Not shocking: The Republicans’ star witness at Trump’s first impeachment was lying

When former special ambassador to Ukraine Kurt Volker appeared to testify before the House in hearings connected to Donald Trump’s first impeachment, Republicans were thrilled. Volker was part of the “three amigos,” who Trump had sent to Ukraine to force out experienced diplomats and see that Rudy Giuliani got all the assistance he needed in extorting the Ukrainian government into pretending to investigate Joe Biden. 

As soon as Volker completed his testimony, it was clearly at odds with that delivered by other witnesses. Volker testified that he never talked about the company Burisma, where Hunter Biden was on the board, in his discussions with Ukrainian officials. He completely omitted any reference to a series of meetings and calls on July 10, 2019, after which then-Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman took his concerns about what was going on to the NSC’s lead counsel. Volkman contradicted the content of text messages he sent on July 19, in which he joined Rudy Giuliani in urging the Ukrainian president to initiate an investigation of Biden. He left out how Burisma and the Bidens factored into a statement Trump wanted from the Ukrainians. And he completely failed to testify about how he had insisted—as text messages showed—that Ukrainian officials had to include both claims that Ukraine had interfered with the U.S. election in 2016, and that Biden had tried to block an investigation into Burisma, if they wanted to “prevent a recurrence” of Trump blocking military aid to the country.

But what really excited the Republicans was the fact that Volker provided them with the Big Talking Point: a claim that there was “no quid pro quo” connecting the request for an investigation into the Bidens and the release of U.S. assistance to Ukraine. In his deposition to the House committee, Volker made it clear: “At no time was I aware of or took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former vice president Biden.”

But text messages at the time also made it clear this wasn’t true. And calls that CNN released this week while looking into the actions of Giuliani make this one thing exceedingly clear: In his sworn testimony to Congress, former ambassador Kurt Volker was lying his ass off.

As The Washington Post reports, it was Volker’s testimony that Republicans leaned on when they claimed that Trump had been exonerated. 

“Ambassador Volker … confirmed what the President has repeatedly said: there was no quid pro quo,” tweeted Rep. Jim Jordan. 

“Ambassador Volker, you just like took apart their entire case,” said a grateful Rep. Michael Turner during questioning.

In his testimony, Volker didn’t hold back. “At no time was I aware of or knowingly took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former vice president Biden. As you know from the extensive real-time documentation I have provided, Vice President Biden was not a topic of our discussions.”

How could this be the case when Volker repeatedly texted concerning an investigation into Burisma? The pretense that Volker put forward was that he didn’t know. He didn’t know why Trump wanted an investigation into a particular Ukrainian energy firm as part of his deal. He didn’t know why this was so vital that it could be a factor in allowing an ally to be preyed on by Russian forces.

Volker wasn’t the only one. His former “amigos”—Ambassador Gordon Sondland and Energy Secretary Rick Perry—pushed the same line. Apparently Trump and Giuliani had it out for this one gas company. After that, they all pled blissful ignorance. 

Yeah, but … Volker was on the call when Giuliani said this to one of the Ukrainian president’s top assistants:

“All we need from the President is to say, I’m going to put an honest prosecutor in charge, he’s gonna investigate and dig up the evidence that presently exists, and is there any other evidence about involvement of the 2016 election, and then the Biden thing has to be run out.”

That was just one of several instances where Giuliani explicitly drew the connection between what was being asked of the Ukrainian president with the Bidens. Volker was on that call. Pretending that he didn’t know what he was asking when he asked about Burisma would mean not just acknowledging an astounding ignorance about the country he was supposed to be assisting—past allegations against Burisma had played a key role in both U.S. and U.K. actions in Ukraine—it would mean he wasn’t actually listening to what Giuliani said during their conversations with Ukrainian officials. In Volker’s testimony he claimed that “In referencing Burisma it was clear he was only talking about whether any Ukrainians had acted inappropriately,” which never made any sense at all. It still doesn’t.

The Post suggests that Volker hewed a very narrow line in his testimony and that he “referred specifically to the idea that Biden wasn’t brought up in the text messages he turned over—rather than at all in any conversations.” But that’s attempting to parse things way, way too finely.

It’s clear that when Volker, Sondland, and others mention Burisma in their text messages, that this is shorthand for announcing an investigation into the role Joe and Hunter Biden played in connection to that company. That’s specifically what Giuliani asks for, again and again.

And in his testimony, Volker goes much further than The Post suggests. Volker’s full statement to the committee, apparently in response to a question by Rep. Adam Schiff, was this:

“At no time was I aware of or took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden. As you will see from the extensive text messages I am providing, which convey a sense of real-time dialogue with several different actors, Vice President Biden was never a topic of discussion.”

It might be possible to twist that statement so that the last mention of Biden is directed toward the text messages. It’s not possible to do so with the first mention. “At no time was I aware of or took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden” is simply a lie. An out and out lie. A lie that was intended to cover Volker’s ass, and which Republicans seized on as justification to exonerate Trump.

It was always clear that Volker was lying when he claimed to not understand the connection between Burisma and Joe Biden. The most recent revelations just underline the extent of that lie.

it may be too late for a do-over of that first impeachment, this time with honest testimony. It’s not too late to charge Kurt Volker for his lies.

There’s a second federal investigation underway looking at Rudy Giuliani’s actions in Ukraine

Even before the 2016 election, Donald Trump and his supporters were pushing back against news that Russia was directly interfering in the U.S. presidential election. Even though Russia had engaged an army of false social media accounts, a network of sites dedicated to generating Trump-favorable false stories, and teams of dedicated hackers digging into documents at the DNC, Trump refused to say a bad word about the land of Vladimir Putin. Instead, Trump and his campaign pushed a conspiracy theory that all the hackers, bots, and Facebook ads didn’t actually come from Russia. Instead, said Trump’s campaign, the U.S. was being taken for a ride by that most powerful of opponents … Ukraine.

Trump and members of his campaign team pushed a completely unsupported idea that the “Cozy Bear” hackers were actually Ukrainians just pretending to be Russian. Then Trump took the whole thing further, insisting that Hillary Clinton’s emails were somehow stored on a “missing server” that was somewhere in Ukraine. That there was no missing server in the first place wasn’t a problem. 

It was all ridiculous. But over the next four years, Trump set out to prove that not only was Ukraine behind the 2016 hacks, they were also hiding criminal activity on the part of Joe Biden and his son. So, with the help of Rudy Giuliani and a cast of seemingly hundreds of eager to help scam artists, Trump spent months making connections with pro-Russian elements in Ukraine and leaning on the Ukrainian government. Those efforts not only earned Trump his first impeachment, it seems they also opened the 2020 election to foreign interference … from Ukraine. By way of Rudy Giuliani.

As The New York Times reports, federal prosecutors are now investigating whether a group of  Ukrainian officials launched a scheme to use Trump to get things they wanted in exchange for false information that Rudy Giuliani could spread in hopes of harming President Joe Biden. Which … yes. Yes, that happened. And it’s already been well-documented by House investigators

It’s been clear for months that Giuliani established ties to both exiled oligarch Dmytro Firtash and corrupt officials like parliament member Andriy Derkach. Firtash, who is also connected with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and employs Trump attorneys Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, gave Giuliani the indicted Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas to act as his guides to the Ukrainian underworld. With both Trump and Firtash leaning in, Giuliani had no trouble finding plenty of people willing to sign off on statements that smeared Biden—even if some of those same people instantly folded when questioned and admitted that they were just trying to “curry favor” with Trump.

However, Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine did have some very serious consequences, including giving power to hoodlums who wanted a U.S. ambassador out of the way so they could increase their level of corruption. Giuliani gleefully served that role, helping to demean and dismiss a dedicated career official so that he could get crooks to sign onto his scheme.

Now that Giuliani is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation that has seen his home and office raided, it seems that prosecutors are also looking at the people on the other end of the pipe. Particular attention seems to be focused on Derkach. Derkach has been both named by the intelligence community as an “active Russian agent” and sanctioned by the Treasury Department. He’s also one of Giuliani’s primary sources for claims against Biden and his son, Hunter.

The only person standing up for Derkach appears to be Giuliani, who said in an interview, “I have no reason to believe he is a Russian agent.” He said that after being officially warned that Derkach was … a Russian agent. Which is a pretty important denial for Giuliani.

The federal case against Giuliani seems to center on to what extent he acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian elements in lobbying Trump to take actions such as the firing of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. That Giuliani did such a thing as a dupe of corrupt former officials supported by an oligarch who can’t even set foot in his own country for fear of arrest … that’s bad. But if it turns out that Giuliani did this as the knowing partner of someone who had been identified to him as an active agent of Russia … that’s considerably worse.

This investigation is based in the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn, and is apparently running in parallel with the investigation into Giuliani’s activities being based in the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan. Hopefully they’re sharing notes.

Giuliani’s home searched, phone seized, as investigators finally get past roadblocks laid by Trump

Multiple sources are reporting that federal investigators executed a search warrant at a Manhattan apartment owned by former mayor, current Trump surrogate, and leader of the effort to overturn the 2020 election, Rudy Giuliani. According to The New York Times, that search is directly connected to an investigation of Giuliani’s actions in Ukraine.

For literally years, Giuliani has been pushing false stories about President Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and actions that were taken in Ukraine during the Obama administration. The stories that Giuliani brought back from Ukraine led directly to the dismissal of a talented ambassador, generated a whole series of congressional investigations, and encouraged Donald Trump to make a phone call to the Ukrainian president that led directly to Trump’s first impeachment

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2021 · 7:08:34 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

The New York Times is now reporting that investigators have extended their search to Giuliani’s office, and to the home of Guiliani associate Victoria Toensing, who also worked with Giuliani on several of his efforts to convince former Ukrainian officials to create false charges against Joe Biden or Huntet Biden. Toensing is closely associated with Russian organized crime figure Dmytro Firtash, who was also connected to Parnas and Fruman.

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2021 · 7:13:39 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rudy Giuliani is not appearing on his 3 pm radio show on 77 WABC today.

— lvl 46 dog-faced pony potus (@thetomzone) April 28, 2021

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2021 · 7:19:42 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

I concur that Rudy Giuliani is in deep trouble

— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) April 28, 2021

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2021 · 8:10:56 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

A reminder of the legal standard: A federal magistrate judge concluded there was probable cause evidence of a crime or crimes would be present at the residence of Victoria Toensing. https://t.co/U0LJV9G8IX

— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) April 28, 2021

Despite multiple denials, Trump eventually admitted that he sent Giuliani to Ukraine specifically for the purposes of finding—or creating—dirt Trump could use against Biden. In the process, Giuliani worked worked with a pair of scam artists who were arrested trying to leave the country and charged with bribery, conspiracy, and funneling foreign funds into U.S. elections. Considering all this, it’s not surprising that as far back as October of 2019, Giuliani was known to be the subject of a criminal investigation.

What’s amazing is that it’s taken this long for investigators to get around to searching Giuliani’s East Side apartment. But then, as people say, elections matter.

There’s an irony in The New York Times breaking the news that Giuliani is being investigated for his actions in connections with Ukraine, because it was the Times which provided Giuliani with breathless reporting in which they pasted pages of unverified charges made against the Biden family. Some actual investigation by Bloomberg in May of 2019 showed that there really was a scandal, but it didn’t involve Biden. It involved Giuliani and a cohort of pro-Russia Ukrainians working to create a deceptive image of what had happened that was exactly backward from actual events.

Somehow, despite what seemed to be heaps of evidence that ensnared Giuliani into the schemes for which his associates Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas were indicted, Giuliani was left free to wander about the country, spreading lies about the election and heading up the team that generated the second Trump impeachment.

For a guy who once said he was worried about becoming a “laughingstock,” it’s really hard to see how Giuliani could have done much better.

According to reporting both the Times and at CNBC, investigators have been trying to get a search warrant for Giuliani’s residence “for months.” However, those attempts were repeatedly blocked. Now that Trump and former Attorney General Bill Barr aren’t in place to keep the wheels of justice stuck in the mud, it seems that investigators have finally gotten around to not only searching Giuliani’s apartment, but seizing all his electronic devices.

The Wall Street Journal reports that investigators arrived at Giuliani’s place at 6 AM before beginning their search. So expect Fox News to be filled with the same umbrage that greeted a search of Roger Stone’s home before his arrest, and the offices of Michael Cohen, before his arrest. 

The investigation into Giuliani is, as might be expected, directly connected to the cases against Parnas and Fruman. Both of those indictments featured false names to cover what was clearly Giuliani’s involvement. The investigation is expected to extend from illegal lobbying for Ukrainian officials in the United States, to Giuliani’s business dealings in Ukraine, and his involvement in the removal of experienced ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.

The story of Giuliani’s attempt to manufacture dirt on Biden, assist a collection of foreign criminals, and thwart the will of American voters isn’t over. But the lawyer who helped get Trump impeached—twice—may finally be getting his real day in court.

Trump Snaps At ‘Lightweight’ Reporter: ‘Don’t Ever Talk to the President That Way’

President Trump snapped at a reporter who tried interjecting on his comments about the election, referring to him as a “lightweight” and demanding he shows some respect.

The reporter has been identified in multiple outlets as Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason.

The media is portraying it as a meltdown when, in reality, it was a proper reminder to reporters who have shown zero respect for the President of the United States over the past four years exactly where they sit on the food chain.

Trump began with an observation that Biden’s election performance is remarkable in crucial swing states compared to Barack Obama’s past election performances, a fact that raises eyebrows in his view.

RELATED: Report: Media’s Biased Coverage of the Election May Have Handed the Presidency to Biden

Trump Snaps at Lightweight Reporter Jeff Mason

Mason began by asking the President if he’d be willing to concede the election should the Electoral College votes for Biden.

“Just so you understand, this election was a fraud,” he said.

“They have Biden beating Obama in areas that matter in terms of the election in swing states.  And yet he’s losing to Obama all over the place,” Trump continued. “But he’s beating Obama in swing states which are states that mattered in terms of the election.”

Mason tried interrupting the President which didn’t work out too well for him. Trump quickly snaps back at the reporter over his lack of respect.

“Don’t talk to me that way,” Trump scolded. “You’re just a lightweight. Don’t talk to me that way. Don’t talk to …”

“I’m the President of the United States. Don’t ever talk to the president that way,” he continued before shifting to another question.

RELATED: Barack Obama Blasts Hispanics Who Voted For Trump – They Ignored The President’s Racism Because They Oppose Gay Marriage

Trump’s Touchy Relationship With a Biased, Unprofessional Media

President Trump has had to repeatedly battle a biased, unprofessional media that stands as perhaps one of the most corrupt institutions in America today.

At a press conference earlier this year, CNN reporter Jim Acosta claimed his network’s reputation “on delivering the truth is a lot better than yours.”

The President wrecked him on a national stage.

Acosta, of course, struggled to recall the fact that his network had to settle a massive lawsuit with Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann after the cable news station smeared him as a racist for the crime of wearing a MAGA hat.

Or the fact that CNN once had a ‘journalist of the year’ forced to resign at another outlet after it was discovered he fabricated his stories “on a grand scale” for many years.

Or the fact that three of their reporters had to leave the network after the publication of a ‘fake news’ report on Russia that was later retracted.

Or the fact that they blatantly helped doctor a call transcript with Ukraine to help fuel impeachment.

Or the numerous other stories that were proven to be false.

There have been other reporters at other outlets that the President has had to put in their place.

A Yahoo News reporter in April was on the receiving end of a verbal tongue-lashing when he tried to corner the President with false data about coronavirus testing.

President Trump had to tell CNN reporter Jeremy Diamond that his network is “fake news” and explained to the reporter he was sorely lacking in a major area.

PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor was on the receiving end of several testy retorts by the President over the years.

A study conducted by the Media Research Center recently shows biased media coverage very likely tilted the election in favor of President-elect Joe Biden.

President Trump has repeatedly warned Americans that the media is the “enemy of the people.”

They’ve more than proven him right over the past four years.

The post Trump Snaps At ‘Lightweight’ Reporter: ‘Don’t Ever Talk to the President That Way’ appeared first on The Political Insider.

Giuliani’s smear on Hunter Biden is so ridiculous, Fox News passed on it … then covered it 24/7

Once upon a time—also know as 2019—Donald Trump tried to blackmail the president of Ukraine into making false claims about Hunter Biden. Trump got caught, got impeached, and got not even a slap on the wrist from Senate Republicans who were willing to allow Trump to do anything in exchange for a flood of conservative judges. After all, when you’ve already waved off the Hatch Act, ignored federal laws over nepotism, and blown off an endless stream of lies … what’s a little extortion of an ally for political advantage?

When Trump didn’t get what he wanted from from Volodymyr Zelensky, he put both U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr and Rudy Giuliani on the case. Barr grabbed U.S. attorney John Durham and opened up an investigation that saw him flying around the world in an attempt to find someone reputable who would lend the slightest credence to Trump’s incredible claims. Giuliani … just skipped out on the “reputable.” Instead, he grabbed a pair of foot soldiers for a Russian oligarch, latched onto some officials who had been kicked out for corruption, and worked directly with an “active Russian agent” to produce a whole series of false claims and fake evidence. 

That brings us to now. Barr’s efforts have apparently come up dry. One part of his investigation has already shut down, Durham’s top assistant has resigned, and there’s no report worth even a patently false summary before Election Day. The Giuliani side has produced a hard drive. A hard drive supposedly dropped off in Delaware by a man who lived in California, at a shop owned by a vocal Trump supporter, where the security footage was mysteriously wiped, the blind shop owner could not identify the person who dropped it off, there was no name or contact information provided, and no one ever returned for it. 

Giuliani’s story is so ridiculous that both Fox News and the New York Post reporter who was forced to write it both disowned it. After years of trying to smear Biden, this really is the best they can do.

As Mediaite reports, the New York Post was hardly Giuliani’s first choice in trying to get this contemptible last-ditch effort into the media. It’s unclear how many other places he went first, but it is clear that he came to Fox News with his story of an unclaimed laptop. Fox News looked at the story, got out their 10-foot pole, and carefully pushed the whole pile back to Giuliani.

After all, this is far from the first time that Giuliani has come up with supposedly shocking information that just happens to support Trump’s every delusional claim. In September, it became clear that Giuliani was working closely with U.S. Sec. of State Mike Pompeo. It’s since come out that the packet of information that Pompeo shared with Republican lawmakers, but not with Democrats, did not come from sources within the State Department. He was simply laundering pages for Giuliani. Naturally, Trump’s personal attorney could not stop bragging about this. At the start of October, he told CNN that he was the source for the Biden information in Republican’s hands. 

This information was enough that Louie Gohmert and Paul Gosar, DDS were willing to scrawl their signatures on a letter to the Justice Department, along with nine other Republicans out of 250 in the House and Senate. But the many, many places where the Giuliani’s claims weren’t just wholly unbelievable but clearly connected to a known Republican disinformation campaign against Biden did bother a few other people.  

Not only is there the little problem of there being absolutely no provenance concerning the hard drive itself—everything about the story of where it was found has holes the size of ocean liners. The shop owner has given various accounts about how the laptop (or laptops, since he at one point claimed there were three), entered his shop; he’s been completely contradictory about how it came to the attention of the FBI; and when and how Giuliani became involved in the affair is as clear as mud. Also, there’s a little matter of how dates on the files found on the machine seem to be from months after the machine was supposedly dropped off.

But just because Fox News wouldn’t take it directly, that doesn’t mean that Rupert Murdoch wasn’t willing to step in to help out his pals. After the story was turned away from Fox News, it was shuffled over to the Murdoch-owned paper where New York Times reports reporter Bruce Golding was tasked with taking the documents, and Giuliani’s ravings, and turning them into an article. But once he heard the whole tale, Golding refused to put his name to the piece. So did other journalists in the Post news room … and this is a paper that just last year went with a front page emblazoned “Bezos exposes Pecker.”

Instead, the story eventually ran under the byline of Emma-Jo Morris. Morris is a former booker for Sean Hannity’s show on Fox, who made the trip across to the Post just in time for Giuliani’s Russian fabrication to be her very first article. A second name on the article was Post reporter Gabrielle Fonrouge. Fonrouge’s name ended up there in the most efficient manner. The Post’s editors put it there, and didn’t tell Fonrouge until after it was published.

All of this works perfectly for Fox, for the Post, for Giuliani, for Trump, and most importantly, for Putin. Fox doesn’t have to front the story. With the story in the Post, Fox can report on it. They can ask Republicans to comment on it. They can construct great rambling opinions from Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity. The Post can then report on the comments their story is getting on Fox. Trump can retweet it all. Republicans in the House can cite all of the above as justification for demanding William Barr whip up a special investigator. And Vladimir Putin … can laugh. 

The ‘wet laptop’ story absolutely is a scandal, but it has nothing to do with Joe Biden

An official in a foreign country stumbles on a briefcase left behind by his opposing number from another delegation. Sneaking a peak at the information inside, the official discovers that it contains not only the usual stacks of diplomatic reports, but secret information providing insight into an upcoming military operation. Immediately, the official rushes this information to his superiors who … have just fallen into one of the most timeworn traps of intelligence tradecraft. The “accidently” left-behind wallet, briefcase, or letter is an absolute classic of Soviet-era dezinformatsiya schemes.

In the argot of spies, a “cobbler” assembles a dezinformatsiya packet, accompanied by more truthful “litter” and “chicken feed” that makes it appear as if a deceptive document is real. If possible, the information is left where it’s handily accessible to the target of the dezinformatsiya campaign, but a special purpose “floater” may be used to pass the information along—often without that person understanding their role in the scheme. 

Now, substitute “hard drive” for “briefcase” and “email” for “document.” Because that’s exactly what happened on Wednesday as the New York Post ran a story about a soggy computer left behind by a mysterious stranger at a Delaware repair shop. That computer was supposed to kick off a scandal about Hunter Biden. But what it really proves is that Rudy Giuliani and Rupert Murdoch are neck-deep in a scheme to spread disinformation to the American public.

That the story of this left behind computer ran in the New York Post on Wednesday isn’t the sign of a successful disinformation campaign—it’s a clear signal of its abject failure.

According to the story, the computer was dropped off at a repair shop in April 2019—as in over a year and a half ago. The computer was left apparently without signing any form or even providing a name. In fact, the shop owner declared that because he is legally blind, he could not identify the person who brought in the supposedly water-damaged computer. However, that shop owner eventually concluded that it was Hunter Biden’s computer because … there was a sticker from the Beau Biden Foundation on the computer.

This shop owner has been identified as 44-year-old John Paul “Mac” Isaac. Isaac is a vocal Trump supporter whose social media profile is full of not just statements about voting for Trump, but also  comments about Joe Biden. That includes mention of a “Biden bubble” that keeps Biden from being affected by bad news. His social media also shows that Isaac likes to wear kilts, but that seems beside the point. 

In any case, Isaac is a Trump supporter who has been open about his disdain for Biden and his belief that the media goes easy with stories about Biden. Then in spring of 2019, a computer lands in his lap with a Biden sticker attached. 

What happens next is massively unclear, because in interviews Wednesday afternoon, Isaac gave completely contradictory statements about his follow-up actions. What seems to be clear is that at some later point, Isaac hooked up the hard drive, read the emails, and watched a video that supposedly shows Hunter Biden having sex with a prostitute while smoking crack. Apparently Isaac could see that much.

At some point between April and December, Isaac contacted the FBI. Or at least, that appears to be the case since the Post included an image of a Dec. 9, 2019 grand jury subpoena—though since that subpoena has the name blacked out and the objects to be provided are obscured, it’s only their word that it is actually connected to this incident. However, before giving the laptop to the FBI, Isaac first made a copy of the hard drive which, like his original perusal through the emails and videos, is very likely to have been a violation of Delaware privacy laws. It’s also worth noting that nothing Isaac did appears to be related to actually fixing the damaged laptop. 

At some point Isaac talks to Giuliani and eventually gives him a copy of the hard drive. But what’s extremely confusing is the order of any of these events. Did Isaac talk to Giuliani before or after he spoke with the FBI? Was it Giuliani who told Isaac to take the computer to the FBI? Taking one step back, why did a Delaware computer repair store owner think to call Giuliani in the first place, and how did he get in touch with Giuliani?

However it happened, Isaac made the copy at some point before December 2019. According to a Daily Beast interview, Isaac “switched back and forth” between saying that he contacted the FBI and saying the FBI contacted him. He also claimed that the FBI asked him for help in accessing the drive, though he didn’t indicate that the drive was encrypted or protected in any way. 

There’s are several huge missing pieces in this story. For example, what did Isaac say to the FBI? “Hello, someone brought in a computer, and I think it belongs to Beau Biden.” If so, why would the FBI say anything other than, “Then give it back?” Why would Beau Biden dropping off a wet laptop cause the FBI to have any interest at all?

This, then, is the “official” story from the Post and Giuliani: A mysterious stranger drops off a laptop at a shop belonging to a legally blind Trump supporter who has said disparaging things about Biden. Nine months later, the FBI asks for that computer. Then 10 months after that, Giuliani hands over to the New York Post what he says is a copy of that computer’s hard drive. In between those dates, we have nothing. Well, nothing except for more Facebook statements from Isaac, who does devote some time to saying that Trump’s impeachment is a sham, but says nothing at all about Hunter Biden’s crack-smoking video that he found on a computer left at his store. And we have a lot of statements from Giuliani during this period, many of them essentially identical to what will eventually appear in the Post story.

So … let’s look at this from a different angle.

Giuliani has spent over two years traveling back and forth to Ukraine, making promises that he had found red-hot information supporting Trump’s conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden. In the process, Giuliani has made numerous statements to the media—frequently in The New York Times—claiming that he has the “smoking gun” for Biden’s misdeeds. That included a letter supposedly showing that Biden had worked to protect Burisma holdings from investigation. Except that a few weeks later, a Ukrainian legislator admitted to making up the information to “curry favor with Trump and Giuliani.” The timeline of events showed that the story Giuliani was peddling was not even possible.

But at the same time Giuliani is waving letters in front of the media, someone is dropping off a computer at Isaac’s shop. Then nothing happens in April, or May, or June … nothing happens at all. Until for some reason Isaac decides to take a closer look at that computer. A reason like, perhaps, a phone call from someone who already knew what was on it. That someone might even suggest that Isaac contact the FBI, or they might contact the FBI and tell them to talk to Isaac, because the information now available has it both ways.

Even then, 10 months after the FBI has taken receipt of the laptop, nothing has happened. Christopher Wray is not on TV making an announcement about emails. The DOJ has not announced that it is opening an investigation. No one is talking about Hunter Biden’s laptop, dammit!

So with the clock ticking down to the election, Giuliani takes the hard drive straight to the one person he can trust to make a big deal about it: Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch then points a finger at a booker on Sean Hannity’s show, turning her into an instant editor for the paper he owns, the New York Post, and this brand spanking newly minted “journalist” then publishes Giuliani’s story.

That doesn’t make this an “October surprise.” This makes this an abject failure of a con job. Giuliani and Murdoch are absolutely not in the position they wanted to be at this point. In their ideal world, Emma-Jo Morris would be back in Hannity’s green room, booking Giuliani for his guest appearance to discuss the how The New York Times is running with the astounding breaking news that the FBI is looking into revelations from Hunter Biden’s laptop.

That did not happen. What happened instead was that Giuliani had to hand-carry the dezinformatsiya to Murdoch, and Murdoch had to get his mitts all over this mess to package it up for a multiday run on Fox and the Post. This is what is generally known as very, very, very bad tradecraft. 

This is a busted operation from a man whose whole Ukrainian adventure has been marked by:

What Rudy Giuliani and Rupert Murdoch have on their wrinkly fingers is a big ball of dirty tricks shading toward outright espionage, supported by Vladimir Putin.

Sorry, comrades, you’ve been caught.

Explosive Report On Hunter Biden, Burisma Reveals Questionable Financial Transactions – Including Millions From Ex-Moscow Mayor’s Wife

A bombshell report reveals questionable financial transactions between Hunter Biden and his associates involving his role on the Board of the Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings.

Biden, the son of Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden, engaged in “extensive and complex financial transactions” that were thoroughly analyzed by the Senate Homeland Security and Finance Committees.

The report was released on Wednesday by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

It states that Hunter “formed significant and consistent financial relationships” with Mykola Zlochevsky, the founder of Burisma.

Additionally, Biden and his business partner Devon Archer’s firms “made millions of dollars from that association” while his father served as vice president.

The Senate and Finance committees claim that they have obtained records from the US Treasury Department.

Those records reportedly “show potential criminal activity relating to transactions among and between Hunter Biden, his family, and his associates with Ukrainian, Russian, Kazakh and Chinese nationals.”

RELATED: Documentary Claims Hunter Biden’s Business Dealings ‘Served’ China and Their Military

Hunter Biden, Bursima Accused of Questionable Financial Transactions

A documentary earlier this month narrated by Peter Schweizer, claims Hunter Biden’s numerous business deals in China “served” the communist country and their military.

“This isn’t just another story about a politician’s kid getting rich,” Schweizer said.

“Hunter’s new firm started making investment deals that would serve the strategic interests of the Chinese military.”

The Senate Homeland Security and Finance Committees address concerns that Biden had contacts with individuals linked to the Chinese military.

“During the Obama administration, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) approved a transaction that gave control over Henniges, an American maker of antivibration technologies with military applications, to a Chinese government-owned aviation company and a China-based investment firm with established ties to the Chinese government.”

One of the companies involved in the transaction was a private investment fund called Bohai Harvest RST (BHR), where the son of the Democrat nominee for President was a board member.

Schweizer claimed that he had information suggesting the Bidens cooperated with Chinese partners to bypass certain laws.

By extension, this allowed them to acquire companies that helped the Chinese military excel in technology.

RELATED: Report: Bill Clinton Invited Accused Sex-Trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell To An ‘Intimate’ Dinner

Biden and Obama’s Conflict of Interest

The report goes on to suggest that the Obama administration “ignored the glaring warning signs” when Biden’s son joined the board of Burisma.

Officials “knew” that Hunter’s position on the board was “problematic.”

His “position on the board created an immediate potential conflict of interest that would prove to be problematic for both U.S. and Ukrainian officials and would affect the implementation of Ukraine policy,” according to the report.

When asked earlier this year how his role as Vice President and his son’s dealing in Ukraine were not a conflict of interest, Joe Biden became enraged.

“Let’s focus on the problem,” he yelled, avoiding the question. “Focus on this man, what he’s doing, that no president has ever done. No president!”

The media ‘focused’ on any mundane transaction involving Russia rather intently over the last few years.

Why wouldn’t they be just as interested that Biden’s financial transactions, according to this latest news, include a $3.5 million wire transfer from Elena Baturina, the wife of the former mayor of Moscow?

Republican strategist Andrew Surabian openly wondered if the media would be handling this explosive report a little differently if it had involved President Trump’s son.

Joe Biden spokesman Andrew Bates has been trying his best to divert attention from the news about Hunter’s financial transactions.

“Ron Johnson has wasted months diverting the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee away from any oversight of the catastrophically botched federal response to the pandemic,” Bates told the New York Post.

Odd, Democrats weren’t concerned about attention and resources being diverted away from the pandemic when they were conducting their impeachment sham.

The post Explosive Report On Hunter Biden, Burisma Reveals Questionable Financial Transactions – Including Millions From Ex-Moscow Mayor’s Wife appeared first on The Political Insider.

Bolton claims he wanted to release information during impeachment, was blocked by White House

John Bolton wrote a book. That seems kind of hard to remember now, but you may recall it as the one that came out just before the one from Donald Trump’s niece that confirms Trump as “the dumbest student” his school had ever seen, and before the book by Bob Woodward that explains how Trump knew about the deadliness of COVID-19, but decided to ignore it because he thought it would be a political “win.” But it was definitely after the 40-something other books (not kidding) about Trump. Somewhere in there.

Once upon a time—with that time being, unbelievably enough, the first month of this interminable year—what Bolton had to say might have mattered. With multiple witnesses at Trump’s impeachment having parts of the story about the effort to extort lies from the government of Ukraine, Bolton was uniquely positioned to fill in critical gaps. His testimony might have carried weight and had historical significance. Senate Republicans eventually voted that they didn’t want to hear from Bolton, or from anyone else, but well before that the former national security adviser made it clear that he wasn’t interested in talking anyway. He was saving it all for his book, where it wouldn’t do a damn thing for the nation but could earn him a tidy profit. Bolton, through his personal decisions, made himself into a minor footnote. 

Even so, it seems that the effort to suppress his book went deeper than has been known, and included interfering with a routine investigation. Because thanks to men like Bolton, there are no rules.

Bolton’s book was originally slated to appear in March. That was then pushed back to May, and eventually slid into June. The biggest reason for the slide was that even though the manuscript had been sitting with the White House for months, the publisher could not get a signal that the book did not contain classified information. Such investigations are routine, and usually result in either a thumbs-up or a list of information that needs to be removed or edited before publication.

That didn’t happen in this case. As the book rolled on toward its final publication date, Trump accused Bolton of knowingly including classified information. The William Barr Justice Department trotted off to do what they always do: act as Trump’s personal attorneys in court. That attempt to block release of the book eventually failed—not least of all because Barr moved at a point where the book was literally on the shelves of bookstores nationwide. However, the judge did have harsh words for Bolton, suggesting that he could forfeit that much-desired profit and possibly face additional penalties for the release of confidential information.

But now it seems that it wasn’t just Barr who was responsible for putting the book on hold. Because other members of Trump’s team interfered with the routine security clearance review of the book, purposely holding the book up to diminish its impact. Meaning that even as they were taking Bolton to court for moving ahead without getting clearance, they were also making sure that he never got clearance.

Bolton’s attorneys made this claim in a letter to the court on Tuesday. As The New York Times reports, Bolton now claims that he wanted to release one portion of his book—a portion relevant to the impeachment trial—at that time. But White House aides blocked the security review even though Bolton didn’t believe that there was any classified material in the section.

At the heart of this appears to be a lawyer named Michael Ellis who was a former assistant to (of course) Rep. Devin Nunes. Despite no background or training in security reviews, Ellis directed the official in charge of the security review to put a freeze on Bolton’s manuscript while he conducted “his own review of the book.” It was Ellis who then claimed that the book was “replete” with classified information. Ellis’ review then became the basis of the Department of Justice claims against Bolton.

No one is crying for John Bolton. Or his mustache. And at this point, the idea that he might have released some information at the time of the impeachment except for some maneuver by the White House dodges the fact that Bolton could have stepped in front of every news camera in the country and told everyone what he knew. However, the attempt to stifle Bolton is just another example of the lengths that the Trump White House has gone to to silence dissent, and the willingness of every Republican involved to throw “normal process” in the waste bin. 

Senate Republicans authorize subpoenas in bogus probe angling for October surprise to boost Trump

As Republican Sen. Mitt Romney acquiesced to voting to approve some three dozen subpoenas for one of two bogus partisan probes being conducted by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, he worried that at least one of the investigations "had the earmarks of a political exercise."

That's the understatement of the century. In fact, the committee chair, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, just came out last month and confirmed in an interview that one of his two ongoing  investigations "would certainly help" Trump.

Johnson, who is desperately trying to deliver an October surprise to boost Trump's reelection bid, currently has two probes going in his committee. He's hell-bent on delivering the Biden probe that Trump had tried to force on Ukraine before he hit that impeachment wall. But just in case that entirely baseless probe fails to curry favor with the public, Johnson's got a second investigation in the works focusing on the work of Obama administration officials during the transition period following the 2016 election.

That's the investigation for which Republican senators, on a party-line vote, approved a raft of subpoenas targeting people like former FBI director James Comey and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, according to Politico. Both men participated in the transition period and ultimately briefed Trump on the intelligence community's conclusions that Russia attacked the 2016 election to help boost his presidential bid. Another GOP target is former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, who temporarily took over for Comey after Trump ousted him. Romney's opposition to the Biden-Ukraine probe, however, forced Sen. Johnson to scrap a subpoena vote related to that pet investigation. In fact, that investigation is such a heap of trash, the U.S. Treasury Department recently declared one of the pro-Russian Ukrainians who helped fuel the probe an "active Russian agent for over a decade."

But the GOP's approval of dozens of new subpoenas prompted Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, a Homeland Security committee member, to introduce a resolution Wednesday afternoon "opposing efforts to launder Russian disinformation through Congress." 

From the Senate floor, Schumer charged that "While the rest of the country has been focused on fighting a global pandemic, for the last few months the chairman and Republicans of the committee have wasted taxpayer resources to run a hit job on President Trump’s political rival." Schumer said he would have more to say on the matter later, but added, "for one of our most important committees to be echoing a Kremlin-backed conspiracy theory is beyond the pale."

Johnson reportedly plans to release an interim report within the coming days on his Kremlin-driven probe into Biden's diplomatic efforts in Ukraine when he was serving as vice president. In the other investigation, Johnson will maintain the power to deliver headlining-grabbing subpoenas into October, even after Congress has recessed in the run-up to Election Day. How convenient. 

The most important accomplishment of impeaching Trump was its impact on Joe Biden

Impeaching The Man Who Lost The Popular Vote was incredibly important, and not only because it was the right thing to do. Yes, he committed crimes and abused the power of his office, and yes he deserved to be impeached and removed from that office—the record of every Republican Senator other than Mitt Romney will be forever stained by their votes to acquit. History will remember their cowardice.

Beyond the morality, impeachment has had a clear, long-lasting political benefit, one that will pay dividends for Vice President Joe Biden this November. Thanks to impeachment, everyone knows that the charges Trump leveled against Joe and Hunter Biden on Ukraine—the ones he tried to blackmail that country’s president into investigating, or least announcing an intention to investigate—are utter malarkey.

Trump always feared running against Biden, and he acted corruptly in a failed bid to get enough dirt to derail the former VP’s quest to win the Democratic nomination. The impeachment process shone a bright light on Trump’s actions, and on his lies about Biden, ensuring that the smear campaign ultimately backfired.

Since the end of the impeachment trial, Trump and his minions have continued to bleat on with their completely invented and thoroughly debunked stories about the Bidens. I won’t dignify them by repeating the specifics here. Recently, Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson, who heads the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, have been “investigating”—i.e., trying to keep the story in the media—this bullshit.

Never mind that by falsely smearing Biden over Ukraine, Johnson and his fellow Republican senators are all but doing the work of Vladimir Putin for him, as this Associated Press article explained

But the stark warning that Russia is working to denigrate the Democratic presidential candidate adds to questions about the probe by Johnson’s Senate committee and whether it is mimicking, even indirectly, Russian efforts and amplifying its propaganda.

The investigation is unfolding as the country, months removed from an impeachment case that had centered on Ukraine, is dealing with a pandemic and confronting the issue of racial injustice. Yet allegations about Biden and Ukraine remain a popular topic in conservative circles, pushed by Russian media and addressed regularly by President Donald Trump and other Republicans as a potential path toward energizing his supporters.

[...] “Particularly as a public official and somebody who’s responsible for keeping the country safe, you should always be suspicious of narratives that are trying to sort of damage or target the electoral process in your country,” said former CIA officer Cindy Otis, a foreign disinformation expert and vice president of analysis at Alethea Group. “You should always be suspicious of narratives that foreign countries are pumping out.”

As Daily Kos’ Kerry Eleveld pointed out, Johnson even admitted that his so-called probe would “would certainly help Donald Trump win reelection and certainly be pretty good, I would say, evidence about not voting for Vice President Biden.” It amazing; these Republicans always manage to say the quiet part out loud, which I guess is helpful. Nevertheless, to paraphrase what Otter said to his nemesis (and professional Republican, according to the character futures provided) Gregg Marmalard in Animal House, “Gee, you’re dumb.”

Then the Orange Julius Caesar himself got into the act. On August 16 he retweeted material that our own intelligence agencies had previously identified as Russian disinformation—part of its effort to directly influence the presidential election by “denigrating” Biden. As CNN put it: “By retweeting material that the US government has already labeled as propaganda -- and doing so with the 2020 Democratic National Convention kicking off on Monday -- Trump demonstrated once again that he is willing to capitalize on foreign election meddling for his own political gain.” Here’s Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner:

The President of the United States should never be a willing mouthpiece for Russian propaganda. https://t.co/9y6L6uMKbM

— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) August 17, 2020

Then came the four-day marathon of lies known as the Republican National Convention. Former Florida (where else?) Attorney General Pam Bondi went before a national audience and, once again, did Putin’s bidding by lying about the Bidens and Ukraine. The truth? When Joe Biden sought the removal of Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shukin he did so, as Greg Sargent of the Washington Post noted, “because the prosecutor was corrupt.” Sargent added some more important facts: “This was U.S. policy, backed by international institutions. GOP senators had no problem with it in real time. As The Post’s fact-checking team puts it, Bondi’s story is ‘fiction,’ and in reality, Joe Biden ‘was thwarting corruption, not abetting it.’” Bondi told some other lies about Hunter Biden, which the WaPo fact-checking team also debunked

When these latter day Marmalards now issue their breathtaking press releases or repeat Russian disinformation about the Bidens and Ukraine, the media—thus far at least—has been taking them for what they are: Utter horseshit. I won’t say the media has learned their lesson, but unlike 2016, when “but her emails” was literally the most reported story of the campaign, this year everyone who isn’t directly sucking at the Trump teat is treating these debunked charges with the (lack of) seriousness they deserve. 

For that, we can thank the impeachment of Donald Trump, which exposed the lies against the Bidens for what they are. The impeachment process inoculated the media and the American public by preparing them for what Trump is now trying to pull on this matter. So thank you Nancy Pelosi, thank you Adam Schiff, thank you Val Demings, thank you Jerry Nadler, and thanks to the rest of the Democratic impeachment team. I’m sure Joe Biden is thanking you as well.

Ian Reifowitz is the author of The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh's Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump (Foreword by Markos Moulitsas)