Vindman: Given the ‘power disparity’ between Trump and Zelensky, Zelensky ‘would have to deliver’

When Donald Trump told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that “I would like you to do us a favor, though,” anyone not invested in defending Trump at all costs can tell it wasn’t just a friendly request. Some people need it explained, though, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Counsel’s top Ukraine expert, laid it out in his impeachment testimony Tuesday.

“The culture I come from, the military culture, when a senior asks you to do something, even if it’s polite and pleasant, it’s not to be taken as a request. It’s to be taken as an order,” Vindman said. “In this case, the power disparity between the two leaders, my impression is that in order to get the White House meeting, President Zelensky would have to deliver these investigations.”

Exactly. And anyone who’s ever watched a mob movie could understand the type of pressure being applied just as well as Vindman’s military background helped him understand it. As it might go in that context, “Nice country you’ve got there. If you do me a favor, you might be able to keep it.” 

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How both sides are preparing for a packed week of impeachment hearings

President Trump says he will consider testifying on his own behalf in the impeachment inquiry. Former U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, career State Department official Jennifer Williams, departing National Security Council official Tim Morrison and National Security Council official Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman are scheduled to appear Tuesday. Yamiche Alcindor joins Amna Nawaz to discuss.

Emails show Mick Mulvaney, Rick Perry knew of push to get Ukraine to open investigations

Emails exchanged between Donald Trump's point man on negotiations with Ukraine and two top Trump officials show they were kept apprised of efforts to convince Ukraine to launch the politically advantageous investigations Trump sought. On July 19 specifically, Trump charge and Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland sent emails to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and other Trump officials informing them that Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was ready to assure Trump by phone that he would open the investigations and "turn over every stone," according to The Wall Street Journal.  

Mulvaney replied that he had asked the National Security Council (NSC) to schedule the phone call "for tomorrow," though it wouldn't actually happen until several days later. Mulvaney was reportedly responsible for giving the White House budget office the order to withhold aid from Ukraine.

Sondland also emailed NSC official Tim Morrison on July 13 to push him to schedule the phone call with Trump before Ukraine's parliamentary elections on July 21, timing that was important to President Zelensky. Sondland wrote to Morrison that the "sole purpose is for Zelensky to give Potus assurances of ‘new sheriff’ in town. Corruption ending, unbundling moving forward and any hampered investigations will be allowed to move forward transparently." Morrison simply responded that he was "tracking" the situation. 

What the emails demonstrate was that Sondland appeared to be very much the point man on getting Zelensky to agree to investigations in order to nail down a phone call between him and Trump, which ultimately took place on July 25 and became the source of the whistleblower complaint. In the process, Sondland kept a number of Trump officials in the loop, including Mulvaney and Perry (who have both refused to testify) and Morrison (who has privately testified and is scheduled to give public testimony Tuesday).

Fox News host surprises GOP by dismantling Republican defense of Trump’s impeachable Ukraine call

The Republican Party is sending out what passes for its top bootlicking officials to try and spin around in circles, as every day brings a new set of defenses for their corrupt president’s actions. Historically, one of the easier gigs for Republicans like Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana has been to go on Fox News and let whichever host lob softballs with little to no resistance. Fox News is predominantly a fact-free zone and so Rep. Scalise must have known that things were going to be a little rougher than usual when Fox host Chris Wallace began lightly pushing back during an interview over the weekend.

After Scalise bumbled about how the earmarked money that President Trump was holding back from Ukraine has requirements of anti-corruption—something the Trump administration has been trying to cut the budget for these last few years—Wallace did a good job of redirecting some of the facts of the case.

CHRIS WALLACE: But both in the April and July phone calls, President Trump never mentions the word “corruption.” What he talks about is investigations; investigations of the Democrats, possible interference in 2016, investigations into the Bidens and Burisma, and the phone call that David Holmes overheard on July 26, he says what the president asked was, is he going to do the investigations.

Rep. Scalise moves over to Republican fabrication of facts number two: this is all “secondhand, thirdhand,” evidence. At this time, Republican talking points on Ukraine are: All of these people are lying, Ukraine ended up getting the money after three months, Ukraine President Zelensky released a hostage video saying Donald Trump is supreme leader masculine best friend to Ukraine.

But, surprisingly, after Rep. Scalise attempted to belittle the first week of impeachment testimony, Wallace stopped him short.

WALLACE: Well, first of all, a dozen people listened in on the phone call, and a number of them were immediately upset because what the president said about Burisma.

REP. STEVE SCALISE: Well, those were Schiff's witnesses.

WALLACE: No, sir, they're career foreign service officers, and these are people who work in the—

REP. SCALISE: —Schiff's witnesses. There are other witnesses.

WALLACE: You had a woman yesterday—wait a minute—Sir, you had a woman yesterday who was on Vice President Pence's staff. She said it was inappropriate. You had Tim Morrison, who was on the NSC staff, who said that he, alarm bells immediately went off for him. Alexander Vindman immediately went to see—you say they're Schiff's witnesses, they all were working in the Trump administration. But let me get back to—

Scalise cannot let it ride, because he’s an idiot and has been taught to just keep lying out loud.

REP. SCALISE: —They were not all Trump administration folks.

WALLACE: Are you saying that the person working, Alexander Vindman wasn't—

Scalise then changes tactics and begins talking about the witnesses that Republicans want called. Wallace tries to remind Scalise that they are talking about people who already testified.

WALLACE: But I'm asking you about these people who worked in the Trump administration, who work for the Trump national security council or work for the vice president's office.

Wallace attempts to bring things back to a more neutral topic where Rep. Scalise can lie away about whatever he likes such as the upcoming Ambassador Sondland testimony, slated for Wednesday.

Unfortunately, Rep. Scalise, as we have reported over the years, is an imbecile who spends most of his time counting NRA donor money, and he could not leave well enough alone. He began to argue that the witnesses who testified publicly during the first week of impeachment hearings had testified that Trump did nothing wrong. Yes. He actually said that.

If this had been Sean Hannity, there’s a good chance his head would have been so far up Donald Trump’s ass that he might not have heard this gaslighting. Wallace is still playing at being a real journalist, and could not let that slide.

WALLACE: Sir, with all due respect, that very badly mischaracterizes what they said. They were asked, William Taylor, for instance, the acting ambassador to Ukraine, was asked whether or not these were impeachable offenses. He said I'm there as a fact witness, I'm not there to pass judgment. But he made it clear what he thought about what the president was doing.

Yes, he did. Scalise attempts to go back to the dumb ploy that Trump did release the aid to Ukraine, at which point Wallace reminds him that Trump released that aid two days after the whistleblower’s complaint surfaced in the public. Jump ahead to the five-minute mark to see the real fireworks start. x x YouTube Video

White House Official Sues Politico, Alleging Collusion With Adam Schiff

Chuck Ross on November 18, 2019

  • Kash Patel, an official on the National Security Council, is suing Politico for defamation, and accusing the news outlet of colluding with Rep. Adam Schiff. 
  • Patel alleged in a lawsuit filed Monday that Politico published two defamatory articles about him that were based on leaks of inaccurate information provided during the Trump impeachment inquiry in October. 
  • Two witnesses testified that Patel provided documents to Trump regarding Ukraine, Politico reported.

A National Security Council official who has long been a target of Democrats is accusing Rep. Adam Schiff of colluding with Politico to publish what he said is a false story about his contacts with President Donald Trump, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.

Kash Patel, who serves as a senior counterterrorism official on the NSC, is suing the Virginia-based Politico for $25 million for defamation over two articles published in October alleging he served as a back-channel to Trump on Ukraine-related issues.

“Defendants’ reporting was categorically and knowingly false,” Patel stated in the lawsuit, which was filed against Politico and its owner, Robert Allbritton.

“Defendants intentionally employed a scheme or artifice to defame Kash with the intent to undermine the President’s confidence in Kash and to further Schiff’s impeachment inquisition,” Patel stated in the lawsuit, which was first reported by Fox News.

Patel said Politico and its reporter, Natasha Bertrand, “colluded, collaborated and conspired with Schiff to defame” him in articles published Oct. 23 and Oct. 30.

Bertrand’s stories were based on alleged leaks of testimony that two NSC officials, Fiona Hill and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, gave in October as part of the Democrat-led Trump impeachment inquiry.

Bertrand reported that Patel was involved in “passing negative information” to Trump about Ukraine on Oct. 23. She reported Oct. 30 that Vindman, who serves as the NSC director on Ukraine, testified that Patel “misrepresented” himself to Trump.

But Patel is vehemently denying having contact with Trump regarding Ukraine.

“At no time prior to October 30, 2019 had Kash ever communicated with the President on any matters involving Ukraine. Kash never supplied any Ukraine ‘materials’ to the President,” the lawsuit stated.

Patel has long been a target of House Democrats, thanks in large part to his previous work for House Intelligence Committee Republicans looking into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation. Patel led the push to uncover documents related to the Steele dossier, which the FBI used to obtain spy warrants against a Trump campaign adviser.

Patel was also an author of the so-called Nunes memo, which accused the FBI of withholding information about dossier author Christopher Steele in applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Transcripts of Hill and Vindman’s testimony, which Democrats released earlier in November, were far less definitive about whether Patel actually met with Trump or provided anyone information about Ukraine.

Hill said she came to suspect Patel might be meeting with Trump about Ukraine after having a change encounter with someone at the White House’s Executive Secretariat. Hill, who left the White House in July, said someone in the office of the Executive Secretariat said Trump wanted to meet with the director of Ukraine policy.

The staffer then said, “Yeah, so, I mean, we might be reaching out to Kash,” Hill testified.

Hill said she was confused because Ukraine was not one of Patel’s areas of focus at the NSC. She testified that she instructed her staff to keep an eye on Patel. She also raised the issue with Charles Kupperman, who served as deputy national security adviser.

But Hill also testified that she had no direct insight into whether Patel met with Trump or provided him with Ukraine-related documents. She said she did not ever see the material that Patel was supposedly handling.

She said only that she “was led to believe” from her “very brief” interaction with the Executive Secretariat that Patel handled materials that were given to Trump.

Vindman’s claim that Patel “misrepresented” himself to Trump is based solely on information from Hill.

“Outside of what Dr. Hill relayed to me, I had no other basis on which to make that assessment,” he said when asked what he knew about Patel allegedly misrepresenting himself as Ukraine director.

“That was a single I guess data point,” he added.

Schiff’s office did not respond to questions about Patel’s allegations. Politico did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

The post White House Official Sues Politico, Alleging Collusion With Adam Schiff appeared first on The Political Insider.