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Pronk Pops Show 1363 November 20, 2019

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Story 1: Disgraceful Democrat Coup And Cover-up Collapsing As Big Lie Media’s Lies Exposed in Impeachment Hearing — American People No Longer Trust Corrupt Congress and Big Lie Media — Trump: ‘I Wanted Nothing From Ukraine” — Democrats Got Caught — Coup Collapses — Is That All There Is? — Videos

Impeachment Inquiry: Here’s What Nobody Understands About the Rules of Evidence, Hearsay and Perjury

Trump responds to Sondland’s testimony: ‘I turned off the television’

Trump vehemently denies quid pro quo after Sondland testimony: ‘I want nothing’

Tucker’s big takeaways from the Trump impeachment saga

Ingraham: Storytime with Adam Schiff

Ambassador Gordon Sondland Complete Opening Statement

WATCH: All the key moments from Gordon Sondland’s Trump impeachment hearing in 15 minutes (Day 4)

WATCH: Republican counsel’s full questioning of Gordon Sondland | Trump impeachment hearings

WATCH: Rep. Devin Nunes’ full questioning of Gordon Sondland | Trump impeachment hearings

Rep. Maloney and Ambassador Sondland have tense exchange

WATCH: Rep. Peter Welch’s full questioning of Gordon Sondland | Trump impeachment hearings

WATCH: Rep. Elise Stefanik’s full questioning of Gordon Sondland | Trump impeachment hearings

WATCH: Sondland declines to say whether he believed Trump when he said ‘no quid pro quo’

CONTRADICTING TESTIMONIES: Mike Turner RIPS into Amb. Sondland

WATCH: Rep. John Ratcliffe’s full questioning of Gordon Sondland | Trump impeachment hearings

WATCH: Rep. Jim Jordan’s full questioning of Gordon Sondland | Trump impeachment hearings

 

WATCH: Democratic counsel’s full questioning of Gordon Sondland | Trump impeachment hearings

Sondland Screws Trump

Rep. Adam Schiff Closing Statement: “Is there any accountability?”

WATCH: Sondland testimony provides ‘zero evidence’ of Trump crimes in Ukraine, Nunes says

Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said the testimony by Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, provided “zero evidence of any of the crimes that have been alleged” of President Donald Trump with regard to Ukraine. In closing statements after Sondland testified in a public hearing on Nov. 20, Nunes accused Democrats of contributing to a “conspiracy theory” against Trump. Sondland testified that there was a “quid pro quo” in which U.S. aid and a White House meeting were contingent on Ukraine agreeing to investigate the 2016 elections and the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, where the son of 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden, Hunter, sat on the board.

Peggy Lee — Is That All There Is? 1969

 

Gordon Sondland

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Gordon Sondland
Gordon Sondland official photo.jpg
United States Ambassador to the European Union
Assumed office
July 9, 2018
President Donald Trump
Preceded by Anthony L. Gardner
Personal details
Born
Gordon David Sondland

July 16, 1957 (age 62)
Mercer IslandWashington, U.S.

Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Katherine Durant
Alma mater University of Washington

Gordon David Sondland (born July 16, 1957)[1][2] is an American diplomat and businessperson. He is the United States Ambassador to the European Union.[3] Sondland is also the founder and former chairman of Provenance Hotels and co-founder of the merchant bank Aspen Capital.

Early life and education

Sondland was born to a Jewish family[4][5] in Mercer Island, Washington,[6] the son of Frieda (Piepsch) and Gunther Sondland.[7][8] His mother fled Germany before the Second World War[9] to Uruguay, where after the war she reunited with his father, who had served in the French Foreign Legion. In 1953, the Sondlands relocated to Seattle where they opened a dry-cleaning business.[10] Sondland has a sister 18 years his senior.[10] He attended the University of Washington but dropped out and became a commercial real estate salesman.[10]

Career

In 1985, Sondland raised $7.8 million from friends and his wealthy brother-in-law and purchased the Roosevelt Hotel, a bankrupt Seattle hotel.[10]

Sondland’s company, Provenance Hotels, owns and manages hotels throughout the United States, including the Hotel Max and Hotel Theodore in Seattle, Washington; Hotel Murano in Tacoma, WashingtonHotel deLuxeHotel LuciaSentinel Hotel, Dossier, and Heathman Hotel in Portland, Oregon; The Hotel Preston in Nashville, Tennessee; and Old No. 77 Hotel and Chandlery in New Orleans, Louisiana.[11]

In 1998, Sondland purchased and redeveloped four hotels in Seattle, Portland, and Denver including Seattle’s Alexis Hotel in partnership with Bill Kimpton. Sondland also is a principal in Seattle’s Paramount Hotel.[12][13] Through Provenance Hotels, Sondland is developing hotel projects throughout the US, including in SeattleHermosa Beach, CA and Los Angeles, CA. Provenance Hotels specializes in adaptations of old buildings such as with the Hotel Murano in Tacoma, WA, which used to be a conference Sheraton, but now includes glass art by 46 artists including Seattle’s Dale Chihuly.[14] Provenance is also known for designing or remodeling each hotel around themes that contain elements that relate to a location’s history, art, culture, and local businesses.[15][16]

In 2013, Sondland and Provenance completed a renovation of Portland’s historic Governor Hotel, renaming it Sentinel.[17] In December 2015, Sondland and Provenance announced the establishment of the company’s first real estate investment fund, Provenance Hotel Partners Fund I. The $525 million fund was created specifically for hotel real estate investment and, at the time of its announcement, was the fourth largest fund ever launched in the state of Oregon.[18]

Following his appointment as U.S. Ambassador to the European Union by President Trump, Sondland’s name was removed from the Provenance Hotels’ website and replaced with that of his wife, who is now listed as the chairman.[19]

Political involvement

Sondland was a member of the transition team for Oregon Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski‘s administration and was appointed by Kulongoski to serve on the board of the Governor’s Office of Film & Television.[20] He was appointed the commission’s chair in 2002 and has served in that capacity until 2015.[21] During his tenure on the film board, Sondland was instrumental in bringing the production of such television series as LeverageThe Librarians, and Grimm to Oregon[22] and presided over the state securing the production of feature-length films such as Wild starring Reese Witherspoon, Thumbsucker starring Tilda Swinton, and The Ring Two starring Naomi Watts. At the 2015 Oregon Film Annual Governor’s Awards, Sondland received the “Achievement in Film Service Award” for his role in growing Oregon’s film industry.[23]

Sondland also served as Oregon liaison to the White House. As an advisor to Kulongoski, Sondland suggested appointing Ted Wheeler as state treasurer, which Kulongoski did in 2010.[24] In 2007, President George W. Bush appointed Sondland as a member of the Commission on White House Fellows.[25] Sondland collaborated with President Bush and Jay Leno on an annual charitable auction of an autographed vehicle, with proceeds benefitting the Fisher House Foundation and the George W. Bush Foundation’s Military Service Initiative.[26] He was a bundler for Mitt Romney’s 2012 Presidential campaign, and in 2012, Sondland was selected to serve as a member of Mitt Romney‘s presidential transition team.[2]

During the 2016 United States presidential election, Sondland initially supported Donald Trump, but cancelled a fundraiser and repudiated Trump for his attacks on Khizr and Ghazala Khan.[2] In April 2017, it was revealed that four companies registered to Sondland donated $1 million to the Donald Trump Presidential Inaugural Committee.[27][28][29]

United States ambassador to the European Union

Sondland at the United States–EU Energy Council meeting in Brussels on July 12, 2018

In March 2018, it was reported that President Trump selected Sondland to be the next United States ambassador to the European Union.[30][31] [32][3] [33] Sondland’s nomination received bipartisan support during his confirmation hearing and he was confirmed on June 28, 2018.[4] [4][5]

As ambassador, Sondland has said that strengthening US-EU trade relations is a top priority.[34] He has supported using a strong US-EU economic partnership to counter what Sondland has called “economic aggression and unfair trade practices” from China.[35][36] In pursuit of this end, Sondland has promoted the idea of giving European governments access to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to allow them to better screen investors.[34]

Sondland has worked on data protection rules regarding U.S. compliance with the EU-US privacy shield.[37] He has also pledged to work with the EU to address global security threats.[38] He has been the Trump Administration’s lead in talks with EU member countries on the U.S.’s decertification and withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal.[39][40] Sondland has repeatedly criticized EU member countries’ creation of a “special purpose vehicle” (SPV) to bypass reimposed U.S. sanctions on Iran, calling the SPV a “paper tiger.”[39][41][42]

Sondland has been a vocal opponent of the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would transport gas across the Baltic Sea to the EU.[43] He has argued that the pipeline would leave the EU dependent upon Russia for its energy needs and increase Russia’s leverage on key U.S. allies in NATO.[44] Sondland argued that “Putin uses energy as a political weapon. The EU should not rely on a bare-chested version of the Harry Potter villain Lord Voldemort as a supplier, even if his gas is a bit cheaper.”[45]

Trump–Ukraine scandal

U.S. Delegation at May 20, 2019 Ukrainian inauguration – U.S. Photo

On September 26, 2019, the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released the unclassified text of the whistleblower complaint regarding the interactions between United States President Donald Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.[46] In this document, Ambassador Sondland, along with U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Ambassador Kurt Volker were described as having “provided advice to the Ukrainian leadership about how to ‘navigate’ the demands that the President had made of Mr. Zelensky”.[47] After further investigation, The Washington Post concluded that Sondland had “seized control of the Ukraine portfolio to help Trump.”[48]

In the complaint released by the Select Committee on Intelligence, Sondland’s involvement in President Donald Trump’s activity was outlined in a text conversation with the interim chargé d’affaires for Ukraine Bill Taylor:

[12:47:11 AM] Bill Taylor: As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.

[9/9/2019, 5:19:35 AM] Gordon Sondland: Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign I suggest we stop the back and forth by text If you still have concerns I recommend you give Lisa Kenna or S a call to discuss them directly. Thanks.[49]

Closed-door testimony relating to Sondland

On October 8, the Trump administration attempted to block Sondland from testifying in the impeachment inquiry.[50] Sondland testified October 17, 2019.[51][52][53][54][55][56]

Three weeks later on November 5, and following the testimony of other senior national security officials who told lawmakers that security assistance was also used to try to compel the Ukrainians to open investigations that might be of benefit to the Trump 2020 campaign, Sondland provided updated testimony stating that he did in fact view delivery of the aid package as contingent upon the Ukrainian government publicly opening an investigation of Trump’s political rivals as desired by the President. According to the testimony, he relayed this position to Ukrainian government officials.[57]

In early November, Fiona Hill testified that Sondland, as a newcomer unaccustomed to diplomatic protocols, exhibited behavior that was “comical” but “deeply concerning,” and his lack of adherence to security protocols made him a “counterintelligence risk.” Hill testified that in July, Sondland attended a meeting with Ukrainian officials and told them that an Oval Office meeting with Trump would occur if investigations began. She testified, “Ambassador Sondland blurted out: ‘Well, we have an agreement with the Chief of Staff (Mick Mulvaney) for a meeting if these investigations in the energy sector start,'” and that John Bolton ended the meeting abruptly and later told her, “I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up.”[58]

On November 13, William Taylor, the acting head of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, testified that a staff member who was later identified as David Holmes told him that he overheard a phone conversation about Ukraine “investigations” between Sondland and the president at a restaurant in Kyiv. The call was made the day following Trump’s phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which he asked Zelenskiy to investigate corruption. Taylor said there were two other people having lunch in the restaurant, and they heard the conversation as well.[59] Appearing in a closed-door inquiry on November 15, in a written opening statement Holmes said he heard Trump ask, “So, he’s gonna do the investigation?” and Sondland replied, “he’s gonna do it” adding Zelensky will do “anything you ask him to.” Holmes also testified that Sondland later told him that Trump “did not give a shit about Ukraine” and “only cared about the big stuff … the big stuff that benefits the president like the Biden investigation that Mr. Giuliani was pushing.” In the same conversation, Sondland was also heard to characterize President Zelensky’s strongly favorable view of President Trump, informing the latter that Zelenskiy “loves [his] ass.” [60] U.S. security experts were alarmed by the fact that Sondland called a U.S. president on an unsecured line in a public place, particularly in Ukraine, where calls are assumed to be monitored by Russia.[61]

On November 16, the House impeachment investigators released the closed-door testimony of former National Security Council official Tim Morrison. Morrison voiced concerns saying that during the time that he had worked with Sondland he was not following the normal diplomatic process as used by other personnel but rather was on “a second track,” chiefly led by Sondland, “where Rudy Giuliani’s name would come up.” Morrison also testified that he had heard from Sondland that “US aid to Ukraine was conditioned on the country announcing an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.” Morrison said that on September 7, Sondland told him of a phone call he’d had from Trump in which the president said, “that there was no quid pro quo, but President Zelensky must announce the opening of the investigations and he should want to do it.”[62] During his public testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives on November 19, 2019, Morrison stated that Sondland confirmed to him that there was indeed a quid pro quo for US aid to Ukraine and Sondland told him this following a telephone conversation Sondland had with Ukraine official Andriy Yermak on September 1, 2019.[63]

Public testimony

External video
 Testimony of Sondland to the House Intelligence Committee, November 20, 2019C-SPAN

In his public testimony on November 20, Sondland said it was at the “express direction of the president” that he, Kurt Volker, and Rick Perry, commonly referred to as “the three amigos,” worked with Giuliani on Ukraine matters even though they were uncomfortable with Giuliani’s role. He said that the leadership of the State Department and the National Security Council, including Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, were fully informed of their activities and Giuliani’s, adding “Everyone was in the loop.”[64] He said that Trump, through Giuliani, was clearly demanding a public commitment by Zelensky to investigate Bursima (a Ukrainian gas company where Vice President Joe Biden’s son had sat on the board) and the 2016 election as a prerequisite to receive a White House invitation or phone call. “Was there a ‘quid pro quo? The answer is yes,” he said in his opening remarks.[65] He said it was “his personal guess” that the aid to Ukraine was also being withheld to achieve that goal, but that he never heard Trump say so. Sondland also confirmed that he had conversed by phone with Trump on July 26, as previously reported by other witnesses, adding that he “had no reason to doubt” that the subject had included investigations but “had no recollection” of discussing the Bidens.[64] Sondland testtified to Deven Nunas that he remains “a proud member of the three amigos,” and said that he would have objected to the Bursima investigation if he had connected it to the Bidens. In her testimony on the following day Fiona Hill was asked, “Is it credible to you that Mr. Sondland was completely in the dark about this [connection] all summer?” she replied, “It is not credible to me that he was oblivious.”[66]

Philanthropy

Sondland founded the Gordon Sondland and Katherine J. Durant Foundation in 1999, which was established to “help families and boost communities”; it has given money to various non-profits including $1,000,000 to the Portland Art Museum to endow permanent access for children under the age of eighteen.[67] The Foundation helped establish a Distinguished Chair in Spine for pediatric orthopedic spine research at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in 2012.[citation needed] In 2014, the Foundation gave a $1,000,000 endowment to Oregon Health & Science University to establish the Sondland-Durant Distinguished Research Conference, a cancer research summit to begin in 2016.[68] In 2017, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Duke University was created with the support of the Foundation.[citation needed]

In November 2019, the Portland Business Journal noted that following Sondland’s appointment as Ambassador, the Gordon D. Sondland and Katherine J. Durant Foundation modified its website by removing a biography tab for Sondland and adding two new ones for the couple’s children.[69]

Personal life

In 1993, Sondland married Katherine Durant,[10] who is the founder and managing partner of Atlas/RTG, a holding company with a portfolio of shopping centers throughout Oregon.[citation needed] Until 2016, Durant was the Chairperson of the Oregon Investment Council, the body that oversees the over $85 billion Public Employees Retirement System Fund.[70] They have two children, Max and Lucy.[71]

References…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Sondland

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1362, November 19, 2019, Story 1: Coup Cover-up Campaign Continues — Big Lie Media Continues Peddling Progressive Propaganda Lies — Both Phony Whistle Blower and Trump DNC Dirt Digger Must Testify — Democrat Operative Activist and CIA Analyst Eric A. Ciaramella Is The Whistle Blower — Democrat National Committee (DNC) Ukraine Trump Dirt Digger — Alexandra Chalupa — Both Must Testify In Public or Impeachment Fails — Videos — Story 2: Illegal Alien Invasion Continues and Democrats Continue To Support Open Borders and Citizenship For All 30-60 Million Illegal Aliens Now In The United States — Democrats More Concerned With Illegal Aliens Than Welfare of American People — The Great Betrayal of The American People By The Political Elitist Establishment of Both Big Government Parties — Videos

Posted on November 27, 2019. Filed under: 2020 Democrat Candidates, 2020 President Candidates, 2020 Republican Candidates, Addiction, Addiction, Addiction, American History, Banking System, Barack H. Obama, Bill Clinton, Blogroll, Breaking News, Bribery, Bribes, Budgetary Policy, Cartoons, Central Intelligence Agency, Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy, Coal, College, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Culture, Deep State, Defense Spending, Disasters, Diseases, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Energy, Environment, Exercise, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ), Fifth Amendment, First Amendment, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Former President Barack Obama, Fourth Amendment, Fraud, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Health, Health Care Insurance, High Crimes, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Drugs, Illegal Drugs, Illegal Immigration, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, Investments, Iran Nuclear Weapons Deal, IRS, Joe Biden, Killing, Labor Economics, Law, Legal Drugs, Legal Immigration, Life, Lying, Mass Shooting Homicides, Media, Mental Illness, Mexico, Military Spending, Monetary Policy, Movies, National Interest, National Security Agency, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, News, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Nuclear Weapons, Obama, Oil, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Pro Life, Progressives, Public Corruption, Public Relations, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Resources, Rule of Law, Russia, Scandals, Second Amendment, Senate, Social Networking, Spying on American People, Subornation of perjury, Subversion, Surveillance and Spying On American People, Surveillance/Spying, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Terror, Terrorism, Trade Policy, Treason, Trump Surveillance/Spying, Ukraine, Unemployment, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

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Pronk Pops Show 1362 November 19, 2019

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Story 1: Coup Cover-up Campaign Continues — Big Lie Media Continues Peddling Progressive Propaganda Lies — Both Phony Whistle Blower and Trump Dirt Digger Must Testify — Democrat Operative Activist and CIA Analyst Eric A. Ciaramella Is The Whistleblower — Democrat National Committee (DNC) Ukraine Trump Dirt Digger –Alexandra Chalupa — Both Must Testify In Public or Impeachment Fails — Videos — 

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House Impeachment Inquiry Hearing – Vindman & Williams Testimony

Impeachment Inquiry Hearing with Lt. Col. Vindman and Vice President Pence Aide Jennifer Williams. Hearing begins with gavel at 31:40. https://cs.pn/377wOPm

Rep. Devin Nunes Opening Statement

WATCH: Rep. Nunes’ full opening statement in Volker and Morrison hearing

WATCH: Rep. Elise Stefanik’s full questioning of Vindman and Williams | Trump impeachment hearings

WATCH: Rep. Michael Turner’s full questioning of Vindman and Williams | Trump impeachment hearings

WATCH: Rep. Jordan criticizes Vindman for discussing Trump Ukraine call | Trump impeachment inquiry

WATCH: Rep. Jim Jordan’s full questioning of Vindman and Williams | Trump impeachment hearings

WATCH: Schiff’s full questioning of Vindman and Williams | Trump impeachment hearings

WATCH: Democratic counsel’s full questioning of Vindman and Williams | Trump impeachment hearings

WATCH: Rep. Nunes’ full opening statement in Volker and Morrison hearing

Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said there has been in a “disconnect” between what’s been seen and heard in the public impeachment hearings so far, and what’s been reported by media. Repeating a GOP argument in the hearings, Nunes raised questions about Democrats’ “prior coordination” with the whistleblower. Rep. Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has previously said he doesn’t know the identity of the whistleblower or communicated with them. Nunes spoke ahead of testimony from Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an Army officer who works for the National Security Council, on Nov. 19, in a public hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. The impeachment inquiry has focused on a July 25 phone call in which Trump asked the president of Ukraine to investigate former vice president and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. For more on who’s who in the Trump impeachment inquiry, read: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics…

Day 3, Part 13: Devin Nunes and Steve Castor question Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison

WATCH: Rep. Jim Jordan’s full questioning of Volker and Morrison | Trump impeachment hearings

WATCH: Republican counsel’s full questioning of Volker and Morrison | Trump impeachment hearings

WATCH: Rep. Michael Turner’s full questioning of Volker and Morrison | Trump impeachment hearings

WATCH: Democratic counsel’s full questioning of Volker and Morrison | Trump impeachment hearings

Watch Live: Trump Impeachment Inquiry Hearings – November 19, 2019 (Day 3) | NBC News

House Impeachment Inquiry Hearing – Vindman & Williams Testimony

George Soros, Marie Yovanovitch, Democrats & Ukraine: How the DEEP STATE Takes Control

Glenn breaks down the several steps our shadow government, or deep state, uses to take control of both domestic and foreign policy, allowing them to gain power and shape the world into their socialistic viewpoint. Several sources claim former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, instructed Ukraine officials to keep their hands off investigating the NGO in Ukraine founded by George Soros. Why? George Soros is working with the State Department on the two final steps to take power there: training activists to go into action when cued, and actively supporting that opposition.

Debunking some of the Ukraine scandal myths about Biden and election interference

There is a long way to go in the impeachment process, and there are some very important issues still to be resolved. But as the process marches on, a growing number of myths and falsehoods are being spread by partisans and their allies in the news media.

The early pattern of misinformation about Ukraine, Joe Biden and election interference mirrors closely the tactics used in late 2016 and early 2017 to build the false and now-debunked narrative that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin colluded to hijack the 2016 election.

Facts do matter. And they prove to be stubborn evidence, even in the midst of a political firestorm. So here are the facts (complete with links to the original materials) debunking some of the bigger fables in the Ukraine scandal.

Myth: There is no evidence the Democratic National Committee sought Ukraine’s assistance during the 2016 election.

The Facts: The Ukrainian embassy in Washington confirmed to me this past April that a Democratic National Committee contractor named Alexandra Chalupa did, in fact, solicit dirt on Donald Trump and Paul Manafort during the spring of 2016 in hopes of spurring a pre-election congressional hearing into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. The embassy also stated Chalupa tried to get Ukraine’s president at the time, Petro Poroshenko, to do an interview on Manafort with an American investigative reporter working on the issue. The embassy said it turned down both requests.

You can read the Ukraine embassy’s statement here. The statement essentially confirmed a January 2017 investigative article in Politico that first raised concerns about Chalupa’s contacts with the embassy.

Chalupa’s activities involving Ukraine were further detailed in a May 2016 email published by WikiLeaks in which she reported to DNC officials on her efforts to dig up dirt on Manafort and Trump. You can read that email here.  Myth: There is no evidence that Ukrainian government officials tried to influence the American presidential election in 2016.

The Facts: There are two documented episodes involving Ukrainian government officials’ efforts to influence the 2016 American presidential election. The first occurred in Ukraine, where a court last December ruled that a Parliamentary member and a senior Ukrainian law enforcement official improperly tried to influence the U.S. election by releasing financial records in spring and summer 2016 from an investigation into Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s lobbying activities. The publicity from the release of the so-called Black Ledger documents forced Manafort to resign. You can read that ruling here.  While that court ruling since has been set aside on a jurisdiction technicality, the facts of the released information are not in dispute.

The second episode occurred on U.S. soil back in August 2016 when Ukraine’s then-ambassador to Washington, Valeriy Chaly, took the extraordinary step of writing an OpEd in The Hill criticizing GOP nominee Donald Trump and his views on Russia just three months before Election Day. You can read that OpEd here.

Chaly later told me through his spokeswoman that he wasn’t writing the OpEd for political purposes but rather to address his country’s geopolitical interests. But his article, nonetheless, was viewed by many in career diplomatic circles as running contrary to the Geneva Convention’s rules barring diplomats from becoming embroiled in the host country’s political affairs. And it clearly adds to the public perception that Ukraine’s government at the time preferred Hillary Clinton over Trump in the 2016 election.

Myth: The allegation that Joe Biden tried to fire the Ukrainian prosecutor investigating his son Hunter Biden’s Ukrainian gas firm employer has been debunked, and there is no evidence the ex-vice president did anything improper.

The Facts: Joe Biden is captured on  videotape bragging about his effort to strong-arm Ukraine’s president into firing Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. Biden told a foreign policy group in early 2018 that he used the threat of withholding $1 billion in U.S. aid to Kiev to successfully force Shokin’s firing. You can watch Biden’s statement here.

It also is not in dispute that at the time he forced the firing, the vice president’s office knew Shokin was investigating Burisma Holdings, the company where Hunter Biden worked as a board member and consultant. Team Biden was alerted to the investigation in a December 2015 New York Times article. You can read that article here.

The unresolved question is what motivated Joe Biden to seek Shokin’s ouster. Biden says he took the action solely because the U.S. and Western allies believed Shokin was ineffective in fighting corruption. Shokin told me, ABC News and others that he was fired because Joe Biden was unhappy that the Burisma investigation was not shut down. He made similar statements in an affidavit prepared to be filed in an European court. You can read that affidavit here.

In the end, though, whether Joe Biden had good or bad intentions in getting Shokin fired is somewhat irrelevant to the question of the vice president’s ethical obligation.

U.S. ethics rules require all government officials to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest in taking official actions. Ethics experts I talked with say Biden should have recused himself from the Shokin matter once he learned about the Burisma investigation to avoid the appearance issue.

And a senior U.S. diplomat was quoted in testimony reported by The Washington Post earlier this month that he tried to raise warnings with Biden’s VP office in 2015 that Hunter Biden’s role at the Ukrainian firm raised the potential issue of conflicts of interest.

Myth: Ukraine’s investigation into Burisma Holdings was no longer active when Joe Biden forced Shokin’s firing in March 2016.

The Facts: This is one of the most egregiously false statements spread by the media. Ukraine’s official case file for Burisma Holdings, provided to me by prosecutors, shows there were two active investigations into the gas firm and its founder Mykola Zlochevsky in early 2016, one involving corruption allegations and the other involving unpaid taxes.

In fact, Shokin told me in an interview he was making plans to interview Burisma board members, including Hunter Biden, at the time he was fired. And it was publicly reported that in February 2016, a month before Shokin was fired, that Ukrainian prosecutors raided one of Zlochevsky’s homes and seized expensive items like a luxury car as part of the corruption probe. You can read a contemporaneous news report about the seizure here.

Burisma’s own legal activities also clearly show the investigations were active at the time Shokin was fired. Internal emails I obtained from the American legal team representing Burisma show that on March 29, 2016 – the very day Shokin was fired – Burisma lawyer John Buretta was seeking a meeting with Shokin’s temporary replacement in hopes of settling the open cases.

In May 2016 when new Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko was appointed, Buretta then sent a letter to the new prosecutor seeking to resolve the investigations of Burisma  and Zlochevsky. You can read that letter here.

Buretta eventually gave a February 2017 interview to the Kiev Post in which he divulged that the corruption probe was resolved in fall 2016 and the tax case by early January 2017.  You can read Buretta’s interview here.

In another words, the Burisma investigations were active at the time Vice President Biden forced Shokin’s firing, and any suggestion to the contrary is pure misinformation.

Myth: There is no evidence Vice President Joe Biden did anything to encourage Burisma’s hiring of his son Hunter.

The Facts: This is another area where the public facts cry out for more investigation and raise a question in some minds about another appearance of a conflict of interest.

Hunter Biden’s business partner, Devon Archer, was appointed to Burisma’s board in mid-April 2014 and the firm Rosemont Seneca Bohai — jointly owned by Hunter Biden and Devon Archer — received its first payments from the Ukrainian gas company on April 15, 2014, according to the company’s ledgers. That very same day as the first Burisma payment, Devon Archer met with Joe Biden at the White House, according to White House visitor logs. It is not known what the two discussed.

A week later, Joe Biden traveled to Ukraine and met with then-Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. During that meeting, the American vice president urged Ukraine to ramp up energy production to free itself from its Russian natural gas dependence. Biden even boasted that “an American team is currently in the region working with Ukraine and its neighbors to increase Ukraine’s short-term energy supply.” Yatsenyuk welcomed the help from American “investors” in modernizing natural gas supply lines in Ukraine. You can read the Biden-Yatsenyuk transcript here.

Less than three weeks later, Burisma added Hunter Biden to its board to join Archer. To some, the sequence of events creates the appearance that Joe Biden’s pressure to increase Ukrainian gas supply and to urge Kiev to rely on Americans might have led Burisma to hire his son. More investigation needs to be done to determine exactly what happened. And until that occurs, the appearance issue will likely linger over this episode.

Myth: Hunter Biden’s firm only received $50,000 a month for his work as a board member and consultant for Burisma Holdings.

The Facts: This figure frequently cited by Biden defenders and the media significantly understates what Burisma was paying Hunter Biden’s Rosemont Seneca Bohai firm for his and Devon Archer’s services. Bank records obtained by the FBI in an unrelated case show that between May 2014 and the end of 2015, Hunter Biden’s and Archer’s firm received monthly consulting payments totaling $166,666, or three times the amount cited by the media. In some months, there was even more money than that paid. You can review those bank records here.

The monthly payments figures are confirmed by the accounting ledger that Burisma turned over to Ukrainian prosecutors. That ledger, which you can read here, also shows that in spring and summer of 2014 Burisma paid more than $283,000 to the American law firm of Boies Schiller, where Hunter Biden also worked as an attorney.

Myth: President Trump was trying to force Ukraine to reopen a probe into Burisma Holdings and its founder Mykola Zlochevsky when he talked to Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in July of this year.

The Facts: Trump could not have forced the Ukrainians into opening a new Burisma investigation in July because the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s office had already done so on March 28, 2019, or three months before the call.

The prosecutors filed this notice of suspicion in Ukraine announcing the re-opening of the investigation. The revival of the case was even widely reported in the Ukrainian press, something U.S. intelligence and diplomats who are now testifying to Congress behind closed doors should have known. Here’s an example of one such Ukrainian media report at the time.

Myth: Former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko retracted or recanted his claim that U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch in 2016 identified people and entities she did not what to see prosecuted in Ukraine.

The Facts: In a March interview with me at Hill.TV captured on videotape, Lutsenko stated that during his first meeting with Yovanovitch in summer 2016, the American diplomat rattled off a list of names of Ukrainian individuals and entities she did not want to see investigated or prosecuted. Lutsenko called it a “do not prosecute” list. You can watch that video here. The State Department disputed his characterization as a fabrication, which Hill.TV reported in its original report.

A few weeks later, a Ukrainian news outlet claimed it interviewed Lutsenko and he backed off his assertion about the list. Several American outlets have since picked up that same language.

There is just one problem. I re-interviewed Lutsenko after the Ukrainian report suggesting he recanted. He adamantly denied recanting, retracting or changing his story, and said the Ukrainian newspaper simply misunderstood that the list of names were conveyed orally during the meeting and not in writing, just like he said in the original Hill.TV interview.

Here is Lutsenko’s full explanation to me back last spring: “At no time since our interview have I ever retracted the statement I made about the U.S. ambassador providing me a list of names of people and organizations she did not want my office to prosecute. Shortly after my televised interview with your news organization I was asked by a Ukraine reporter if I had a copy of the letter that Ambassador Yovanovitch provided me with the names of those she did not want prosecuted. The reporter misunderstood how the names were transmitted to me. I explained to the reporter that the Ambassador did not hand me a written list but rather provided the list of names orally over the course of a meeting.” Lutsenko reaffirmed he stood by his statements again in September.

It is important to note Lutsenko’s story was also backed up by State Department officials and contemporaneous memos before his interview was ever aired. For instance, a senior U.S. official I interviewed for the Lutsenko story reviewed the list of names that Lutsenko recalled being on the so-called do-not-prosecute list.

That official stated during the interview: ““I can confirm to you that at least some of those names are names that U.S. embassy Kiev raised with the Prosecutor General’s office because we were concerned about retribution and unfair treatment of Ukrainians viewed as favorable to the United States.”

Separately, both U.S. and Ukrainian official confirmed to me a letter written by then-U.S. embassy official George Kent in April 2016 in which U.S. officials pointedly (and in writing) demanded that Ukrainian prosecutors stand down an investigation into several Ukrainian nonprofit groups suspected of misspending U.S. foreign aid. The letter even named one of the groups, the AntiCorruption Action Centre, a nonprofit funded jointly by the State Department and liberal megadonor George Soros.

“We are gravely concerned about this investigation, for which we see no basis,” Kent wrote the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office in April 2016. You can read the letter here.

So even without Lutsenko’s claim, there is substantial evidence that the U.S. embassy in Kiev applied pressure on Ukrainian prosecutors not to pursue certain investigations in 2016.

Myth: The narratives about Biden, the U.S. embassy and Ukrainian election interference are conspiracy theories invented by Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, to impact the 2020 election.

The Facts: Giuliani began investigating matters in Ukraine in late fall 2018 as a personal lawyer to the president. But months before his quest began, Ukrainian prosecutors believed they possessed evidence about Burisma, the Bidens and 2016 election interference that might interest the U.S. Justice Department. It is the same evidence that came to light this spring and summer and that is now a focus of the impeachment proceedings.

Originally, one of Ukraine’s senior prosecutors tried to secure a visa to come to the United States to deliver that evidence. But when the U.S. embassy in Kiev did not fulfill his travel request, the group of Ukrainian prosecutors used an intermediary to hire a former U.S. attorney in America to reach out to the U.S. attorney office in New York and try to arrange a transfer of the evidence. The Ukrainian prosecutors’ story about making the overture to the DOJ was independently verified by the American lawyer they hired.

So the activities and allegation now at the heart of impeachment actually pre-date Giuliani starting work on Ukraine. You can read the prosecutors’ account of their 2018 effort to get this information to Americans here.

Debunking some of the Ukraine scandal myths about Biden and election interference

John Solomon (political commentator)

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Solomon speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C.

John F. Solomon is an American media executive, and a conservative political commentator. He was an editorialist and executive vice president of digital video for The Hill[1] and as of October 2019, is a contributor to Fox News.[2] He was formerly employed as an executive and as editor-in-chief at The Washington Times.[3]

While he won a number of prestigious awards for his investigative journalism in the 1990s and 2000s,[4][5] he has also been accused of magnifying small scandals and creating fake controversy.[6][7][8] During Donald Trump’s presidency, he has been known for advancing Trump-friendly stories. He played a role in advancing conspiracy theories about wrongdoing involving Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden and Ukraine; Solomon’s stories about the Bidens influenced President Trump to request that the Ukrainian president launch an investigation into 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, which led to an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.[2]

Contents

Career

Solomon graduated from Marquette University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology.[9]

From May 1987 to December 2006, Solomon worked at the Associated Press, where he became the assistant bureau chief in Washington, helping to develop some of the organization’s first digital products, such as its online elections offering.

In 2007, he served as The Washington Post’s national investigative correspondent.

The Washington Times

Executive Editor

In February 2008, Solomon became editor-in-chief of The Washington Times.[10] During this time, Solomon made a mission to make the paper’s coverage more objective while expanding its reach. Under Solomon, the Times changed some of its style guide to conform to more mainstream media usage. The Times announced that it would no longer use words like “illegal aliens” and “homosexual,” and instead opt for “more neutral terminology” such as “illegal immigrants” and “gay,” respectively. The paper also decided to stop using “Hillary” when referring to Senator Hillary Clinton, and to stop putting the word “marriage” in the expression “gay marriage” in quotes.[11] He also oversaw the redesign of the paper’s website and the launch of the paper’s national weekly edition. A new television studio was built in the paper’s Washington DC headquarters, and the paper also launched a syndicated three-hour morning-drive radio news program.[8]

Solomon left the paper in November 2009 after internal shakeups and financial uncertainty among the paper’s ownership.[12]

Return

After a three-and-a-half-year hiatus, most of which was spent at Circa News, Solomon returned to the paper in July 2013 to oversee the newspaper’s content, digital and business strategies.[13] He helped to craft digital strategies to expand online traffic, created new products and partnerships, and led a reorganization of the company’s advertising and sales team. He also helped launch a new subscription-only national edition targeted for tablets, cellphones and other mobile devices, and helped push a redesign of the paper’s website.

Solomon left the paper in December 2015 to serve as chief creative officer of the mobile news application Circa, which was relaunching at that time.[3]

Packard Media Group

Solomon was president of Packard Media Group from November 2009 to December 2015.[14] Solomon also served as journalist in residence at the Center for Public Integrity, a non-profit organization that specializes in investigative journalism, from March 2010 to June 2011.[8] He was also named executive editor of the Center for Public Integrity in November 2010 and helped oversee the launch of iWatch News, but resigned quickly after to join Newsweek/The Daily Beast in May 2011.[15][16][8]

Washington Guardian

In 2012, Solomon and former Associated Press executives Jim Williams and Brad Kalbfeld created the Washington Guardian, an online investigative news portal. It was acquired by The Washington Times when Solomon returned to the paper in July 2013.[3]

Circa

After leaving The Washington Times, Solomon became chief creative officer for Circa News. Circa is a mobile news application founded in 2011 that streams updates on big news events to users. In June 2015, it shut down, but its relaunch was announced after its acquisition by Sinclair Broadcast Group.[3]

As chief of Circa, he wrote and published a number of political articles, often defending the Trump administration[17] and Michael Flynn.[18] He left in July 2017.

The Hill

Upon leaving Circa, Solomon became executive vice president of digital video for The Hill.[1][19] Until May 2018, he worked on news and investigative pieces for The Hill.[19] According to the New York Times, Solomon tended to push narratives about alleged misdeeds by Trump’s political enemies.[20]

In October 2017, Solomon published an article in The Hill about the Uranium One controversy where he insinuated that Russia made payments to the Clinton Foundation at the time when the Obama administration approved the sale of Uranium One to Rosatom.[21] Solomon’s story also focused on the alleged failures of the Department of Justice to investigate and report on the controversy, suggesting a cover-up.[21] Subsequent to Solomon’s reporting, the story “took off like wildfire in the right-wing media ecosystem,” according to a 2018 study by scholars at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & SocietyHarvard University.[21] No evidence of any quid pro quo or other wrongdoing has surfaced.[21]

In January 2018, it was reported that newsroom staffers at The Hill had complained about Solomon’s reporting for the publication.[22][23][24] The staffers reportedly criticized Solomon’s reporting as having a conservative bias and missing important context, and that this undermined The Hill‘s reputation.[22][23] They also expressed concerns over Solomon’s close relationship with Sean Hannity, whose TV show he appeared on more than a dozen times over a span of three months.[22] In May 2018, the editor-in-chief of The Hill announced that Solomon would become an “opinion contributor” at The Hill while remaining executive vice president of digital video.[19] He frequently appeared on Fox News, which continued to describe him as an investigative reporter, even after he became an opinion contributor for the Hill.[24]

Pro-Donald Trump opinion pieces

Solomon published a story alleging that women who had accused Trump of sexual assault had sought payments from partisan donors and tabloids.[24]

On June 19, 2019, The Hill published an opinion piece written by Solomon alleging that the FBI and Robert Mueller disregarded warnings that evidence used against Paul Manafort may have been faked.[25] His source was Nazar Kholodnytsky, a disgraced Ukrainian prosecutor, and Konstantin Kilimnik, who has been linked to Russian intelligence and who happens to be Paul Manafort’s former business partner.[26]

Solomon’s part in the Trump–Ukraine scandal

In April 2019, The Hill published two opinion pieces by Solomon regarding allegations by Ukrainian officials that “American Democrats” and particularly former Vice-President Joe Biden of collaborating with “their allies in Kiev” in “wrongdoing…ranging from 2016 election interference to obstructing criminal probes.”[27][28] Solomon’s stories attracted attention in conservative media.[23] Fox News frequently covered Solomon’s claims;[29] Solomon also promoted these allegations on Sean Heannity’s Fox News show.[23] According to The Washington Post Solomon’s pieces “played an important role in advancing a flawed, Trump-friendly tale of corruption in Ukraine, particularly involving Biden and his son Hunter”, and inspired “the alleged effort by Trump and his allies to pressure Ukraine’s government into digging up dirt on Trump’s Democratic rivals.”[23] On the same day that The Washington Post published its article, The Hill published another opinion piece by Solomon in which Solomon states that there are “(h)undreds of pages of never-released memos and documents…(that) conflict with Biden’s narrative.”[30]

Solomon’s stories had significant flaws.[23][20] Not only had the State Department dismissed the allegations presented by Solomon as “an outright fabrication”, but the Ukrainian prosecutor who Solomon claimed made the allegations to him is not supporting Solomon’s claim.[23][20] Foreign Policy noted that anti-corrupton activists in Ukraine had characterized the source behind Solomon’s claims as an unreliable narrator who had hindered anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine.[31] Solomon pushed allegations that Biden wanted to remove a Ukrainian prosecutor in order to prevent an investigation of a Ukrainian company that his son, Hunter Biden, served on; however, Western governments and anti-corruption activist wanted the prosecutor removed because he was reluctant to pursue corruption investigations.[20] By September 2019, Solomon said he still stood 100% by his stories.[23] There is no evidence of wrong-doing by Joe Biden and Hunter Biden, and no evidence that Hunter Biden was ever under investigation by Ukrainian authorities.[32] WNYC characterized Solomon’s Ukraine stories as laundering of foreign propaganda.[33]

Prior to the publication of a story where Solomon alleged that the Obama administration had pressured the Ukrainian government to stop investigating a group funded by George Soros, Solomon sent the full text of his report to Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas and the two pro-Trump lawyers and conspiracy theorists Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing.[34] Solomon said he did so for fact-checking, but Parnas, DiGenova and Toensing were not mentioned in the text, nor did Solomon send individual items of the draft for vetting (but rather the whole draft).[34]

During October 2019 hearings for the impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump, two government officials experienced in Ukraine matters — Alexander Vindman and George Kent — testified that Ukraine-related articles Solomon had written and that were featured in conservative media circles contained a “false narrative” and in some cases were “entirely made up in full cloth.”[35][36]

Solomon worked closely with Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani – the personal attorney of President Trump – who was indicted for funneling foreign money into American political campaigns, to promote stories that Democrats colluded with a foreign power in the 2016 election (the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment is that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to aid Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump). Parnas worked with Solomon on interviews and translation. Solomon defended his work with Parnas, “No one knew there was anything wrong with Lev Parnas at the time. Everybody who approaches me has an angle.” Parnas helped to set Solomon up with the Ukrainian prosecutor who accused the Bidens of wrong-doing (before later retracting the claim).[2]

Advertising controversy

Solomon was accused of breaking the traditional ethical “wall” that separated news stories from advertising at The Hill. In October 2017, Solomon negotiated a $160,000 deal with a conservative group called Job Creators Network to target ads in The Hill to business owners in Maine. He then had a quote from the group’s director inserted into a news story about a Maine senator’s key role in an upcoming vote on the Trump administration’s tax bill. Solomon “pops by the advertising bullpen almost daily to discuss big deals he’s about to close,” Johanna Derlega, then The Hill’s publisher, wrote in an internal memo at the time, according to Pro Publica. “If a media reporter gets ahold of this story, it could destroy us.”[2]

Departure

In September 2019, the Washington Examiner reported that Solomon would leave The Hill at the end of the month to start his own media firm.[37] In October 2019, it was reported he was joining Fox News as an opinion contributor.[38]

Reception

Paul McCleary, writing for the Columbia Journalism Review in 2007, wrote that Solomon had earned a reputation for hyping stories without solid foundation.[7] In 2012, Mariah Blake, writing for the Columbia Journalism Review, wrote that Solomon “has a history of bending the truth to his storyline,” and that he “was notorious for massaging facts to conjure phantom scandals.”[8][23] During the 2004 presidential election between George W. Bush and John Kerry, Thomas Lang wrote for the Columbia Journalism Review that a Solomon story for the Associated Press covered criticism of John Kerry’s record on national security appeared to mirror a research report released by the Republican National Committee. Lang wrote that Solomon’s story was “a clear demonstration of the influence opposition research is already having on coverage of the [presidential] campaign.”[39][40]

The Washington Post wrote in September 2019 that Solomon’s “recent work has been trailed by claims that it is biased and lacks rigor.”[23] The Post noted that Solomon had done award-winning investigative work during his early career, but that his work had taken a pronounced conservative bent from the late 2000s and onwards.[23] According to Foreign Policy magazine, Solomon had “grown into a prominent conservative political commentator with a somewhat controversial track record.”[31]

In 2007, Deborah Howell, then-ombudsman at The Washington Post criticized a story that Solomon wrote for The Post which had suggested impropriety by Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards in a real estate purchase; Solomon’s reporting omitted context which would have made clear that there was no impropriety.[6] Progressive news outlets ThinkProgressMedia Matters for America and Crooked Media have argued that Solomon’s reporting has a conservative bias and that there are multiple instances of inaccuracies.[41][42][43] According to The InterceptJust Security and The Daily Beast, Solomon helps to advance right-wing and pro-Trump conspiracy theories.[26][24][44] The New Republic described Solomon’s columns for the Hill as “right-wing fever dreams.”[45] Independent journalist Marcy Wheeler accused Solomon of manufacturing fake scandals which suggested wrongdoing by those conducting probes into Russian interference in the 2016 election.[46] Reporters who worked under Solomon as an editor have said that he encouraged them to bend the truth to fit a pre-existing narrative.[8]

In January 2018, Solomon published a report for The Hill suggesting that Peter Strzok and Lisa Page had foreknowledge of a Wall Street Journal article and that they themselves had leaked to the Wall Street Journal.[47] According to the Huffington Post, Solomon’s reporting omitted that the Wall Street Journal article Strzok and Page were discussing was critical of Hillary Clinton and the FBI, Strzok and Page expressed dismay at the fallout from the article, and Strzok and Page criticized unauthorized leaks from the FBI. According to the Huffington Post, “Solomon told HuffPost he was not authorized to speak and does not comment on his reporting. He may simply have been unaware of these three facts when he published his story. But they provide crucial context to an incomplete narrative that has been bouncing around the right-wing echo chamber all week.”[47]

Awards

Solomon has received a number of prestigious awards for investigative journalism, among them the 2008 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and the Society of Professional Journalists’ National Investigative Award together with CBS News’ 60 Minutes for Evidence of Injustice;[5][48] in 2002, the Associated Press’s Managing Editors Enterprise Reporting Award for What The FBI Knew Before September 11, 2001, and the Gramling Journalism Achievement Award for his coverage of the war on terrorism;[48] in 1992, the White House Correspondents’ Association’s Raymond Clapper Memorial Award for an investigative series on Ross Perot.[49]

References …

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Solomon_(political_commentator)

Story 2: Illegal Alien Invasion Continues and Democrats Continue To Support Open Borders and Citizenship For All 30-60 Million Illegal Aliens Now In The United States — Democrats More Concerned With Illegal Aliens Than Welfare of American People — The Great Betrayal of The American People By The Political Elitist Establishment of Both Big Government Parties —  Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show 1361, November 18, 2019, Story 1: Bolivia Victim of A Military Coup? After 14 Years in Power President Evo Morales Resigns and Flees To Mexico — Videos — Story 2: Democrat Trump Madness Should End Thursday After Attempted Second Coup Fails To Gain American People’s Support — No Evidence President Trump Did Anything Improper — No Crime — No Real Witnesses — Feelings, Hearsay, Opinions — Not Evidence — Big Lie Media — Videos — Story 3: Protests in Hong Kong –Videos

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Is Bolivia’s Evo Morales the victim of a coup? | UpFront (Feature)

News Wrap: Bolivia’s ousted Morales goes into exile in Mexico

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Evo Morales

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Evo Morales
Morales looking to the side

Morales in 2017
President of Bolivia
In office
January 22, 2006 – November 10, 2019[a]
Vice President Álvaro García Linera
Preceded by Eduardo Rodríguez
Succeeded by Jeanine Áñez (interim)
President pro tempore of CELAC
In role
January 14, 2019 – November 10, 2019
Preceded by Salvador Sánchez Cerén
Succeeded by Position vacant
President pro tempore of UNASUR
In role
April 17, 2018 – April 16, 2019
Preceded by Mauricio Macri
Succeeded by Position vacant
Leader of the Movement for Socialism
Assumed office
January 1, 1998
Preceded by Party established
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
for Cochabamba
In office
August 6, 1997 – January 24, 2002
Personal details
Born
Juan Evo Morales Ayma

October 26, 1959 (age 60)
Isallavi, Bolivia

Political party Movement for Socialism
Children 2
Parents Dionisio Morales Choque
María Ayma Mamani
Residence Mexico City
Signature
Military service
Allegiance Bolivia Bolivia
Branch/service Logo del Ejército de Bolivia..jpg Bolivian Army
Years of service 1977–1978
Unit Fourth Ingavi Cavalry Regiment

Juan Evo Morales Ayma (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈeβo moˈɾales]; born October 26, 1959) is a Bolivian politician and former cocalero activist who served as the President of Bolivia from 2006 to 2019. Widely regarded as the country’s first president to come from the indigenous population,[b] his administration focused on the implementation of leftist policies, poverty reduction, and combating the influence of the United States and multinational corporations in Bolivia. A socialist, he is the head of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party.

Born to an Aymara family of subsistence farmers in Isallawi, Orinoca Canton, Morales undertook a basic education before mandatory military service, in 1978 moving to Chapare Province. Growing coca and becoming a trade unionist, he rose to prominence in the campesino (“rural laborers”) union. In that capacity, he campaigned against U.S. and Bolivian attempts to eradicate coca as part of the War on Drugs, denouncing these as an imperialist violation of indigenous Andean culture. His involvement in anti-government direct action protests resulted in multiple arrests. Morales entered electoral politics in 1995, became the leader of the MAS, and was elected to Congress in 1997. Coupled with populist rhetoric, his campaign focused on issues affecting indigenous and poor communities, advocating land reform, and the redistribution of gas wealth. He gained increased visibility through the Cochabamba Water Protests and gas conflict. In 2002, he was expelled from Congress for encouraging anti-government protesters, although he came second in that year’s presidential election.

Once elected in 2005, Morales increased taxation on the hydrocarbon industry to bolster social spending and emphasized projects to combat illiteracy, poverty, racism, and sexism. Vocally criticizing neoliberalism and reducing Bolivia’s dependence on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, his administration oversaw strong economic growth while following a policy termed “Evonomics” which sought to move from a liberal economic approach to a mixed economy. Scaling back U.S. influence in the country, he built relationships with leftist governments in the Latin American pink tide and signed Bolivia into the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas. Attempting to moderate the left-indigenous activist community, his administration also opposed the right-wing autonomist demands of Bolivia’s eastern provinces. Winning a recall referendum in 2008, he instituted a new constitution that established Bolivia as a plurinational state and was re-elected in 2009. His second term witnessed the continuation of leftist policies and Bolivia’s joining of the Bank of the South and Community of Latin American and Caribbean States; he was again reelected in the 2014 general election. Following the disputed 2019 general election and the ensuing unrestMorales agreed to military calls for his resignation. He was then granted political asylum in Mexico.

Morales has been praised for unprecedented economic growth, significantly reducing poverty and illiteracy in Bolivia and has been internationally decorated with various awards. His supporters have lauded him as a champion of indigenous rights, that were enshrined in the constitution, anti-imperialism, and environmentalism. Alternately, a number of leftist, indigenous, and environmentalist critics have accused him of failing to live up to many of his espoused values, and opponents have accused him of being excessively radical and authoritarian and have claimed that his defence of coca contributes to illegal cocaine production.

Early life and activism

Childhood, education, and military service: 1959–78

Aymara in traditional dress (left); Poopó Lake was the dominant geographical feature around Morales’s home village of Isallawi (right).[9]

Morales was born in the small rural village of Isallawi in Orinoca Canton, part of western Bolivia’s Oruro Department, on October 26, 1959 to a family from the indigenous Aymara people.[10][11] One of seven children born to Dionisio Morales Choque and his wife María Ayma Mamani,[12] only he and two siblings, Esther and Hugo, survived past childhood.[13] His mother almost died from a postpartum haemorrhage following his birth.[9] In keeping with Aymara custom, his father buried the placenta produced after his birth in a place specially chosen for the occasion.[9] His childhood home was a traditional adobe house,[14] and he grew up speaking the Aymara language, although later commentators would remark that by the time he had become president he was no longer an entirely fluent speaker.[15]

Morales’s family were farmers; from an early age, he helped them to plant and harvest crops and guard their herd of llamas and sheep, taking a homemade soccer ball to amuse himself.[16] As a toddler, he briefly attended Orinoca’s preparatory school, and at five began schooling at the single-room primary school in Isallawi.[17] Aged 6, he spent six months in northern Argentina with his sister and father. There, Dionisio harvested sugar cane while Evo sold ice cream and briefly attended a Spanish-language school.[18] As a child, he regularly traveled on foot to Arani province in Cochabamba with his father and their llamas, a journey lasting up to two weeks, in order to exchange salt and potatoes for maize and coca. [19] A big fan of soccer, at age 13 he organised a community soccer team with himself as team captain. Within two years, he was elected training coach for the whole region, and thus gained early experience in leadership.[20]

After finishing primary education, Morales attended the Agrarian Humanistic Technical Institute of Orinoca (ITAHO), completing all but the final year.[21] His parents then sent him to study for a degree in Oruro; although he did poorly academically, he finished all of his courses and exams by 1977, earning money on the side as a brick-maker, day labourer, baker and a trumpet player for the Royal Imperial Band. The latter position allowed him to travel across Bolivia.[22] At the end of his higher education he failed to collect his degree certificate.[21] Although interested in studying journalism, he did not pursue it as a profession.[23] Morales served his mandatory military service in the Bolivian army from 1977 to 1978. Initially signed up at the Centre for Instruction of Special Troops (CITE) in Cochabamba, he was sent into the Fourth Ingavi Cavalry Regiment and stationed at the army headquarters in the Bolivian capital La Paz.[24] These two years were one of Bolivia’s politically most unstable periods, with five presidents and two military coups, led by General Juan Pereda and General David Padilla respectively; under the latter’s regime, Morales was stationed as a guard at the Palacio Quemado (Presidential Palace).[25]

Early cocalero activism: 1978–83

Following his military service, Morales returned to his family, who had escaped the agricultural devastation of 1980’s El Niño storm cycle by relocating to the Tropics of Cochabamba in the eastern lowlands.[26] Setting up home in the town of Villa 14 de Septiembre, El Chapare, using a loan from Morales’s maternal uncle, the family cleared a plot of land in the forest to grow rice, oranges, grapefruit, papaya, bananas and later on coca.[27] It was here that Morales learned to speak Quechua, the indigenous local language.[28] The arrival of the Morales family was a part of a much wider migration to the region; in 1981 El Chapare’s population was 40,000 but by 1988 it had risen to 215,000. Many Bolivians hoped to set up farms where they could earn a living growing coca, which was experiencing a steady rise in price and which could be cultivated up to four times a year; a traditional medicinal and ritual substance in Andean culture, it was also sold abroad as the key ingredient in cocaine.[29] Morales joined the local soccer team, before founding his own team, New Horizon, which proved victorious at the August 2 Central Tournament.[29] The El Chapare region remained special to Morales for many years to come; during his presidency he often talked of it in speeches and regularly visited.[30]

Morales policy was “Coca Yes, Cocaine No”. A Bolivian man holding a coca leaf, (left); Coca tea, traditional infusion of Andean culture (right).

In El Chapare, Morales joined a trade union of cocaleros (coca growers), being appointed local Secretary of Sports. Organizing soccer tournaments, among union members he earned the nickname of “the young ball player” because of his tendency to organize matches during meeting recesses.[29] Influenced in joining the union by wider events, in 1980 the far-right General Luis García Meza had seized power in a military coup, banning other political parties and declaring himself president; for Morales, a “foundational event in his relationship with politics” occurred in 1981, when a campesino (coca grower) was accused of cocaine trafficking by soldiers, beaten up, and burned to death.[31] In 1982 the leftist Hernán Siles Zuazo and the Democratic and Popular Union (Unidad Democrática y Popular – UDP) took power in representative democratic elections, before implementing neoliberal capitalist reforms and privatizing much of the state sector with US support; hyperinflation came under control, but unemployment rose to 25%.[32] Becoming increasingly active in the union, from 1982 to 1983, Morales served as the General Secretary of his local San Francisco syndicate.[33] However, in 1983, Morales’s father Dionisio died, and although he missed the funeral he temporarily retreated from his union work to organize his father’s affairs.[34]

Fighting their War on Drugs, the U.S. government hoped to stem the cocaine trade by preventing the production of coca; they pressured the Bolivian government to eradicate it, sending troops to Bolivia to aid the operation.[35] Bolivian troops would burn coca crops and in many cases beat up coca growers who challenged them.[36] Angered by this, Morales returned to cocalero campaigning; like many of his comrades, he refused the US$2,500 compensation offered by the government for each acre of coca he eradicated. Deeply embedded in Bolivian culture, the campesinos had an ancestral relationship with coca and did not want to lose their most profitable means of subsistence. For them, it was an issue of national sovereignty, with the U.S. viewed as imperalists; activists regularly proclaimed “Long live coca! Death to the Yankees!” (“Causachun coca! Wañuchun yanquis!“).[33]

General Secretary of the Cocalero Union: 1984–94

The Wiphala, flag of the Aymara.

From 1984 to 1985 Morales served as Secretary of Records for the movement,[33] and in 1985 he became General Secretary of the August Second Headquarters.[33] From 1984 to 1991 the sindicatos embarked on a series of protests against the forced eradication of coca by occupying local government offices, setting up roadblocks, going on hunger strike, and organizing mass marches and demonstrations.[37] Morales was personally involved in this direct activism and in 1984 was present at a roadblock where 3 campesinos were killed.[38] In 1988, Morales was elected to the position of Executive Secretary of the Federation of the Tropics.[33] In 1989 he spoke at a one-year commemoratory event of the Villa Tunari massacre in which 11 coca farmers had been killed by agents of the Rural Area Mobile Patrol Unit (Unidad Móvil Policial para Áreas Rurales – UMOPAR).[38] The following day, UMOPAR agents beat Morales up, leaving him in the mountains to die, but he was rescued by other union members.[39] To combat this violence, Morales concluded that an armed cocalero militia could launch a guerrilla war against the government, but he was soon persuaded on an electoral path to change instead.[40] In 1992, he made various international trips to champion the cocalero cause, speaking at a conference in Cuba,[41] and also traveling to Canada, during which he learned of his mother’s death.[42]

In his speeches, Morales presented the coca leaf as a symbol of Andean culture that was under threat from the imperialist oppression of the U.S. In his view, the U.S. should deal with their domestic cocaine abuse problems without interfering in Bolivia, arguing that they had no right trying to eliminate coca, a legitimate product with many uses which played a rich role in Andean culture.[43] In a speech on this issue, Morales told reporters “I am not a drug trafficker. I am a coca grower. I cultivate coca leaf, which is a natural product. I do not refine (it into) cocaine, and neither cocaine nor drugs have ever been part of the Andean culture.”[6] On another, he asserted that “We produce our coca, we bring it to the main markets, we sell it and that’s where our responsibility ends.”[44]

Morales presented the coca growers as victims of a wealthy, urban social elite who had bowed to U.S. pressure by implementing neoliberal economic reforms.[43] He argued that these reforms were to the detriment of Bolivia’s majority, and thus the country’s representative democratic system of governance failed to reflect the true democratic will of the majority.[43] This situation was exacerbated following the 1993 general election when the centrist Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario – MNR) won the election and Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada became President. He adopted a policy of “shock therapy“, implementing economic liberalization and widescale privatization of state-owned assets.[45] Sánchez also agreed with the U.S. DEA to relaunch its offensive against the Bolivian coca growers, committing Bolivia to eradicating 12,500 acres (5,100 ha) of coca by March 1994 in exchange for $20 million worth of US aid, something Morales claimed would be opposed by the cocalero movement.[46]

In August 1994 Morales was arrested; reporters present at the scene witnessed him being beaten and accosted with racial slurs by civil agents. Accused of sedition, in jail he began a dry hunger strike to protest his arrest.[47] The following day, 3000 campesinos began a 360-mile (580 km) march from Villa Tunari to La Paz. Morales would be freed on September 7, and soon joined the march, which arrived at its destination on September 19, where they covered the city with political graffiti.[48] He was again arrested in April 1995 during a sting operation that rounded up those at a meeting of the Andean Council of Coca Producers that he was chairing on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Accusing the group of plotting a coup with the aid of Colombia’s FARC and Peru’s Shining Path, a number of his comrades were tortured, although no evidence of a coup was brought forth and he was freed within a week.[49] He proceeded to Argentina to attend a seminar on liberation struggles.[50]

Political rise

The ASP, IPSP, and MAS: 1995–99

Members of the sindicato social movement first suggested a move into the political arena in 1986. This was controversial, with many fearing that politicians would co-opt the movement for personal gain.[51] Morales began supporting the formation of a political wing in 1989, although a consensus in favor of its formation only emerged in 1993.[52] On March 27, 1995, at the 7th Congress of the Unique Confederation of Rural Laborers of Bolivia (Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia – CSUTCB), a “political instrument” (a term employed over “political party”) was formed, named the Assembly for the Sovereignty of the Peoples (Asamblea por la Sobernía de los Pueblos – ASP).[53] At the ASP’s 1st Congress, the CSUTCB participated alongside three other Bolivian unions, representing miners, peasants and indigenous peoples.[52] In 1996, Morales was appointed chairman of the Committee of the Six Federations of the Tropics of Cochabamba, a position that he retained until 2006.[54]

Bolivia’s National Electoral Court (Corte Nacional Electoral – CNE) refused to recognize the ASP, citing minor procedural infringements.[52] The coca activists circumvented this problem by running under the banner of the United Left (IU), a coalition of leftist parties headed by the Communist Party of Bolivia (Partido Comunista Boliviano – PCB).[55] They won landslide victories in those areas which were local strongholds of the movement, producing 11 mayors and 49 municipal councilors.[52] Morales was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in the National Congress as a representative for El Chapare, having secured 70.1% of the local vote.[54] In the national elections of 1997, the IU/ASP gained four seats in Congress, obtaining 3.7% of the national vote, with this rising to 17.5% in the department of Cochabamba.[56] The election resulted in the establishment of a coalition government led by the right-wing Nationalist Democratic Action (Acción Democrática Nacionalista – ADN), with Hugo Banzer as President; Morales lambasted him as “the worst politician in Bolivian history”.[57]

MAS-IPSP partisans celebrate the 16th anniversary of the IPSP party’s founding in SacabaCochabamba.

Rising electoral success was accompanied by factional in-fighting, with a leadership contest emerging in the ASP between the incumbent Alejo Véliz and Morales, who had the electoral backing of the social movement’s bases.[56] The conflict led to a schism, with Morales and his supporters splitting to form their own party, the Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples (Instrumento Político por la Soberanía de los Pueblos – IPSP).[58] The movement’s bases defected en masse to the IPSP, leaving the ASP to crumble and Véliz to join the centre-right New Republican Force (Nueva Fuerza Republicana – NFR), for which Morales denounced him as a traitor to the cocalero cause.[59] Continuing his activism, in 1998 Morales led another cocalero march from El Chapare to la Paz,[60] and came under increasing criticism from the government, who repeatedly accused him of being involved in the cocaine trade and mocked him for how he spoke and his lack of education.[61]

Morales came to an agreement with David Añez Pedraza, the leader of a defunct yet still registered party named the Movement for Socialism (MAS); under this agreement, Morales and the Six Federaciónes could take over the party name, with Pendraza stipulating the condition that they must maintain its own acronym, name and colors. Thus the defunct right wing MAS became the flourishing left wing vehicle for the coca activist movement known as the Movement for Socialism – Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples.[62] The MAS would come to be described as “an indigenous-based political party that calls for the nationalization of industry, legalization of the coca leaf … and fairer distribution of national resources.”[63] The party lacked the finance available to the mainstream parties, and so relied largely on the work of volunteers in order to operate.[64] It was not structured like other political parties, instead operating as the political wing of the social movement, with all tiers in the movement involved in decision making; this form of organisation would continue until 2004.[65] In the December 1999 municipal elections, the MAS secured 79 municipal council seats and 10 mayoral positions, gaining 3.27% of the national vote, although 70% of the vote in Cochabamba.[62]

Cochabamba protests: 2000–02

In 2000, the Tunari Waters corporation doubled the price at which they sold water to Bolivian consumers, resulting in a backlash from leftist activist groups, including the cocaleros. Activists clashed with police and armed forces, in what was dubbed “the Water War“, resulting in 6 dead and 175 wounded. Responding to the violence, the government removed the contract from Tunari and placed the utility under cooperative control.[66] In ensuing years further violent protests broke out over a range of issues, resulting in more deaths both among activists and law enforcement. Much of this unrest was connected with the widespread opposition to economic liberalization across Bolivian society, with a common perception that it only benefited a small minority.[67]

In the Andean High Plateau, a cocalero group launched a guerrilla uprising under the leadership of Felipe Quispe; an ethnic separatist, he and Morales disliked each other, with Quispe considering Morales to be a traitor and an opportunist for his willingness to cooperate with White Bolivians.[68] Morales had not taken a leading role in these protests, but did use them to get across his message that the MAS was not a single-issue party, and that rather than simply fighting for the rights of the cocalero it was arguing for structural change to the political system and a redefinition of citizenship in Bolivia.[69]

Evo Morales (right) with French labor union leader José Bové in 2002

In August 2001, Banzer resigned due to terminal illness, and Jorge Quiroga took over as President.[70] Under U.S. pressure, Quiroga sought to have Morales expelled from Congress. To do so, he claimed that Morales’s inflammatory language had caused the deaths of two police officers in Sacaba near Cochabamba, however was unable to provide any evidence of Morales’s culpability. 140 deputies voted for Morales’s expulsion, which came about in 2002. Morales asserted that it “was a trial against Aymara and Quechas”, [71] while MAS activists interpreted it as evidence of the pseudo-democratic credentials of the political class.[72]

The MAS gained increasing popularity as a protest party, relying largely on widespread dissatisfaction with the existing mainstream political parties among Bolivians living in rural and poor urban areas.[73] Morales recognized this, and much of his discourse focused on differentiating the MAS from the traditional political class.[74] Their campaign was successful, and in the 2002 presidential election the MAS gained 20.94% of the national vote, becoming Bolivia’s second largest party, being only 1.5% behind the victorious MNR, whose candidate, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, became President.[75] They won 8 seats in the Senate and 27 in the Chamber of Deputies.[76] Now the leader of the political opposition, Morales focused on criticising government policies rather than outlining alternatives. He had several unconstructive meetings with Lozada, but met with Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez for the first time.[77]

Bolivia’s U.S. embassy had become publicly highly critical of Morales; just prior to the election, the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia Manuel Rocha issued a statement declaring that U.S. aid to Bolivia would be cut if MAS won the election. However, exit polls revealed that Rocha’s comments had served to increase support for Morales.[78] Following the election, the U.S. embassy maintained this critical stance, characterising Morales as a criminal and encouraging Bolivia’s traditional parties to sign a broad agreement to oppose the MAS; Morales himself began alleging that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency was plotting to assassinate him.[79]

Rise to power: 2003–05[edit]

Graffiti roughly translating into “Gas is not for sale, dammit!”, with an indigenous woman in the foreground.

In 2003, the Bolivian gas conflict broke out as activists – including coca growers – protested against the privatization of the country’s natural gas supply and its sale to U.S. companies below the market value. Activists blocked off the road into La Paz, resulting in clashes with police. 80 were killed and 411 injured, among them officers, activists, and civilians, including children.[80] Morales did not take an active role in the conflict, instead traveling to Libya and Switzerland, there describing the uprising as a “peaceful revolution in progress.”[81] The government accused Morales and the MAS of using the protests to overthrow Bolivia’s parliamentary democracy with the aid of organised crime, FARC, and the far-left governments of Venezuela, Cuba, and Libya.[82]

Morales led calls for President Sánchez de Lozada to step down over the death toll, gaining widespread support from the MAS, other activist groups, and the middle classes; with pressure building, Sánchez resigned and fled to MiamiFlorida.[83] He was replaced by Carlos Mesa, who tried to strike a balance between U.S. and cocalero demands, but whom Morales mistrusted.[84] In November, Morales spent 24 hours with Cuban President Fidel Castro in Havana,[85] and then met Argentinian President Nestor Kirchner.[86] In the 2004 municipal election, the MAS became the country’s largest national party, with 28.6% of all councilors in Bolivia. However, they had failed to win the mayoralty in any big cities, reflecting their inability to gain widespread support among the urban middle-classes.[87] In Bolivia’s wealthy Santa Cruz region, a strong movement for autonomy had developed under the leadership of the Pro Santa Cruz Committee (Comite Pro Santa Cruz). Favorable to neoliberal economics and strongly critical of the cocaleros, they considered armed insurrection to secede from Bolivia should MAS take power.[88]

In March 2005, Mesa resigned, citing the pressure of Morales and the cocalero road blocks and riots.[89] Amid fears of civil war,[90] Eduardo Rodríguez became President of a transitional government, preparing Bolivia for a general election in December 2005.[91] Hiring the Peruvian Walter Chávez as its campaign manager, the MAS electoral campaign was based on Salvador Allende‘s successful campaign in the 1970 Chilean presidential election.[92] Measures were implemented to institutionalize the party structure, giving it greater independence from the social movement; this was done to allow Morales and other MAS leaders to respond quickly to new developments without the lengthy process of consulting the bases, and to present a more moderate image away from the bases’ radicalism.[93] Although he had initially hoped for a female running mate, Morales eventually chose Marxist intellectual Álvaro García Linera as his Vice Presidential candidate,[94] with some Bolivian press speculating as to a romantic relationship between the two.[95] MAS’ primary opponent was Jorge Quiroga and his center-right Social and Democratic Power, whose campaign was centered in Santa Cruz and which advocated continued neo-liberal reform; Quiroga accused Morales of promoting the legalization of cocaine and being a puppet for Venezuela.[96]

With a turnout of 84.5%, the election saw Morales gain 53.7% of the vote, while Quiroga came second with 28.6%; Morales’s was the first victory with an absolute majority in Bolivia for 40 years.[97] Given that he was the sixth self-described leftist president to be elected in Latin America since 1998, his victory was identified as part of the broader regional pink tide.[98] Becoming president elect, Morales was widely described as Bolivia’s first indigenous leader, at a time when around 62% of the population identified as indigenous; political analysts therefore drew comparisons with the election of Nelson Mandela to the South African Presidency in 1994.[99] This resulted in widespread excitement among the approximately 40 million indigenous people in the Americas, particularly those of Bolivia.[100] However, his election caused concern among the country’s wealthy and landowning classes, who feared state expropriation and nationalisation of their property, as well as far-right groups, who claimed it would spark a race war.[100] He traveled to Cuba to spend time with Castro, before going to Venezuela, and then on tour to Europe, China, and South Africa; significantly, he avoided the U.S.[101] In January 2006, Morales attended an indigenous spiritual ceremony at Tiwanaku where he was crowned Apu Mallku (Supreme Leader) of the Aymara, receiving gifts from indigenous peoples across Latin America. He thanked the goddess Pachamama for his victory and proclaimed that “With the unity of the people, we’re going to end the colonial state and the neo-liberal model.”[102]

Presidency

First presidential term: 2006–09

Evo Morales in 2006

In the world there are large and small countries, rich countries and poor countries, but we are equal in one thing, which is our right to dignity and sovereignty.

— Evo Morales, Inaugural Speech, 22 January 2006.[103]

Morales’s inauguration took place on January 22 in La Paz. It was attended by various heads of state, including Argentina’s Kirchner, Venezuela’s Chávez, Brazil’s Lula da Silva, and Chile’s Ricardo Lagos.[104] Morales wore an Andeanized suit designed by fashion designer Beatriz Canedo Patiño,[105] and gave a speech that included a minute silence in memory of cocaleros and indigenous activists killed in the struggle.[104] He condemned Bolivia’s former “colonial” regimes, likening them to South Africa under apartheid and stating that the MAS’ election would lead to a “refoundation” of the country, a term that the MAS consistently used over “revolution”.[106] Morales repeated these views in his convocation of the Constituent Assembly.[107]

In taking office, Morales emphasized nationalism, anti-imperialism, and anti-neoliberalism, although did not initially refer to his administration as socialist.[108] In what was widely termed a populist act, he immediately reduced both his own presidential wage and that of his ministers by 57% to $1,875 a month, also urging members of Congress to do the same.[109][110][111] Morales gathered together a largely inexperienced cabinet made up of indigenous activists and leftist intellectuals,[112] although over the first three years of government there was a rapid turnover in the cabinet as Morales replaced many of the indigenous members with trained middle-class leftist politicians.[113] By 2012 only 3 of the 20 cabinet members identified as indigenous.[114]

Economic program

At Morales’s election, Bolivia was South America’s poorest nation.[115] Morales’s government did not initiate fundamental change to Bolivia’s economic structure,[116] and in their National Development Plan (PDN) for 2006–10, adhered largely to the country’s previous liberal economic model.[117] Bolivia’s economy was based largely on the extraction of natural resources, with the nation having South America’s second largest reserves of natural gas.[118] As per his election pledge, Morales took increasing state control of this hydrocarbon industry with Supreme Decree 2870; previously, corporations paid 18% of their profits to the state, but Morales symbolically reversed this, so that 82% of profits went to the state and 18% to the companies. The oil companies threatened to take the case to the international courts or cease operating in Bolivia, but ultimately relented. Thus, where Bolivia had received $173 million from hydrocarbon extraction in 2002, by 2006 they received $1.3 billion.[119] Although not technically a form of nationalization, Morales and his government referred to it as such, resulting in criticism from sectors of the Bolivian left.[120] In June 2006, Morales announced his desire to nationalize mining, electricity, telephones, and railroads, and in February 2007 nationalized the Vinto metallurgy plant, refusing to compensate Glencore, which the government asserted had obtained the contract illegally.[121] Although the FSTMB miners’ federation called for the government to nationalise the mines, the government did not do so, instead stating that any transnational corporations operating in Bolivia legally would not be expropriated.[122]

Under Morales, Bolivia experienced unprecedented economic strength, resulting in the increase in value of its currency, the boliviano.[123] His first year in office ended with no fiscal deficit; the first time this had happened in Bolivia for 30 years,[124] while during the global financial crisis of 2007–08 it maintained some of the world’s highest levels of economic growth.[125] Such economic strength led to a nationwide boom in construction,[123] and allowed the state to build up strong financial reserves.[123] Although the levels of social spending were increased, they remained relatively conservative, with a major priority being placed on constructing paved roads, as well as community spaces such as soccer fields and union buildings.[126] In particular, the government focused on rural infrastructure improvement, to bring roads, running water, and electricity to areas that lacked them.[127]

The government’s stated intention was to reduce Bolivia’s most acute poverty levels from 35% to 27% of the population, and moderate poverty levels from 58.9% to 49% over five years.[128] The welfare state was expanded, as characterized by the introduction of non-contributory old-age pensions and payments to mothers provided their babies are taken for health checks and that their children attend school. Hundreds of free tractors were also handed out. The prices of gas and many foodstuffs were controlled, and local food producers were made to sell in the local market rather than export. A new state-owned body was also set up to distribute food at subsidized prices. All these measures helped to curb inflation, while the economy grew (partly because of rising public spending), accompanied by stronger public finances which brought economic stability.[129]

During Morales’s first term, Bolivia broke free of the domination of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) which had characterised previous regimes by refusing their financial aid and connected regulations.[clarification needed][130] In May 2007, it became the world’s first country to withdraw from the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, with Morales asserting that the institution had consistently favored multinational corporations in its judgments; Bolivia’s lead was followed by other Latin American nations.[131] Despite being encouraged to do so by the U.S., Bolivia refused to join the Free Trade Area of the Americas, deeming it a form of U.S. imperialism.[132]

A major dilemma faced by Morales’s administration was between the desire to expand extractive industries in order to fund social programs and provide employment, and to protect the country’s environment from the pollution caused by those industries.[133] Although his government professed an environmentalist ethos, expanding environmental monitoring and becoming a leader in the voluntary Forest Stewardship Council, Bolivia continued to witness rapid deforestation for agriculture and illegal logging.[134] Economists on both the left and right expressed concern over the government’s lack of economic diversification.[125] Many Bolivians opined that Morales’s government had failed to bring about sufficient job creation.[116]

ALBA and international appearances

Morales with regional allies, at the Fórum Social Mundial for Latin America: President of Paraguay Lugo, President of Brasil Lula, President of Equador Correa and President of Venezuela Chavez.

Morales’s administration sought strong links with the far-left governments of Cuba and Venezuela.[135] In April 2005 Morales traveled to Havana for knee surgery, there meeting with the two nations’ presidents, Castro and Chávez.[136] In April 2006, Bolivia agreed to join Cuba and Venezuela in founding the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), with Morales attending ALBA’s conference in May, at which they initiated with a Peoples’ Trade Agreement (PTA).[137] Meanwhile, his administration became “the least US-friendly government in Bolivian history”.[138] In September Morales visited the U.S. for the first time to attend the UN General Assembly, where he gave a speech condemning U.S. President George W. Bush as a terrorist for launching the War in Afghanistan and Iraq War, and called for the UN Headquarters to be moved out of the country. In the U.S., he met with former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and with Native American groups.[139] Relations were further strained between the two nations when in December Morales issued a Supreme Decree requiring all U.S. citizens visiting Bolivia to have a visa.[140] His government also refused to grant legal immunity to U.S. soldiers in Bolivia; hence the U.S. cut back their military support to the country by 96%.[132]

In December 2006, he attended the first South-South conference in Abuja, Nigeria, there meeting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, whose government had recently awarded Morales the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights.[141] Morales proceeded straight to Havana for a conference celebrating Castro’s life, where he gave a speech arguing for stronger links between Latin America and the Middle East to combat U.S. imperialism.[142] Under his administration, diplomatic relations were established with Iran, with Morales praising Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a revolutionary comrade.[143] In April 2007 he attended the first South American Energy Summit in Venezuela, arguing with many allies over the issue of biofuel, which he opposed.[144] He had a particularly fierce argument with Brazilian President Lula over Morales’s desire to bring Bolivia’s refineries – which were largely owned by Brazil’s Petrobrás – under state control. In May, Bolivia purchased the refineries and transferred them to the Bolivian State Petroleum Company (YPFB).[145]

Social reform

Morales with Brazilian President Lula

Morales’s government sought to encourage a model of development based upon the premise of vivir bien, or “living well”.[115] This entailed seeking social harmony, consensus, the elimination of discrimination, and wealth redistribution; in doing so, it was rooted in communal rather than individual values and owed more to indigenous Andean forms of social organization than Western ones.[115]

Upon Morales’s election, Bolivia’s illiteracy rate was at 16%, the highest in South America.[146] Attempting to rectify this with the aid of far left allies, Bolivia launched a literacy campaign with Cuban assistance, while Venezuela invited 5000 Bolivian high school graduates to study in Venezuela for free.[147] By 2009, UNESCO declared Bolivia free from illiteracy,[148] although the World Bank claimed that it had only declined by 5%.[149] Cuba also aided Bolivia in the development of its medical care, opening ophthalmological centres in the country to treat 100,000 Bolivians for free per year, and offering 5000 free scholarships for Bolivian students to study medicine in Cuba.[150] The government sought to expand state medical facilities, opening twenty hospitals by 2014, and increasing basic medical coverage up to the age of 25.[151] Their approach sought to utilise and harmonise both mainstream Western medicine and Bolivia’s traditional medicine.[152]

Morales and vice-president Álvaro García Linera in 2006 shining the shoes of shoeshine boys.

The 2006 Bono Juancito Pinto program provided US$29 per month to poor families for every young child that they had,[153] while 2008’s Renta Dignidad initiative provided around $344 per month to low-income citizens over 60.[154] 2009’s Bono Juana Azurduy program offered cash transfers to uninsured mothers to improve their likelihood of seeking medical care.[155] Conservative critics of Morales’s regime claimed that these measures were simply designed to buy off the poor and ensure continued support for the government.[156]

Morales announced that one of the top priorities of his government was to eliminate racism against the country’s indigenous population.[157] To do this, he announced that all civil servants were required to learn one of Bolivia’s three indigenous languages, Quechua, Aymara, or Guaraní, within two years.[158] His government encouraged the development of indigenous cultural projects,[159] and sought to encourage more indigenous people to attend university; by 2008, it was estimated that half of the students enrolled in Bolivia’s 11 public universities were indigenous,[160] while three indigenous-specific universities had been established, offering subsidized education.[161] In 2009, a Vice Ministry for Decolonization was established, which proceeded to pass the 2010 Law against Racism and Discrimination banning the espousal of racist views in private or public institutions.[162] Various commentators noted that there was a renewed sense of pride among the country’s indigenous population following Morales’s election.[163] Conversely, the opposition accused Morales’s administration of aggravating racial tensions between indigenous, white, and mestizo populations,[164] with some non-indigenous Bolivians feeling that they were now experiencing racism.[165]

On International Workers’ Day 2006, Morales issued a presidential decree undoing aspects of the informalization of labor which had been implemented by previous neoliberal governments; this was seen as a highly symbolic act for labor rights in Bolivia.[166] In 2009 his government put forward suggested reforms to the 1939 labor laws, although lengthy discussions with trade unions hampered the reforms’ progress.[167] Morales’s government increased the legal minimum wage by 50%,[168] and reduced the pension age from 65 to 60, and then in 2010 reduced it again to 58.[169]

While policies were brought in to improve the living conditions of the working classes, conversely many middle-class Bolivians felt that they had seen their social standing decline,[170] with Morales personally mistrusting the middle-classes, deeming them fickle.[171] A 2006 law reallocated state-owned lands,[172] with this agrarian reform entailing distributing land to traditional communities rather than individuals.[173] In 2010, a law was introduced permitting the formation of recognised indigenous territories, although the implementation of this was hampered by bureaucracy and contesting claims over ownership.[174] Morales’s regime also sought to improve women’s rights in Bolivia.[175] In 2010, it founded a Unit of Depatriarchalization to oversee this process.[113] Further seeking to provide legal recognition and support to LGBT rights, it declared June 28 to be Sexual Minority Rights Day in the country,[176] and encouraged the establishment of a gay-themed television show on the state channel.[177]

Adopting a policy known as “Coca Yes, Cocaine No”,[178] Morales’s administration ensured the legality of coca growing, but also introduced measures to regulate the production and trade of the crop.[179] In 2007, they announced that they would permit the growing of 50,000 acres of coca in the country, primarily for the purposes of domestic consumption,[180] with each family being restricted to the growing of one cato (1600 metres squared) of coca.[181]

A social control program was implemented whereby local unions took on responsibility for ensuring that this quota was not exceeded; in doing so, they hoped to remove the need for military and police intervention, and thus stem the violence of previous decades.[182] Measures were implemented to ensure the industrialization of coca production, with Morales inaugurating the first coca industrialization plant in Chulumani, which produced and packaged coca and trimate tea; the project was primarily funded through a $125,000 donation from Venezuela under the PTA scheme.[179]

These industrialization measures proved largely unsuccessful given that coca remained illegal in most nations outside Bolivia, thus depriving the growers of an international market.[183] Campaigning against this, in 2012 Bolivia withdrew from the UN 1961 Convention which had called for global criminalisation of coca, and in 2013 successfully convinced the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to declassify coca as a narcotic.[184] The U.S. State Department criticised Bolivia, asserting that it was regressing in its counter-narcotics efforts, and dramatically reduced aid to Bolivia to $34 million to fight the narcotics trade in 2007.[185] Nevertheless, the number of cocaine seizures in Bolivia increased under Morales’s government,[186] as they sought to encourage coca growers to report and oppose cocaine producers and traffickers.[187] However, high levels of police corruption surrounding the illicit trade in cocaine remained a continuing problem for Bolivia.[188]

Morales’s government also introduced measures to tackle Bolivia’s endemic corruption; in 2007, he used a presidential decree to create the Ministry of Institutional Transparency and Fight Against Corruption.[189] However, critics highlighted that MAS members were rarely prosecuted for the crime, the main exception being YPFB head Santos Ramírez, who was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment for corruption in 2008. Conversely, a 2009 law that permitted the retroactive prosecution for corruption led to legal cases being brought against a number of opposition politicians for alleged corruption in the pre-Morales period; many fled abroad to avoid standing trial.[190]

Domestic unrest and the new constitution

During his presidential campaign, Morales had supported calls for regional autonomy for Bolivia’s departments. As president, he changed his position, viewing the calls for autonomy – which came from Bolivia’s four eastern departments of Santa Cruz, BeniPando, and Tarija – as an attempt by the wealthy bourgeoisie living in these regions to preserve their economic position.[191] He nevertheless agreed to a referendum on regional autonomy, held in July 2006; the four eastern departments voted in favor of autonomy, but Bolivia as a whole voted against it by 57.6%.[192] In September, autonomy activists launched strikes and blockades across eastern Bolivia, resulting in violent clashes with MAS activists.[193] In January 2007, clashes in Cochabamba between activist groups led to fatalities, with Morales’s government sending in troops to maintain the peace. The left-indigenous activists formed a Revolutionary Departmental Government, but Morales denounced it as illegal and continued to recognise the legitimacy of right-wing departmental head Manfred Reyes Villa.[194]

In July 2006, an election to form a Constitutional Assembly was held, which saw the highest ever electoral turnout in the nation’s history. MAS won 137 of its 255 seats, after which the Assembly was inaugurated in August.[195] The Assembly was the first elected parliamentary body in Bolivia which features strong campesino and indigenous representation.[196] In November, the Assembly approved a new constitution, which converted the Republic of Bolivia into the Plurinational State of Bolivia, describing it as a “plurinational communal and social unified state”. The constitution emphasized Bolivian sovereignty of natural resources, separated church and state, forbade foreign military bases in the country, implemented a two-term limit for the presidency, and permitted limited regional autonomy. It also enshrined every Bolivians’ right to water, food, free health care, education, and housing.[197] In enshrining the concept of plurinationalism, one commentator noted that it suggested “a profound reconfiguration of the state itself” by recognising the rights to self-determination of various nations within a single state.[198]

Morales in 2008

In May 2008, the eastern departments pushed for greater autonomy, but Morales’s government rejected the legitimacy of their position.[199] They called for a referendum on recalling Morales, which saw an 83% turnout and in which Morales was ratified with 67.4% of the vote.[200] Unified as the National Council for Democracy (CONALDE), these groups – financed by the wealthy agro-industrialist, petroleum, and financial elite – embarked on a series of destabilisation campaigns to unseat Morales’s government.[201] Unrest then broke out across eastern Bolivia, as radicalized autonomist activists established blockades, occupied airports, clashing with pro-government demonstrations, police, and armed forces. Some formed paramilitaries, bombing state companies, indigenous NGOs, and human rights organisations, also launching armed racist attacks on indigenous communities, culminating in the Pando Massacre of MAS activists.[202] The autonomists gained support from some high-ranking politicians; Santa Cruz Governor Rubén Costas lambasted Morales and his supporters with racist epithets, accusing the president of being an Aymara fundamentalist and a totalitarian dictator responsible for state terrorism.[203] Amid the unrest, foreign commentators began speculating on the possibility of civil war.[204]

After it was revealed that USAID‘s Office of Transition Initiatives had supplied $4.5 million to the pro-autonomist departmental governments of the eastern provinces, in September 2008 Morales accused the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, Philip Goldberg, of “conspiring against democracy” and encouraging the civil unrest, ordering him to leave the country.[205][206]. The U.S. government responded by expelling Bolivian ambassador to the U.S., Gustavo Guzman.[207]. Bolivia subsequently expelled the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from the country, while the U.S. responded by withdrawing their Peace Corps.[208] Chávez stood in solidarity with Bolivia by ordering the U.S. ambassador Patrick Duddy out of his country and withdrawing the Venezuelan ambassador to the U.S.[209] The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) convened a special meeting to discuss the Bolivian situation, expressing full support for Morales’s government.[210]

Morales meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2009

Although unable to quell the autonomist violence, Morales’s government refused to declare a state of emergency, believing that the autonomists were attempting to provoke them into doing so.[211] Instead, they decided to compromise, entering into talks with the parliamentary opposition. As a result, 100 of the 411 elements of the Constitution were changed, with both sides compromising on certain issues.[212] Nevertheless, the governors of the eastern provinces rejected the changes, believing it gave them insufficient autonomy, while various Indianist and leftist members of MAS felt that the amendments conceded too much to the political right.[213] The constitution was put to a referendum in January 2009, in which it was approved by 61.4% of voters.[214]

Following the approval of the new Constitution, the 2009 general election was called. The opposition sought to delay the election by demanding a new biometric registry system, hoping that it would give them time to form a united front against MAS.[215] Many MAS activists reacted violently against the demands, and attempting to prevent this. Morales went on a five-day hunger strike in April 2009 to push the opposition to rescind their demands. He also agreed to allow for the introduction of a new voter registry, but insisted that it was rushed through so as not to delay the election.[216] Morales and the MAS won with a landslide majority, polling 64.2%, while voter participation had reached an all-time high of 90%.[217] His primary opponent, Reyes Villa, gained 27% of the vote. The MAS won a two-thirds majority in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.[218] Morales notably increased his support in the east of the country, with MAS gaining a majority in Tarija.[219] In response to his victory, Morales proclaimed that he was “obligated to accelerate the pace of change and deepen socialism” in Bolivia, seeing his re-election as a mandate to further his reforms.[220]

Second presidential term: 2009–2014

During his second term, Morales began to speak openly of “communitarian socialism” as the ideology that he desired for Bolivia’s future.[221] He assembled a new cabinet which was 50% female, a first for Bolivia,[222] although by 2012, that had dropped to a third.[175] One of the main tasks that faced his government during this term was the aim of introducing legislation that would cement the extension of rights featured in the new constitution.[223] In April 2010, the departmental elections saw further gains for MAS.[224] In 2013, the government passed a law to combat domestic violence against women.[225]

Morales at an international conference in 2012

In December 2009, Morales attended the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he blamed climate change on capitalism and called for a financial transactions tax to fund climate change mitigation. Ultimately deeming the conference to have been a failure, he oversaw the World’s People Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth outside of Cochabamba in April 2010.[226]

Following the victories of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, relations between Bolivia and the U.S. improved slightly, and in November 2009 the countries entered negotiations to restore diplomatic relations.[227] After the U.S. backed the 2011 military intervention in Libya by NATO forces, Morales condemned Obama, calling for his Nobel Peace Prize to be revoked.[228] The two nations restored diplomatic relations in November 2011,[229] although Morales refused to allow the DEA back into the country.[230]

In October 2012, the government passed a Law of Mother Earth that banned genetically modified organisms (GMOs) being grown in Bolivia; although praised by environmentalists, it was criticised by the nation’s soya growers, who claimed that it would make them less competitive on the global market.[231]

On July 2, 2013, Bolivia’s foreign minister said that the diversion of Morales’s presidential plane (FAB-001, a Dassault Falcon 900EX), when Portuguese, French, Spanish and Italian authorities denied access to their airspace due to suspicions that Edward Snowden was on board the aircraft, had put the president’s life at risk.[232] Latin American leaders describe the incident as a “stunning violation of national sovereignty and disrespect for the region”.[233] Morales himself described the incident as a “hostage” situation.[234] France apologized for the incident the next day.[235] The presidents of Argentina, Ecuador, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela, Morales’s political allies in the region, gathered to demand an explanation of the incident.[236]

In 2014, Morales became the oldest active professional soccer player in the world after signing a contract for $200 a month with Sport Boys Warnes.[237]

On July 31, 2014, Morales condemned the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict and declared Israel a “terrorist state”.[238]

Domestic protests

Morales addressing Bolivia’s Parliament

Morales’s second term was heavily affected by infighting and dissent from within his support base, as indigenous and leftist activists rejected several government reforms.[239] In May 2010, his government announced a 5% rise in the minimum wage. The Bolivian Workers’ Central (COB) felt this insufficient given the rising cost of living, calling a general strike, while protesters clashed with police. The government refused to increase the rise, accusing protesters of being pawns of the right.[240] In August 2010, violent protests broke out in southern Potosí over widespread unemployment and a lack of infrastructure investment.[225] In December 2010, the government cut subsidies for gasoline and diesel fuels, which raised fuel prices and transport costs. Protests led Morales to nullify the decree, responding that he “ruled by obeying”.[241] In June 2012, Bolivia’s police launched protests against anti-corruption reforms to the police service; they burned disciplinary case records and demanded salary increases. Morales’s government relented, cancelling many of the proposed reforms and agreeing to the wage rise.[242]

In 2011, the government announced it had signed a contract with a Brazilian company to construct a highway connecting Beni to Cochabamba, which would pass through the Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS). This would better integrate the Beni and Pando departments with the rest of Bolivia and facilitate hydrocarbons exploration. The plan brought condemnation from environmentalists and indigenous communities living in the TIPNIS, who claimed that it would encourage deforestation and illegal settlement and that it violated the constitution and United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.[243] The issue became an international cause célèbre and cast doubt on the government’s environmentalist and indigenous rights credentials.[244] In August, 800 protesters embarked on a protest march from Trinidad to La Paz; many were injured in clashes with police and supporters of the road.[245] Two government ministers and other high-ranking officials resigned in protest and Morales’s government relented, announcing suspension of the road.[245] In October 2011, he passed Law 180, prohibiting further road construction, although the government proceeded with a consultation, eventually gaining the consent of 55 of the 65 communities in TIPNIS to allow the highway to be built, albeit with a variety of concessions; construction was scheduled to take place after the 2014 general election.[245][246][247] In May 2013, the government announced that it would permit hydrocarbon exploration in Bolivia’s 22 national parks, to widespread condemnation from environmentalists.[231]

Third presidential term: 2014–2019

Morales with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during the Third GECF summit.

In 2008, Morales had vowed that he would not stand for re-election in the 2014 general election.[248] However, he successfully did so and after proclaiming victory in the election, Morales declared it “a triumph of the anti-colonialists and anti-imperialists” and dedicated his win to both Castro and Chávez.[249][250][251]

On the basis of this victory, the Financial Times remarked that Morales was “one of the world’s most popular leaders”.[252] On October 17, 2015, Morales surpassed Andrés de Santa Cruz‘s nine years, eight months, and twenty-four days in office and became Bolivia’s longest serving president.[253][254] Writing in The GuardianEllie Mae O’Hagan attributes his enduring popularity not to anti-imperialist rhetoric but his “extraordinary socio-economic reforms,” which resulted in poverty and extreme poverty declining by 25% and 43% respectively.[255]

In early February 2016 there were rumors that Morales had had a child by a young woman, Gabriela Zapata Montaño, and had granted favors to the Chinese company for which she worked. Morales admitted that they had had a son (who had died in infancy), but denied vehemently any granting of favors and said he had not been in contact with Zapata Montaño since 2007.[256]

In February 2016, a referendum was held on the question of whether Morales should be allowed to run for a fourth term; he narrowly lost.[257] His approval rating had been damaged by the allegations concerning his relationship with Gabriela Zapata Montaño.[258] In December 2016 the MAS nominated Morales as their candidate for the 2019 presidential election regardless, stating that they would seek various avenues to ensure the legality of such a candidacy.[259] In November 2017, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice of Bolivia ruled that—in contrast to the constitution—all public offices would have no term limits, blaming American imperialism and influence for the referendum’s outcome, thus allowing Morales to run for a fourth term in 2019.[260] In May 2019, Luis Almagro, the secretary general of the Organization of American States, supported Morales participation in the 2019 election.[261]

Morales attended the swearing-in ceremony of Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro for his second term on January 10, 2019.[262] In April 2019, Morales condemned the arrest by the United Kingdom of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.[263]

2019 election controversy and resignation

On October 20, 2019, Morales won 47.1% of the vote in the first round of the 2019 Bolivian general election. His closest rival was Carlos Mesa, with 35.5% of the vote. As the gap between Morales and Mesa was over 10%, a second-round run-off between them would not have been required.[264]

The results were immediately disputed and led to widespread protests across the country. Responding to the concerns and violent protests, Morales asked the Organization of American States (OAS) to conduct an audit of the vote count.[265] Morales said he would call for a second-round runoff vote with Mesa if the OAS’ audit found evidence of fraud.[264] Morales asked the protesters to observe a truce while the OAS conducted the audit but Mesa asked his supporters to maintain their strikes and street protests.[266]

On November 9, 2019, the Organization of American States (OAS) published a preliminary report that there were “clear manipulations” including physical records with alterations and forged signatures, and evidence of wide-scale data manipulation. The next day, Morales announced that fresh elections would take place.[267][268] The police joined the protests against Morales,[269] and on November 10, according to The New York Times: “the commander of Bolivia’s armed forces, Gen. Williams Kaliman, said the military chiefs believed he should step down to restore ‘peace and stability and for the good of our Bolivia.'”[270][271] On November 12, Morales flew to Mexico and accepted asylum there.[272] Morales, along with the governments of MexicoCubaUruguayNicaragua, the Nicolás Maduro-led disputed government of Venezuela, as well as the President-elect of Argentina, maintain that his removal was a coup.[273][274][275][276]

Political ideology

The worst enemy of humanity is capitalism. That is what provokes uprisings like our own, a rebellion against a system, against a neo-liberal model, which is the representation of a savage capitalism. If the entire world doesn’t acknowledge this reality, that the national states are not providing even minimally for health, education and nourishment, then each day the most fundamental human rights are being violated.

– Evo Morales[277]

Figures in the Morales government have described the President’s approach to politics as “Evoism” (SpanishEvismo).[278] From 2009, Morales has advocated “communitarian socialism”,[221] while political scientist Sven Harten characterized Morales’s ideology as “eclectic”, drawing ideas from “various ideological currents”.[279] Harten noted that whilst Morales uses fierce anti-imperialist and leftist rhetoric, he is neither “a hardcore anti-globalist nor a Marxist,” not having argued for the violent and absolute overthrow of capitalism or U.S. involvement in Latin America.[280]

Economically, Morales’s policies have sometimes been termed “Evonomics” and have focused on creating a mixed economy.[281] Morales’s presidential discourse has revolved around distinguishing between “the people”, of whom he sees himself as a representative, and the oppressive socio-economic elite and the old political class, whom he believes have mistreated “the people” for centuries.[282] Morales sought to make Bolivia’s representative democracy more direct and communitarian, through the introduction of referendums and a citizen-led legislative initiative.[283] George Philip and Francisco Panizza claimed that like his allies Correa and Chávez, Morales should be categorized as a populist,[284] because he appealed “directly to the people against their countries’ political and economic order, divided the social field into antagonistic camps and promised redistribution and recognition in a newly founded political order.”[285]

Various far left commentators have argued against categorizing the Morales administration as socialist. Bolivia’s Marxist Vice President Álvaro García Linera asserts that Bolivia lacks the sufficiently large industrialized working class, or proletariat, to enable it to convert into a socialist society in the Marxist understanding of the word. Instead, he terms the government’s approach “Andean and Amazonian capitalism”.[286] Marxist American sociologist James Petras has argued that Morales’s government is neither socialist nor anti-imperialist, instead describing Morales as a “radical conservative” for utilizing socialist rhetoric while continuing to support foreign investment and the economic status of Bolivia’s capitalist class,[287] while British Trotskyist academic Jeffery R. Webber asserted that Morales was no socialist but that his regime was “reconstituting neoliberalism”, thereby rejecting “neoliberal orthdoxy” but retaining a “core faith in the capitalist market as the principal engine of growth and industrialization.”[288] Similarly, Aymara activist Felipe Quispe characterised Morales’s government as “neoliberalism with an Indian [i.e. indigenous] face”.[289]

Personal life

First Lady Morales with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador Ricardo Patiño.

Morales is ethnically Aymara, and has been widely described as Bolivia’s first democratically-elected President from the indigenous majority.[10][6] Although Morales has sometimes been described as the first indigenous president to be democratically elected in Latin America, Benito Juárez, a Mexican of the Zapotec ethnic group, was elected President of Mexico in 1858.[7] Biographer Martín Sivak described Morales as “incorruptible, charismatic, and combative”,[290] also noting that he had a “friendly style” and could develop a good rapport with journalists and photographers, in part because he could “articulate his opinions with simplicity”.[47] He places a great emphasis on trust,[291] and relies on his intuition, sometimes acting on what he considers omens in his dreams.[292] Harten said that Morales “can be a forceful leader, one who instills great respect and, sometimes, a reluctance in others to contradict him, but he has also learnt to listen and learn from other people.”[293] Farthing and Kohl characterised Morales as a “charismatic populist” of a kind common in Latin American history, who prioritized “a direct relationship” between the population and the leader.[294]

Morales is not married and upon becoming president selected his older sister, Esther Morales Ayma, to adopt the role of First Lady. He has two children from different mothers. They are his daughter Eva Liz Morales Alvarado and son Álvaro Morales Paredes.[295][296][297] Politician Juan del Granado is Eva Liz’s godfather.[295]

Morales has commented that he is only a Roman Catholic in order “to go to weddings”, and when asked if he believed in God, responded that “I believe in the land. In my father and my mother. And in cuchi-cuchi (sexual activity).”[298] According to some, Evo lives an ascetic life, with little interest in material possessions.[299] Morales inaugurated a $34 million (USD) La Paz residence (called “People’s Great House” or “Casa Grande del Pueblo”) in 2018. The Casa Grande del Pueblo is a 29-story skyscraper complete with a jacuzzi, sauna, gym, massage room, and rooftop helipad. It was designed by Bolivian architects and decorated with indigenous motifs representing traditional Bolivian culture.[300][301] The skyscraper was built to replace the former presidential palace, which Evo planned to turn into a museum. After signing the contract for the new building, Morales stated that it was “not a luxury” since it would also house cabinet meeting rooms, a centre for indigenous ceremonies and a 1,000-seat auditorium as well as rooms for exclusive presidential use.[301] Morales is an association football enthusiast and plays the game frequently, often with local teams.[302][303]

Morales’s unorthodox behavior contrasts with the usual manners of dignitaries and other political leaders in Latin America. During speeches he made use of personal stories and anecdotes,[304] and used coca as a political symbol, wearing a coca leaf garland around his neck and a hat with coca leaves in it when speaking to crowds of supporters.[305] Following his election, he wore striped jumpers rather than the suits typically worn by politicians. It became a symbol of Morales, with copies of it selling widely in Bolivia.[306][307] Unlike his ally Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, the MAS does not revolve around his personality.[293]

On July 4, 2018, Morales underwent emergency surgery at a private clinic in La Paz in order to remove a tumor.[308]

Influence and legacy

Morales with Enrique Peña Nieto and Justin Trudeau, Lima, Peru, 2018

Morales has been described as “the most famous Bolivian ever”,[5] whose personality has become “fixed in the global imagination”.[309] Morales’s government has been seen as part of the pink tide of left-leaning Latin American governments, becoming particularly associated with the hard left current of Venezuela and Cuba.[310] It has been praised for its pro-socialist stance among the international left,[224] who have taken an interest in Bolivia under his leadership as a “political laboratory”[311] or “a living workshop” for the development of an alternative to capitalism.[312] Domestically, Morales’s support base has been among Bolivia’s poor and indigenous communities.[6] For these communities, who had felt marginalized in Bolivian politics for decades, Morales “invokes a sense of dignity and destiny” in a way that no other contemporary politician has done.[313] He has received the support of many democratic socialists and social democrats, as well as sectors of Bolivia’s liberal movement, who have been critical of Morales but favoured him over the right-wing opposition.[314]

Based on interviews conducted among Bolivians in 2012, John Crabtree and Ann Chaplin described the previous years of Morales’s rule with the observation that: “for many—perhaps most—Bolivians, this was a period when ordinary people felt the benefits of policy in ways that had not been the case for decades, if ever.”[315] Crabtree and Chaplin added that Morales’s administration had made “important changes… that will probably be difficult to reverse”, including poverty reduction, the removal of some regional inequalities, and side-lining of some previously dominant political actors in favor of others who had been encouraged and enabled by his government.[315]

Critics, particularly in the U.S. government, have varyingly termed him “a left-wing radical, a partner of narco-traffickers and a terrorist”.[316] Opposition to Morales’s governance has centered in the wealthy eastern lowland province of Santa Cruz.[6] His policies often antagonized middle-class Bolivians, who deemed them too radical and argued that they threatened private property.[6] His most vociferous critics have been from Bolivia’s conservative movement, although he has also received criticism from the country’s far left, who believe his reformist policies have been insufficiently radical or socialist.[314] Many of these leftist critics were unhappy that Morales’s regime did not make a total break with global capitalism.[315] His regime has also faced many of the same complaints directed at previous Bolivian administrations, revolving around such issues as “concentration of power, corruption, incompetent bureaucracies, and disrespect for civil liberties”.[317]

Crabtree and Chaplin’s study led them to conclude that while Morales’s initial election had brought “huge expectations” from many Bolivians, especially in the social movements, there had been “inevitable frustrations” at his administration’s inability to deliver on everything that they had hoped.[318] They thought that the “heady optimism” that had characterized Morales’s first term in office had given way to “a climate of questioning and growing criticism of the government and its policies”.[315] Although the Bolivian economy had grown, the material benefits had not been as high as many Bolivians had hoped.[315] Crabtree and Chaplin argued that the experiences of his administration had “drawn attention to the difficulties involved in bringing change in the patterns of development in one of Latin America’s poorest and most unequal nations”.[319] Similarly, Harten thought that Morales’s discourse of “the people” against the socio-economic elites has brought a spotlight on the deep social polarization in Bolivia.[320]

See also

References

 

Bolivian security forces kill five and injure dozens when they open fire in ‘massacre’ of supporters of ousted president Evo Morales

  • Evo Morales exiled himself to Mexico last week after being accused of vote-rigging in an October election  
  • Supporter base has taken to the streets to protest his departure after his ouster caused gas prices to increase 
  • Five people are confirmed dead, while a nurse at a local hospital saw 75 injured protesters receive attention 

Bolivia’s political crisis turned deadly after security forces opened fire on supporters of Evo Morales in a central town, killing at least five people, injuring dozens and threatening the interim government’s efforts to restore stability following the resignation of the former president in an election dispute.

Most of the dead and injured Friday in Sacaba near the city of Cochabamba suffered bullet wounds, Guadalberto Lara, director of the town’s Mexico Hospital, said. He called it the worst violence he’s seen in his 30-year career.

Angry demonstrators and relatives of the victims gathered at the site of the shootings, chanting: ‘Civil war, now!’

Security forces, pictured in uniform, opened fire on supporters of exiled President Evo Morales yesterday. At least five people died and dozens were injured (Pictured: Police detain a supporter of former President Evo Morales during clashes in Sacaba, Bolivia, November 15, 2019)

Security forces, pictured in uniform, opened fire on supporters of exiled President Evo Morales yesterday. At least five people died and dozens were injured (Pictured: Police detain a supporter of former President Evo Morales during clashes in Sacaba, Bolivia, November 15, 2019)

Evo Morales was Bolivia’s first indigenous president who derived much of his support from coca leaf growers from rural communities (Pictured: Injured demonstrators are seen inside an ambulance in Sacaba, on the outskirts of Cochabamba, Bolivia, yesterday)

Morales, who was granted asylum in Mexico after his resignation Sunday, said on Twitter that a ‘massacre’ had occurred and he described Bolivia’s government led by interim President Jeanine Anez as a dictatorship.

‘Now they are killing our brothers in Sacaba, Cochabamba,’ he said in another tweet.

Protesters said police fired when demonstrators, including many coca leaf growers who backed Bolivia’s first indigenous president, tried to cross a military checkpoint. Emeterio Colque Sanchez, a 23-year-old university student, said he saw the dead bodies of several protesters and about two-dozen people rushed to hospitals, many covered in blood.

Witnesses at the scene said they saw the corpses of several protesters and several dozen people rushed to hospital (Pictured: Police detain supporters of former President Evo Morales during clashes in Sacaba, Bolivia, yesterday)14

 

Morales has been granted permission to stay in Mexico and has been told that he may be charged for election fraud if he returns home. The ousted leader stood down on Saturday after he was accused of vote-rigging (Pictured: Backers of former President Evo Morales clash with security forces in Sacaba, Bolivia, yesterday)

Anez, Bolivia’s interim leader, has also said that Morales will be barred from standing in the new presidential elections (Pictured: A doctor attends a man injured during clashes between security forces and backers of former President Evo Morales at a hospital in Cochabamba, Bolivia, Friday)

Earlier in the day, Anez said Morales would face possible legal charges for election fraud if he returns home from Mexico City, even as the ousted leader contended he is still president since the country’s legislature has not yet approved his resignation.

Bolivia’s interim leader also said Morales would not be allowed to participate in new presidential elections meant to heal the Andean nation’s political standoff.

Morales stepped down on Sunday following nationwide protests over suspected vote-rigging in an October 20 election in which he claimed to have won a fourth term in office. An Organization of American States audit of the vote found widespread irregularities. Morales has denied there was fraud14

A nurse at the hospital in Cochabamba told reporters the estimates given by the government were under the 75 people she saw injured (Pictured: Members of the military police try to destroy a flaming barricade in Sacaba, on the outskirts of Cochabamba, Bolivia yesterday)

Bolivian officials have called on the interim government to investigate whether security forces acted within Bolivian law and in line with international human rights protocols (Pictured: Security forces form a human barrier against supporters of Evo Morales in Sacaba, Bolivia, yesterday)

Families of the victims held vigil after the protests on Friday night (Pictured: A man shows spent casings during a candle service for the fallen protesters)

Families of the victims held a candlelight vigil late Friday in Sacaba. A tearful woman put her hand on a wooden casket surrounded by flowers and asked: ‘Is this what you call democracy? Killing us like nothing?’ Another woman cried and prayed in Quechua over the coffin of Omar Calle, which was draped in the Bolivian national flag and the multicolor ‘Wiphala’ flag that represents indigenous peoples.

Bolivia’s Ombudsman’s Office said it regretted the deaths during the joint police-military operation and called on the interim government to investigate if the security forces had acted within the constitution and international protocols on human rights.

‘We express our alarm and concern over the result of an attempt to stop a demonstration by coca leaf growers from entering the city of Cochabamba,’ it said.

Presidency Minister Jerjes Justiniano told reporters in La Paz that five people had been killed and an estimated 22 were injured. Lara, the hospital director, said that 75 people were injured.

Justiniano called for a dialogue with all parties involved in the conflict.

‘What we’ve been able to determine through preliminary information is that they used military weapons,’ he said.

On Thursday, Morales told reporters that while he had submitted his resignation, it was never accepted by Congress.

‘I can say that I’m still president,’ he said.

Morales told reporters yesterday that he handed in his resignation but the government didn’t accept it. He said he is ‘still president’ (Pictured: Tear gas shells fired by security forces are placed with candles around coffins of backers of former President Evo Morales killed during clashes with security forces in Sacaba, Bolivia on Friday)

Supporters of Morales have been causing disruption across cities in Bolivia since their president was ousted. They violently reacted when the ouster forced the closure of schools and caused gas shortages (Pictured: Mourners attend the funeral of backers of former President Evo Morales)

Morales said he left because of military pressure – the army chief had ‘suggested’ he leave – and threats of violence against his close collaborators.

Anez dismissed the explanation.

‘Evo Morales went on his own; nobody kicked him out,’ she said at a news conference.

‘He knows he has accounts pending with justice. He can return but he has to answer to justice for electoral fraud,’ she added.

Supporters of Morales, who had been Bolivia’s president for almost 14 years and was the last survivor from the ‘pink tide’ of leftist leaders who come to power in South America, have been staging disruptive protests since his ouster, setting up blockades that forced closure of schools and caused shortages of gasoline in the capital.

In the capital, riot police fired tear gas at rock-throwing demonstrators. Elderly people and children were caught in the violence and tried to seek shelter in businesses that had been shut behind metal sheets to protect against looters. Long lines formed outside some gas stations in La Paz after blockades in the nearby city of El Alto, a major distribution point for fuel.

Pictured is a grieving relative of one of the four farmers showing the bullets they were killed with in a clash with the police in Sacaba during a vigil held in the streets yesterday

Women walk past belongings of supporters of Bolivia’s former President Evo Morales after clashes in Sacaba, on the outskirts of Cochabamba, Bolivia, yesterday

A riot police officer with a Bolivian flag is seen in Sacaba, on the outskirts of Cochabamba, Bolivia, yesterday

‘There’s no gas,’ said Efrain Mendoza, a taxi driver from El Alto, who was forced to buy gasoline on the black market at twice the regular price.

‘Products are scarce. There’s no meat, no chicken, people are making long lines. It’s all because of the blockades,’  he said. ‘There’s division in Bolivia. It’s exasperating.’

Anez, the highest-ranking opposition official in the Senate, proclaimed herself president, saying every person in the line of succession ahead of her -all of them Morales backers – had resigned. The Constitutional Court issued a statement backing her claim that she didn’t need to be confirmed by Congress, a body controlled by Morales’ Movement Toward Socialism party.

Much of the opposition to Morales sprang from his refusal to accept a referendum that would have forbidden him from running for a new term.

Morales had upended politics in this nation long ruled by light-skinned descendants of Europeans by reversing deep-rooted inequality. The economy benefited from a boom in prices of commodities and he ushered through a new constitution that created a new Congress with seats reserved for Bolivia’s smaller indigenous groups while also allowing self-rule for all indigenous communities.

But many people became disenchanted by his insistence on holding on to power.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7692381/Bolivian-security-forces-kill-five-injure-dozens-protests.html

Story 2: Democrat Trump Madness Should End Thursday After Attempted Coup Cover-up Fails To Gain American People’s Support — No Evidence President Trump Did Anything Improper — No Crime — No Real Witnesses — Feelings, Hearsay, Opinions — Not Evidence — Big Lie Media — Videos

An Attempted Coup’ Says Trump

FISA order will uncover ‘corruption and bias’ at DOJ, FBI: Rep. Gaetz

Democratic call to defy Trump FISA order is an attempted coup: Judge Jeanine Pirro

Lou Dobbs Tonight 11/18/19 FULL | Trump Breaking Fox News November 18, 2019

Pence aide on Capitol Hill for impeachment probe

Pence aide´s testimony renews focus on VP´s Ukraine role

He knew nothing about the Ukrainian backchannel, his aides say.

He was unaware of a pull-aside meeting in Ukraine set up by a member of his own delegation, they insist.

And he was in the dark about a months-long campaign to push Ukraine´s leader to investigate President Donald Trump´s Democratic rivals, they attest – even as he met with and held calls with that leader.

Questions about what Mike Pence knew about the events that sparked the House impeachment investigation – and when he knew key facts – are back in the spotlight as an aide to the vice president testifies this week at a public hearing of the House Intelligence Committee. The inquiry centers on whether Trump abused his office for his own political gain by withholding crucial security aid from Ukraine as aides pressed the country´s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to announce an investigation into the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and into the business dealings of the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.

Pence´s team, for its part, is walking a thin political line in trying to make the case that the vice president was out of the loop on questionable aspects of Trump´s Ukraine policy while also presenting Pence as an influential voice in prodding the president to release the military aid.

Jennifer Williams, a career foreign service officer who was detailed to Pence’s office from the State Department, is set to testify Tuesday. She compiled briefing materials for Pence on Ukraine, was in the room when he met with Zelenskiy in September and was among the staffers in the Situation Room who listened and took notes during Trump’s July 25 call with Zelenskiy.

FILE - In this Nov. 7, 2019, file photo, Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence for Europe and Russia, arrives for a closed-door interview in the impeachment inquiry on President Donald Trump's efforts to press Ukraine to investigate his political rivals at the Capitol in Washington. A public appearance by an aide to Mike Pence before the House Intelligence Committee this week is drawing renewed attention to the vice president and what he knew about the events that sparked the House impeaching investigation.Williams is a career foreign service officer detailed to Pence's office from the State Department. She compiled briefing materials for him on Ukraine and was listened in on Trump's July 25 call with Zelenskiy. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

FILE – In this Nov. 7, 2019, file photo, Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence for Europe and Russia, arrives for a closed-door interview in the impeachment inquiry on President Donald Trump’s efforts to press Ukraine to investigate his political rivals at the Capitol in Washington. A public appearance by an aide to Mike Pence before the House Intelligence Committee this week is drawing renewed attention to the vice president and what he knew about the events that sparked the House impeaching investigation.Williams is a career foreign service officer detailed to Pence’s office from the State Department. She compiled briefing materials for him on Ukraine and was listened in on Trump’s July 25 call with Zelenskiy. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

In closed-door testimony to impeachment investigators earlier this month, Williams said Trump’s discussion of specific investigations in the July phone call struck her “as unusual and inappropriate.” The requests, she said, seemed tied to Trump’s personal political agenda instead of broader U.S. foreign policy objectives, and seemed to point to “other motivations” for holding up the military aid.

Yet Williams said she never raised her concerns with anyone at the White House, including her boss, Pence national security adviser Keith Kellogg.

Williams said she included a copy of the call´s rough transcript in the vice president´s briefing book, but she had no way of knowing whether Pence read it. Pence has said that nothing about the transcript struck him as off-base, but hasn´t said when he first focused on it.

As the impeachment inquiry moves forward, Pence is broadly following the careful approach he took during much of the first two years of Trump´s presidency, as special counsel Robert Mueller´s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election hung over the administration. At times, he seemed cut off from how decisions were being made.

After the sudden firing of FBI Director James Comey, Pence echoed administration talking points that the decision by Trump to fire Comey came only after the president received a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Days later, Trump undercut Pence and others by saying he was planning to fire Comey even before the memo and had considered it since the start of his administration.

Pence´s aides have spent recent weeks trying to distance him from the impeachment inquiry, as Pence himself insists the president did nothing wrong.

Pence spokeswoman Katie Waldman has said the vice president was unaware of efforts to push Zelenskiy to release a statement announcing investigations. And Pence has said no such push came up during his September meeting with Zelenskiy in Warsaw, even as the leaders discussed the U.S. military aid that was under review.

Waldman also said Pence was unaware of the “brief pull-aside conversation” that Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, reported having with a top aide to Zelenskiy following the Pence-Zelenskiy meeting. Sondland has said he told Andriy Yermak that the “resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.”

Pence would hardly be the first vice president to find himself out of the loop.

Matt Bennett, who was serving as an aide to Vice President Al Gore when news of President Bill Clinton´s affair with a White House intern broke, recalled the vice president being caught offguard by the revelation. Bennett remembers Gore asking, “Who the hell is Monica Lewinsky?”

Compared with his recent predecessors, Pence has had less of an impact in shaping presidential policy initiatives, says Bennett. He said Trump often operates as a team of one.

George W. Bush, for instance, leaned heavily on Vice President Dick Cheney in carving out the rationale to launch the Iraq war and in designing the war on terrorism. Cheney was tasked to help vet potential running mates for Bush as a presidential candidate and ultimately ended up with the job himself.

Barack Obama asked Biden to spearhead his push to draw down troops from Iraq and deputized Biden to do the heavy lifting on an unsuccessful push to overhaul the nation´s gun laws following the rampage at Connecticut´s Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 26 dead. On the campaign trail, Biden often boasts that he was the “last person in the room” with Obama before every major decision.

Pence has instead largely served as an emissary for Trump, representing him on the global stage, defending his decisions and serving as a sounding board behind the scenes.

Some aspects of Pence´s involvement with Ukraine are still to be sorted out.

Williams´ closed-door testimony contradicted Pence aides who insisted the vice president canceled a planned trip to Ukraine for Zelenskiy´s inauguration in May because of logistical difficulties. Williams said under oath that a colleague had told her the trip was called off because Trump no longer wanted Pence to attend after initially pushing for him go, confirming previous reporting by The Associated Press.

But aides to Pence dispute that assertion, saying Ukraine´s Parliament formally set the date of Zelenskiy´s inauguration just a week before it took place on May 20. With the date up in the air, Pence´s team decided to instead send him to Canada to promote the benefits of the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.

In an email obtained by The Associated Press, Williams told State Department officials and officials at the embassy in Kyiv on May 13 that she regretted “that the Vice President´s schedule has changed and he will not be able to attend President-elect Zelenskyy´s inauguration.”

Pence aides also said Williams only would have heard about the cancellation fourth-hand at best. And they notably did not defend her from Trump´s tweeted attacks over the weekend, insisting Pence doesn´t know who she is.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-7699943/Pence-aide-s-testimony-renews-focus-VP-s-Ukraine-role.html

 

Story 3:

 

Hong Kong police storm university campus occupied by protesters

Police agreed to temporarily suspend their use of force at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the school’s president said Monday.
By Jasmine Leung, Yuliya Talmazan and Associated Press

HONG KONG — The president of a Hong Kong University said Monday that police have agreed to suspend their use of force after they tried to flush out protesters occupying the campus.

Hong Kong Polytechnic University President Jin-Guang Teng said police would allow protesters to leave the campus, and he would accompany them to the police station to ensure their cases “will be fairly processed.”

He said in a recorded video message that he hopes protesters “will accept the proposed temporary suspension of force and leave the campus in a peaceful manner.”

The announcement came after Hong Kong police stormed the university campus following an all-night standoff.

Police fired volleys of tear gas and water cannons outside the university, while protesters hurled bricks and gasoline bombs, setting an overhead footbridge on fire.

The clashes threatened to escalate the violence as protesters sought to hold off a police advance.

Amid the skirmishes, Hong Kong police said their media officer was struck with an arrow and taken to a hospital. Photos on the department’s Facebook page showed the arrow sticking out of the back of the officer’s lower leg through his pants.

Police later released a statement condemning the incident, adding that the officer remained conscious after he was taken to hospital.

The territory’s hospital authority could not immediately confirm the officer’s condition.

Image: Hong Kong police officer with arrow in leg

Hong Kong police prepare to remove an arrow from the leg of a fellow officer during a confrontation with protesters at Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Sunday.Hong Kong Police Force via AP

Meanwhile, police deployed a long-range acoustic device, which emitted a loud noise for five to 10 seconds without warning, for the first time to help disperse the crowds.

Police said in a tweet that the device was used as a broadcasting system, not as a weapon, after speculation online that its use could cause dizziness, nausea or loss of sense of direction.

Sunday’s daytime faceoff came after a pitched battle overnight in which the two sides exchanged tear gas and gasoline bombs that left fires blazing in the street.

Many protesters retreated inside the Polytechnic campus, where they have barricaded entrances and set up narrow access control points.

Universities have become a new battleground for the protests after months of unrest in the semi-autonomous territory.

Traffic disruptions and class suspensions have become routine as protesters try to paralyze the city.

Protesters have largely retreated from several major campuses they held last week, except for the contingent at Polytechnic.

That group has employed new tactics involving flammable arrows and catapults. The demonstrators are also blocking access to Cross Harbour Tunnel, one of the three main road tunnels that links Hong Kong Island with the rest of the city.

“It’s not about the campus. It’s about what’s next to it,” said a 23-year-old masked protester who gave only his last name, Chow.

“We occupied the streets next to the campus because it’s the Cross Harbour Tunnel,” he told NBC News while sitting on the bridge outside the campus. “If we could first jam the traffic, then people couldn’t go to work and the economy in return would suffer.”

Image: Burning police vehicle
A police vehicle burns as protesters and police clash on a bridge at Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Sunday.Anthony Kwan / Getty Images

Police said Sunday that the “fortified” campus had stored “a large amount of offensive weapons, including flammable fluids.”

“The weapons and equipment used by the police simply cannot be comparable to ours,” Chow said. “They have real guns. They fire tear gas. They shoot rubber bullets at us.”

But police said in a tweet Sunday that the “violent activities” at the campus have “escalated to rioting” and warned that anyone who assists the protesters may be held legally liable.

Hong Kong has been plagued by anti-government protests sparked by a controversial extradition bill since June.

Although the bill has been shelved, protesters continue to take to the streets with a list of demands amid fears of mainland China’s growing influence.

“Government didn’t respond to us,” Chow said. “We have to hit and run.”

Meanwhile, a small group of Chinese soldiers at a base close to Polytechnic University were seen by NBC News monitoring Sunday’s clashes from afar.

On Saturday, Chinese soldiers dressed in shorts and T-shirts, some carrying red plastic buckets or brooms, emerged from their barracks in a rare public appearance to help residents clear debris blocking key roads.

Beijing has not interfered so far, saying the Hong Kong government can resolve the crisis.

But growing violence is posing perhaps the gravest challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.

Jasmine Leung reported from Hong Kong and Yuliya Talmazan from London. 

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/hong-kong-protesters-fight-police-fire-arrows-n1084261

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1360, November 15, 2019, Story 1: Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch Testifies — No Impeachable Offense Evidence — 2016 Ukraine Government Interfered with 2016 U.S. Election Favoring Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton — Ambassadors Serve At The Pleasure of The President — Move On — Videos — Story 2: Attorney General William Barr Addresses The Federal Society’s National Lawyer Convention — Videos

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Story 1: Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch Testifies — No Impeachable Offense Evidence — 2016 Ukraine Government Interfere with 2016 U.S. Election Favoring Candidate Hillary Clinton — Ambassadors Serve At The Pleasure of The President — Move On — Videos

House Impeachment Inquiry – Yovanovitch Testimony

WATCH: Rep. Devin Nunes’ full opening statement in Amb. Yovanovitch hearing

WHAT IS GOING ON? Devin Nunes Questions Why Marie Yovanovitch Is Even Testifying

WATCH: Rep. Elise Stefanik questions Amb. Yovanovitch about Burisma

WATCH: Rep. John Ratcliffe’s full questioning of Amb. Yovanovitch | Trump impeachment hearings

WATCH: Rep. Brad Wenstrup’s full questioning of Amb. Yovanovitch | Trump impeachment hearings

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, questioned Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, in a public hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. At the end of his questioning, Wenstrup said the president has the right to make their own foreign policy decisions. Yovanovitch responded, saying she didn’t dispute that the president has the right to withdraw an ambassador at any time, for any reason, “But what I do wonder is: Why it was necessary to smear my reputation?” “Well I wasn’t asking about that,” Wenstrup responded. The impeachment probe centers around a July phone call in which Trump asked the president of Ukraine to investigate former vice president and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Yovanovitch has testified that she was forced out of her position after Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, engineered a smear campaign against her.

WATCH: Republican counsel’s full questioning of Amb. Yovanovitch | Trump impeachment hearings

WATCH: Rep. Jim Jordan’s full questioning of Amb. Yovanovitch | Trump impeachment hearings

WATCH: Amb. Yovanovitch’s full opening statement | Trump impeachment hearings

Highlights From Yovanovitch’s Impeachment Testimony | NBC News Now

Ousted ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch is given standing ovation after impeachment hearing during which Schiff called out Trump for ‘witness intimidation’ after he tweeted during her testimony: ‘Everywhere Marie went turned bad’

  • Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, testified Friday on Capitol Hill before the House Intelligence Committee in the second televised impeachment hearing 
  • Yovanovitch said she felt threatened, shocked and devastated by remarks Donald Trump made about her in his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky 
  • In the phone call, Trump called her a ‘bad ambassador’ who was going to ‘go through some things’ 
  • Trump tweeted his criticism of Yovanovitch during the hearing, writing: ‘Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad’, which were then brought up by Chairman Adam Schiff in real time during the hearing 
  • House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff accused President Trump of trying to intimidate Yovanovitch with his tweets 
  • ‘What we saw was witness intimidation in real time by the President of the United States,’ he said 
  • Trump denied that was his motive: ‘I have the right to speak. I have freedom of speech just as other people do’ 
  • Yovanovitch was removed from her post after Giuliani and his allies spread information, swatted down by a series of witnesses, that she was working against Trump 
  • Yovanovitch also slammed Rudy Giuliani for orchestrating a ‘smear campaign’ against her and said she found it difficult to understand why Trump was influenced by ‘foreign and private interests’   
  • In his opening remarks, Schiff praised her stance on fighting corruption and argued it was her dedication to that fight that ending up ‘pissing off’ the wrong people in the Trump administration
  • This comes after top diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor and George Kent, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, gave their testimony on Capitol Hill Wednesday 

Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was given a standing ovation by members of the audience at the end of Friday’s hearing during which she said she felt threatened by remarks Donald Trump made about her in his July 25 call with his Ukrainian counterpart, while Rep. Adam Schiff charged the U.S. president with witness intimidation for tweeting criticism of her during her testimony.

Yovanovitch recalled in stark, personal terms how she felt when she was attacked by Trump associates and later disparaged by the president himself in his phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky.

‘I was shocked and devastated that I would feature in a phone call between two heads of state in such a manner where President Trump said that I was bad news to another world leader and that I would be going through some things,’ Yovanovitch said during her public testimony in Trump’s impeachment inquiry.

‘It sounded like a threat,’ she noted.

As Democrats were questioning her about a smear campaign against her, President Trump took to Twitter to wage a fresh round of insults against the former ambassador – a move House Intelligence Committee Committee Chairman Adam Schiff called ‘witness intimidation.’

‘Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,’ Trump wrote on the social media platform while Yovanovitch sat at the witness table on Capitol Hill. ‘It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.’

Schiff accused the president of trying to intimidate Yovanovitch and other potential witnesses. House Democrats will hold a series of public hearings next week with more officials scheduled to discuss the impeachment inquiry.

‘What we saw was witness intimidation in real time by the President of the United States. Once again going after this dedicated and respected career public servant – in an effort to not only chill her but to chill others who may come forward. We take this kind of witness intimidation and obstruction of inquiry very seriously,’ Schiff told reporters outside the hearing room during a break in the proceedings.

He did not respond to a question as to whether witness intimidation is an impeachable offense.

The president denied intimidation was his motive.

‘I don’t think so at all,’ he told reporters at the White House.

‘It’s a political process. It’s not a legal process. So if I have somebody saying — I’m allowed to speak up. If somebody says about me – we’re not allowed to have any kind of representation. We’re not allowed to have almost anything, and nobody’s seen anything like it. In the history of our country there has never been a disgrace like what’s going on right now. So you know what? I have the right to speak. I have freedom of speech just as other people do. But they’ve taken away Republicans’ rights,’ Trump noted.

Trump’s tweet gave the hearing a moment of high drama as Schiff interrupted questioning from the Democrats’ own counsel to ask Yovanovitch to respond to the tweet in real time.

Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, is testifying Friday on Capitol Hill before the House Intelligence Committee in the second televised impeachment hearing

The five-hour questioning saw members of the audience jump up and give the ambassador a round of applause - an unusual display in a Congressional hearing

The five-hour questioning saw members of the audience jump up and give the ambassador a round of applause – an unusual display in a Congressional hearing

The longtime diplomat was removed from her post after Giuliani and his allies spread information, swatted down by a series of witnesses, that she was working against Trump, she claimed

The longtime diplomat was removed from her post after Giuliani and his allies spread information, swatted down by a series of witnesses, that she was working against Trump, she claimed

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the acting chair of the House Oversight Committee, joined the audience in the standing ovation, as Republican members including Reps. Mark Meadows and Lee Zeldin got up to leave.

Meanwhile, Rep. Mike Conaway shouted objections over the clanking of Schiff’s and the round of applause.

‘You’ve disparaged those members on this side of the aisle, we should have a chance to respond,’ Rep. Conway objected

Trump’s tweets on Friday were a notable move from the president who bragged he didn’t watch Wednesday’s public hearing, which featured public testimony from the top U.S. diplomat in the Ukraine Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent.

‘Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors,’ he wrote. Mogadishu was one of Yovanovitch’s postings early in her career but she was a young State Department staffer at the time and not at ambassador level.

Trump then argued he’s done more for the Ukraine than Barack Obama.

‘They call it ‘serving at the pleasure of the President.’ The U.S. now has a very strong and powerful foreign policy, much different than proceeding administrations. It is called, quite simply, America First! With all of that, however, I have done FAR more for Ukraine than O,’ Trump wrote. 

Yovanovitch said the president was crediting her with too much power.

‘I don’t think I have such powers not in Mogadishu and Somalia and not in other places. I actually think that where I’ve served over the years I and others have demonstrably made things better,’ she said.

Schiff asked her if tweets like these from the president would intimidate other witnesses from testifying.

‘Ambassador, you’ve shown the courage to come forward today and testify. Notwithstanding the fact that you were urged by the White House or State Department not to, notwithstanding the fact that as you testified earlier the president implicitly threatened you in that call record, and now the president in real time is attacking you, what effect do you think that has on other witnesses willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing in,’ Schiff asked her.

‘It’s very intimidating,’ she replied.

‘It’s designed to intimidate, is it not?,’ Schiff said.

‘I mean, I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is trying to be intimidating,’ she replied.

Schiff said Trump’s tweet on Yavonovitch was part of a ‘pattern’ of obstruction of justice, which is an impeachable offense.

In strong language, the chairman called it an ‘incriminating pattern of conduct’ on the president’s part.

‘This is not something that we view in isolation, this is part of a pattern of the president of the United States,’ he told reporters after the hearing was over.

‘And it’s also part of a pattern to obstruct the investigation. It was also a part, frankly, of the pattern to obstruct justice. So we need to view the President’s actions today, as part of a broader and incriminating pattern of conduct,’ he added.

 

President Trump tweeted during Friday's hearing bashing Yovanovitch, saying everywhere she 'went turned bad'. The tweet gave the hearing a moment of high drama as Schiff interrupted questioning from the Democrats' own counsel to ask Yovanovitch to respond to the tweet in real time

Republicans refused to address the president’s tweets in their post hearing press conference.

‘We’re not here to talk about tweets,’ Rep. Elise Stefanik said. ‘We’re here to talk about impeachment.’

‘I don’t know it was an attack on the witness,’ added in Rep. Mark Meadows, who is one of the president’s strongest allies on Capitol Hill. He called it a ‘characterization of her resume.’

Schiff, who has been trying to get other administration officials to testify – several of whom are obeying the president’s request to ignore their congressional subpoenas –  said witness intimidate is taken ‘very seriously.’

‘I want you to know, ambassador, that some of us here take witness intimidation very seriously,’ he said.

The White House shot down a charge from Democrats the president’s tweets were witness intimidation.

‘The tweet was not witness intimidation, it was simply the President’s opinion, which he is entitled to. This is not a trial, it is a partisan political process—or to put it more accurately, a totally illegitimate, charade stacked against the President. There is less due process in this hearing than any such event in the history of our country. It’s a true disgrace,’ White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Yovanovitch said she first learned Trump mentioned her in his phone call with Zelensky when she read the transcript of the July 25 call in September, which is when the White House released it.

She choked up a bit when describing her reaction to the president’s words.

‘A person who saw me actually reading the transcript said that the color drained from my face,’ she said.

'A person who saw me actually reading the transcript said that the color drained from my face,' Yovanovitch said of learning President Trump badmouthed her in his July phone call with the Ukrainian president

Yovanovitch was given a standing ovation by members of the audience at the end of Friday's hearing by members of the audience

She expressed her disbelief she was a topic of conversation between the two world leaders.

‘I mean, shocked, appalled, devastated that the president of the United States would talk about any ambassador like that to a foreign head of state, and it was me,’ she said.

The call transcript, which kicked off the scandal that led to House Democrats opening up an impeachment inquiry, included a back-and-forth between Trump and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky where the American president said Yovanovitch, ‘the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in Ukraine were bad news.’ She had been recalled to the United States at that point.

Zelensky agreed.

He asked Trump to provide ‘any additional information’ he might have about Yovanovitch ‘for the investigation to make sure that we administer justice in our country with regard to the Ambassador to the United States from Ukraine.’

In the call transcript, which isn’t verbatim, Zelensky butchers Yovanovitch’s name.

‘It was great that you were the first one who told me she was a bad ambassador because I agree with you 100 percent,’ Zelensky goes on. ‘Her attitude towards me was far from the best as she admired the previous president and she was on his side.’

Yovanovitch shot down Republican efforts to pull her into questions longtime Democratic consultant and Ukrainian-American activist Alexandra Chalupa

Yovanovitch shot down Republican efforts to pull her into questions longtime Democratic consultant and Ukrainian-American activist Alexandra Chalupa

‘She would not accept me as the new president well enough,’ Zelensky added.   

At that, Trump responded, ‘Well, she’s going to go through some things.’

Yovanovitch on Friday testified she thought Trump’s words were a threat against her.

‘She’s going to go through some things. It didn’t sound good. It sounded like a threat,’ she said.

‘Did you feel threatened?,’ Daniel Goldman, the Democrats’ Counsel on the Intelligence panel, asked her.

‘I did,’ she replied. ‘I didn’t know exactly. It’s not a very precise phrase, but I think – it didn’t feel like I was – I really don’t know how to answer the question any further except to say that it kind felt like a vague threat and so I wondered what had that meant. It was a concern to me.’

Yovanovitch, in her testimony, conceded the past few months have been a ‘difficult time.’

‘I mean, I’m a private person. I don’t want to put all that out there, but it’s been a very, very difficult time because the president does have the right to have his own or her own ambassador in every country in the world,’ she said.

She declined to talk about her family was affected.

‘I really don’t want to get into that. Thank you for asking,’ she told Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell.

She also told Sewell that ‘no,’ she was not a ‘Never Trumper’ when the congresswoman asked her about it.

Yovanovitch also described the advice EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland gave her when she was struggling to stay ambassador to the Ukraine.

‘Well, he suggested that I needed to go big or go home and he said that the best thing to do would be to, you know, send out a tweet, praise the president, that sort of thing,’ she said.

‘My reaction was that I’m sure he meant well, but it was not advice that I could really follow. It felt partisan. It felt political and that was not something that I thought was in keeping with my role as ambassador as a foreign service officer,’ she added.

Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley asked her of Sondland: ‘Did he give you suggestions what to say to the president of the United States? Or just say something nice about him?’

‘Just praise him,’ Yovanovitch replied.

Republicans used their question time to query Yovanovitch about her time in the Ukraine during the 2016 election and about allegations – pushed by President Trump and Giuliani – that the Ukraine interfered in that contest.

She pushed back against those questions and pointed out American intelligence agencies found it was Russia who sought to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Steve Castor, the Republican counsel who led the questioning, asked her if she heard of any ‘indication of Ukrainians trying to advocate against then-candidate Trump?’

‘Actually, there weren’t. We didn’t really see it that way,’ she replied.

Yovanovitch also shot down Republican efforts to pull her into questions longtime Democratic consultant and Ukrainian-American activist Alexandra Chalupa.

Republicans want Chalupa to testify in the impeachment inquiry.

Chalupa reportedly worked with a small group of Ukrainian bureaucrats who allegedly researched former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s Russia ties during the 2016 election.

Castor quizzed the former ambassador about Chalupa’s reported actions in the 2016 election.

‘Well, I was the ambassador in Ukraine starting in August of 2016. And what you’re describing, if true, as you said, what you’re describing took place in the United States. So if there were concerns about what Ms. Chalupa was doing, I think that would have been handled here,’ Yovanovitch replied.

She was also quizzed about Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian journalist that Giuliani accused of exposing Manafort’s work for the Ukraine. That work – for which Manafort did not register as a foreign agent – led to convictions against the former Trump campaign manager.

Leshchenko published the so-called ‘black ledgers’ that showed payments to Manafort and his firm.

Yovanovitch said she felt threatened, shocked and devastated by remarks Donald Trump made about her in his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

Ranking committee member Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif, questions former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch as she testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, during the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump

A tweet from President Donald Trump was displayed on a monitor during the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents

‘About Mr. Leschenko, he is an investigative journalist, as you said, and he got access to the black ledger and he published it, as I think journalists would do, and again, I’m not sure that – I don’t have any information to suggest that that was targeting President Trump,’ Yovanovitch said.

‘At the end of the day, President Trump won the election,’ she pointed out.

She was also asked about posts from former Ukrainian Minister for Internal Affairs Arsen Borysovych Avakov, who wrote criticisms of Trump on social media during the 2016 election.

‘Sometimes that happens in social media. Are you asking me whether it’s appropriate? Probably not,’ she said.

‘I can’t speak for what President Trump thought or what others thought. I would just say that those elements that you’ve recited don’t seem to me to be the Ukranian kind of a plan or a plot of the Ukranian government to work against President Trump or anyone else. I mean, they’re isolated incidents. We all know, I’m coming to find out myself, that public life can be — people are critical. That does not mean that someone is or a government is undermining either a campaign or interfering in elections. I would just remind again that our own U.S. Intelligence committee has conclusively determined that those who interfered in the election were in Russia,’ Yovanovitch said.

She also said she doesn’t think the president accepted any bribes or has been involved in any criminal activity.

Top U.S. diplomats accused Donald Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani of running a 'smear' campaign to force out Yavonovitch, who was recalled from her post to Washington. She says no reason was ever provided for her ouster

Republicans attempted to start their questioning of Yovanovitch with a move that would allow the only Republican lawmaker on the Intelligence panel – Rep. Elise Stefanik – question the former ambassador.

Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the panel, tried to yield his time to Stefanik.

But Schiff pointed out the rules only allow the ranking member to yield time to the Republican counsel.

‘You are not recognized,’ he told Stefanik.

‘This is the fifth time you have interrupted,’ Stefanik complained to Schiff.

He ignored her and told Nunes to yield to his GOP Counsel or question Yovanovitch himself.

Nunes ultimately yielded to Castor.

But the top Republican used his time to argue the intelligence committee has become the impeachment committee.

‘I’m not exactly sure what the ambassador is doing here today. This is the House intelligence committee that’s now turned into the House impeachment committee. This seems more appropriate for the subcommittee on human resources at the foreign affairs committee. If there’s issues with employment, it seems like that would be a more appropriate setting instead of an impeachment hearing where the ambassador is not a material fact witness to any of the accusations that are being hurled at the president for this impeachment inquiry,’ he said.

Democrats went first in Friday’s hearing and used their time to question Yovanovitch to lay out a ‘smear’ campaign against her by Trump allies, particularly former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney.

She repeated what she had said in her closed door testimony to lawmakers last month – that she had been warned by Ukrainian officials that Giuliani was up to something with Yuriy Lutsenko, the former top prosecutor in the Ukraine.

Asked who else was involved in the ‘smear’ campaign, she said: ‘There were some members of the press and others in Mayor Giuliani’s circle.’

She also said Lutsenko and his predecessor Viktor Shokin were involved on the Ukrainian side.

Shokin is the prosecutor that then Vice President Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire because he wasn’t doing enough to root out corruption.

That action by Biden has become part of the 2020 presidential campaign.

Trump is being investigated for allegations he with held nearly $400 million in military assistance from the Ukraine unless officials agreed to investigate the Bidens and unproven allegations about the 2016 election.

The president has denied any wrong doing and the money eventually made it to the Ukraine.

Republican staff attorney Steve Castor, left, and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, listen to former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testify

Republican staff attorney Steve Castor, left, and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, listen to former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testify

Rep. Devin Nunes tried to yield his time to Rep Elise Stefanik (pictured), but Schiff pointed out the rules only allow the ranking member to yield time to the Republican counsel. 'You are not recognized,' he told Stefanik

Rep. Devin Nunes tried to yield his time to Rep Elise Stefanik (pictured), but Schiff pointed out the rules only allow the ranking member to yield time to the Republican counsel. ‘You are not recognized,’ he told Stefanik

Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee listen as former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies

Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee listen as former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies

Yovanovitch, 61, is one of the central figures in the Democrats investigation. Trump recalled her May of this year after what other diplomats called a coordinated smear campaign against her, which included articles in conservative friendly media and tweets from Republican allies.

Giuliani, in a statement on Friday, said he obtained his information about her from numerous sources.

‘The information I obtained about Yovanovitch was in the nature of evidence from a number of witnesses. All of them — some allies, some opponents — agreed on Ambassador Yovanovitch’s wrongdoing, from telling people that Trump will be impeached, to getting the George Soros case and others dismissed, to her embassy’s partisan involvement in the 2016 election,’ he said.

Yovanovitch, meanwhile, said she felt terrible when she was recalled and was told the president lost confidence in her ability to do the job.

‘Terrible honestly. I mean, after 33 years of service to our country it was terrible. It’s not the way I wanted my career to end,’ she said of her recall.

She also described her concern when talked about the ‘smear’ campaign against her that led up to that moment, which included tweets from Donald Trump Jr., Sean Hannity and others that cited John Solomon, who then wrote for The Hill newspaper. Solomon wrote several pieces that pushed for her removal and he was a regular on Fox News.

‘I was worried,’ she said of the campaign.

She also offered political cover to Biden in the coming presidential race when she said he was supporting U.S. and international policy when he came to the Ukraine as vice president to push for Shokin’s removal as prosecutor general.

‘Official U.S. policy and that was endorsed and was the policy of a number of other international stakeholders, other countries, other monetary institutions, financial institutions,’ she said of Biden’s request to the Ukrainians.

‘And in fact if he helped to remove a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor general who was not prosecuting enough corruption, that would increase the chances that corrupt companies in Ukraine would be investigated, isn’t that right?,’ Goldman, the Democratic counsel, asked her.

‘One would think so,’ she said.

‘And that could include Burisma, right?,’ he asked.

‘Yes,’ she replied.

In her first two hours in the chair, the focus was on the smear campaign against Yovanovitch, who slammed Giuliani for orchestrating it and said she found it difficult to understand President Donald Trump was influenced by ‘foreign and private interests’ in regards to her removal.

In her opening statement, Yovanovitch outlined her long diplomatic career, defended her work in the Ukraine, pushed back against allegations against her, and emphasized the importance of fighting corruption in the Ukraine.

She denied any politics were at work in her service in the Ukraine, which occurred while both President Barack Obama and President Trump were in office.

Yovanovitch addressed the Trump administration’s concerns about the Bidens work in the Ukraine by saying she had never had any dealings on the matter. She noted she’s never met Hunter Biden nor had contact with him. She also said while she has met former Vice President Joe Biden he never discussed Burisma – the Ukrainian gas company where Hunter Biden used to set on its board – with her.

Trump, Giuliani and others have pressed the Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden’s work in the Ukraine and what role Joe Biden played in the matter when he was vice president.

A transcript of a phone call between US President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is shown during the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence impeachment inquiry

A transcript of a phone call between US President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is shown during the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence impeachment inquiry

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., left, and ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., give opening remarks at the start of the hearing. Nunes, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, used his opening statement to berate Democrats for focusing on the impeachment inquiry and not on passing legislation

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., left, and ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., give opening remarks at the start of the hearing. Nunes, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, used his opening statement to berate Democrats for focusing on the impeachment inquiry and not on passing legislation

‘I have never met Hunter Biden, nor have I had any direct or indirect conversations with him. And although I have met former vice president Biden several times over the course of our many years in government service, neither he nor the previous administration ever raised the issue of either Burisma or Hunter Biden with me,’ Yovanovitch said.

She said she met Giuliani three times and none of those interactions were related to the issues being discussed at Friday’s hearing. And then she said she didn’t understand why the former mayor pushed for her firing.

‘I do not understand Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me, nor can I offer an opinion on whether he believed the allegations he spread about me. Clearly no one at the State Department did. What I can say is there Mr. Giuliani should have known these claims were suspect, coming as they reportedly did from individuals with questionable motives and with reason to believe that their political and financial ambitions would be stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine,’ she said.

She pushed back on allegations against her, saying she never told Ukrainian officials to ignore President Trump because he may be impeached nor did she work against his campaign in the 2016 election.

‘Also untrue are unsourced allegations that I told unidentified embassy employees or Ukrainian officials that President Trump’s orders should be ignored because he was going to be impeached or for any other reason,’ she said.

‘I did not, and I would not say such a thing. Such statements would be inconsistent with my training as a foreign service officer and my role as an ambassador. The Obama administration did not ask me to help the Clinton campaign or harm the Trump campaign. Nor would I have taken any such steps if they had,’ she said.

She also expressed her confusion President Trump listened and acted upon allegations against her.

‘I have always understood that I served at the pleasure of the president, I still find it difficult to comprehend that foreign and private interests were able to undermine U.S. interests in this way,’ she said.

‘As various witnesses have recounted, they shared baseless allegations with the president and convinced him to remove his ambassador despite the fact the State Department fully understood the allegations were false and the sources highly suspect. These events should concern everyone in this room. Ambassadors are the symbol of the United States abroad. They are the personal representative of the president. They should always act and speak with full authority to advocate for U.S. policies,’ she added.

‘It was not surprising that when our anti-corruption efforts got in the way of a desire for profit or power, Ukrainians who preferred to play by the old corrupt rules sought to remove me. What continues to amaze me is that they found Americans willing to partner with them and working together, they apparently succeeded in orchestrating the removal of a U.S. Ambassador. How could our system fail like this? How is it that foreign, corrupt interests could manipulate our government?,’ she noted.

She closed with a warning, complaining about the lack of leadership at the State Department and the ‘degradation’ of the Foreign Service.

‘At the closed deposition, I expressed grave concerns about the degradation of the foreign service over the past few years and the failure of State Department leadership to push back as foreign and corrupt interests apparently hijacked our Ukraine policy. I remain disappointed that the department’s leadership and others have declined to acknowledge that the attacks against me and others are dangerously wrong. This is about far, far more than me or a couple of individuals. As foreign service professionals are being denigrated and undermined, the institution is also being degraded. This will soon cause real harm if it hasn’t already,’ she said.

Yovanovitch’s testimony launched the second day of public hearings into the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Shortly before she entered the committee room, the White House released the transcript of President Donald Trump’s first call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky – in April of this year – which showed no mention of the Bidens or the 2016 election.

In his opening statement, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff focused on Yovanovitch’s professional accomplishments and painted her as a victim of scheming by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney.

‘Ambassador Yovanovitch has been in the foreign service for 33 years and served much of that time in the former Soviet Union. Her parents have fled Stalin and later Hitler before settling in the United States. She is an exemplary officer who was widely praised and respected by her colleagues. She is known as an anti-corruption champion whose tour in Kiev was viewed as very successful,’ Schiff said.

Yovanovitch held back tears as she testified Friday about how she felt 'threatened' by President Trump

Yovanovitch held back tears as she testified Friday about how she felt ‘threatened’ by President Trump

Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch arrived Friday to Capitol Hill in the second public impeachment hearing by the House Intelligence Committee

Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch arrived Friday to Capitol Hill in the second public impeachment hearing by the House Intelligence Committee

Yovanovitch, 61, is one of the central figures in the Democrats investigation. Trump recalled her May of this year after what other diplomats called a coordinated smear campaign against her, which included articles in conservative friendly media and tweets from Republican allies

Yovanovitch, 61, is one of the central figures in the Democrats investigation. Trump recalled her May of this year after what other diplomats called a coordinated smear campaign against her, which included articles in conservative friendly media and tweets from Republican allies

Marie Yovanovitch is sworn into the Trump impeachment hearing

Schiff called her removal ‘a stunning turn of events for this highly regarded career diplomat who had done such a  remarkable job fighting corruption in Ukraine that a short time earlier she had been asked by the state department to extend her tour.’

He praised her stance on fighting corruption and argued it was her dedication to that fight that ending up ‘pissing off’ the wrong people in the Trump administration.

‘Ambassador Yovanovitch was tough on corruption. Too tough on corruption for some and her principled stance made her enemies as George Kent told this committee on Wednesday, ”you can’t promote principled anti-corruption action without pissing off corrupt people.” And Ambassador Yovanovitch did not just piss off corrupt Ukrainians, like the corrupt former prosecutor general Yuri Lutsenko but certain Americans like Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s personal attorney, and two individuals now indicted who worked with him, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas,’ Schiff said, naming two Giuliani business associates who have been charged with campaign finance violations related to their work in the Ukraine.

Schiff berated President Trump for not defending Yovanovitch when Giuliani and his allies turned against her.

‘That tells you a lot about the president’s priorities and intentions,’ he said.

‘Some have argued that a president has the ability to nominate or remove any ambassador he wants. That they serve at the pleasure of the president. And that is true. The question before us is not whether Donald Trump could recall an American ambassador with a stellar reputation for fighting corruption in Ukraine, but why would he want to? Why did Rudy Giuliani want her gone? And why did Trump? And why would Donald Trump instruct the new team he put in place, the three amigos – Gordon Sondland, Rick Perry and Kurt Volker – to work with the same man, Rudy Giuliani, who played such a central role in the smear campaign against her,’ Schiff noted.

Rep. Mark Meadows tweeted 'all you need to know' about Friday's hearing

Rep. Mark Meadows tweeted ‘all you need to know’ about Friday’s hearing

The chairman argued Trump wanted Yovanovitch gone to help him win the 2020 election by convincing the Ukrainians to launch an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden.

‘Getting rid of Ambassador Yovanovitch helped set the stage for an irregular channel that could pursue the two investigations that mattered so much to the president. The 2016 conspiracy theory and, most important, an investigation into the 2020 political opponent he apparently feared most, Joe Biden. And the president’s scheme might have worked but for the fact that the man who would succeed Ambassador Yovanovitch, whom we heard from on Wednesday, acting Ambassador Taylor, would eventually discover the effort to press Ukraine into conducting these investigations and would push back. But for the fact also that someone blew the whistle,’ he said.

Devin Nunes used his opening statement to berate Democrats for focusing on the impeachment inquiry and not on passing legislation.

He also complained about the Democrats not letting Republicans call the whistleblower in for testimony. The whistleblower revealed Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky that started the formal impeachment inquiry.

‘It’s unfortunate that today and for most of next week we will continue engaging in the Democrats’ day-long TV spectacles instead of solving the problems we were all sent to Washington to address,’ Nunes said.

He capped off by reading the transcript of Trump’s first call with Zelensky in April.

The transcript showed a conversation about Zelensky’s upcoming inauguration, which Zelensky invited Trump to attend.

The president said he would look into and invited his Ukrainian counterpart to the White House.

‘When you are settled in and ready, I would like to invite you to the White House. We’ll have a lot of things to talk about’ Trump told him on the call.

A demonstrator holds signs outside Longworth House Office Building, Friday ahead of Yovanovitch's testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in the second public impeachment hearing of Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponent

A demonstrator holds signs outside Longworth House Office Building, Friday ahead of Yovanovitch’s testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in the second public impeachment hearing of Trump’s efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponent

Schiff (L) gives opening statements flanked by (L-R) ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Devin Nunes(R-CA), Republican Counsel Stephen Castor, and Representative Jim Jordan

Schiff (L) gives opening statements flanked by (L-R) ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Devin Nunes(R-CA), Republican Counsel Stephen Castor, and Representative Jim Jordan

Pedestrians stroll by as demonstrator hold a sign outside Longworth House Office Building, where former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch is testifying

President Trump was watching Nunes read the transcript of the first call, according to the White House.

‘The President will be watching Congressman Nunes’ opening statement, but the rest of the day he will be working hard for the American people,’ White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

Schiff praised Trump for releasing the transcript and asked for other material to be released – including documents from the State Department that are being with held at the administration’s request.

‘I’m grateful the president has released the call record,’ he said.

‘I would now ask the president to release the thousands of other records that he has instructed the State Department not to release, including Ambassador Taylor’s notes, cable, including George Kent’s memo, including documents from the office of management and budget about why the military aid was withheld,’ he said.

While Wednesday’s impeachment witnesses Bill Taylor and George Kent played to the head – the duo of long-time public servants talked at length about American foreign policy in Ukraine – Yovanovitch’s testimony is expected to tug at the heart.

Democrats see her as yet another in their line of credible witnesses – a longtime government official who has worked under presidents of both parties.

They paint her as the victim of the Trump administration – a career official who had her work derailed by the forces against her.

Republicans, however,  down play the actions against Yovanovitch, and argue the president has the right to fire whatever ambassador he wants.

‘Respectfully, this is all you need to know about Ambassador Yovanovitch’s testimony. She admits she can’t bring any firsthand knowledge to: – The 7/25 phone call – Discussions surrounding phone call – Discussions surrounding delay of aid And this is the Democrats second witness,’ GOP Congressman Mark Meadows tweeted during her testimony. He is not on the committee but is one of Trump’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill.

Other diplomats, in their testimony, praised Yovanovitch’s professional work and called her the victim of a ‘smear’ campaign.

In October, Yovanovitch sat down with lawmakers from the three committees tasked with impeachment proceedings and told the story of her dismissal.

She brought that closed door testimony public on Friday.

Yovanovitch’s tenure in Ukraine came to a dramatic end.

First on April 24 and then into the early hours of April 25, Director General of the Foreign Service Carol Perez made two calls to Yovanovitch. In the first she advised Yovanovitch to board the ‘next plane home to Washington.’

And hour later Perez called again.

‘There were concerns up the street and she said I needed to get – come home immediately. Get on the next plane to the U.S., and I asked her why, and she said she wasn’t sure but there were concerns about my security. Asked her my first security because sometimes Washington knows more than we do about these things and she said, no, we hadn’t gotten that impression that it was a physical security issue, but they were concerned about my security and I needed to come home right away,’ Yovanovitch testified Friday.

‘I did specifically ask whether this had to do with the Mayor Giuliani allegations against me and so forth and she shade she didn’t know. It didn’t even actually appear that she seemed to be aware of that. No reason was offered,’ she added.

Marie Yovanovitch arrives at the Trump impeachment hearing

Photographers await the arrival of Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, to testify as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump

‘Did you have any understanding why secretary Pompeo was no longer able to protect you?,’ Goldman asked.

‘No. It was just a statement made, that he was no longer able to protect me,’ she said.

She said she told Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, upon her return to the United States, that she was worried about how her removal would look to the Ukrainians.

‘I asked him how are you going to explain this to people in the State Department, the press, the public, Ukrainians because everybody is watching, and so if people see somebody who — and, of course, it had been very public, frankly, the attacks on me by Mayor Giuliani and others and Mr. Lutsenko in Ukraine. If people see I who have been, you know, promoting our policies on anti-corruption, if they can undermine me and get me pulled out of Ukraine, what does that mean for our policy? Do we still have that same policy? How are we going to affirmatively put that forward number one. Number two, when other countries, other actors and other countries see that private interests, foreign interests can come together and get a U.S. Ambassador removed, what’s going to stop them from doing that in the future in other countries,’ she said.

Yovanovitch was nominated by President Barack Obama to be Ambassador to Ukraine in May 2016 and unanimously confirmed by Senate in July 2016 by voice vote.

She served in that post until she was recalled in May by the Trump Administration.

 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7689897/Former-Ambassador-Ukraine-Marie-Yovanovitch-testifies-second-day-impeachment-hearings.html

Story 2: Attorney General William Barr Addresses The Federal Society’s National Lawyer Convention — Videos

Barr speaks at the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention

Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers the 19th Annual Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecture at the Federalist Society’s 2019 National Lawyers Convention
WashingtonDC

~

Friday, November 15, 2019

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Good Evening.  Thank you all for being here.  And thank you to Gene [Meyer] for your kind introduction.

It is an honor to be here this evening delivering the 19th Annual Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecture.  I had the privilege of knowing Barbara and had deep affection for her.  I miss her brilliance and ebullient spirit.  It is a privilege for me to participate in this series, which honors her.

The theme for this year’s Annual Convention is “Originalism,” which is a fitting choice — though, dare I say, a somewhat “unoriginal” one for the Federalist Society.  I say that because the Federalist Society has played an historic role in taking originalism “mainstream.”  While other organizations have contributed to the cause, the Federalist Society has been in the vanguard.

A watershed for the cause was the decision of the American people to send Ronald Reagan to the White House, accompanied by his close advisor Ed Meese and a cadre of others who were firmly committed to an originalist approach to the law.  I was honored to work with Ed in the Reagan White House and be there several weeks ago when President Trump presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  As the President aptly noted, over the course of his career, Ed Meese has been among the Nation’s “most eloquent champions for following the Constitution as written.”

I am also proud to serve as the Attorney General under President Trump, who has taken up that torch in his judicial appointments.  That is true of his two outstanding appointments to the Supreme Court, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh; of the many superb court of appeals and district court judges he has appointed, many of whom are here this week; and of the many outstanding judicial nominees to come, many of whom are also here this week.

***********

I wanted to choose a topic for this afternoon’s lecture that had an originalist angle.  It will likely come as little surprise to this group that I have chosen to speak about the Constitution’s approach to executive power.

I deeply admire the American Presidency as a political and constitutional institution.  I believe it is, one of the great, and remarkable innovations in our Constitution, and has been one of the most successful features of the Constitution in protecting the liberties of the American people.  More than any other branch, it has fulfilled the expectations of the Framers.

Unfortunately, over the past several decades, we have seen steady encroachment on Presidential authority by the other branches of government.  This process I think has substantially weakened the functioning of the Executive Branch, to the detriment of the Nation.  This evening, I would like to expand a bit on these themes.

I.

First, let me say a little about what the Framers had in mind in establishing an independent Executive in Article II of the Constitution.

The grammar school civics class version of our Revolution is that it was a rebellion against monarchial tyranny, and that, in framing our Constitution, one of the main preoccupations of the Founders was to keep the Executive weak.  This is misguided.  By the time of the Glorious Revolution of 1689, monarchical power was effectively neutered and had begun its steady decline.  Parliamentary power was well on its way to supremacy and was effectively in the driver’s seat.  By the time of the American Revolution, the patriots well understood that their prime antagonist was an overweening Parliament.  Indeed, British thinkers came to conceive of Parliament, rather than the people, as the seat of Sovereignty.

During the Revolutionary era, American thinkers who considered inaugurating a republican form of government tended to think of the Executive component as essentially an errand boy of a Supreme legislative branch.  Often the Executive (sometimes constituted as a multi-member council) was conceived as a creature of the Legislature, dependent on and subservient to that body, whose sole function was carrying out the Legislative will.  Under the Articles of Confederation, for example, there was no Executive separate from Congress.

Things changed by the Constitutional Convention of 1787.  To my mind, the real “miracle” in Philadelphia that summer was the creation of a strong Executive, independent of, and coequal with, the other two branches of government.

The consensus for a strong, independent Executive arose from the Framers’ experience in the Revolution and under the Articles of Confederation.  They had seen that the War had almost been lost and was a bumbling enterprise because of the lack of strong Executive leadership.  Under the Articles of Confederation, they had been mortified at the inability of the United States to protect itself against foreign impositions or to be taken seriously on the international stage.  They had also seen that, after the Revolution, too many States had adopted constitutions with weak Executives overly subordinate to the Legislatures.  Where this had been the case, state governments had proven incompetent and indeed tyrannical.

From these practical experiences, the Framers had come to appreciate that, to be successful, Republican government required the capacity to act with energy, consistency and decisiveness.  They had come to agree that those attributes could best be provided by making the Executive power independent of the divided counsels of the Legislative branch and vesting the Executive power in the hands of a solitary individual, regularly elected for a limited term by the Nation as a whole. As Jefferson put it, ‘[F]or the prompt, clear, and consistent action so necessary in an Executive, unity of person is necessary….”

While there may have been some differences among the Framers as to the precise scope of Executive power in particular areas, there was general agreement about its nature.  Just as the great separation-of-powers theorists– Polybius, Montesquieu, Locke – had, the Framers thought of Executive power as a distinct specie of power.  To be sure, Executive power includes the responsibility for carrying into effect the laws passed by the Legislature – that is, applying the general rules to a particular situation.  But the Framers understood that Executive power meant more than this.

It also entailed the power to handle essential sovereign functions – such as the conduct of foreign relations and the prosecution of war – which by their very nature cannot be directed by a pre-existing legal regime but rather demand speed, secrecy, unity of purpose, and prudent judgment to meet contingent circumstances.  They agreed that – due to the very nature of the activities involved, and the kind of decision-making they require – the Constitution generally vested authority over these spheres in the Executive.  For example, Jefferson, our first Secretary of State, described the conduct of foreign relations as “Executive altogether,” subject only to the explicit exceptions defined in the Constitution, such as the Senate’s power to ratify Treaties.

A related, and third aspect of Executive power is the power to address exigent circumstances that demand quick action to protect the well-being of the Nation but on which the law is either silent or inadequate – such as dealing with a plague or natural disaster.  This residual power to meet contingency is essentially the federative power discussed by Locke in his Second Treatise.

And, finally, there are the Executive’s powers of internal management.  These are the powers necessary for the President to superintend and control the Executive function, including the powers necessary to protect the independence of the Executive branch and the confidentiality of its internal deliberations.  Some of these powers are express in the Constitution, such as the Appointment power, and others are implicit, such as the Removal power.

One of the more amusing aspects of modern progressive polemic is their breathless attacks on the “unitary executive theory.”  They portray this as some new-fangled “theory” to justify Executive power of sweeping scope. In reality, the idea of the unitary executive does not go so much to the breadth of Presidential power.  Rather, the idea is that, whatever the Executive powers may be, they must be exercised under the President’s supervision.  This is not “new,” and it is not a “theory.”  It is a description of what the Framers unquestionably did in Article II of the Constitution.

After you decide to establish an Executive function independent of the Legislature, naturally the next question is, who will perform that function?  The Framers had two potential models. They could insinuate “checks and balances” into the Executive branch itself by conferring Executive power on multiple individuals (a council) thus dividing the power.  Alternatively, they could vest Executive power in a solitary individual.  The Framers quite explicitly chose the latter model because they believed that vesting Executive authority in one person would imbue the Presidency with precisely the attributes necessary for energetic government.  Even Jefferson – usually seen as less of a hawk than Hamilton on Executive power – was insistent that Executive power be placed in “single hands,” and he cited the America’s unitary Executive as a signal feature that distinguished America’s success from France’s failed republican experiment.

The implications of the Framers’ decision are obvious.  If Congress attempts to vest the power to execute the law in someone beyond the control of the President, it contravenes the Framers’ clear intent to vest that power in a single person, the President.  So much for this supposedly nefarious theory of the unitary executive.

II.

We all understand that the Framers expected that the three branches would be jostling and jousting with each other, as each threatened to encroach on the prerogatives of the others.  They thought this was not only natural, but salutary, and they provisioned each branch with the wherewithal to fight and to defend itself in these interbranch struggles for power.

So let me turn now to how the Executive is presently faring in these interbranch battles.  I am concerned that the deck has become stacked against the Executive.  Since the mid-60s, there has been a steady grinding down of the Executive branch’s authority, that accelerated after Watergate.  More and more, the President’s ability to act in areas in which he has discretion has become smothered by the encroachments of the other branches.

When these disputes arise, I think there are two aspects of contemporary thought that tend to operate to the disadvantage of the Executive.

The first is the notion that politics in a free republic is all about the Legislative and Judicial branches protecting liberty by imposing restrictions on the Executive.  The premise is that the greatest danger of government becoming oppressive arises from the prospect of Executive excess.  So, there is a knee-jerk tendency to see the Legislative and Judicial branches as the good guys protecting society from a rapacious would-be autocrat.

This prejudice is wrong-headed and atavistic.  It comes out of the early English Whig view of politics and English constitutional experience, where political evolution was precisely that.  You started out with a King who holds all the cards; he holds all the power, including Legislative and Judicial.  Political evolution involved a process by which the Legislative power gradually, over hundreds of years, reigned in the King, and extracted and established its own powers, as well as those of the Judiciary.  A watershed in this evolution was, of course, the Glorious Revolution in 1689.

But by 1787, we had the exact opposite model in the United States.  The Founders greatly admired how the British constitution had given rise to the principles of a balanced government.  But they felt that the British constitution had achieved only an imperfect form of this model.  They saw themselves as framing a more perfect version of separation of powers and a balanced constitution.

Part of their more perfect construction was a new kind of Executive.  They created an office that was already the ideal Whig Executive.  It already had built into it the limitations that Whig doctrine aspired to.  It did not have the power to tax and spend; it was constrained by habeas corpus and by due process in enforcing the law against members of the body politic; it was elected for a limited term of office; and it was elected by the nation as whole.  That is a remarkable democratic institution – the only figure elected by the Nation as a whole.  With the creation of the American Presidency, the Whig’s obsessive focus on the dangers of monarchical rule lost relevance.

This fundamental shift in view was reflected in the Convention debates over the new frame of government.  Their concerns were very different from those that weighed on 17th century English Whigs.  It was not Executive power that was of so much concern to them; it was danger of the legislative branch, which they viewed as the most dangerous branch to liberty.  As Madison warned, the “legislative department is everywhere extending the sphere of its activity, and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex.”  And indeed, they viewed the Presidency as a check on the Legislative branch.

The second contemporary way of thinking that operates against the Executive is a notion that the Constitution does not sharply allocate powers among the three branches, but rather that the branches, especially the political branches, “share” powers.  The idea at work here is that, because two branches both have a role to play in a particular area, we should see them as sharing power in that area and, it is not such a big deal if one branch expands its role within that sphere at the expense of the other.

This mushy thinking obscures what it means to say that powers are shared under the Constitution.  Constitution generally assigns broad powers to each of the branches in defined areas.  Thus, the Legislative power granted in the Constitution is granted to the Congress.  At the same time, the Constitution gives the Executive a specific power in the Legislative realm – the veto power. Thus, the Executive “shares” Legislative power only to the extent of the specific grant of veto power.  The Executive does not get to interfere with the broader Legislative power assigned to the Congress.

In recent years, both the Legislative and Judicial branches have been responsible for encroaching on the Presidency’s constitutional authority.  Let me first say something about the Legislature.

A.

As I have said, the Framers fully expected intense pulling and hauling between the Congress and the President.  Unfortunately, just in the past few years, we have seen these conflicts take on an entirely new character.

Immediately after President Trump won election, opponents inaugurated what they called “The Resistance,” and they rallied around an explicit strategy of using every tool and maneuver available to sabotage the functioning of his Administration.  Now, “resistance” is the language used to describe insurgency against rule imposed by an occupying military power.  It obviously connotes that the government is not legitimate.  This is a very dangerous – indeed incendiary – notion to import into the politics of a democratic republic.  What it means is that, instead of viewing themselves as the “loyal opposition,” as opposing parties have done in the past, they essentially see themselves as engaged in a war to cripple, by any means necessary, a duly elected government.

A prime example of this is the Senate’s unprecedented abuse of the advice-and-consent process.  The Senate is free to exercise that power to reject unqualified nominees, but that power was never intended to allow the Senate to systematically oppose and draw out the approval process for every appointee so as to prevent the President from building a functional government.

Yet that is precisely what the Senate minority has done from his very first days in office.  As of September of this year, the Senate had been forced to invoke cloture on 236 Trump nominees — each of those representing its own massive consumption of legislative time meant only to delay an inevitable confirmation.   How many times was cloture invoked on nominees during President Obama’s first term?  17 times.  The Second President Bush’s first term?  Four times.  It is reasonable to wonder whether a future President will actually be able to form a functioning administration if his or her party does not hold the Senate.

Congress has in recent years also largely abdicated its core function of legislating on the most pressing issues facing the national government.  They either decline to legislate on major questions or, if they do, punt the most difficult and critical issues by making broad delegations to a modern administrative state that they increasingly seek to insulate from Presidential control.  This phenomenon first arose in the wake of the Great Depression, as Congress created a number of so-called “independent agencies” and housed them, at least nominally, in the Executive Branch.  More recently, the Dodd-Frank Act’s creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Branch, a single-headed independent agency that functions like a junior varsity President for economic regulation, is just one of many examples.

Of course, Congress’s effective withdrawal from the business of legislating leaves it with a lot of time for other pursuits.  And the pursuit of choice, particularly for the opposition party, has been to drown the Executive Branch with “oversight” demands for testimony and documents.  I do not deny that Congress has some implied authority to conduct oversight as an incident to its Legislative Power.  But the sheer volume of what we see today – the pursuit of scores of parallel “investigations” through an avalanche of subpoenas – is plainly designed to incapacitate the Executive Branch, and indeed is touted as such.

The costs of this constant harassment are real.  For example, we all understand that confidential communications and a private, internal deliberative process are essential for all of our branches of government to properly function.  Congress and the Judiciary know this well, as both have taken great pains to shield their own internal communications from public inspection.  There is no FOIA for Congress or the Courts.  Yet Congress has happily created a regime that allows the public to seek whatever documents it wants from the Executive Branch at the same time that individual congressional committees spend their days trying to publicize the Executive’s internal decisional process.  That process cannot function properly if it is public, nor is it productive to have our government devoting enormous resources to squabbling about what becomes public and when, rather than doing the work of the people.

In recent years, we have seen substantial encroachment by Congress in the area of executive privilege.  The Executive Branch and the Supreme Court have long recognized that the need for confidentiality in Executive Branch decision-making necessarily means that some communications must remain off limits to Congress and the public.   There was a time when Congress respected this important principle as well.  But today, Congress is increasingly quick to dismiss good-faith attempts to protect Executive Branch equities, labeling such efforts “obstruction of Congress” and holding Cabinet Secretaries in contempt.

One of the ironies of today is that those who oppose this President constantly accuse this Administration of “shredding” constitutional norms and waging a war on the rule of law.  When I ask my friends on the other side, what exactly are you referring to?  I get vacuous stares, followed by sputtering about the Travel Ban or some such thing.  While the President has certainly thrown out the traditional Beltway playbook, he was upfront about that beforehand, and the people voted for him.  What I am talking about today are fundamental constitutional precepts.  The fact is that this Administration’s policy initiatives and proposed rules, including the Travel Ban, have transgressed neither constitutional, nor traditional, norms, and have been amply supported by the law and patiently litigated through the Court system to vindication.

Indeed, measures undertaken by this Administration seem a bit tame when compared to some of the unprecedented steps taken by the Obama Administration’s aggressive exercises of Executive power – such as, under its DACA program, refusing to enforce broad swathes of immigration law.

The fact of the matter is that, in waging a scorched earth, no-holds-barred war of “Resistance” against this Administration, it is the Left that is engaged in the systematic shredding of norms and the undermining of the rule of law.  This highlights a basic disadvantage that conservatives have always had in contesting the political issues of the day.  It was adverted to by the old, curmudgeonly Federalist, Fisher Ames, in an essay during the early years of the Republic.

In any age, the so-called progressives treat politics as their religion.  Their holy mission is to use the coercive power of the State to remake man and society in their own image, according to an abstract ideal of perfection.  Whatever means they use are therefore justified because, by definition, they are a virtuous people pursing a deific end.  They are willing to use any means necessary to gain momentary advantage in achieving their end, regardless of collateral consequences and the systemic implications.  They never ask whether the actions they take could be justified as a general rule of conduct, equally applicable to all sides.

Conservatives, on the other hand, do not seek an earthly paradise.  We are interested in preserving over the long run the proper balance of freedom and order necessary for healthy development of natural civil society and individual human flourishing.  This means that we naturally test the propriety and wisdom of action under a “rule of law” standard.  The essence of this standard is to ask what the overall impact on society over the long run if the action we are taking, or principle we are applying, in a given circumstance was universalized – that is, would it be good for society over the long haul if this was done in all like circumstances?

For these reasons, conservatives tend to have more scruple over their political tactics and rarely feel that the ends justify the means.  And this is as it should be, but there is no getting around the fact that this puts conservatives at a disadvantage when facing progressive holy far, especially when doing so under the weight of a hyper-partisan media.

B.

Let me turn now to what I believe has been the prime source of the erosion of separation-of-power principles generally, and Executive Branch authority specifically.  I am speaking of the Judicial Branch.

In recent years the Judiciary has been steadily encroaching on Executive responsibilities in a way that has substantially undercut the functioning of the Presidency.  The Courts have done this in essentially two ways:  First, the Judiciary has appointed itself the ultimate arbiter of separation of powers disputes between Congress and Executive, thus preempting the political process, which the Framers conceived as the primary check on interbranch rivalry.  Second, the Judiciary has usurped Presidential authority for itself, either (a) by, under the rubric of “review,” substituting its judgment for the Executive’s in areas committed to the President’s discretion, or (b) by assuming direct control over realms of decision-making that heretofore have been considered at the core of Presidential power.

The Framers did not envision that the Courts would play the role of arbiter of turf disputes between the political branches.  As Madison explained in Federalist 51, “the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others.”  By giving each the Congress and the Presidency the tools to fend off the encroachments of the others, the Framers believed this would force compromise and political accommodation.

The “constitutional means” to “resist encroachment” that Madison described take various forms.  As Justice Scalia observed, the Constitution gives Congress and the President many “clubs with which to beat” each other.  Conspicuously absent from the list is running to the courts to resolve their disputes.

That omission makes sense.  When the Judiciary purports to pronounce a conclusive resolution to constitutional disputes between the other two branches, it does not act as a co-equal.  And, if the political branches believe the courts will resolve their constitutional disputes, they have no incentive to debate their differences through the democratic process — with input from and accountability to the people.  And they will not even try to make the hard choices needed to forge compromise.  The long experience of our country is that the political branches can work out their constitutional differences without resort to the courts.

In any event, the prospect that courts can meaningfully resolve interbranch disputes about the meaning of the Constitution is mostly a false promise.  How is a court supposed to decide, for example, whether Congress’s power to collect information in pursuit of its legislative function overrides the President’s power to receive confidential advice in pursuit of his executive function?  Nothing in the Constitution provides a manageable standard for resolving such a question.  It is thus no surprise that the courts have produced amorphous, unpredictable balancing tests like the Court’s holding in Morrison v. Olson that Congress did not “disrupt the proper balance between the coordinate branches by preventing the Executive Branch from accomplishing its constitutionally assigned functions.”

Apart from their overzealous role in interbranch disputes, the courts have increasingly engaged directly in usurping Presidential decision-making authority for themselves.  One way courts have effectively done this is by expanding both the scope and the intensity of judicial review.

In recent years, we have lost sight of the fact that many critical decisions in life are not amenable to the model of judicial decision-making.  They cannot be reduced to tidy evidentiary standards and specific quantums of proof in an adversarial process.  They require what we used to call prudential judgment.  They are decisions that frequently have to be made promptly, on incomplete and uncertain information and necessarily involve weighing a wide range of competing risks and making predictions about the future.  Such decisions frequently call into play the “precautionary principle.”  This is the principle that when a decision maker is accountable for discharging a certain obligation – such as protecting the public’s safety – it is better, when assessing imperfect information, to be wrong and safe, than wrong and sorry.

It was once well recognized that such matters were largely unreviewable and that the courts should not be substituting their judgments for the prudential judgments reached by the accountable Executive officials.  This outlook now seems to have gone by the boards.  Courts are now willing, under the banner of judicial review, to substitute their judgment for the President’s on matters that only a few decades ago would have been unimaginable – such as matters involving national security or foreign affairs.

The Travel Ban case is a good example.  There the President made a decision under an explicit legislative grant of authority, as well has his Constitutional national security role, to temporarily suspend entry to aliens coming from a half dozen countries pending adoption of more effective vetting processes.  The common denominator of the initial countries selected was that they were unquestionable hubs of terrorism activity, which lacked functional central government’s and responsible law enforcement and intelligence services that could assist us in identifying security risks among their nationals seeking entry.  Despite the fact there were clearly justifiable security grounds for the measure, the district court in Hawaii and the Ninth Circuit blocked this public-safety measure for a year and half on the theory that the President’s motive for the order was religious bias against Muslims.  This was just the first of many immigration measures based on good and sufficient security grounds that the courts have second guessed since the beginning of the Trump Administration.

The Travel Ban case highlights an especially troubling aspect of the recent tendency to expand judicial review.  The Supreme Court has traditionally refused, across a wide variety of contexts, to inquire into the subjective motivation behind governmental action.  To take the classic example, if a police officer has probable cause to initiate a traffic stop, his subjective motivations are irrelevant.  And just last term, the Supreme Court appropriately shut the door to claims that otherwise-lawful redistricting can violate the Constitution if the legislators who drew the lines were actually motivated by political partisanship.

What is true of police officers and gerrymanderers is equally true of the President and senior Executive officials.  With very few exceptions, neither the Constitution, nor the Administrative Procedure Act or any other relevant statute, calls for judicial review of executive motive.  They apply only to executive action.  Attempts by courts to act like amateur psychiatrists attempting to discern an Executive official’s “real motive” — often after ordering invasive discovery into the Executive Branch’s privileged decision-making process — have no more foundation in the law than a subpoena to a court to try to determine a judge’s real motive for issuing its decision.  And courts’ indulgence of such claims, even if they are ultimately rejected, represents a serious intrusion on the President’s constitutional prerogatives.

The impact of these judicial intrusions on Executive responsibility have been hugely magnified by another judicial innovation – the nationwide injunction.  First used in 1963, and sparely since then until recently, these court orders enjoin enforcement of a policy not just against the parties to a case, but against everyone.  Since President Trump took office, district courts have issued over 40 nationwide injunctions against the government.  By comparison, during President Obama’s first two years, district courts issued a total of two nationwide injunctions against the government.  Both were vacated by the Ninth Circuit.

It is no exaggeration to say that virtually every major policy of the Trump Administration has been subjected to immediate freezing by the lower courts.  No other President has been subjected to such sustained efforts to debilitate his policy agenda.

The legal flaws underlying nationwide injunctions are myriad.  Just to summarize briefly, nationwide injunctions have no foundation in courts’ Article III jurisdiction or traditional equitable powers; they radically inflate the role of district judges, allowing any one of more than 600 individuals to singlehandedly freeze a policy nationwide, a power that no single appellate judge or Justice can accomplish; they foreclose percolation and reasoned debate among lower courts, often requiring the Supreme Court to decide complex legal issues in an emergency posture with limited briefing; they enable transparent forum shopping, which saps public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary; and they displace the settled mechanisms for aggregate litigation of genuinely nationwide claims, such as Rule 23 class actions.

Of particular relevance to my topic tonight, nationwide injunctions also disrupt the political process.  There is no better example than the courts’ handling of the rescission of DACA.  As you recall, DACA was a discretionary policy of enforcement forbearance adopted by President Obama’s administration.  The Fifth Circuit concluded that the closely related DAPA policy (along with an expansion of DACA) was unlawful, and the Supreme Court affirmed that decision by an equally divided vote.  Given that DACA was discretionary — and that four Justices apparently thought a legally indistinguishable policy was unlawful —President Trump’s administration understandably decided to rescind DACA.

Importantly, however, the President coupled that rescission with negotiations over legislation that would create a lawful and better alternative as part of a broader immigration compromise.  In the middle of those negotiations — indeed, on the same day the President invited cameras into the Cabinet Room to broadcast his negotiations with bipartisan leaders from both Houses of Congress — a district judge in the Northern District of California enjoined the rescission of DACA nationwide.  Unsurprisingly, the negotiations over immigration legislation collapsed after one side achieved its preferred outcome through judicial means.  A humanitarian crisis at the southern border ensued.  And just this week, the Supreme Court finally heard argument on the legality of the DACA rescission.  The Court will not likely decide the case until next summer, meaning that President Trump will have spent almost his entire first term enforcing President Obama’s signature immigration policy, even though that policy is discretionary and half the Supreme Court concluded that a legally indistinguishable policy was unlawful.  That is not how our democratic system is supposed to work.

To my mind, the most blatant and consequential usurpation of Executive power in our history was played out during the Administration of President George W. Bush, when the Supreme Court, in a series of cases, set itself up as the ultimate arbiter and superintendent of military decisions inherent in prosecuting a military conflict – decisions that lie at the very core of the President’s discretion as Commander in Chief.

This usurpation climaxed with the Court’s 2008 decision in Boumediene.  There, the Supreme Court overturned hundreds of years of American, and earlier British, law and practice, which had always considered decisions as to whether to detain foreign combatants to be purely military judgments which civilian judges had no power to review.  For the first time, the Court ruled that foreign persons who had no connection with the United States other than being confronted by our military on the battlefield had “due process” rights and thus have the right to habeas corpus to obtain judicial review of whether the military has a sufficient evidentiary basis to hold them.

In essence, the Court has taken the rules that govern our domestic criminal justice process and carried them over and superimposed them on the Nation’s activities when it is engaged in armed conflict with foreign enemies.  This rides roughshod over a fundamental distinction that is integral to the Constitution and integral to the role played by the President in our system.

As the Preamble suggests, governments are established for two different security reasons – to secure domestic tranquility and to provide for defense against external dangers.  These are two very different realms of government action.

In a nutshell, under the Constitution, when the government is using its law enforcement powers domestically to discipline an errant member of the community for a violation of law, then protecting the liberty of the American people requires that we sharply curtail the government’s power so it does not itself threaten the liberties of the people.  Thus, the Constitution in this arena deliberately sacrifices efficiency; invests the accused with rights that that essentially create a level playing field between the collective interests of community and those of the individual; and dilutes the government’s power by dividing it and turning it on itself as a check, at each stage the Judiciary is expressly empowered to serve as a check and neutral arbiter.

None of these considerations are applicable when the government is defending the country against armed attacks from foreign enemies.  In this realm, the Constitution is concerned with one thing – preserving the freedom of our political community by destroying the external threat.  Here, the Constitution is not concerned with handicapping the government to preserve other values.  The Constitution does not confer “rights” on foreign enemies. Rather the Constitution is designed to maximize the government’s efficiency to achieve victory – even at the cost of “collateral damage” that would be unacceptable in the domestic realm. The idea that the judiciary acts as a neutral check on the political branches to protect foreign enemies from our government is insane.

The impact of Boumediene has been extremely consequential.  For the first time in American history our armed forces is incapable of taking prisoners.  We are now in a crazy position that, if we identify a terrorist enemy on the battlefield, such as ISIS, we can kill them with drone or any other weapon.  But if we capture them and want to hold them at Guantanamo or in the United States, the military is tied down in developing evidence for an adversarial process and must spend resources in interminable litigation.

The fact that our courts are now willing to invade and muck about in these core areas of Presidential responsibility illustrates how far the doctrine of Separation of Powers has been eroded.

III.

In this partisan age, we should take special care not to allow the passions of the moment to cause us to permanently disfigure the genius of our Constitutional structure. As we look back over the sweep of American history, it has been the American Presidency that has best fulfilled the vision of the Founders.  It has brought to our Republic a dynamism and effectiveness that other democracies have lacked.

At every critical juncture where the country has faced a great challenge –

– whether it be in our earliest years as the weak, nascent country combating regional rebellions, and maneuvering for survival in a world of far stronger nations;

– whether it be during our period of continental expansion, with the Louisiana Purchase, and the acquisition of Mexican territory;

– whether it be the Civil War, the epic test of the Nation;

– World War II and the struggle against Fascism;

– the Cold War and the challenge of Communism;

– the struggle against racial discrimination;

– and most recently, the fight against Islamist Fascism and international terrorism.

One would have to say that it has been the Presidency that has stepped to the fore and provided the leadership, consistency, energy and perseverance that allowed us to surmount the challenge and brought us success.

In so many areas, it is critical to our Nation’s future that we restore and preserve in their full vigor our Founding principles.  Not the least of these is the Framers’ vision of a strong, independent Executive, chosen by the country as a whole.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-william-p-barr-delivers-19th-annual-barbara-k-olson-memorial-lecture

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1359, November 14, 2019, Story 1: Story 1:  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Accuses President Trump of Bribery — Equating Quid Pro Quo Phrase With Bribery — Have Not Made A Decision to Impeach — Utter Nonsense — Foreign Aid and Military Security Assistance Always Has Conditions — This Is Not Evidence of Bribery But A Quid Pro Quo — Joe Biden’s Iconic Quid Pro Quo: Fire Ukraine Prosecutor and Ukraine Will Get United States Aid and Loan Guarantees — Done Deal — Was This Bribery? — Videos

Posted on November 23, 2019. Filed under: 2020 Democrat Candidates, 2020 President Candidates, 2020 Republican Candidates, Addiction, Addiction, American History, Barack H. Obama, Bill Clinton, Blogroll, Bribery, Bribes, Budgetary Policy, Business, Cartoons, Central Intelligence Agency, Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Culture, Deep State, Defense Spending, Disasters, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Economics, Elections, Empires, Employment, Energy, Environment, European History, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ), Federal Government, Fifth Amendment, First Amendment, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Former President Barack Obama, Fourth Amendment, Fraud, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Genocide, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Hate Speech, High Crimes, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Impeachment, Independence, IRS, Islam, James Comey, Joe Biden, Language, Legal Immigration, Life, Lying, Mental Illness, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, Military Spending, MIssiles, National Interest, National Security Agency, Natural Gas, Networking, News, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Nuclear Weapons, Obama, People, Philosophy, Photos, Pistols, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Progressives, Psychology, Public Corruption, Public Relations, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Religion, Rifles, Robert S. Mueller III, Rule of Law, Scandals, Second Amendment, Security, Senate, Social Networking, Social Science, Social Sciences, Spying, Spying on American People, Subornation of perjury, Subversion, Success, Surveillance and Spying On American People, Surveillance/Spying, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Terrorism, Treason, Trump Surveillance/Spying, Ukraine, Unemployment, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

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Story 1: Story 1:  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Accuses President Trump of Bribery — Equating Quid Pro Quo Phrase With Bribery — Have Not Made A Decision to Impeach — Utter Nonsense — Foreign Aid and Military Security Assistance Always Has Conditions — This Is Not Evidence of Bribery But A Quid Pro Quo — Joe Biden’s Iconic Quid Pro Quo: Fire Ukraine Prosecutor and Ukraine Will Get United States Aid and Loan Guarantees — Done Deal — Was This Bribery? —  Videos

See the source image

Iconic Quid Pro Quo As Well As A Bribe

Joe Biden Brags about getting Ukranian Prosecutor Fired

President Trump questions Former VP Joe Biden’s ties to Ukraine

#QUIDPROJOE: THE BIDEN VIDEO IS THE GOLD STANDARD OF QUID PRO QUO?

Trump explodes at Reuters reporter asking about Ukraine

Democrats move from ‘quid pro quo’ to ‘bribery’

Quid pro quo, explained

Impeachment Take Two: Bribery, Not Quid Pro Quo

Gidley: Pelosi is turning American judicial system upside down

Nancy Pelosi accuses Trump of bribery

Pelosi: Impeachment Hearing Found ‘Evidence of Bribery’ by Trump

‘That’s Bribery’: Speaker Pelosi Says Trump Committed Bribery, An Impeachable Offense | MSNBC

‘That’s Bribery’: Speaker Pelosi Says Trump Committed Bribery, An Impeachable Offense |

PBS NewsHour West Live Episode, Nov. 14, 2019

The Trump administration’s shifting message on quid pro quo

Clip: Biden on the Obama Administration’s Response to Russia

Foreign Affairs Issue Launch With Joe Biden

Ukraine: Black Sea region strategically important for NATO, says Stoltenberg

Russia returns seized Ukrainian naval ships | DW News

Why this American is on the frontlines of Ukraine’s long war

Fear of war in Ukraine – Power struggle for the Sea of Asov | DW Documentary

Ukraine: its Donbass conflict

Glenn Beck Lays Out the Case Against The Media

DNC CORRUPTION: What’s on the hacked Democrat server in Ukraine?

Glenn Beck Presents: The Democrats’ Hydra

Bribery is the offer or acceptance of anything of value in exchange for influence on a government/public official or employee. In general, bribes can take the form of gifts or payments of money in exchange for favorable treatment, such as awards of government contracts. Other forms of bribes may include property, various goods, privileges, services and favors.

Bribery: An Overview

Bribes are always intended to influence or alter the action of various individuals and go hand in hand with both political and public corruption. No written agreement is necessary to prove this crime, but a prosecutor generally must show corrupt intent. In most situations, both the person offering the bribe and the person accepting can be charged.

Another crime often associated (and sometimes confused) with bribery is extortion. The difference is that bribing someone involves offering a positive reward for compliance, whereas extortion uses threats of violence or other negative acts in exchange for compliance.

Elements of a Bribery Charge

At the most fundamental level, charges of bribery need only to prove that an agreement for the exchange of something of value (political influence, for example) for a sum of money or something else of value. While a written agreement isn’t required, prosecutors must be able to prove that an agreement was actually made. For example, a taped phone call between a politician and the party offering the bribe may be sufficient evidence. Similarly, a police body cam video of a driver handing the officer cash before being let go would suffice.

The federal government, however, has very specific elements that it uses to prosecute cases of bribery against federal employees. These include the following:

  1. The individual being bribed is a “public official,” which includes rank-and-file federal employees on up to elected officials;
  2. A “thing of value” has been offered, whether it’s tangible (such as cash) or intangible (such as the promise of influence or official support);
  3. There’s an “official act” that may be influenced by a bribe (such as pending legislation that may have a direct impact on the party offering the bribe);
  4. The public official has the authority or power to commit the official act (for instance, the official is a senator who is voting on a particular piece of legislation);
  5. There must be the establishment of intent on the part of the bribing party to get a desired result (the intent to sway the vote by handing over an envelope full of cash); and
  6. The prosecution must establish a causal connection between the payment and the act meaning there must be more than just a suspicious coincidence.

Examples of Bribery

Bribery can happen in many different spheres of influence. In the sporting world, for example, one boxer might offer another a payoff to “throw” (deliberately lose) an important fight. Or a gambler may offer to pay a basketball player to “shave” points off the score so a team loses by more points.

In the corporate arena, a company could bribe employees of a rival company for recruitment services. It’s important to note that even when public officials are involved, a bribe doesn’t need to be harmful to the public interest in order to be illegal. Depending on the jurisdiction, a conviction can result in a fine and/or prison time.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in 1977 makes it unlawful for a United States citizen, as well as certain foreign issuers of securities, to pay a foreign official in order to obtain business with any person. In 1998 a provision to the Act was added which applies to any foreign firms or foreign-born persons who take any act in furtherance of a corrupt payment while in the United States.

Let an Attorney Help You Defend Against Bribery Charges

An alleged act of bribing someone could result in charges in a wide variety of courts, and the evidence or statements that come out in one court might be used against you in another. As such, an organized and forward-looking strategy for defense should be developed. Contact a qualified, local criminal defense attorney today to learn more

https://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/bribery.html

Why the Democratic pivot from quid pro quo to ‘bribery’ is a bust

 

""
Republicans have repeatedly refused to say whether it was appropriate for President Trump to ask foreign governments to investigate his political rival. (JM Rieger/The
Washington Post)

.

The core of the impeachment question has always rested on a quid pro quo: Did President Trump threaten to withhold congressionally approved aid to a foreign government to harm his domestic political foe? Instead, the Democrats attempted to shift their rhetoric to christen the crime as “bribery,” and the pivot bombed fantastically.

For starters, the term “quid pro quo” is the more accurate shorthand for the allegation involved, but, more importantly, that’s the exact term that Trump used to deny such an arrangement, according to besieged Ambassador Gordon Sondland. It’s the term that Trump and his entire team have spent weeks using in their public denials, even as the evidence belies them, and it’s the term the public has on alert.

Impeachment proceedings require ample public support to result in removal from office and at least modest backing to not entirely backfire on the prosecuting party. In the constant chaos of the Trump era, the difficulty of capturing the public’s attention is only surpassed by keeping it. Given the immediate spike in public support for impeachment after the release of the July 25 call transcript between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spurred debate over a quid pro quo, clearly the term stuck, at least more than any point of two years of Mueller mania.

But the Democrats decided to rebrand to “bribery,” and Tuesday’s open-door impeachment testimony illustrated just how much the pivot weakened their case.

The term “quid pro quo” arises 16 times in the transcript of Sondland’s closed-door testimony and 20 times in Ambassador William Taylor’s. “Bribery” does not appear in one. Republicans leveraged this to their advantage.

Witnesses are called to provide objective testimony, not their legal analysis, and even if the central allegation did fit the definition of bribery (it doesn’t really, though), it wouldn’t undermine the Democrats’ argument if witnesses didn’t brand the allegation as such. But Ratcliffe’s stunt was politically effective, and Democrats still need to gain public support if they want their proceedings to go down as more than an embarrassing footnote in history. Furthermore, the public won’t remain patient for long, and if they lose the “quid pro quo” question, they’ve lost those who they’re trying to win over with their legalese.

Keep “bribery,” and lose the narrative, Dems.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/why-the-democratic-pivot-from-quid-pro-quo-to-bribery-is-a-bust

Story 2: Hiding Democrat and George Soros Real Conspiracies in Ukraine and United States From American People — The Phony Whisle-Blower Must Be Compelled To Testify In Public –Videos —

UPDATED November 19, 2019

UKRAINE SCANDAL: Trump, the ‘Deep State,’ and how the Democrats STOLE our government

NEW Ukraine Whistleblower: GEORGE SOROS wanted Shokin gone, Joe Biden and Chalupa Corrupt

Oct 16, 2019

Glenn recaps part of his interview with a NEW Ukraine whistleblower, Andrii Telizhenko. He was an adviser to the former prosecutor general of Ukraine, Viktor Shokin (who was trying to investigate Burisma, where Hunter Biden was on the board). The Obama administration — including Joe Biden — said for years that Shokin was corrupt, but Telizhenko says the opposite. He says that a George Soros funded NGO wanted Shokin GONE, and Joe Biden put the pressure on until he was fired. And, Telizhenko says, diplomats at the Ukrainian embassy were told to cooperate with DNC researcher Alexandra Chalupa, because they believed it would bring them favor once Hillary Clinton was elected president.

ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT? Does the Deep State exist, and is Ukraine its proof?

Glenn Beck Presents: The Democrats’ Hydra

WATCH: All the key moments from Day 1 of the Trump impeachment hearings in less than

15 minutes

Glenn Beck Presents: The Democrats’ Hydra

“As one falls, two more will take their place.” Democracy does die in darkness and is being strangled in secret, back-door arrangements. In the third part of Glenn’s special series on the REAL Ukraine scandal, the team’s research exposes a much bigger story of what Democrats were doing in Ukraine. Disturbing details and explosive documents reveal how the Obama Deep State allowed the theft of a country and has set the stage for devastating consequences in our democracy today. Glenn explains how it’s all happening under the nose of the president and, more importantly, without the approval of the American people.

How the Obama State Dept. funded Soros group’s activities

TRUMP IMPEACHMENT: Devin Nunes Opening Statement

WATCH: George Kent’s full opening statement on first day of Trump impeachment hearings

George Kent: Smears Against Yovanovitch Promoted By Rudy Giuliani | NBC News

Devin Nunes begins Republican questioning of Taylor and Kent

WATCH: Bill Taylor’s full opening statement on first day of Trump impeachment hearings

Republican counsel Steve Castor’s full questioning of George Kent and Bill Taylor

What William Taylor and George Kent shared during public impeachment hearings

WATCH: Rep. John Ratcliffe’s full questioning of Bill Taylor | Trump impeachment hearings

JIM JORDAN FIRED UP: During President Trump Impeachment Hearing

UKRAINE SCANDAL: Trump, the Deep State, and how the Democrats STOLE our Government

UKRAINE, TRUMP IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS: Jim Jordan vs. William Taylor is a “FIASCO” says BILL O’REILLY

Glenn Beck Presents: The Democrats’ Hydra

“As one falls, two more will take their place.” Democracy does die in darkness and is being strangled in secret, back-door arrangements. In the third part of Glenn’s special series on the REAL Ukraine scandal, the team’s research exposes a much bigger story of what Democrats were doing in Ukraine. Disturbing details and explosive documents reveal how the Obama Deep State allowed the theft of a country and has set the stage for devastating consequences in our democracy today. Glenn explains how it’s all happening under the nose of the president and, more importantly, without the approval of the American people.

Tucker: Democrats have no actual plan for impeachment

Rand Paul: No law stops me from saying whistleblower’s name

Image result for eric ciaramella

Bill O’Reilly on the Identity of the Whistleblower

Alleged Whistleblower Named

EXPOSED: Glaring Issues in the Whistleblower Complaint I America with Eric Bolling

USA: Whistleblower is an ‘Obama person’ and ‘should be revealed’ – Trump

Eric Ciaramella: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

 

ric Ciaramella is a CIA analyst and former National Security Council staffer who has served in both the Obama and Trump administrations as a career intelligence officer. Senator Rand Paul tweeted a link to an article by Real Clear Investigations that named Ciaramella as possibly being the whistleblower who came forward with concerns about President Donald Trump’s interactions with the president of Ukraine, leading to an official impeachment inquiry.

Ciaramella was named on social media in early October and by Real Clear Investigations on October 30, after weeks of speculation about his identity. According to the conservative-leaning Real Clear Investigations, Ciaramella’s name has been an open secret in Washington D.C. His name has since been spread by conservative pundits and websites, including the Washington Examiner and The Federalist. Senator Paul called for the whistleblower to be subpoenaed to testify under oath. Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz also shared a link to the RCI article on Twitter.

Ciaramella’s name appears in the transcript of a closed-door Congressional session as part of the impeachment inquiry. The transcript of the October 22 deposition of Bill Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine, was released by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on November 6. Attorney Steve Castor, a lawyer for Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee asked Taylor about the whistleblower complaint. During the questioning, Castor asked, “Does a person by the name of Eric Ciaramella ring a bell for you?” Taylor responded, “It doesn’t.” Castor then asked Taylor if, to his knowledge, he had ever had communication with Ciaramella. Taylor responded, “Correct.”

Ciaramella could not be reached for comment by Heavy. The whistleblower’s attorneys issued a statement saying they neither confirm nor deny Ciarmella is the whistleblower. Ciaramella’s father told Real Clear Investigations he doubts his son is the whistleblower, saying, “He didn’t have that kind of access to that kind of information. He’s just a guy going to work every day.”

The whistleblower’s attorneys and Democrats have fought to keep his identity concealed, while Trump and his Republican allies have called for him to be identified publicly, saying he should be questioned about why he came forward and possible political bias because of his background. The existence of whistleblower complaint regarding Trump’s conduct with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was first revealed in September.

After Real Clear Investigation’s report, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, whose nationally syndicated show reaches millions of listeners, named Ciaramella on air.

While Fox News has banned its hosts and contributors from mentioning Ciaramella’s name, according to CNN, one of the network’s guests, syndicated radio host Lars Larson, said the name during a segment on November 7 on “Outnumbered Overtime” with Harris Faulkner. She did not respond or mention his use of Ciaramella’s name.

Mark Zaid and Andrew Bakaj, the attorneys who are representing the whistleblower, issued a statement about Ciaramella being identified as possibly being their client, “Our client is legally entitled to anonymity. Disclosure of the name of any person who may be suspected to be the whistleblower places that individual and their family in great physical danger. Any physical harm the individual and/or their family suffers as a result of disclosure means that the individuals and publications reporting such names will be personally liable for that harm. Such behavior is at the pinnacle of irresponsibility and is intentionally reckless.”

According to the Washington Examiner, Ciaramella is currently detailed by the CIA to the National Intelligence Committee, where he works as a deputy national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia. He reports to Trump’s acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire. He likely works closely with Alexander Vindman, the impeachment inquiry witness who is now Ukraine director for the NSC, Ciaramella’s former role.

A former Trump official told the Examiner, “It is close to a mathematical certainty that (Vindman and the whistleblower) know one another and that (the whistleblower) is being used to provide analytical support to the National Security Council on the topics of Russia and Ukraine. And that is where they would have crossed paths. They would know who one another are.” Another former Trump official said Vindman and Ciaramella both spent time at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine during the Obama administration. And they have both been working on Ukraine issues for several years.

Vindman said during his Congressional deposition, “I want the committee to know I am not the whistleblower who brought this issue to the CIA and the committee’s attention. … I do not know who the whistleblower is, and I would not feel comfortable to speculate as to the identity of the whistleblower.” Vindman testified that he listened in on the July 25 call at question in the impeachment inquiry and was concerned. ““I was concerned by the call. I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine,” he testified.

Here’s what you need to know about Eric Ciaramella:


1. Ciaramella Is a Ukraine Expert for the CIA Whose Background Matches Details About the Whistleblower Previously Reported by The New York Times

Senator Rand Paul

@RandPaul

It is being reported that the whistleblower was Joe Biden’s point man on Ukraine. It is imperative the whistleblower is subpoenaed and asked under oath about Hunter Biden and corruption. https://www.realclearinvestigations.com/articles/2019/10/30/whistleblower_exposed_close_to_biden_brennan_dnc_oppo_researcher_120996.html 

The Beltway’s ‘Whistleblower’ Furor Obsesses Over One Name | RealClearInvestigations

By Paul Sperry, RealClearInvestigationsOctober 30, 2019, 4:21 PM Eastern For a town that leaks like a sieve, Washington has done an astonishingly effective job keeping from the American public the…

realclearinvestigations.com

32.8K people are talking about this
Eric Ciaramella, 33, is a Ukraine expert and his background matches the biographical details reported by The New York Times and other media outlets about the whistleblower. According to The Times, the whistleblower is a CIA officer who was detailed to work at the White House before returning to the CIA. The Times wrote, “His complaint suggested he was an analyst by training and made clear he was steeped in details of American foreign policy toward Europe, demonstrating a sophisticated understanding of Ukrainian politics and at least some knowledge of the law.”

The whistleblower raised concerns that Trump had asked Zelensky during a July 2019 phone call to investigate former Vice President and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden. Trump is accused of forcing a quid pro quo in which aid to Ukraine would only be released if an investigation was launched.

Yamiche Alcindor

@Yamiche

New statement from the whistleblower’s attorneys: “We neither confirm nor deny the identity of the Intelligence Community Whistleblower. Our client is legally entitled to anonymity.” Adds that revealing identity is the “pinnacle of irresponsibility and is intentionally reckless.”

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

In September, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment, a redacted version of the whistleblower’s complaint and a summary of Trump’s call with Zelensky were made public. The complaint revealed that the whistleblower was not on the call, but learned of concerning information from others with direct knowledge about it.

In the weeks since, several current and former State Department and other government officials have testified behind closed doors before House committees, with many providing verification of the whistleblower’s claims, according to multiple reports. Sources told Real Clear Investigations that Ciaramella’s name has been mentioned as the whistleblower during the closed-door testimony.

Ciaramella has worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for several years and was assigned to the White House during the end of the Obama administration. He worked closely with Biden in his role as an expert on Ukraine. Ciaramella also has ties to Sean Misko, a former NSC co-worker who now works for Representative Adam Schiff and the Intelligence Committee. According to The New York Times, the whistleblower first went to a CIA lawyer and then to an unnamed Schiff aide before filing the whistleblower complaint. The aide told the whistleblower to follow the formal process, but conveyed some of the information he learned from him to Schiff, without revealing his name, The Times reported.

“Like other whistle-blowers have done before and since under Republican and Democratic-controlled committees, the whistle-blower contacted the committee for guidance on how to report possible wrongdoing within the jurisdiction of the intelligence community,” said Patrick Boland, a spokesman for Schiff, told The Times.

The whistleblower’s ties to Democrats, including Biden, Schiff, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of Intelligence James Clapper and former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, have created controversy, with Trump and Republicans using his past work with them in an attempt to discredit him. Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert told a local radio station in his home state of Texas that many in Washington D.C. knew the whistleblower’s identity, calling him a “staunch Democrat,” and former “point person on Ukraine,” who never called out corruption in the Eastern European country.

Ciaramella has been in the crosshairs of Republicans previously, after some on the far right tied him to the Obama-associated “deep state” in 2017, accusing him of undermining Trump while he was working in the White House.

Mark S. Zaid

@MarkSZaidEsq

I can confirm this fundraising effort for the by @wbaidlaw is completely legit.

We would appreciate any and all support US citizens can give. https://twitter.com/wbaidlaw/status/1177035961357807617 

Whistleblower Aid@wbaidlaw

We are working with anonymous intelligence officer whistleblower’s legal team to raise money for their defense — please give now, tax-deductible:http://www.HelpTheWhistleblower.org https://gofundme.com/f/support-anonymous-intelligence-official 

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The whistleblower’s attorneys have received more than $220,000 in donations to a GoFundMe campaign set up by the group Whistleblower Aid in support of his attorneys, Mark Zaid and Andrew Bakaj.

“A U.S. intelligence officer who filed an urgent report of government misconduct needs your help. This brave individual took an oath to protect and defend our Constitution. We’re working with the whistleblower and launched a crowdfunding effort to support the whistleblower’s lawyers,” the GoFundMe states. “These whistleblowers took great personal risks, not for politics or personal gain, but to defend our democracy. We need to have their backs.”

The GoFundMe adds, “If we raise more than we need, Whistleblower Aid will use the money to help more brave whistleblowers stand up to executive overreach.”


2. Eric Ciaramella Grew Up in Connecticut, Studied at Yale & Harvard & Worked at the World Bank

eric ciaramella

Eric Ciaramella.

After high school, Ciaramella attended Yale University, graduating in 2008 as a Russian and East European studies major. In 2007, he was awarded a grant by the Yale Macmillan Center for European Union Studies to “research on the perceptions of the EU among rural Italian residents.”

While at Yale, Ciaramella, who speaks Russian, Ukrainian and Arabic, led a protest over the departure of an Arabic department professor, according to the Yale Daily News. The student newspaper wrote, “Students convened outside Silliman at 9 a.m., all dressed in white to symbolize their future goal of bridging the gap between the United States and the Middle East through the use of the Arab language, said Eric Ciaramella ’08, one of the students who led the protest.”

Ciaramella also studied at Harvard University, focusing on Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, according to the school’s website. He received a grant in 2009 for research on “Language in the Public Sphere in Three Post-Soviet Capital Cities,” Tbilisi, Georgia; Yerevan, Armenia; Baku, Azerbaijan. Ciaramella was additionally a corresponding author for Harvard’s Department of Linguistics and wrote a paper in 2015 titled, “Structural ambiguity in the Georgian verbal noun.”

Ciaramella worked at the World Bank after college, according to a 2011 publication by the international financial institution. In the World Bank report, “Russia: Reshaping Economic Geography,” published in June 2011, Ciaramella is listed in the acknowledgments for making “important contributions” to the research. On a now-deleted Linkedin profile, he described himself as being a “Consultant, Poverty Reduction/Economic Management” at World Bank. Ciaramella also deleted his Facebook profile page and does not appear to have any other social media.

Inspector General Michael Atkinson wrote, “Further although the ICIG’s preliminary reviewed identified some indicia of bias of an arguable political bias on the part of the complainant in favor of a rival political candidate, such evidence did not change my determination that the complaint relating to the urgent concern ‘appears credible’ particularly given the other information the ICIG obtained during its preliminary review.”

Mark Zaid, an attorney for the whistleblower tweeted in response to the story, “We won’t comment on identifying info but if true, give me a break! Bias? Seriously? Most (people) are.” Another attorney for the whistleblower, Andrew Bakaj, told CNN that the whistleblower had “contact with presidential candidates from both parties in their roles as elected officials — not as candidates,” and said the whistleblower “has never worked for or advised a political candidate, campaign or party.


3. Ciaramella Was Detailed to the National Security Council at the White House in 2015 After Joining the CIA as an Analyst Focusing on Ukraine & Russia

susan rice

GettySusan Rice.

Eric Ciaramella joined the Central Intelligence Agency at some point during President Obama’s second term. According to reports by The Washington Post and The New York Times about the whistleblower, prior to Ciaramella being named, and online records, Ciaramella was detailed to the White House to serve as a Ukraine expert with the National Security Council in 2015. He worked under National Security Advisor Susan Rice. The NSC is made up of analysts and staffers from various intelligence agencies, including the CIA, who are detailed to the White House for a period of time, before eventually returning to their parent agencies.

During his time with the National Security Council, Ciaramella also worked with then-Vice President Biden, who was working closely on Ukraine issues at the end of Obama’s time in office. Ciaramella is also listed as a guest at a 2016 luncheon to honor the prime minister of Italy, along with Biden.

In November 2015, Ciaramella is named as one of the officials who attended a White House meeting with Ukrainian religious leaders, along with his boss, Charles Kupchan. The Ukrainian religious leaders delivered a letter appealing to President Obama for aid for their country. Ciaramella is listed as the “NSC Director for Ukraine.” That position is now held by Alexander Vindman, a key witness in the impeachment inquiry, who listened to the call between President Trump and President Zelensky.

Ciaramella also has ties to former Democratic National Committee operative and opposition researcher Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian-American who has been targeted by some conservatives as being behind an effort to accuse the Trump campaign of Russian collusion. Chalupa, then with the National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Committee, was also in attendance at the November 2015 meeting with Ukrainian religious leaders, according to public records.

While Republicans have accused Chalupa of being a leader of a conspiracy to bring down Trump with false accusations of collusion with Russia, Democrats have said Chalupa was among the first to bring forward credible information about wrongdoing by Paul Manafort and the Trump campaign and say she has been smeared because of that.


4. Ciaramella Remained at the NSC During the Earlier Months of the Trump Administration & an Email Ciaramella Sent While He Was Still Assigned to NSC Was Cited in the Mueller Report

Katie McMaster, HR McMaster wife, Kathleen Trotter McMaster

GettyNational Security Adviser H. R. McMaster speaks during a briefing at the White House on May 16, 2017.

Eric Ciaramella did not leave the National Security Council at the end of the Obama administration. He remained in place during the first few months of the Trump White House. The NSC staff was at a barebones level at the time after the resignation of Lt. General Michael Flynn, who had been Trump’s first National Security Adviser. Ciaramella worked on Eastern European issues along with another Obama administration holdover, Fiona Hill.

When Lt. General H.R. McMaster was named Trump’s new national security adviser, Ciaramella served as McMaster’s personal aide. In the summer of 2017, Ciaramella returned to the CIA, where he is still an active employee.

An email sent by Ciaramella while he was still assigned to the NSC was cited as a footnote in Robert Mueller’s report on the Trump investigation. The email was titled “(5/10/17 Email, Ciaramella to Kelly et al.),” but details of the email are not included in the redacted report.

Officials who worked with Ciaramella told Foreign Policy he is known for his professionalism and taking a nonpartisan stance, telling Foreign Policy he is a “seasoned pro” and “one of the best that the civil service has.” His former boss, Charles Kupchan, told Foreign Policy, Ciaramella is one of the, “worker bees of the federal government. They want to serve the nation, and they care deeply about the issues they’re working on.”

Kupchan said Ciaramella was brought in to work on Ukraine, but, “He did such an impressive job, I asked him to help share the burden on the counter-ISIL portfolio.”

Trump administration officials also praised Ciaramella, telling Foreign Policy,”“H.R. thought he did a good job. Everybody was happy with his performance. He wouldn’t have been there if he weren’t trusted.”


5. Ciaramella Was the Target of Trump Supporters in 2017 When He Was Accused of Leaking to the Media Because of His Ties to Susan Rice & the Obama Administration

Susan Rice Eric Ciaramella

President Obama and Ambassador Susan Rice pictured together in November 2015.

Ciaramella is no stranger to drawing the ire of Trump supporters. He was named by the far-right as a supposed member of the “deep state” in 2017 and was the subject of baseless accusations accusing him of leaking information to the media, simply because of his ties to former members of the Obama administration, including ex-National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who has often been accused of trying to undermine Trump.

His ties to Rice, Brennan, Clapper and Obama made him an easy target for the right. He was accused of leaking information to the media about Michael Flynn’s conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, without any evidence.

Ciaramella was also accused of being a major leaker while working with McMaster. Several far-right personalities waged an open war on social media and on pro-Trump websites against McMaster during his time as national security adviser, constantly claiming he was undermining Trump and had too many former Obama aides on his team. McMaster also worked with Abigail Grace and Sean Misko, both also Obama holdovers. Grace and Misko are now aides to Rep. Schiff. McMaster’s staffers were frequently accused of being behind leaks of embarrassing details about Trump’s calls to foreign leaders. None of those accusations were ever proven.

According to a March 2019 article in Politico:

Trump political appointees were believed to frequently talk to journalists who worked for conservative media outlets. For months, those outlets published names of career Civil and Foreign Service officers in the NSC and other government agencies whose loyalties they deemed suspect. Career staffers who had joined the U.S. government many years, sometimes decades, earlier were suddenly cast as Obama loyalists determined to derail Trump’s agenda as part of a “deep state.” The people targeted included a State Department civil servant of Iranian descent who’d joined the government under the George W. Bush administration; a highly respected Foreign Service officer who dealt with Israeli issues; and an NSC staffer who dealt with European and Russian issues. The latter, Eric Ciaramella, reportedly left the NSC after receiving death threats.

Ciaramella was outed in a Medium article by the far-right figure Mike Cernovich in June 2017, claiming that the former Obama aide wanted to “sabotage” Trump. Foreign Policy wrote in 2017, “The piece described Eric Ciaramella as ‘pro-Ukraine and anti-Russia’ and alleged, with no evidence, that he was possibly responsible for high-level leaks. Cernovich wrote, “Nothing in his résumé indicates that Ciaramella will put America First. His entire life arc indicates he will sabotage Trump and leak information to the press whenever possible.”

The response to the piece included online threats of violence against Ciaramella, which contributed to his decision to leave his job at the National Security Council a few weeks early, according to two sources familiar with the situation.”

Charles Kupchan, who was the senior director for European Affairs on the NSC, was Ciaramella’s boss for two years during the Obama administration. Kupchan, a key Obama adviser, told Foreign Policy the alt-right led an “unprecedented” attack on civil servants, calling the “systematic hostility” against the “deep state” as “misplaced” and “dangerous.”

As speculation about whether Eric Ciaramella is the whistleblower spreads online and in conservative media and circles, elected Republican officials are calling for his identity to be revealed.

“Well, as far as that particular person, regardless of whether or not he’s a whistleblower, he apparently worked for [former CIA Director John] Brennan. He worked for H.R. McMaster. He worked for Biden. He was tasked to the National Security Council on Ukraine,” Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert told the Washington Examiner. “And, gee, sounds like he’s got bigger problems than being a whistleblower, regardless of whether he is or not.”

Gohmert mentioned Ciaramella’s name, out of the blue, during an open House hearing on unrelated issues on October 22.

Gohmert Questions Ukraine’s Former Minister of Finance in House Natural Resources CommitteeCongressman Louie Gohmert (TX01) questioned Ms. Natalie Jaresko, Executive Director of the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico, in a House Natural Resources hearing. He inquired about her previous position as Ukraine’s Minister of Finance from December 2014 until April 2016 and how she acquired her new position.2019-10-22T17:10:01.000Z

Gohmert was questioning Natalie Jaresko, who is the executive director of a fiscal board that oversees Puerto Rico’s debt, during a House Natural Resources Committee hearing. Jaresko was previously Ukraine’s finance minister. Gohmert asked Jaresko, if, in her previous role, she was, aware of “Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko dispatching Olga Bielkova or any other Ukrainian official to the U.S. in order to conduct an influence campaign on the 2016 election here in the United States?” He then asked, “Are you aware of Ukrainian parliamentarian Bielkova’s April 12 meetings with Liz Zentos and Eric Ciaramella of the Obama National Security Council?”

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows told reporters, “I can’t tell you what happens in the depositions, but I can tell you there’s one person in one’s group of staff members who know who the whistleblower is and that is Adam Schiff, and so you need to ask him whether this guy is the real deal.”

Senator Rand Paul tweeted, “It is being reported that the whistleblower was Joe Biden’s point man on Ukraine. It is imperative the whistleblower is subpoenaed and asked under oath about Hunter Biden and corruption.”

Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst and the former chief of staff for the National Security Council, told Real Clear Investigations, “Everyone knows who he is. CNN knows. The Washington Post knows. The New York Times knows. Congress knows. The White House knows. Even the president knows who he is. They’re hiding him. They’re hiding him because of his political bias.”

Democrats have sought to keep the name concealed and have criticized efforts by Republicans to name the whistleblower. Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, of Rhode Island, tweeted, “If you spent part of today Tweeting the name of a person you think is the whistleblower, you probably need to re-evaluate your life.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters it would be “unpatriotic” to reveal the whistleblower’s identity:

The Hill

@thehill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “Outing the whistleblower is an unpatriotic action. They shouldn’t even go near that.”

Embedded video

Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor turned CNN legal analyst, tweeted, “Today Trump’s allies spread the name of a man they believe is the whistleblower. Some call for his prosecution. They’re ruining the life of a public servant who may not be the right guy. Plus there’s no evidence he did anything wrong. This is so desperate and irresponsible.”

Eric Ciaramella: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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