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Russia offers Ukraine cheaper gas under new transit deal, Kiev promises to drop $3bn demand

RT | December 10, 2019

The price of gas for Ukraine may be lower if Moscow and Kiev manage to reach a new transit agreement, Russian President Vladimir Putin told at a press conference after the Normandy Four summit in Paris.

Gas for Ukraine “could be cheaper by 25 percent, as compared to what the end consumer currently gets, primarily the industrial consumer, because the price of gas for the domestic consumer, for citizens [of Ukraine], is subsidized, we can’t calculate the price from the subsidized price,” Putin said.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said in return that there is a good chance that the contract on gas transit from Russia to Europe via Ukraine would be extended after January 1.

Agreement for Russian gas supplies to Ukraine and those transiting to Europe expires at the end of this year. In November, Russia’s Gazprom offered Ukraine to extend the transit contract or enter into a new one for one year.

“There’s no agreement yet, but I’m sure that we have more chances to sign it under better conditions than before,” Zelensky told reporters in Paris, adding that “I insisted on the most favorable, ambitious conditions for Ukraine and Europe, which is ten years.”

He also said the issue of the $2.56 billion compensation has been taken off the table during the talks, and that Kiev “is ready to take it in gas.”

A Swedish court ruled Gazprom must compensate Ukraine’s Naftogaz for the transit of Russian gas through the Ukrainian territory between 2009 and 2017 even though the gas was not, in fact, transited over that period. The court justified its decision by referring to a difficult economic situation in Ukraine. Last month, Russia’s Gazprom lost the appeal.

December 10, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Ukraine’s Zelensky to be TOPPLED by protests if he crosses ‘red lines’ in Paris, TV host warns, as crowds cheer

RT | December 8, 2019

Pressure is mounting on Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, with the opposition threatening him with civil unrest should he show weakness during the Normandy Four talks with Russian, French and German leaders on Monday.

Thousands attended a rally at the iconic Maidan square in the center of the Ukrainian capital, organized in the run-up to the high-profile meeting by the parties of Petro Poroshenko, whom Zelensky defeated in the spring election, as well as former PM Yulia Tymoshenko and rock star Vyacheslav Vakarchuk. And the speakers on stage didn’t mince words.

“Your flight will be not from Paris to Kiev, but from Paris to Rostov[-on-Don]. If it won’t be tomorrow then it’ll be a bit later,” prominent news host Vitaly Gaidukevich warned, addressing the head of state.

The mention of the Russian city was in fact a stark reminder to Zelensky that “Maidan democracy” continues to grip Ukraine. The blunt threat meant that the Ukrainian president may endure the fate of ex-leader Viktor Yanukovych, if he doesn’t deliver what the opposition wants. Yanukovych was overthrown in February 2014 after violent protests in central Kiev, in which around 100 people were killed. He fled to Crimea and then to Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia, and has claimed that an attempt on his life was made in the process.

“Maidan has proven time and again that citizens have power in Ukraine,” Gaidukevich told the crowd, which chanted slogans calling for Zelensky to be immediately kicked out from office should he do something “wrong.”

The Normandy Four talks are being held in an attempt to find ways to settle the protracted conflict in eastern Ukraine. Notably, it will be Zelensky’s first face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin – and a lot is being expected from the man (Zelensky) back home.

The opposition said it won’t settle for “peace at any cost,” insisting that Zelensky should make no compromises in Paris when it comes to Ukraine’s course towards Europe and towards the “de-occupation and return of Crimea,” which voted in March 2014 to break away from Ukraine and rejoin Russia.

December 8, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | | Leave a comment

Ukraine was the Origin of the Trump-Russia Collusion Hoax

By Lawrence Sellin | American Thinker | December 6, 2019

December 2015 was a pivotal month in many respects.

During the first week of December 2015, Donald Trump began to establish a substantial lead over his Republican primary opponents.

Vice President Joseph Biden traveled to Ukraine to announce, on December 7th, a $190 million program to “fight corruption in law enforcement and reform the justice sector,” but behind the scenes explicitly linked a $1 billion loan guarantee to the firing of Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin, who had been investigating the energy company Burisma, which employed Biden’s son Hunter.

On December 9, 2015, the reported whistleblower Eric Ciaramella held a meeting in Room 236 of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of the Ukrainian Anti-Corruption Action Center, which was 59%-funded by Barack Obama’s State Department and the International Renaissance Foundation, a George Soros organization.

Also attending that meeting was Catherine Newcombe, attorney in the Criminal Division, Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, with the U.S. Department of Justice, where, among other duties, she oversaw the Department’s legal assistance programs to Ukraine.

By December 2015, Paul Manafort was undoubtedly considering approaching the Trump campaign to rejuvenate his U.S. political bona fides and mitigate the legal and financial difficulties he was experiencing at the time.

From the beginning of his association with the Trump campaign, Roger Stone, a long-time Manafort partner, made a strong case to Trump to bring in Manafort, who would officially connect to the campaign immediately after the February 1, 2016 Iowa caucuses.

Based on events occurring during the same period, were Obama Deep State operatives aware of Manafort’s intent and already intending to use his past questionable practices and links to Russia against Trump?

Such awareness of Manafort’s plans could have been obtained either through FBI surveillance, which began in 2014 and ended in early 2016, or through information provided by Manafort associates, for example, Ukrainian businessman Konstantin Kilimnik, who worked for Manafort and was a FBI and Department of State asset, not a Russian agent as later painted by the Mueller investigation.

According to White House visitor logs, on January 19, 2016, Eric Ciaramella chaired a meeting of FBI, Department of Justice and Department of State personnel, which had two main objectives:

 1)  To coerce the Ukrainians to drop the Burisma probe, which involved Vice President Joseph Biden’s son Hunter, and allow the FBI to take it over the investigation.

 2)  To reopen a closed 2014 FBI investigation that focused heavily on GOP lobbyist Paul Manafort, whose firm long had been tied to Trump through his partner and Trump pal, Roger Stone.

That is, contain the investigation of Biden’s son and ramp up the investigation of Paul Manafort.

Again, according to White House logs, the attendees at the January 19, 2016 meeting in Room 230A of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building were:

Eric Ciaramella – National Security Council Director for Ukraine

Liz Zentos – National Security Council Director for Eastern Europe

David G. Sakvarelidze – Deputy General Prosecutor of Ukraine

Anna E. Iemelianova (Yemelianova) – Legal Specialist, US Embassy Kyiv and US Department of Justice’s Anti-Corruption Program.

Nazar A. Kholodnitsky, Ukraine’s chief anti-corruption prosecutor

Catherine L. Newcombe – attorney in the Criminal Division, Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, with the U.S. Department of Justice

Svitlana V. Pardus – Operations, Department of Justice, U.S. Embassy, Ukraine.

Artem S. Sytnyk  – Director of the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine

Andriy G. Telizhenko, political officer in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington DC

Jeffrey W. Cole – Resident Legal Advisor at U.S. Embassy Ukraine, presumed to be FBI

Just two weeks after that meeting, on February 2, 2016, according to White House logs, Eric Ciaramella chaired a meeting in Room 374 of the Eisenhower Executive Office, which seems to be a planning session to re-open an investigation of Paul Manafort (Note: one of the crimes of which Manafort was accused was money laundering, an area covered by the Department of the Treasury). The attendees were:

Jose Borrayo – Acting Section Chief, Office of Special Measures, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network

Julia Friedlander – Senior Policy Advisor for Europe, Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, U.S. Department of the Treasury

Michael Lieberman – Deputy Assistant Secretary, Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, U.S. Department of the Treasury

Scott Rembrandt – Anti-Money Laundering Task Force, Assistant Director/Director, Office of Strategic Policy, Department of the Treasury

Justin Rowland – Special Agent (financial crimes), Federal Bureau of Investigation

Photo credit: Alexandria, VA Sheriff

It appears that Paul Manafort became a vehicle by which the Obama Deep State operatives could link Trump to nefarious activities involving Russians, which eventually evolved into the Trump-Russia collusion hoax.  Remember, the key claim of the follow-up Steele dossier, the centerpiece of the Mueller investigation, was that Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was the focal point of a “well-developed conspiracy between them [the Trump campaign] and the Russian leadership.”

Nellie Ohr, Fusion GPS employee and wife of Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr, not only worked with Christopher Steele on the so-called Trump dossier, but, in May 2016, was the conduit of information to her husband and two Department of Justice prosecutors of the existence of the “black ledger” documents that contributed to Manafort’s prosecution.

Bruce Ohr and Steele attempted to get dirt on Manafort from a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, efforts that eventually led to a September 2016 meeting in which the FBI asked Deripaska if he could provide information to prove that Manafort was helping Trump collude with Russia.

The surveillance and entrapment attempts of Paul Manafort, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos and others were designed to collect evidence about Trump without formally documenting that Trump was the target.

After the election, to cover their tracks, James Comey, representing the FBI and the Department of Justice, misleadingly told Trump that the investigation was about Russia and a few stray people in his campaign, but they assured him he personally was not under investigation.

They lied.

Donald Trump always was, and still is, the target of the Deep State, the left-wing media and their Democrat Party collaborators.

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired US Army Reserve colonel, an IT command and control and cyber security subject matter expert and a veteran of Afghanistan, Iraq and a humanitarian mission to West Africa. He receives email at lawrence.sellin@gmail.com

December 7, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , | Leave a comment

Normandy Four summit ‘may result in comprehensive Donbass ceasefire’ – Ukraine president’s adviser

RT | December 6, 2019

Ukraine should not expect new important agreements from the Normandy Four summit in Paris but the meeting may result in establishing a comprehensive ceasefire in Donbass and prisoner exchange, TASS quoted Nikita Poturaev, the adviser to the Ukrainian president, as saying on Friday.

“No new Minsk Agreements or some kind of Paris Agreements will come out of the meeting in Paris. However, the summit may result in… ceasefire along the whole contact line, which is envisaged by the Minsk Agreements, and prisoner exchange,” Poturaev told 1+1 TV channel. “If these two things are fulfilled, a political process will follow, namely elections [in Donbass] in accordance with Ukrainian laws.”

The Normandy Four meeting of leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany on the conflict in eastern Ukraine will be held on December 9 in Paris.

December 6, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | | Leave a comment

The Grand Poo Bah Still Searching for Impeachment

By Renée Parsons | OffGuardian | December 5, 2019

There were two especially notable testimonys made during the recent House impeachment inquiry that should have been ‘nothing to see here folks, let’s move on’ except that The Grand Poo-bah of the Intel Committee Chair Adam Schiff, haughty in his own insecurity and full of his usual self-regard, bugging his eyes in anticipation, continues to act as if he is living in a reality where facts and evidence are non existent.

In a series of mental meanderings, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s statement that two career diplomats had provided “corroborated evidence of bribery” was little more than off-hand ramblings with no evidence of exactly what was corroborated.

Upon questioning, Pelosi defined ‘bribery’ as the President’s alleged withholding of military aid to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into the Biden’s financial bonanza.

In contrast to Pelosi’s allegation, neither of the career diplomats aforementioned presented any “corroborated evidence of bribery” nor has any testimony confirmed that bribery occurred.

As Lord High Justice of the Misguided Society of Wild Goose Chases, the myopic Schiff Show moves on this week to the House Judiciary Committee with more disgruntled witnesses on Wednesday who have, as of the 2016 election, lost any objectivity or claim to legal scholarship.

In a recent WSJ op ed, GW University law professor Jonathon Turley referred to the impeachment inquiry as the “shortest investigation producing the thinnest record of wrongdoing for the narrowest impeachment in history.”

On the first day of the Intel Committee hearings, Rep. Jim Jordan questioned ‘star’ witness former Ambassador Bill Taylor who was expected to drop a “bombshell.”

Instead, channeling his best Clarence Darrow, Jordan caught Taylor in the admission that after Ukraine aid was held up until September 11, Taylor had three meetings with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky  (July 26, August 27 and September 5); during which, Taylor agreed, that the subject of US financial assistance as a Quid Pro Quo for a Ukraine investigation into the Bidens or Burisma was never discussed.

Up against the wall with no place to go, Taylor identified former US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland as the source of his ‘clear’ understanding which turned out to be third or fourth hand hearsay and would be inadmissible in court.

Two days later, Jordan took his turn with another ‘star’ witness when Sondland testified that, contrary to his earlier statement that the White House required a QPQ with a public statement from Zelinsky for an investigation to occur, Sondland confessed there was no such agreement or public announcement by Zelensky.

As the only witness who had direct personal contact with President Trump on the subject of Ukrainegate, Jordan related Sondland’s earlier statement to Republican staff counsel that:

The President never told you that the announcement had to happen to get anything”

… and then Sondland’s personal verbatim conversation with Trump:

Sondland: What do you want from Ukraine, Mr. President.

Trump: I want nothing, I want no QPQ. I want Zelensky to do the right thing. I want him to do what he ran on.

When Jordan asked why his conversation with the President of the United States had not been included in Sondland’s prepared 23 page statement, Sondland replied

“it wasn’t purposeful, trust me.” By then, Sondland looked ready for a cold brewski.

As the entire witness script played out during the last two weeks before the Intel Committee, one common theme of almost all the witnesses was that they are (or were)  long-standing (albeit unelected) veteran State Department bureaucrats.

Given their decades of experience and seniority, it became clear during their testimony that they are convinced of their own infallibility as better informed with a divine right to make foreign policy decisions more than a duly elected President of the US; especially Donald Trump.

How exactly do unelected, uninspiring State Department bureaucrats (or any Federal bureaucrats) become so deeply entrenched and so powerful to assume that their view on foreign policy is beyond reproach and matters more than a hill of beans?  Therein lies a Separation of Powers conundrum of historic proportions for our teetering constitutional democracy to address.

James Madison had a considerable amount of concern about the potential for abuse of the Separation clause as articulated in five essays he contributed to The Federalist Papers (#47, #48, #49, #50, #51).

As the Intel Committee’s Democratic majority has not yet publicly released its report on the impeachment inquiry, the Republican minority staff report was released on Monday.

As the Inquiry moves to the Judiciary Committee, it will be essential to identify the specific Constitutional grounds for impeachment as set forth by the Grand Poo Bah.

December 5, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

The ‘Whistleblower’ and the Politicization of Intelligence

By Scott Ritter – Consortium News – November 27, 2019

The whistleblower. A figure of great controversy, whose actions, manifested in an 11-page report submitted to the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) on August 12 alleging wrongdoing on the part of the president of the United States, jump-started an ongoing impeachment process targeting Donald Trump that has divided the American body politic as no other issue in contemporary time.

His identity has been cloaked in a shroud of anonymity which has proven farcical, given that his name is common knowledge throughout the Washington-based national security establishment in whose ranks he continues to serve. While Trump publicly calls for the identity of the whistleblower to be revealed, the mainstream media has played along with the charade of confidentiality, and Congress continues to pretend his persona is a legitimate national security secret, even as several on-line publications have printed it, along with an extensive document trail sufficient to corroborate that the named man is, in fact, the elusive whistleblower.

There is no legitimate reason for the whistleblower’s identity to remain a secret. The Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam Schiff, (D-CA) has cited statutory protections that simply do not exist while using his authority as chairman to prohibit any probe by his Republican colleagues designed to elicit information about the whistleblower’s identity. “The whistleblower has a right, a statutory right, to anonymity,” Schiff recently opined during recent impeachment-related testimony. And yet The Washington Post, no friend of Trump, was compelled to assign Schiff’s statement three “Pinocchios”, out of a scale of four, in rejecting the claim as baseless.

The myth of statutory protection for the whistleblower’s identity has been aggressively pursued by his legal counsel, Andrew Bakaj, the managing partner of the Compass Rose Legal Group, which has taken on the whistleblower’s case pro bono. In a letter to the president’s legal counsel, Pat Cippolone, Bakaj demanded that Trump “cease and desist in calling for my client’s identity”, claiming that the president’s actions, undertaken via Twitter and in press briefings, constituted violations of federal statutes prohibiting, among other things, tampering with a witness, obstruction of proceedings, and retaliating against as witness.

All of Bakaj’s claims are contingent upon the viability of the whistleblower’s status as a legitimate witness whose testimony can, therefore, be tampered, obstructed or retaliated against. The legal foundation of the whistleblower’s claims are based upon the so-called Intelligence Community whistleblower statute, 50 USC § 3033(k)(5), which stipulates the processes required to report and sustain an allegation of so-called “urgent concern” to the U.S. intelligence community. An “urgent concern” is defined, in relevant part, as: “A serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of the law or Executive order, or deficiency relating to the funding, administration, or operation of an intelligence activity within the responsibility and authority of the Director of National Intelligence involving classified information, but does not include differences of opinions concerning public policy matters.”

The Call

At issue was a telephone call made between President Trump and the newly elected President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, on July 25 of this year. According to the whistleblower’s report to the ICIG, “Multiple White House officials with direct knowledge of the call informed me that, after an initial exchange of pleasantries, the President used the remainder of the call to advance his personal interests.” President Trump, the whistleblower alleged, “sought to pressure the Ukrainian leader to take actions to help the President’s 2020 reelection bid,” an act which the whistleblower claimed presidential abuse of his office “for personal gain.”

Upon review of the whistleblower’s report, which consisted of a nine-page unclassified letter and a separate two-page classified annex, Michael K. Atkinson, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, initiated an investigation of the complaint as required by the whistleblower statute. This investigation must be completed within a 14-day period mandated by the statute, during which time the ICIG “shall determine whether the complaint or information appears credible.”

While the statute is silent on the methodology to be used by the ICIG in making this determination, Atkinson had testified during his Senate confirmation hearing that, when it came to any investigation of a whistleblower complaint, “I will work to ensure that ICIG personnel conduct investigations, inspections, audits, and reviews in accordance with Quality Standards promulgated by CIGIE (Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency) to keep those activities free from personal, external, and organizational impairments.” The CIGIE standard in question requires that, “Evidence must be gathered and reported in an unbiased and independent manner in an effort to determine the validity of an allegation or to resolve an issue.”

In a letter transmitting the whistleblower complaint to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Atkinson stated that he had “determined that the Complainant (i.e., whistleblower) had official and authorized access to the information and sources referenced in the Complainant’s Letter and Classified Appendix, including direct knowledge of certain alleged conduct, and that the Complainant has subject matter expertise related to much of the material information provided in the Complainant’s Letter and Classified Appendix.”

However, when it came to assessing whether or not the whistleblower, in reporting the second-hand information provided to him by White House persons familiar with the July 25 Trump-Zelensky phone call, had done so accurately, Atkinson did not review the actual records of the telephone call, noting that he “decided that access to records of the telephone call was not necessary to make my determination that the complaint relating to the urgent concern ‘appears credible.’”

Atkinson declared that “it would be highly unlikely for the ICIG to obtain those records within the limited remaining time allowed by statute,” and opted to perform an investigation in violation of the very CIGIE standard he had promise to adhere to in his Senate testimony. In short, no evidence was gathered by the ICIG to determine the validity of the whistleblower’s allegation, and yet Atkinson decided to forward the complaint to the DNI, certifying it as “credible.”

The whistleblower statute allows the DNI seven days to review the complaint before forwarding it to the House Committee on Intelligence, with comments if deemed appropriate. However, in reviewing the actual complaint, Joseph McGuire, the acting DNI who took over from Dan Coats, who was fired by President Trump in early August, had questions about whether or not the matters it alleged fell within the remit of the whistleblower statute, and rather than forwarding it to the House Intelligence Committee, instead sent it to the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel for legal review.

The Office of Legal Council, on September 3, issued a legal opinion rejecting the ICIG’s certification of the whistleblower complaint as constituting an “urgent concern” under the law. “The complaint,” the opinion read,

“does not arise in connection with the operation of any U.S. government intelligence activity, and the alleged misconduct does not involve any member of the intelligence community. Rather, the complaint arises out of a confidential diplomatic communication between the President and a foreign leader that the intelligence-community complainant received secondhand. The question is whether such a complaint falls within the statutory definition of ‘urgent concern’ that the law requires the DNI to forward to the intelligence committees. We conclude that it does not. The alleged misconduct is not an ‘urgent concern’ within the meaning of the statute.”

DOJ Rejected Complaint as Urgent

As related in the Office of Legal Counsel’s opinion, the Justice Department did, however, refer the matter to the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice for appropriate review. After considering the whistleblower’s complaint and classified annex, the Criminal Division opted not to pursue charges, in effect determining that no crime had been committed.

Under normal circumstances, this would have concluded the matter of Trump’s phone call with Zelensky, and the second-hand concerns unnamed White House officials had reported to the whistleblower. But this was not a normal circumstance. Far from diffusing an improperly predicated complaint, the failure of the acting DNI to forward the whistleblower complaint to the House Intelligence Committee, and the concurrent legal opinion of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel rejecting the “urgent concern” certification of the ICIG, opened the door for the whistleblower, through legal counsel, to reach out to the House Intelligence Committee directly.

The whistleblower followed procedures set forth in the whistleblower statute detailing procedures for a complaint, which had not been certified as an “urgent concern,” to be forwarded to Congress. The issue is that the matter was being treated by the ICIG, Congress and the whistleblower’s attorney’s as an “urgent concern”, a status that it did not legally qualify for.

On September 24, Bakaj sent a “Notice of Intent to Contact Congressional Intelligence Committees” to acting DNI McGuire providing “formal notice of our intent to contact the congressional intelligence committees directly” on behalf of the whistleblower, identified only as “a member of the Intelligence Community.” Almost immediately, Schiff announced via Twitter that “We have been informed by the whistleblower’s counsel that their client would like to speak to our committee and has requested guidance from the Acting DNI as to how to do so. We‘re in touch with counsel and look forward to the whistleblower’s testimony as soon as this week.”

Thus was set in motion events which would culminate in impeachment proceedings against President Trump. On the surface, the events described represent a prima facia case for the efficacy of statutory procedures concerning the processing of a whistleblower complaint. But there were warning signs that all was not right regarding both the whistleblower himself, and the processes involved leading to the whistleblower’s complaint being presented to Congress.

Political Bias?

Far from an exemplar in bureaucratic efficiency, the whistleblower complaint has opened a window into the politicization of the intelligence community, and the corresponding weaponization of the national security establishment, against a sitting president.

As I shall show, such actions are treasonous on their face, and the extent to which this conduct has permeated the intelligence community and its peripheral functions of government, including the National Security Council and Congress itself, will only be known if and when an investigation is conducted into what, in retrospect, is nothing less than a grand conspiracy by those ostensibly tasked with securing the nation to instead reverse the will of the American people regarding who serves as the nation’s chief executive.

The key to this narrative is the whistleblower himself. Understanding who he is, and what role he has played in the events surrounding the fateful July 25 telephone conversation, are essential to unravelling the various threads of this conspiracy.

Much has been made about the political affiliation of the whistleblower, namely the fact that he is a registered Democrat who supports Joe Biden as the Democratic candidate for the 2020 presidential election. On the surface this information is not dispositive—the intelligence community is populated by thousands of professionals of diverse political leanings and affiliations, all of whom have been trained to check their personal politics at the door when it comes to implementing the policies promulgated by the duly elected national leadership.

Indeed, Inspector General Atkinson, while acknowledging in his assessment of the whistleblower’s complaint an indication of possible political bias on the part of the whistleblower in favor of a rival political candidate, noted that “such evidence did not change my determination that the complaint relating to the urgent concern ‘appears credible’”. But when one reverse engineers the whistleblower’s career, it becomes clear that there in fact existed a nexus between the whistleblower’s political advocacy and professional actions that both influenced and motivated his decision to file the complaint against the president.

A Rising Star

Like most CIA analysts, the whistleblower possessed a keen intellect born of stringent academic preparation, which in the whistleblower’s case included graduating from Yale University in 2008 with a degree in Russian and East European studies, post-graduate study at Harvard, and work experience with the World Bank.

Andrea Kendall-Taylor, a contemporary colleague of the whistleblower, has provided an apt account for what is expected of a CIA analyst. “The CIA is an intensely apolitical organization,” Kendall-Taylor wrote. “As intelligence analysts, we are trained to check our politics at the door. Our job is to produce objective analysis that the country’s leaders can use to make difficult decisions. We undergo rigorous training on how to analyze our own assumptions and overcome biases that might cloud our judgement.”

The training program Kendall-Taylor referred to is known as the Career Analyst Program (CAP), a four-month basic training program run out of the CIA’s in-house University, the Sherman Kent School, which “introduces all new employees to the basic thinking, writing, and briefing skills needed for a successful career. Segments include analytic tools, counterintelligence issues, denial and deception analysis, and warning skills.”

The standards to which aspiring analysts such as the whistleblower were trained to meet were exacting, and included a requirement to be “independent of political considerations,” meaning the product produced should consist of objective assessments “informed by available information that are not distorted or altered with the intent of supporting or advocating a particular policy, political viewpoint, or audience.” As an analyst, the whistleblower would have chosen a specific specialization, which in his case was as a “Political Analyst”, charged with examining “political, social, cultural, and historical information to provide assessments about foreign political systems and developments.”

By the time the whistleblower completed his application process with the CIA, which requires a detailed background check, several rounds of interviews, and final security and psychological evaluation before an actual offer of employment can be made, and by the time he finished his basic analytical training, the U.S. had undergone a political and social revolution of sorts with the election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States.

The whistleblower was assigned to the Office of Russian and Eurasian Analysis (OREA), within the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence, at a time when U.S.-Russian policy was undergoing a radical transformation.

Under the guidance of Michael McFaul, President Obama’s special advisor on Russia and the senior director of Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council, the Obama administration was seeking to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the election of Dmitri Medvedev as Russia’s president in 2008. Medvedev had succeeded Vladimir Putin, who went on to serve as prime minister. Medvedev was a more liberal alternative to Putin’s autocratic conservatism, and McFaul envisioned a policy “reset” designed to move relations between the U.S. and Russia in a more positive trajectory.

Andrea Kendall-Taylor (Center for a New American Security)

As a junior analyst, the whistleblower worked alongside colleagues such as Andrea Kendall-Taylor, who joined OREA about the same time after graduating from UCLA in 2008 with a PhD is Slavic and Eurasian studies. A prolific writer, Kendall-Taylor wrote extensively on autocratic leaders and Putin in particular. Her work was in high demand at both the CIA and NSC, which under the Obama administration had undergone a massive expansion intended to better facilitate policy coordination among the various departments that comprised the NSC.

The whistleblower had a front-row seat on the rollercoaster ride that was U.S.-Russian policy during this time, witnessing the collapse of McFaul’s Russian “reset,” Putin’s return to power in 2012, and the U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine that led to the annexation of Crimea and Russian support for rebels in the Donbas region.

During his tenure at OREA, the whistleblower obviously impressed his superiors, receiving several promotions and, in July 2015, he detailed to the NSC staff at the Obama White House as the Director for Ukrainian Affairs. According to a former CIA officer, any high-performing analyst who aspires to be promoted into the ranks of the Senior Intelligence Service must, prior to that time, do a rotation as part of the overall policy community, which includes the NSC or another department, such as Defense or State, as well as a tour within another directorate of the CIA.

NSC positions were originally intended for senior CIA analysts, at the GS-15 level, but waivers could be made for qualified GS-14 or “very strong” GS-13’s (the whistleblower was a GS-13 at the time of his assignment at the NSC, a reflection of both his qualification and the regard to which he was held by the CIA.) NSC assignments do not coincide with the political calendar—detailees (as career civil servants who are detailed to the NSC are referred) are expected to serve in their position regardless of what political party controls the White House. When an opening becomes available (usually when another detailee’s assignment has finished), prospective candidates apply, and are interviewed by their senior management, who forward qualified candidates to another board for a final decision.

Assignments to the NSC are considered highly sought after, and while the process for application must be followed, the selection process is highly political, with decisions being signed off by the director of the CIA. In the case of the whistleblower, his candidacy would have been approved by both Peter Clement, the director of OREA, and John Brennan, the CIA director.

Into the Lion’s Den

By the time the whistleblower arrived at the NSC, the NSC staff had grown into a well-oiled policy machine managing the entire spectrum of Obama administration national security policy-making and implementation. The NSC staff operated in accordance with Presidential Policy Memorandum (PPM) 1, “Organization of the National Security Council System”, which outlined the procedures governing the management of the development and implementation of national security policies by multiple agencies of the United States Government.

Brennan briefing Obama May 3, 2010. He approved whistleblower. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The vehicle for accomplishing this mission was the NSC Interagency Policy Committee (NSC/IPC). The NSC/IPCs were the main day-to-day fora for interagency coordination of national security policy. They provided policy analysis for consideration by the more senior committees of the NSC system and ensured timely responses to decisions made by the president. NSC/IPCs were established at the direction of the NSC Deputies Committee and were chaired by the relevant division chief within the NSC staff.

The whistleblowers job was to develop, coordinate and execute plans and policies to manage the full range of diplomatic, informational, military and economic national security issues for the countries in his portfolio, which included Ukraine. The whistleblower coordinated with his interagency partners to produce internal memoranda, talking points and other materials for the National Security Advisor and senior staff.

The whistleblower reported directly to Charles Kupchan, the Senior Director for European Affairs on the NSC. Kupchan, a State Department veteran who had previously served on the NSC staff of President Bill Clinton before turning to academia, in turn reported directly to Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser.

When the whistleblower first arrived at the NSC, he volunteered for the Ukraine portfolio. Kupchan was impressed by the whistleblower’s work ethic and performance, and soon expanded his portfolio to include the fight against the Islamic State. The whistleblower was aided by another organizational connection—his colleague and mentor at OREA, Andrea Kendall-Taylor, had been selected to serve in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence as the deputy national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia. Among Kendall-Taylor’s responsibilities was to closely coordinate with the NSC staff on critical issues pertaining to Russia and Ukraine.

The whistleblower’s arrival at the NSC staff also coincided with the start of Trump’s improbable candidacy for the presidency of the United States. As 2015 transitioned into 2016, and it became apparent that Trump was the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party, allegations about the Trump campaign colluding with Russia began to circulate within the interagency. Trump’s electoral victory in November 2016, shocked the whistleblower, like everyone else on the NSC staff.

Alarmed By Trump on Russia

The line between policy and politics began to blur, and then disappeared altogether. National Security Advisor Rice was becoming increasingly alarmed by the activities of the Trump transition team, especially when it came to issues pertaining to Russia. According to The Washington Post, “Rice apparently was closely monitoring the high-profile investigation into Russian interference.”

The President-elect had, during the campaign, openly advocated for better relations between the U.S. and Russia and had even suggested that the Russian annexation of Crimea could eventually be accepted by the U.S. This stance was anathema to the policies that had been massaged into place by the NSC in general, and the whistleblower in particular. According to multiple sources familiar with the whistleblower during this time, his animus against Trump was palpable.

In December 2016, Rice was involved in the unmasking of the identities of several members of the Trump transition team. Various sensitive intelligence reports were circulating within the NSC regarding the interaction of unnamed U.S. citizens with foreign targets of intelligence interest. In order to better understand the significance of such a report, Rice has acknowledged that, on several occasions, she requested that the identity of the U.S. persons involved be “unmasked.”

The U.S. intelligence community is prohibited by law from collecting information about U.S. citizens. As such, when a conversation undertaken by a foreign national of intelligence interest was captured, and it turned out the person or persons whom the target was speaking to was a U.S. citizen, the analysts preparing the report for wider dissemination would “mask”, or hide, the identities of the U.S. citizens involved. Under relevant laws governing the collection of intelligence, up to 20 officials within the Obama administration had the authority to unmask the identities of U.S. citizens. One of those was Rice.

In late December 2016, the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, arrived in New York for a meeting with several top Trump transition officials, including Michael Flynn, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and the President-elect’s top strategist Steve Bannon. Intelligence reports had been circulating about the UAE coordinating a backchannel for the Trump transition team and Russia.

Zayed’s arrival, which was unannounced and had not been coordinated with the U.S. government, caused great concern among the NSC staff especially given the context of allegations of collusion between Trump and Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

The principle NSC staffers who would logically have been advising Rice on this matter were Kupchan, the whistleblower, and Sean Misko, a State Department detailee who served as the director for the Gulf Arab States (According the NSC staffers who worked in the White House at the time, Misko and the whistleblower were said to be close friends, frequently socializing with one another after hours, and possessing a common dislike for Trump.) Rice requested that the intelligence reports pertaining to Zayed’s visit be subjected to unmasking procedures.

While the subsequent reporting about the three-hour meeting between Zayed and the Trump transition team failed to uncover any evidence of a secret communications channel with Russia, Rice (who would logically have been assisted by Kupchan and the whistleblower) facilitated the near continuous unmasking of intelligence reports involving Flynn, who was in contact with Russian officials, including Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

The Greatest Sin

Susan Rice, center, with Obama, March 10, 2009. (White House photo)

As a professional intelligence analyst detailed to the NSC, the whistleblower was committed to a two-year assignment, extendable to three years upon the agreement of all parties. President Obama’s departure from the White House did not change this commitment. According to NSC staffers who served in the White House at the time, the whistleblower, like many of his fellow detailees, had grown attached to the policies of the Obama administration which they had fought hard to formulate, coordinate and implement. They viewed these policies to be sacrosanct, regardless of who followed in the White House.

In doing so, they had committed the greatest sin that an intelligence professional could commit short of espionage—they had become political.

In December 2016, the whistleblower was, based upon his role as a leading Russian analysts advising Rice directly, more than likely helping unmask Flynn’s communications with Russians; a month later, he was working for Flynn, someone he  had likely actively helped conspire against, using the unfettered power of the intelligence community.

The Trump administration had inherited a national security decision-making apparatus that was bloated, and which fostered White House micromanagement via the NSC. While the Obama NSC had proven able to generate a proliferate amount of “policy”, it did so by relying on a staff that had expanded to the largest in the history of the NSC, and at the expense of the various departments of government that were supposed to be the originators of policy.

As the new national security adviser, Flynn let it be known from day one that there would be changes. One of his first actions was to hire four new deputies who centralized much of the responsibilities normally tasked to regional directors such as the whistleblower. Flynn was putting in place a new level of bureaucracy that shielded professional detailees from top level decision makers.

Moreover, it recognized that the NSC, while staffed with professionals who are supposed to be apolitical, was viewed by the White House as a partisan policy body whose work not only furthered the interests of the United States, but also the political interests of the president. When Trump included his top political advisor, Bannon, on the list of people who would comprise the National Security Council (normally limited to cabinet-level officials), it sent shockwaves through the national security establishment, which accused Trump of politicizing what they claimed was an apolitical process.

But the reality was that the NSC had always functioned as a partisan decision-making body. Its previous occupants may have tried to temper the level to which domestic politics intruded on national security decision-making, but its presence was an unspoken reality. All Trump did by seeking to insert Bannon into the mix was to be open about it.

Like the other professional detailees who comprised 90 percent of the NSC staff and were expected to remain at their posts as part of a Trump administration, the whistleblower was dismayed by the changes. Some accounts of the early days of the Trump NSC indicate that the whistleblower was defensive of the Ukraine policies he had helped craft during his tenure at the NSC.

When his immediate superior, Kupchan (a political appointee) departed the NSC, the whistleblower was temporarily elevated to the position of senior director for Russia and Eurasia until a new replacement could be found. (Flynn had reached out to Fiona Hill, a former national intelligence officer for Russia under the administration of George W. Bush, to take this job; Hill had accepted, but would not be available until April.)

The whistleblower was a known quantity within the NSC, as were his decidedly pro-Obama political leanings. As such, he was not trusted by the incoming Trump officials, and his access to the decision-making process was limited.

According to persons familiar with his work at the NSC during the Trump administration, the whistleblower’s frustration and anger soon led to acts of resistance designed to expose, and undermine public confidence in President Trump.

Cut Out of Call to Putin

In late January 2017 Trump made several introductory telephone calls to world leaders, including President Putin. Normally the NSC director responsible for Russia would help prepare the president for such a call by drafting talking points and supporting memoranda, and then monitor the call directly, either from within the Oval Office or from the White House situation room.

According to sources familiar with the incident, Flynn did not coordinate Trump’s call with NSC staff, and as such the whistleblower, who was acting as the director for Russia and European Affairs at the time, would have been cut out of the process altogether. When the whistleblower tried to access the read out of the phone call afterwards, he found that no verbatim record existed, only a short summary released by the White House, presumably prepared by Flynn.

More frustrating was the fact that the official readout of the call released by the Kremlin contained much more information, putting Russia in the driver’s seat in terms of defining U.S.-Russian policy priorities—the very policy blunder the NSC was supposed to prevent from happening. While searching for the non-existent records of the Putin-Trump conversation, however, the whistleblower came across detailed verbatim transcripts of two other calls made by Trump that day—one with Mexico, and one with Australia.

Within days the details of these calls were leaked to the media, resulting in a series of unflattering articles being published by the mainstream media. While no direct evidence has emerged about who was responsible for leaking these calls, NSC staffers who worked in the White House at the time suspected the whistleblower. (One of the byproducts of this incident was the decision by NSC lawyers to move the records of Presidential phone calls to a more secure server, significantly limiting access by NSC staff.)

On February 13, 2017, Flynn resigned from his position as President Trump’s national security adviser. The reason given was Flynn’s having misrepresented his conversations with Russian Ambassador Kislyak when questioned by Vice President Mike Pence. For the whistleblower, whose previous work in the Obama NSC appeared to help Rice’s efforts to unmask the very conversations Flynn was being held accountable for, this had to have been a satisfying moment. He had to have been even more pleased by Trump’s choice to replace Flynn —Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, a decorated combat veteran known for his intelligence and willingness to challenge the establishment.

In the little more than a month that transpired between McMaster coming on board and the arrival of Hill as the new director for Russia and Europe, the whistleblower would have had the opportunity to meet his new boss and work with him on repairing what they both viewed as the flawed changes undertaken by Flynn at the NSC.

McMaster rewrote the presidential guidance regarding the functioning of the NSC, replacing the original Presidential Policy Memorandum 1 with a new version, PPM 4, which removed Bannon from the NSC and restored much of the policy coordinating functions that characterized the NSC under Obama.

Moreover, McMaster stuck up for the professional detailees, such as the whistleblower. When Hill arrived in April 2017 to assume her responsibilities as the NSC director for Russia and Europe, the whistleblower found himself without a job.

But instead of being returned to the CIA, McMaster, who had come to know the whistleblower during his first month as national security adviser, appointed him to serve as his personal assistant. The whistleblower moved from his desk next door in the Executive Office Building, where most NSC staffers work, to the West Wing of the White House, a move which gave him direct access to every issue that crossed McMaster’s desk.

Oval Office Leak

The new job, however, did nothing to diminish the disdain the whistleblower had for Trump. Indeed, the proximity to the seat of power may have served to increase the concern the whistleblower had about Trump’s stewardship. On May 10, President Trump played host to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Kislyak. During the now-infamous meeting, Trump spoke about the firing of former FBI Director Jim Comey; a sensitive Israeli intelligence source related to the ongoing fight against ISIS in Syria; and alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

As McMasters’ assistant, the whistleblower was privy to the readout of the meeting, and was so alarmed by what he had seen that he sent an email to John Kelly, who at that time was serving as director of the Department of Homeland Security, detailing the president’s actions and words. All materials relating to this meeting were collected and secured in the NSC’s top secret codeword server; the only unsecured data was that contained in the whistleblower’s email. When the media subsequently reported on the details of Trump’s meeting with the Russians, the White House condemned the “leaking of private and highly classified information” which undermined “our national security.”

Trump meets with Lavrov on May 10, 2017. (TASS/Wikipedia)

According to a NSC staffer who worked in the White House at the time, an internal investigation pointed to the whistleblower’s email as the likely source of the leak, and while the whistleblower was not directly implicated in actually transmitting classified information to the press, he was criticized for what amounted to unauthorized communication with an outside agency, in this case the Department of Homeland Security. When his initial two-year assignment terminated in July 2017, the White House refused to authorize a one-year extension (a courtesy offered to the vast majority of detailees).

The whistleblower had become a liability, publicly smeared by right-wing bloggers and subjected to death threats. He was released from the NSC and returned to the CIA, where he resumed his role as a Eurasian analyst. Shortly after the whistleblower left the NSC, the full transcripts of President Trump’s January 28, 2017 conversations with the leaders of Mexico and Australia were leaked to the press. While several colleagues in the NSC believed that the whistleblower was behind the leaks, McMaster refused to authorize a formal investigation which, if evidence had been found that implicated the whistleblower, would have effectively terminated his career at the CIA.

It is at this juncture the saga of the whistleblower should have ended, avoiding the turn of events which ended up labeling him with the now famous (or infamous) appellation. However, in June 2018 the whistleblower’s colleague, Kendall-Taylor, ended her assignment as the deputy national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia. An announcement was made to fill the vacancy, and the whistleblower applied.

Despite having left the NSC under a cloud of suspicion regarding the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive information, and even though his anti-Trump sentiment was common knowledge among his colleagues and superiors, the whistleblower was picked for a position that would put him at the center of policy formulation regarding Russia and Ukraine, and the sensitive intelligence that influenced such. His appointment would have been approved by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates.

Enter Vindman

The whistleblower was well versed in the collaborative functions of the deputy national intelligence officer position, having worked with Kendall-Taylor during his time at the NSC. He began to develop professional relationships with a number of individuals, including the new director of Ukraine at the NSC, Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman. Vindman had extensive experience regarding Ukraine and had been detailed to the NSC from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The two soon appeared to share a mutual concern over President Trump’s worldview of both Russia and Ukraine, which deviated from the formal policy formulations promulgated by the interagency processes that both Vindman and the whistleblower were involved in.

Kiev-born Vindman. (Wikipedia)

The whistleblower’s concerns about President Trump and Ukraine predated the July 25, 2019 telephone call, and mirrored those expressed by Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, both in chronology and content, provided during his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. While Vindman was critical of President Trump’s deviation and/or failure to conform with policy that had been vetted through proper channels (i.e., in conformity with PDD 4), he noted that, as president, “It’s his prerogative to handle the call whichever way he wants.”

Vindman took umbrage at the non-national security topics brought up by the president, such as investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, regarding their relationship with a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma Holdings, and other references to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

According to Vindman, it was this aspect of the telephone call Vindman believed to be alarming, and which he subsequently related to an authorized contact within the intelligence community. While Vindman remained circumspect about the identity of the intelligence community official he communicated with about his concerns over Trump’s Ukraine policy, the fact that the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee refused to allow any discussion of this person’s identity strongly suggests that it was the whistleblower who, as the deputy national intelligence officer for Russia and Ukraine, would be a logical, and fully legitimate, interlocuter.

According to an account published in The Washington Post, sometime after being informed by Vindman of the July 25 Trump-Zelensky telephone call, the whistleblower began preparing notes and assembling information related to what he believed was untoward activity vis-à-vis Ukraine on the part of President Trump and associates who were not part of the formal Ukraine policy making process. He made numerous telephone calls to U.S. government officials whom he knew from his official work as the deputy national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia. Because much of the information he was using was derived from classified sources, or was itself classified in nature, the whistleblower worked from his office, using a computer system approved for handling classified data.

Off Limits

From the perspective of security, the whistleblower’s work was flawless. There was one problem, however; investigating the actions of the president of the United States and officials outside the intelligence community who were carrying out the instructions of the president was not part of the whistleblower’s official responsibilities.

Indeed, anything that whiffed of interference in domestic American politics was, in and of itself, off limits to members of the intelligence community.

Robert Gates, a long-time CIA analyst and former CIA director, had warned about this possibility in a speech he delivered to the CIA in March 1992 on the issue of the politicization of intelligence. “National intelligence officers”, Gates noted, “are engaged in analysis and—given their frequent contact with high-level policymakers—their work is also vulnerable to distortion.”

There was no greater example of politicized distortion than the rabbit hole the whistleblower had allowed himself to fall into. From Gates’ perspective, the whistleblower had committed the ultimate sin of any intelligence analyst—he had allowed his expertise to become tarnished by political considerations.

Worse, the whistleblower had crossed the threshold from advocating a politicized point of view to becoming political—that is, to intervene in the domestic political affairs of the United States in a manner which influenced the political future of a sitting president of the United States.

Once he had assembled his notes, he sought out staffers on the House Intelligence Committee for guidance on how to proceed. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, had hired two former members of the Trump NSC staff who had served at the same time as the whistleblower.

One, Abigail Grace, had worked at the NSC from 2016-2018, covering U.S.-Chinese relations. Grace was hired by Schiff in February 2019 for the express purpose of investigating the Trump White House. A second NSC veteran was hired in August 2019, around the same time that the whistleblower was preparing his complaint. That staffer was none other than Sean Misko, the whistleblowers friend and fellow anti-Trump collaborator.

Both Misko and the whistleblower departed the NSC in 2017 under a cloud. Misko went on to work for the Center for New American Security, a self-described bipartisan think tank set up by two former Obama administration officials, Michèle Flournoy and Kurt M. Campbell, before being recruited by Schiff. It is not known if Misko was one of the House Intelligence staffers the whistleblower approached, or if there had been any collaboration between the whistleblower and Misko about the nature of the complaint prior to Misko being recruited by Schiff.

After conferencing with the House Intelligence Committee staffers, the whistleblower sought legal counsel. He reached out to a lawyer affiliated with Whistleblower Aid, a group of national security lawyers who came together in September 2017—eight months after the inauguration of President Trump—to encourage whistleblowers within the U.S. government to come out against Trump, and provide legal and financial assistance to anyone that chose to do so. One of Whistleblower Aid’s founding members was a lawyer named Mark Zaid.

In the days following Trump’s swearing in as president, Zaid turned to Twitter to send out messages supportive of a “coup” against Trump that would lead to the president’s eventual impeachment. The identity of the lawyer who met with the whistleblower is not known. However, this lawyer referred the whistleblower to Bakaj, a fellow member of Whistleblower Aid, who took on the case and provided procedural guidance regarding the preparation of the complaint. Bakaj later brought on Zaid and another lawyer, Charles McCullough, with close ties to Senator Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton, to assist in the case.

On August 12, the whistleblower completed his complaint, and forwarded it to the intelligence community inspector general, thereby setting in motion events that produced weeks of hearings before the House Intelligence Committee that will very likely result in Trump’s impeachment.

Shielded from Questions

While the whistleblower, through counsel, had expressed a desire to testify before the House Intelligence Committee about the issues set forth in his complaint, he was never called to do so, even in closed-door session. The ostensible reason behind this failure to testify was the need to protect his anonymity, a protection that is not contained within the relevant statutes governing whistleblower activities within the intelligence community.

Later, as witnesses were identified from the content of the whistleblower’s complaint and subpoenaed to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, both Schiff and Bakaj indicated that the whistleblower’s testimony was no longer needed, since the specific issues and events covered in his complaint had been more than adequately covered by the testimony of others.

But the apparent reason Schiff and Bakaj refused to allow the whistleblower to testify, or to be identified, was to avoid legitimate questions likely to be asked by Republican committee members.

Namely, what was a deputy national intelligence officer of the U.S. intelligence community doing investigating activities of a sitting president? Who, if anyone, authorized this intervention in U.S. domestic political affairs by a CIA official? How did the whistleblower, who had a history of documented animosity with the Trump administration that included credible allegations of leaking sensitive material to the press for the express purpose of undermining the credibility of the president, get selected to serve as a deputy national intelligence officer? Who signed off on this assignment? What was the precise role played by the whistleblower in unmasking the identities of U.S. citizens in 2016, during the Trump transition?

Did the whistleblower maintain his friendship with Misko after leaving the NSC in July 2017? Did the whistleblower collaborate with Misko to get the House Intelligence Committee to investigate the issues of concern to the whistleblower before his complaint was transmitted to the ICIG? Who did the whistleblower meet on the House Intelligence staff? What did they discuss? Who was the lawyer the whistleblower first met regarding his intent to file a complaint? Did the whistleblower have any contact with Whistleblower Aid prior to this meeting?

Answers to these questions, and more, would have been useful in understanding not only the motives of the whistleblower in filing his complaint—was he simply a concerned citizen and patriot, or was he part of a larger conspiracy to undermine the political viability of a sitting president? There is no doubt that Congress has a constitutional right and obligation to conduct proper oversight of the operations of the executive branch, and to hold the president of the United States accountable if his conduct and actions are deemed unworthy of his office. Whether or not the facts surrounding the July 25, 2019 telephone call between Trump and Zelensky constitute grounds for impeachment is a political question for Congress to decide.

Intervening in Domestic Affairs

There is, however, the major issue looming in the background of this impeachment frenzy: the intervention by elements of the intelligence community in the domestic political affairs of the United States. There is no question that the whistleblower’s complaint served as the genesis of the ongoing impeachment proceedings.

The American people should be deeply concerned that an inquiry which could result in the removal of a duly elected president from office was initiated in secrecy by a member of the intelligence community acting outside the four corners of his legal responsibilities. The legitimacy of the underlying issues being investigated by the House Intelligence Committee is not at issue here; the legitimacy of the process by which these proceedings were initiated is.

To find out what happened, the whistleblower should not only be identified, called before the House Intelligence Committee, and other relevant Congressional committees, and be compelled to answer for his actions.

Impeachment is a constitutional remedy afforded to the U.S. Congress to deal with the political issues surrounding the conduct of a sitting president. If this constitutional remedy can be triggered by the intelligence community in a manner which obviates laws prohibiting the intrusion of intelligence agencies into the domestic political affairs of the United States, and done so in a manner where the identities of the persons and organizations involved, along with their possible motives, are shielded from both American people and those whom they elect to represent them in Congress, then a precedent will have been set for future interventions of this nature which undermine the very foundation of American democracy.

The political weaponization of intelligence represents a significant threat to the viability of the American constitutional republic that cannot be ignored.

Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD.

December 1, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US impeachment furor sabotages Ukraine peace talks

By Finian Cunningham | RT | November 26, 2019

The much-anticipated meeting between Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky and Russia’s Vladimir Putin is in danger of being a lost opportunity for peace. Washington’s political infighting has stacked the odds against a successful summit.

Weeks of impeachment hearings in the House of Representatives, accusing President Trump of abusing his office with regard to Ukraine, have achieved very little except for two things. Ukraine’s international image has been trashed with corruption claims and depiction of the country as having vassal-like dependency on the US, and secondly, demonization of Russia which has been heightened as an “aggressor” supposedly out to destroy Ukraine.

The irony is that Washington purports to be an ally of Ukraine to promote democracy, sovereignty, and independence of the former Soviet republic. But the upshot of the impeachment inquiry is that Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty is gravely undermined.

When President Zelensky holds multilateral talks soon with Putin, the Ukrainian leader will have little room to maneuver as a result of the cacophony back in the US.

The two leaders are due to meet on December 9 in Paris as part of a four-way summit also involving German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. The meeting is a return to long-suspended peace talks and an attempt to revive the 2015 Minsk accords for ending conflict in eastern Ukraine.

It is over three years since the so-called Normandy Format last convened. The Minsk peace deal was never implemented, mainly because former Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, refused to fulfill commitments to give regional autonomy to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Consequently the war has dragged on for nearly five years.

Zelensky was elected by a landslide vote in April primarily on the ticket that he would seek a peace settlement. In September, he agreed in principle to grant special status for the Donbas breakaway region of eastern Ukraine. Subsequently, though, Zelensky has appeared to backpedal on how much autonomy he is willing to countenance. Troops under his command have begun withdrawing from the front line with separatists, but it is not clear if that move marks a reliable de-escalation.

Alexander Lukashevich, Russia’s permanent representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, stated on November 21 that forces under Kiev’s command are still violating terms of a truce by not removing combat hardware from the line of contact. “This, to put it mildly, non-constructive approach to preparations for the Normandy meeting causes justified concern,” he added.

In a move seen as a trust-building gesture, Russia recently returned three Ukrainian naval vessels which it had confiscated last year after an infringement of its territory in the Kerch Strait.

The forthcoming meeting in Paris thus holds a fledgling start to finding a peaceful resolution to a conflict which has resulted in over 13,000 dead and millions displaced from their homes.

However, the impeachment debacle in Washington has painted Zelensky as a pathetic politician “who loves Trump’s a**” and “who will do anything” to curry favor with the president. The Democrats and obliging former US diplomats who had worked in Ukraine are claiming that Trump pressured Zelensky to dig dirt on Joe Biden, his would-be Democrat rival in next year’s election.

So zealous are Trump’s political opponents in Washington, together with the liberal media and US intelligence agencies, to pin an impeachable offense on him, that the Ukrainian president has ended up a lame-duck leader in the collateral damage.

This has generated much mockery among Ukrainians of the former comedian-turned-president, who has been nicknamed “Monica” in reference to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton for his sexual affair with White House intern Monica Lewinksy.

Even before the hearings in Congress got under way, Zelensky had been under fire from Ukrainian nationalists who accuse him of “capitulating” to Russia over his willingness to negotiate a peace settlement in eastern Ukraine. Kiev has seen large rallies of up to 20,000 protesting Zelensky’s peace efforts as a betrayal.

In a recent media interview, American professor Stephen Cohen, an astute observer on Russia-Ukraine, says that Zelensky is in a very precarious situation. Despite being overwhelmingly elected to find a peaceful solution to Ukraine’s conflict, the new president, says Cohen, has to contend with far-right paramilitary leaders who view any peace deal negotiated with Russia as treasonous. Zelensky has been subjected to death threats.

As Cohen points out, if the US was genuinely concerned about establishing peace and democracy in Ukraine, then Washington should be fully supporting Zelensky’s overtures to Moscow, to let him and the Ukrainian people know “we got your back.”

But as it is, Zelensky is going into negotiations with Putin as an isolated figure who has been demeaned by Washington’s squabbling and caricatured as a stooge.

Thus, what is being set up for the Ukrainian leader is an almost impossible task. If he were to agree with Putin to a further withdrawal of military forces from the contact line with pro-Russian separatists, or if he commits to implementing Minsk provisions for regional autonomy, then the uproar in Washington is predictable. Zelensky will be cast as selling out to Putin and capitulating to “Russian aggression.”

Such is the delirium of Russophobia in Washington, where Democrats and so-called ‘Russia experts’ like Fiona Hill have labeled Trump a “Kremlin agent” and “Bolshevik,” the next sequence in their narrative is that Trump abused his office in order to get Zelensky to surrender to Putin. Now we’re really talking impeachment, so it goes.

Missing from the political fight in Washington are the following key issues: it was American and European interference in Ukraine, not Russian, that plunged the country into ongoing conflict. That interference peaked with the CIA-backed coup in Kiev in February 2014, which led to Crimea seceding in a referendum and joining the Russian Federation. The coup also led directly to the war in eastern Ukraine by a neo-Nazi regime in Kiev against the ethnic Russian population who understandably have demanded autonomy.

The $400 million in military aid that Trump is accused of using as leverage on Zelensky, obscures the bigger picture of why the US has sent a total of $1 billion in military aid to the country in order to antagonize Russia. This has long been the agenda of Washington’s foreign policy establishment, to destabilize Russia by pushing Ukraine to join the NATO alliance.

The impeachment hearings against Trump have obscured and turned reality on its head. The anti-Trump Democrats, media and ‘deep state’ operatives want to exclude any wider investigation into corrupt dealings by the former Obama administration in Ukraine by asserting that any such claims are merely “Russian disinformation.”

Moreover, not only is the truth about Washington’s corruption in Ukraine being concealed, but the vassal status of Ukraine is complete by it not having any freedom to negotiate its way out of conflict or restoring normal neighborly relations with Russia.

Also on rt.com:

Impeachment hearing gets more bizarre with Sondland confirming ‘Zelensky loves Trump’s ass’ , but vague on quid pro quo

November 26, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Trump in Wonderland: Off With His Head?

By Martin Sieff | Strategic Culture Foundation | November 25, 2019

Donald Trump’s millions of detractors without doubt see him as The Mad Hatter: But, no: He’s Alice. The President of the United States has disappeared down the rabbit hole and he’s in Wonderland – Complete with a Red Queen (Nancy Pelosi) shouting “Off with his head!”

The great mistake foreign observers make observing the latest farce in Washington is assuming that there must be some order, rationality and linear logic behind it. There is none. It is Politics According to the Marx Brothers

This is a show trial – incompetently planned and directed with hundreds of crazed scriptwriters: The Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee, their staffs and the salivating Mainstream US Media are writing and rewriting the script as they go along.

If one is to believe the Mainstream Media, who avidly take this bizarre cartoon seriously, enough evidence has already been established to clearly convict Trump of seeking to push an inquiry into the prima facie evidence of corruption on the part of the son of a former vice president and the leading Democratic presidential candidate.

Is this supposed to be criminal or shocking? What is Trump even accused of doing? He is accused of cautiously investigating the possibility of corruption in a sensitive and clearly unstable US ally whose government openly tried to influence the 2016 US presidential election (as Russia did NOT!)

Indeed, top Ukrainian government officials before the 2016 vote openly published opinion articles in the most prestigious US outlets viciously attacking candidate Donald Trump and calling for the election of his opponent Hillary Clinton.

Far from endangering the security of Ukraine and withholding US aid, Trump has unwisely approved a flood of lethal US weapons, most especially Javelin missiles for Kiev.

This massive arms transfer gravely increases the potential threat to the breakaway provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk. It therefore also automatically ratchets up the threat of direct war between the United States and Russia – a danger of inconceivable horror that the “Hate Trump!” and “Hate Russia!” fanatics in Washington are insanely blind to.

The metaphor of the Gadarene Swine is repeatedly overused: But only because it works. It is true. The Hate Trump fanatics in the US Congress and in the US Media are stampeding the human race towards an annihilating nuclear war that nobody else remotely wants.

Trump in a very basic way has no one to blame but himself for this horrendous state of affairs in Wonderland. He surrounded himself with Russia-hating Armchair Warriors from Fiona Hill to John Bolton and Kurt Volker. So he should not be surprised that to a man – and woman – they have betrayed him.

Trump did not try to roll back the dark influence of the Deep State, the Jabberwock monster of his Wonderland. So he should not be surprised that now the Deep State Jabberwock is once again trying to eat him.

Former US Ambassador to Kiev Marie Jovanovich and former National Security Council official Alexander Vindman both consistently and relentlessly supported the illegal gangster regime in Kiev which only took power by a violent coup in 2014 by toppling the democratically elected president of the nation.

Yet Jovanovich and Vindman have never been held to account for their double standards and betrayal of their primary loyalty to the government of the United States. They know they are safe: They live in Wonderland, where treason is patriotism and loyalty to the law and Constitution of the Nation is the most unforgivable of crimes.

For it is the Elected President of the United States who sets all foreign policy: Or at least is supposed to. And it is the diplomatic and security apparatus of the United States that is presumed to implement that policy loyally and without questioning it.

Also, all ambassadors explicitly serve at the pleasure of the president and Trump should have fired Jovanovich as soon as he took office. She had been appointed by his predecessor Barack Obama, with the blessing of his own foreign policy guru, Polish-American and Russia-hating former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski to implement a policy that Trump was explicitly elected to abandon – reckless, potentially highly dangerous unconditional US support for the unstable coup government in Kiev.

But none of this matters: We are Inside the Beltway and Down the Rabbit Hole. We are in Washington. And Washington is Wonderland. Lewis Carroll and his Alice would have understood immediately.

November 25, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

The Pitfalls of a Pit Bull Russophobe

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | November 22, 2019

Fiona Hill’s “Russian-expert” testimony Thursday and her deposition on Oct. 14 to the impeachment inquiry showed that her antennae are acutely tuned to what Russian intelligence services may be up to but, sadly, also displayed a striking naiveté about the machinations of US intelligence.

Hill’s education on Russia came at the knee of the late Professor Richard Pipes, her Harvard mentor and archdeacon of Russophobia. I do not dispute her sincerity in attributing all manner of evil to what President Ronald Reagan called the “Evil Empire.” But, like so many other glib “Russia experts” with access to Establishment media, she seems three decades out of date.

I have been studying the USS.R. and Russia for twice as long as Hill, was chief of CIA’s Soviet Foreign Policy Branch during the 1970s, and watched the “Evil Empire” fall apart. She seems to have missed the falling apart part.

Selective Suspicion

Are the Russian intelligence services still very active? Of course. But there is no evidence — other than Hill’s bias — for her extraordinary claim that they were behind the infamous “Steele Dossier,” for example, or that they were the prime mover of Ukraine-gate in an attempt to shift the blame for Russian “meddling” in the 2016 US election onto Ukraine. In recent weeks US intelligence officials were spreading this same tale, lapped up and faithfully reported Friday by The New York Times.

Hill has been conditioned to believe Russian President Vladimir Putin and especially his security services are capable of anything, and thus sees a Russian under every rock — as we used to say of smart know-nothings like former CIA Director William Casey and the malleable “Soviet experts” who bubbled up to the top during his reign (1981 – 1987). Recall that at the very first meeting of Reagan’s cabinet, Casey openly told the president and other cabinet officials: “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.” Were Casey still alive, he would be very pleased and proud of Hill’s performance.

Beyond Dispute?

On Thursday Hill testified:

The unfortunate truth is that Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions in 2016. This is the public conclusion of our intelligence agencies, confirmed in bipartisan Congressional reports. It is beyond dispute, even if some of the underlying details must remain classified. [Emphasis added.]

Ah, yes. “The public conclusion of our intelligence agencies”: the same ones who reported that the Communist Party of the Soviet Union would never surrender power peaceably; the same ones who told Secretary of State Colin Powell he could assure the UN Security Council that the WMD evidence given him by our intelligence agencies was “irrefutable and undeniable.” Only Richard-Pipeline-type Russophobia can account for the blinders on someone as smart as Hill and prompt her to take as gospel “the public conclusions of our intelligence agencies.”

A modicum of intellectual curiosity and rudimentary due diligence would have prompted her to look into who was in charge of preparing the (misnomered) “Intelligence Community Assessment” published on Jan. 6, 2017, which provided the lusted-after fodder for the “mainstream” media and others wanting to blame Hillary Clinton’s defeat on the Russians.

Jim, Do a Job on the Russians

President Barack Obama gave the task to his National Intelligence Director James Clapper, whom he had allowed to stay in that job for three and a half years after he had to apologize to Congress for what he later admitted was a “clearly erroneous” response, under oath, to a question from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) on NSA surveillance of US citizens. And when Clapper published his memoir last year, Hill would have learned that, as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s handpicked appointee to run satellite imagery analysis, Clapper places the blame for the consequential “failure” to find the (non-existent) WMD “where it belongs — squarely on the shoulders of the administration members who were pushing a narrative of a rogue WMD program in Iraq and on the intelligence officers, including me, who were so eager to help that we found what wasn’t really there.” [Emphasis added.]

But for Hill, Clapper was a kindred soul: Just eight weeks after she joined the National Security Council staff, Clapper, during an NBC interview on May 28, 2017, recalled “the historical practices of the Russians, who typically, are almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique.” Later he added, “It’s in their DNA.” Clapper has claimed that “what the Russians did had a profound impact on the outcome of the election.”

As for the “Intelligence Community Assessment,” the banner headline atop The New York Times on Jan. 7, 2017 set the tone for the next couple of years: “Putin Led Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Says.” During my career as a CIA analyst, as deputy national intelligence officer chairing National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs), and working on the Intelligence Production Review Board, I had not seen so shabby a piece of faux analysis as the ICA. The writers themselves seemed to be holding their noses. They saw fit to embed in the ICA itself this derriere-covering note: “High confidence in a judgment does not imply that the assessment is a fact or a certainty; such judgments might be wrong.”

Not a Problem

With the help of the Establishment media, Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan, were able to pretend that the ICA had been approved by “all 17 intelligence agencies” (as first claimed by Clinton, with Rep. Jim Himes, D-CT, repeating that canard Thursday, alas “without objection).” Himes, too should do his homework. The bogus “all 17 intelligence agencies” claim lasted only a few months before Clapper decided to fess up. With striking naiveté, Clapper asserted that ICA preparers were “handpicked analysts” from only the FBI, CIA and NSA. The criteria Clapper et al. used are not hard to divine. In government as in industry, when you can handpick the analysts, you can handpick the conclusions.

Maybe a Problem After All

“According to several current and former intelligence officers who must remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the issue,” as the Times says when it prints made-up stuff, there were only two “handpicked analysts.” Clapper picked Brennan; and Brennan picked Clapper. That would help explain the grossly subpar quality of the ICA.

If US Attorney John Durham is allowed to do his job probing the origins of Russiagate, and succeeds in getting access to the “handpicked analysts” — whether there were just two, or more — Hill’s faith in “our intelligence agencies,” may well be dented if not altogether shattered.

November 23, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , | 2 Comments

Ukrainegate 13,000 Times Worse Than You Think

By Joe Giambrone | Dissident Voice | November 22, 2019

Did you know that Donald Trump had the State Department, USAID, NED, and the CIA fund and train Neo-Nazi, fascist militias to overthrow the government of Ukraine? These riot mobs, primarily Svoboda and Right Sector, stormed the capital, firebombed and shot the police, and destroyed democracy inside Ukraine. When the legitimately elected president was forced out by the rioters, the population which had supported him in the east seceded from the country, tearing the entire nation into pieces and sparking a civil war. The Ukraine civil war has cost the lives of over 13,000 Ukrainians. There is so much blood on Donald Trump’s hands.

Oh, wait a minute! That was Barack Obama. Change that paragraph, please.

Since 2014, it’s been glaringly obvious to astute (and honest) observers that the Administration of Barack Obama and Joe Biden supported the most vicious street mobs in Europe, people who considered themselves proud fascists. Western media routinely censored this part of the story. Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, made deals with their leaders and was caught on an open phone line handpicking the next unelected leader of Ukraine, someone they could sell to the US public: “Yats is the guy.”

Representative Dennis Kucinich expressed outrage on Bill O’Reilly’s TV show that the Obama Administration had aided this bloody, illegitimate coup. The head of the CIA-linked STRATFOR called Ukraine “the most blatant coup in history.

America’s proxy terrorists burned Kiev, seized power violently, and through the power of the purse strings, Obama’s Administration installed friendly-faced fascists, who immediately set about attacking their countrymen in the east, with a policy of mass murder and indiscriminate bombings. Eastern provinces of Crimea and Donetsk, which notably had supported the ousted president, held referenda. The people there voted overwhelmingly to secede from the illegitimate, unelected, foreign-sponsored coup regime in Kiev.

The above is most certainly not the reason cited this week for Impeachment hearings.

Aiding and abetting fascist militias to violently siege a foreign capital is not considered a crime in Washington DC, at all. Conversely, it is business as usual, as Bolivians and Venezuelans can attest to.

Woody Allen directed a film entitled “Crimes and Misdemeanors.” That pretty much sums up the DC circus unfolding in Congress. Everything above is completely true, and yet Barack Obama is heralded as someone in the neighborhood of saints and superheroes. To the belligerent American empire, Obama was a star quarterback. Let’s not even delve into Barack’s support for Al Qaeda in Syria, and another half-million dead there, or we’ll be here all day.

Donald Trump made a phone call. In his phone call, he is said to have bullied the President of Ukraine a little. He may have even delayed some weapons transfers to that country, which was engaged in a proxy war with nuclear-armed Russia and its separatist allies in the east of Ukraine.

That’s a crime? A real crime? In light of over thirteen thousand slaughtered and an illegal coup in broad daylight? Trump’s telephone call is the real crime?

Other Presidents haven’t bullied other client-state puppet leaders, ever?

And why exactly is the President of the United States of America required to send lethal weapons to foreign fascists at all? Has anyone located that section of the Constitution?

This farce is so laughable on its face and so irrelevant to the American people’s interests, that it’s difficult to overstate the insanity—and outrageous hypocrisy—of the Democrats’ contrived “Ukrainegate” case. This impeachment charge has nothing whatsoever to do with right and wrong.

In 2014, Barack Obama’s White House, “refused to include weapons in an aid package… for embattled Ukraine despite an impassioned plea by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko for more military assistance.” Obama didn’t send any weapons at all, which would have provoked Russia to an even greater degree, after overthrowing their legitimately elected next-door ally and tearing Ukraine apart. It was obvious that Russia wasn’t “invading” Ukraine, as propaganda memes claimed, but simply responding to these international crimes and to the dangerous destabilization on its border. The US had already done quite enough damage, and they didn’t need to escalate a proxy war against Russia toward nuclear Armageddon.

Which brings us now to Donald Trump, who became interested in Joe Biden’s obvious corruption inside Ukraine, installing his own son on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma. Hunter Biden knew absolutely nothing about Ukraine or the natural gas industry. The nepotism was glaring. This was clear graft, payback, kickback, corruption, parasites descending after the violent seizure of the state. Biden the elder was in charge of US Ukraine policy, and specifically the big money spigot, after the illegal, US-supported coup there.

Then—as Joe will be Joe—Biden bragged publicly about getting Ukraine’s top prosecutor fired to the strains of Washington insider laughter. The Ukrainian prosecutor had been investigating that same company which Biden had arranged his son Hunter onto the board of. Biden’s conflict of interest was so obvious that Trump certainly believed he was onto something. Joe Biden, and media sympathetic to his claims, has predictably tried to cloud the issue, but the corruption is too obvious not to notice. This should, and may, have ended Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential bid.

What happened in Ukraine was old-timey Smash & Grab, a reckless attack right on Russia’s western border. Joe Biden arrived to grab as much loot from Ukraine’s gas sector as he possibly could through a cut-out, his son. Biden used his leverage over Ukraine’s international “loan guarantees” (which is money the coup leaders receive but don’t have to pay back) to finance their new illegitimate junta.

Biden’s own quid pro quo, in his own words: “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.” This is exactly the type of crime they now accuse Trump of perpetrating with his telephone. The hypocrisy is comical.

The Obama Administration’s corruption, along with a bloody war and thirteen-thousand corpses, is what a real crime looks like. Hold onto that picture.

Democrats were allegedly the good guys vis a vis Ukraine?

Weren’t these international war crimes breaching the UN Charter, which demands exclusively peaceful actions between states, Article II?

All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.

— United Nations Charter, a ratified Treaty, and the “Supreme Law of the Land”

Launching a proxy war on nuclear-armed Russia was a sane foreign policy? Sending even more arms to escalate that conflict was allegedly such a glorious idea that any delay in weapons shipments becomes an impeachable offense?

This unserious charge leveled against Donald Trump distracts from all of his obvious corruption. Trump’s Emoluments violations have been impeachable for years, but the Democrats weren’t interested. Do Democrats long to cash in on the Office of the Presidency next time?

Multiple deaths of refugee children in US federal custody at the southern border could be considered murders linked directly to official policies of harsh treatment and deliberate neglect. Are Democrats afraid of exposing Obama’s own caging of immigrant children?

This current Ukrainegate impeachment charade appears to be motivated only by blind partisanship and the desire to insulate corrupt insiders like Joe Biden from any scrutiny of their actions. The farce has gone so over-the-top that even as Democratic partisan media heralded the testimony of Trump’s Ukraine Ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, Donald Trump’s allies have already used portions of her testimony as a video advertisement for his reelection!

Yovanovitch blatantly lied in her introductory remarks and was caught admitting that Obama’s own State Department had groomed her to answer uncomfortable questions about Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, and his appointment inside Ukraine’s gas sector. This gift to Trump now undermines the entire endeavor.

Are Democrats trying to hurt or to help Trump’s reelection?

Joe Giambrone’s fabulous new novel is DEMIGODS.

November 23, 2019 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , | 3 Comments

When Did Ukraine Become a ‘Critical Ally’?

By Pat Buchanan • Unz Review • November 15, 2019

On hearing the State Department’s George Kent and William Taylor describe President Donald Trump’s withholding of military aid to Ukraine, The New York Times summarized and solemnly endorsed their testimony:

“What clearly concerned both witnesses wasn’t simply the abuse of power by the President, but the harm it inflicted on Ukraine, a critical ally, under constant assault by Russian forces.”

“‘Even as we sit here today, the Russians are attacking Ukrainian soldiers in their own country, and have been for four years,’ Taylor said. ‘I saw this on the front line last week; the day I was there a Ukrainian soldier was killed and four more wounded.’”

Kent compared Ukrainian resistance to Russia’s intervention on the side of the Donbass secessionists to “our own Minutemen in 1776.”

“More than 13,000 Ukrainians have died on Ukrainian soil defending their territorial integrity and sovereignty from Russian aggression. … American support in Ukraine’s own de facto war of independence has been critical.”

Kent went on:

“The American colonies may not have prevailed against British imperial might without help from transatlantic friends after 1776. In an echo of Lafayette’s organized assistance to General George Washington’s army and Admiral John Paul Jones’ navy, Congress has generously appropriated over $1.5 billion over the past five years in desperately needed train and equip security assistance to Ukraine…”

“Similar to von Steuben training colonials at Valley Forge, U.S. and NATO allied trainers develop the skills of Ukrainian units at Yavoriv near the Polish border, and elsewhere. They help rewrite military education for Ukraine’s next generation, as von Steuben did for America’s first.”

“One would think, listening to this,” writes Barbara Boland, the American Conservative columnist, “that the U.S. had always provided arms to Ukraine, and that Ukraine has relied on this aid for years. But this is untrue and the Washington blob knows this.”

Indeed, Ukraine has never been a NATO ally or a “critical ally.”

Three decades ago, George H.W. Bush implored Ukraine not to set out on a course of “suicidal nationalism” by declaring independence from the Russian Federation. Despite constant pressure from Sen. John McCain and our neocons to bring Ukraine into NATO, wiser heads on both sides of the Atlantic rejected the idea.

Why? Because the “territorial integrity and sovereignty” of Ukraine is not now and has never been a vital interest of ours that would justify a U.S. war with a nuclear-armed Russia.

Instead, it was the avoidance of such a war that was the vital interest that nine U.S. presidents, from Truman to Bush I, secured, despite such provocations as the crushing of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 and the building of the Berlin Wall.

In February 2014, the elected pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown by U.S.-backed protesters in Maidan Square, cheered on by McCain. This was direct U.S. intervention in the internal affairs of Ukraine. Victoria Nuland of the State Department conceded that we had dumped billions into Ukraine to reorient its regime to the West.

To Vladimir Putin, the Kyiv coup meant the loss of Russia’s historic Black Sea naval base at Sebastopol in Crimea. Rather than let that happen, Putin effected an uprising, Crimea’s secession from Ukraine, and the annexation by Russia. In eastern Ukraine, the pro-Russian Donbass rose up in rebellion against the pro-NATO regime in Kyiv.

Civil war broke out. We backed the new regime. Russia backed the rebels. And five years later, the war goes on. Why is this our fight?

During the Obama years, major lethal aid was denied to Ukraine.

The White House reasoned that arming Ukraine would lead to an escalation of the war in the east, greater Russian intervention, defeat for Kyiv, and calls for the U.S. to intervene militarily, risking a war with Russia.

Not until Trump became president did lethal aid begin flowing to Ukraine, including Javelin anti-tank missiles.

So where are we?

Despite dramatic depictions of Ukraine as our embattled ally, Ukraine has never been an ally. We are not now nor have we ever been obligated to fight for its sovereignty or territorial integrity. Efforts to bring Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia into NATO have been repeatedly rebuffed in the United States and by our European NATO allies.

Kent and Taylor are honorable men. But they are career diplomats of the Department of State and veteran advocates of a foreign policy that sees Russia as an enduring aggressor and Ukraine as a fighting ally entitled to U.S. military assistance.

They have, in the old phrase, gone native. They champion the policies of yesterday and the embattled countries to which they are accredited and to whose causes they have become converted.

But Trump was elected to overturn the interventionist policies America has pursued since the century began. He was elected to end Cold War II with Russia, to reach a modus vivendi as Reagan did, and to extricate us from the endless wars into which Presidents Bush and Obama plunged the nation.

Copyright 2019 Creators.com.

November 15, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

White House releases text of 1st phone call between Trump & Zelensky

RT | November 15, 2019

The White House has released a memo of the first phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Although it details a predictably throwaway exchange, the search for the hidden meanings is on.

The call, made just a few hours after Zelensky was elected in Ukraine, is little more than a brief exchange of pleasantries, with Trump congratulating Zelensky on his presidency and the two heads of state talking about how great their respective countries are. Zelensky invites Trump to his inauguration, and Trump says they’ll meet soon, whether at the inauguration or elsewhere.

But with an impeachment inquiry in full swing, Trump’s nemeses in the Democratic Party have pounced on the conversation anyway. While former vice president Joe Biden, said to be the focus of the corruption investigation in Trump’s alleged quid pro quo, doesn’t make an appearance at all, that hasn’t stopped #Resistance stalwarts from trying to find a connection in the bare-bones protocol call.

Twitter was abuzz with speculation about the transcript – surely some parts were missing?

The fact that the White House had mentioned a discussion of “rooting out corruption,” yet the word “corruption” did not appear in the transcript, was held up as proof of a conspiracy to suppress the “truth.”

Others scorned the whole process of releasing the transcript, suggesting that Trump’s belief that his words were innocent was just more proof of his guilt.

The congratulatory call is the second Trump-Zelensky phone transcript to be released, after the text of the call that triggered the impeachment frenzy – when a whistleblower who hadn’t heard the conversation deemed it proof of a quid pro quo – failed to satisfy the president’s enemies in Washington. Trump has defended the summaries as “perfect” phone calls – which only makes his opponents double down on trying to read dirt into them.

Trump’s defenders pointed out that the transcript shows Trump eager to meet with Zelensky – far from the version depicted in the impeachment narrative, where he refuses to do so until Ukraine opens an investigation into the company that hired Biden’s son.

Stuck with a relatively lackluster transcript, House intel committee chair Adam Schiff demanded Trump release the “thousands” of documents the impeachment committee has requested as well. Others demanded transcripts of Trump’s calls with… other world leaders.

Which is exactly the precedent Trump had said he was afraid of setting by releasing the original Zelensky call.

November 15, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment