The impeachment inquiry has broken open this week. Former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch — one of the good guys — testified Friday she was pushed out because she was against extorting Ukraine to get dirt for Trump on his likely presidential election opponent. As other (some not so clean) people in the administration realize their own butts might be on the line, they are more willing to disobey Trump’s congressional non-cooperation orders and jump ship — like the rats many of them are. As the detectives state in the “Law and Order” interrogation room: “If you got somethin’ to say, this is the time. Talk now and we’ll let the DA know you cooperated.” (scroll down for full article)

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The Nixon administration had its White House Plumbers, a unit of operatives whose specific job was to — wait for it — stop leaks. They became famous when several members were caught bungling a break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C.

The Trump administration had The Three Amigos: Trump-super-contributor-turned-EU-ambassador Gordon Sondland; former (he quit and is now talking to save his butt) special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker; and Secretary of Energy Rick (“Ahh, the third agency of government I would do away with? I can’t remember the third one, sorry. Oops.”) Perry:

“In late May, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney organized a meeting that stripped control of the country’s relationship with Ukraine from those who had the most expertise at the National Security Council and the State Department. Instead, Mulvaney put an unlikely trio in charge of managing the U.S.-Ukraine account amid worrisome signs of a new priority … pressuring the fledgling government in Kiev to deliver material that would be politically valuable to President Trump.

“The work of those ‘three amigos,’ as they came to call themselves — diplomats Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker, plus Energy Secretary Rick Perry — has come to light in recent days through newly disclosed text messages and the testimony of government witnesses appearing before an impeachment inquiry in Congress.”

(Miller, Greg & Dawsey, Josh & Jaffe, Greg; “Mulvaney Emerges as a Key Facilitator of the Campaign to Pressure Ukraine”; The Washington Post; 10/16/2019.)

Among those ousted from the U.S.-Ukraine relationship loop was former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, a nonpartisan career diplomat with an unassailable reputation. Apparently Donald Trump picked the wrong patriot to mess with. The White House has put out a blanket order to block congressional testimony from any current or former member of government employed since Inauguration Day. Ms. Yovanovitch is the first current staff member to testify (last Friday) in spite of that order, and it appears the floodgates have opened.

Kurt Volker, former special envoy to Ukraine (and one of The Three Amigos), was one of those placed by the White House to usurp control of the Ukrainian relationship from the nonpartisan experts such as Yovanovitch. But he resigned the day after the whistleblower complaint (mentioning him) was made public, and immediately after Congress scheduled his deposition.

It appears Volker might have been a good diplomat gone bad — or at least, led astray. He was a White House Amigo. But as soon as the water got hot, he thought, “Oh my God, What have I done?” He resigned and by Oct. 3 was in front of a closed-door congressional hearing, spilling the beans and providing damning text messages exchanged with another of the Amigos, Gordon Sondland.

Kurt Volker might be the (Watergate) John Dean of the Trump corruption-impeachment affair (c’mon, media, think of a good name for this), the guy who did wrong but ultimately found his conscience and fessed up, bringing down an administration.




More Witnesses Agreeing to Testify

The impeachment inquiry has broken open this week. Former ambassador Yovanovitch testified Friday she was told by the State Department’s No. 2 that she was pushed out by Trump based upon false claims, in spite of strong support from State and no evidence of wrongdoing. Her fault was in resisting Rudy Giuliani’s attempts (at Trump’s behest) to commandeer U.S.-Ukrainian foreign policy. In other words, she was against extorting Ukraine to get dirt for Trump on his likely presidential election opponent.

Monday

Fiona Hill, top Russia adviser to the Director of National Intelligence, testified before Congress Monday. She stated that her boss, DNI John Bolton, was highly critical of the pressure to extort Ukraine by holding up their aid. At Bolton’s direction, she registered their objections to the deputy White House counsel. Hill stated Bolton told her he wasn’t part of “whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” and he called Giuliani “a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.” Hill also stated she feared Rudy Giuliani was a counter-intelligence and national security risk.

Tuesday

George Kent, deputy assistant secretary at the State Department, testified before Congress Tuesday. Kent is a Ukraine-Russia expert who stated he warned officials at the Department six months ago about Rudy Giuliani’s suspicious involvement in attempts to pressure the new Ukrainian president to reopen long-closed probes of Joe Biden (D-Del.) and his son in return for the release of congressionally authorized military aid.

Wednesday

Michael McKinley, former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, testified before Congress Wednesday. He stated that he resigned last week after 37 years in the foreign service because 1) the State Department was not supporting career officials such as recalled ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, and 2) he did not agree with the pressure campaign overseen by Rudy Giuliani to extort Ukraine for political purposes.

Thursday

Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the EU and one of The Three Amigos implicated in Kurt Volker’s damaging text message records, testified today, Thursday. He stated 1) President Trump dictated the “no quid pro quo” text he sent to current ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, 2) the president delegated Ukraine policy largely to Rudy Giuliani, which Sondland disagreed with, and 3) he didn’t know about the Ukraine pressure campaign “until later” — he heard Giuliani mention the “Burisma” company in August 2019 but didn’t know Hunter Biden had been on its board. Never mind that Giuliani and the media have been making this connection incessantly since spring.

[FUN FACT]: Gordon Sondland is a hotel developer by trade and was a major donor to the Trump campaign. He also donated $1 million dollars to the Trump inaugural committee to pursue his long-time quest for an ambassadorship — the country didn’t matter.

As additional people in the administration realize their own butts might be on the line, they are more willing to disobey Trump’s congressional non-cooperation orders and jump ship — like the rats many of them are. As the detectives state in the Law and Order interrogation room: “If you got somethin’ to say, this is the time. Talk now and we’ll let the DA know you cooperated.”

The Orange Wall of Silence is crumbling. ■

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Impeachment Timeline — This Week

[RECAP]: 10/8/2019 — Congress subpoenas ambassador to EU Gordon Sondland, same day White House blocked his deposition

[RECAP]: 10/8/2019 — White House sends Congress 8-page letter spelling out its refusal to cooperate with the “illegitimate impeachment inquiry”; essentially says sitting president can’t be investigated for anything

[IMPEACHMENT: DAY 17 — 10/10/19]

10/10/2019 — 2 Rudy Giuliani clients, associates arrested, just before boarding a one-way international flight and hours after lunch with Giuliani; Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman helped Giuliani’s attempts to fabricate dirt on Joe Biden and funneled Russian money into Trump campaign

10/10/2019 — Energy secretary Rick Perry subpoenaed by Congress, to testify in impeachment inquiry

10/10/2019 — Senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Michael McKinley, resigns, cites lack of State Dept. support for career officials

10/11/2019 — Recalled (in May) ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, testifies to Congress: 1) Trump pushed her out over false claims, despite her support from State Dept. and no evidence of wrongdoing; 2) State Dept. No. 2 told her president had “lost confidence” in her; she is first to defy White House orders that no current government staff testify before Congress

10/11/2019 — Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani now under investigation by U.S. attorney in Southern District of New York, for possible illegal Ukraine dealings

10/14/2019 — Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani was paid $500,000 in August 2018 by his indicted associate/client, Lev Parnas, who was involved in false Joe Biden dirt, Trump-Ukraine extortion, and pushing out ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch last May

10/14/2019 — Top Russia adviser to DNI John Bolton, Fiona Hill, testifies to Congress: 1) her boss, DNI Bolton, was highly critical of pressure to extort Ukraine; 2) Bolton told her to report their concerns to deputy White House counsel, which she did; 3) Bolton told her he wasn’t part of “whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” called Giuliani “a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up”; 4) Hill feared Rudy Giuliani was a counter-intelligence risk and a national security risk

10/15/2019 — Deputy asst. secretary at State Dept. (Ukraine-Russia expert), George Kent, testifies to Congress: he warned officials at the Dept. 6 months ago of Rudy Giuliani’s suspicious involvement in Ukraine extortion attempts

10/16/2019 — White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney emerging as a key player in Trump-Ukraine extortion; last May, he held meeting to usurp control of Ukraine policy from state diplomatic experts (ambassador et al.) to “The Three Amigos”: special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, Trump-super-contributor-turned-EU-ambassador Gordon Sondland, and Energy secretary Rick Perry

10/16/2019 — Former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Michael McKinley, testifies to Congress: he resigned last week after 37 years in the foreign service because 1) State Dept. was not supporting career officials such as recalled ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, and 2) he did not agree with the pressure campaign to extort Ukraine for political purposes

10/17/2019 — Ambassador to EU Gordon Sondland testifies to Congress: 1) Trump essentially dictated the “no quid pro quo” text he sent acting ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor; 2) Trump delegated Ukraine policy largely to Rudy Giuliani, which Sondland disagreed with; 3) Sondland didn’t know about Ukraine extortion “until later” — he heard Giuliani mention the “Burisma Holdings” company in August 2019 but didn’t know Hunter Biden had been on its board (though Giuliani and the media have been making this connection incessantly since spring)

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Trump Corruption Chronicles — We Must Never Forget