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Sep 30 2019

The Impeachment Files: Resignations and Subpoenas

It has been a busy weekend for Donald Trump who is now under a formal impeachment investigation by the House of Representatives. We last left the saga last Thursday with the announcement by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi that the formal investigation, which was precipitated by a formal complaint by a whistleblower to the Intelligence Community Inspector General, would begin. Since then the complaint was released by the House intelligence Committee and the White House released a summary of the call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25 which confirmed the basis of the complaint. Essentially, Trump indicted himself. Since then, resignations and subpoenas have dropped and Trump has had a twitter melt down threatening everything from civil war to arrests and executions. We will ignore the inflammatory rhetoric from Trump and his sycophants, except for maybe Rudy “I’m a Whistleblower” Guiliani.

Here is a timeline of happenings since last Thursday:

After Rudy admitted to CNN host Chris Cuomo on September 19 that he had asked a Ukrainian official to investigate former Vice President and front runner for the Democratic presidential nomination Joe Biden and his son Hunter over unfounded allegations of corruption, he gone on an media blitz ranting that he was the real whistleblower and a hero. On Fox News he waved his cell phone claiming he was asked by the State Department, specifically Secretary Mike Pompeo and special envoy to the Ukraine Kurt Volker, to undertake the mission to undermine Biden’s campaign. Both Giuliiani and Volker are named in the complaint. He also posted screen shots on Twitter of the messages he received from Volker.

Rudy has now been subpoenaed by three House committees

On Monday Democratic chairmen of the intelligence, foreign affairs and oversight committees issued a subpoena to Giuliani, requiring him to hand over materials relevant to the impeachment inquiry by 15 October.

“The Committees are investigating the extent to which President Trump jeopardized national security by pressing Ukraine to interfere with our 2020 election,” their joint letter said. “Our inquiry includes an investigation of credible allegations that you acted as an agent of the President in a scheme to advance his personal political interests by abusing the power of the Office of the President.” [..]

Giuliani has been operating outside the state department over the past year to push conspiracy theories about Ukraine. He has held meetings with Ukrainian officials in an attempt to push false allegations that the former vice-president Joe Biden compelled Ukraine to fire a prosecutor investigating his son, Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

There is no evidence Joe Biden or his son, Hunter, engaged in corruption in Ukraine.

The chairs of the three House committees noted that Giuliani has acknowledged his efforts to pressure Ukrainian officials on national TV.

On Friday, the day after the complaint was released, Volker resigned his position with the trump administration.

Volker has become a key player in the unfolding scandal surrounding the whistleblower complaint concerning Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. CNN previously reported that Zelensky had joked with Volker about Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney who is also a key player in the scandal, before the phone call was made.

Volker later set up a meeting between Giuliani, who had been interested in getting Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, and a Zelensky adviser in an effort to get the Biden matter out of official talks.

There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.

The news of Volker’s resignation comes just hours after the House Foreign Affairs Committee announced they would hold a deposition for him next week.

As per MSNBC, Volker is now scheduled to testify before the House on Thursday.

Attorney General Bill Barr has so far refused to recuse himself despite the fact that he in in over his head. according to the New York Times, Trump pressed the Australian Prime Minister to assist Barr investigate the origins of the Mueller report.

President Trump pushed the Australian prime minister during a recent telephone call to help Attorney General William P. Barr gather information for a Justice Department inquiry that Mr. Trump hopes will discredit the Mueller investigation, according to two American officials with knowledge of the call.

The White House curbed access to a transcript of the call — which the president made at Mr. Barr’s request — to a small group of aides, one of the officials said. The restriction was unusual and similar to the handling of a July call with the Ukrainian president at the heart of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. Like that call, Mr. Trump’s discussion with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia shows the president using high-level diplomacy to advance his personal political interests.

The discussion with Mr. Morrison also shows the extent to which Mr. Trump views the attorney general as a critical partner. The president is using federal law enforcement powers to aid his political prospects, settle scores with his perceived “deep state” enemies and show that the Mueller investigation had corrupt, partisan origins. [..]

In making the request — one of many at Mr. Barr’s behest — Mr. Trump was in effect asking the Australian government to investigate itself. F.B.I. counterintelligence investigators began examining any Trump ties to Russia’s 2016 election interference after Australian officials told the bureau that Russian intermediaries had made overtures to Trump advisers about releasing political damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Australia’s top diplomat in Britain had met in London in May 2016 with George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who revealed the Russian offer of dirt on Mrs. Clinton.

While Speaker Pelosi may wish to narrow the impeachment investigation to the Ukraine allegations, the House committees may not be able to avoid the Russian Connection and the Mueller report.

It’s been revealed that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in on the July 25 conversation and has been subpoenaed by the same three Hose committees as Giuliani

The Wall Street Journal first reported that Pompeo was on the July 25 phone call between the two leaders. The State Department has not yet responded to CNN’s request for comment. [..]

Late last week, the chairmen of three House committees subpoenaed Pompeo over his failure to produce documents related to Ukraine.

“Pursuant to the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry, we are hereby transmitting a subpoena that compels you to produce the documents set forth in the accompanying schedule by October 4, 2019,” the chairmen of the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight committees wrote in a letter to Pompeo.
“The subpoenaed documents shall be part of the impeachment inquiry and shared among the Committees,” wrote Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff of California, Eliot Engel of New York and Elijah Cummings of Maryland. “Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry.”
In addition to the subpoena, the chairmen informed the top US diplomat in a separate letter that they had scheduled depositions for five State Department officials who have been mentioned in relation to the inquiry: Ambassador Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch, now-former Ambassador Kurt Volker, Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent, Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl and Ambassador Gordon Sondland. Volker resigned on Friday.

Stay tuned. It’s only Monday

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