Paul Manafort Is the Linchpin in Russia’s Effort to Recorrupt Ukraine

Yesterday, a vague NYT report described Senators and their staffers being briefed that Russia was behind the effort to blame the 2016 hack on Ukraine.

Russian intelligence officers aimed part of their operation at prompting the Ukrainian authorities to investigate the allegations that people in Ukraine tried to tamper with the 2016 American election and to shut down inquiries into corruption by pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, according to a former official.

One target was the leak of a secret ledger disclosed by a Ukrainian law enforcement agency that appeared to show that Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, had taken illicit payments from Ukrainian politicians who were close to Moscow. He was forced to step down from the Trump campaign after the ledger became public in August 2016, and the Russians have since been eager to cast doubt on its authenticity, the former official said.

Intelligence officials believe that one of the people the Kremlin relied on to spread disinformation about Ukrainian interference was Oleg V. Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who had ties to Mr. Manafort. After his ouster from the campaign, Mr. Manafort told his former deputy later in 2016 that Ukrainians, not Russians, stole Democratic emails. Mr. Deripaska has broadly denied any role in election meddling.

The Deripaska role in this may partly explain the vagueness about the briefing. At least per FOIA redactions made in August, there was an ongoing investigation pertaining to Deripaska at the time.

The article is not vague about one thing: the purpose for the disinformation campaign, which (in addition to permitting Trump to deny the role Russia had in getting him elected) has to do with Ukrainian internal politics. Russia wants Ukraine to investigate people that, the conspiracy theories go, “tried to tamper in the 2016 American election and to shut down inquiries into corruption by pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.”

This explains the nature of the campaign: Rudy’s disinformation packet (including the John Solomon articles that come from his efforts) target Sergii Leshchenko, NABU, and the Anti-Corruption Action Centre. None of those entities should be the focus of an American smear campaign, to say nothing of an impeachment defense. But painting Joe Biden’s efforts to combat Ukrainian corruption as the opposite and dropping the name of George Soros was sufficient to recruit Donald Trump into ordering his Administration to pursue the effort and enticing the fragile-minded Devin Nunes into chasing the conspiracy like a puppy. The US had been using the leverage it had over Ukraine to push it to address corruption. This disinformation campaign appealed to Trump’s weaknesses to get him to reverse that policy, creating conditions to expand corruption, even while tainting the newly elected President elected on an anti-corruption platform.

Still, Paul Manafort is a key part of that. That’s partly because Manafort continues to protect Trump and at least one of his associates — in part by lying about a meeting on August 2, 2016 where he discussed his ties with both Deripaska and pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarchs as well as carving up Ukraine to Russia’s liking. It’s also because legitimate concerns raised in 2016 about Manafort’s corruption one of the two main ways Ukrainians commented on the election (the other involves criticism of Trump’s comments on Crimea, comments he has since disavowed under oath). The claim — which is false on several levels — is that because Leshchenko publicized the Black Ledger, it led to Manafort’s resignation (Leshchenko has published a second piece making this clear). And, as I and Leschenko keep noting, Manafort knew he was in the Black Ledger months before it became public. If anyone should be held responsible for any taint the publication of his inclusion in the Black Ledger, it’s him; if it was a problem, he should have disclosed that problem to the candidate.

With all that said, then, I want to note something that happened with Rudy’s disinformation packet, which I unpacked in detail here. As I noted, there are two versions of three sets of notes from January 2016, one of a phone interview with Viktor Shokin conducted on January 23, 2019, and two of an in-person interview with Yuriy Lutsenko conducted in NY on January 25 and 26. The first set appears to be what Rudy gave Pompeo. The second may reflect Pompeo’s notes on them, which include some proofreading, stars for emphasis, remarks on timing.

But as I noted, the original version appears to have come with underlines already included.

The only annotation added to that section was to circle Leshchenko’s name (which is not transliterated as he does it, so this could either be emphasis or one of several really nitpicky notations of errors in the notes).

The reason I’m interested in this is because, while the passage has a bunch of errors (for example, the size of the Black Ledger is wrong, the allegation against Yovanovitch is invented, Leshchenko released something else, that’s not how US media got the story), it does make it clear that Manafort was in the Ledger. That is, even disinformation (which Lutsenko has since recanted) designed to help Trump includes the allegation that Manafort was in the Ledger. It also asserts that Manafort was laundering money through Kyrgyzstan, which is also true.

Furthermore, nothing here refutes the validity of the Ledger more generally.

That might not be clear to someone reading quickly, of course, because of the way the other details were underlined.

Which is why it is all the more inexcusable that Republicans — including but not limited to Rudy and Devin Nunes — continue to suggest that Manafort was unfairly tainted by the ledger, as happened in this exchange between Nunes and David Holmes last week.

Nunes: [Leshchenko] provided widely known as the black ledger, have you ever heard of the black ledger?

Holmes: I have.

Nunes: The black ledger, is that seen as credible information?

Holmes: Yes.

Nunes: The black ledger is credible?

Holmes: Yes.

Nunes: Bob Mueller did not find it credible, do you dispute what Bob Mueller’s findings were? They didn’t use it in the prosecution or in the Report?

Holmes: I’m not aware that Bob Mueller did not find it credible. It was evidence in other criminal proceedings. Its credibility was not questioned in those proceedings.

Even in Rudy’s own disinformation, which is full of easily identifiable lies, it states clearly that Manafort was in the ledger and was laundering money (the latter allegation of which he has pled guilty to). And yet Republicans are still running around ignoring even their own manufactured dirt to pretend the accusations against Manafort were simply made up.

Perhaps that’s because, without Manafort, Trump’s own stakes in this go down substantially.

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109 replies
  1. misteranderson says:

    What’s the veracity of Nunes’ assertion that Mueller’s team didn’t regard the ledger as reliable? I assume that’s false but I don’t know.

    • BobCon says:

      I am sure there was a lot of effort to validate the information rather than accept it wihout question. Nunes is probably trying to turn healthy skepticism prior to proof into explicit distrust.

    • emptywheel says:

      Mueller wouldn’t use it in the Report bc it’s not relevant to the topic of the Report. It was used in warrant affidavits. Just not at trial.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Cummins appears to be an entirely compromised source. TPM notes that he was an early and avid Trump supporter. He chaired his 2016 campaign in Arkansas and acted as a whip for Trump at the 2016 RNC convention in Cleveland.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          A good sign he is selling disinformation. If his info. can only survive Moscow Mitch’s kid gloves, but not the manicured hands of Adam Schiff or the rougher hands of Jerry Nadler, there’s not much to it.

    • harpie says:

      September 2018 Cummins receives information about Hunter Biden and Manafort from “two intermediaries of Lutsenko”.

      “Cummins said that he believed that “mistrust of the FBI” was what led the Ukrainians to seek a back channel to the Justice Department. He said that his Ukrainian interlocutors — who he declined to name — apparently went to him because they believed the “FBI in Ukraine had either wittingly or unwittingly become the pawns of the ambassador and secretary of state and vice president, and they cannot be trusted.”

      Oct 4, 2018 Cummins emails U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Berman proposing the meeting, with Ukraine’s then-prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko.

      “The information I gave to them was a request to meet with Lutsenko,” Cummins said, adding that he had a brief phone call with Berman and sent three follow-up emails after the information was sent.” “Cummins called the lack of response from the Manhattan federal prosecutor a “breathtaking double standard,” given how the Mueller investigation “targeted” President Trump.”

      November,23, 2019 Rudy Giuliani sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) claiming that a former U.S. attorney [CUMMINS] was ready to provide emails and memoranda about an attempt to get the FBI to investigate Biden and the list of Manafort bribes, called the Black Ledger.

      [from the letter]: “visas were denied to many who possessed evidence of Democrat, embassy and Biden corruption. Some witnesses went even so far as to hire a lawyer and as far back as October 2018, presented the United States Attorney’s office with their information about Ukrainian falsified information to affect the 2016 election and the exercise of influence by Joe Biden, in exchange for payments to Hunter Biden and Devon Archer. This lawyer was suspiciously never contacted again.”
      “Now,” […] “he is willing to share with you memoranda and e-mail. I would add that he also is a well respected former United States Attorney.”

      [#UkraineTimeline /~Rayne]

      • Rayne says:

        I’ve been stewing mad over this Bud Cummins nonsense. They’ve actually weaponized Bush administration’s 2006 firing of the U.S. Attorneys by using one of the fired attorneys and holding them up as “well respected former United States Attorney.”

        What did Cummins get out of this? Did he think he could rehab his image with the GOP by allowing himself to be used this way?

              • harpie says:

                More from he thread:

                remember what Fiona Hill was saying about Putin linking Russian role in Venezuela w/US’s in Ukraine? the Russians were “signaling very strongly that they wanted to somehow make some very strange swap arrangement between Venezuela & Ukraine,” Hill testimony […]

                • Rayne says:

                  This would explain why Things 1&2 were donating heavily to GOP candidates in FL — betting these are the folks who are sympathetic to Venezuelans. Guess where the largest concentration of Venezuelan Americans live? Doral, Florida. Guess what company is the second largest employer in Doral? Trump org.

                  Another intersection between Ukraine and Venezuela is Fusion GPS. This could move this to an entirely new level of messy.

              • Rayne says:

                They ‘poisoned’ Avenue Strategies by reaching out to them. The firm had worked for Tymoshenko who was a Yanukovych opposition candidate. Now the firm can’t say they’re truly anti-corruption because they’ve worked both sides of the street even if they were naive/stupid enough to believe the corruption claims about Bidens.

                This shit is way over the heads of most Americans let alone lobbyists.

                (And yes, I checked that Hill link to see if it was Solomon. It’s not. I’m still skeptical but the point about lobbying for Tymoshenko stands.)

                EDIT: Still thinking about Avenue Strategies. It almost feels like this was Manafort’s doing but I can’t tell if it was a dig at Lewandowski who was formerly with Avenue Strategies, or if Avenue Strategies had been tool for Manafort to put the screws to Tymoshenko’s faction, remaining useful now with the Biden narrative. In either case Avenue Strategies can no longer be trusted.

  2. Savage Librarian says:

    I think another big problem for the public is the sound of the names at the hearings. For those not steeped in the details, names can easily be confusing, especially when there are many new names (civil servants) to keep track of.

    In this particular story, without seeing the names visually, there are bound to be conflations between good guys and bad guys. Specifically, Yuriy Lutsenko (corrupt) and Sergii Leshchenko (anti-corrupt) are easily confused. It might be worth the effort to always include their first names, both in hearings and in the media, to ensure the distinction.

    I would also recommend this when there is an inclination to use pronouns. When more than one proper name is used in a sentence, it is not always evident who a subsequent pronoun may refer to.

    • Ken Haylock says:

      I suspect a one page spotters guide with all the names of key players past & present along with a one liner describing who they are or were might be useful…

      • Raven Eye says:

        The 2015-2020 Field Guide to Political Crooks Fellow Travelers, and Useful Idiots

        Complete with distinguishing markings, nest, eggs, incubation, migration, food, and compare-with.

        And of course the little maps with color codes for Breeding range, Year-round range, Winter range, and Migration range; and little dots for selected breeding colonies.

    • K-spin says:

      Not disputing your point @savage, but first it was that the American People don’t understand the term ‘quid pro quo’; today I read that the term ‘bribery’ is has been deemed ‘too confusing’ for the American People, and now we’re talking about using pictures and basic descriptors to help the American People distinguish between two completely different people because, you know, the fact that they have completely different (albeit Russian-sounding) names isn’t enough?

      Yes I’m Australian, and no I’m not asking this rhetorically, but exactly how dumb is this Average American that everyone is so keen to cater to that the whole narrative needs to be reduced to pictures and the vocabulary of a five year old? How accurate is that assumption, and if the answer is Very (or even Quite), isn’t that a bit of a worry?

      • P J Evans says:

        The Fox News viewers think they’re well-informed, but all the evidence is that they’re mostly mis-informed. So yes, they have to be handled a lot like five-year-olds.

      • Eureka says:

        Take a look at this intelligent discussion of how contingent can be the definition of bribery:

        https://www.emptywheel.net/2019/11/24/the-virgin-birth-of-the-first-rudy-giuliani-mike-pompeo-call/#comment-816881

        Add the forces of relentless propaganda and outright gaslighting.

        Looking up something the other day by the initial phrase of ‘What is…”, the search engine’s first prefilled offer was “what is quid pro quo.” A lot of people are trying to figure out what this means because a lot of people are giving conflicting answers (e.g. the President). [Return to above comment re relentless propaganda and outright gaslighting.]

        As an American, I want the most people possible to understand the facts as best and clearly as they can be understood to make a competent judgment about what to do about them — whether that action means calling their representatives, voting accordingly, talking with family members and associates, etc .

        From your comment, it does not sound like you’ve got an educator hat on today. Like many others, I find the issues challenging and difficult to keep up with. Clear, repeated communications are essential.

        Also, what PJ said [And return again to comment about relentless propaganda and outright gaslighting].

        • Eureka says:

          About the forces of relentless propaganda and outright gaslighting, an ongoing case in point re Sen. John Kennedy (member of the Senate Judiciary Committee): one individual, “conflicting” statements to different, siloed media networks (Fox, then CNN); an alleged correction of his falsehood where the ‘correction’ carries dis/misinformation (Russia didn’t merely “try” to do anything, etc.); and in any case, if you listen past the ‘headline’ it’s really not even a mis-/dis- ‘correction’ after all, so there’s meta- mis-info from the CNN headline and interpretation:

          CNN: “”I was wrong,” says GOP Sen. John Kennedy, backtracking after he repeated a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 US election. “It was Russia who tried to hack the DNC computer. I’ve seen no indication that Ukraine tried to do it.” [embedded video] ”
          https://twitter.com/CNN/status/1199167338702086145


          Plenty else here to unpack, including Kennedy’s stinky luggage from Moscow, however beautiful it was that July.

    • Eureka says:

      Thanks, SL, for this thoughtful comment. I, too, was troubled by the phonemic similarities between unfamiliar names ‘Lutsenko’ and ‘Leshchenko’, especially given their conflicting roles and how the President’s men seek to twist and obfuscate at every turn (on top of any sources of mere misunderstanding).

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I gather Trump, Giuliani & Co., wanted diplomats like Yovanovitch removed as much as Russia did. Their anti-corruption efforts interfered with the profitable extraction of Ukraine’s resources; that Ukrainians themselves not benefit from that process is a feature. They prefer neo-con playgrounds to functioning governments, like much of the Congo and elsewhere. If Trump is elected-with-help again, that will include the United States.

    • TooLoose LeTruck says:

      If Trump is elected-with-help again, that will include the United States.
      _________________

      I agree completely…

      I suspect the 640 million acres of land the Federal govt owns is driving them crazy…

      I don’t think it’s an accident the GOP keeps blowing up the Federal deficit and associated national debt every chance they get…

      • rip says:

        No better way to exert pressure than to have some form of indebtedness. Whether IOUs or “glamour” pictures. The rUSSRians and others do lust after our resources – whether the mineable/drillable assets or just the banking and financial systems.

        So the (r)epuglicons are doing everything possible to make the US gov’t budget far in the red – beholden to foreign (and home-grown) loan sharks.

  4. Anvil Leucippus says:

    From the party that brought you “retcon-ing the obvious lies” and “obfuscate the facts”, invite you to their new project coming this Holiday Season —

    The final fallback line of defense for Trump: there is enough “corruption in Ukraine” to warrant taking a look into how it may have impacted the 2016 election.

      • Areader2019 says:

        But you would think Lev would get some sort of a deal before handing stuff over? There is a lot going on behind the scenes.

        This just seems to be unfolding in an manner that reminds me of Cohen.

        • bmaz says:

          Eh, I dunno. A bargained for cooperation deal this fast, that really covers “all” the exposure Parnas faces, seems unlikely. I am not sure what is up, but it is pretty curious.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump will have TWO Big Mac meals tonight: he has a head on a pike. Navy Sec’y Richard V. Spencer was asked [ordered] to resign by that stalwart supporter of the military, former defense contractor, and Hill staffer, SecDef Mark D. Esper.

    The military chiefs will be echoing Queen Victoria, “We are not amused.” Also, dictators who survive their first coup generally avoid angering their special forces.

    https://twitter.com/minhtngo/status/1198731285377646593

    • P J Evans says:

      Apparently Spencer tried to guarantee that Gallagher could retire with his SEAL Trident, and tried going to Trmp directly to make sure of it. Spencer got fired by Esper for going around the chain of command.

    • Frank Probst says:

      Mick Mulvaney is also going to have a bad Monday, from the looks of things.

      I’m not quite sure I follow the whole Esper/Spencer situation. It looks like Spencer went around Esper and told Trump that if the Administration didn’t interfere with the Gallagher case, Spencer would make sure Gallagher would “retire as a Navy SEAL, with his Trident insignia.” So it looks like Spencer was fine with letting a war criminal retire without further penalty. He just wanted it to be done quietly. But the Administration wanted its pro-war criminal stance to be very public, so they obviously went their own way. Is there more to it than that? This is the kind of backstabbing that Trump seems to relish, so he would likely enjoy watching Esper and Spencer going at each other’s throats. I’m a bit surprised that he let this happen.

        • 200Toros says:

          RIGHT. He was turned in by his own men!

          Check – “Disrupt and weaken morale in the US Military.”

          trump is dutifully working through his list of deliverables to Putin.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        SEALs are regarded by many as the toughest special forces in the US military. Not having them in full control would pose a serious challenge to the Navy, the military, and democracy.

        Bad apples have a tendency to ruin the whole barrel, and then the fruit cellar.

        • Arj says:

          By ‘in full control’, I assume you mean under the control of their commanders? Trump is really meddling dangerously here, and knows not what he doth.

      • Matthew Harris says:

        I would be really skeptical of the timeline and opinions about everyone concerned. The idea that Spencer wanted to do what Trump wanted, but was fired by Esper for going behind his back seems…unsupported. Because if that is the case, Esper will be fired soon, too.

        Which isn’t to say that Spencer really was trying to stand up bravely for the principles of a military under the rule of law, etc. Just that whatever happened probably happened as part of a struggle that we will be learning more about in the next few days and weeks, and that might not even be related to what it is supposed to be about.

        (Just like when Bolton resigned/was fired, we didn’t know at the time that it might have been related to the “drug deal”, which we didn’t even know about at the time)

        • P J Evans says:

          I’m not sure either Esper or Spencer were entirely truthful in this.
          Trmp is pardoning people who were convicted with overwhelming evidence that they were guilty, to make himself feel better and keep his followers in line.

          • Ollie says:

            and his dazed cultist just lOve it when he’s rebellious and says: fuck you to the ‘system’/swamp/deep state. Take your fucking pick.

    • Peterr says:

      Jake Tapper tweeted out Spencer’s farewell letter, and I can’t help noticing that while the letter itself is typed on official Secretary of the Navy letterhead, the date is handwritten in. This says to me that Spencer knew that it might come to this on a moment’s notice, and wanted his farewell letter to be ready to go — just date it at the top and sign it at the bottom. Key graf:

      Unfortunately it has become apparent that in this respect, I no longer share the same understanding as the Commander in Chief who appointed me, in regards to the key principle of good order and discipline. I cannot in good conscience obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath I took in the presence of my family, my flag and my faith to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

      IOW, the former Secretary of the Navy is firing a big gun across Trump’s bow, accusing Trump of violating his oath of office.

      • Raven Eye says:

        Correspondence at that level is often printed without at date — usually because there are a number of initials that need to be collected along the way. The date is then stamped when the letter is signed. That routine may have initially been followed here, even though it was a short-fuse item. The date may have been added by hand due to the urgent nature of the letter.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I think the spin will be intense for a while, meaning we won’t know what happened until it slows down. The firing is likely to be Trump’s idea, not Esper’s. Going outside the chain of command would be an excuse, not a reason.

      That Spencer wanted to force Gallagher’s retirement seems to be key. That he could keep his Trident, but only if he retired, seems to have been the offer price.

      But Trump does not do compromise, he despises it, and he loves public humiliation. As C-in-C, he had the power to demand everything. Whether he pays a price for abusing that authority by empowering criminals in the military depends on what the service chiefs do, and the admiral in charge of SEALs. Esper has already voted to give el Presidente whatever his heart desires.

      • Peterr says:

        Trump loves public humiliation OF OTHER PEOPLE. He’s rather sensitive when he’s on the receiving end of it.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Yes, thanks.

        To rephrase the point, the admirals and SecNav wanted Gallagher out of the Navy (at least active duty). Not as suitable a punishment as years in the brig, but it’s what they could get after Trump’s pardon.

        To get that, they offered regular retirement at his old rank and keep the pin. Trump said, “Fuck you,” to that, too. He demanded Spencer’s virtual head on a pike. Esper wielded the ax.

        This is not a close call. Gallagher is a convicted violent felon with a pardon. He is unreliable as an operator or leader. Trump has abused his power again. And Republicans don’t give a shit.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Esper was “deeply troubled” by Spencer’s alleged conduct, but apparently not by Gallagher’s or Trump’s.

        Trump’s pick to replace Spencer is retired Rear Admiral Kenneth Braithwaite. An Annapolis grad, he served on active duty for nine years: two as a naval aviator, after which he was reassigned to public relations – an odd switch.

        Braithwaite joined the reserve when he left active duty in 1993; he made Rear Admiral (lower half, one star) in 2007. His business career, too, has largely been in public affairs. He has been the US Ambassador to Norway since December 2017. A guy who knows how to shake a hand. Not sure about his other talents.

        https://www.thedailybeast.com/pentagon-chief-mark-esper-asks-for-navy-secretary-richard-spencer-to-resign-over-navy-seal-case

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The Navy decided Braithwaite should not continue to fly for the normal length of time. It could have been something as simple as that he needed corrective lenses. It moved him to what he’s made a career doing: public relations. He’s obviously good at it. Hope it’s enough for his next assignment.

          • klynn says:

            “… Our servicemembers and our citizens are now at greater risk no matter where they go, because Trump has just declared our military will not honor the rules of war, that our servicemembers are not subject to discipline, recourse or remorse and are the 21st century equivalent of the Monghol Hordes, a culture of brutality with impunity.”

            This wins Monday AM internet. Comment by Annette Hick, US voter.

    • harpie says:

      Here’s Steve Vladeck linking to video of Esper’s confirmation hearing in July:
      https://twitter.com/steve_vladeck/status/1199017849848770560
      9:31 AM – 25 Nov 2019

      About that…

      Links to:
      https://twitter.com/SenGaryPeters/status/1151183323340902400
      10:34 AM – 16 Jul 2019

      Today at the confirmation hearing of Secretary of Defense Nominee Mark Esper, I asked whether he would be willing to resign should he be asked to support an issue or policy that runs counter to his values. He said absolutely. [VIDEO]

    • harpie says:

      !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Trump Tells Allies He Wants Absolved War Criminals to Campaign for Him
      Fallout from the clemency cost the Navy secretary Richard Spencer his job, but a former Pentagon deputy chief backs the ousted official.
      https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-tells-allies-he-wants-absolved-war-criminals-to-campaign-for-him
      Spencer Ackerman, Asawin Suebsaeng
      Published Nov. 25, 2019 8:01PM ET

      If Donald Trump gets his wish, he’ll soon take the three convicted or accused war criminals he spared from consequence on the road as special guests in his reelection campaign, according to two sources who have heard Trump discuss their potential roles for the 2020 effort.

      Despite military and international backlash to Trump’s Nov. 15 clemency – fallout from which cost Navy Secretary Richard Spencer his job on Sunday – Trump believes he has rectified major injustices. Two people tell The Daily Beast they’ve heard Trump talk about how he’d like to have the now-cleared Clint Lorance, Matthew Golsteyn, or Edward Gallagher show up at his 2020 rallies, or even have a moment on stage at his renomination convention in Charlotte next year. Right-wing media has portrayed all three as martyrs brought down by “political correctness” within the military. […]

    • harpie says:

      We Trust the Navy SEALs to Protect America. Trump Should Trust Them to Judge Themselves
      https://time.com/5739037/navy-seals-trump-trust/
      JAMES STAVRIDIS
      NOVEMBER 25, 2019
      [Admiral Stavridis (Ret.) was the 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO and is an Operating Executive at The Carlyle Group.]

      […] By overriding the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations (as well as the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) in support of someone who has disgraced his uniform, Trump sailed into uncharted territory.

      It is hard to imagine any other President taking such action over such unified military advice. Trump’s military advisors correctly worry about the corrosive effect such a move would make on the credibility of the chain of command; battlefield behavior by other military personnel in similar circumstances, and perceptions about the ethical conduct of the US military globally.

      Everyone agrees Trump absolutely has the legal authority to take this course of action – but that doesn’t make it right. […]

      [Gallagher] has been accused and judged by peers. They should have had the final say on whether he continued to wear that sacred pin – not a President with little understanding of the military, let alone of the code of conduct it must honorably follow in the harshest arenas of modern war.

  6. Mitch Neher says:

    Trump came dangerously close to whipsawing Zelenskiy into putting a Ukrainian imprimatur on Putin’s propaganda. Had Zelenskiy announced, on GPS with Fareed Zakaria, the opening of the investigations into the supposed Ukrainian 2016 election interference it would have been even more useful to Putin than a false confession beaten out of a prisoner, since Putin surely would have used that concession to wrangle Zelenskiy into knuckling under to The Steinmeier Formula for bringing Victor Yanukovich back to power in the Donetsk/Luhansk region. The next move after that might very well have been at least partial sanctions relief for Russia.

    That Manafort had to lure Trump with 2020 dirt on Biden in order to get Trump to deliver the goods to Putin is . . . uh . . . Is everything a two-for-one sale with Trump? But of course it is. I apologize for that last question.

    And thank heavens for our stalwart foreign service officers. Boy do we owe them, big time.

  7. Mitch Neher says:

    The White House Counsel hits Mulvaney where it hurts:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/white-house-review-turns-up-emails-showing-extensive-effort-to-justify-trumps-decision-to-block-ukraine-military-aid/2019/11/24/2121cf98-0d57-11ea-bd9d-c628fd48b3a0_story.html

    14 hours ago … … emails showing extensive effort to justify Trump’s decision to block Ukraine military aid … efforts to generate an after-the-fact justification for the decision . . .

  8. Cathy says:

    “…enticing the fragile-minded Devin Nunes into chasing the conspiracy like a puppy.”

    You don’t just turn a phrase, EW, you crack the whip and it pirouettes.
    :-)

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A couple of Trump White House turkeys are staying in the venerable Willard hotel, which has hosted robber barons and heads of state since 1847. Family members who arrived earlier are staying across the street in the Trump International.

    White House aides report that Mr. Trump will issue the usual presidential pardons this year to his prize turkeys. In an unprecedented move, he will then hand them the ax.

    https://twitter.com/KateBennett_DC/status/1198811646761803777

    • Jplm says:

      After Nunes recent efforts to turn the hearings into an alternative fact audition of America’s Not Got Talent it is interesting that not long after the trip to Vienna, in December, the placement in February of his former aide Kashyap Patel into the NSC, allegedly pretending to be the NSC expert on Ukraine.

  10. P J Evans says:

    The ruling is in: McGahn must comply with the subpoena.
    https://twitter.com/hsu_spencer/status/1199098572022730752
    “Judge rules ex-White House counsel Donald McGahn must comply with House subpoena in impeachment inquiry, as Trump’s claim that top aides have ‘absolute immunity’ against testifying triggers a historic separation-of-powers confrontation.”
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/legal-issues/john-boltons-former-deputy-asks-judge-to-resolve-conflicting-demands-for-house-impeachment-testimony/2019/10/31/6119ae8c-f9b0-11e9-8190-6be4deb56e01_story.html

    • Rayne says:

      Betting this still goes to SCOTUS and we revisit United States v. Nixon, unless…

      This is the single reason I see House Dems wrapping up and moving to a vote to impeach now based on the evidence they already have. I can’t see them wanting to leave U.S. v. Nixon open to this particular SCOTUS and risk them undermining that unanimous decision, in essence determining the executive cannot be restrained because of absolute immunity. If they kick this down the field and put it in the Senate, then the 20 GOP senators up for re-election have the most at risk. But IANAL, what do I know.

    • TooLoose LeTruck says:

      Perhaps if…

      a) it makes him look really, really heroic… John does appear to have a MASSIVE ego…

      and…

      b) he can monetize his involvement…

      Just sayin’…

      (Said w/ strong element of snark in it…)

    • punaise says:

      Scintilla lace and a petty farce
      And a subpoena hangin’ down
      That wiggle in the walk
      And giggle in the talk
      Makes the world go round

      There ain’t nothin’ in the world
      Like a big ‘stash dullard
      That makes me act so funny
      Make me spend my money
      Make me feel real loose like a long necked goose
      Like a whirl, oh baby that’s what I like

  11. Valley girl says:

    For some reason I was in the mood to listen to this- this ain’t no party, this ain’t disco…
    https ://www .youtube.com/watch?v=OVHNwBbkSj4

  12. vvv says:

    I’m almost embarrassed to be posting so much today but local Chi news reports fellow Greek ethnicity and former local, Papadooshalot is running for Katie Hill’s CA seat.

  13. P J Evans says:

    He’s not local enough to get much support. (I’m not sure even the very conservative local paper will back him.)

      • TooLoose LeTruck says:

        I was disappointed that she resigned so readily…

        I can understand her situation was really difficult and I wish she had refused to go like that… at least say she’ll go when he (Trump) goes…

        And yes, I would be delighted to see her run again, and Al Franken for that matter…

        And as far as Pappadapoloosh goes, I hope he gets beaten like a the little cheap tin drum he is…

  14. Mitch Neher says:

    The link below has nothing directly to do with Trump’s attempted coercion of a false confession from president Zelenskiy to a crime that The Ukraine had not committed. But the link lists some of the reasons that innocent people might falsely confess to crimes that they had not committed. Some of those reasons could be applied to the predicament into which Trump had placed Zelenskiy.

    https://www.innocenceproject.org/false-confessions-recording-interrogations/

    Many of the nation’s more than 360 wrongful convictions overturned by DNA evidence involved some form of a false confession. It can be difficult to understand …

  15. klynn says:

    A reminder from a few weeks ago:

    “You can’t promote principled anti-corruption action without pissing off corrupt people.”

    George Kent, U.S. State Department
    November 13, 2019

Comments are closed.