By D. Allan Kerr
If I understand this correctly, Donald Trump isn’t letting associates sit as witnesses in House impeachment hearings because it’s all a scam, and the hearings are a scam because there are no witnesses.
It’s a real Trump University type of logic.
Imagine being a New York City mob boss – or in this case a mob boss wannabe – and being able to decide who testifies in an investigation into your own alleged criminal acts. And then having lackeys in the district attorney’s office hired to tell the media, “There’s no crime here because we have no witnesses.”
But so far this process has shown there was a widespread perception within the diplomatic community Trump tried to extort a bogus investigation from a foreign leader for his personal political gain. This is a big deal.
He complained the hearing is focused on “2nd and 3rd hand witnesses,” but didn’t mention how he’s blocked his secretary of state, national security advisor, chief of staff and others from testifying.
He claims people only have to “read the transcript” of his phone call with the Ukrainian president he attempted to extort, without mentioning he only released a summary of the call. And an Army lieutenant colonel has already testified there are gaps in that summary.
He insists the phone call was “perfect,” hoping people will forget this was just one prong of a covert offensive to compel the Ukrainian president to announce an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
During the hearing’s first day, Rep. Jim Jordan – a leading candidate for the GOP’s Most Pathetic Sycophant heavyweight title – complained members of the House panel wouldn’t be able to question the original whistleblower “who started it all.”
“I say to my colleague, I’d be glad to have the person who started it all come in and testify,” Vermont Rep. Peter Welch retorted. “President Trump is welcome to take a seat right there.”
House Republicans can remain in ostrich mode if they choose, but the impeachment inquiry so far has at the very least proven the whistleblower’s “urgent concern” over Trump’s actions was justified.
Trump was no doubt hoping those who did come forward to testify would be wild-eyed socialists and anarchists, but this hasn’t been the case.
Sort of like when the Russia investigation was headed by the square-jawed ex-Marine captain and Republican former FBI Director Robert Mueller III.
Ambassador Bill Taylor graduated from West Point – as did his father before him – and saw action in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne as a rifle company commander. He earned the Bronze Star and the Air Medal during his six years with the infantry and was discharged with the rank of captain.
During his years as a diplomat he served in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East. He was appointed ambassador to Ukraine by George W. Bush, and earlier this year was asked by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to return to the post on an interim basis.
Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, the Army officer who testified about missing sections from the July 25 telephone transcript, will likely appear before the public hearings in the days ahead.
Vindman was wounded in action in Iraq in 2004 and earned the Combat Infantryman Badge. He later served in the Pentagon and ultimately became director of European Affairs for the National Security Council.
Vindman immigrated to America from Ukraine at the age of three, after his mother died. His twin brother is also a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, and their older brother was an Army officer as well.
Are you noticing a pattern here? These are guys who would typically be described as patriots by folks on both sides of the aisle. If Republicans want to match their character against Trump – the guy who just admitted using money from a veterans fundraiser for his own personal benefit – well, good luck.
Republicans who complain there isn’t sufficient firsthand testimony regarding Trump’s abuse of power don’t really want to hear this testimony.
If they did, they would compel the appearance of former national security advisor John Bolton, who was reportedly present during discussions regarding White House requests for Ukrainian investigations.
But Trump has instructed Bolton not to testify.
White House national security lawyer John Eisenberg is the individual to whom Vindman initially expressed concern over misuse of military aid to extort Ukraine’s cooperation. Eisenberg also reportedly stashed the transcript of the July 25th call in a super-secure location.
But Trump has ordered Eisenberg not to testify.
Pompeo has pleaded ignorance about this Ukraine initiative, but Taylor says he sent his boss a cable back in August expressing concern over U.S. military aid being withheld for political reasons.
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was reportedly the official who put a hold on the aid which had already been approved by a bipartisan Congress.
Trump is not allowing either Pompeo or Mulvaney to testify.
Lt. Col. Vindman was among the officials who actually did listen in on the infamous phone call, so if Republicans genuinely want to hear from those with firsthand knowledge they will be satisfied.
European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland is now reported to have discussed the proposed Biden investigation directly with Trump, which he previously denied. He’s scheduled to appear at the hearings this week.
So far this process is generating more questions even as it uncovers answers. Republican House members can close their eyes and clap hands over their ears, but hopefully the truth will eventually come out.
(Nov. 19, 2019)
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