This has not been a great day for the GOP or for Donald Trump and now here’s another rock on the pile. One of their key talking points, that Ukraine “got the aid, didn’t they?” has now been blown out of the water, because Ukraine officials knew that there was a hold up in getting the aid, contingent upon Ukraine agreeing to hold investigations that Trump wanted held. They knew there was a problem and they inquired and that’s not what the GOP has been saying all along. Axios: Defense Department official Laura Cooper testified in an impeachment hearing Wednesday that members of her staff recently brought her two unclassified State Department emails revealing that the Ukrainian embassy had asked “what was going on” with U.S. military aid — which had by then been suspended — on July 25. Why it matters: July 25 is the same day of President Trump’s infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, though the emails from the State Department came after the morning call. Cooper’s testimony suggests the Ukrainians knew there was “some kind of issue” with the security assistance by July, and that they were aware the aid had been suspended by August. The surprise revelation could potentially undermine a key Republican defense that Zelensky could not have felt pressure from Trump to carry out investigations into his political rivals because the Ukrainian president was not aware of the frozen aid. The cat’s out of the bag now. And it’s not going to go back into the bag, it doesn’t look like. I wonder how Trump is going to spin this into a hoax on Twitter?
It was apparent from the day that Donald Trump was elected and he and his idiot son-in-law, Jared Kushner, didn’t even know that it was their responsibility to hire all new White House staff, that the civil servants, who did know procedures, were the only ones who were going to keep the wheels of government turning. Now, it is equally apparent that the career officials are the ones who are going to save our bacon. Laura Cooper, the Pentagon official in charge of Ukraine policy, testified voluntarily before the House impeachment inquiry committee Wednesday, and Adam Schiff also signed a subpoena requiring her appearance, apparently out of an abundance of caution — although that particular term of art is inapplicable nowadays. Nothing can get done in Washington these days unless it is tight as a drum and nailed shut, in this political atmosphere. Any possible loophole will be explored and exploited. That’s the case here, where David L. Norquist, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, attempted to challenge Cooper’s right to testify on the theory that department lawyers needed to be present. Below is the entire letter, and annotations to it are available at the New York Times: DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE 1010 DEFENSE PENTAGON WASHINGTON, DC 20301-1010 OCT 22 2019 Daniel Levin [Cooper’s attorney] White & Case LLP 701 Thirteenth Street, NW Washington, DC 20005-3807 Dear Mr. Levin: I understand that you have been retained by Ms. Laura Cooper, the Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, as her private counsel for a deposition to be conducted jointly by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Committee on Oversight and Reform, “[p]ursuant to the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry.” The Department’s October 15, 2019 letter to the Chairs of the three House Committees [Tab A] expressed its belief that the customary process of oversight and accommodation has historically served the interests of congressional oversight committees and the Department well. The Committees’ purported “impeachment inquiry,” however, presents at least two issues of great importance. The first issue is the Committees’ continued, blanket refusal to allow Department Counsel to be present at depositions of Department employees. Department Counsel’s participation protects against the improper release of privileged or classified information, particularly material covered by the executive privilege which is the President’s alone to assert and to waive. Excluding Department Counsel places the witness in the untenable position of having to decide whether to answer the Committees’ questions or to assert Executive Branch confidentiality interests without an attorney from the Executive Branch present to advise on those interests. It violates settled practice and may jeopardize future accommodation. Furthermore, the Department of Justice has concluded that “congressional subpoenas that purport to require agency employees to appear without agency counsel are legally invalid and are not subject to civil or criminal enforcement.” See Attempted Exclusion of Agency Counsel from Congressional Depositions of Agency Employees, 43 Op. O.L.C. (May 23, 2019) [Tab B]. The second issue is the absence of authority for the Committees to conduct an impeachment inquiry. In its October 15, 2019 letter, the Department conveyed concerns about the Committees’ lack of authority to initiate an impeachment inquiry given the absence of a delegation of such authority by House Rule or Resolution. This correspondence echoed […]
Sometimes people in Washington get it plain wrong!
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