Jane’s Addiction KAABOO by Alex Matthews 4
President Donald Trump faces a formal impeachment inquiry led in the Democratic-controlled House after he asked the newly elected Ukrainian president to investigate one of his chief political rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden
President Donald Trump faces a formal impeachment inquiry led in the Democratic-controlled House after he asked the newly elected Ukrainian president to investigate one of his chief political rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden led the Obama administration's diplomacy in Ukraine while his son, Hunter, was on the board of directors of a gas company.
Trump says his own behavior was appropriate. His critics say he had withheld military aid to Ukraine while he pressured its president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, on the Bidens. A whistleblower's complaint now before the Congress accuses Trump of "using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election." It further alleges that the White House engaged in a cover-up by hiding a transcript of the conversation on a computer server meant only for highly classified information.
Here are some of the affair's main characters as fast-moving developments unfold.
The still anonymous whistleblower is a CIA employee who was detailed to the White House, information that was first reported by The New York Times. He wrote a formal complaint addressed to Congress and dated Aug. 12 in which he accused the president of using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 election, by investigating one of his main political rivals, among other things. Trump has since released a memo of a call that he had with Ukraine's newly elected president on July 25 during which he did ask for an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden's son, Hunter.
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The whistleblower further alleges that senior White House officials had intervened to "lock down" all records of the phone call, by loading the transcript into an electronic system otherwise used to store especially sensitive classified information.
He wrote that he was not a direct witness to most of the events that he described but received information from more than a half a dozen U.S. officials during the course of his official duties.
Lawyers for the whistleblower, who have signaled that their client is wiling to testify before Congress, have objected to publishing any identifying details saying it will place the professional in a more dangerous situation.
The New York Times reported that he first brought his concerns about a potential abuse of power anonymously to the CIA's top lawyer, who shared them with White House and Justice Department officials. The whistle-blower complaint, filed about the same time, was delayed in transmission to Congress as the acting director of national intelligence resolved issues of executive privilege.
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s Personal Attorney
The one-time mayor of New York City who has been acting as Trump's personal attorney is at the center of attempts to push Ukraine to dig up dirt on the Bidens.
At times on his own and in other instances consulting with U.S. government officials, Giuliani has met with Ukrainians to press for information that would help Trump in his re-election bid. Trump began urging the newly elected president of Ukraine to work with Giuliani on "corruption" in his first congratulatory phone call in April, according to The New York Times. It also reported that Trump has been focused on Ukraine since it released information about cash payments that were damaging to Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort. Giuliani, meanwhile, has been making regular appearances on Fox News, shouting at his detractors to shut up and calling them morons and insisting that the State Department had asked him to meet with the Ukrainians.
“It is impossible that the whistle-blower is a hero and I’m not. And I will be the hero. These morons—when this is over, I will be the hero,” Giuliani told a writer for The Atlantic.
Vice President Mike Pence
When Pence was dispatched to Poland on Sept. 1 to fill in for Trump, he met with Zelenskiy and afterward told reporters that he had not discussed Biden with the Ukrainian president.
But when asked whether he could assure Ukraine that the delay in military assistance was unrelated to efforts to dig up dirt on the Biden family, he did not answer directly and referred to "great concerns about issues of corruption."
Trump himself urged reporters to review Pence's interactions with Zelenskiy, even as he insisted neither he nor his vice president had done nothing wrong.
"And I think you should ask for Vice President Pence's conversation because he had a couple conversations too," Trump said during a news conference at the United Nations on Sept. 25.
Pence's name arose in a footnote in the whistleblower's complaint: The vice president was instructed to cancel his planned trip to Ukraine for the new president's inauguration and Energy Secretary Rick Perry attended instead. It was "made clear" that the president did not want to meet with Zelenskiy until he saw how he "chose to act."
Attorney General Bill Barr
Barr’s name appears at the beginning of the whistleblower’s report accusing Trump of seeking foreign interference in the 2020 election. “Attorney General Barr appears to be involved as well,” the report says.
Trump raised Barr’s name in his July 25 conversation with the Ukrainian president, first to say he would like Barr to call Zelenskiy or his people over “a server.” Trump appeared to be referring to an unsubstantiated story that Ukraine had some involvement in the emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election. (Barr is overseeing a review of the intelligence community’s decision to begin an investigation into the Trump 2016 campaign for which the Department of Justice is interested in talking to Ukrainians.) During the phone call, Trump again brought up the attorney general when he urged an investigation into the Bidens. In a statement, the Department of Justice said that Barr was first notified of the phone call several weeks after it took place “when the Department of Justice learned of a potential referral.”
DOJ spokesperson Mollie Timmons added: "The President has not spoken with the Attorney General about having Ukraine investigate anything relating to former Vice President Biden or his son. The President has not asked the Attorney General to contact Ukraine – on this or any other matter. The Attorney General has not communicated with Ukraine – on this or any other subject. Nor has the Attorney General discussed this matter, or anything relating to Ukraine, with Rudy Giuliani."
House Speaker Pelosi said she thought Barr has "gone rogue."
Kurt Volker, Former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations
Volker, a special envoy with the State Department, met with Zelenskiy along with the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, on July 26, the day after the phone call during which Trump asked for an investigation into the Biden family. Volker and Sondland, according to the whistleblower's report, “reportedly provided advice to the Ukrainian leadership about how to 'navigate' the demands that the President had made of Mr. Zelenskyy". Giuliani has been displaying a text message that he said he had received on July 19 from Volker that reads: "Mr. Mayor -- really enjoyed breakfast this morning. As discussed, connecting you here with Andrey Yermak, who is very close to President Zelensky. I suggest we schedule a call together on Monday -- maybe 10am or 11am Washington time? Kurt.”
The State Department has acknowledged that Volker was who put Giuliani in touch with Ukrainian officials. He was brought in by former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help Ukraine resolve its conflict with Russia-sponsored separatists. Volker, the head of the John McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University, resigned from the part-time, unpaid position on Sept. 27, a day after the whistleblower report became public. Arizona State’s student newspaper was the first to report his resignation.
Marie Yovanovitch, Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
Yovanovitch is a career diplomat who was abruptly recalled from her post as the ambassador to Ukraine. At the time, the State Department said she was ending her departure a few months early, but during Trump’s phone call with the newly elected president of Ukraine, Trump called her “bad news” and said that she was “going to go through some things.” Her supporters say she was a respected diplomat pressing anti-corruption measures who ran up against some in the Ukrainian government. The Associated Press reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo initially resisted the push to recall her early. She previously served as ambassador to Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. Congressional committees plan to depose her and four other State Department officials about the whistleblower's complain, the AP reported.
Rep. Adam Schiff, Chairman, House Intelligence Committee
Schiff, a Democrat from California, heads the Intelligence Committee, which has been directed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to take the lead on the impeachment inquiry into Trump, based on his dealings with the Ukraine president. A former assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles who has been a persistent critic of the president, Schiff was blasted by conservatives for parodying Trump’s phone conversation with Zelenskiy during a hearing at which Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, appeared. But Schiff was praised for his questioning and his knowledge of national security. The Intelligence Committee is one of six in the House that is investigating Trump under the umbrella of the impeachment inquiry. His was the committee that released the declassified whistleblower complaint and letter from the Intelligence Community Inspector General. Trump routinely mocks Schiff on Twitter.
Joseph Maguire, Acting Director of National Intelligence
Maguire, a retired three-star admiral and former Navy SEAL, became the acting director of national intelligence in August and was immediately thrust into decisions over how to handle an explosive, what he called "unprecedented," whistleblower report that accused the president of abusing his power of office to solicit foreign interference into the 2020 election. Maguire tried to navigate between supporting the whistleblower and defending his delay in turning over the report to Congress as called for by the intelligence whistleblower law. Maguire testified before the House Intelligence Committee that he first needed the White House to resolve issues of executive privilege because the accusation involved Trump on a call with the president of Ukraine. Democrats were critical of his decision to turn to the Department of Justice and the White House Counsel's Office. He refused to say whether he had discussed the whistleblower complaint with Trump.