Well, well, well … reporting Thursday night suggests that the DNI “whistleblower” scandal may have to do with Donald Trump and his consigliere, “bat boy” Rudy Giuliani, trying to extort or bribe the government of Ukraine for “dirt” on Joe Biden’s son in exchange for security aid (see above post). Now it is all starting to make sense.
The Washington Post reports, Whistleblower complaint about President Trump involves Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the matter:
A whistleblower complaint about President Trump made by an intelligence official centers on Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the matter, which has set off a struggle between Congress and the executive branch.
The complaint involved communications with a foreign leader and a “promise” that Trump made, which was so alarming that a U.S. intelligence official who had worked at the White House went to the inspector general of the intelligence community, two former U.S. officials said.
Two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed, Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian and political newcomer who was elected in a landslide in May.
That call is already under investigation by House Democrats who are examining whether Trump and his attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani sought to manipulate the Ukrainian government into helping Trump’s reelection campaign. Lawmakers have demanded a full transcript and a list of participants on the call.
* * *
In letters to the White House and State Department, top Democrats earlier this month demanded records related to what they say are Trump and Giuliani’s efforts “to coerce the Ukrainian government into pursuing two politically-motivated investigations under the guise of anti-corruption activity” — one to help Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is in prison for illegal lobbying and financial fraud, and a second to target the son of former vice president Joe Biden, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump.
“As the 2020 election draws closer, President Trump and his personal attorney appear to have increased pressure on the Ukrainian government and its justice system in service of President Trump’s reelection campaign, and the White House and the State Department may be abetting this scheme,” the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees wrote, citing media reports that Trump had threatened to withhold $250 million in aid to help Ukraine in its ongoing struggle against Russian-backed separatists.
Lawmakers also became aware in August that the Trump administration may be trying to stop the aid from reaching Ukraine, according to a congressional official.
House Democrats are looking into whether Giuliani traveled to Ukraine to pressure that government outside of formal diplomatic channels to effectively help the Trump reelection effort by investigating Hunter Biden about his time on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company.
Giuliani dismissed the reports of the whistle blower and Trump’s “promise” to a foreign leader.
“I’m not even aware of the fact that he had such a phone call,” Giuliani said Thursday. “If I’m not worried about it, he’s not worried about it.”
Let me stop right here for a necessary aside. “Bat boy” Rudy Giuliani was sent out by the white House to do an interview with Chris Cuomo on CNN after this story broke, and he went completely off the rails in a bellowing interview trying to spin his conspiracy theories abut Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton to distract from what appears to be an extortion and bribery scandal of Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election by the Trump administration. Giuliani admits to asking Ukraine about Joe Biden after denying it 30 seconds earlier:
Immediately after anchor Chris Cuomo introduced him and summarized the latest news out of the whistleblower story, which had only broken about an hour prior, Giuliani went into attack mode.
“I’m glad I’m on tonight, because what you just said is totally erroneous,” Giuliani said. “Every single thing you just said is completely spun in the same direction you’ve been doing for two years!”
* * *
Giuliani then appeared to contradict himself over whether he asked Ukraine officials to specifically investigate the former vice president, who is a top-polling 2020 Democratic candidate for president.
“No, actually I didn’t. I asked Ukraine to investigate the allegations that there was interference in the election of 2016 by the Ukrainians for the benefit of Hillary Clinton,” Giuliani said.
“You never asked anything about Hunter Biden? You never asked anything about Joe Biden and the prosecutor?” Cuomo asked again.
Giuliani said the “only thing” he asked was how the prosecutor got dismissed.
“So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden,” Cuomo said.
“Of course I did,” Giuliani said.
“You just said you didn’t!” Cuomo said.
* * *
He offered a line of defense if Trump did offer aid to Ukraine in exchange for the country investigating Clinton and Biden, claiming it would be “perfectly appropriate.”
“The reality is the president of the United States has every right to say to another leader of a foreign country, ‘you got to straighten up before we give you a lot of money,’ ” Giuliani said. “It is perfectly appropriate for [Trump] to ask a foreign government to investigate this massive crime that was made by a former vice president.”
No, it is not. It is quid pro quo bribery or extortion.
Boom! went the Twitterverse.
The Post report was confirmed by the New York Times. Whistle-Blower Complaint Sets Off a Battle Involving Trump:
While the allegation remains shrouded in mystery, it involves at least one instance of Mr. Trump making an unspecified commitment to a foreign leader and includes other actions, according to interviews. At least part of the allegation deals with Ukraine, two people familiar with it said.
ABC News also confirms the story: “President Donald Trump’s phone call with a foreign leader that has become the focus of a complaint to the director of national intelligence’s inspector general involved Ukraine, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell ABC News.”
The Daily Beast reports today, Trump Whistleblower Saga Threatens to Blow Up 2020 Campaign:
An explosive whistleblower complaint that is threatening to paralyze much of Washington, D.C., now may upend the 2020 presidential campaign.
Two outlets on Thursday night reported that the complaint in question involves President Trump and matters related to Ukraine. Those outlets, The Washington Post and The New York Times, did not go much further than those details. But earlier reports said that what prompted the whistleblower to come forward was a pledge made by Trump to a foreign leader.
* * *
Shortly after his election, Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and his team found themselves being pressured by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer and confidant, to further an investigation into whether Biden may or may not have applied pressure to curtail an investigation into his son Hunter’s role on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company.
Giuliani has said he was also inquiring about matters related to the 2016 election and attempts to dig up dirt on Trump’s former aide, Paul Manafort. He also has defended his desire to dig up dirt on Biden and his willingness to work with foreign sources to do so.
A source with direct knowledge of the situation says that in recent months he has informally advised Trump on how to approach Zelensky. That advice came around the time rumors started flying that the president was withholding aid to the Ukrainian government until he received assurances the Biden investigation would move forward.
“He’s a question mark. There are a lot of good things, but there are these people he surrounds himself with,” Giuliani said of Zelensky in a conversation with The Daily Beast in late July. “He’s been there too short a period of time to know how he’s going to act. But I think there are very good signs and I have an open mind.”
* * *
The Trump administration ultimately did sign off on a major military aid package, releasing it on Sept. 12. Zelensky spoke to Trump in late July. The readout of that call from the Ukrainian camp reportedly noted that Trump was focused on Ukraine’s ability to “complete investigations into corruption cases that have hampered Ukraine-US cooperation.”
In a separate interview with CNN on Thursday night, Giuliani said he believed it was “perfectly appropriate” for a president to ask a leader of a foreign country to investigate allegations of corruption, even those involving political leaders from another party. He also said Trump has a right to withhold aid to a country until it cleans up corruption.
Oh, the irony. The Trump administration is the most corrupt and criminal administration American history. Two made men from New York are trying to shake down Ukraine for “dirt” on Joe Biden’s son, a Fox News aka Trump TV conspiracy theory that has been debunked by media reporting, Timeline in Ukraine Probe Casts Doubt on Giuliani’s Biden Claim, and this evil sonuvabitch “bat boy” wants to talk about corruption?
Michael Carpenter, who served in the White House as a foreign policy adviser to Biden, said: “If President Trump promised President Zelensky security assistance as a quid pro quo for launching politically motivated investigations against his 2020 presidential opponents, that would constitute a clear abuse of office by the president. At this point, however, we don’t know all the facts, which is precisely why Congress needs to get to the bottom of this.”
Zelensky did meet with Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) on Sept. 5. In a briefing with reporters five days later, the senator said he had encouraged him to not respond to requests made from political actors in the United States, that “it was much better for the president to rebuff any pressure he’s getting from political campaigns in the United States to conduct investigations.” Zelensky, Murphy recounted, “was ready for that question, you know, he wasn’t surprised that I brought it up. And his response was pretty simple that they have no intention of getting involved in an American election.”
As The Daily Beast first reported in June, House Democrats had been looking for months to open a probe into Giuliani for his overseas political and consulting work, including his efforts to uncover dirt on Biden. And it could very well be that the whistleblower complaint adds fuel to those investigations, though so far lawmakers on the Hill seem to be as in the dark about the matter as the public itself.
Trump will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in New York, according to multiple sources, including AFP. Both presidents will be in New York City next week to participate in the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Hopefully President Zelensky will make time to meet with congressional investigators. Nothing would be sweeter than seeing these two made men from New York — two of the most corrupt and divisive figures in America for years — finally get their comeuppance and be convicted for bribery or extortion of a foreign government for the purpose of interfering in the 2020 election, and be held accountable for their criminality with a stiff prison sentence.
UPDATE: Toward the end of August, the White House reportedly was considering whether to block $250 million to support Ukraine’s military in its war against Russian-backed separatists. However, that funding was released on Sept. 12, and even increased. That was the “pro quo.” Here is the “quid,” as reported by The Daily Beast, Ukrainian Official: Trump is Looking for Dirt ‘To Discredit Biden’:
Ukraine is ready to investigate the connections Joe Biden’s son Hunter had with the Ukrainian natural-gas company Burisma Holdings, according to Anton Geraschenko, a senior adviser to the country’s interior minister who would oversee such an inquiry.
Geraschenko told The Daily Beast in an exclusive interview that “as soon as there is an official request” Ukraine will look into the case, but “currently there is no open investigation.”
“Clearly,” said Geraschenko, “Trump is now looking for kompromat to discredit his opponent Biden, to take revenge for his friend Paul Manafort, who is serving seven years in prison.” Among the counts on which Manafort was convicted: tax evasion. “We do not investigate Biden in Ukraine, since we have not received a single official request to do so,” said Geraschenko.
His remarks last week came amid widespread speculation that U.S. President Donald Trump had made vital U.S. military aid for Ukraine contingent on such an inquiry, but had tried to do so informally through unofficial representatives, including his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Giuliani’s adviser on Ukraine, Sam Kislin.
But Geraschenko spoke before the appearance of a Washington Post story on Thursday that implied that an intelligence-community whistleblower may have reported the untoward quid pro quo was put forth directly by Trump in a phone call with Ukraine’s recently elected president last July.
Geraschenko reconfirmed his statements in a phone call on Friday.
UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal now reports, Trump Repeatedly Pressed Ukraine President to Investigate Biden’s Son:
President Trump in a July phone call repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden ’s son, according to people familiar with the matter, urging Volodymyr Zelensky about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani on a probe that could hamper Mr. Trump’s potential 2020 opponent.
“He told him that he should work with [Mr. Giuliani] on Biden, and that people in Washington wanted to know” if his lawyer’s assertions that Mr. Biden acted improperly as vice president were true, one of the people said. Mr. Giuliani has suggested Mr. Biden’s pressure on Ukraine to fight corruption had to do with an investigation of a gas company for which his son was a director. A Ukrainian official this year said he had no evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Biden or his son Hunter Biden.
[Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine’s prosecutor general at the time, told Bloomberg News in May he had no evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Biden or his son.]
Mr. Trump in the call didn’t mention a provision of U.S. aid to Ukraine, said this person, who didn’t believe Mr. Trump offered the Ukrainian president any quid-pro-quo for his cooperation on any investigation [which means he does not know].
* * *
Mr. Giuliani in June and August met with top Ukrainian officials about the prospect of an investigation, he said in an interview. After the July call between the two presidents, the Ukrainian government said Mr. Trump had congratulated Mr. Zelensky on his recent election and expressed hope that his government would push ahead with investigations and corruption probes that had stymied relations between the two countries.
* * *
Mr. Giuliani said he met with an official from the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office in June in Paris, and met with Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Mr. Zelensky, in Madrid in August. Mr. Giuliani said in an interview this month that Mr. Yermak assured him the Ukrainian government would “get to the bottom” of the Biden matter.
The August meeting came weeks before the Trump administration began reviewing the status of $250 million in foreign aid to Ukraine, which the administration released earlier this month. Mr. Giuliani said he wasn’t aware of the issue with the funds to Ukraine at the time of the meeting.
He said his meeting with Mr. Yermak was set up by the State Department, and said he briefed the department on their conversationlater. The State Department had no immediate comment.