As I have written previously, internal White House emails obtained late Friday night by the Center for Public Integrity show that someone in budgeting in the White House ordered the Pentagon to put the money congress appropriated to Ukraine on hold, and to keep quiet about it, just 90 minutes after the phone call between Trump and President Zelensky.
“Given the sensitive nature of the request, I appreciate your keeping that information closely held to those who need to know to execute the direction,” Michael Duffey, a Trump-appointed senior official with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), wrote in a July 25 email to Pentagon Comptroller Elaine McCusker and other Trump administration officials.
“The perfect call” doesn’t quite jive with “given the sensitive nature of the request.” Does it? Keeping the information “closely held” to those people who need to know to execute the direction seems to practically shout that they knew they were engaging in something without legal justification, negating any talk about a “perfect call.”
Of course they knew they were engaging in “extra-legal” affairs, as stated in the article:
As CPI national security editor R. Jeffrey Smith wrote Friday, U.S. law mandates that “once Congress appropriates funds—like the Ukraine assistance—and the president signs the relevant spending bill, the executive branch must spend those funds.”
Yeah, the United States is funny that way. If the president could change his mind mid-stream and divy out funds (or not) based on new conditions he personally places upon recipients, that ends the republic, period, and it’s not coming back. I am not exagerating. if such behavior is tolerated, then why even have Congress go through all those wasted motions? The President can just do what he wants at the end of the day anyway.
They damned well knew they were not just operating illegally, but against everything this divided government stands for.
“A president cannot simply ignore Congress’ direction, no matter how inconvenient or unappealing that instruction might be,” Smith noted. “If funds are withheld or shifted elsewhere, this cannot be done in secret, and Congress must approve.”
The moment he does is the moment that Jeffersonian democracy dies.
This is why it all mattered, and it didn’t take Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi and Colonel Vindman to convince the people within the Trump administration that it mattered. They knew what they were doing was wrong. You can see it in the emails, you see it in what they were trying to hide.
And that, ultimately, is why witnesses from within the White House are needed in this impeachment trial. Now that this email is out, Schumer has something to pound home:
“What were they hiding?”….“This email is explosive. A top administration official, one that we’ve requested, is saying ‘stop the aid’ 91 minutes after Trump called Zelensky, and said ‘keep it hush-hush.’ What more do you need to request a witness?”
Which, obviously, is a great point that will never be answered because “hiding” is the entire point.
“If this is a perfect conversation, if this is [an] OK action, why are they trying to hush it up?”
Because the only thing “perfect” in the conversation was the perfect extortion directed at President Zelensky and Ukraine. Trump knows it, Mulvaney knows it, McConnell knows it, the House Republicans might have sensed it (we won’t guess at what House Republicans “Know” and how much is just “instinct” since they aren’t the deepest bunch), and that is why they will do all they possibly can to avoid having actual testimony at the impeachment trial.
In a column on Monday, the Washington Post‘s Paul Waldman states that the email itself is critical because it “directly undermines the justification Trump’s defenders have so often offered for holding up the aid: that it was not to coerce Ukraine into helping Trump’s reelection campaign but was merely a product of Trump’s passionate commitment to fighting corruption (please stop laughing).”
“If that were true, the White House would have wanted to make sure that every relevant official in the government was informed about the suspension of aid and why it was being undertaken,” Waldman wrote. “The White House might even have wanted to talk about it publicly. Instead, the White House treated the suspension of aid as a secret so dangerous that if if were discovered it would be a disaster.”
Why are we even playing this game? It is insulting everyone’s intelligence.
Everyone knows, I mean everyone knows, that Trump withheld the money to twist Zelensky’s arm to get dirt on Biden, because Trump fears Biden. Everyone knows.
And yet we have to play this pussy-ass game led by people like Trump, McConnell and Graham and act as if they have a leg to stand upon. To their credit, at least McConnell and Graham know that a full trial with witnesses is a bad move, that the less evidence out there the better. But as we’ve said before, Trump wants to punish people, and because the Republicans control “the trial,” he believes the trial can be used to punish those who hurt him. Deep down, do you not get the sense that Trump almost wants to admit he did it?
Take a breath, and think about it. Deep down, don’t you believe that Trump wants to get up and scream his: “You’re damned right I ordered the code red!!” moment? Just to see if the nation will stand up to him? He is so sure that he controls the Republicans, that – unlike Colonel Jessup, Trump could effectively scream that you’re damned right he extorted Ukraine, and walk out, emperor of the United States?
I think there is something there. Schumer has his best argument yet for live testimony. The emails, and the ongoing FOIA requests are important, and something to watch. And Trump so desperately wants that spectacle, the ratings extravaganza that he’s sure to be the hero of, where he buries his enemies and rises victorious above the ashes. Ironically, we also want the trial, an extravaganza.
Often, one never sees the end shot coming. And Trump is known to have a big blind spot.
Peace, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year, Zoomers.
email@example.com and on Twitter @MiciakZoom