Withheld from Congress: US Intelligence Community’s IG Report on Whistle-blower’s Complaint

Frank Underwood

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Biden family members working as lobbyists, profiting on the Iraq War, and sitting on the board of a Ukraine energy company? Legal or not, I don't see how those optics look good.

Politicians lie all the time, especially if they have an incentive to do so. Biden could be telling the truth, but does anybody believe he would admit speaking to his son about his overseas business dealings if he had? As for Kulinski saying Biden should step aside, I hear mainstream political commentators say that about Bernie Sanders for reasons that make sense to them.

Kulinski made a valid point when he said "By the way, the Democrats are also correct when they say the President of the United States shouldn't be fishing around for dirt on his political opponents by calling foreign governments. That's insane. You can't do that and you shouldn't do that. But at the same time, it's also the case that Biden and his entire family shouldn't be as corrupt as they are, and shouldn't cash in on his public profile, and then turn around and play holier than thou." Mainstream media panders to the partisanship of their viewers.

Like Kulinski said, we can argue over the technicalities of what's legally considered corruption and what isn't, but wrong should still be wrong at the end of the day.
 
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Voter confronts GOP senator: Where's the line?



Chair of the Federal Election Committee Ellen Weintraub: “The law is clear. It is absolutely illegal for anyone to solicit, accept or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with any election in the US.”

#1: US President Donald Trump to President Zelenskiy of Poland, per the DoJ’s release of a telcon of a call on July 25th 2019 between the two leaders. (It's not a verbatim document, but the record of the notes and recollections of Situation Room Duty Officers and NSC policy staff assigned to listen and memorialize the conversation in written form):

I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.”

…​

“Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what's happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that. The other thing, There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me."

#2: Donald Trump to China:

ETA:

Trump raised Biden with Xi in June call housed in highly secure server

By Kylie Atwood, Kevin Liptak, Pamela Brown, Jim Sciutto and Gloria Borger |CNN| Oct 4th

Extract:

During a phone call with Xi on June 18, Trump raised Biden's political prospects as well as those of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who by then had started rising in the polls, according to two people familiar with the discussion. In that call, Trump also told Xi he would remain quiet on Hong Kong protests as trade talks progressed.

The White House record of that call was later stored in the highly secured electronic system used to house a now-infamous phone call with Ukraine's President and which helped spark a whistleblower complaint that's led Democrats to open an impeachment inquiry into Trump.

Asked earlier this week about Trump's call with Xi, the White House did not deny that he raised Biden.

"World leaders need to be able to speak freely in their conversations with the President--that is a key component to effective diplomacy. And that is why such conversations are kept confidential," said White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham. "We are not going to start discussing the contents of every conversation President Trump has with world leaders, other than to say his conversations are always appropriate."

After this story published, Warren reacted to news of Trump's call with Xi, writing on Twitter, "Trump can say what he wants about me, but it's outrageous that any president would sell out the people of Hong Kong behind closed doors. The public must see the transcript of Trump's call with Xi. And we need a leader who will stand up for our values."​

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/10/03/politics/trump-biden-call-xi-secure-server/index.html
 
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Kurt Volker's opening statement to Congress is available here: https://www.scribd.com/document/428779601/Volker-Testimony-Long-Form#download&from_embed


Volker defends Biden as ‘man of integrity’ in testimony to Congress

By Paul Sonne and Greg Jaffe | Oct 4th

Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special representative to Ukraine, defended former vice president Joe Biden in a statement to Congress on Thursday and said he was trying to run interference on information being supplied to President Trump by former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, to secure continued U.S. support for the government in Ukraine.

Volker, who as of Thursday was the executive director of the McCain Institute for International Leadership, said he did not believe allegations Giuliani has leveled against Biden, namely that Biden was influenced in his dealings with the Ukrainian leadership by his son’s presence on the board of a Ukrainian gas company whose owner was being probed by authorities in Kiev. (Cindy McCain, a Biden friend, chairs the McCain Institute.)

“I have known former vice president Biden for 24 years, and the suggestion that he would be influenced in his duties as vice president by money for his son simply has no credibility to me,” Volker said, according to a written copy of the opening statement reviewed by The Washington Post. “I know him as a man of integrity and dedication to our country.”

Biden is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Volker sought to present himself in the testimony as a man caught in the middle of Giuliani’s efforts to pressure the Ukrainian leadership for Trump’s domestic political purposes and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s attempts to maintain U.S. support for Ukraine and win a meeting with Trump.

Volker said he told Giuliani that the information he was receiving from former Ukrainian prosecutor general Yuri Lutsenko was not credible. “I believed that these accusations by Mr. Lutsenko were themselves self-serving, intended to make him appear valuable to the United States, so that the United States might weigh in against his being removed from office by the new government,” Volker said.

He said his efforts to persuade Trump to support Zelensky were undermined by information that Giuliani and others had been feeding the president. Among other things, Volker suggested that Trump had bought into a theory — widely pushed by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s team — that the Ukrainians conspired with Democrats during the 2016 election to undermine Trump and support Hillary Clinton.

“The president was very skeptical,” Volker said, recalling a May 23 meeting with Trump at the White House. “He said that Ukraine was a corrupt country, full of ‘terrible people.’ He said they ‘tried to take me down.’ In the course of that conversation, he referenced conversations with Mayor Giuliani. It was clear to me that despite the positive news and recommendations being conveyed by the official delegation about the new president, President Trump had a deeply rooted negative view on Ukraine rooted in the past.”

Volker said he was trying to ensure the Trump administration continued its support for Ukraine. “In carrying out this role, I at some stage found myself faced with a choice: to be aware of a problem and to ignore it, or rather to accept that it was my responsibility to try to fix it,” Volker said. “I would not have been true to myself, my duties, or my commitment to the people of the United States or Ukraine, if I did not dive in and try to fix problems as best I could.”

Volker, who was serving in the special-envoy position in an unpaid capacity, said he was not on the July 25 call in which Trump pressed Zelensky to investigate Biden and his family. He said he received only a general readout of the conversation.

Volker was also working as executive director of the McCain Institute and was a consultant for the lobbying firm BGR, which counted the defense contractor Raytheon and the Ukrainian government as clients until last year. Raytheon is part of a joint venture that manufactures Javelin antitank missiles, which the Trump administration agreed to supply to Ukraine. BGR said Volker recused himself from Ukraine government work at the firm when he started the special-envoy job.

Volker’s statement casts the president’s reluctance to meet with Zelensky as having little to do with Biden or Burisma but instead related to his “long-held negative view towards Ukraine” and Giuliani’s assertion of Ukrainian malfeasance in the 2016 election. He cast himself as innocently working to improve the bilateral relationship and suggested that Trump’s bigger focus was on persuading the Ukrainians to investigate the 2016 election with a view to undermining the case that the Russians had interfered on his behalf.

In a text message ahead of the July 25 phone call, Volker told an adviser to Zelensky: “Heard from White House — assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington. Good luck! See you tomorrow — kurt.”

However, it is clear from the text messages Volker knew by Aug. 10 that a renewed investigation of Burisma, the gas company where Hunter Biden served on the board, along with a probe of Ukraine and the Democrats during the 2016 election, were viewed in Kiev as a quid pro quo for the Ukrainian president to secure a date for a White House summit with Trump.

“Once we have a date, will call for a press briefing, announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for the reboot of US-UKRAINE relationship, including among other things Burisma and election meddling investigations,” Andrey Yermak, an aide to Zelensky, wrote in an Aug. 10 message to Volker.

“Sounds great!” Volker responded.

Volker and the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, worked on a draft statement for the Ukrainians so they could satisfy Trump’s demands. After sending it to Giuliani, who wanted an explicit reference to Burisma and the 2016 election investigation, the two messaged back and forth to work up the text to send back to the Ukrainians, according to Volker. The Ukrainians ultimately did not agree to the statement upon receiving that version.

Volker said that Zelensky’s aide replied by saying that the Ukrainian government did not want to mention Burisma and the 2016 election directly. Volker said he agreed with their decision and said he reiterated it was essential Ukraine do nothing that could be seen as interfering in the 2020 election. Zelensky’s aide agreed, Volker said, “and the idea of putting out a statement was shelved.”

Suggesting language to send back to the Ukrainians in a later August text, Volker wrote to Sondland: “We intend to initiate and complete a transparent and unbiased investigation of all available facts and episodes, including those involving Burisma and the 2016 U.S. elections, which in turn will prevent the recurrence of this problem in the future.”

“Perfect. Let’s send to Andrey after our call,” Sondland replied, referring to Yermak by his first name.

Volker also pleaded ignorance of Trump’s July 25 call in which he raised investigating Burisma and Biden with Zelensky, saying he received a general readout of the conversation from people who described it as a “good, congratulatory call.” He said he learned the full details about the call only when it was released late last month.​

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/worl...b8d4a2-e6ca-11e9-b7da-053c79b03db8_story.html
 

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The U.S. diplomat who questioned Trump's Ukraine scheme

By Nahal Toosi | Oct 4th

One person stands out in the flurry of impeachment-related texts cascading onto Washington this week: The guy who says what’s happening is “crazy” and that he might have to quit.

William Taylor, the veteran diplomat in charge of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, is being hailed within foreign policy circles as a hero of sorts — a straight shooter who plays by the rules even in a chaotic political environment.

In texts with two other top diplomats, Taylor objected to what some suspect to be an effort by President Donald Trump to withhold military aid to Ukraine until it investigated one of his political rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Whether Taylor knew those texts would one day be public is unclear, but friends and associates say that either in person or in print, he’ll tell you exactly what’s on his mind.

“He’s quiet, very smart, very measured. He’s also forthright. He says what he thinks,” said Patrick Kennedy, a former senior State Department official who’s long known Taylor.

Another former U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, was more blunt: “He’s the only honorable man in this disgusting drama.”

Taylor declined to comment for this article. But after two weeks of rapid Ukraine-related revelations now fueling a House Democrat-led impeachment inquiry, the sudden appearance of his name jolted observers of the drama.

One of his texts in particular crystallized the concerns in Washington: “As I said on the phone,” Taylor texted on Sept. 9, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

Throughout a lengthy career, Taylor has worked in several hot spots, including as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2006-2009. He had been serving as the executive vice president of the U.S. Institute of Peace when he was asked to return to Kyiv after the ambassador there, Marie Yovanovitch, was pulled out early in May in circumstances House Democrats also are probing.

Taylor’s texts were among documents the former U.S. special envoy for Ukraine negotiations, Kurt Volker, handed over to lawmakers as part of a lengthy deposition Thursday. The text messages included conversations between Volker, Taylor and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

They appear to show that the diplomats were aware of Trump’s desire for Ukraine’s new government to get involved in investigations of the U.S. president’s political rivals, including events surrounding the 2016 campaign.

Separate documents since have shown that Trump specifically wanted Ukraine to look into Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company. There’s no evidence that either Biden committed any wrongdoing. But Trump, and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, were nonetheless agitating for another look by Ukraine.

In the texts, Volker and Sondland in particular appear to try to make it clear to the Ukrainians that a White House visit or even a phone call with Trump would be conditioned on them agreeing to an investigation, though the exact parameters are not clear.

Taylor appears wary early on. In a July 21 text, for instance, he points out to Sondland that the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenksy, “is sensitive about Ukraine being taken seriously, not merely as an instrument in Washington domestic, reelection politics.”

Sondland replies: “Absolutely, but we need to get the conversation started and the relationship built, irrespective of the pretext. I am worried about the alternative.”

Zelensky, a former comedian, won the Ukrainian presidency in April. Given Ukraine’s reliance on U.S. military assistance in its war with Russia, diplomats on both sides wanted Trump and Zelensky to establish a good rapport.

A few days later, on July 25, Trump spoke to Zelensky and repeatedly pressed him to investigate the Bidens, according to a detailed call memo released by the White House. That call is at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

Weeks later, after reports that the Trump administration had put on hold hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance to Ukraine, Taylor again voiced outrage.

“Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?” he asked in a Sept. 1 text.

Sondland’s reply? “Call me.”

A week later, Taylor expresses frustration over what appears to be the possibility that Ukraine’s president may give an interview to the press that the White House wants, but that Kyiv still might not get the military aid it is requesting.

“The nightmare is they give the interview and don’t get the security assistance. The Russians love it. (And I quit.),” he writes.

The following day, he and Sondland have a more tense exchange:

“The message to the Ukrainians (and Russians) we send with the decision on security assistance is key. With the hold, we have already shaken their faith in us. Thus my nightmare scenario,” Taylor writes Sept. 9.

Minutes later, he adds: “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

To that, Sondland replies: “I Believe you are incorrect about President Trump's intentions. The President has been clear no quid pro quo's of any kind.” He goes on to add that they should stop the texting.

Some former U.S. diplomats expressed discomfort with the extensive use of texting as part of the policy-making process. They noted that it’s generally preferable to use State Department email or other means so that there’s a proper record kept for the future.

But others say that texting is increasingly a key tool for diplomats everywhere, including those of other countries, and that its use does not necessarily indicate ill-intent.

Andrew Weiss, a Eurasia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, noted that Taylor was willing to voice his objections even though he knew that could put him at odds with Trump’s political appointees and other conservative backers.

He must have known that Yovanovitch, the former ambassador, had been pulled out a few months before her tenure in Kyiv was due to end after coming under sustained attack from Giuliani and elements of the conservative media who claimed she was anti-Trump.

“He was explaining that major harm was being done to U.S.-Ukraine relations,” Weiss added. “That it would redound to Russia’s benefit and that he wouldn’t be part of it.”

Taylor’s diplomatic work has included coordinating U.S. government assistance for places like Iraq, Afghanistan and parts of the former Soviet Union. He has degrees from West Point and Harvard. His Army career included tours in Vietnam and Germany.

A former State Department official said that after what happened to Yovanovitch, U.S. diplomats in Kyiv were happy to have a veteran like Taylor at the helm.

“He was a salve for those wounds,” the former official said.

Yovanovitch is due to give a deposition to Congress next week, as is Sondland. Given the revelations this week, Taylor might soon find himself beckoned to Capitol Hill, too.​

Source: https://www.politico.com/news/2019/10/04/us-diplomat-william-taylor-trump-ukraine-029054




 
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Eric Swalwell: “….see Ambassador Volker, whom I would describe as a serious ambassador who is running a parallel diplomacy effort as Rudy Giuliani is truly the one who has the president’s intentions. Ambassador Volker, I believe, was carrying out the intentions of the United States to deliver security assistance to Ukraine, while Rudy Giuliani, he was carrying out the ambitions and desires of President Trump, which was to benefit himself in an upcoming election.”

Senior Editor of The Atlantic and a speechwriter for George W. Bush: “This is a high school musical.”

Texts Between Diplomats On Ukraine Situation Released | The Last Word | MSNBC

 

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Recapping the recent news:

Shep Smith shares incredible Kurt Volker update on Trump Inbound impeachment Inquiry



'The Law Is Pretty Clear': FEC Chairwoman On Interference | Morning Joe | MSNBC

 

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Fox News' Breaking News anchor and managing editor Shep Smith & the host of Fox News Sunday, political analyst Chris Wallace on talking points:

 

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Extracted from https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/mike-pompeo-condemns-ukraine-inquiry-as-silly-gotcha-game:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the controversy surrounding the Trump administration and its outreach to Ukraine a "silly gotcha game."

At the end of a speech in Greece on Saturday, the top U.S. diplomat was asked if there are any "red flags" that need further investigating stemming from a phone call in July in which President Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rivals.

“This is what’s wrong when the world doesn’t focus on the things that are right, the things that matter, the things that impact real people’s lives, and instead, you get caught up in some silly gotcha game," he replied.
And so this man will resign (and rat?), because he has ambitions: the governorship of his home state, then the Oval Office. Reality will sink in, because if the Repubs turn against President Trump, they’ll turn on him and anyone else perceived to have been Mr Trump’s key allies and one-time allies in his administration.
 

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Meanwhile, over at MSNBC...

Chris Hayes On How The Text Messages Destroy Trump’s Alibi | All In | MSNBC

ETA: And, remember, in the wings is the 2nd whistle-blower (no, not the one rumoured to be alleging impropriety over Trump trying to make a deal in connection with his taxes). This 2nd whistle-blower is rumoured to have more knowledge over this Ukraine behind-the-scenes stuff, and had even made a criminal referral, which was ignored by the DoJ. If that person is not the 2nd whistle-blower, then potentially there is another.
 
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And, remember, in the wings is the 2nd whistle-blower ... rumoured to have more knowledge over this Ukraine behind-the-scenes stuff, and had even made a criminal referral, which was ignored by the DoJ. If that person is not the 2nd whistle-blower, then potentially there is another.
It would appear from the news report below that the potential 2nd whistle-blower is the CIA’s general-counsel, Courtney Simmons Elwood. ....This is assuming that the unnamed complainant (a CIA officer), “who’d passed his concerns about the president on to her (Elwood) through a colleague” is the same person as the 1st whistle-blower that we officially know of, even though neither name nor gender has been given to the public. (The news report below is saying that he is, that's my understanding of how the news report is written.)

If Elwood's 'source' isn’t the one who filed a complaint with the Intel Community’s Office of the IG, then it’s anyone’s guess who the potential 2nd whistle-blower in this matter might possibly be: Elwood or the unnamed CIA officer who had his concerns passed on to her, or someone else.

It was Elwood who “made what she considered to be a criminal referral to the Justice Department …” via a conference call on Aug 14th of this year. DoJ officials apparently didn’t consider it to be a formal criminal referral because it wasn’t in written form.

The spotlight is falling on both the Justice Department and on Attorney General William Barr in part because of the department’s “later decision to decline to open a criminal investigation — a decision that the Justice Department said publicly was based purely on an analysis of whether the president committed a campaign finance law violation”.


CIA's top lawyer made 'criminal referral' on complaint about Trump Ukraine call

Experts are raising questions about why the Justice Department did not open an investigation.

By Ken Dilanian and Julia Ainsley | NBC News | Oct 4th and added to and/or updated Oct 5th

WASHINGTON — Weeks before the whistleblower's complaint became public, the CIA's top lawyer made what she considered to be a criminal referral to the Justice Department about the whistleblower's allegations that President Donald Trump abused his office in pressuring the Ukrainian president, U.S. officials familiar with the matter tell NBC News.

The move by the CIA's general counsel, Trump appointee Courtney Simmons Elwood, meant she and other senior officials had concluded a potential crime had been committed, raising more questions about why the Justice Department later declined to open an investigation.

The phone call that Elwood considered to be a criminal referral is in addition to the referral later received as a letter from the Inspector General for the Intelligence Community regarding the whistleblower complaint.

Justice Department officials said they were unclear whether Elwood was making a criminal referral and followed up with her later to seek clarification but she remained vague.

In the days since the anonymous whistleblower complaint was made public accusing him of wrongdoing, Trump has lashed out at his accuser and other insiders who provided the accuser with information, suggesting they were improperly spying on what was a "perfect" call between him and the Ukrainian president.

But a timeline provided by U.S. officials familiar with the matter shows that multiple senior government officials appointed by Trump found the whistleblower's complaints credible, troubling and worthy of further inquiry starting soon after the president's July phone call.

While that timeline and the CIA general counsel's contact with the Justice Department has been previously disclosed, it has not been reported that the CIA's top lawyer intended her call to be a criminal referral about the president's conduct, acting under rules set forth in a memo governing how intelligence agencies should report allegations of federal crimes.

The fact that she and other top Trump administration political appointees saw potential misconduct in the whistleblower's early account of alleged presidential abuses puts a new spotlight on the Justice Department's later decision to decline to open a criminal investigation — a decision that the Justice Department said publicly was based purely on an analysis of whether the president committed a campaign finance law violation.

"They didn't do any of the sort of bread-and-butter type investigatory steps that would flush out what potential crimes may have been committed," said Berit Berger, a former federal prosecutor who heads the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity at Columbia Law School. "I don't understand the rationale for that and it's just so contrary to how normal prosecutors work. We have started investigations on far less."

Elwood, the CIA's general counsel, first learned about the matter because the complainant, a CIA officer, passed his concerns about the president on to her through a colleague. On Aug. 14, she participated in a conference call with the top national security lawyer at the White House and the chief of the Justice Department's National Security Division.

On that call, Elwood and John Eisenberg, the top legal adviser to the White House National Security Council, told the top Justice Department national security lawyer, John Demers, that the allegations merited examination by the DOJ, officials said.

According to the officials, Elwood was acting under rules that a report must occur if there is a reasonable basis to the allegations, defined as "facts and circumstances…that would cause a person of reasonable caution to believe that a crime has been, is being, or will be committed."

A Justice Department official said Attorney General William Barr was made aware of the conversation with Elwood and Eisenberg, and their concerns about the president's behavior, in the days that followed.

Justice Department officials now say they didn't consider the phone conversation a formal criminal referral because it was not in written form. A separate criminal referral came later from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which was based solely on the whistleblower's official written complaint.

When Elwood and Eisenberg spoke with Justice Department, no one on the phone had seen the whistleblower's formal complaint to the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, which had been submitted two days before the call and was still a secret. The issue of campaign finance law was not part of their deliberations, the officials said.

A "thing of value"

It is illegal for Americans to solicit foreign contributions to political campaigns. Justice Department officials said they decided there was no criminal case after determining that Trump didn't violate campaign finance law by asking the Ukrainian president to investigate his political rival, because such a request did not meet the test for a "thing of value" under the law.

Justice Department officials have said they only investigated the president's Ukraine call for violations of campaign finance law because it was the only statute mentioned in the whistleblower's complaint. Former federal prosecutors contend that the conduct could have fit other criminal statutes, including those involving extortion, bribery, conflict of interest or fraud, that might apply to the president or those close to him.

The decision not to open an investigation meant there was no FBI examination of documents or interviews of witnesses to the phone call, participants in the White House decision to withhold military funding from Ukraine, the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and Ukrainian officials who were the target of Trump's and Giuliani's entreaties.

Text messages turned over to Congress on Thursday night, in which diplomats appear to suggest there was a linkage between aid and Ukraine's willingness to investigate a case involving Joe Biden, were not examined as part of the Justice Department's review, officials said, adding that they conducted purely a legal analysis.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec told NBC News that the decision not to open an investigation was made by the head of the criminal division, Brian Benczkowski, in consultation with career lawyers at the public integrity section. She and other officials declined to say whether anyone dissented.

The operative Justice Department standard that the president can't be indicted while in office was not a factor, she said. Barr has said he believes the president can be investigated and prosecutors can make a determination whether he committed criminal conduct.

"Relying on established procedures set forth in the Justice Manual, the Department's Criminal Division reviewed the official record of the call and determined, based on the facts and applicable law, that there was no campaign finance violation and that no further action was warranted," Kupec said.

Kupec declined to comment on whether the Justice Department was investigating any other aspect of the Ukraine matter. There has been no public indication, however, of any such investigation.

Some legal experts are puzzled by the Justice Department's narrow approach.

"They are not by any stretch of the imagination limited to the referral," Chuck Rosenberg, an NBC News contributor and a former U.S. attorney, said. "They have the authority — in fact, they have the obligation — to look more deeply and more broadly and bring whatever charges are appropriate."

Berger added, "When you get a criminal referral, you don't go into it saying, 'This is the criminal violation and now I'm going to see if the facts prove it.' You start with the facts and the evidence and then you see what potential crimes those facts support. It seems backwards to say, 'We are going to look at this just as a campaign finance violation and oops, we don't see it — case closed.'"

In a case in which a government official is allegedly using his office for personal gain, and pressuring someone to extract a favor, the bribery and extortion statutes are usually considered, Berger said. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits bribery of foreign officials, may also have been implicated, she said.

I have received information

In his written complaint, the CIA officer who became the whistleblower framed his allegations this way: "I have received information from multiple U.S. government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 election."

But when he first passed on his concerns, they were not so specific, officials said. He first complained at his own agency, sending word through a colleague to a CIA lawyer. The complaint eventually reached the spy agency's top lawyer, Elwood, officials said.

She was told there were concerns about the president's conduct on a call with a foreign leader, but not which leader, officials said.

She also was told that others at the National Security Council shared the concerns, so she called Eisenberg, the top NSC lawyer, officials said. He was already aware that people inside his agency believed something improper had occurred on the July 25 call with the Ukrainian president, officials said.

After consulting with others at their respective agencies and learning more details about the complaint, Elwood and Eisenberg alerted the Justice Department's Demers, during the Aug. 14 phone call, in what Elwood considered to be a criminal referral. Demers read the transcript of the July 25 call, officials said, on Aug. 15.

What the Justice Department did next is not entirely clear. A DOJ official said it was the department's perspective that a phone call did not constitute a formal criminal referral that allowed them to consider an investigation, and that a referral needed to be in writing.

The whistleblower was already taking separate action. On Aug. 12, he filed a complaint with the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, after consulting with a staff member on the House Intelligence Committee, officials said.

At the end of August, the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, sent the Justice Department his own criminal referral based on the whistleblower complaint, he has confirmed.

Kupec says career prosecutors in the Public Integrity Section, which works on corruption cases, were involved in deciding how to proceed, as was the national security division and the Office of Legal Counsel.

A senior DOJ lawyer who briefed reporters said the department had no basis on which to open a criminal investigation because Trump's request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate a case involving his political opponent couldn't amount to a quantifiable "thing of value" under campaign finance law.

Justice Department officials said they focused on campaign finance law because that was how the allegations were framed in the whistleblower complaint.

"All relevant components of the department agreed with this legal conclusion," the DOJ's Kupec said.

Paul Seamus Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at Common Cause, is among those questioning even the narrow campaign finance analysis. Common Cause has filed a complaint with the Justice Department and the Federal Election Commission accusing Trump of violating campaign law.

It wouldn't have been difficult for the government to determine how much money Ukraine would have spent in an investigation of Joe Biden and his son, he said,

"That would give them a dollar amount to show that Trump solicited 'something of value,'" Ryan said.​

Source:
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/tr...l-referral-whistleblower-s-complaint-n1062481
 
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Chair of the Federal Election Committee Ellen Weintraub: “The law is clear. It is absolutely illegal for anyone to solicit, accept or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with any election in the US.”
Per my understanding, the alleged cover-ups thus far claimed to taken place to hide the wrong-doings relating to the favour solicited in the phone call between the American and Ukrainian presidents are:
  1. WH moving the full transcript of the phone call to the top security server meant for national security secrets.
  2. The Trump administration tried to prevent Congress from seeing the transcript to begin with.
  3. The Justice Department apparently not referring the matter to the Federal Election Commission as a campaign finance violation. ETA: Or even as a suspected campaign finance violation. Apparently, Justice had a duty to inform the FEC of the matter.
 
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Limbaugh BLOWS UP On Fox News For Not Supporting Trump Harder

"The lowest form of political commentator is the one who simply represents the partisan position. The Republican or the Democratic position, and defends it no matter what."
 
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It would appear from the news report below that the potential 2nd whistle-blower is the CIA’s general-counsel, Courtney Simmons Elwood. ....This is assuming that the unnamed complainant (a CIA officer), “who’d passed his concerns about the president on to her (Elwood) through a colleague” is the same person as the 1st whistle-blower that we officially know of, even though neither name nor gender has been given to the public. (The news report below is saying that he is, that's my understanding of how the news report is written.)

If Elwood's 'source' isn’t the one who filed a complaint with the Intel Community’s Office of the IG, then it’s anyone’s guess who the potential 2nd whistle-blower in this matter might possibly be: Elwood or the unnamed CIA officer who had his concerns passed on to her, or someone else.
The news report I alluded to in my first sentence was from NBC News. The assumption that Ms Elwood was potentially the 2nd whistle-blower waiting in the wings was mine, not NBC News, which focused its report on the criminal referral she made.

The existence of an unnamed 2nd whistle-blower was reported by the New York Times on Oct 4th. It referred to this person as "A second intelligence official"; and when NBC News reported on Ms Elwood, I thought she might be that second intelligence official. Chances are, she isn't.

Over the weekend ABC News' Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos tweeted an exclusive: that Mark Zaid, the attorney whose firm represents the 1st whistle-blower , said his firm was now representing an unnamed 2nd whistle-blower "who has first-hand knowledge of events".

On Oct 6th, ABC's This Week With George Stephanopoulos reported that "the second person -- also described as an intelligence official -- has first-hand knowledge of some of the allegations outlined in the original complaint ... and has been interviewed by the head of the intelligence community's internal watchdog office, Michael Atkinson".

It remains to be seen whether this 2nd whistle-blower represented by Zaid's firm is Ms Elwood, but I now have doubts that it's her.

This Week With George Stephanopoulos 10/6/19 | ABC News Today October 6, 2019

 

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Limbaugh BLOWS UP On Fox News For Not Supporting Trump Harder
Ha! Imagine Rush, or someone who shares his feelings, breaking his/their TV screen throwing a glass at it because of Shep’s reporting on Fox News.
 

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About the 1st whistle-blower….

According to intelnews.org, the NYT had, on Thursday, cited what it said were three people who knew the identity of the whistleblower. The paper said that the whistleblower is a male employee of the CIA. In the past, the man had been assigned to work in the White House, said The Times. The secondment of CIA personnel to the White House is a regular occurrence. CIA personnel are temporarily assigned to perform duties relating to National Security Council meetings, or manage the White House Situation Room. They also monitor and help manage the White House secure communications system. The paper said that the CIA officer’s White House secondment had ended and that he had returned to the CIA headquarters by the time the July 25 telephone call between Trump and Zelensky took place”.
Source: https://intelnews.org/2019/09/27/01-2638/

Subsequently….

According to Newsweek on Saturday, President Trump “has reportedly demanded a reduction in staff size of his National Security Council this week”. It said Bloomberg reported that the request to reduce the staff size “was relayed to senior agency officials by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and (the new National Security Adviser Robert) O’Brien this week”.

Why? Is the President afraid of leakers telling on him?

Newsweek noted that Mr Trump had, on Friday evening, “retweeted the commentary of a former Investor’s Business Daily reporter: ‘The whistleblower is a registered Democrat & CIA analyst who was detailed before the 2016 election to the Obama White House, where he worked on the NCS’s Ukraine desk and met w anti-Trump Ukrainian officials before being sent packing by the Trump NSC & becoming disgruntled’.”
Source: https://www.newsweek.com/trump-admi...il-whistleblower-identity-john-bolton-1463386
 

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Why? Is the President afraid of leakers telling on him?
The official word about why Prez Trump desired a reduction in staff size of his National Security Council, per WaPo reporting: “White House officials said it was an attempt to streamline decision-making.”
Why did it take the WH all this time to decide that the decision-making process at the NSC was in need of pruning? Is it an excuse to cull troublesome-to-Trump NSC decision-making officials?
 
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Excerpts from NBC News report: Weeks before the [official 1st] whistleblower's complaint became public, the CIA's top lawyer made what she considered to be a criminal referral to the Justice Department ... The fact that she and other top Trump administration political appointees saw potential misconduct in the whistleblower's early account of alleged presidential abuses puts a new spotlight on the Justice Department's later decision to decline to open a criminal investigation — a decision that the Justice Department said publicly was based purely on an analysis of whether the president committed a campaign finance law violation.
Here's a WaPo opinion piece on this….

The Justice Department is oddly incurious about potential criminality in the Trump-Ukraine mess

By contributing columnist Harry Litman | Oct 6th

Something is not adding up about the Justice Department’s account of its decision not to open a criminal investigation based on a complaint by a whistleblower in the U.S. intelligence community about President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

The complaint was passed on to the Justice Department through both the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, and, as NBC News reported Friday, the CIA’s general counsel, Courtney Simmons Elwood.

The Justice Department appears to have conducted a wholly cursory examination. It interviewed no witnesses and examined no evidence other than the complaint. Text messages within the State Department that might have provided evidence of criminality were not examined. Justice closed the file without opening a formal investigation.

Since then, the department has supplied somewhat shifting defenses of its decision. One point the department has maintained consistently is that the final decision was made by Brian Benczkowski, the head of the Criminal Division, in consultation with career attorneys at the Public Integrity Section.

Benczkowski is a political appointee with zero prosecutorial experience. Likewise, neither Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen nor Attorney General William P. Barr spent a day as a prosecutor. If it has ever happened before that the three top officials in the Justice Department’s criminal chain of command lacked prosecutorial experience, the idea was as terrible then as it is now.

The department’s chief explanation for closing the file with so little investigation is that the referral mentioned only potential campaign finance violations. Justice concluded that there was no possible crime because President Trump — in a July phone call urging Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the supposedly suspicious involvement of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter in Ukrainian matters — had not sought a quantifiable “thing of value,” as required by the pertinent statute.

There are two conspicuous defects with this account.

The campaign finance statutes do require the receipt of a “thing of value,” and the value of dirt on a likely campaign opponent that Trump was seeking is hard to peg precisely. But it’s a third-grade analytical difference between something’s having a value that is difficult to quantify precisely and not being a thing of value at all.

The Federal Election Commission, the body charged with enforcing campaign finance law, has stated, regarding contributions by foreign nationals, that “even where the value of a good or service ‘may be nominal or difficult to ascertain,’ such contributions are nevertheless banned.” The Justice Department is supposed to consult the FEC on referrals of campaign finance violations yet in this case apparently did not.

But there is an even more fundamental problem. The Justice Department says it did not consider other possible crimes because the referral listed only a campaign finance violation.

That reasoning is spurious and raises serious concerns about the department’s supposed reliance on “established procedures,” as a spokesman put it.

When a prosecutor receives a referral from an investigative agency, the referral may list a particular statute that the agency thinks is germane. But it is axiomatic — and any rookie assistant U.S. attorney knows — that the prosecutor’s job is to determine the possible range of crimes to investigate, if any, based on the facts the agency supplied.

Here the basic fact pattern is a broad operation (which makes a prosecutor immediately think conspiracy) to pressure Zelensky to come up with negative information on the Bidens by investigating “corruption.” The pressure arose through the administration’s withholding of both military aid that Ukraine desperately needed to repel Russian aggression and a promised meeting with Trump.

A prosecutor examining this fact pattern would analyze it not simply, or even primarily, for a campaign finance violation. The basic facts suggest, for starters, the possibility of bribery, extortion and conspiracy. A thorough examination would also include a look at potential mail and wire fraud and foreign corrupt practices.

The Justice Department has offered one other excuse about the Elwood referral from the CIA. According to NBC News, Elwood intended a phone call she made to the department as a criminal referral, but Justice said it wasn’t sure she was seeking formal action, even after following up with her to confirm.

C’mon.

After the exhaustive investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, the Justice Department may be understandably reluctant to take up a new criminal probe of Trump, preferring to leave consideration of the president’s conduct to the political sphere of an impeachment inquiry.

But that doesn’t mean — and it can’t mean — that the Justice Department is closed for business regarding any possible new criminal violations by others in the administration. The department’s Public Integrity Section exists for this purpose. The prosecutors there need to do their job.​

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opin...out-potential-criminality-trump-ukraine-mess/
 
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Excerpt from the NBC News report: Justice Department officials have said they only investigated the president's Ukraine call for violations of campaign finance law because it was the only statute mentioned in the whistleblower's complaint. Former federal prosecutors contend that the conduct could have fit other criminal statutes, including those involving extortion, bribery, conflict of interest or fraud, that might apply to the president or those close to him.
Here's another WaPo opinion piece....

If the Ukraine allegations are true, there are criminal consequences

By Randall D Eliason | Sept 23rd

A whistleblower complaint reportedly describes a July phone call during which President Trump allegedly pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate debunked corruption allegations against former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani has been pressing Ukraine to pursue the investigation for months. At the time of those contacts, the Trump administration was withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance for Ukraine. If there was a link between withholding that aid and Trump’s demands, there could be criminal consequences, not just political ones.

Although the phone call could be a campaign finance crime, once again, the statute most directly relevant to the president’s conduct is the federal bribery statute. Under 18 U.S.C. 201, it is a crime for a public official to (directly or indirectly) corruptly demand, seek, receive, or accept, or agree to receive or accept “anything of value” in return for being influenced in the performance of an official act. Trump is a public official under this statute. The official act would be his release of the military assistance to Ukraine. And the thing of value promised in return would be Ukraine agreeing to look for dirt on one of the president’s top political rivals. (In bribery law, “anything of value” includes intangibles with subjective value to the official; creating damaging information on a key opponent would qualify.)

The key issue would be proof of a quid pro quo. The official must agree to be influenced in exchange for the benefit and must have corrupt intent — the wrongful purpose to act out of self-interest rather than in the public interest. The whistleblower report allegedly was prompted by a “promise” made by the president to the Ukrainian leader. If such a promise related to releasing the U.S. aid in return for the Biden investigation, that could be crucial evidence of a quid pro quo. Such agreements need not be stated in express terms; corrupt actors are seldom so clumsy, and the law may not be evaded through winks and nods. Prosecutors often prove tacit agreements through circumstantial evidence including the timing of events and actions of the parties — and the timing here certainly looks suspicious. It also wouldn’t matter if the administration ultimately relented in the face of congressional scrutiny and released the funds without a deal. In a bribery case, the crime is the demand for a quid pro quo, whether or not it succeeds.

Some of the president’s supporters suggest it would not be unusual for a president to request action by a foreign leader in connection with U.S. assistance. During a recent television interview, Giuliani said, "The president of the United States has every right to say to another leader of a foreign country, ‘you got to straighten up before we give you a lot of money.’ ” Suppose, for example, Trump told the president of Mexico that more U.S. aid might be forthcoming if Mexico were to crack down on internal corruption. One might call that a quid pro quo. Such analogies may have superficial appeal, but for criminal law purposes there are crucial differences. First, an internal policy change by Mexico likely would not constitute a thing of value to the president personally. But the more important distinction is the lack of corrupt intent. In the Mexico hypothetical, the president is acting to further U.S. national interests. By contrast, the allegation concerning Ukraine is that the president was leveraging his official power for his personal political benefit. If proven, it would supply the element of corrupt intent that could transform a legitimate foreign policy negotiation into a potential federal crime.

Giuliani is also potentially implicated. Although he is not a public official, anyone who helped the president broker a corrupt deal could be liable for a bribery conspiracy or for aiding and abetting. (Giuliani has denied mentioning any connection to U.S. aid during his discussions with the Ukrainians.) The Justice Department policy against indicting a sitting president would not protect Giuliani — although Attorney General William P. Barr might shield him anyway. But if the president leaves office in 2020, the statute of limitations for bribery will not yet have expired.

Pressuring a foreign country to investigate a political opponent would be a tremendous abuse of power; some might even call it collusion. If it was linked to federal assistance, it could also be bribery. And bribery is not only a crime; the Constitution singles it out specifically as grounds for impeachment. Congress needs to break through the administration’s stonewalling and find out what happened.​

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/09/23/criminal-implications-trumps-ukraine-call/
 

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The Pin-the-Donkey-to-the-Tale game…


Donkey #1: Some officials in the Department of State

Excerpts from an ABC News report (Sept 27th):

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is defending the actions of State Department officials who facilitated President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani in his efforts to pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate Trump's political opponents.

The contact between Giuliani and two U.S. ambassadors have become the focus of a congressional investigation amid allegations they were inappropriate. Three congressional committee chairs urged Pompeo to turn over documents related to those contacts and more by Thursday or face a subpoena.

There are also questions about the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who reportedly was recalled after allegations the State Department has described as an "outright fabrication" but that Trump seemed to endorse, calling her "bad news."



In an interview with Fox News Tuesday, Giuliani said the department directed him to act, later telling other outlets that he briefed [U.S. Special Envoy for Ukraine Kurt] Volker and U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland after his meetings.

Pompeo said he had not yet read the entire whistleblower complaint, but defended what he'd "seen so far."

"To the best of my knowledge, so from what I've seen so far, each of the actions that were undertaken by State Department officials was entirely appropriate and consistent with the objective that we've had," he said, which is "to tighten our relationship [and] to help end corruption in Ukraine."​



Donkey #2: VP Mike Pence

Extract from WaPo news report (Oct 2nd):

President Trump repeatedly involved Vice President Pence in efforts to exert pressure on the leader of Ukraine at a time when the president was using other channels to solicit information that he hoped would be damaging to a Democratic rival, current and former U.S. officials said.

Trump instructed Pence not to attend the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in May — an event White House officials had pushed to put on the vice president’s calendar — when Ukraine’s new leader was seeking recognition and support from Washington, the officials said.

Months later, the president used Pence to tell Zelensky that U.S. aid was still being withheld while demanding more aggressive action on corruption, officials said. At that time — following Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelenksy — the Ukrainians probably understood action on corruption to include the investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Officials close to Pence insist that he was unaware of Trump’s efforts to press Zelensky for damaging information about Biden and his son, who had served on the board of an obscure Ukrainian gas company, when his father was overseeing U.S. policy on Ukraine.

Pence’s activities occurred amid several indications of the president’s hidden agenda. Among them were the abrupt removal of the U.S. ambassador to Kiev; the visible efforts by the president’s lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to insert himself in the U.S.-Ukraine relationship; as well as alarms being raised inside the White House even before the emergence of an extraordinary whistleblower complaint about Trump’s conduct.

Perhaps most significantly, one of Pence’s top advisers was on the July 25 call and the vice president should have had access to the transcript within hours, officials said.

Trump’s deployment of Pence is part of a broader pattern of using both executive authority and high-ranking officials in his administration to advance his personal or political interests — even in cases when those subordinates appear not to know that another agenda is in play.​



Donkey #3: Energy Secretary Rick Perry

Excerpt from Axios news report (Oct 6th):

President Trump told House Republicans that he made his now infamous phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the urging of Energy Secretary Rick Perry — a call Trump claimed he didn’t even want to make.​



Check out TYT’s Perry-Under-the-Bus video (Oct 7th):​

 
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Joe Biden calls for President Trump's impeachment:

 
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