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homersapien

Republicans won’t impeach Trump. But they should punish him.

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Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s testimony on Wednesday probably won’t push Republicans to change their minds on impeachment. That doesn’t mean they should turn a deaf ear to what he said.

There should be no doubt after Sondland’s grueling six-plus hours under oath that President Trump intended to condition a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Ukraine’s public announcement it would investigate Burisma and potential Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. It is disputed whether Trump also intended to hold up military aid to the Ukraine until such an announcement was made. But that alone shouldn’t be dispositive. Simply asking any foreign government, especially one dependent upon direct U.S. aid for its independence, to provide politically helpful information in exchange for a something it values is an abuse of power.

The United States is still the global superpower. An immoral person who views the public trust as a private weapon can use this power for extremely bad ends. Imagine, for example, if such a person told the Israeli prime minister that U.S. backing was contingent upon Israel using its vaunted security apparatus to obtain information on political rivals, thereby getting the Shin Bet to do what the CIA cannot. One can imagine that the temptation to manufacture such information even in its absence would be immense. Then imagine if such a person went not to one of our allies, but to one of our adversaries, with a similar request.

Trump die-hards will dispute this, saying the president’s request of Zelensky was justified because of the evidence that suggest something improper had been done, either by the Bidens or by Clinton operatives in 2016. That’s a legitimate argument, but it justifies only Trump narrowly asking for Ukrainian cooperation with an U.S.-led legal probe of the type Attorney General William P. Barr was already heading. It is not justification for the naked use of U.S. power for private ends, nor is it justification for pushing Ukraine to invoke its own prosecutorial power to supposedly unearth the truth.

No attempt to shift the focus to the alleged quid pro quo over the delivery of U.S. military aid diminishes this essential point. The latter, if it in fact occurred, is also inexcusable and an abuse of power. But the initial quid pro quo was independent of the alleged one pertaining to the aid, and it cannot and should not be swept under the rug.

As a practical matter, Republican voters — and therefore Republican members — will not decide that the president should be impeached and removed from office over either revelation. This is where the unceasing effort to take down Trump works against impeachment advocates. They do not come to this investigation with clean hands, and their manifest desire to find any plausible reason to remove Trump sullies their cause. Republicans will not give their avowed enemies the weapon with which to kill them.

Plus, Trump is running for reelection in less than a year’s time. Removing him in these circumstances would likely lead to an acceleration of the political hatred that is truly the most dangerous threat to our democracy.

Republican members of Congress should seek to do justice in all of its elements here. That could easily involve acquittal in the Senate, because all this does is put the final decision to the American people. But they should also act to both condemn what Trump has done and try to ensure that no other president is ever tempted to do something similar.

The condemnation can take the form of a resolution to censure Trump over this matter. He will surely be upset at such a move, but the president was also upset about Congress’s resolution disapproving his national emergency declaration this year to obtain funds to build his wall on our southern border. Many Republicans voted for that, and none were ostracized as a result. Trump would, in time, likely view a censure resolution similarly.

Republicans can also join Democrats to pass a law clearly making it a federal crime to provide or withhold a public benefit to a foreign government in exchange for information about a declared candidate for federal office. It does not matter if it is already implicitly a crime to do this; making it explicit sends a clear message to future perpetrators that this is beyond the pale.

Trump’s behavior toward Ukraine was reprehensible even if it does not lead to his removal. At some point, Republicans should recognize this and act.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/11/20/republicans-wont-impeach-trump-they-should-punish-him/

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7 hours ago, homersapien said:

Other than presenting a perfect example of the "BIG LIE", did you have a point?-

You do not know that it is a "BIG LIE". This entire thing is shameful. Just like like the collusion you guys pushed. 

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14 hours ago, SaltyTiger said:

You do not know that it is a "BIG LIE". This entire thing is shameful. Just like like the collusion you guys pushed. 

What's shameful is a POTUS who leverages their power to withhold aid that ultimately benefits U.S. national security as a way to coerce a foreign country to investigate the son of his personal political rival.

Furthermore, it's shameful for people - such as yourself - to simply ignore that reality for partisan political reasons.

You - along with all of the other Republicans who are denying that fact - care more about partisan political power than you do for the future of the country.

 

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And SaturdayGT, you are obviously ignorant of the facts.  

The narrative presented by the cartoon you posted is pure misinformation.  It's lying propaganda.  Don't be a fool by simply accepting it.

Shokin's removal was being demanded because he wasn't investigating corruption, including Burisma:

Explainer: Biden, allies pushed out Ukrainian prosecutor because he didn't pursue corruption cases

WASHINGTON – A whistleblower complaint centering on President Donald Trump's phone call with the Ukrainian president has spurred a number of allegations and counterallegations as Republicans and Democrats jockey for position amid an impeachment inquiry.

At the heart of Congress' probe into the president's actions is his claim that former Vice President and 2020 Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden strong-armed the Ukrainian government to fire its top prosecutor in order to thwart an investigation into a company tied to his son, Hunter Biden. 

But sources ranging from former Obama administration officials to an anti-corruption advocate in Ukraine say the official, Viktor Shokin, was ousted for the opposite reason Trump and his allies claim.

It wasn't because Shokin was investigating a natural gas company tied to Biden's son; it was because Shokin wasn't pursuing corruption among the country's politicians, according to a Ukrainian official and four former American officials who specialized in Ukraine and Europe.

Shokin's inaction prompted international calls for his ouster and ultimately resulted in his removal by Ukraine's parliament.

Without pressure from Joe Biden, European diplomats, the International Monetary Fund and other international organizations, Shokin would not have been fired, said Daria Kaleniuk, co-founder and executive director of the Anti Corruption Action Centre in Kiev.

"Civil society organizations in Ukraine were pressing for his resignation," Kaleniuk said, "but no one would have cared if there had not been voices from outside this country calling on him to go."

In a July phone call, Trump asked the president of Ukraine to investigate Biden's actions. That prompted a whistleblower to accuse Trump of asking a foreign government to interfere in the 2020 presidential election, which is now the subject of an impeachment inquiry.

Trump's assertion contradicted

The actions at the center of Trump's allegation occurred in late 2015 and early 2016, when U.S. aid was critical to Ukraine. Russia had seized control of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and was supporting separatists who were fighting Ukrainian forces in the eastern part of the country.

Biden took an interest in Ukraine, said Steven Pifer, a William J. Perry fellow at Stanford University and former ambassador to Ukraine under President Bill Clinton.

"You saw the vice president begin to emerge as really sort of the senior policy lead on Ukraine," Pifer said. "It's good to have attention at that level."

At one point, Biden withheld $1 billion in aid to Ukraine to pressure the government to remove Shokin from the Prosecutor General's Office.

Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani claim Biden did this to quash Shokin's investigation into Ukraine's largest gas company, Burisma Holdings, and its owner, oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky.

They say this benefited Biden's son, Hunter Biden, who served on Burisma's board of directors – for which he was paid $50,000 a month. 

Their assertion is contradicted by former diplomatic officials who were following the issue at the time.

Burisma Holdings was not under scrutiny at the time Joe Biden called for Shokin's ouster, according to the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, an independent agency set up in 2014 that has worked closely with the FBI.

Shokin's office had investigated Burisma, but the probe focused on a period before Hunter Biden joined the company, according to the anti-corruption bureau. 

The investigation dealt with the Ministry of Ecology, which allegedly granted special permits to Burisma between 2010 and 2012, the agency said. Hunter Biden did not join the company until 2014.

Critics of Hunter Biden have questioned how he landed such a lucrative role with no experience in Ukraine or the gas industry.

But it's not unusual for Ukrainian companies to bring on high-profile people from the West in an effort to burnish their image and gain influence, Pifer said.

Cofer Black, who served as Bush's CIA counterterrorism chief, joined Burisma's board in 2017. 

There is no evidence Hunter Biden did anything wrong, said Yuri Lutsenko, the prosecutor general who succeeded Shokin.

However, Lutsenko, who's also faced criticism for his actions as prosecutor, supported Trump's claim before changing his story. He resigned as prosecutor in August.

The Burisma investigation ended with a settlement and a fine paid by one of the firm's accountants, according to Sergii Leshchenko, a former Ukrainian lawmaker who spearheaded anti-corruption efforts under former President Petro Poroshenko.

How Biden leveraged U.S. aid to oust prosecutor

In the wake of the 2014 ouster of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, European and U.S. officials stepped up their efforts to deal with corruption in Ukraine.

"A big part of our diplomacy was pushing the Ukrainian government to clean up the corruption, partly because it was that corruption that allowed Russia to manipulate the country politically and economically," said Charlie Kupchan, who served as a special assistant to President Barack Obama and a senior director for European Affairs on the National Security Council. 

Biden used U.S. aid as "a stick to move Ukraine forward," Kupchan said. "He was acting alongside our European allies. Everybody was of a single mind that this prosecutor was not the right guy for the job." 

Biden has boasted about his role in getting Shokin fired. During a 2018 speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, he said he withheld $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine in order to force the government to address the problem with its top prosecutor.

"I looked at them and said: 'I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time," he said. 

Pifer, who also oversaw diplomacy with Russia and Ukraine under President George W. Bush, said it was appropriate for Biden to use U.S. aid as leverage. He said he used similar methods to pressure Ukraine. 

Even without any credible evidence that Joe Biden sought to benefit his son, Pifer said Hunter Biden showed poor judgment in getting involved with Ukraine. 

"At that point, it was pretty clear that his father was already the lead American policy person on Ukraine," he said. "And even if there's no conflict of interest, I think that he should have been more mindful of how that appears."

International effort to fight corruption in Ukraine

The international effort to remove Shokin, who became prosecutor general in February 2015, began months before Biden stepped into the spotlight, said Mike Carpenter, who served as a foreign policy adviser to Biden and a deputy assistant secretary of defense, with a focus on Ukraine, Russia, Eurasia, the Balkans, and conventional arms control.

As European and U.S. officials pressed Ukraine to clean up Ukraine's corruption, they focused on Shokin's leadership of the Prosecutor General's Office. 

"Shokin played the role of protecting the vested interest in the Ukrainian system," said Carpenter, who traveled with Biden to Ukraine in 2015. "He never went after any corrupt individuals at all, never prosecuted any high-profile cases of corruption." 

That demonstrated that Poroshenko's administration was not sincere about tackling corruption and building strong, independent law enforcement agencies, said Heather Conley, director of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based foreign policy think tank. 

In July 2015, Shokin's office became mired in scandal after authorities raided homes belonging to two high-ranking prosecutors. Police seized millions of dollars worth of diamonds and cash, suggesting the pair had been taking bribes.

It became known as the "diamond prosecutors" case. Deputy General Prosecutor Vitaliy Kasko, who said he tried to investigate it, resigned months later, calling the prosecutor's office a "hotbed of corruption" and an "instrument of political pressure."

Shokin's office also stepped in to help Zlochevsky, the head of Burisma.

British authorities had frozen $23 million in a money-laundering probe, but Shokin's office failed to send documents British authorities needed to prosecute Zlochevsky. The case eventually unraveled and the assets were unfrozen. 

In October 2015, Ukrainians staged a protest outside Poroshenko's home calling for Shokin's removal. 

Pressure mounts to remove Shokin

In late 2015, U.S. officials stepped up the pressure. 

During a September 2015 speech at a financial forum in Odessa, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt decried the inability of Shokin's office to root out corruption. 

Biden and Ukraine: Will Trump's efforts to discredit the former VP hurt him?

"Rather than supporting Ukraine's reforms and working to root out corruption," Pyatt said, "corrupt actors within the Prosecutor General’s Office are making things worse by openly and aggressively undermining reform."

In October 2015, then-Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland told the Senate Foreign Relations committee the Prosecutor General's Office must lock up "dirty personnel" in its own office.

In December 2015, Biden railed against the "cancer of corruption" in a speech before the country's parliament and called out Shokin's office. 

Besides Biden's threat over the $1 billion in aid, the International Monetary Fund threatened to delay $40 billion in aid for similar reasons. 

Shokin was eventually removed from his position in the spring of 2016. 

The decision to remove Shokin "creates an opportunity to make a fresh start in the Prosecutor General's Office," said Jan Tombinski, the EU's ambassador to Ukraine, in a written statement.

"I hope," Tombinski said, "that the new Prosecutor General will ensure that the Office of the Prosecutor General becomes independent from political influence and pressure and enjoys public trust."

Contributing: Kim Hjelmgaard

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/10/03/what-really-happened-when-biden-forced-out-ukraines-top-prosecutor/3785620002/

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And just in case anyone thinks I am simply trying to defend Biden - or the actions of his son Hunter - it's just the opposite.

As the article I just posted said:  " Critics of Hunter Biden have questioned how he landed such a lucrative role with no experience in Ukraine or the gas industry."

I think that is a fair criticism considering his father's role in dealing with Ukraine.

In fact I hold Biden Sr. directly responsible for "allowing" it to happen. (I have heard that Joe Biden just refused to deal with it because he was still in such grief over the death of his older son from cancer.)

Regardless - in my mind - his refusal or even his inability to forbid his son from taking that position ruled him out as a candidate I could support for the Democratic nomination. I consider it a politically stupid, unforced error that essentially handed the Republicans a propaganda tool.  I decided not to support Biden in the Democratic primary, for that reason alone.

I understand that Lindsey Graham, has announced he will investigate Hunter Biden's involvement with Burisma.  As long as it's an honest investigation - which I have doubts about - I am fine with that.  Let the facts lead where they may.

But the fact is, this has nothing to do with Trump's actions trying to bribe or extort Ukraine to conduct investigations designed to damage his political opponents at the expense of U.S. - and Ukrainian- security.

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57 minutes ago, homersapien said:

What's shameful is a POTUS who leverages their power to withhold aid that ultimately benefits U.S. national security as a way to coerce a foreign country to investigate the son of his personal political rival.

It is my understanding that they got the aid and that there was never an investigation. Probably would not have been a big deal to Obama if Trump had held it up.

"Barack Obama suggested that defending Ukraine against Russia wasn’t a core U.S. national-security concern—and that even if the United States did have interests in Ukraine, Russia had more, meaning that Moscow would always be willing to do more than Washington to keep Ukraine within its sphere of influence. As Obama told The Atlantic’s editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, at the end of his presidency, “The fact is that Ukraine, which is a non-NATO country, is going to be vulnerable to military domination by Russia no matter what we do.”

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On 11/21/2019 at 7:03 PM, SaltyTiger said:

You do not know that it is a "BIG LIE". This entire thing is shameful. Just like like the collusion you guys pushed. 

That’s some powerful drugs you’re taking Brother Salty. 😳

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19 hours ago, SaltyTiger said:

It is my understanding that they got the aid and that there was never an investigation. Probably would not have been a big deal to Obama if Trump had held it up.

"Barack Obama suggested that defending Ukraine against Russia wasn’t a core U.S. national-security concern—and that even if the United States did have interests in Ukraine, Russia had more, meaning that Moscow would always be willing to do more than Washington to keep Ukraine within its sphere of influence. As Obama told The Atlantic’s editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, at the end of his presidency, “The fact is that Ukraine, which is a non-NATO country, is going to be vulnerable to military domination by Russia no matter what we do.”

They got the aid because the scheme was exposed.

Obama is a red herring.

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12 hours ago, NolaAuTiger said:

Welcome back ya old fart! How’s the knee?

Doing much better than the first one I had replaced back in May. The procedure itself is not a big deal, but the rehab is hell.

Thanks for asking.

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4 hours ago, homersapien said:

Doing much better than the first one I had replaced back in May. The procedure itself is not a big deal, but the rehab is hell.

Thanks for asking.

I wish you the best and hope for a speedy recovery. 

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After reading about the train wreck that is Hunter Biden. I think a full blown, special counsel investigation, with 24 month time limit and unlimited funding is indeed in order. I think the entire US population needs to to know every intimate detail of how the f___ Hunter Biden got a deal, that in the eyes of any reasonable person looks to be nothing more than a straight-up bribe to Joe Biden. $600K/year when every person near the deal was running away for their lives, including Kerry's stepson. 

What does that have to do with the Impeachment hearings and DJT? NOTHING. Biden's actions should in no way derail the Impeachment Hearings. 

They are clearly not connected and shouldnt be. However, DJT raising the visibility on the obviously corrupt actions of the family of the DNC Frontrunner is clearly okay. We need a special counsel. It is the only way Biden can clear himself. 

Edited by DKW 86
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On 11/23/2019 at 6:41 AM, homersapien said:

They got the aid because the scheme was exposed.

Obama is a red herring.

Where is the investigation part? Are so gullible and pure that you believe a president has never used the "scheme"? The Bidens appear corrupt and President Trump is admirable with his desire to investigate corruption. 

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On 11/22/2019 at 10:00 PM, TexasTiger said:

That’s some powerful drugs you’re taking Brother Salty. 😳

No thought altering substances here Brother Tex. Well...... maybe a glass or two of red wine at night for good health of course. Admit that a few cold ones after fishing or work/play in the afternoon are pretty good, stay hydrated you know.

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10 hours ago, SaltyTiger said:

...believe a president has never used the "scheme"

To me, it seems that many are purposefully ignoring this.  Presidential pressure has always been used and favors "asked". They might not have been used to investigate a rival, but they just as easily could have been. I think Trump could've asked for his favor without it being tied to the money. That said, I don't think it is impeachable and that's why there have been such verbal gymnastics going on. When you have to work so hard to frame and "dumb down" a potential crime then it's not a cut and dry, clearly evident event. JMO

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28 minutes ago, bigbird said:

To me, it seems that many are purposefully ignoring this.  Presidential pressure has always been used and favors "asked". They might not have been used to investigate a rival, but they just as easily could have been. I think Trump could've asked for his favor without it being tied to the money. That said, I don't think it is impeachable and that's why there have been such verbal gymnastics going on. When you have to work so hard to frame and "dumb down" a potential crime then it's not a cut and dry, clearly evident event. JMO

Your opinion is spot on.

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12 hours ago, SaltyTiger said:

Where is the investigation part? Are so gullible and pure that you believe a president has never used the "scheme"? The Bidens appear corrupt and President Trump is admirable with his desire to investigate corruption. 

Trump backed off his scheme and released the aid because it was uncovered by the whistle blower.  He knew such a extortionist scheme would not withstand public scrutiny.

He got caught and he had to back down.

It's no different than a failed bank robbery. Just because it didn't succeed doesn't mean it wasn't a crime.

 

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2 hours ago, bigbird said:

To me, it seems that many are purposefully ignoring this.  Presidential pressure has always been used and favors "asked". They might not have been used to investigate a rival, but they just as easily could have been. I think Trump could've asked for his favor without it being tied to the money. That said, I don't think it is impeachable and that's why there have been such verbal gymnastics going on. When you have to work so hard to frame and "dumb down" a potential crime then it's not a cut and dry, clearly evident event. JMO

Seriously? 

You don't think asking a foreign government to investigate a personal political opponent - withholding critical U.S. military aid as leverage - is not an impeachable offense?

If Obama had done this, he should have been impeached also.

Is there no limit to partisanship?  What kind of country are we becoming??

This incident alone proves the danger associated with normalizing deviance.

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1 hour ago, NolaAuTiger said:

Your opinion is spot on.

Jesus :no:

It's no wonder lawyers have such a bad reputation.  So many lack any respect for the law, much less ethical behavior.

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1 hour ago, homersapien said:

A laughing icon is not a response bird.  It's evading the question.

A response to you about this subject is an exercise in futility. Your partisanship overpowers any possible dialogue or logic. You are not open to any possibility of an opposing view.

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