Impeachment Inquiry: No Firsthand Information?

by Daveda Gruber:

On Wednesday, Democrats released a transcript of testimony from U.S. diplomat Bill Taylor in conjunction with the Democrats releasing the transcripts of closed-door sessions.

According to the document in question, Taylor told congressional lawmakers who are conducting the impeachment inquiry that President Trump was willing to hold up aid of a military nature to Ukraine to insure investigations that could help him politically.

Taylor, a top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine said, “That was my clear understanding, security assistance money would not come until the President [of Ukraine] committed to pursue the investigation.”

Also, in the transcript Taylor says that other officials told him that the White House was willing to hold up military aid and a prospective White House meeting to obtain a public announcement from Ukraine that would solidify that probes were in progress that related to election interference and a company, Burisma, linked to former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.

Burisma Holdings is the Ukrainian natural gas company where Hunter Biden was employed in a high end role and made an exorbitant amount of money despite not having any knowledge of business practices.

Republicans contend that Taylor didn’t have first hand information and his recollection was that of what others around him were saying.

Taylor was asked by GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin  if he had any “firsthand knowledge” of Trump making it a condition that an investigation into the 2016 election and the Bidens would bear upon military aid.

Taylor made it clear that he did not speak to the president or have any communication with the president on this matter.

He did say that he was basing his testimony on what former United States Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, Kurt Volker, and E.U. ambassador Gordon Sondland had told him.

Taylor said, “What I know is what Ambassador Sondland was able to tell me about those investigations and Ambassador Volker. I don’t know what was in the President’s mind.”

Taylor was adamant that he didn’t have “firsthand” communication with the president or the president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Beyond not communicating directly with President Trump or Giuliani, he testified that a July 28 conversation with National Security Council aide Tim Morrison told him of a conversation between Sondland and top Ukraine aide Andriy Yermak that security assistance money would not come until Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy committed to pursue the Burisma investigation.

Taylor said in his testimony, “I was alarmed by what Mr. Morrison told me about the Sondland-Yermak conversation. This was the first time I had heard that the security assistance not just the White House meeting — was conditioned on the investigations.”

Taylor said that Sondland asked him to call after Taylor texted a message asking if security assistance and a White House meeting “are conditioned on investigations.”

Those text messages have been released but the details of the phone call were not spelled out.

Taylor testified, “During that phone call, Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelenskyy to state publicly that Ukrain will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.”

On Tuesday, it was revealed in a released document that Sondland revised his prior testimony to say that he told a top Ukrainian official that U.S. aid would likely not resume until the country issues a corruption statement. To the Democrats that was proof of the quid pro quo they have been alleging took place.

In September Sondland had texted Taylor that there was no quid pro quo. The supplemental declaration says that “by the beginning of September 2019, and in the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid, I presumed that the aid suspension had become linked to the proposed anti-corruption statement.”

Sondland agreed that he told one of Zelensky’s advisers that “resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.”

It has been alleged that claims from Sondland are an assumption and are not based on fact.

Sondland is adamant that he did not know and still doesn’t know who or why the aid was suspended.

Open hearing will begin next week.

Who’s Upset with Shifty Schiff?

by Daveda Gruber:

Republicans on Capitol Hill are becoming more vocal in their support of President Trump.

Lawmakers who are aligned with the president are complaining that the House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is not handling the impeachment inquiry the way it should be done.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, gave Schiff some harsh criticism for excluding some congressional Republicans from the hearings where testimony is being given. He also made reference to leaks that came out that were “cherry-picked” from the closed-door hearings and leaked to the press.

Jordan, in speaking about testimony from Fiona Hill, a former deputy assistant to the president said, “She was going to come voluntarily but he’s going to subpoena her I believe so he can ask certain questions and again keep those secret except for the certain things that he wants to leak, the cherry-picked information to the American people.”

Lee Wolosky, Hill’s attorney, tweeted on Monday that the former deputy assistant to the president had received a congressional subpoena.

On Monday, Wolosky tweeted this:

Jordan said, “The tragedy here and the crime here is that the American people don’t get to see what’s going on in these up in these sessions.”

Jordan is joined by Matt Gaerz in his support of Trump.

Jordan tweeted:

It appears that Trump’s hand-picked ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, will testify on Thursday.

Sondland will be questioned on a collection of text messages from top envoys that provide a dramatic account of their work while acting as intermediaries around the time Trump spoke to Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymr Zelenskiy, on the now famous transcript of the July 25th call that President Trump released to start investigations into a company linked to the family of Democratic presidential runner, former Vice President Joe Biden.

There are expectations that came from the so called “whistleblower” that Sondland might tell lawmakers that he understood that the administration was offering Zelenskiy a White House visit in exchange for a public statement committing to investigations that Trump wanted.

Songland will likely say that he did not know the company being talked about for an investigation was Burisma.

Burisima was allegedly tied to Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. Sondland apparently understood the discussions about combating corruption to be part of a much broader and publicized Trump administration wish. This is a part of what the “whistleblower” letter had said.

The still anonymous “whistleblower’s” identity is still a concern to Democratic lawmakers who are hell-bent on protecting the person from Trump’s threats over the matter.
On Sunday, Schiff said, “We don’t need the whistleblower, who wasn’t on the call, to tell us what took place during the call. We have the best evidence of that.”

Schiff continued that it “may not be necessary” to reveal the whistleblower’s identity as the House gathers evidence.

Schiff went on to say, “Our primary interest right now is making sure that person is protected.”

What say you? Are you convinced that Trump could possibly harm this anonymous person?

I say NO! The president should be able to confront his accuser.

This is a Kangaroo Court that is headed by Shifty Schiff and his pals in Congress.

Ambassador Blocked from Testifying in “Kangaroo Court”

by Daveda Gruber:

Tensions are likely to rise between House Democrats and the Trump administration as the White House has ordered the U.S. ambassador to the European Union not to appear at a deposition on the Ukraine controversy.

The deposition of Gordon Sondland, who is a wealthy hotel owner, philanthropist and contributor to political campaigns, was planned for Tuesday. Songland had agreed to appear voluntarily for a closed session

The Democrats have allegedly indicated that they will approach the matter as an obstruction of its investigation into the controversy surrounding  President Trump’s phone call on the twenty-fifth of July with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Robert Luskin, who is an attorney for Songland, said that the order came from the State Department. Songland is required to follow the direction of the department.

Luskin, in a statement said that Songland “is profoundly disappointed that he will not be able to testify.”

The statement says, “Ambassador Sondland hopes that the issues raised by the State Department that preclude his testimony will be resolved promptly.  He stands ready to testify on short notice, whenever he is permitted to appear.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., allegedly plans to draft a subpoena which would make it easier to try to secure Songland’s testimony later in the day.

Songland’s testimony is warranted by Democrats because he had texted with a top U.S. diplomat, Bill Taylor, over allegations of a quid pro quo.

Taylor wrote, “Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?”

In his follow-up text he wrote, “As I said over the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

Sondland responded to the texts by defending the president and writing, “Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign.”

The phone call between Trump and Zelensky referred to is part of the whistleblower complaint which states that Trump urged Zelensky to look into possible interference by Ukraine in the 2016 election and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden’s conduct in that country.

Democrats are claiming that Trump used $400 million in military aid as leverage in a quid pro quo in exchange for the Ukrainians to investigate a political opponent. The Democrats have opened an impeachment inquiry over the said phone call.

Subpoenas to top administration and White House officials have already been sent to the Pentagon and the White House Office of Management and Budget for documents that relate to reports that Trump had ordered then-acting OMB Chief Mick Mulvaney to freeze aid to Ukraine.

Trump adamantly denies all of the claims made by Democratic lawmakers.

Trump tweeted: