Top GOP senators give Trump the Biden probe he got impeached for trying to force on Ukraine

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is using his investigative powers as chair of a Senate panel to push forward with a thinly veiled attempt to stir up Russian disinformation about presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Johnson, who chairs the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, says he's investigating if the hiring of Biden's son Hunter by a Ukrainian gas company posed a conflict of interest for Biden while he was serving as vice president. Hunter Biden, a trained lawyer, served on the board of Burisma Holdings from 2014 to 2019 as the company sought to repair its image following allegations of corruption in its ranks.

No credible news organization has found any meat to the allegation that Biden's diplomacy in Ukraine was improperly influenced in any way. In fact, Biden's work in 2015 and 2016 to help oust the corrupt Ukrainian top prosecutor had the support of U.S allies across the international spectrum.

But however thoroughly discredited this right-wing conspiracy theory is, The Washington Post reports that Johnson is intent on rehashing it along with the help of GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee. And Democrats charge the probe is just a gateway into fanning the flames of a bunch of Russian disinformation about Biden and Ukraine. In other words, Johnson and Grassley are giving Trump the investigation he got impeached over—trying to force Ukraine into doing his dirty work. Ukraine officials ultimately declined to even announce such a probe, let alone conduct one. 

But Johnson and Grassley? Sure, let's give legitimacy to an investigation Ukrainian officials already declared illegitimate. Apparently, there aren't more important things to do right now as Senate Republicans let a relief package flounder that's critical to keeping the country from sliding into an economic depression.

“Senator Johnson is diverting his committee from oversight of the failing response to the pandemic — even though over 4.5 million Americans have been infected — and is instead facilitating a foreign influence operation to undermine our democracy,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said.

But Johnson's no neophyte when it comes to doing Trump's bidding on Ukraine. During the House impeachment probe, Johnson admitted to The Wall Street Journal that he had been alerted early to Trump's quid pro quo pressure campaign in which he withheld $400 million in U.S. aide from Ukraine. But Johnson was content to raise the issue with Trump and take his denial of the allegation at face value—because Trump's nothing if not a man of his word. Just FYI, that’s the type of interview a senator gives to a friendly outlet when they want to frame a story before it’s publicly revealed by someone else. In fact, a House impeachment probe might be just the type of incentive that makes a senator want to come clean.

Ukraine is currently a hotbed of disinformation on the topic. "Johnson’s probe is proceeding as Ukrainians with a variety of competing agendas and links to Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani have been releasing apparently pilfered official conversations that Biden conducted while vice president with Ukraine’s then-President Petro Poroshenko, aiming to tarnish the presumptive Democratic nominee and his longtime interlocutor in Kyiv," writes the Post. So there's lot of dubious fodder for Johnson to blow up.

When the Post asked Johnson if he was getting information from "pro-Russian Ukrainians," he offered only that he was receiving input from "a variety of sources," including the U.S. government. He also said that they would "verify" all information before publicizing it in a report he's promising to deliver in September. 

In response to the probe, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have asked the FBI to deliver a “defensive counterintelligence briefing” to all members of the House.

“Congress appears to be the target of a concerted foreign influence campaign, which seeks to launder and amplify disinformation in order to influence congressional activity, public debate, and the presidential election in November,” Pelosi and Schumer wrote in a July letter to the FBI.

Of all people, even Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and former GOP intelligence chair Richard Burr of North Carolina have raised concerns about Senate staffers potentially using Russian disinformation supplied via Ukraine as the basis for a bogus investigation. 

Johnson declined an interview with the Post but issued a statement saying he refused to be deterred by "despicable tactics designed to discredit a legitimate investigation."

Nothing good will come of this. Not with Johnson behind it. He already discredited himself by admitting how easily he let Trump off the hook for soliciting foreign interference in the upcoming election. But now Johnson is actually doing Trump's dirty work for him. Can't imagine why a sitting U.S. senator would do that.

Trump didn’t just break the GOP, he broke conservatism

Remember when you could all describe, in one succinct sentence, what the Republican Party was all about? “Family values, lower taxes, and a strong national defense.” Democrats spent decades trying to come up with their own pithy slogan and failed. We are just too diverse a coalition to condense into a single sentence. And turns out, we don’t need to, because the head of the conservative movement, Donald Trump, has exposed just how empty that statement of values always was. 

It was quite the feat, actually, to take the one man with inarguably the worst record on “family values,” and then rally around him with zero sense of irony or shame. Trump had multiples and then cheated on them with pornstars while ignoring his children. He didn’t (and doesn’t) go to church, give to charity, or show any semblance of humility. In fact, the did the opposite of charity—he used a charity to grift. 

In fact, has any one man ever embodied the seven deadly sins more perfectly than Trump? Pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth. He is a wretched human being, morally bankrupt and ethically corrupt. And through it all, evangelical Christians have stuck with him, proving that they never ever cared about any actual morality. 

On national defense, Republicans have acknowledged that Trump is a puppet of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. The current House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy, a solid Trump ally, who was recorded saying back in 2017, “There’s …there’s two people, I think, Putin pays: [California Rep. Dana] Rohrabacher and Trump … [laughter] … swear to God.” Then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, another Republican, thought that was funny, ““This is an off-the-record … [laughter] … NO LEAKS … [laughter] … alright?!”

Hilarious. 

We went through a whole impeachment process in which Trump’s attempts to enlist foreign governments to help his reelection campaign were fully exposed, and Republicans did nothing but shrug. 

But nothing tops revelations that Russia paid Taliban fighters in Afghanistan a bounty for every dead American they killed, and Trump couldn’t be bothered to give a damn. Instead, Putin’s loyal lapdog keeps checking in with Moscow every month, to discuss who knows what. You’d think Republicans would care about America’s top historical geopolitical opponent encouraging the murder of our troops, but nah. 

They did get to the “lower taxes” bit, however. Nothing like destroying our nation’s finances in order to justify the cutting of our social nets to really get Republicans excited. … Then again, “bailing out billionaires” isn’t particularly the most populist and popular policy plank on which to hang all your electoral hopes. 

So we know that all of this has utterly crushed the GOP, and we’re headed toward another anti-Republican wave election this fall. But now we’re seeing evidence that this goes deeper than simple anti-GOP sentiment. By exposing its flimsy pretenses, Trump is breaking conservatism itself. Check out Gallup’s polling on self-identified ideology over the course of this year:  

American’s ideology Jan/Frb mar/Apr May/Jun Conservative Moderate Liberal
40 37 34
34 36 36
22 23 26

That’s a stunning collapse in such a short period of time, while the long-demonized term “liberal” is making a strong comeback. (Many Democrats prefer the safer-sounding “moderate,” as you can see if you follow the link above. Black, young, Latino Americans all prefer “moderate” to “liberal,” when we know they are politically liberal.)

More Gallup:

The decline in self-identified conservatism in 2020 has been seen about evenly among men and women, and among all political party groups.

However, it was more pronounced among adults in upper-income households as well as among middle-aged adults (aged 35 to 54) than their counterparts.

The conservative falloff has also been stronger among White and Hispanic Americans than Black Americans. Relatively few Black Americans (25%) identified as conservative in January/February, and thus there may have been less opportunity for the rate to decline.

Among those who earn more than $100,000, the number of self-identified conservatives dropped 11 points, from 40% to 29%. And since we’ve tracked suburban voters so closely for the last several cycles, they are also leaving the conservative fold, from 36% to 28%. In fact, and this is crazy—there are fewer conservatives now in the suburbs than in cities (33%)!

Still, don’t count out rural areas, getting hit harder and harder by COVID-19. They’ve gone from 50% conservative to 43%. That’s why states like Alaska, Iowa, Montana, and Ohio are suddenly back in play at both the presidential and Senate levels. 

Republicans exist only insofar as conservatives exist, as they and Trump fight to make their tent even smaller and unwelcome to anyone who isn’t ideologically pure. Seeing at close range the kind of rampant hypocrisy, corruption, mismanagement, and incompetence inherent in conservatism, Americans are ditching the label and, with it, their votes for Republicans. 

And they still have a lot further to fall. 

Democrats ask for FBI briefing on foreign disinformation efforts around Sen. Ron Johnson

Monday, top Democratic lawmakers asked FBI director Christopher Wray to provide classified briefings to Congress on an unspecified but "ongoing" "concerted foreign information campaign" targeting Congress with the aim of disrupting the 2020 presidential elections.

Reporters have now been able to get a bit more information on what those lawmakers have been getting at: Both Politico and The New York Times are reporting that the classified addendum to the letter touches on Sen. Ron Johnson's would-be investigation of Hunter Biden, which has been the pipeline through which Trump "personal lawyer" Rudy Giuliani has been funneling known-false information from his network of Ukrainian criminals and disinformation brokers. Specifically, notes the Times, Sen. Ron Johnson has been relying heavily on a Ukrainian figure thought by the FBI to be a "conduit" for Russian disinformation.

None of this information is new. Johnson's eagerness to solicit testimony from ex-Ukrainian official Andrii Telizhenko was the subject of public alarm and a previous intelligence community warning. Johnson has been dismissive of complaints about his reliance on known dodgy sources, though he was pressured into giving up on the idea of taking Telizhenko's testimony directly.

Reading between the lines here, then, at least one part of Democratic lawmakers’ concerns appear to be that Sen. Johnson is using his committee and "Biden" investigations to legitimize foreign disinformation operations targeting Biden in the 2020 election—or, rather, that at least one foreign disinformation campaign is targeting Johnson, using his eagerness to boost Trump's election chances to dispense election disinformation directly from the mouths of Republican senators.

There are a few things to know here. Most importantly, Johnson cannot claim gullibility in stovepiping foreign disinformation here. After a specific intelligence community warning and after mountains of public reports on the sketchiness of Giuliani's Ukrainian associates, many of whom are pro-Russian Ukrainians forced from their positions by the public and new government, and their debunked claims against their enemies. Johnson has continued to "investigate" information that has already been discredited, and it is clearly intended, like "Benghazi," as means of influencing upcoming elections. Ron Johnson knows precisely what he is doing and who he is dealing with.

So the question is not whether Russian and other foreign disinformation campaigns are targeting Johnson, but the extent to which Johnson is co-conspiring with those brokers to craft and release election-bending smears cooperatively. In his defense, Sen. Ron Johnson is widely regarded as one of the dullest senators in the institution, if not the most dull, and so there is the slightest possibility he does not see himself as coordinating with the disinformation campaign—or, more accurately, does not connect the dots as to what that coordination means, when tied to foreign disinformation sources.

Johnson has long been a puzzle, and that is putting it mildly. He was one of a collection of hard-right Republican lawmakers who inexplicably traveled to Moscow for the Fourth of July, in 2018, and who came back claiming that the Russian hacking and disinformation campaigns in the 2016 presidential elections were being blown "way out of proportion."

There's no particular reason to believe Johnson is not stovepiping foreign disinformation willingly. That was the very premise of Rudy Giuliani's "legal" help to Trump's electoral needs. Johnson was also vociferous in defending Trump when Trump extorted the Ukrainian government by withholding military aid until that government agreed to give a public announcement supporting that disinformation, leading to Trump's impeachment.

What Democrats are not publicly saying, but should, is that Johnson is not acting as target of a foreign disinformation effort, but a co-conspirator. He is a full ally of the Trump-Giuliani-Ukraine-Russia disinformation campaign.

Pelosi Looking At Second Impeachment Hoax Against President Trump

To make sure Trump doesn’t win the presidency again or to make him pay if he does, Nancy Pelosi and DC Democrats are considering at least three new articles of impeachment against the president, media and political sources report.

House Speaker Pelosi is considering a broad front strategy and will possibly make the announcement next month or soon afterward in an attempt to steal thunder from the GOP convention and Trump’s fall campaign.

She may consider articles of impeachment, which the House Judiciary Committee will dutifully bring up, on COVID, the riots, and the new Democrat talking point on Russian bounties on the heads of American troops in Afghanistan. The charges would break down this way:

COVID- The Democrats would charge that the president, out of incompetence and failing to listen to his public health advisors, failed to respond to COVID in time and by such is directly responsible for the deaths of over 100,000 Americans.

Yes, it is absurd and is especially so as Joe Biden called the president’s initial travel ban “xenophobic.” But this country passed the boundaries of the surreal some time ago regarding charges against the president.

There are approximately 45% of the public who will believe anything negative about Trump, no matter how ridiculous. Democrats can call them out at will to make it seem there is consensus for a new impeachment drive. Collusion with China on the virus is another facet of this charge: that the president, for personal and national economic gain, ignored the virus to curry favor with the Chinese.

The riots- This article would essentially charge the president with the constitutionally vague high crime and misdemeanor of “racism” and would thus hold him responsible for the deaths and riots associated with the George Floyd shooting.

This makes no sense and it’s not supposed to make sense. None of it is. The Democrats know they can never get enough votes out of the Senate to convict even if the Senate flips to them in November. The goal is to make the president look guilty, or sparing that make voters tire of his controversies, to depress his strength with swing voters.

This specific ploy would be to increase black Democrat turnout by luridly replaying scenes of the riots and blaming Trump. Though as Democrats are at this point held more responsible on the riots than the president, this could backfire on them.

Russian bounties- Democrats will charge, again, that the president is somehow compromised by the Russians and that’s why he ignored alleged intelligence reports on a Russian military intelligence unit paying the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan.

Given all intel agencies have publicly disavowed the reports, this would be the hardest case to make. Remember, none of these are designed by Democrats to convict Trump in the Senate, only to hurt him, and the nation, between now and election day and even after that if the president wins reelection.

This piece was written by David Kamioner on July 3, 2020. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

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The post Pelosi Looking At Second Impeachment Hoax Against President Trump appeared first on The Political Insider.

Trump, Ratcliffe implausibly claim Trump was never told of Russian bounties for murder of US troops

Numerous news agencies have now confirmed the story broken by The New York Times on Friday: The Russian government secretly issued bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan, offering cash to militants in exchange for the killing of American soldiers. The Russian intelligence unit in question is believed to be the same one behind the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal, in 2018.

The Trump administration's response to this now-undeniable news is coalescing around a bizarre argument: Despite the immediate danger to U.S. forces, nobody in U.S. intelligence told Donald Trump or Mike Pence it was going on.

Despite the Times reporting that Trump's National Security Council met in late March to present Trump with a "menu" of possible retaliatory responses, both Trump and his surrounding toadies now claim that Trump and Pence were not told of the clear and substantive danger to U.S. troops. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, newly installed in the post after maudlin and sycophantic performances as a House Republican defending Trump during impeachment proceedings, gave the most definitive declaration:

"I have confirmed that neither the President nor the Vice President were ever briefed on any intelligence alleged by the New York Times in its reporting yesterday. The White House statement addressing this issue earlier today, which denied such a briefing occurred, was accurate. The New York Times reporting, and all other subsequent news reports about such an alleged briefing are inaccurate."

This is almost certainly a lie—as would be expected from Ratcliffe. There are few plausible scenarios in which top U.S. intelligence officials would hide a Russian operation to assassinate U.S. soldiers from the White House, and fewer still in which this would happen, but the Times' government sources would instead falsely invent a scenario in which he was.

Trump's installed team, however, is suggesting one of only two possible scenarios. One, that those surrounding Trump and Pence did not feel a high-level Russian espionage operation directly promoting the murder of U.S. troops was worth White House attention.

Or two, the U.S. intelligence community was intentionally hiding information about the Russian operation from Trump and Pence. If so, that would be an astonishing choice, and would suggest that intelligence officials believed there were national security reasons to keep Trump and Pence in the dark about just how much the U.S. knew about Russian operations.

The Director of National Intelligence is either suggesting that Trump and Pence are such impotent figures that his office did not bother to alert them or discuss with them a Russian plot to murder Americans, or that his office believed telling Trump about the Russian scheme would itself compromise U.S. security. Both of those possibilities are alarming.

It seems far more likely that both Ratcliffe and the White House are lying, directly, about Trump's involvement. At the end of March, Trump and Putin spoke by phone five times in three weeks, an "unprecedented" level of communications; the White House, as usual, has concealed the contents of those calls.

Trump's own denials are scattershot and ridiculous. In a petulant pair of tweets Trump proclaimed that "Nobody briefed or told me, @VP Pence, or Chief of Staff @MarkMeadows about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians, as reported through an “anonymous source” by the Fake News @nytimes," before wandering off to attack Hunter Biden again.

But Mark Meadows was not Trump's chief of staff during the period in question, and Trump is misstating the actual story. Russians did not "attack" U.S. troops directly, but have offered bounties for others to attack them. Trump, or whoever is tweeting for him, seems to have little ability to comprehend the thing he is denying—a point in favor of Ratcliffe's claim that Trump is simply too stupid to be of use to intelligence officials, to be sure.

Again: We will almost certainly learn that Ratcliffe, Trump, and Trump's indignant but forever-lying spokescreatures are lying blatantly about Trump's knowledge of the Russian operation. That is almost a given. The next question to be answered is why Trump (and Pence), despite learning of the bounties in March, have taken no action in response to Russia's act.

That answer, too, seems self-evident. It is the same reason it was necessary to install a thoroughly corrupt but loyal House Republican into a top intelligence spot to begin with.

Bill Maher Regrets Trump Impeachment: It ‘Turned Out To Be A Horrible Thing’

Liberal talk show host Bill Maher surprised everyone on Friday’s episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher” when he admitted he now regrets the impeachment of President Donald Trump, saying that it “turned out to be a horrible thing.”

While talking to leftwing documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, Maher pointed to Trump’s recent firings of various inspectors general, complaining that they got very little media attention amidst COVID-19. He believes that much of this lack of coverage can be traced back to Trump’s impeachment.

“Just the impeachment, you know, I mean, if I could do it over again I wouldn’t because it just emboldened him,” Maher said, according to Fox News. “Now he can conduct this war on accountability and nobody even— it barely made the papers. I bet you people are watching this and going, ‘Wow, I’ve never heard that because the news is all COVID.'”

Moore agreed with him, going so far as to say the removal of the government watchdogs makes Trump “very dangerous.” This comes one month after Maher called for Trump to be impeached for “favoring” states that “are nice to him” during the coronavirus pandemic, according to The Blaze.

“I find one of the most galling parts about this is that the president is favoring certain states over the others. Governors who are ‘nice’ to him, as he calls it, get a lot of attention and all of the equipment they want,” Maher told Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). “To me, this is even more of an impeachable offense than what he did with Ukraine or Russia.”

Maher has long been vocal about his support for impeaching Trump, voicing his support for it in January of 2019. “I don’t know how we get out of this except by getting him out of office,” Maher said. “I wasn’t necessarily for impeachment until recently, but I think you have to go ahead and do it.”

Democrats were so focused on their effort to impeach Trump earlier this year that they almost completely ignored COVID-19 when the virus was starting to make its way to the U.S. Had Democrats not been distracting everyone with their impeachment nonsense, there’s no telling where we’d be with coronavirus today.

This piece was written by PoliZette Staff on May 24, 2020. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

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House Democrats Tell Supreme Court They’re Still Looking To Impeach Trump

House Democrats revealed to the Supreme Court Monday that they have not given up on their impeachment dreams as they seek secret grand jury material from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Talk about kicking a dead horse.

Douglas Letter, the House general counsel, said in a court filing that “The Committee’s impeachment investigation related to obstruction of justice pertaining to the Russia investigation is ongoing.”

“If this material reveals new evidence supporting the conclusion that President Trump committed impeachable offenses,” Letter continues, “the Committee will proceed accordingly – including, if necessary, by considering whether to recommend new articles of impeachment.”

RELATED: Trump Calls Out ‘Faker’ CNN Reporter After She’s Caught Removing Mask at Press Briefing

Aren’t You Embarrassed?

This latest move reminds me of a bit by comedian Sebastian Maniscalco where he asks with utter amazement at people too dumb to comprehend their own actions, “Aren’t you embarrassed?”

We know Democrat lawmakers aren’t, but what about Democrat voters? Is there no shame in these endless efforts to overturn the 2016 election? Especially in light of what has come out in recent weeks.

The House Democrats told the Supreme Court they are now looking into “the possible exercise of improper political influence over recent decisions made in the Roger Stone and Michael Flynn prosecutions, both of which were initiated by the special counsel.”

Talk about having no concept of reality.

RELATED: Trump Slams Obama Officials Who Prosecuted Michael Flynn: ‘Human Scum’ Committed ‘Treason’

Democrats Should Be Investigated

Pursuing ‘improper political influence’ regarding the Flynn case, when clear-cut evidence showing Barack Obama’s FBI maliciously entrapped the former national security adviser, is next-level insanity.

Handwritten notes from the day Flynn was interviewed by the FBI show a questioning of the goal behind the interaction: “Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”

The context of the FBI’s goal proved too much for the Justice Department to argue that he was not entrapped by bad-faith actors.

Couple this with the revelation that every single witness interviewed during the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe admitted they had no evidence of Russia collusion – the very basis of Mueller’s witch hunt – and you begin to understand Democrats are not tethered to reality.

President Trump, speaking on the news of Flynn’s malicious prosecution and the Obama administration’s efforts to concoct a Russian collusion narrative, called those behind it “human scum.”

“They’re scum and I say it a lot, they’re scum, they’re human scum. This should never have happened in this country,” he seethed.

“The Obama administration Justice Department was a disgrace and they got caught. They got caught. Very dishonest people. But much more than dis – it’s treason, it’s treason.”

Attorney General William Barr on Monday said, “What happened to the president in the 2016 election in the first two years of his administration was abhorrent. It was a grave injustice and it was unprecedented in American history.”

So, why are Democrats still actively investigating the President for these same fake crimes when it is they who should be investigated and removed from their positions?

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Rand Paul: Biden ‘Caught Red-Handed’ Using Government Spying To Go After ‘Political Opponent’

On Wednesday, Senator Rand Paul responded to former Vice President Joe Biden being one of a number of high ranking Obama administration officials who may have received intelligence from unmasking requests targeting Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security advisor.

This is all according to newly-declassified documents by acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, to which the senator said Biden was “caught red-handed” using U.S. spy powers to “go after a political opponent.”

RELATED: Rand Paul Says Obama Might Have Known About Biden, Ukraine Issues: ‘There Could Be A Smoking Gun’ 

Paul went into detail during a press conference on Wednesday.

Paul: ‘Almost everyone in President Obama’s top circle wanted to see this and wanted to listen to this conversation’

A reporter asked Paul, “If this happens to a current president, this would be an impeachable offense, if not a criminal offense.”

“Can you imagine? Yeah,” Paul responded.

Another reporter queried the senator, “Would you like there to be criminal charges brought against them?”

He replied, “I think we need to get to the bottom of this, and I think the first thing is to interview, under oath, [Acting] Director of National Intelligence [Grenell] and get to the bottom of what goes on with unmasking. How unusual is this that the entire upper echelon — individually it wasn’t just one request for this, there were dozens of requests. Almost everyone in President Obama’s top circle wanted to see this and wanted to listen to this conversation.”

President Trump: ‘The unmasking is a massive thing’

President Trump said later on Wednesday in the wake of this recent news, “The unmasking is a massive thing. I just got a list. Who can believe a thing like this?”

 

Paul had more thoughts at his press conference.

“But this is troubling,” Paul continued. “This isn’t about national security, this is about eavesdropping on your opponent and eavesdropping on the new president’s top advisor. This is very, very troubling. This was being led by at least by Vice President Biden, if not [President Obama], and we need to get to the bottom of it to make sure it never happens again.”

“For the average American, they’re worried that this could happen to a top general like Flynn, but could you imagine this power being unharnessed on an ordinary American? How would we defend ourselves?” Paul wondered.

 

After another reporter questioned what the timeline and larger context of the unmasking might have looked like, Paul made further comments.

“The way I read it, is it looks like each of these administration officials actually individually requested to listen to this conversation,” Paul said. “It was like, well, someone says, ‘why don’t we have someone go listen to this and send the transcript around.’ It sounds like each of these people individually did.”

The senator continued, “These rumors have been going around for years that President Obama’s administration was abusing this power of unmaking, and this sounds like these were abusing it to go after a political opponent, which I think is a very serious offense and should be investigated — and the fact that Vice President Biden is directly involved with unmasking a political opponent. Think about it.”

RELATED: New CNN Poll Shows Donald Trump Has Tied His Highest Approval Rating Ever

 

Paul: Biden caught ‘red-handed’

Then Sen. Paul reminded the press of recent history concerning accusations about corruption and coverups.

“Remember we went through this thing called impeachment? ” Paul said. “They said President Trump was using the government to go after a political opponent?”

“This is Vice President Biden using the spying powers of the United States to go after a political opponent,” Paul declared.

“He’s caught red-handed here,” he finished.

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AG Barr’s Justice Department still trying to deep-six Mueller grand jury materials

Attorney General Bill Barr's Justice Department is going to extraordinary lengths to block House Democrats from seeing the grand jury evidence from the Mueller probe. 

In a Thursday filing, the department's solicitor general urged the Supreme Court to halt a lower court order directing the department to turn over the grand jury materials to the House Judiciary Committee by May 11. The Justice Department argued for the opportunity to complete its appeal of the appeals court ruling to the Supreme Court.

“The government will suffer irreparable harm absent a stay. Once the government discloses the secret grand-jury records, their secrecy will irrevocably be lost,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco wrote. “That is particularly so when, as here, they are disclosed to a congressional committee and its staff.”

Red alert, red alert! Congress might learn the truth about all the stuff that has heretofore been hidden from the public. 

At issue for House Democrats is whether Trump lied in his written testimony to the Mueller team. House Democrats sought access to the information last year as they mulled impeaching Trump. 

Congress is not necessarily granted access to such materials, but a Nixon-era precedent was set when the courts ruled an impeachment investigation a "judicial proceeding." In the current case, both the federal court and the appeals court panel followed that precedent to rule in favor of House Democrats gaining access to the materials. 

Obama’s office slams GOP investigation into Ukraine, Joe Biden, in private letter from March

In a letter from March, the office of former president Barack Obama condemned a congressional investigation into former vice president and now presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. You likely remember the Republicans’ incessant focus on Hunter Biden’s position at Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural energy company. Trump and various Republican allies have alleged that there’s a scandal there, and alleged possible conflict of interest for Joe Biden, who was key on Ukraine policy at the time. And of course, Republicans had claimed this investigation had nothing to do with wanting to distract from Trump’s impeachment proceedings or the upcoming general election. 

In the private letter signed by Obama’s records representative and now available because the office released it to BuzzFeed News upon request, Obama’s office described it as an effort to "to shift the blame for Russian interference in the 2016 election to Ukraine” and said it was “without precedent." The letter, which was first obtained and reported on by BuzzFeed News, does not actually explicitly mention Biden by name, and does agree to release the requested presidential records.  

"The request for early release of presidential records in order to give credence to a Russian disinformation campaign--one that has already been thoroughly investigated by a bipartisan congressional committee--is without precedent," the letter, dated March 13 and sent to the National Archives and Records Administration (which maintains presidential records), says in part. 

As a quick review, Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson made the record request in November 2019. The two senators have effectively spearheaded the investigation into the Bidens and Ukraine, and have been doing so since last fall. Both wanted records on meetings between Ukrainian officials and the Obama administration from the National Archives. 

The letter from Obama’s office refers to former National Security Council analyst and Russia expert Fiona Hill’s now-viral opening testimony about the notion that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that had a misinformation effort in the 2016 election. She said it’s “a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”

The Obama office relented and has allowed the records to be released "in the interest of countering the misinformation campaign underlying this request.” Former presidents (and technically, current presidents, though it’s no surprise that representatives for Trump wouldn’t do so) are allowed to review and use executive privileges on record requests thanks to a federal mandate. But neither Obama’s office nor Trump’s did so. Obama’s office released the records essentially to counter the message that is beneath the request.

The letter finishes: “We emphasize that abuse of the special access process strikes at the heart of presidential confidentiality interests and undermines the statutory framework and norms that govern access to presidential records.”

At the time of Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, Republicans went out of their way to distract from any perceived weakness and create an enemy—in this case, Hunter Biden and Ukraine. But it didn’t end there. For example, Sens. Grassley and Johnson have reportedly recently dug into Secret Service documents to see whether Joe and Hunter Biden ever overlapped on trips to Ukraine. It’s endless. Even now, as a global pandemic rages on and the United States continues to fumble public health crisis management, GOP senators continue to dig into the Burisma theories.