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Member since: Sun Jan 3, 2010, 01:16 AM
Number of posts: 2,918

About Me

Was once a republican. long long ago, in a far, far away place. I apologize.

Journal Archives

IGs Unite Against Justice Legal Opinion That Ukraine Whistleblower Complaint Wasn't 'Urgent Concern'

Source: GovExec.com

Inspectors general across the federal government in a letter made public Friday rebuked the Justice Department for its legal opinion that the whistleblower complaint about President Trump’s July call to the president of Ukraine was not an “urgent concern.”

The Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency repudiated a Sept. 3 memo by the Office of Legal Counsel, a division of the Justice Department, arguing the memo’s conclusion that the whistleblower’s complaint was not urgent ran contrary to intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson’s determination. It was wrong for the Trump administration to try to keep the complaint secret at first and not turn it over to Congress, the inspectors general wrote in their letter to Office of Legal Counsel’s assistant attorney general.

“OLC’s opinion undermines the independence of the [Intelligence Community Inspector General] and wrongly interprets the respective roles and responsibilities of [inspectors general] and agency heads under the [Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act],” the IG council wrote. This “creates uncertainty for federal employees and contractors across government about the scope of whistleblower protections, thereby chilling whistleblower disclosures.”

The letter, written by Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency Chairman Michael Horowitz and Vice Chair Allison Lerner, was co-signed by 65 permanent and acting inspectors general, including all the IGs from the intelligence community and Justice and Defense departments. It called for the Office of Legal Counsel to reconsider its opinion. “You can’t have a decision being made by an [inspector general] being second guessed by the head of the agency, said Kel McClanahan, attorney and executive director of National Security Counselors, a public interest law firm that specializes in national security. He said it’s “huge” for the council to “speak in one voice and say this is wrong.”

Read more: https://www.govexec.com/oversight/2019/10/igs-unite-against-justice-opinion-ukraine-whistleblower-complaint-wasnt-urgent-concern/160881/

Thank you Inspector General community for standing up for law and order.

IG’s letter is also here:


How Trump's Defiance of Impeachment Probe Could Leave Federal Employees Criminally Liable

Source: GovExec.com

Federal employees being asked to disobey congressional mandates related to an impeachment inquiry into President Trump will have difficult decisions to make as they chart a path forward, legal experts say, but will have certain protections available to them.

The State Department on Tuesday refused to make U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland available for a scheduled deposition related to Trump’s interactions with Ukraine, and House Democrats now say they will issue a subpoena to demand his testimony. If the administration continues to block him and other employees from complying with Congress, it could put individuals in a precarious legal position. Pat Cipollone, counsel to the president, sent a letter to House leaders Tuesday afternoon informing Congress the administration will not comply with any element of the probe.

"President Trump and his administration reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process," Cipollone wrote. "Your unprecedented actions have left the president with no choice. In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the executive branch and all future occupants of the Office of the Presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances."

As Congress continues to widen its net for documents and testimony, employees subject to conflicting demands have two options, legal experts told Government Executive. The first is to violate orders from management and give Congress what it wants, assuming protections under whistleblower law. A second possibility is to exercise federal employees’ statutory “right to disobey” orders that violate laws, rules or regulations.

Read more: https://www.govexec.com/workforce/2019/10/how-trumps-defiance-impeachment-probe-could-leave-federal-employees-criminally-liable/160461/

As a federal employee, you have an obligation to comply with the subpenoa, and a legal obligation - and a legal right- to disobey an illegal order from the President.

It’s a Constitutional crisis. We are here.

What REALLY happened today-

This makes so much sense!
From Heather Cox Richardson -


Impeachment news today was overshadowed by Trump's surprise announcement that he is pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, leaving our Kurdish allies there to the mercy of advancing troops from Turkey. But my guess is that this and impeachment are actually the same story. This is really complicated, and some of it is outside my wheelhouse, so bear with me as I try to untangle it.

Pundits are spinning Trump's surprise withdrawal of troops as an attempt to fulfill a 2016 campaign promise to end foreign wars, and he certainly mentioned that promise in his declaration about the removal. But I'm shocked that no major American news outlets appear to be talking about oil.

Kurdistan is a region of people who share cultural, historical, and linguistic ties. It overlies the intersection of four countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey. The Kurds have their own leaders and have different political relationships with each of the governments of the nations in which they live, but they have tended to work with the US, especially in our war against ISIS, for which they have done much of the fighting. The base of Kurdish wealth is oil. Their land has a lot of it.

The Russian oil and gas giant, Rosneft, has been trying to gain access to develop Kurdish oil for years. Rosneft is one of the largest companies in the world, worth around $70 billion. It is the tool of Putin and Russian oligarchs, and after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, President Obama put sanctions on Rosneft to freeze its assets in the United States. These are the sanctions Putin wants lifted. Russia bought the Kurdish oil pipelines that run through Turkey almost two years ago, and if it can control the Kurdish oil fields, it will become the dominant foreign power in the Middle East, replacing the United States.

So what does this have to do with impeachment? Ukraine is another developing region with petroleum resources. We recently learned that while Rudy Giuliani and Trump's other people were attacking Hunter Biden's dealings in Ukraine, they were themselves trying to take control of Ukraine's huge natural gas company. They were working with the corrupt president, but the election of Volodymyr Zelensky, a reformer, brought them up short. They successfully torpedoed America's Ukraine Ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, who stood against them, and pushed for the investigation of Hunter Biden as well as the conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that attacked the 2016 elections. Key to this scheme were two Soviet-born Florida real estate men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who had poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Republican campaigns.

I know, you need a scorecard. But here's the full circle: The House impeachment investigating committees asked Parnas and Furman to produce documents and to testify about the Ukraine scandal. Today their lawyer wrote an astounding letter denying Congress had the authority to make such demands and that it was simply trying to "harass, intimidate and embarrass" his clients. He wrote the letter in comic sans font, which seems to suggest he is laughing at the idea he and his clients have to answer to Congress.

And now full circle back to Trump....

It sure looks like Russia wanted Trump to be president so he could loosen US support for Ukraine and lift the US sanctions on Rosneft (this is actually pretty well established, so I won't argue it here). The Steele Dossier of information about Trump, compiled by a former British intelligence agent, suggested that Putin had offered Trump and his associate Carter Page brokerage fees on the sale of up to 19% of Rosneft stock. That has never been proven, but Rosneft's interests were almost certainly in the air in 2016. Once president, Trump did hold back US military aid to Ukraine, but while he has been able to delay some of the sanctions, and to lift a few selectively, he hasn't been terribly successful at removing them altogether.

So why is there suddenly this Syrian announcement, an announcement that goes against not only established US policy but against most Republican Senators, whom Trump needs very badly right now to protect him from conviction if he is impeached? A few days ago, Rosneft announced that it was switching its operations to euros rather than dollars, because it wanted to lessen its exposure to future US sanctions. That suggests to me Russian leaders have lost faith that Trump can end sanctions, and that they are going to figure on doing business without him.

I think they see the writing on the wall that Trump's presidency is crumbling. I think Trump does, too, so he's trying to help out his friends in the Russian oil industry as much as he can, while he still can, come hell or high water. In addition to pulling troops out of Syria, we learned this afternoon that Trump is considering pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty, which would likely bring the whole treaty crashing down. It enables countries to conduct unarmed reconnaissance flights over each others' territories. Without it, Ukraine will not be able to monitor the Russian troops on its border. America will have ceded its influence in the Middle East and Asia to Putin.

Ever since July 23, 2016, when I read the first story about Russian interference in the American election, it has seemed to me that it has always been about Russia. No matter how the story twists and turns, always Russia seems somewhere around. This Syria story floored me because... why are we abandoning our allies?!? and why now, when it looks like an end is in sight?!?... and then I read that after Trump began the troop drawdown, the Russian foreign minister met with the Kurdish Prime Minister first thing this morning.
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