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dajoki

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Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Current location: PA
Member since: Wed May 11, 2005, 10:48 PM
Number of posts: 10,476

About Me

I love spending time with my grandchildren and gardening.

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Ukrainians: Trump Just Sent Us 'a Terrible Signal'

Ukrainians: Trump Just Sent Us ‘a Terrible Signal’
Kyiv officials were hoping for a statement of support from Trump in advance of Ukraine’s big summit with Russia. Instead, the president hosted Putin’s main man.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/ukrainians-trump-just-sent-us-a-terrible-signal

Ukrainian officials spent last weekend glued to Trump’s Twitter feed.

People working closely with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have been in contact with Trump administration officials over the past several weeks discussing the relationship between the two presidents, according to four people with knowledge of the talks. Based on those conversations, Ukrainian officials came to expect that President Donald Trump would make a statement of support before Zelensky met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in France for peace talks. A statement might even come via Twitter, they said they were told.

“Through all the signals we got, we firmly believed there would be a statement,” a senior Zelensky administration official told The Daily Beast.

But as Saturday and Sunday ticked by, there was only silence from the White House. Even as Ukrainian officials have publicly been loath to criticize Trump’s pressure campaign on their country, frustrations with Washington have quietly percolated. And last weekend, they were especially acute.

On Monday, Zelensky and Putin met in Normandy, France for face-to-face negotiations on the war in eastern Ukraine. Russia had seized Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, and has ever since backed separatists in the eastern part of the country. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were on hand for the talks. Putin and Zelensky agreed to exchange “all known prisoners,” according to The Washington Post. Another round of talks is expected in several months.

Words of support from the United States in the lead-up to the Normandy talks could have given the Ukrainian president more leverage with Putin, according to the Zelensky administration official and two additional people close to his administration. Instead, Trump spent the weekend on Twitter tweeting about Fox News pundits, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and CNN. It was a particularly busy weekend of social media for him, with more than 100 tweets and retweets by Politico’s count. But no word on Normandy.

<<snip>>

Report: Trump's Ukraine Extortion Scheme Was Financed by Russia

Report: Trump’s Ukraine Extortion Scheme Was Financed by Russia
http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/12/report-parnas-russia-ukraine-trump-impeachment-giuliani-money.html?utm_source=tw

President Trump is facing impeachment primarily for abusing his power for political gain, extorting a foreign country to discredit his political rivals. The secondary aspect of the plot is that the target of his extortion is hardly random. Ukraine is the victim of Russian aggression, and Russia’s continuing incursions into Ukrainian territory is the muscle that gave Trump’s threats leverage. Trump’s domestic interests are one intended beneficiary of his scheme. The other is Vladimir Putin.

Trump and his allies insist he has actually pursued a hawkish line in Ukraine. “Mr. Trump didn’t withhold military aid to Ukraine, and even if he had he would have merely been returning to Barack Obama’s policy of denying lethal aid,” argues a Wall Street Journal editorial. “No one has done more to limit Russia’s ability to engage in mischief than President Trump,” insists Representative Matt Gaetz in a Fox News segment retweeted by the president.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors charged yesterday evening that Lev Parnas, an associate of President Trump who represented him in Ukraine, was wired $1 million from a Russian bank account weeks before his arrest. Which is to say, Trump’s Ukraine plot appears to have been financed by Russia.

Parnas met repeatedly with Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Parnas claims Trump pulled him aside at last year’s White House Hanukkah party and personally directed his activities in Ukraine. That allegation remains unproven. What is proven, though, is that Parnas met with Trump numerous times (there are photographs), was Giuliani’s official business partner, and represented himself to Ukrainians as an agent of both Trump and Giuliani.

Rudy has worked as Trump’s lawyer for “free,” but Parnas paid him half a million dollars for his work. If Parnas himself was being paid by Russian sources, this means the Russians were essentially subsidizing Trump, paying for the work themselves so he didn’t have to lay out a dime of his own money.

<<snip>>

it's hard to overstate how large the Horowitz and Durham investigations loom in the right-wing mind

Bill Barr’s Own Top Investigator Privately Says Right-wing Conspiracy about the Russia Probe Is Baseless: Report
https://www.alternet.org/2019/12/bill-barrs-own-top-investigator-privately-says-right-wing-conspiracy-about-the-russia-probe-is-baseless-report/

John Durham, the U.S. attorney picked by Attorney General Bill Barr, has privately said that he has no evidence to support the right-wing conspiracy theory that the Russia investigation was an intelligence community plot to take down President Donald Trump, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

Barr, who chose Durham to oversee a review of the origins of the investigation that has become a criminal probe, has fanned the flames of the conspiracy theories about Russia probe. His public comments have suggested he gives credence to claims made by Trump and many right-wing media figures that the whole investigation was an illegitimate effort to undermine the president. This theory has always been wildly far-fetched, but it’s been treated as received wisdom in some corners by Trump defenders.

Recent reports have suggested, though, that a forthcoming report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz will refute the conspiracists and say the investigation was opened appropriately (though it will reportedly find some sloppiness and minor wrongdoing on the part of FBI officials). Following these reports, the Post found that Barr is prepared to dispute this key conclusion from Horowitz, adding to the perception that Barr is a partisan hitman trying to confirm Trump’s preconceived notions.

<<snip>>

It cautions, though, that Horowitz’s report is not yet final and the Post has not seen the draft report.

For those not tuned in to conservative media, it’s hard to overstate how large the Horowitz and Durham investigations loom in the right-wing mind. A minor event on Wednesday gave just one indication of the build-up: During the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment proceedings, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) suggested that the release of Horowitz’s report could provide grounds to impeach former President Barack Obama.

It's hard to be an optimist about America right now

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/its-hard-to-be-an-optimist-about-america-right-now/2019/11/27/8020e526-115b-11ea-b0fc-62cc38411ebb_story.html

<<snip>>

There is another concerning trend that threatens America’s constitutional character: the ever-expanding power of the presidency. Whatever you think of the charges against President Trump on Russia or Ukraine, his position of resolute noncooperation with Congress should trouble you deeply. If Congress cannot exercise its core oversight capacity, obtain documents and subpoena administration officials to testify, the essential system of checks and balances has broken down. The presidency will have become an elected dictatorship.

We have been going down this road for a while. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. wrote about “The Imperial Presidency” in 1973. The legislation and culture after Watergate led many to believe that matters were under control. People actually began worrying about a weakened and emasculated White House. In fact, as Schlesinger noted in a 2004 reissue of his book, the presidency in recent years has become stronger than ever. The fear after 9/11 proved to be the gateway for an out-of-control executive branch. The president gained the ability to snoop on private Americans, use military force at his whim, torture prisoners and detain people indefinitely. The president can now order the execution of American citizens who are deemed — by him — to be terrorists, without due process.

In Attorney General William P. Barr, Trump has found an extraordinarily useful aide, who appears to believe, despite all this history, that the great problem in the United States is that the presidency is too weak. He has enabled a policy of stonewalling and silence, in which top administration officials almost behave as though Congress does not exist. People often ask themselves what the founders would think of America today. It seems to me that the greatest shock to them would be the incredible growth of presidential power. Congress and the courts are recognizable from their times; the White House is not.

Tensions over profound demographic change, fierce political backlash and a presidency that refuses to be checked. My optimism is wearing thin.
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