas and Fruman rather that through official channels. Returning to the Post article, here is how those efforts worked out:

At the time of the February meeting, Poroshenko was seeking reelection and wanting an official visit to Washington. He ultimately lost and never announced the investigations that Parnas and Fruman asked about, nor did he get the Washington visit he wanted.

The February meeting was also attended by Ukrainian general prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko, MacMahon said. Lutsenko said in March he was investigating the Bidens, only to reverse course months later.

So, although Lutsenko announced an investigation, Poroshenko never did. Clearly, to the Trump team, the announcement had to come from the top in order to win the prize of the state visit that, at least in the opinion of the Trump team, would have tipped the election to Poroshenko. However, the Lutsenko announcement apparently was sufficient for Vogel and the Times.

Zelensky Elected April 21, 2019

The election in Ukraine took place on April 21 (although there was a preliminary round with no clear winner on March 31), with Zelensky winning in a landslide, 74% to 24% for Poroshenko. Trump’s call to Zelensky took place on April 21, shortly after Zelensky was declared the winner. Kurt Volker noted the call:


So, on the surface, one would expect a transcript of the call only to reflect congratulations on being elected. Volker didn’t specifically state anything else was covered in the call, but did note the US supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity and “counter [Russian] aggression”, sentiments Trump certainly would not have put into the call or Volker’s statement about it.

Of course, since it’s Donald Trump we’re talking about here, all bets are off on what will be in whatever Trump releases, if he does release something. Recall that Trump has called for Republicans to release their own “transcripts” of committee depositions in a very thinly veiled request for doctored transcripts:


Since Trump often operates via projection, we can’t help wondering whether he plans to do some editing on this “transcript” if it is released.

Pressure on Zelensky Administration Begins in May 2019, Before Inauguration

We must also keep in mind that the pressure on Zelensky’s Administration to investigate the Bidens began well before the July 25 phone call and that the first enticement offered in this extortion was Mike Pence attending the inauguration. From the New York Times:

Not long before the Ukrainian president was inaugurated in May, an associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani’s journeyed to Kiev to deliver a warning to the country’s new leadership, a lawyer for the associate said.

The associate, Lev Parnas, told a representative of the incoming government that it had to announce an investigation into Mr. Trump’s political rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., and his son, or else Vice President Mike Pence would not attend the swearing-in of the new president, and the United States would freeze aid, the lawyer said.

/snip/

The meeting in Kiev in May occurred after Mr. Giuliani, with Mr. Parnas’s help, had planned a trip there to urge Mr. Zelensky to pursue the investigations. Mr. Giuliani canceled his trip at the last minute, claiming he was being “set up.”

Only three people were present at the meeting: Mr. Parnas, Mr. Fruman and Serhiy Shefir, a member of the inner circle of Mr. Zelensky, then the Ukrainian president-elect. The sit-down took place at an outdoor cafe in the days before Mr. Zelensky’s May 20 inauguration, according to a person familiar with the events. The men sipped coffee and spoke in Russian, which is widely spoken in Ukraine, the person said.

Mr. Parnas’s lawyer, Joseph A. Bondy, said the message to the Ukrainians was given at the direction of Mr. Giuliani, whom Mr. Parnas believed was acting under Mr. Trump’s instruction. Mr. Giuliani said he “never authorized such a conversation.”

Note Rudy’s non-denial: he says he never authorized such a conversation, but doesn’t dispute that it took place. Also note that Zelensky did not announce an investigation and Pence did not attend the inauguration.

Although it isn’t mentioned in this article, Rudy’s sudden decision not to attend the May meeting most likely was because he suddenly feared Igor Kolomoisky. From Buzzfeed:

The 56-year-old billionaire was not just a major supporter of Zelensky’s. He owned the television channel that had broadcast the comedy shows in which the newcomer had once played the part of the president of Ukraine, which had made him a household name.

Parnas and Fruman jetted to Israel in late April to meet Kolomoisky, who was living in self-exile after the previous administration took over a bank he founded amid accusations of fraudulent loans and money laundering. (Kolomoisky has vehemently denied the allegations.)

The meeting went badly.

In an interview, Kolomoisky said he was led to believe Parnas and Fruman wanted to talk about their new export business. Instead, he said, they pushed to meet with Zelensky. “I told them I am not going to be a middleman in anybody’s meetings with Zelensky,” he said to reporters for BuzzFeed News and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. “I am not going to organize any meetings. Not for them, not for anybody else. They tried to say something like, ‘Hey, we are serious people here. Giuliani. Trump.’ They started throwing names at me.”

Kolomoisky called Parnas and Fruman “fraudsters” in an interview shortly after the meeting. Soon after, a lawyer for the two men filed a claim for damages and told police in Kiev that the oligarch had threatened their lives.

“It was a threat that we took seriously,” said Parnas.

Giuliani jumped into the dispute, denouncing Kolomoisky in tweets as a “notorious oligarch” who “must be held accountable for threats.”

So Rudy stayed behind on the May trip, sending Parnas and Fruman on their own.

Bottom Line

Even if a “transcript” from the April 21 call from Trump to Zelensky is released and contains no extortion demand from Trump for Zelensky to investigate the Bidens, such a demand was indeed delivered to a Zelensky associate less that a month later by Parnas and Fruman. The threat was then carried out when Pence did not attend Zelensky’s inauguration since no investigation was announced.

 

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66 replies
  1. vinnie Gambone says:

    Someone raised the point the Russian Mob was quite pleased with Giuliani when he dismantled the Italian Mob when he was a federal prosecutor. They repaid him through hefty contributions in his senate race against Hilary Clinton. Not far fetched that he and Parnas crossed paths back in the day when Lev was selling Trump’s father’s condos.

    Makes sense Trump picked Rudy to carry his water. Trump was probably comforted knowing it was NYC Brighton Beach soldiers running task, because such people know they risk death crossing the bosses.

    The Russian mob connections are over 20 years old. Even Michael Cohen was hatched out of that environment growing as he did under his Uncle Levine’s wings who hosted the mob at his Catering hall.

    Perhaps an enterprising journalist might revisit Rudy’s Campaign finance reports from his run for Mayor and Senate to see who else Russian mob related gave to Rudy back then.

    Found this piece to be interesting. Rudy has been a Russian stooge for years. Trump trusted Rudy and Cohen because he knew they faced more dangerous consequences than just prison crossing the Mob.

    Sorry if citation format not correct. Newbie. Thanks

    https://publicintegrity.org/federal-politics/elections/fbi-tracked-alleged-russian-mob-ties-of-giuliani-campaign-supporter/

    • Chaparral says:

      Good one vinnie.

      Every time we talk about Fruman and Parnas working for Rudy it should be made clear that they are just as much employed by the Ukrainian gangster Dymtro Firtash. Fruman and Parnas work for Firtash as much as they work for Giuliani. And as much as Giuliani works for Trump, Firtash works for Semion Mogilevich, the Russian boss of bosses. Every boss needs a consiglieri.

      Fruman and Parnas are the classic middlemen in the real deal here. Their job was/is to make sure both parties got their side of the bargain. The Russians want to remove the anti-corruption US ambassador and replace the board of directors and upper management at Naftogz to insure that they could continue their skimming operation. The Americans want kompromat on political opponents. In these days of deep fakes where some bogus bullshit could be created anytime, the reason the Americans have not gotten their kompromat is probably because the Russian have not yet taken delivery on their side of the deal.

      Mogilevich and Trump go way back. “If one tracks Trump’s ties to Russia, the name Mogilevich pops up more than any single name, beginning in 1984 when alleged Mogilevich operative David Bogatin bought five condos in Trump Tower for $6 million in cash. Over the years, no fewer than 1,300 Trump-branded condos were sold in all cash purchases to anonymous shell companies—the two criteria that set off alarm bells among anti-money laundering authorities. In 2002, after Trump had gone belly up in Atlantic City, Bayrock, a real estate development company that allegedly had ties to Mogilevich, moved into Trump Tower and partnered with Trump—in the process bailing out the bankrupt real estate mogul and putting him in a position to eventually run for the presidency.”

      https://www.justsecurity.org/60528/understanding-pres-trump-vs-bruce-ohr-russias-top-crime-boss-semion-mogilevich/

    • omphaloscepsis says:

      From the 20 year old book Red Mafiya by the late Robert L. Friedman:

      “By the dawn of the new millennium Russian mobsters were lavishing millions of dollars in contributions on Democratic and Republican politicians. In New York City, commodities mogul and alleged wiseguy Semyon (Sam) Kislin has been one of mayor Rudy Giuliani’s top campaign supporters. Kislin, various relatives, and his companies, raised or donated a total of $64,950 to Giuliani’s mayoral campaigns in 1993 and 1997. A Ukrainian immigrant well known among the Russian Jewish community in South Brooklyn, Kislin has also made generous donations to Democratic Senator Charles Schumer as well as other state politicians.

      According to a confidential December 1994 FBI report and underworld sources, Kislin is a member of the Ivankov organization. These sources say that Kislin’s New York commodities firm has been involved in laundering millions of dollars, and co-sponsored a U.S. visa for a man named Anton Malevsky, who is a contract killer and head of one of Russia’s most bloodthirsty Mafiya families.”

  2. Raven Eye says:

    Trump is like a magnet you drag around on a dirt pile. The more you drag it on the surface the more little flecks (flakes?) of metal you pick up. Then you turn over the soil to get to the next layer and drag the magnet around and you get even MORE flakes — all sticking to the same magnet. And the the more you dig, the more you find, and on, and on, and on…

    WTFO?

    • Marji says:

      This article and the comments are so illuminating. I love the links and the depth of knowledge. Sorry, I don’t post much as I’m not sure I have much to add, but I wanted to say Thank You!!

  3. Glacier says:

    Re: “Since Trump often operates via projection, we can’t help wondering whether he plans to do some editing on this “transcript” if it is released”

    In all the chaos and theatrics that swirl around trump and GOP activities — scrambling-up the constitution into a mashed-up defiled comic book is the greatest threat in the world today. The idea that trump can project that he is above the law or more important than the Constitution,is as absurd as his notion that he is the chosen one, and can murder anyone and not be held accountable. It’s worth focusing on the super simple premise that Congress created the Constitution and Congress created the office of the president — and thus Article l of the Constitution takes priority over Article ll executive powers. Judicial debates that hesitate or debate that exact point open the doors to allow monsters like trump to create illusions which are totally invalid and wrong — yet, apparently millions of people tuned-into fox news are the equivalent of zombie sheep that have no reference points or factual compasses to guide them through reality. The threat of trump is no different than that of hitler in pre-WWll Germany, where hitler as unchallenged authority subverted the German Constitution and took control of the German sheep, who followed their master, up to the point of his suicide. The German sheep were spellbound like lemmings and literally sat back and watched a madman destroy their nation — that is what the GOP sheep are embracing with patriotic/religious zeal — a group of ignorant sheep that place Article ll before Article l … this is about survival!

      • Glacier says:

        I just assume that, prior to ratification of The Constitution, Congress took many steps to write and create declarations for The Constitution. Article l declares the powers of Congress, Article ll is subservient. The Constitution establishes three equal branches, but IMHO, Congress created the executive branch as to be subservient to its authority. Apparently a case can be made that an insane game-show host has greater power than Congress, but that is incorrect.

        FYI: On May 15, 1776, the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, issued “A Resolve” to the thirteen colonies: “Adopt such a government as shall, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the safety and happiness of their constituents in particular and America in general.”

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The body that is Congress came into being and was first authorized to act in 1789, after the ratification of the Constitution which created it, along with the other two branches of government.

        • P J Evans says:

          That was before the Constitution even existed. You might want to read up on US history.
          First there was the Declaration (1776), then the Articles of Confederation, then, in 1787, the Constitution, which is when US government as we know it begins.

          • timbo says:

            The general idea that the Congress is the primary among equals is in the Constitution itself. No other organization gets to ratify the other branches officers before the fact, and only the Congress can force removal of >any< Federal officers of any branch that have been duly elected or duly appointed previously. These two powers, ratification and removal, are the primary way in which the Federal and Judicial branches are populated. The form in which the government takes as a whole is co-equal between the three branches but not the matter on who is doing what—that power is for the Congress alone to determine (assuming that that role isn't ignored nor forgotten completely… as some appear to be trying to do of late.)

            Note also that the President and the Judicial branch may not directly force Congress or State Assemblies to consider explicit changes to the Constitutional framework itself. Again, any such proposed changes are only for the State Assemblies/Delegations, along with the Congress to propose and/or ratify. Certainly the other Branches, by action or inaction, (or the Congress iteslf) may force State Assemblies or Congress enact such changes to the framework but…

          • Glacier says:

            Re: “You might want to read up on US history.”

            You seem to be willing to sidestep the historical Congressional processes that took place to create the Constitution and then the executive office — and thus the carefully thought-out framework, which placed Congress into Article l and the executive into the subservient position of Article ll. If the co-equal branches were equal, they would have been combined into a single article that made a declaration of equality — but as it is, there is a sequence of priority and thus Order of Precedence. The only point I’m making is to suggest that it’s idiotic to assume that a president has unlimited power or that a president (or anyone connected to him) is above the law.

            FYI, this is from truthdig: “Whether senior presidential advisers enjoy “absolute immunity” if they refuse to comply with a congressional subpoena to testify at an impeachment inquiry will invariably be decided by the Supreme Court. Judge Jackson’s decision in the McGahn case will be appealed to the Court of Appeals and then to the Supreme Court. This may prove to be one of the pivotal separation of powers cases of our time.”

            • P J Evans says:

              It didn’t happen in Congress – they had a whole separate convention that WROTE the Constitution. After which, when it was ratified, we had a WHOLE NEW GOVERNMENT.

              • Midwest says:

                The decision to make a new Constitution was made by the Continental Congress, and the convention consisted of delegates form the states. Most of them seem to have been current or past members of the Continental Congress — a proto-Congress, you might say. This is besides the fact that only Congress has the power to make law or remove members from its own body as well as the judiciary or the Presidency.

                • Molly Pitcher says:

                  And it was constituted this way to give the voice of the People to Congress, not to a single monarch. The many of Congress speak for the many of the electorate. It is a government ‘by, of and for the people’.

            • Rayne says:

              The question of the limits of the president’s immunity was examined by the Supreme Court in United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683 (1974).

              The problem before us is a SCOTUS which cannot be trusted to respect this precedent. The reason why Kavanaugh was seated may be his anticipated role in disregarding U.S. v. Nixon to Trump’s benefit while shattering the co-equal status of the three branches of government. Not the first time I’ve pointed this out in comments and written a post here in which I examined Nixon’s and Trump’s contempt of Congress.

              • Glacier says:

                The concept of co-equal balances of power remain a confusing subject, primarily because the art of political chaos. The confusion in Congress or SCOTUS has become a matter of compounding errors, which allow precedents to distort core facts, i.e., Congress is superior to the executive branch and the executive branch is inferior to Congressional power. However, because of media-based politics and distortion, there seems to be an assumption that the executive branch has special executive authority, which brings us to trump being the chosen one with unlimited powers and infinite immunity — an absurd notion. The Constitution, written by Congress, primarily authored by Madison, drew inspiration from John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government. The rationale for placing the legislative branch of government at the very beginning of the Constitution, Article l, was based on Locke: ‘The great end of Men’s entering into Society, being the enjoyment of their Properties in Peace and Safety, and the great
                instrument and means of that being the Laws establish’d in that Society; the first and fundamental positive Law, which is to govern the Legislative it self, is the establishing of the Legislative Power;…This Legislative is not only the supream power of the Commonwealth, but sacred and
                unalterable in the hands where the Community have once placed it; nor can any Edict of any Body else, in what Form soever conceived, or by what Power soever backed have the force and obligation of a Law, which has not its Sanction from that Legislative, which the publick has chosen and appointed.’

                ==> The executive branch in Article ll, is intended to be subservient to the powers of Congress, yet, when subversion and corruption are allowed to be assertive, monsters like trump and a corrupt Senate or SCOTUS can use the powers of distortion to make a case that Article ll is more powerful than Article l — and so, here we are, in the midst of corruption and a media campaign to sway public opinion about Constitutional structure and open Pandora’s Box and wonder if public stupidity will enable lawless rule. In essence, we have become pre-WWll Germany, sitting back and treating this impeachment as entertainment and treating it as a sporting event, versus the greatest threat to America in over 200 yeas!

                • Rayne says:

                  First, please use more frequent paragraph breaks.

                  Second, I don’t need the lecture.

                  Lastly, in a democracy, government operates with the consent of the people. The people revoke consent through their representatives as in impeachment and conviction+removal. Barring that, the people revoke consent through electing a new government. The people have failed to ensure their active consent has been obtained by being too disengaged from the political process. Much of the current crisis is on them for their failure to respect their own democracy through civic participation above and beyond showing up once in a blue moon at the polls.

                • P J Evans says:

                  We don’t really need that last sentence here. (You seem to have missed the Nixon years. And Cheney.)
                  It also helps if you know the audience – and you don’t seem to do that.

                  • bmaz says:

                    You mean paragraph? That thing is so run on as to be incoherent.

                    “Glacier”, we have busted the chops of many people previously for run on nonsense. So, please, don’t do that.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The meetings with Giuliani and associates and Lutsenko are suspicious on their face. Prosecutors do not legitimately work so closely with private, non-governmental actors, especially foreign ones. That the “pressure was applied primarily through Giuliani” and associates pretty much slams the door on this being legitimate Ukrainian government action.

    If Rudy is to be believed, though, he was always and everywhere working for Trump, who appears not to dispute it. (When Trump starts saying he hardly knows Rudy, it will only confirm their close ties.) That doesn’t mean it wasn’t in a personal, private capacity, as opposed to being a presidential envoy working on behalf and furthering the interests of the United States.

    • Raven Eye says:

      …And I’m still waiting for someone to ask what kind of U.S. passport Rudy has been using for all these errands.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Sarah Kendzior’s pithy response to the false GOP talking point that Trump “fighting” corruption is routine, and a good thing for any president to do:

    “Trump’s reaction to Ukraine corruption was to hire a guy who facilitated it — Manafort — as his campaign manager so that the corruption could be carried out on an executive level to please his Kremlin backers.”

    A presidential nominee’s campaign manager is his chief of staff, his top aide and confidant. Trump wanted the corruption kept close, so he could manage it better.

    Corruption is not a failing to be fixed or overcome. It is an essential element in every deal. If he can’t find it, he walks away, just as he never enters a fight unless he can rig it. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine illustrate how he interacts with the world.

  6. Rugger9 says:

    It has been burbling around for a while, but the axiom that all roads lead to Russia seems to be coming true again. Digby at 9:00 AM posted the details about Croft’s testimony that Mulvaney feared Russia wouldn’t like the already approved Javelin sales to Ukraine (these are anti-tank missiles, something very useful against the current Russian aggression). As a bonus, she also channels over something from Talking Points Memo about a CNN report triggering Cadet Bone Spurs (CBS) to order Bolton to stop a Black Sea trip by a US destroyer in accordance with the Montreux Convention. We do these “show the flag” exercises from time to time to enforce the idea that the Black Sea like the South China Sea are considered to be international waters. However, CBS was worried Putin would see it and get angry (note that Vlad hadn’t called about it yet).

    There’s a reason I had been using the KQ moniker for Individual-1 / CBS / Caesar Disgustus, and this is the kind of thing that proves my point.

    https://digbysblog.blogspot.com/

    • timbo says:

      Now the question is “why” did he (Mulvaney) fear that. Basically, Trump’s position has been, since day one, to try to get close to Russia politically. This is where the impeachment process is following a fine line… Trump’s voters voted for him knowing he supported closer ties with Russia. Here is where the idea of overturning an election enters the realm of one’s own faith in the Constitution’s Federal system itself.

      Now, clearly, it appears that the Trump regime and its henchmen have violated a number of laws but are policy violations possible from an Executive branch who campaigned to change such policies openly but may have decided to go about it in secret when there was obviously little will from the overall political structures in our country to go about it any other way. That does not excuse the Trumpian ignorance around us but it does cut to the heart of how our federal system works. Being unhappy about a President that is undercutting older policy decisions is understandable. It’s how that President goes about such changes that we are looking at now. Did the President and his followers violate US law to go about changing policy? And why did the President and his followers go about it in the way that they did? How did they see their role in the long and medium term in all this? That is what this impeachment today is about. Did they undercut the security of the US, our stability in an unstable world, so much that what they did rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors? Did they abrogate their oaths of office to achieve a goal that makes us less safe and any rational person would understand it as being less safe, that our individual liberties are or would be less safe under this new and seemingly secretive policy regime? Certainly the use of power to investigate political opponents at home points to a lack of ability to carry out oaths of office faithfully…

      More. Certainly it’s clear that emoluments clause should be involved here yet the current DP leadership don’t seem to be pressing that point in the current set of impeachment hearings that have been going on.

      Also, with the Mueller investigation, it’s clear that the President and several of the lawyers around him may have actively and illegally impeded an legitimate investigation. Again, is that going to go through an impeachment process under the current DP leadership in the House? Doesn’t look like it (yet).

      • mass interest says:

        Is there a reasonable chance that the scope of the impeachment investigation will broaden based on issues that may be revealed during witness testimony?

  7. Johnathan Mathews says:

    I would add that Pence didn’t just “not go to the inauguration”. Trump told him at the last minute not to go and sent Rick Perry instead. He sent Rick Perry with the message that the Trump administration wanted them to fire the entire board of naftogaz. Which, circling back to Parnas and Giuliani, would have allowed their new lng company to make a deal to supply naftogaz. It’s impossible to conceive trump wasn’t aware of or in on this.

    • timbo says:

      If he signed a written communique to that effect it certainly would seem impossible to deny his involvement. Further, was the funds swirling around all this earmarked for US elections?

  8. Glacier says:

    I remain confused as to why (or how) giuliani fits into this magic — how is it that a private citizen becomes a key figure in government diplomacy? trump has some powers with Appointments Clause, but there are limitations on who is public and who is private. From the very start of the trump coup, it seemed as if private trump collaborators were involving themselves in public policy. That stirred the Logan Act pot way back in 2016 and yet, here we are in 2019 scratching heads about giuliani and sort of pretending he has magical status because trump is above the law. Can anyone explain why America is so caught up in lawlessness?

    • Rugger9 says:

      That’s why the question posited earlier by Raven Eye about the passport is important. If Rudy was a private citizen with a blue one, then the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act might apply to his activities in addition to anything the Ukrainians charged him with if he pissed them off. If it’s the official one (maroon I think) then he has a semblance of diplomatic immunity.

      • timbo says:

        Maroon is only good up to a point if there is no good reason for it to be issued to you. Legally, not everyone is eligible for such passports… and I’m guess there would have to be a record at the State Department to have one legally issued. Note that acting beyond a certain level in carrying out American foreign policy requires Senate approval at minimum… although what that minimum is seems to be cloudy, given the current way that the NSC works, etc.

  9. Pete T says:

    This may net be relevant to the point of your post, but we learned in the released deposition of Catherine Corft that OMB/Mulvaney helps up earlier money for Javelins in late 2017.

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/11/11/1898742/-Ukraine-expert-testifies-Mulvaney-held-up-missile-sales-to-Ukraine-to-avoid-upsetting-Russia

    “Catherine Croft testified that the Mulvaney-led Office of Management and Budget (OMB) put a hold on the decision to sell the missiles to Ukraine over worries that “Russia would react negatively to the provision.” Croft said that was how OMB director Mulvaney described the reasoning. Asked if any other agencies involved in approval of the sale were similarly concerned about such a transaction, Croft called OMB the “lone objector.” Meanwhile, the National Security Council and State Department both supported selling the missiles to Ukraine, she testified, adding that in her opinion not providing the anti-tank missiles would serve Russia’s interests. ”

    And the seemingly unrelated oddball of mucking around with freedom of navigation exercises so as to not tick off the Russkies per Christopher Anderson’s testimony: https://www.politico.com/news/2019/11/11/what-laura-cooper-told-impeachment-investigators-069364

    “Anderson described a sense of “Ukraine fatigue” emerging inside the administration that was evident when the Navy launched a routine “freedom-of-navigation” operation in the Black Sea. Anderson said officials notified the Turkish government, and when CNN reported on the move — portraying it as a response to Russia — the White House asked the Navy to cancel the maneuver.

    “We met with Ambassador Bolton and discussed this, and he made it clear that the president had called him to complain about that news report. And that may have just been that he was surprised,” Anderson recalled. “We don’t — I can’t speculate as to why, but that, that operation was canceled, but then we were able to get a second one for later in February. And we had an Arleigh-class destroyer arrive in Odessa on the fifth anniversary of the Crimea invasion.””

    This placate the Russkies and compromise the Ukrainians has been going on since zero day.

    Pete

    • Jim White says:

      You’re right about the Javelins. I probably should have included them in this post. I didn’t because I was too lazy to go back to see if there was a demand for the Javelins or if they were delayed simply to please Putin. It’s getting hard to count the number of times Trump and his team extorted Ukraine. We may have to make a separate timeline or scorecard of some sort.

    • BobCon says:

      If anything, that piece on Croft understates how nutty OMB’s objection to the Ukraine sale was. OMB does not veer from the budget side of things regarding foreign policy issues like this.

      What is especially dumb about Mulvaney getting in the middle of this on the OMB side is that he is due to testify before the House early next year when the next Trump budget is sent to the Hill. He can obviously refuse to answer or show up at all, but that screws up the PR story Trump will want to make going into election year.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Good point about OMB’s normal role: it works the budget, not its implementation. One of the absurdities of Trump having his OMB guy also act as his chief of staff. That Trump calls Mulvaney his “acting” COS is hilarious; must be an artifact of his reality TV days.

        The appointment of the COS, like many WH positions, is wholly within the president’s discretion. The Senate has no advise and consent role, the president can hire or fire him at any time,

        It’s as if Trump has no clue how government runs, refuses to learn about it, and fires any staffer who tries to reduce his ignorance even a smidgen.

          • mb says:

            Nope – he was “acting” at CFPB until Kathy Kraninger took over in December 2018. During his time as “acting” head of CFPB, he was able to significant damage to the mission of that agency. And as “acting” at OMB, he’s doing the same over there…

            • BobCon says:

              He was confirmed by the Senate for OMB, so that part at least is for real. Everything else about him is very sketchy, though.

              • P J Evans says:

                “Sketchy” describes about 99% of the appointees in this maladministration. I suspect it’s a prerequisite.

  10. mospeck says:

    I’ve read on specs about this for the last several days and am very unsure on which is the best course. There seems to be a fair chance of its happening, so I pose a question for the lawyers and legal tacticians: Is a secret ballot senate vote more or less likely to remove? Is the secret ballot more or less likely to hold the GOP senators accountable to the US constitution?

  11. Mitch Neher says:

    Below is a link to almost too much information. However, according to the link, Lutsenko was first appointed Prosecutor General on May 12, 2016. And Giuliani first met with Lutsenko on June 8th, 2017. Likewise, Trump’s first request for an investigation of Serhiy Leschenko’s revelations about Paul Manafort occur shortly after Giuliani’s first meeting with Lutsenko in June of 2017. I could have read it wrong . . . but wouldn’t that have been before the “dawn raid” on Manafort in early August of 2017?

    Paraphrase: “This thing is [expletive] Leaden!”

    https://www.justsecurity.org/66271/timeline-trump-giuliani-bidens-and-ukrainegate/

    5 days ago … The two met “multiple times” during those days in New York, and Lutsenko told associates that, during their first meeting in January, Giuliani …

    • Mitch Neher says:

      Excerpted from the article linked above:

      May 12, 2016 – A new General Prosecutor

      Yuriy Lutsenko, who had headed Poroshenko’s political bloc in Parliament, takes office as prosecutor general, after Parliament changed the law to allow someone without a law degree and legal experience to hold the position. According to the New York Times, “Lutsenko initially took a hard line against Burisma.”

      June 8, 2017 – Giuliani meets with Ukrainian leaders

      Giuliani, who has had business of his own in Ukraine in the past, meets with President Petro Poroshenko and Prosecutor General Lutsenko, among other officials, during a visit to Kyiv, hosted by the foundation of billionaire Ukrainian metals magnate Victor Pinchuk, for a lecture on democracy and the rule of law. The meetings are cited in the joint U.S. House committee investigation launched later in September 2019 (see below) into Trump and Giuliani’s efforts to pressure Ukraine.

      July 25, 2017 – President Trump issues a public call for an investigation of the 2016 Manafort revelations in Ukraine

      Trump tweets a reference to what he calls “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign — `quietly working to boost Clinton.’ So where is the investigation A.G.,” he writes, referencing then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and tagging Fox News host Sean Hannity. The tweet was referenced in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on possible obstruction of justice by the U.S. president to block the investigation into Trump campaign collusion with Russia’s 2016 election interference. It also is cited in the September 2019 joint U.S. House committee letter (see below) on the investigation into Trump and Giuliani’s pressure campaign against Ukraine.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Stephen Miller’s white supremacist racism is common in parts of America, albeit a distinct minority. It is unheard of for so unapologetic a bigot to be in the White House, so close to his majesty. Another first for King Donald, who is addicted to them (real or not).

    One of the many ironies that Mr. Miller hides in the crevices of his tightly compartmentalized mind is that if his family had been subjected to the same immigration rules he advocates with abandon, they would all be dead, their ashes having floated to the ground somewhere in the Generalgouvernement.

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/11/12/1898934/-Trump-immigration-adviser-Stephen-Miller-s-leaked-emails-out-him-as-a-full-blown-white-nationalist

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      As Jim snarkily observes, employees do not make their own schedules at Walgreens or anywhere else.

      Large corporations – especially ones that allow their billionaire CEOs to have an offshore domicile for tax purposes, while working for an American-headquartered company – spend inordinate amounts of money on their HR “consultants.”

      Their first job is to let the CEO do WTF he wants without consequence. Another is to devise benefits that are good for PR, but which employees cannot use – like paid maternity benefits.

      No employee knowingly maintains a work schedule that leaves them half an hour shy of qualifying for much-touted and much needed paid time off as a new parent. Only once in a blue moon would that arise by accident: if it did, decent HR staff would find a work around. But to make it happen all the time requires careful scheduling and monitoring – and intent.

      The justifiable outrage – at the policy and the deception – ought to turn into a boycott. [email protected] walgreens is right.

      • P J Evans says:

        Other companies do things like firing people a few days before they’re due for a raise/more hours. You’re lucky if you get one that actually understands that employees may have needs of their own.

        • Jim White says:

          Big thank you to all three of you for the support.

          I’m giving serious thought to making a large sign and picketing the store where she has worked for a couple of years.

          And, of course, hiring a really good attorney for her.

          • P J Evans says:

            I’d go by the local Walgreen’s less, but it’s the only pharmacy within walking distance. (The next nearest is Rite-Aid, which is worse.)

          • Phaedruses says:

            I have two daughters and a granddaughter;

            if they can do this to you and yours, they can do it to me and mine;

          • Savage Librarian says:

            Jim, FWIW, here is an approach that worked for me in the mid 1990s. That is when companies seemed to be more responsive to email, maybe because it was more of a novelty then. My dilemma did not involve healthcare, either. Instead, it was a car repair problem.

            When I went to retrieve my car from a national chain of repair shops, it was immediately evident that it was in much worse shape than when I took it in. It was making very loud, disturbing noises. I pointed it out to the mechanic and asked what he thought it was. From his answer (I can’t remember what it was), it was clear to me that it would be unwise to take the car off the property. So, I told the manager I was dissatisfied and would be contacting the CEO.

            Then I emailed the CEO. The next day I was contacted in return and told they would take care of it. They ended up giving me a free motor and free car rental for 3 days. That car lasted me 23 years, saving me more money in the long term than I expected. That savings (along with daily brown bag lunches and cutting my own hair) enabled me to hire an attorney when I eventually became a whistleblower.

            But these times are much more cynical and CEO’s are much less accessible. It might be worth a try, though, just to see what happens. Another long shot might be to contact the state consumer affairs office. It could also be useful to see what HR has to say.

            • P J Evans says:

              That approach worked for my parents, also – they needed some major home repairs done due to a car accident, and the contractor the adjuster sent was, to put it bluntly, unlicensed for the work he was doing (and incompetent). So my mother took photos of the work at that point and sent them to the president of the insurance company. They made it good at their own expense: new contractor, good materials, and no further problems.

              • Jim White says:

                I don’t want to jinx things, but there does appear to be major progress today, so I’m staying quiet about them on Twitter for now, as things could well be worked out fairly soon.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I think it’s part of a standard business model to offer certain benefits, but keep them out of reach for the majority of employees. The number of hours worked per week is often the tool used to accomplish that. It is something within the discretion of the disposable local manager.

          The first thing is usually to keep hours under 40, to avoid overtime. Missing that is a big non-no. About the only thing worse is allowing a union to get a toehold. Another is touting health care and paid time off, which often kick in at the 30-hour/week threshold. Employees can find it hard to keep their average hours above that threshold. See above.

          What’s surprising is that offering significant amounts of paid maternity leave is rare. Bragging about it and then orchestrating schedules to avoid giving it would generate a lot of emotion and bad press.

          I’ve given up, though, thinking there’s a level of cynicism beyond the tolerance of large companies. It is still rare to see a CEO paid so lavishly that he keeps his legal residence in an offshore tax haven/secrecy jurisdiction. For a consumer business like Walgreens, that’s an invitation to bad press. It suggests a monopolistic level of market control.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Adam Serwer, writing at The Atlantic, has many good things to say, and says them well. On the incivility that Republicans and centrists Democrats think plagues American society:

    Trumpists lamenting civility’s decline do not fear fractiousness; on the contrary, they happily practice it to their own ends. What they really fear is the cultural, political, and economic shifts that occur when historically marginalized groups begin to exert power….

    It is possible that, in the aftermath of a Trump defeat in 2020, Republicans will move to the political center. But it is also possible that Trump will win a second term, and the devastation of the defeat will lead the Democrats to court conservative white people…. Like the Republicans during Reconstruction, the Democrats may bargain away the rights of their other constituencies in the process.

    The true threat to America is not an excess of vitriol, but that elites will come together in a consensus that cripples democracy and acquiesces to the dictatorship of a shrinking number of Americans who treat this nation as their exclusive birthright….

    In the aftermath of a terrible [Civil] war, Americans once purchased an illusion of reconciliation, peace, and civility through a restoration of white rule. They should never again make such a bargain.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/12/adam-serwer-civility/600784/

  14. klynn says:

    A little OT

    EW’s Twitter post on Barr using the word “Shenanigans” to respond to a question about Rudy G and Ukraine.

    Here is the internet winner in that feed:
    ——————
    ben knight
    @benknight8
    ·
    14m
    Replying to
    @emptywheel

    A merry word used by criminals to describe crimes
    ——————

    Thank you Ben Knight!

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