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The Pronk Pops Show 1379, January 16, 2020, Part 2 of 2 — Story 1: President Trump Signs Phase One Trade Agreement With Communist China — Will It Be Fully Enforceable? — Time Will Tell — Videos — Story 2: President Trump’s  United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) Bill Passes Senate — On It Way For President Trump’s Signature  — Big Win For Trump and American People — Videos — Story 3: REDS (Radical Extremist Democrat Socialist) Show Trial In House is Over — An American Fair Trial Begins Next Tuesday in Senate — Acquittal of President Trump Expected In 30 Days or Less —  Videos — Story 4: Capitalism vs. Socialism or Trump vs. Sanders Not Lying Loser Warren — Capitalism and Trump Winners — Videos

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Pronk Pops Show 1342 October 16, 2019

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Pronk Pops Show 1340 October 14, 2019

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Pronk Pops Show 1331 October 1, 2019


Done deal: Donald Trump and Liu He sign the phase one trade deal which calls a halt to escalations in the U.S.-China trade deal and is claimed to mean up to $50 billion in agricultural sales to ChinaSee the source image

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Part 2 of 2 — Story 1: President Trump Signs Phase One Trade Agreement With Communist China — Will It Be Fully Enforceable? — Time Will Tell — Videos

Trump speaks before signing “Phase One” of China trade deal

Larry Kudlow breaks down the implications of the US-China trade deal

Trump signs phase one of US-China trade deal

Trump signs partial trade deal with China l ABC News

Mnuchin: US won’t lift China tariffs until phase two of trade deal

Jamie Dimon praises Trump economy, China trade deal in exclusive interview

US Trade Rep. Lighthizer on historic ‘phase-one’ China trade deal

Wilbur Ross: China trade deal, USMCA total $2 trillion in trade


Donald Trump signs ‘phase one’ of trade deal with China which ends escalation of his trade war—and complains about the ‘impeachment hoax’ at White House ceremony with Xi Jinping’s deputy looking on

  • Donald Trump took a victory lap as he signed a trade deal with China at the White House – as his impeachment sped ahead at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue
  • He touted his economy and launched attack after attack on his enemies at packed East Room ceremony, railing against the ‘impeachment hoax’
  • Trump has vowed that he would ink a trade deal with China for more than two years and imposed steep tariffs to bring Beijing to the table
  • Signing is for ‘phase one’ and the White House promises more segments in the future
  • Xi Jinping didn’t come for the signing but sent a lower-level official, vice-premier Liu He and Trump said he will go back to China soon to ‘reciprocate’
  • It’s unclear what he’s reciprocating for, since Xi didn’t come 
  • East Room press credentials didn’t have a date printed on them, suggesting the White House wasn’t confident the event would happen on schedule
  • President urged House members in the audience to leave early if they needed to cast a vote on sending impeachment articles to the Senate 

Donald Trump took a victory lap on Wednesday as he signed a trade deal with China at the White House as his impeachment sped towards the Senate on Capitol Hill.

He boasted to an audience of dignitaries that a new trade deal with China will bring ‘a future of fair and reciprocal trade,’ then complained about the ‘impeachment hoax,’ and praised a string of Republican senators who he needs to vote for his acquittal.

The president has long complained about a massive trade deficit between Washington and Beijing. He pledged during the 2016 campaign to come down hard on China.

‘We are righting the wrongs of the past,’ he said Wednesday, observing that ‘our negotiations were tough, honest, open and respectful.’

‘This is the biggest deal anyone’s ever seen,’ he said, because ‘China has 1.5 billion people.’

The president spent nearly a half-hour acknowledging business leaders and lawmakers who crowded into the East Room to watch. And he noted that some House members might have to leave early in order to vote on a motion to send articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate.

Some of the congressmen may have a vote—it’s on the impeachment hoax—so if you want, you go out and vote. … It’s not going to matter becausae it’s gone very well. But I’d rather have you voting than sitting here listening to me introduce you, okay?’ he said with a grin.

‘They have a hoax going on over there. Let’s take care of it.’

Trump was not accompanied by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who sent Vice Premier Liu He in his place. Xi’s absence left some with the impression that Washington wants the deal more than Beijing does.

Done deal: Donald Trump and Liu He sign the phase one trade deal which calls a halt to escalations in the U.S.-China trade deal and is claimed to mean up to $50 billion in agricultural sales to China

Done deal: Donald Trump and Liu He sign the phase one trade deal which calls a halt to escalations in the U.S.-China trade deal and is claimed to mean up to $50 billion in agricultural sales to China

Signed, sealed, delivered: China's vice-premier Liu He and Donald Trump show their signatures in the completed phase one trade deal

Signed, sealed, delivered: China’s vice-premier Liu He and Donald Trump show their signatures in the completed phase one trade deal

East room ceremony: Donald Trump hosted the Chinese vice-premier Liu He in the East Wing in front of an audience of Republican senators and Congressmen and figures from the American business world - almost all of whom he named

East room ceremony: Donald Trump hosted the Chinese vice-premier Liu He in the East Wing in front of an audience of Republican senators and Congressmen and figures from the American business world – almost all of whom he named

President Donald Trump stood alongside China's vice premier Liu He, not its president Xi Jinping, when he signed a landmark trade deal on Wednesday

President Donald Trump stood alongside China’s vice premier Liu He, not its president Xi Jinping, when he signed a landmark trade deal on Wednesday

Awkward exchange: Donald Trump moved to shake hands with China's vice-premier Liu He, who extended his left hand instead

Awkward exchange: Donald Trump moved to shake hands with China’s vice-premier Liu He, who extended his left hand instead

Unusual handshake: After Liu He extended his left hand, Donald Trump grasped two of his fingers in an attempt to shake his hand

The president announced that he will ‘be going back to China in the not-too-distant future to reciprocate,’ but it’s unclear what he would be reciprocating for.

Vice President Mike Pence said the deal would guarantee $40-50 billion in Chinese purchases of American agriculture products.

And Trump said China will stop forcing American companies to share proprietary technologies with Chinese partners. ‘You don’t have to give up anything anymore. Just be strong,’ he said to business leaders in the room.

The White House’s guests included top executives from UPS, Boeing, AIG, JP Morgan Chase, Mastercard, VISA, Citibank, Honeywell, Dow Chemical, eBay and Ford Motor Company; casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who aims to see markets opened to him in China; television commentator Lou Dobbs; and Trump’s ambassador in Beijing, Terry Branstad.

Second time lucky: After Liu He spoke through a translator, the two succeeded in shaking hands

Second time lucky: After Liu He spoke through a translator, the two succeeded in shaking hands

Trump acknowledged lawmakers and businessmen in the East Room including casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson

Trump acknowledged lawmakers and businessmen in the East Room including casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson

Chinese representative: President Xi Jinping sent vice-premier Liu He, who spoke through a translator (left)

Chinese representative: President Xi Jinping sent vice-premier Liu He, who spoke through a translator (left)

Packed: The East Room was fool for the invited audience of business leaders, White House aides and congressional Republicans

Packed: The East Room was fool for the invited audience of business leaders, White House aides and congressional Republicans

Everyone gets a mention: Chuck Grassley, the Iowa senator was asked to stand, while Trump claimed that Grassley had 'made [James] Comey choke like a dog'

Official delegation:Donald Trump is flanked by as Vice President Mike Pence and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer

First daughter: Ivanka Trump was followed into the East Room by Robert O'Brien, the National Security Advisor

Branstad, a longtime Iowa governor before coming to Washington, got the job because of his deep ties to global agriculture.

While Wall Street will carefully examine the fine print, the trade deal will allow businesses around the globe to breathe a sigh of relief.

After a nearly two-year battle, the signing could give Trump an election-year boost as well. Still, tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in imports remain in place, leaving many Americans to foot the bill.

Reporters covering the East Room event on Wednesday wore White House credentials with no date printed on them. That unusual feature suggests Trump’s trade negotiators weren’t certain whether the event would happen as scheduled.

Journalists shoot shoulder-to-shoulder, including a contingent of dozens from Chinese media outlets.

The ‘phase one’ agreement—which includes pledges from China to beef up purchases of American crops and other exports—also comes just as Trump faces an impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate, giving him a victory to trumpet at least in the short term.

As he is about the face an impeachment trial, President Donald Trump will be able to tout a trade deal with China

It's unclear which country will get the better end of the deal, but Trump has trumpeted every development that is favorable to the United States

It’s unclear which country will get the better end of the deal, but Trump has trumpeted every development that is favorable to the United States

China-US trade has diminished in both directions since Trump began venting about an imbalance of hundreds of billions of dollars wach year

The easing of US-China trade frictions has boosted stock markets worldwide in recent weeks, as it takes the threat of new tariffs off the table for now.

And Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Trump’s negotiating stance led to a ‘fully enforceable deal’ which could bring additional tariffs.

If China fails to abide by the agreement, ‘the president has the ability to put on additional tariffs,’ Mnuchin said on CNBC Wednesday as part of a media blitz promoting the new pact.

However, the most difficult issues remain to be dealt with in ‘phase two’ negotiations, including massive subsidies for state industry and forced technology transfer.

But Mnuchin said the deal puts pressure on Beijing to stay at the negotiating table and make further commitments, including on cyber-security and other services to win relief from the tariffs that remain in place.

‘In phase two there will be additional roll backs,’ Mnuchin said. ‘This gives China a big incentive to get back to the table and agree to the additional issues that are still unresolved.’

Still, elements of the deal the administration has touted as achievements effectively take the relationship between the two powers back to where it was before Trump took office.

The US-China phase-one deal is essentially a trade truce, with large state-directed purchases attached,’ economist Mary Lovely said in an analysis.

Even so, ‘The truce is good news for the U.S. and the world economy.’

Still, the trade expert with the Peterson Institute for International Economics, cautioned that ‘we will continue to see the impact of this in slower investment and higher business costs.’

U.S. officials have said they will release details of the agreement set to be signed at a White House ceremony at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.

After announcing the deal December 13, the U.S. canceled a damaging round of new tariffs that were due to kick in two days later and promised to slash in half the 15 percent tariffs on $120 billion imposed September 1 on consumer goods like clothing.

Mnuchin dismissed a Bloomberg report that the initial agreement could include provisions to roll back more tariffs on China after the election.

‘The tariffs will stay in place until there is a phase two. If the president gets phase two quickly, he will consider releasing tariffs. If not, there won’t be any tariff relief,’ Mnuchin said Tuesday on Bloomberg TV.

‘It has nothing to do with the election or anything else.’

Washington said Beijing agreed to import, over two years, $200 billion of U.S. products above the levels in 2017, before Trump launched his offensive.

Trump has repeatedly touted the trade pact as a boon for American farmers, saying China will buy $40 to $50 billion in agricultural goods.

U.S. farmers were hit hard by the tariff war—notably on soybeans which saw exports to China plunge to just $3 billion from more than $12 billion in 2017. The Trump administration paid out $28 billion in aid to farmers in the last two years.

But many economists question whether they have the capacity to meet that demand.

And Lovely raised a question about the wisdom on relying so heavily on the Chinese market.

‘It also means Chinese retaliation could be reinstated, dampening farmers’ willingness to invest to meet the very hard export targets in the deal.’

U.S. and Chinese officials say the agreement includes protections for intellectual property and addresses financial services and foreign exchange while including a pr.ovision for dispute resolution, which Mnuchin said will be binding for the first time.

Trump in August formally accused China of manipulating its currency to gain an advantage in trade and offset the impact of the tariffs.

The label, which had no real practical impact, was removed earlier this week.

The deal also restores a twice-yearly dialogue process that previous administrations conducted regularly but that Trump scrapped.


U.S. and China tiptoe around holes in new trade agreement

by Reuters
Thursday, 16 January 2020 00:46 GMT

By Jeff Mason, Andrea Shalal and David Lawder

WASHINGTON, Jan 15 (Reuters) – The United States and China signed an initial trade deal on Wednesday that will roll back some tariffs and boost Chinese purchases of U.S. products, defusing an 18-month row between the world’s two largest economies but leaving a number of sore spots unresolved.

Beijing and Washington touted the “Phase 1” agreement as a step forward after months of start-and-stop talks, and investors greeted the news with relief. Even so, there was skepticism the U.S.-China trade relationship was now firmly on the mend.

The deal fails to address structural economic issues that led to the trade conflict, does not fully eliminate the tariffs that have slowed the global economy, and sets hard-to-achieve purchase targets, analysts and industry leaders said.

While acknowledging the need for further negotiations with China to solve a host of other problems, President Donald Trump hailed the agreement as a win for the U.S. economy and his administration’s trade policies.

“Together, we are righting the wrongs of the past and delivering a future of economic justice and security for American workers, farmers and families,” Trump said in rambling remarks at the White House alongside U.S. and Chinese officials.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He read a letter from President Xi Jinping in which the Chinese leader praised the deal as a sign the two countries could resolve their differences with dialogue.

The centerpiece of the deal is a pledge by China to purchase at least an additional $200 billion worth of U.S. farm products and other goods and services over two years, above a baseline of $186 billion in purchases in 2017, the White House said.

Commitments include $54 billion in additional energy purchases, $78 billion in additional manufacturing purchases, $32 billion more in farm products, and $38 billion in services, according to a deal document released by the White House.

Liu said Chinese companies would buy $40 billion in U.S. agricultural products annually over the next two years “based on market conditions.” Beijing had balked at committing to buy set amounts of U.S. farm goods earlier, and has inked new soybean contracts with Brazil since the trade war started.

Key world stock market indexes climbed to record highs on hopes the deal would reduce tensions, before closing below those highs, while oil prices slid on doubts the pact will spur world economic growth and boost crude demand.

Soybean futures, which traded 0.4% lower throughout much of the deal signing ceremony, sank even further after Liu’s remarks, a sign that farmers and traders were dubious about the purchase goals.

The deal does not end retaliatory tariffs on American farm exports, makes farmers “increasingly reliant” on Chinese state-controlled purchases, and does not address “big structural changes,” Michelle Erickson-Jones, a wheat farmer and spokeswoman for Farmers for Free Trade, said in a statement.

Trump and his economic advisers had pledged to attack Beijing’s long-standing practice of propping up state-owned companies and flooding international markets with low-priced goods as the trade war heated up.

Although the deal could be a boost to U.S. farmers, automakers and heavy equipment manufacturers, some analysts question China’s ability to divert imports from other trading partners to the United States.

“I find a radical shift in Chinese spending unlikely. I have low expectations for meeting stated goals,” said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Leuthold Group in Minneapolis. “But I do think the whole negotiation has moved the football forward for both the U.S. and China.”

Trump, who has embraced an “America First” policy aimed at rebalancing global trade in favor of U.S. companies and workers, said China had pledged action to confront the problem of pirated or counterfeited goods and said the deal included strong protection of intellectual property rights.

U.S. Speaker of the House of Representative Nancy Pelosi said Trump’s China strategy had “inflicted deep, long-term damage to American agriculture and rattled our economy in exchange for more of the promises that Beijing has been breaking for years,” in a statement.

Earlier, top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox News the agreement would add 0.5 percentage point to U.S. gross domestic product growth in both 2020 and 2021.

Aviation industry sources said Boeing Co was expected to win a major order for wide-body jets from China, including its 787 or 777-9 models, or a mixture of both. Such a deal could ease pressure on the 787 Dreamliner, which has suffered from a broad downturn in demand for large jets, forcing the planemaker to trim production late last year.

CCTV, China’s state-run television outlet, said the deal would satisfy China’s increasingly demanding consumers by supplying products like dairy, poultry, beef, pork, and processed meat from the United States.


The Phase 1 deal, reached in December, canceled planned U.S. tariffs on Chinese-made cellphones, toys and laptop computers and halved the tariff rate to 7.5% on about $120 billion worth of other Chinese goods, including flat-panel televisions, Bluetooth headphones and footwear.

But it will leave in place 25% tariffs on a $250-billion array of Chinese industrial goods and components used by U.S. manufacturers, and China’s retaliatory tariffs on over $100 billion in U.S. goods.

Market turmoil and reduced investment tied to the trade war cut global growth in 2019 to its lowest rate since the 2008-2009 financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund said in October.

Tariffs on Chinese imports have cost U.S. companies $46 billion. Evidence is mounting that tariffs have raised input costs for U.S. manufacturers, eroding their competitiveness.

Diesel engine maker Cummins Inc said on Tuesday the deal will leave it paying $150 million in tariffs for engines and castings that it produces in China. It urged the parties to take steps to eliminate all the tariffs.

Trump, who has been touting the Phase 1 deal as a pillar of his 2020 re-election campaign, said he would agree to remove the remaining tariffs once the two sides had negotiated a “Phase 2” agreement.

“They will all come off as soon as we finish Phase 2,” said Trump, who added that he would visit China in the not-too-distant future.

Trump added that those negotiations would start soon, though in a Fox Business Network interview that aired on Wednesday evening, Vice President Mike Pence said: “We’ve already begun discussions on a Phase 2 deal.”

(Reporting by Jeff Mason, Andrea Shalal and Dave Lawder Additional reporting by Echo Wang, Lisa Lambert, Susan Heavey Lisa Lambert and Doina Chiacu in Washington, Tim Aeppel in New York, Mark Weinraub in Chicago, Se Young Lee and Stella Qui in Beijing and Tim Hepher in Paris; Writing by Heather Timmons; Editing by Paul Simao, Leslie Adler and Richard Chang)

Story 2: President Trump’s  United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) Bill Passes Senate  89 to 10 Vote– On It Way For President Trump’s Signature  — Big Win For Trump and American People — Videos —

Senate passes USMCA trade deal

U.S. Senate passes USMCA trade agreement

Donald Trump’s USMCA trade pact finally passes through both houses of Congress as he touts China truce as ‘one of the greatest trade deals ever made’ but Democrats’ impeachment overshadows everything

  • NAFTA replacement will go to Trump’s Oval Office desk for his signature
  • President has pushed the plan for months but it languished in Democrat-run House of Representatives
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi put it on the agenda a day after her caucus impeached the president
  • That sent it to the Senate, which will try the impeachment cases beginning next week
  • Trump inked a major trade deal with China on Wednesday but even that has been overshadowed by impeachment 

Donald Trump tried to nudge the news cycle away from impeachment on Thursday as his long-languishing U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement finally passed in the Senate.

The final tally was 89-10. Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, two of the presidential primary front-runners, took different approaches. Warren voted yes, Sanders no.

The vote was a rare moment of bipartisanship, a blipp on senators’ radar as they prepared for weeks of wrangling during Trump’s impeachment trial.

The president said farmers in America are ‘really happy’ with both the USMCA and a broad trade truce he signed Wednesday with China. 

Impeachment politics also overshadowed the House’s vote to green-light the USMCA, which came just one day after Democrats led a vote to charge Trump with two constitutional crimes.

The U.S. Senate passed the U.S> Mexico Canada Agreement on Thursday just before launching full bore into impeachment procedures

President Donald Trump got a double trade victory after his deal with China on Wednesday but all eyes were on the impeachment ceremonies

President Donald Trump got a double trade victory after his deal with China on Wednesday but all eyes were on the impeachment ceremonies

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (center) had to wait to put the USMCA on the Senate floor for a vote until the House passed it; Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat on the trade treaty for months

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (center) had to wait to put the USMCA on the Senate floor for a vote until the House passed it; Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat on the trade treaty for months

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described the pact as a ‘major win for the Trump administration, a major win for those of us who are already ready to move past this season of toxic political noise.’ 

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa called the USMCA ‘a major achievement for President Trump and a bipartisan deal for the American people.’

Democrats scrambled to take credit for upgrading the USMCA’s environmental and worker-protection clauses. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden claimed he and his colleagues gave the plan ‘a trade enforcement regime with real teeth.’

He also praised Trump’s chief negotiator Robert Lighthizer as ‘the hardest working man in the trade business.

Trump blamed the current trade pact with Canada and Mexico, the Bill Clinton-era North American Free Trade Agreement, for sending millions of manufacturing jobs to low-wage plants south of the U.S. border. His administration secured changes that aim to have more cars produced where workers earn an average of at least $16 an hour. 

Pelosi held onto the USMCA until she could deny Trump a positivev news cycle, letting impeachment overshadow it completely

It also secured changes that require Mexico to change its laws to make it easier for workers to form independent unions, which should improve worker conditions and wages and reduce the incentive for U.S. companies to relocate their plants.

While the administration completed its negotiations with Canada and Mexico more than a year ago, Democrats in the House insisted on changes to the pact that they say make it more likely Mexico will follow through on its commitments.

As part of those negotiations, the administration agreed to drop a provision that offered expensive biologic drugs—made from living cells—10 years of protection from cheaper knockoff competition.

The biggest holdouts are environmental groups, which continue to oppose the measure because it doesn´t address climate change. Indeed, they contend the agreement would contribute to rising temperatures.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., marveled Wednesday at how leaders of organized labor and farm groups in his state appeared together to support the pact.

‘They both agree that this USMCA trade agreement is a step forward, an improvement over the original NAFTA,’ Durbin said. ‘I think we´ve added to this process by making it truly bipartisan.’



Senate passes USMCA bill, giving Trump a win on trade

The Senate voted 89-10 to clear the bill for Trump’s signature

Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, checks his watch while waiting for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to wrap up a press conference in the Senate Radio/TV studio on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. Sen. Risch along with Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, were waiting to hold a press conference on USMCA, which passed the Senate Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate approved implementing legislation Thursday for a renegotiated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement, giving President Donald Trump a victory as the Senate moved to swearing in its members as jurors in Trump’s impeachment trial.

The Senate voted 89-10 to clear the bill for Trump’s signature, with several dissenting Democrats citing the absence of climate change provisions as a lost opportunity to address the issue on an international scale since Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who negotiated the deal, watched the vote from the public gallery.

The vote on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement occurred after the Senate voted to waive budget restrictions. Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., argued on the floor, as he did in the Budget Committee, that the bill included appropriations that violate budget rules.

The Democrat-controlled House approved the bill on Dec. 19 with a bipartisan vote of 385-41. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said House Democrats had negotiated several changes to the USMCA to make it acceptable.

Key changes for Democrats included enforcement of labor provisions they believe will make it more difficult and expensive for U.S. manufacturers, particularly auto makers, to shift production to Mexico. The changes won the endorsement of the AFL-CIO, but other unions such as the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers oppose it.

The pact also would give technology companies provisions to address e-commerce, which did not exist when NAFTA was negotiated. A chapter based on Section 230 of a 1996 telecommunications law (PL 104-104) gives companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter immunity from liability for user content posted on their platforms.

Trump is expected to tout the vote in his reelection campaign as a promise kept. In 2016, he vowed either to revamp the 1994 trade agreement or to withdraw the U.S. from the pact. As president, Trump caused anxiety among businesses large and small and his base of farm support with threats to pull out of NAFTA if Canada and Mexico did not make concessions.

Business groups say congressional approval of the USMCA implementing bill makes it less likely Trump will try to upend a trade agreement negotiated and renamed by his administration.

The bill now goes to Trump for signing, but the Canadian Parliament still must ratify the USMCA before the agreement can take effect. Mexico has already approved the new pact.

The implementing legislation provides the framework and mechanisms the Trump administration will use to enforce labor rights and environmental standards with a focus on Mexico. For example, an interagency task force on labor will be established 90 days after the bill takes effect.

The USMCA will replace NAFTA, an agreement credited with building the three nations into a $1.2 trillion-a-year trading bloc and blamed for contributing to the loss of thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs to low-wage Mexico.

Trump campaigned against NAFTA as the “worst trade deal ever made.”

In committee reviews, floor comments and statements, several senators cited the absence of environmental provisions addressing climate change as one reason for voting against the implementing bill.

Environmental concern

It seemed unlikely the administration would have pursued climate change, not only because of Trump’s skepticism of the science behind it, but also because a trade-negotiating objective Congress approved in 2015 says trade agreements are not to establish obligations for the U.S. regarding greenhouse gas emissions. The language is part of a customs enforcement law that added several negotiating guidelines to the Trade Promotion Authority statute, which sets the ground rules for trade deals sent to Congress for approval.

Democratic presidential candidates Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Michael Bennet of Colorado voted for the pact. Sanders, another candidate, said in a written statement that it should be rewritten because it does not guarantee that companies will stop shifting jobs to Mexico.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the USMCA will increase U.S. government revenue by $2.97 billion from fiscal 2020 to 2029 due to higher expected duty revenue on car and truck parts that do not meet stricter rules.

Some vehicles and parts would no longer qualify for duty-free treatment because they don’t meet new requirements that 75 percent of content in cars and auto parts come from North America and that 40 percent of car content and 45 percent of truck content be made by workers earning $16 an hour.

The CBO also estimates that the agreement would reduce the federal deficit by $3 billion over a 10-year period. The agency estimates that appropriations not subject to emergency status would total $833 million in outlays from fiscal 2020 to 2029.

Under the USMCA, U.S. dairy, poultry and egg products would gain greater access to Canadian markets, and Canada will adopt a new quality-grading system for U.S. wheat.

Canada also will end pricing schemes the U.S. dairy industry says keep Canadian skim milk powder prices at artificially lower levels, giving domestic producers an edge in sales to Canadian cheese-makers over U.S. high-protein ultrafiltered milk.

The International Trade Commission, an independent agency, said the trade agreement, “if fully implemented and enforced,” over several years would increase real GDP by $68.2 billion, or 0.35 percent, and would add 176,000 jobs to the U.S. economy.

House Democrats’ negotiations with the Trump administration in 2019 resulted in the removal of provisions that would have given pharmaceutical companies a 10-year pricing monopoly on biologic drugs in Mexico and Canada. The U.S. has 12-year pricing exclusivity for biologics, and Democrats worried that keeping the provisions in the USMCA would prevent future Congresses from reducing the U.S. timeframe to less than 10 years.

Story 3: REDS (Radical Extremist Democrat Socialist) Show Trial In House is Over — An American Fair Trial Begins Next Tuesday in Senate — Acquittal of President Trump Expected In 30 Days or Less As Hoax Exposed — Trump Goes On Offense — Videos

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Trump Impeachment Trial Begins as Senators Are Sworn In

House managers read charges as watchdog faults president’s hold on Ukraine aid and Kyiv probes whether U.S. envoy was tailed

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts swears in members of the Senate for the impeachment trial against President Trump. PHOTO: SENATE TELEVISION/ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON—The Senate opened the impeachment trial of President Trump on Thursday with Chief Justice John Roberts swearing in the senators, who pledged to deliver impartial justice, and the formal reading of the two charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Hours before the senators took their oath, the Government Accountability Office, a watchdog agency, determined that Mr. Trump’s administration violated the law when it withheld aid to Ukraine, an issue at the heart of the impeachment case against the president.

Democrats allege that Mr. Trump, a Republican, improperly withheld the aid to pressure Kyiv to launch investigations that would help him politically in the 2020 election.

Mr. Trump has denied wrongdoing, calling the case against him a “big hoax” on Thursday. He is the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.

The GAO wrote that the White House Office of Management and Budget improperly froze Ukraine funding over the summer for policy reasons. It was later released after pressure from Congress. A spokeswoman for OMB said it disagreed with the GAO finding.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities opened a criminal probe into whether U.S. citizens placed the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine under surveillance, as text messages suggest, before she was removed from her post last year by Mr. Trump. The information came to light after House Democrats released documents Tuesday showing that an associate of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was sent text messages about tracking Marie Yovanovitch in Ukraine.

Democratic and GOP lawmakers continued to wrangle on Thursday over whether new witnesses and evidence will be allowed in the trial. Those issues aren’t expected to be decided until well after the trial begins in earnest on Tuesday.

“If any of my colleagues had doubts about the case for witnesses and documents in a Senate trial, the stunning revelations this week should put those to rest,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the chamber’s Democratic leader.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said it wasn’t the Senate’s job to shore up the case the House built in what he called a “slapdash inquiry.” The Senate won’t “redo their homework and rerun the investigation,” he said

Chief Justice Roberts and Senators Sworn In for Impeachment Trial

Chief Justice Roberts and Senators Sworn In for Impeachment Trial
The impeachment trial of President Trump opened in the U.S. Senate as Chief Justice John Roberts and senators were sworn in. Photo: Associated Press

Mr. McConnell is set to release his plans for a trial framework on Tuesday, but Senate Republicans and White House officials said the contents of the resolution have largely been settled. Republicans briefed on the resolution have said they expect it to include a guaranteed vote on whether to subpoena witnesses and documents, as requested by some moderate Republicans.

GOP leaders believe they can keep Republicans united to block any efforts by Democrats to subpoena witnesses at the outset of the trial, according to people familiar with their plans. A vote on witnesses would be held later, after the House managers and Mr. Trump’s legal team present their cases, a process expected to stretch over two weeks.

A guaranteed vote to dismiss the charges won’t be built into the trial rules, according to these people. The White House and Senate Republicans are discussing holding a vote on a motion to dismiss after Democrats present their case but before Mr. Trump’s team addresses the Senate, according to an administration official.

At least two-thirds of the senators would have to vote to convict Mr. Trump to remove him from office.

By noon on Thursday, the fighting over the scope of the Senate trial took a pause. Every senator was seated at his or her desk, a rare sight during the ordinary legislative business, when it is common to see senators delivering speeches to an empty chamber. Senators typically don’t sit in their assigned seats even during roll call votes, preferring to stroll around and chitchat.

As they waited for the formal “exhibition” of articles, some senators scrolled on their cellphones or talked quietly to each other.

At 12:05 p.m., House managers, who will act as prosecutors during the trial, arrived at the ornate doors of the Senate. They walked in two-by-two, led by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.). Freshman Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D., Texas) trailed as the seventh. A Democratic aide said the order was chosen according to seniority.

All managers carried large blue folders containing their own copy of the articles of impeachment passed by the House last month and the resolution passed on Wednesday authorizing them as managers.

Silence fell and phones disappeared as the sergeant at arms warned senators to keep quiet “on pain of imprisonment.” Then Mr. Schiff, the lead manager, began reading the articles aloud from the well of the Senate.

“Resolved, that Donald John Trump, president of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors,” he said.

The House managers make their way to the Senate before the reading of the two articles of impeachment, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.. PHOTO: ALYSSA SCHUKAR FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

The senators watched, with stony faces, as Mr. Schiff spoke. Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) stifled a cough. Next to her, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) sat motionless with her hands folded in her lap. Sens. Rob Portman (R., Ohio), Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D., Wis.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) scribbled notes.

At 12:22, when Mr. Schiff had finished, the managers departed. They briefly huddled outside the chamber, once again got in order, and marched back toward the House side of the Capitol.

Shortly after 2 p.m., Chief Justice Roberts was escorted into the Senate by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), Roy Blunt (R., Mo.), Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.).

Everyone in the chamber rose. The only sound was the scratching of reporters’ pens.Then Chief Justice Roberts spoke: “Senators, I attend the Senate in conformity with your notice for the purpose of joining with you for the trial of the President of the United States. I am now prepared to take the oath.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), the Senate’s president pro tempore, asked him to raise his right hand, place his left hand on the Bible, and swore him in.

Chief Justice Roberts then administered an oath to senators, who will act as the jury. “Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, president of United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help you God?”

“I do,” the senators said.

Senators were then called in alphabetical order to the Senate clerk’s desk to sign their names in an oath book. As the lawmakers waited to sign, there were flashes of bipartisan bonhomie. Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) warmly shook Mr. Grassley’s hand. Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) patted the shoulder of Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), and the two shared a laugh with Sen. Tim Scott (R., S.C.). Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) gave Mr. Portman’s arm a squeeze.

All of the senators were present for the swearing-in except for Sen. Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.), who is at home with a family member facing a medical issue, according to his office. He plans to be sworn in next week, before the trial begins in earnest.

Senate Officially Accepts Articles of Impeachment

Senate Officially Accepts Articles of Impeachment

Senate Officially Accepts Articles of Impeachment
The Senate accepted the articles of impeachment against President Trump, marking the official start of the trial. Photo: Associated Press

After the swearing-in, the Senate formally notified the White House of the pending trial and summoned Mr. Trump, who will be given until Saturday evening to reply.

Mr. McConnell also said the House has until Saturday at 5 p.m. to file a trial brief with the secretary of the Senate, and Mr. Trump has until noon on Monday to do so. The deadline for the House’s rebuttal is noon on Tuesday. The Senate trial was then adjourned until Tuesday at 1 p.m.

Although historic, Thursday entailed mostly pomp and circumstance. The trial won’t get under way substantively until the Senate reconvenes after the holiday weekend.

All 100 senators agreed on rules for the 1999 Clinton impeachment trial’s initial phase. There is no such bipartisan agreement now, and while Mr. McConnell says all 53 Republicans in his caucus are united on the path forward, he hasn’t released the text of his resolution laying out the procedures agreed upon by GOP senators.

In 1999, a resolution dealing with witnesses passed a few weeks into the trial, along party lines. Three witnesses, including Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern with whom Mr. Clinton admitted an inappropriate relationship, were deposed privately in the presence of a senator from each party. Excerpts were shown by video during the trial.

There are 15 senators now serving who also voted in the Clinton impeachment trial, including Messrs. McConnell and Schumer.

“I remember the solemnity of this, when you see the chief justice sitting in the chair with his august robes, when you hear your name called and you hear the charges, your hair sort of stands on end,” Mr. Schumer said in a recent interview.

Throughout the trial, all senators will be expected to be present and seated at their assigned desks. They won’t be allowed to talk.

Any deliberations among senators likely will be held in closed session, meaning that no press or cameras will be allowed. The rest of the trial will be open.

“It is a solemn feeling when you’re sitting in the seat, and you’re listening closely to what’s going on,” said Sen. Mike Braun (R., Ind.).

Mr. Braun said he and other senators are worried about the precedent being set. “Many senators have on their minds: Is this the new dynamic? Having two impeachments within 20 years of one another?” he said. “I don’t think anybody likes that feeling.”


Constitutional Law Prof. Stuns Dems on Impeachment: ‘It’s YOUR Abuse of Power’

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Jonathan Turley On His Impeachment Testimony

NPR’s Rachel Martin speaks with constitutional law scholar Jonathan Turley about his testimony on Wednesday


Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi says she is instructing her committee chairs to draft articles of impeachment to remove President Trump from office. She framed her decision as a historic moment.


NANCY PELOSI: The president’s actions have seriously violated the Constitution, especially when he says and acts upon the belief, Article II says I can do whatever I want. No. His wrongdoing strikes at the very heart of our Constitution.

MARTIN: Pelosi says the impeachment process has shown the public how the president has abused his power. Yesterday, four constitutional experts laid out the standards for and against impeachment in front of the House Judiciary Committee. One of them was Jonathan Turley. He’s a law professor at George Washington University. We spoke with him earlier today.

JONATHAN TURLEY: Well, first of all, my testimony, I said, as I did in the Clinton impeachment, that a president could be impeached for a noncriminal act and that President Trump could be impeached for abuse of power. You just have to prove it. He can also be impeached for obstruction of Congress.

The problem with the obstruction of Congress claim, in my view, is that it’s based on a very short period of investigation. This is one of the shortest we’ve had. It depends how you count the days between this and the Johnson impeachment, but it’s a very short period of investigation.

And what Congress is saying is that if the president invokes executive privilege or immunities and goes to court, he can be impeached for that – that he has to just turn over the information to Congress. Now, that’s a position that was maintained during the Nixon impeachment. In fact, it was the basis of the third article of impeachment. I’ve always disagreed with it. It’s not that you can’t impeach a president for withholding documents and witnesses. You can, and President Trump could well be the next one to be impeached on those grounds.

MARTIN: Mmm hmm.

TURLEY: What I was telling Congress is that they’ve burned two months. They should have gone to court over people like John – I’m sorry, subpoenaed and gone to court over people like John Bolton and gotten a court order. That would make it a stronger case.

MARTIN: So let’s talk about what you just laid out here. I mean, you are saying that because the White House has refused to allow certain people to come and testify, refused to hand over certain documents that the committees have requested and is fighting this in court, you’re saying that that process should be allowed to play out, that Congress is making an impeachment argument that is weak because they’re not waiting for the courts to weigh in?

TURLEY: I’m saying that this case could be much stronger. No one has really explained why they have to have a vote by the end of December rather than…

MARTIN: Well, isn’t the case about election interference? I mean, isn’t that the answer, that the central query here is about the interference of U.S. elections and 2020’s coming right up?

TURLEY: Well, 2020 is coming right up. But the problem is that when you look at how fast this has unfolded, the record remains thin. It remains conflicted. You have about 12 witnesses. You have other witnesses with direct evidence. And more importantly, you have a lot of defenses that have not been fully addressed. It’s not a fully developed record.

And all I’m saying is that before you give that record to the Senate, you should deal with some of those conflicts and some of those gaps. And this is an example of one of those, that I think the president could very well be impeached and removed for obstruction based on these acts. But by the way, that record is – conflicts in other respects. We had 12 witnesses. Many of those witnesses correctly appeared before Congress. They did so against the wishes of the president, but they remain in federal employment. They have not been disciplined. And does that…

MARTIN: But you’re saying their testimony is insufficient to prove obstruction or abuse of power.

TURLEY: Well, it’s insufficient because there remain conflicts. You know, part of the problems I have with the arguments made by my esteemed colleagues on the panel is that they kept on using the terms inference and circumstantial evidence. Those actually can be used in an impeachment, but it’s problematic if there’s information out there you can still get. This is not a question of the unknowable. This is using the peripheral. This is using information that could be strengthened. That’s what I’m arguing.

MARTIN: Although they pointed to the Mueller report as evidence of obstruction. Presumably, you don’t believe that the Mueller report conclusions are true then.

TURLEY: Well, I never said I didn’t think they were true, but the obstruction claim was rejected by the Department of Justice – not just Attorney General Bill Barr, but by Rod Rosenstein, who is a respected deputy attorney general. And I agree with their decision on that.

MARTIN: All right. Jonathan Turley, one of the constitutional scholars testifying before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday. Thank you.

TURLEY: Thank you.

Joe Biden’s 2020 Ukrainian nightmare: A closed probe is revived

Two years after leaving office, Joe Biden couldn’t resist the temptation last year to brag to an audience of foreign policy specialists about the time as vice president that he strong-armed Ukraine into firing its top prosecutor.

In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, sending the former Soviet republic toward insolvency, if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.

Joe Biden Brags about getting Ukranian Prosecutor Fired

“I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion.’ I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” Biden recalled telling Poroshenko.

“Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time,” Biden told the Council on Foreign Relations event, insisting that President Obama was in on the threat.

Interviews with a half-dozen senior Ukrainian officials confirm Biden’s account, though they claim the pressure was applied over several months in late 2015 and early 2016, not just six hours of one dramatic day. Whatever the case, Poroshenko and Ukraine’s parliament obliged by ending Shokin’s tenure as prosecutor. Shokin was facing steep criticism in Ukraine, and among some U.S. officials, for not bringing enough corruption prosecutions when he was fired.

But Ukrainian officials tell me there was one crucial piece of information that Biden must have known but didn’t mention to his audience: The prosecutor he got fired was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed Biden’s younger son, Hunter, as a board member.

U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden’s American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts — usually more than $166,000 a month — from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia.

The general prosecutor’s official file for the Burisma probe — shared with me by senior Ukrainian officials — shows prosecutors identified Hunter Biden, business partner Devon Archer and their firm, Rosemont Seneca, as potential recipients of money.

Shokin told me in written answers to questions that, before he was fired as general prosecutor, he had made “specific plans” for the investigation that “included interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden.”

He added: “I would like to emphasize the fact that presumption of innocence is a principle in Ukraine” and that he couldn’t describe the evidence further.

William Russo, a spokesman for Joe Biden, and Hunter Biden did not respond to email messages Monday seeking comment. The phone number at Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC in Washington was no longer in service on Monday.

The timing of Hunter Biden’s and Archer’s appointment to Burisma’s board has been highlighted in the past, by The New York Times in December 2015 and in a 2016 book by conservative author Peter Schweizer.

Although Biden made no mention of his son in his 2018 speech, U.S. and Ukrainian authorities both told me Biden and his office clearly had to know about the general prosecutor’s probe of Burisma and his son’s role. They noted that:

  • Hunter Biden’s appointment to the board was widely reported in American media;
  • The U.S. Embassy in Kiev that coordinated Biden’s work in the country repeatedly and publicly discussed the general prosecutor’s case against Burisma;
  • Great Britain took very public action against Burisma while Joe Biden was working with that government on Ukraine issues;
  • Biden’s office was quoted, on the record, acknowledging Hunter Biden’s role in Burisma in a New York Times article about the general prosecutor’s Burisma case that appeared four months before Biden forced the firing of Shokin. The vice president’s office suggested in that article that Hunter Biden was a lawyer free to pursue his own private business deals.

President Obama named Biden the administration’s point man on Ukraine in February 2014, after a popular revolution ousted Russia-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych and as Moscow sent military forces into Ukraine’s Crimea territory.

According to Schweizer’s book, Vice President Biden met with Archer in April 2014 right as Archer was named to the board at Burisma. A month later, Hunter Biden was named to the board, to oversee Burisma’s legal team.

But the Ukrainian investigation and Joe Biden’s effort to fire the prosecutor overseeing it has escaped without much public debate.

Most of the general prosecutor’s investigative work on Burisma focused on three separate cases, and most stopped abruptly once Shokin was fired. The most prominent of the Burisma cases was transferred to a different Ukrainian agency, closely aligned with the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, known as the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), according to the case file and current General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko.

NABU closed that case, and a second case involving alleged improper money transfers in London was dropped when Ukrainian officials failed to file the necessary documents by the required deadline. The general prosecutor’s office successfully secured a multimillion-dollar judgment in a tax evasion case, Lutsenko said. He did not say who was the actual defendant in that case.

As a result, the Biden family appeared to have escaped the potential for an embarrassing inquiry overseas in the final days of the Obama administration and during an election in which Democrat Hillary Clintonwas running for president in 2016.

But then, as Biden’s 2020 campaign ramped up over the past year, Lutsenko — the Ukrainian prosecutor that Biden once hailed as a “solid” replacement for Shokin — began looking into what happened with the Burisma case that had been shut down.

Lutsenko told me that, while reviewing the Burisma investigative files, he discovered “members of the Board obtained funds as well as another U.S.-based legal entity, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, for consulting services.”

Lutsenko said some of the evidence he knows about in the Burisma case may interest U.S. authorities and he’d like to present that information to new U.S. Attorney General William Barr, particularly the vice president’s intervention.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Biden had correlated and connected this aid with some of the HR (personnel) issues and changes in the prosecutor’s office,” Lutsenko said.

Nazar Kholodnytskyi, the lead anti-corruption prosecutor in Lutsenko’s office, confirmed to me in an interview that part of the Burisma investigation was reopened in 2018, after Joe Biden made his remarks. “We were able to start this case again,” Kholodnytskyi said.

But he said the separate Ukrainian police agency that investigates corruption has dragged its feet in gathering evidence. “We don’t see any result from this case one year after the reopening because of some external influence,” he said, declining to be more specific.

Ukraine is in the middle of a hard-fought presidential election, is a frequent target of intelligence operations by neighboring Russia and suffers from rampant political corruption nationwide. Thus, many Americans might take the restart of the Burisma case with a grain of salt, and rightfully so.

But what makes Lutsenko’s account compelling is that federal authorities in America, in an entirely different case, uncovered financial records showing just how much Hunter Biden’s and Archer’s company received from Burisma while Joe Biden acted as Obama’s point man on Ukraine.

Between April 2014 and October 2015, more than $3 million was paid out of Burisma accounts to an account linked to Biden’s and Archer’s Rosemont Seneca firm, according to the financial records placed in a federal court file in Manhattan in an unrelated case against Archer.

The bank records show that, on most months when Burisma money flowed, two wire transfers of $83,333.33 each were sent to the Rosemont Seneca–connected account on the same day. The same Rosemont Seneca–linked account typically then would pay Hunter Biden one or more payments ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 each. Prosecutors reviewed internal company documents and wanted to interview Hunter Biden and Archer about why they had received such payments, according to interviews.

Lutsenko said Ukrainian company board members legally can pay themselves for work they do if it benefits the company’s bottom line, but prosecutors never got to determine the merits of the payments to Rosemont because of the way the investigation was shut down.

As for Joe Biden’s intervention in getting Lutsenko’s predecessor fired in the midst of the Burisma investigation, Lutsenko suggested that was a matter to discuss with Attorney General Barr: “Of course, I would be happy to have a conversation with him about this issue.”

As the now-completed Russia collusion investigation showed us, every American deserves the right to be presumed innocent until evidence is made public or a conviction is secured, especially when some matters of a case involve foreigners. The same presumption should be afforded to Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, Devon Archer and Burisma in the Ukraine case.

Nonetheless, some hard questions should be answered by Biden as he prepares, potentially, to run for president in 2020: Was it appropriate for your son and his firm to cash in on Ukraine while you served as point man for Ukraine policy? What work was performed for the money Hunter Biden’s firm received? Did you know about the Burisma probe? And when it was publicly announced that your son worked for Burisma, should you have recused yourself from leveraging a U.S. policy to pressure the prosecutor who very publicly pursued Burisma?



Solomon: These once-secret memos cast doubt on Joe Biden’s Ukraine story

Former Vice President Joe Biden, now a 2020 Democratic presidential contender, has locked into a specific story about the controversy in Ukraine.

He insists that, in spring 2016, he strong-armed Ukraine to fire its chief prosecutor solely because Biden believed that official was corrupt and inept, not because the Ukrainian was investigating a natural gas company, Burisma Holdings, that hired Biden’s son, Hunter, into a lucrative job.

There’s just one problem.

Hundreds of pages of never-released memos and documents — many from inside the American team helping Burisma to stave off its legal troubles — conflict with Biden’s narrative.

And they raise the troubling prospect that U.S. officials may have painted a false picture in Ukraine that helped ease Burisma’s legal troubles and stop prosecutors’ plans to interview Hunter Biden during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

For instance, Burisma’s American legal representatives met with Ukrainian officials just days after Biden forced the firing of the country’s chief prosecutor and offered “an apology for dissemination of false information by U.S. representatives and public figures” about the Ukrainian prosecutors, according to the Ukrainian government’s official memo of the meeting. The effort to secure that meeting began the same day the prosecutor’s firing was announced.

In addition, Burisma’s American team offered to introduce Ukrainian prosecutors to Obama administration officials to make amends, according to that memo and the American legal team’s internal emails.

The memos raise troubling questions:

1.)   If the Ukraine prosecutor’s firing involved only his alleged corruption and ineptitude, why did Burisma’s American legal team refer to those allegations as “false information?”

Ukrainian prosecutors say they have tried to get this information to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) since the summer of 2018, fearing it might be evidence of possible violations of U.S. ethics laws. First, they hired a former federal prosecutor to bring the information to the U.S. attorney in New York, who, they say, showed no interest. Then, the Ukrainians reached out to President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, told Trump in July that he plans to launch his own wide-ranging investigation into what happened with the Bidens and Burisma.

“I’m knowledgeable about the situation,” Zelensky told Trump, asking the American president to forward any evidence he might know about. “The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case.”

Biden has faced scrutiny since December 2015, when the New York Times published a story noting that Burisma hired Hunter Biden just weeks after the vice president was asked by President Obama to oversee U.S.-Ukraine relations. That story also alerted Biden’s office that Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin had an active investigation of Burisma and its founder.

Documents I obtained this year detail an effort to change the narrative after the Times story about Hunter Biden, with the help of the Obama State Department.

Hunter Biden’s American business partner in Burisma, Devon Archer, texted a colleague two days after the Times story about a strategy to counter the “new wave of scrutiny” and stated that he and Hunter Biden had just met at the State Department. The text suggested there was about to be a new “USAID project the embassy is announcing with us” and that it was “perfect for us to move forward now with momentum.”

I have sued the State Department for any records related to that meeting. The reason is simple: There is both a public interest and an ethics question to knowing if Hunter Biden and his team sought State’s assistance while his father was vice president.

The controversy ignited anew earlier this year when I disclosed that Joe Biden admitted during a 2018 videotaped speech that, as vice president in March 2016, he threatened to cancel $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, to pressure Ukraine’s then-President Petro Poroshenko to fire Shokin.

At the time, Shokin’s office was investigating Burisma. Shokin told me he was making plans to question Hunter Biden about $3 million in fees that Biden and his partner, Archer, collected from Burisma through their American firm. Documents seized by the FBI in an unrelated case confirm the payments, which in many months totaled more than $166,000.  

Some media outlets have reported that, at the time Joe Biden forced the firing in March 2016, there were no open investigations. Those reports are wrong. A British-based investigation of Burisma’s owner was closed down in early 2015 on a technicality when a deadline for documents was not met. But the Ukraine Prosecutor General’s office still had two open inquiries in March 2016, according to the official case file provided me. One of those cases involved taxes; the other, allegations of corruption. Burisma announced the cases against it were not closed and settled until January 2017.

After I first reported it in a column, the New York Times and ABC News published similar stories confirming my reporting.

Joe Biden has since responded that he forced Shokin’s firing over concerns about corruption and ineptitude, which he claims were widely shared by Western allies, and that it had nothing to do with the Burisma investigation.

Some of the new documents I obtained call that claim into question.

In a newly sworn affidavit prepared for a European court, Shokin testified that when he was fired in March 2016, he was told the reason was that Biden was unhappy about the Burisma investigation. “The truth is that I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas firm active in Ukraine and Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was a member of the Board of Directors,” Shokin testified.

“On several occasions President Poroshenko asked me to have a look at the case against Burisma and consider the possibility of winding down the investigative actions in respect of this company but I refused to close this investigation,” Shokin added.

Shokin certainly would have reason to hold a grudge over his firing. But his account is supported by documents from Burisma’s legal team in America, which appeared to be moving into Ukraine with intensity as Biden’s effort to fire Shokin picked up steam.

Burisma’s own accounting records show that it paid tens of thousands of dollars while Hunter Biden served on the board of an American lobbying and public relations firm, Blue Star Strategies, run by Sally Painter and Karen Tramontano, who both served in President Bill Clinton’s administration.

Just days before Biden forced Shokin’s firing, Painter met with the No. 2 official at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington and asked to meet officials in Kiev around the same time that Joe Biden visited there. Ukrainian embassy employee Oksana Shulyar emailed Painter afterward: “With regards to the meetings in Kiev, I suggest that you wait until the next week when there is an expected vote of the government’s reshuffle.”

Ukraine’s Washington embassy confirmed the conversations between Shulyar and Painter but said the reference to a shakeup in Ukrainian government was not specifically referring to Shokin’s firing or anything to do with Burisma.

Painter then asked one of the Ukraine embassy’s workers to open the door for meetings with Ukraine’s prosecutors about the Burisma investigation, the memos show. Eventually, Blue Star would pay that Ukrainian official money for his help with the prosecutor’s office.

At the time, Blue Star worked in concert with an American criminal defense lawyer, John Buretta, who was hired by Burisma to help address the case in Ukraine. The case was settled in January 2017 for a few million dollars in fines for alleged tax issues.

Buretta, Painter, Tramontano, Hunter Biden and Joe Biden’s campaign have not responded to numerous calls and emails seeking comment.

On March 29, 2016, the day Shokin’s firing was announced, Buretta asked to speak with Yuriy Sevruk, the prosecutor named to temporarily replace Shokin, but was turned down, the memos show.

Blue Star, using the Ukrainian embassy worker it had hired, eventually scored a meeting with Sevruk on April 6, 2016, a week after Shokin’s firing. Buretta, Tramontano and Painter attended that meeting in Kiev, according to Blue Star’s memos.

Sevruk memorialized the meeting in a government memo that the general prosecutor’s office provided to me, stating that the three Americans offered an apology for the “false” narrative that had been provided by U.S. officials about Shokin being corrupt and inept.

“They realized that the information disseminated in the U.S. was incorrect and that they would facilitate my visit to the U.S. for the purpose of delivering the true information to the State Department management,” the memo stated.

The memo also quoted the Americans as saying they knew Shokin pursued an aggressive corruption investigation against Burisma’s owner, only to be thwarted by British allies: “These individuals noted that they had been aware that the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine had implemented all required steps for prosecution … and that he was released by the British court due to the underperformance of the British law enforcement agencies.”

The memo provides a vastly different portrayal of Shokin than Biden’s. And its contents are partially backed by subsequent emails from Blue Star and Buretta that confirm the offer to bring Ukrainian authorities to meet the Obama administration in Washington.

For instance, Tramontano wrote the Ukrainian prosecution team on April 16, 2016, saying U.S. Justice Department officials, including top international prosecutor Bruce Swartz, might be willing to meet. “The reforms are not known to the US Justice Department and it would be useful for the Prosecutor General to meet officials in the US and share this information directly,” she wrote.

Buretta sent a similar email to the Ukrainians, writing that “I think you would find it productive to meet with DOJ officials in Washington” and providing contact information for Swartz. “I would be happy to help,” added Buretta, a former senior DOJ official.

Burisma, Buretta and Blue Star continued throughout 2016 to try to resolve the open issues in Ukraine, and memos recount various contacts with the State Department and the U.S. embassy in Kiev seeking help in getting the Burisma case resolved.

Just days before Trump took office, Burisma announced it had resolved all of its legal issues. And Buretta gave an interview in Ukraine about how he helped navigate the issues.

 Today, two questions remain.

One is whether it was ethically improper or even illegal for Biden to intervene to fire the prosecutor handling Burisma’s case, given his son’s interests. That is one that requires more investigation and the expertise of lawyers.

The second is whether Biden has given the American people an honest accounting of what happened. The new documents I obtained raise serious doubts about his story’s credibility. And that’s an issue that needs to be resolved by voters.

The full Trump-Ukraine
impeachment timeline

The House of Representatives is engaged in a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump. It is focused on his efforts to secure specific investigations in Ukraine that carried political benefits for him — including aides allegedly tying those investigations to official U.S. government concessions.

Below is a timeline of relevant events.

The timeline is sortable. “Trump” refers to events in which Trump himself was involved. “Quid pro quo” is events that involve government concessions being tied to investigations. “Ukraine” tracks what Ukrainian officials were doing, while “Giuliani” does the same for Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and “Biden” tracks every event in which Joe or Hunter Biden were invoked.

How much detail would you like?

Key events An in-depth look Everything

Which topics are you interested in?

All topics Trump Ukraine Quid pro quo Biden Giuliani

Unrest in Ukraine


February 22, 2014

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is ousted from power during a popular uprising in the country. He flees to Russia. After his ouster, Ukrainian officials begin a wide-ranging investigation into corruption in the country.

March 7, 2014

Lev Parnas, eventually an associate of former New York City mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, has his first known interaction with Donald Trump at a golf tournament in Florida.

March 1, 2014

Russia invades the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, annexing it.

May 13, 2014

KEY EVENT Hunter Biden, a son of then-U.S. Vice President Joe Bidenjoins the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings. It is owned by oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky, one of several subjects of the Ukrainian corruption probe.

May 25, 2014

Petro Poroshenko is elected president of Ukraine.

February 10, 2015

Viktor Shokin becomes Ukraine’s prosecutor general.

Early 2015

Top State Department aide George Kent raises concerns about Hunter Biden’s work for Burisma, as he later testifies. Biden’s office turns him away and explains that the vice president does not have the “bandwidth” to deal with the issue at a time when his other son, Beau Biden, is dealing with cancer, according to Kent’s testimony.

September 24, 2015

Then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt blasts Shokin in a speech in Odessa, Ukraine. He points to a “glaring problem” that threatens the good work regional leaders are doing: “the failure of the institution of the prosecutor general of Ukraine to successfully fight internal corruption.” He adds: “The United States stands behind those who challenge these bad actors.”

October 8, 2015

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Victoria Nuland testifies to the Senate that Shokin’s “office has to be reinvented as an institution that serves the citizens of Ukraine, rather than ripping them off.”

December 8, 2015

KEY EVENT In Kyiv, Biden tells Ukrainian leaders to fire Shokin or lose more than $1 billion in loan guarantees. Biden joins many Western leaders in urging Shokin’s ouster.

February 10, 2016

The International Monetary Fund threatens to halt a bailout program for Ukraine unless the country addresses its corruption issues.

February 11, 2016

Biden speaks with Poroshenko by phone and emphasizes the urgency of rooting out corruption.

February 18, 2016

Biden speaks with Poroshenko again.

March 28, 2016

Paul Manafort is hired as Donald Trump’s presidential campaign chairman, where he is chiefly in charge of securing delegates at the Republican National Convention. Manafort formerly worked for Yanukovych‘s Party of Regions in Ukraine.

March 29, 2016

Shokin is ousted from his position by Ukraine’s parliament.

April 14, 2016

Biden and Poroshenko speak again.

May 12, 2016

Yuri Lutsenko becomes Ukraine’s new prosecutor general, replacing Shokin.

May 13, 2016

The White House says it “welcomes” Lutsenko‘s appointment and the addition of an independent counsel in Lutsenko’s office, and declares it will guarantee the $1 billion in loans.

June 3, 2016

The U.S. government guarantees the loan.

June 20, 2016

Manafort becomes the head of Trump’s campaign after campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is fired.

August 14, 2016

Ukrainian officials reveal the existence of a handwritten “black ledger” suggesting Manafort had received millions in off-the-books payments from Yanukovych‘s party. These payments will ultimately be part of criminal charges filed against Manafort in the United States.

August 19, 2016

Manafort is forced out of Trump’s campaign.

November 8, 2016

KEY EVENT Trump is elected president, defeating Hillary Clinton.

Seeds of a conspiracy theory

2017-April 2019

January 11, 2017

KEY EVENT Politico reports Ukrainian officials “helped Clinton‘s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers” during the campaign. It said they were also trying to make amends after questioning Trump’s fitness for office and disseminating the Manafort documents. The article notes, however, that there is no indication of an effort originating within the leadership of the Ukrainian government itself.

January 12, 2017

Ukraine’s probes of Burisma are finalized and closed, according to the company, though Lutsenko later tells Bloomberg that one sale of an oil storage terminal will still be investigated.

February 6, 2017

Trump and Poroshenko speak by phone, during which time they “discussedplans for an in-person meeting in the future,” according to the White House.

April 21, 2017

Trump for the first time floats a conspiracy theory that Ukraine might have played a role in falsely fingering Russia for its 2016 election interference. “[The Democrats] get hacked, and the FBI goes to see them, and they won’t let the FBI see their server,” Trump tells AP, adding, “They brought in another company that I hear is Ukrainian-based. That’s what I heard. I heard it’s owned by a very rich Ukrainian.”

April 28, 2017

Trump again brings up the conspiracy theory in an interview with the Washington Examiner.

June 8, 2017

Giuliani, who would later become Trump’s personal lawyer, meets with Poroshenko and Lutsenko, according to a later-released House investigation.

June 9, 2017

Lutsenko’s office joins in an existing investigation into the black ledger, which had been under the control of an independent anti-corruption bureau. Critics allege the effort is intended to stifle the investigation.

June 14, 2017

European reports indicate Poroshenko will meet with Trump in the White House.

June 20, 2017

Poroshenko visits the White House to meet with Vice President Pence, but receives only a brief audience with Trump.

July 25, 2017

Trump tweets about “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign” and asks: “So where is the investigation A.G.” — referring to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

December 20, 2017

The Trump administration approves the sale of lethal arms to Ukraine for the first time.

January 23, 2018

KEY EVENT At an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, Biden describes his pressure campaign in Ukraine. “I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,’ ” Biden says. “Well, son of a b—-. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”

Early April

Ukrainian officials close their Manafort probes and have also decide to stop assisting special counsel Robert S. Mueller III‘s Russia investigation out of concern that doing so would harm their relationship with Trump’s administration and jeopardize military assistance, according to the New York Times.

April 19, 2018

KEY EVENT The Washington Post reports Trump has hired Giuliani as his personal lawyer, initially focused on seeing out the Russia investigation.

April 2018

Two Soviet-born business associates of GiulianiParnas and Igor Fruman, attend an event for a pro-Trump super PAC at Trump’s Washington hotel. While speaking with Trump, they badmouth U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, and Trump immediately suggests she be fired, according to Parnas.

April 30, 2018

Poroshenko announces the first shipment of Javelins from the United States have arrived.

May 1, 2018

Parnas and Fruman meet Trump at the White House, according to later-deleted Facebook photos.

May 4, 2018

Three Democratic senators — Robert Menendez (N.J.), Richard J. Durbin(Ill.) and Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.) — write to Lutsenko, urging him to continue working with Mueller.

May 9, 2018

Parnas posts a photo of him and his business partner David Correia meetingwith Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) in Sessions’s Capitol Hill office. The two men commit to raise $20,000 for Sessions, according to their later indictments.

May 9, 2018

That same day, Pete Sessions writes to the State Department seeking the dismissal of Yovanovitch. Sessions says he has “received notice of concrete evidence” that she had “spoken privately and repeatedly about her disdain for the current Administration.”

May 17, 2018

Parnas and Fruman contribute $325,000 to the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action through a newly formed business named Global Energy Producers, which is supposedly a liquefied natural gas company. In their later indictments, prosecutors will say the funds actually came from a $1.26 million private lending transaction that occurred two days earlier.

May 21, 2018

Parnas posts a picture on Facebook showing him and Fruman at breakfast with Donald Trump Jr. in Beverly Hills, Calif.

December 5, 2018

Giuliani meets with former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, according to a lobbying database. They talk about “security issues, including the escalation of Russia’s war against Ukraine and the US assistance to our country,” according to a Ukrainian report.

Late 2018

Giuliani speaks with Shokin, according to a later-revealed complaint from an anonymous whistleblower.


Giuliani and Lutsenko meet in New York, as Bloomberg News later reports.


Giuliani again meets with Lutsenko, this time in Warsaw, according to the whistleblower.

February 1, 2019

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov tells Yovanovitch that the country is worried about being wrapped up in U.S. political campaigns, according to Yovanovitch’s testimony. He cites the Manafort situation and both the Bidens and Trump’s conspiracy theory involving Ukraine’s role in 2016 election interference.

March 6, 2019

Yovanovitch gives a speech in Ukraine in which she targets Lutsenko. “To ensure the integrity of anticorruption institutions, the Special Anticorruption Prosecutor must be replaced,” she says. “Nobody who has been recorded coaching suspects on how to avoid corruption charges can be trusted to prosecute those very same cases.”

March 20, 2019

In an interview with pro-Trump journalist John SolomonLutsenko alleges that Yovanovitch gave him “a list of people whom we should not prosecute.” The State Department calls the claim an “outright fabrication,” but Trump promotes the story in a tweet. It is later revealed that Parnas facilitated the interview.The whistleblower later notes that Lutsenko was working for the incumbent, Poroshenko, who had been trailing challenger Volodymyr Zelensky in the upcoming March 31 election. Zelensky had pledged to replace Lutsenko. Yovanovitch later speculates, in congressional testimony, that Lutsenko was hoping Trump would endorse Poroshenko.

March 24, 2019

Trump Jr. attacks Yovanovitch on Twitter, saying: “We need more ⁦[Germany Ambassador] @RichardGrenell‘s and less of these jokers as ambassadors.”

March 26, 2019

Giuliani speaks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to State Department emails.

March 29, 2019

Giuliani speaks with Pompeo again, according to the State Department emails. The call lasts about four minutes.

March 31, 2019

The first round of Ukraine’s presidential election is held. Poroshenko and Zelensky head to a runoff.

April 1, 2019

After speaking with Lutsenko, Solomon reports that a probe into Joe Biden’s push to fire Lutsenko’s predecessor is underway. Lutsenko tells Solomon that he wants to present his evidence to Attorney General William P. Barr.


Hunter Biden‘s term as a Burisma board member ends.

April 18, 2019

Lutsenko retracts his claim that Yovanovitch gave him a list of people not to prosecute.

April 18, 2019

Separately, Mueller releases his report on the Russia investigation. Mueller finds no illegal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia but says he decided not to reach a firm conclusion on potential obstruction of justice by Trump. William Barr later opts not to accuse Trump of obstruction, despite extensive evidence laid out in the Mueller report.

April 21, 2019

KEY EVENT Zelensky, a former TV comedian, is elected president of Ukraine with 73 percent of the vote.

Ahead of a Trump phone call with Zelensky, Vindman writes talking points that indicate Trump should bring up “corruption” with the president-elect, according to Vindman’s later testimony, and a White House readout is drafted declaring Trump did so, according to Washington Post reporting. But Trump does not mention corruption on the call, according to a transcript released later by the White House.

April 23, 2019

Giuliani tweets about a Ukrainian investigation into alleged foreign collusion by the Democrats. “Now Ukraine is investigating Hillary campaign and DNC conspiracy with foreign operatives including Ukrainian and others to affect 2016 election,” he says. “And there’s no [former FBI director James B.]Comey to fix the result.”

April 24, 2019

Foreign Service Director General Carol Perez speaks with Yovanovitch at 1 a.m. and urges her to come back to Washington immediately, according to Yovanovitch’s testimony. “I was like, what? What happened?” Yovanovitch would later testify. “And she said, ‘I don’t know, but this is about your security. You need to come home immediately. You need to come home on the next plane.’ ” Once home, she says she meets with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, who informs her that her time as ambassador is being curtailed. “He added that there had been a concerted campaign against me, and that the department had been under pressure from the president to remove me since the Summer of 2018,″ Yovanovitch says in her testimony. “He also said that I had done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause.”

April 25, 2019

In an interview with Fox News, Trump addresses the suggestion that Ukraine interfered in 2016. “I would imagine [William Barr] would want to see this,” he says. “People have been saying this whole — the concept of Ukraine, they have been talking about it actually for a long time.”

April 25, 2019

Joe Biden announces his presidential campaign.

The anti-Biden effort becomes public

May-June 2019

May 1, 2019

KEY EVENT The New York Times publishes a story tying Joe Biden’s pressure campaign in Ukraine to Shokin having investigated Burisma, portraying it as a potential liability in his 2020 campaign.

May 7, 2019

Bloomberg News casts doubt on the Times report, citing Ukrainian officials who say the Burisma investigation had long been dormant when Joe Biden applied pressure on Ukraine’s government.

May 7, 2019

KEY EVENT It is reported that Yovanovitch has been recalled by the State Department, two months before her scheduled departure date. Democrats allege a “political hit job” aimed at creating a pretext to remove her.

May 7, 2019

Zelensky holds a meeting with top advisers that is supposed to be about energy policy. According to AP, though, most of the three-hour meeting winds up being devoted to how to navigate Giuliani‘s efforts and avoid being wrapped up in U.S. politics.

May 9, 2019

KEY EVENT Giuliani tells the New York Times that he will travel to Ukraine to push for investigations related to the Bidens and the 2016 election “because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”

May 11, 2019

Giuliani cancels his Ukraine trip, acceding to the pressure.

May 11, 2019

Separately, Lutsenko and Zelensky meet for two hours, according to the whistleblower, with Lutsenko requesting to stay in his position.

Early May

Former Ukrainian prosecutor Kostiantyn H. Kulyk tells the Times that Yovanovitch had thwarted his efforts to deliver damaging information about the Bidens to the FBI by denying his visa request.

May 13, 2019

William Barr announces a probe into the origins of the Russia investigation, which Trump and his congressional allies had pushed for by alleging a coup attempt. He appoints U.S. attorney John Durham to lead it.


The whistleblower is told that officials, including Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker and Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, had spoken with Giuliani to “contain the damage” he was doing, according to their complaint.


Parnas and Fruman, the Giuliani associates, travel to Ukraine and meet with Sergey Shefir, who later became an aide to Zelensky, and Ivan Bakanov, who is now the head of Ukraine’s secret police. Parnas’s lawyer later claimsParnas told Ukrainian officials that they had to announce the investigations of the Bidens or else Vice President Pence would skip Zelensky’s inauguration and the United States would freeze aid to Ukraine.


Trump tells Pence not to attend Zelensky‘s inauguration, according to the whistleblower. Instead, Energy Secretary Rick Perry attends. The whistleblower says it was “made clear” to them that “the President did not want to meet with Mr. Zelensky until he saw how Zelensky ‘chose to act’ in office.”

May 14, 2019

Giuliani tells a Ukrainian journalist that Yovanovitch was “removed . . . because she was part of the efforts against the president.”

May 16, 2019

Lutsenko says there is no evidence of any wrongdoing by the Bidens.

May 19, 2019

KEY EVENT In an interview with Fox News, Trump explicitly references Biden’s efforts in Ukraine. “Biden, he calls them and says, ‘Don’t you dare persecute, if you don’t fire this prosecutor’ — The prosecutor was after his son,” Trump says. “Then he said, ‘If you fire the prosecutor, you’ll be okay. And if you don’t fire the prosecutor, ‘We’re not giving you $2 billion in loan guarantees,’ or whatever he was supposed to give. Can you imagine if I did that?” Trump makes the allegation even though there was no evidence the investigation focused on any actions by the Bidens.

May 20, 2019

KEY EVENT Zelensky is inaugurated as president of Ukraine. Shortly after his inauguration, Giuliani meets with Lutsenko allies who made the allegations included in Solomon’s reporting.

May 23, 2019

The administration notifies Congress that it intends to release hundreds of millions of dollars worth of aid to Ukraine.

May 23, 2019

At a White House meeting with Trump and acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyPerrySondland and Volker—who later dub themselves the “three amigos” — debrief the president on Zelensky’s inauguration and their views of the new Ukrainian leader. Trump is skeptical, telling them that Ukraine is “not serious about reform” and “tried to take him down,” according to later testimony from Sondland. Trump puts them in charge of a back-channel diplomacy effort in Ukraine, according to the later testimony of Kent, instructing them to “talk with Rudy” as they did so.

May 28, 2019

Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine William B. Taylor Jr. meets with Pompeo, who encourages him to become the top diplomat to Ukraine — also known as a chargé d’affaires. Despite reservations, which he later recounts in his testimony, including about Giuliani, Taylor takes the job, effectively replacing Yovanovitch.

May 29, 2019

Trump sends Zelensky a congratulatory letter inviting him to a White House meeting.

Some time in May

Giuliani meets with a top Ukrainian anti-corruption prosecutor, Nazar Kholodnytsky, in Paris, according to Kholodnytsky. Kholodnytsky, who had clashed with Yovanovitch, has declined to comment on what he and Giuliani discussed, but he said the Burisma investigation should be reopened.

June 13, 2019

KEY EVENT In an interview with ABC News, Trump says he might accept electoral assistance from a foreign government, if offered. “I think you might want to listen, there isn’t anything wrong with listening,” Trump says. “If somebody called from a country, Norway — ‘We have information on your opponent’ — oh, I think I’d want to hear it.” The chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission subsequently points out on Twitter that this would be illegal.

June 18, 2019

The Department of Defense publicly announces $250 million in military aid to Ukraine.

June 19, 2019

Trump begins asking questions about the military aid after seeing news reports, according to the testimony of Office of Management and Budget official Mark Sandy.

June 19, 2019

In an interview with Fox News, Trump again links Ukraine and the effort to hack the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election — a link that the whistleblower and later reporting show does not exist.

June 21, 2019

Giuliani tweets that Zelensky is “still silent on investigation of Ukrainian interference in 2016 election and alleged Biden bribery of Pres Poroshenko.”

June 27, 2019

Sondland tells Taylor that Zelensky needs to make clear to Trump that he is not impeding “investigations,” as Taylor will later testify.

June 28, 2019

SondlandVolkerTaylor and Perry participate in a call ahead of a planned call with Zelensky. According to Taylor, before Zelensky is added to the call, Sondland expresses a desire to keep regular interagency officials off the call. Sondland says he does not want anyone monitoring or transcribing the call, according to Taylor. Also on the call, Volker tells the participants that he intends to be explicit with Zelensky during an upcoming meeting in Toronto about what Zelensky needs to do to secure a White House meeting, according to Taylor. But Volker does not say specifically what he will request.

On the call, it is “made clear that some action on a Burisma/Biden investigation was a precondition for an Oval Office meeting,” Taylor tells one of his aides, David Holmes, according to Holmes’s later testimony.

Internal discord and a presidential call

July-August 2019

July 3, 2019

Aid to Ukraine is put on hold, according to three administration officials. Word of the hold is not widely known until later in the month.

July 10, 2019

KEY EVENT Top Ukrainian defense official Oleksandr Danyliuk meets with SondlandVolkerPerry and White House national security adviser John Bolton in Washington. (Taylor says top Zelensky aide Andriy Yermak was also present.) According to Vindman’s testimony and the testimony of fellow NSC aide Fiona Hill, Bolton cuts the meeting short when Sondland begins requesting specific investigations in exchange for a meeting between Trump and Zelensky. Sondland also states that he coordinated the quid pro quo with Mulvaney, according to Vindman and Hill.

According to Vindman, Sondland in a later meeting emphasizes “the importance that Ukraine deliver the investigations into the 2016 election, the Bidens and Burisma,” and Vindman and Hill both reprimand him for his “inappropriate” requests. Vindman contacts NSC lawyers, according to his testimony, and Hill contacts NSC lawyer John Eisenberg, according to her testimony. According to Taylor, Vindman and Hill tell him later that Bolton said they should have nothing to do with domestic politics and that Hill should “brief the lawyers.” Bolton decries the arrangement as a “drug deal,” according to Hill.

July 10, 2019

Taylor meets in Ukraine with Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andriy Bohdan, and foreign policy adviser Vadym Prystaiko. According to Taylor, they tell him Giuliani had told them a phone call between Trump and Zelensky was unlikely to happen. Taylor relays their disappointment to U.S. officials.

July 12, 2019

Axios reports that Trump and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coatsare at odds, with Trump telling confidants that he wants to remove Coats from his position.

July 18, 2019

KEY EVENT Trump’s decision to withhold nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine is communicated to the State and Defense departments. Members of Congress are told that the hold is part of an “interagency delay.” Taylor later says an Office of Management and Budget official did not explain why, but said that the decision was relayed through Mulvaney.

July 19, 2019

Volker texts Sondland about the upcoming Zelensky call with Trump. “Most impt is for Zelensky to say that he will help investigation,” Volker says.

July 19, 2019

Volker texts Giuliani to connect him with Yermak. Giuliani would later say on Fox News that the State Department had asked for his help. “I didn’t know Mr. Yermak on July 19,” Giuliani said. “You see it right there, 2019 at 4:48 in the afternoon I got a call from Volker. Volker said ‘Would you meet with him? It would be helpful to us. We really want you to do it.’ ” Giuliani added: “They basically knew everything I was doing.”

July 19, 2019

Vindman and Hill inform Taylor that they are not aware of an official change in U.S. policy toward Ukraine, but that Mulvaney is skeptical of the country, according to Taylor’s testimony.

July 20, 2019

Taylor confronts Volker about Hill‘s claim that Volker met with Giuliani, according to Taylor, and Volker does not respond.

July 20, 2019

Sondland tells Taylor that he encouraged Zelensky to tell Trump that he would “leave no stone unturned” when it comes to “investigations,” according to Taylor.

July 20, 2019

Danyliuk tells Taylor that Zelensky does not want to be used as a pawn for a U.S. reelection campaign, also according to Taylor.

July 21, 2019

Taylor relays that concern to Sondland via text. “President Zelensky is sensitive about Ukraine being taken seriously,” he writes, “not merely as an instrument in Washington domestic, reelection politics.”

July 22, 2019

Shokin alleges to The Post that he was removed as prosecutor general over the Biden issue. “I will answer that the activities of Burisma, the involvement of his son, Hunter Biden, and the [prosecutor general’s office] investigators on his tail, are the only — I emphasize, the only — motives for organizing my resignation,” he says. Other Ukrainian officials have said this is untrue.

July 22, 2019

Yermak and Giuliani schedule a meeting in early August, according to Giuliani.

July 23, 2019

The OMB reiterates that aid to Ukraine is suspended.

July 24, 2019

Mueller testifies before Congress about his report and its findings.

July 25, 2019

KEY EVENT Before a scheduled call between Trump and ZelenskyVolkertexts with Yermak and again expresses the importance of Zelensky saying he will launch investigations. For the first time on-record, he also ties this to a potential White House meeting for Zelensky. “Heard from White House-assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington,” Volker says.

That message followed outreach from Sondland who, about half an hour prior, had left Volker a message. Sondland had spoken with Trump that morning and would later testify that he believed Volker’s text to Yermak was a message that he had “likely” received from Trump on that call.

July 25, 2019

KEY EVENT Trump and Zelensky speak. As we later find out from a rough transcript released by the White House, Trump repeatedly notes how “good” the United States is to Ukraine and then proceeds to ask Zelensky to open two investigations. One investigation involves CrowdStrike, an Internet security company that probed the Democratic National Committee hack in 2016, and the other involves the Bidens and Burisma.

“I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it,” Trump says before floating the CrowdStrike investigation.

He later adds: “The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it. . . . It sounds horrible to me.”

Trump repeatedly suggests William Barr will be involved in working with the Ukrainian government on the investigation. Zelensky tells Trump that his yet-to-be-named new prosecutor general “will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue” — apparently referring to Burisma.

Trump says Yovanovitch “was bad news, and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that.” When Zelensky thanks Trump for previously warning him about Yovanovitch, Trump responds: “Well, she’s going to go through some things.”

The Post would later report that at least four national security officials raised concerns about Trump’s Ukraine efforts with a White House lawyer both before and immediately after the Zelensky call. Eisenberg moves a transcript of the call to a classified server that is generally reserved for sensitive national security information, according to multiple witnesses, though Vindman and Morrison said not for nefarious reasons.

July 25, 2019

After the call, Yermak texts Volker back, saying: “Phone call went well. President Trump proposed to choose any convenient dates. President Zelenskiy chose 20,21,22 September for the White House Visit.”

July 25, 2019

State Department staff circulate emails indicating the Ukrainian embassy is asking about U.S. military assistance and appears to be aware of the “situation” involving the aid, according to later testimony by State Department official Laura Cooper.

July 26, 2019

Volker and Sondland travel to Kyiv and meet with Zelensky and other politicians. There, the whistleblower writes, they “reportedly provided advice to the Ukrainian leadership about how to ‘navigate’ the demands that the President had made of” Zelensky. Zelensky tells Volker and Taylor that he was happy with the call and asks about the Oval Office meeting Trump offered in the May 29 letter, according to Taylor’s later testimony.

July 26, 2019

KEY EVENT Holmes, while in Ukraine with Sondland, overhears a phone call between Trump and Sondland, in which Trump inquires about investigations, according to Taylor’s and Holmes’s later testimonies. Sondland later tells Holmes that Trump doesn’t care about Ukraine as a country and that he just wants the investigations, according to Taylor and Holmes. Sondland later says he doesn’t recall mentioning Biden but otherwise doesn’t contradict their testimony.

Days following July 25

The whistleblower writes: “I learned from multiple U.S. officials that senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced — as is customary — by the White House Situation Room. This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.”

The whistleblower claims to have been told by White House officials that they were directed by White House lawyers to move the transcript from the normal documentation archive and to “a separate electronic system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature” — a move one official called an “act of abuse.”

In an appendix, the whistleblower adds that officials said “this was ‘not the first time’ under this Administration that a Presidential transcript was placed into this codeword-level system solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive — rather than national security sensitive — information.”

July 28, 2019

Trump announces that Coats will resign in August.

July 31, 2019

Trump holds a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The call is first reported by the Russians; the White House does not confirm it until late in the evening. The Russians, in a much more substantial readout than the United States, claim Trump and Putin spoke about restoring full diplomatic relations one day.

Early August

Mulvaney asks acting OMB director Russell Vought for an update on the legal rationale for withholding the Ukraine aid and how much longer it could be delayed, according to Washington Post reporting.

August 2, 2019

Giuliani travels to Madrid, where he meets with YermakParnas is also in the meeting, according to YermakAccording to the New York Times, the meeting involves Giuliani encouraging Zelensky‘s government to investigate Hunter Biden.

August 3, 2019

Zelensky says he plans to travel to the United States in September to meet with Trump in Washington.

August 8, 2019

Trump announces Joseph Maguire will take Coats‘s job as director of national intelligence, in an acting capacity. In doing so, he bypasses Sue Gordon, who had been Coats’s No. 2 at the directorate of national intelligence and who was a career intelligence official with bipartisan support. Gordon would later resign.

August 8, 2019

Giuliani tells Fox News that Durham, the Justice Department official investigating the Russia probe’s origins, is “spending a lot of time in Europe” to investigate what happened in Ukraine.

August 9, 2019

Trump says of Zelensky: “I think he’s going to make a deal with President Putin, and he will be invited to the White House. And we look forward to seeing him. He’s already been invited to the White House, and he wants to come. And I think he will. He’s a very reasonable guy. He wants to see peace in Ukraine. And I think he will be coming very soon, actually.”

August 9, 2019

Volker and Sondland text with one another about a statement Ukraine might be asked to issue about the investigations. Sondland also indicates that Trump “really wants the deliverable.” Volker and Sondland consult Giulianiabout what the statement should say.

August 10, 2019

Yermak emphasizes that Ukraine would like to lock down a date for Zelensky‘s visit before making the statement. “I think it’s possible to make this declaration and mention all these things,” Yermak says. “Which we discussed yesterday. But it will be logic to do after we receive a confirmation of date. We inform about date of visit and about our expectations and our guarantees for future visit.”

August 11, 2019

Sondland emails top State Department aides Ulrich BrechbuhlLisa Kenna and says, “Kurt & I negotiated a statement from Ze to be delivered for our review in a day or two. The contents will hopefully make the boss happy enough to authorize an invitation. Ze plans to have a big presser on the openness subject (including specifics) next week.” Kenna responds, “I’ll pass to S. Thank you.”

August 12, 2019

KEY EVENT The whistleblower files a complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community. Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson will later determine the complaint to be credible and a matter of “urgent concern,” which would trigger a legally required disclosure to the House and Senate intelligence committees.

August 13, 2019

Volker and Sondland text about what language should be included in Ukraine’s statement.

August 15, 2019

Coats and Gordon officially leave their positions.

August 16, 2019

Volker tells Taylor via text that Yermak asked the U.S. government to submit an official request for the Burisma investigation, according to Taylor’s later testimony. Taylor gives Volker a deputy assistant attorney general to contact regarding whether such a request would be proper.

August 17, 2019

Sondland asks Volker if “we still want Ze[lensky] to give us an unequivocal draft with 2016 and Boresma [sic]?” Volker responds, “That’s the clear message so far …”

August 21, 2019

Taylor asks Brechbuhl whether there is an official change in U.S. policy toward Ukraine, according to Taylor, and Brechbuhl says there is not.

August 22, 2019

NSC aide Tim Morrison tells Taylor it “remains to be seen” whether U.S. policy toward Ukraine has changed, according to Taylor, and says the “president doesn’t want to provide any assistance at all.”

August 22, 2019

Sondland emails Pompeo and Kenna, saying “Should we block time in Warsaw for a short pull-aside for Potus to meet Zelensky? I would ask Zelensky to look him in the eye and tell him that once Ukraine’s new justice folks are in place ([in] mid-Sept[ember), that Ze should be able to move forward publicly and with confidence on those issues of importance to Potus and to the US. Hopefully, that will break the logjam.” Pompeo replies, “Yes.”

Questions swirl around withheld aid

Early September 2019

August 27, 2019

Bolton meets with Zelensky in Kyiv. According to Taylor, the withheld military aid is not discussed.

August 28, 2019

KEY EVENT Politico posts a story about the Trump administration withholding $250 million in military aid from Ukraine, the first time it has been reported publicly. (Before this point, it was not clear Ukraine even knew the aid was being withheld.)

August 29, 2019

Yermak texts Volker a link to the story and says: “Need to talk with you.” Volker responds: “Hi Andrey — absolutely. When is good for you?” Yermak also contacts Taylor to express his deep concern, according to Taylor, and Taylor says he is “embarrassed” that he has no explanation.

August 29, 2019

Taylor writes a cable to Pompeo, at Bolton‘s urging, decrying the “folly” of withholding the funds at a time when Russia is breathing down Ukraine’s neck.

Late August

Lawmakers raise concerns about Ukraine aid being withheld, citing its importance to defend the former Soviet republic from Russia.

August 30, 2019

Sondland tells Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) that Trump was withholding the Ukraine military aid to “get to the bottom of what happened in 2016 — if President Trump has that confidence, then he’ll release the military spending,” according to Johnson’s later recollection.

August 31, 2019

Johnson tries to get Trump to release the military aid. He later says Trump explained that part of the reason for the delay was his concern about Ukraine’s role in 2016 election interference. “I didn’t succeed,” Johnson explains later. “But the president was very consistent on why he was considering it. Again, it was corruption, overall, generalized — but yeah, no doubt about it, what happened in 2016 — what happened in 2016, as relates? What was the truth about that?”

September 1, 2019

KEY EVENT Sondland tells Yermak at a meeting in Warsaw that the military aid would not arrive until Zelensky promises to pursue the Burisma investigation, as Taylor, Kent, Morrison and Sondland later confirm. Sondland says in clarified testimony that he “presumed” the two issues were connected “in the absence of any [other] credible explanation.” But he emphasizes that Trump did not directly convey it to him and later explicitly denied a quid pro quo.

September 1, 2019

Taylor tells Kent that Sondland had told Yermak that “POTUS wanted nothing less than President Zelensky to go to [a] microphone and say ‘investigations,’ ‘Biden,’ and ‘Clinton,’ ” according to Kent’s later testimony.

September 1, 2019

Zelensky and Pence also meet in Warsaw for a ceremony commemorating World War II. (Trump had originally been slated to attend the ceremony but remained in the United States to monitor Hurricane Dorian.) Taylor informs Danyliuk before the meeting that if the military aid is not released by the end of the month, the funds would expire because that is the end of the fiscal year, according to Taylor.

At the meeting, Pence tells Zelensky he will talk to Trump about the military aid, according to a readout from Morrison that Taylor says he received. Pence also says Trump wants Europe to do more to support Ukraine and that he wants Ukraine to do more to root out corruption, according to Morrison’s readout, as relayed by Taylor.

September 1, 2019

KEY EVENT Taylor texts Sondlandasking: “Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?” Sondland responds, “Call me.” The two speak, according to Taylor, and Sondland explains that Trump wants Zelensky to say publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and the conspiracy theory about Ukraine’s alleged role in the 2016 election interference. Sondland tells Taylor that he regrets not telling Ukrainian officials that “everything” relied on their announcement of the investigations — both a meeting and military aid — according to Taylor.

September 2, 2019

Pence says he did not discuss Biden with Zelensky, but that he did suggest that aid was conditioned on rooting out corruption. “As President Trump had me make clear, we have great concerns about issues of corruption,” Pence said. “The president wants to be assured that those resources are truly making their way to the kind of investments that will contribute to security and stability in Ukraine.”

September 2, 2019

Danyliuk expresses concern to Morrison that U.S. officials are not able to provide answers about the withheld military aid, according to Taylor, and Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk raises similar concerns with Taylor.

September 5, 2019

Johnson and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) meet in Ukraine with Zelensky, with Taylor hosting the meeting. Zelensky’s first question is about the military aid, according to Taylor. Murphy later tells NBC’s Chuck Todd that Zelensky had expressed concerns about Giuliani‘s overtures.

September 5, 2019

KEY EVENT The Post’s editorial board writes that it had been “reliably told” that Trump was “attempting to force Mr. Zelensky to intervene in the 2020 U.S. presidential election by launching an investigation of the leading Democratic candidate, Joe Biden.”

September 7, 2019

Trump tells Sondland that he is not asking for a “quid pro quo” but insists Zelensky make the announcement about the two investigations, according Morrison’s testimony and Taylor’s testimony about his conversations with Morrison. Morrison informs NSC lawyers about the call, according to both of them.

September 8, 2019

Sondland tells Taylor that Trump is adamant that Zelensky “clear things up and do it in public,” according to Taylor. Sondland also tells Taylor that he told Zelensky and Yermak that it wasn’t a quid pro quo, but that if they didn’t “clear things up” publicly, there would be a “stalemate,” according to Taylor.

Sondland also explains to Taylor that Trump is a businessman, and that before a businessman signs a check, he expects someone who owes him something to pay up, according to Taylor. (Taylor said Volker had said something similar.)

September 8, 2019

Taylor texts Volker and Sondland, saying: “The nightmare is they give the interview and don’t get the security assistance. The Russians love it. (And I quit.)”

September 9, 2019

Taylor texts Sondland again about the idea that the military aid is being withheld in some kind of quid pro quo. “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Taylor says.

Sondland speaks with Trump via phone and, during which Trump tells him something similar to, “I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky to do the right thing,” according to Sondland’s testimony.

Sondland then responds to Taylor‘s text, “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.” (Sondland will later explain that he was simply relaying Trump’s denial, rather than vouching for it.)

A whistleblower, a transcript and impeachment

Sept. 9-present

September 9, 2019

The Democrat-controlled House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight committees announce an investigation into Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine and the administration’s decision to halt aid.

Atkinson notifies the House and Senate intelligence committees that a whistleblower has filed a complaint, but he does not reveal its contents or substance.

September 10, 2019

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) writes to Maguire demanding Congress receive the complaint.

September 10, 2019

Trump announces on Twitter that Bolton has resigned. Trump says it came at his request; Bolton quickly counters by saying he offered first.

September 11, 2019

KEY EVENT The Trump administration releases the Ukraine aid it had been withholding. Taylor informs Zelensky and Prystaiko.

September 12, 2019

Taylor becomes worried that Zelensky will announce the investigations in a planned CNN interview he learned about from Sondland, as he later testifies. He tries to confirm with Danyliuk that Zelensky won’t do such an interview, and Danyliuk confirms. Taylor asks the same question of Yermak, whom he later describes as being “uncomfortable” with the question. But Danyliuk again confirms there would be no CNN interview, Taylor later testifies.

September 13, 2019

Schiff subpoenas Maguire to compel him to disclose the whistleblower complaint. According to Schiff, the DNI’s office, in a letter from counsel, indicates the whistleblower complaint is being withheld because of confidential and potentially privileged communications by people outside the intelligence community. It is assumed that this refers to Trump.

September 17, 2019

Maguire says he will not testify or hand over the whistleblower complaint. Schiff says Maguire told him he couldn’t “because he is being instructed not to, that this involved a higher authority, someone above.”

September 18, 2019

The Post reports that the complaint involves Trump’s communications with a foreign leader and some kind of “promise” that was made.

September 18, 2019

Pence holds a call with Zelensky, which U.S. officials tell The Post was somewhat perfunctory. During Vindman’s later public testimony, though, Pence’s office says the call is classified and can’t be discussed in an open setting.

Around Sept. 18 or 19

Zelensky cancels a planned CNN interview, according to the network.

September 19, 2019

Atkinson briefs Congress in a closed-door session, telling them the complaint involved multiple events and not a single communication. The Post reports the complaint involves Ukraine.

September 19, 2019

Giuliani appears on CNN and denies any wrongdoing by Trump. But he also suggests it would be okay if Trump withheld aid in exchange for Ukraine investigating the Bidens. “The reality is the president of the United States has every right to say to another leader of a foreign country, ‘You got to straighten up before we give you a lot of money,’ ” Giuliani says. “It is perfectly appropriate for [Trump] to ask a foreign government to investigate this massive crime that was made by a former vice president.”

September 23, 2019

Trump suggests aid to Ukraine may have been withheld over “corruption” issues — without citing the Bidens. “If you don’t talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?” Trump said. “. . . So it’s very important that, on occasion, you speak to somebody about corruption.”

September 24, 2019

Trump confirms he withheld the funding but suggests it was because other European countries should pay for Ukraine’s military aid. Trump later says he will release a transcript of his phone call with Zelensky.

September 24, 2019

KEY EVENT House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announces her supportfor a formal impeachment inquiry for the first time, setting that process in motion.

September 25, 2019

KEY EVENT The White House releases a rough transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky, including the details described above.

September 25, 2019

Trump meets with Zelensky at the United Nations. Zelensky maintains he didn’t feel “pressure” to pursue investigations and that he didn’t interfere in his country’s law enforcement process. “We have an independent country and independent [prosecutor general],” he says. “I can’t push anyone. That is the answer. I didn’t call somebody or the new [prosecutor general]. I didn’t ask him. I didn’t push him.”

Zelensky also pointedly notes that, despite repeated invitations, Trump has never actually identified a date for a White House visit.

September 26, 2019

KEY EVENT The White House declassifies the whistleblower complaint, and Schiff releases it. The complaint focuses on Trump’s call with Zelensky but also alleges an effort to cover it up and alludes to substantial concern within the administration about Trump’s actions.

At a hearing later that day, Schiff paraphrases the Trump-Zelensky call, prompting criticism from Republicans.

September 26, 2019

Maguire testifies to the House Intelligence Committee that the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel downgraded the inspector general’s determination that the whistleblower complaint was of “urgent concern,” which eliminated the requirement that it be shared with Congress. Democrats allege a conflict of interest, noting that the complaint names William Barr — the head of the Justice Department — as being potentially involved.

September 27, 2019

Volker abruptly resigns.

September 27, 2019

More than 300 former U.S. national security and foreign policy officials sign a statement supporting House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

September 28, 2019

A top Pompeo aide, Michael McKinley, rallies support for a State Department statement strongly defending Yovanovitch, according to his testimony, but department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus informs McKinley that Pompeo decides against releasing such a statement — in part to “not draw undue attention to her.”

October 1, 2019

Pompeo sends House Democrats a letter declaring that five State Department employees who had been summoned for depositions would not appear. Pompeo calls the inquiry “an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly, the distinguished professionals of the Department of State.”

October 2, 2019

The New York Times reports — and The Post confirms — that the whistleblowerhad approached a staffer for Schiff‘s committee early in the process, contradicting some of Schiff’s claims.

October 2, 2019

State Department Inspector General Steve Linick shares with Congress documents that had been sent to the State Department that include conspiracy theories about the Bidens. Giuliani indicates he was responsible for some of the materials, which were apparently sent to State from the White House.

October 3, 2019

Volker submits to a deposition, sharing text messages (as described above) with TaylorSondlandGiuliani and Yermak. He says he never had a quid pro quo communicated to him.

October 3, 2019

“Mr. President, what exactly did you hope Zelensky would do about the Bidens after your phone call?” Trump is asked by a reporter.

“Well,” he replies, “I would think that, if they were honest about it, they’d start a major investigation into the Bidens.  It’s a very simple answer.”

He tells reporters that he also thinks China should launch an investigation involving the Bidens. “And by the way, likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine,” Trump says.

October 3, 2019

Kent confronts State officials about the claims in Pompeo‘s letter, calling them inaccurate, according to his later testimony. He tells one official whose name is redacted: “I said, well, you say that the career foreign services are being intimidated. . . . And I asked him, about whom are you speaking? And he said, you’re asking me to reveal confidential information. And I said, no, I’m not. There are only two career Foreign Service officers who subject to this process. I’m one of them. I’m the only one working at the Department of State, and the other one is Ambassador Yovanovitch, who is teaching at Georgetown.”

October 3, 2019

The State Department informs Congress that it has approved the sale of 150 Javelin antitank missiles to Ukraine — a type of weaponry Zelensky mentioned on the July 25 call with Trump — at a cost of $39.2 million.

October 6, 2019

Lawyers for the whistleblower indicate they are representing a second whistleblower — this one with firsthand knowledge of some of the key events. They say the second whistleblower has spoken with Atkinson.

October 8, 2019

After blocking Sondland‘s testimony, White House counsel Pat Cipolloneinforms Congress that the White House will not cooperate with any facet of its impeachment inquiry, making curious arguments about the lack of “due process.”

October 10, 2019

Giuliani‘s two Soviet-born business associates, Parnas and Fruman, are arrested shortly before they are set to leave the country. They are indicted on campaign finance charges, with the Southern District of New York accusing them of funneling foreign money into U.S. politics to influence U.S.-Ukraine relations.

October 10, 2019

McKinley resigns over Pompeo‘s alleged failure to support State Department officials ensnared in the Ukraine controversy.

October 11, 2019

Yovanovitch testifies to Congress, alleging a politicized effort to remove her as ambassador to Ukraine.

October 12, 2019

The Post reports Sondland will tell Congress that his Sept. 9 text message stating there was no quid pro quo between Trump and Ukraine was based on assurances from Trump and that he is not certain Trump’s denial was accurate. Trump and his allies had hailed Sondland’s text as proof there was no quid pro quo.

October 14, 2019

Hill testifies.

October 15, 2019

Kent testifies.

October 16, 2019

McKinley testifies and explains his resignation. “I was disturbed by the implication that foreign governments were being approached to procure negative information on political opponents,” McKinley says. “I was convinced that this would also have a serious impact on Foreign Service morale and the integrity of our work overseas.”

October 17, 2019

Sondland testifies, saying any pressure he applied on Ukraine to investigate Burisma came before he knew the case involved the Bidens. (He claims this despite Giuliani‘s efforts and the Bidens’ proximity to them being in the news by early May.) Sondland says he is making that distinction “because I believe I testified that it would be improper” to push for such political investigations. Asked whether it would be illegal, Sondland says: “I’m not a lawyer, but I assume so.”

October 17, 2019

Trump announces Perry will resign by the end of the year.

October 17, 2019

KEY EVENT Mulvaney in a news conference momentarily confirms a quid pro quo with Ukraine. “[Did Trump] also mention to me, in the past, that the corruption related to the DNC server?” Mulvaney said. “Absolutely, no question about that. But that’s it. And that’s why we held up the money. . . . The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation. And that is absolutely appropriate.” Mulvaney later issues a statement trying to reverse course, saying there actually was no connection.

October 22, 2019

Taylor testifies.

October 23, 2019

Cooper testifies, but not before the proceedings are delayed for five hours as House Republicans storm the secure room where the depositions are being held. The Republicans expressed concern about the secrecy of the process.

October 29, 2019

Vindman testifies.

October 30, 2019

State Department officials Catherine Croft and Christopher Andersontestify separately, describing the dim view of Ukraine taken by Trump and those around him.

October 30, 2019

In his confirmation hearing to become ambassador to Russia, Sullivan says he was aware of a “smear” campaign against Yovanovitch and that he believed Giuliani was a part of it. He also says it was appropriate to remove Yovanovitch, though, because Trump had lost confidence in her.

October 31, 2019

Morrison testifies, corroborating Taylor‘s testimony that Sondlandcommunicated a quid pro quo to Ukraine. Morrison says he raised concerns about Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky, but that he did not think it contained anything illegal.

October 31, 2019

The House votes to formalize its impeachment inquiry and open up its hearings, amid GOP criticism that the process was too secretive. No House Republicans vote in favor of the inquiry, and two Democrats vote against it.

November 4, 2019

The House releases the first of the closed-door deposition transcripts, from Yovanovitch and McKinley.

November 4, 2019

Sondland clarifies his testimony to acknowledge he communicated the quid pro quo to Ukraine on July 10, but that he was acting on what he presumed to be the case rather than a direct order from Trump.

November 5, 2019

The House releases Sondland’s and Volker’s depositions, including the clarification.

November 6, 2019

The House releases Taylor’s deposition.

November 7, 2019

The House releases Kent’s deposition.

November 8, 2019

The House releases Vindman’s and Hill’s depositions.

November 8, 2019

Bolton‘s lawyer tells Congress in a letter that his client was “part of many relevant meetings and conversations” pertaining to the impeachment inquiry that aren’t yet public, but reinforces that Bolton will appear only if ordered to by a judge.

November 10, 2019

Parnas‘s lawyer discloses the quid pro quo he allegedly communicated to Ukrainian officials in May.

November 13, 2019

Taylor and Kent testify in an open hearing.

November 15, 2019

Yovanovitch testifies in an open hearing, during which Trump tweets an attack on her. “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” he said. “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.” Democrats accuse Trump of witness intimidation.

Holmes testifies in a closed deposition.

November 19, 2019

Vindman, Williams, Volker and Morrison testify in two consecutive open hearings.

November 20, 2019

Sondland testifies in an open hearing, in which he says top administration officials including Pence and Pompeo were aware of the quid pro quo and that it was clear Giuliani was acting on Trump’s wishes when he pushed for it. Sondland’s testimony is followed by Hale and Cooper in their own hearing.

November 21, 2019

Hill and Holmes round out the public impeachment hearings. Hill criticizes efforts by Republicans to draw an equivalence between Russia’s interference in 2016 and the actions of Ukrainians during the campaign. Holmes notes that the pressure felt by Ukraine during its interactions with Trump since Zelensky’s inauguration is on-going, given that Ukraine still seeks to demonstrate that it maintains the U.S.’ support.

Moscow Trials

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The Moscow Trials were a series of show trials held in the Soviet Union at the instigation of Joseph Stalin between 1936 and 1938 against Trotskyists and members of Right Opposition of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. There were three Moscow Trials: the Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center (ZinovievKamenev Trial, aka “Trial of the Sixteen,” 1936), the Case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyist Center (PyatakovRadek Trial, 1937), and the Case of the Anti-Soviet “Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites” (BukharinRykov Trial, aka “Trial of the Twenty-One,” 1938). The defendants of these were Old Bolshevik party leaders and top officials of the Soviet secret police. Most defendants were charged under Article 58 of the RSFSR Penal Code with conspiring with the Western powers to assassinate Stalin and other Soviet leaders, dismember the Soviet Union, and restore capitalism.

The Moscow Trials led to the execution of many of the defendants. They are generally seen as part of Stalin’s Great Purge, an attempt to rid the party of current or prior oppositionists, especially but not exclusively Trotskyists, and any leading Bolshevik cadre from the time of the Russian Revolution or earlier, who might even potentially become a figurehead for the growing discontent in the Soviet populace resulting from Stalin’s mismanagement of the economy.[1] Stalin’s hasty industrialization during the period of the First Five Year Plan and the brutality of the forced agricultural collectivization had led to an acute economic and political crisis in 1928-33, a part of the global problem known as the Great Depression, and to enormous suffering on the part of the Soviet workers and peasants. Stalin was acutely conscious of this fact and took steps to prevent it taking the form of an opposition inside the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to his increasingly totalitarian rule.[1]



Grigory ZinovievLev Kamenev, and Joseph Stalin formed a ruling triumvirate in early 1923[2] after Vladimir Lenin had become incapacitated from a stroke. In the context of the series of defeats of communist revolutions abroad (crucially the German revolutions of 1919 but also later the Chinese Revolution of 1927) which left the Russian Revolution increasingly isolated in a backward country, the triumvirate was able to effect the marginalization of Leon Trotsky in an internal party political conflict over the issue of Stalin’s theory of Socialism in One Country. It was Trotsky who most clearly represented the wing of the CPSU leadership which claimed that the survival of the revolution depended on the spread of communism to the advanced European economies especially Germany. This was expressed in his theory of permanent revolution.[3]

A few years later, Zinoviev and Kamenev joined the United Front in an alliance with Trotsky which favored Trotskyism and opposed Stalin specifically.[4] Consequently, Stalin allied with Nikolai Bukharin and defeated Trotsky in a power struggle. Trotsky was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1929 and Kamenev and Zinoviev temporarily lost their membership in the Communist Party. Zinoviev and Kamenev, in 1932, were found to be complicit in the Ryutin Affair and again were temporarily expelled from the Communist Party. In December 1934, Sergei Kirov was assassinated and, subsequently 15 defendants were found guilty of direct, or indirect, involvement in the crime and were executed.[5] Zinoviev and Kamenev were found to be morally complicit in Kirov’s murder and were sentenced to prison terms of ten and five years, respectively.[6]

Both Kamenev and Zinoviev had been secretly tried in 1935 but it appears that Stalin decided that, with suitable confessions, their fate could be used for propaganda purposes. Genrikh Yagoda oversaw the interrogation proceedings.

Anti-Soviet Trotskyist Center

Conspiracy and investigation

In December 1935, the original case surrounding Zinoviev began to widen into what was called the Trotsky-Zinoviev Center.[7] Stalin allegedly received reports that correspondences from Trotsky were found among the possessions of one of those arrested in the widened probe.[8] Consequently, Stalin stressed the importance of the investigation and ordered Nikolai Yezhov to take over the case and ascertain if Trotsky was involved.[8] The central office of NKVD that was headed by Genrikh Yagoda was shocked when it was known that Yezhov (at that time a mere party functionary)[a][9] has discovered the conspiracy,[9] due to the fact that they (NKVD) had no relations to the case.[9] This would have led to inevitable conclusion about unprofessionalism of the NKVD leaders who completely missed the existence of the conspiratorial Trotskyist center.[9] In June 1936, Yagoda reiterated his belief to Stalin that there was no link between Trotsky and Zinoviev, but Stalin promptly rebuked him.[10] Bewilderment was strengthened by the fact that both Zinoviev and Kamenev for a long time were under constant operational surveillance and after the murder of Kirov were held in custody.[9] A key role in investigating played a chief of the Secret-political department of the NKVD Main Directory of State Security (a predecessor of KGB), State Security Commissar of the 2nd Class Georgiy Molchanov.[9]

The basis of the scenario was laid in confession testimonies of three arrested: NKVD agent Valentin Olberg (ru:Ольберг, Валентин Павлович) who was teaching at the Gorky Pedagogic Institute and two former participants of the internal party opposition and Soviet statesmen Isaak Rejngold and Richard Pikel.[9] Wherein Rejngold firmly believed that participating in the case fabrication about mythical conspiracy he executes the party’s task.[9] In relation to their composition, the testimonies looked standard conspiratorial activity, murder of Kirov, preparation to assassination attempts against the leaders of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, seizure of power in the Soviet Union with the aim of “restoration of capitalism”.[9]

In July 1936, Zinoviev and Kamenev were brought to Moscow from an unspecified prison.[10] They were interrogated and denied being part of any Trotsky-led conspiracy.[11] Yezhov appealed to Zinoviev’s and Kamenev’s devotion to the Soviet Union as old Bolsheviks and advised them that Trotsky was fomenting anti-Soviet sentiment amongst the proletariat in the world. Throughout spring and summer of 1936 the investigators were requesting from the arrested “to lay down arms in front the party” exerting a continuous pressure on them.[9] Furthermore, this loss of support, in the event of a war with Germany or Japan, could have disastrous ramifications for the Soviet Union.[12] To Kamenev specifically, Yezhov showed him evidence that his son was subject to an investigation that could result in his son’s execution.[13] According to one witness, at the beginning of the summer the central heating was turned on in Zinoviev’s and Kamenev’s cells. This was very unpleasant for both prisoners but particularly Zinoviev who was asthmatic and couldn’t tolerate the artificially increased temperatures.[9] Finally the exhausted prisoners agreed to a deal with Stalin who promised them, on the behalf of Politburo, their lives in exchange for participation in the anti-Trotskyist spectacle.[9] Kamenev and Zinoviev agreed to confess on condition that they receive a direct guarantee from the entire Politburo that their lives and those of their families and followers would be spared. When they were taken to the supposed Politburo meeting, they were met by only Stalin and Kliment Voroshilov.[13] Stalin explained that they were the “commission” authorized by the Politburo, and Stalin agreed to their conditions in order to gain their desired confessions.[14] After that the future defendants were given some medical treatment and food.[9]

The Trial (aka Trial of the Sixteen)

The trial was held from August 19 to August 24, 1936 in the small October Hall of the House of the Unions (chosen instead of the larger Hall of Columns, used for earlier trials)[15] and there were 16 defendants.[16]

The main charge was forming a terror organization with the purpose of killing Joseph Stalin and other members of the Soviet government. They were tried by the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR, with Vasili Ulrikh presiding. The Prosecutor General was Andrei Vyshinsky, a former member of the Mensheviks who in 1917 had signed an order to arrest Lenin.[17]

Defendant Ivan Nikitich Smirnov was blamed by his co-defendants for being the leader of the Center which planned Kirov’s assassination. He, however, had been in prison since January 1933 and refused to confess.[18]

Another defendant, the Old Bolshevik Eduard Holtzman, was accused at the Trial of the 16 of conspiring with Trotsky in Copenhagen at the Hotel Bristol in 1932, where Trotsky was giving a public lecture. A week after the trial it was revealed by a Danish Social Democratic newspaper that the hotel had been demolished in 1917.[19]

All the defendants were sentenced to death and were subsequently shot in the cellars of Lubyanka Prison in Moscow.[citation needed]

The full list of defendants is as follows:

  1. Grigory Zinoviev
  2. Lev Kamenev
  3. Grigory Yevdokimov
  4. Ivan Bakayev
  5. Sergei Mrachkovsky, a hero of the Russian Civil War in Siberia and the Russian Far East
  6. Vagarshak Arutyunovich Ter-Vaganyan, leader of the Armenian Communist Party
  7. Ivan Nikitich SmirnovPeople’s Commissar for communications
  8. Yefim Dreitzer
  9. Isak Reingold
  10. Richard Pickel
  11. Eduard Holtzman
  12. Fritz David
  13. Valentin Olberg
  14. Konon Berman-Yurin
  15. Moissei Lurye
  16. Nathan Lurye

Parallel anti-Soviet Trotskyist Center

Prosecutor General Vyshinskiy (centre), reading the indictment, in 1937

The second trial occurred between January 23 and January 30, 1937.[20]

This second trial involved 17 lesser figures including Karl RadekYuri Pyatakov and Grigory SokolnikovAlexander Beloborodov was also arrested and intended to be tried along with Radek, but did not make the confession required of him, and so he was not produced in court. Thirteen of the defendants were eventually executed by shooting. The rest received sentences in labour camps.[21][22] Radek was spared as he implicated others, including Nikolai BukharinAlexei Rykov, and Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky, setting the stage for the Trial of Military and Trial of the Twenty One.

Radek provided the pretext for the purge on a massive scale with his testimony that there was a “third organization separate from the cadres which had passed through [Trotsky’s] school”[23] as well as “semi-Trotskyites, quarter-Trotskyites, one-eighth-Trotskyites, people who helped us, not knowing of the terrorist organization but sympathizing with us, people who from liberalism, from a Fronde against the Party, gave us this help.”[24]

By the third organization, he meant the last remaining former opposition group called Rightists led by Bukharin, whom he implicated by saying: “I feel guilty of one thing more: even after admitting my guilt and exposing the organisation, I stubbornly refused to give evidence about Bukharin. I knew that Bukharin’s situation was just as hopeless as my own, because our guilt, if not juridically, then in essence, was the same. But we are close friends, and intellectual friendship is stronger than other friendships. I knew that Bukharin was in the same state of upheaval as myself. That is why I did not want to deliver him bound hand and foot to the People’s Commissariat of Home Affairs. Just as in relation to our other cadres, I wanted Bukharin himself to lay down his arms.”[23]

At the time, many Western observers who attended the trials said that they were fair and that the guilt of the accused had been established. They based this assessment on the confessions of the accused, which were freely given in open court, without any apparent evidence that they had been extracted by torture or drugging. Joseph E. Davies, the U.S. ambassador, wrote in Mission to Moscow:

In view of the character of the accused, their long terms of service, their recognized distinction in their profession, their long-continued loyalty to the Communist cause, it is scarcely credible that their brother officers … should have acquiesced in their execution, unless they were convinced that these men had been guilty of some offense.[*] It is generally accepted by members of the Diplomatic Corps that the accused must have been guilty of an offense which in the Soviet Union would merit the death penalty.

* The Bukharin trial six months later developed evidence which, if true, more than justified this action. Undoubtedly those facts were all full known to the military court at this time.[25]

Trial of the Generals and the Tukhachevsky Affair

The Tukhachevsky Affair was a secret trial before a military tribunal of a group of Red Army generals, including Mikhail Tukhachevsky, in June 1937.

It featured the same type of frame-up of the defendants and it is traditionally considered one of the key trials of the Great PurgeMikhail Tukhachevsky and the senior military officers Iona YakirIeronim UborevichRobert EidemanAugust KorkVitovt PutnaBoris Feldman, and Vitaly Primakov were accused of anti-Communist conspiracy and sentenced to death; they were executed on the night of June 11/12, immediately after the verdict delivered by a Special Session of the Supreme Court of the USSR. This trial triggered a massive purge of the Red Army.

Trial of the Twenty-One

The third show trial, in March 1938, known as The Trial of the Twenty-One, tied together all the loose threads from earlier trials. It included 21 defendants alleged to belong to the so-called “Bloc of Rightists and Trotskyites”:

  1. Nikolai Bukharin – Marxist theoretician, former head of Communist International and member of Politburo
  2. Alexei Rykov – former premier and member of Politburo
  3. Nikolai Krestinsky – former member of Politburo and ambassador to Germany
  4. Christian Rakovsky – former ambassador to Great Britain and France
  5. Genrikh Yagoda – former head of NKVD
  6. Arkady Rosengolts – former People’s Commissar for Foreign Trade
  7. Vladimir Ivanov – former People’s Commissar for Timber Industry
  8. Mikhail Alexandrovich Chernov – former People’s Commissar for Agriculture
  9. Grigori Grinko – former People’s Commissar for Finance
  10. Isaac Zelensky – former Secretary of Central Committee
  11. Sergei Bessonov
  12. Akmal Ikramov – Uzbek leader
  13. Fayzulla Khodzhayev – Uzbek leader
  14. Vasily Sharangovich – former first secretary in Belorussia
  15. Prokopy Zubarev
  16. Pavel Bulanov – NKVD officer
  17. Lev Levin – Kremlin doctor
  18. Dmitry Pletnyov – Kremlin doctor
  19. Ignaty Kazakov – Kremlin doctor
  20. Venyamin Maximov-Dikovsky
  21. Pyotr Kryuchkov

The fact that Yagoda was one of the accused showed the speed at which the purges were consuming its own. Meant to be the culmination of previous trials, it now alleged that Bukharin and others had conspired to assassinate Lenin and Stalin numerous times after 1918 and had murdered Soviet writer Maxim Gorky by poison in 1936. The group also stood accused of espionage. Bukharin and others were claimed to have plotted the overthrow and territorial partition of the Soviet Union in collusion with agents of the German and Japanese governments, among other preposterous charges.

Even sympathetic observers who had stomached the earlier trials found it hard to swallow the new charges as they became ever more absurd, and the purge had now expanded to include virtually every living Old Bolshevik leader except Stalin.

The preparation for this trial was delayed in its early stages due to the reluctance of some party members to denounce their comrades. It was at this time that Stalin personally intervened to speed up the process and replaced Yagoda with Yezhov. Stalin also observed some of the trial in person from a hidden chamber in the courtroom. On the first day of the trial, Krestinsky caused a sensation when he repudiated his written confession and pleaded not guilty to all the charges. However, he changed his plea the next day after “special measures”, which dislocated his left shoulder among other things.[26]

Anastas Mikoyan and Vyacheslav Molotov later claimed that Bukharin was never tortured, but it is now known that his interrogators were given the order, “beating permitted,” and were under great pressure to extract confessions out of the “star” defendant. Bukharin held out for three months, but threats to his young wife and infant son, combined with “methods of physical influence” wore him down. But when he read his confession, amended and corrected personally by Stalin, he withdrew his whole confession. The examination started all over again, with a double team of interrogators.[27]

Bukharin’s confession in particular became the subject of much debate among Western observers, inspiring Koestler’s novel Darkness at Noon and a philosophical essay by Maurice Merleau-Ponty in Humanism and Terror among others. His confessions were somewhat different from others in that, while he pleaded guilty to general charges, he denied knowledge of any specific crimes. Some astute observers noted that he would allow only what was in his written confession and refused to go any further. The fact that he was allowed to write in prison (he wrote four book-length manuscripts including an autobiographical novel, How It All Began, a philosophical treatise, and a collection of poems – all of which were found in Stalin’s archive and published in the 1990s) suggests that some kind of deal was reached as a condition for his confession. He also wrote a series of emotional letters to Stalin, protesting his innocence and professing his love for Stalin, which contrasts with his critical opinion of Stalin and his policies as expressed to others and with his conduct in the trial.

There are several possible interpretations of Bukharin’s motivation (besides coercion) in the trial. Koestler and others viewed it as a true believer’s last service to the Party (while preserving a modicum of personal honor), whereas Bukharin’s biographers Stephen Cohen and Robert Tucker saw traces of Aesopian language, with which Bukharin sought to turn the tables and conduct a trial of Stalinism (while still keeping his part of the bargain to save his family). Bukharin himself speaks of his “peculiar duality of mind” in his last plea, which led to “semi-paralysis of the will” and Hegelian “unhappy consciousness“.

The result was a curious mix of fulsome confessions and subtle criticisms of the trial. After disproving several charges against him (one observer noted that he proceeded to demolish, or rather showed he could very easily demolish, the whole case[28]), Bukharin said that “the confession of the accused is not essential. The confession of the accused is a medieval principle of jurisprudence”, his point being that the trial was solely based on coerced confessions. He finished his last plea with “the monstrousness of my crime is immeasurable, especially in the new stage of the struggle of the U.S.S.R. May this trial be the last severe lesson, and may the great might of the U.S.S.R. become clear to all.”[29]

Romain Rolland and others wrote to Stalin seeking clemency for Bukharin, but all the leading defendants were executed except Rakovsky and two others (they were killed in prison in 1941). Despite the promise to spare his family, Bukharin’s wife, Anna Larina, was sent to a labor camp, but she survived.


Communist Party leaders in most Western countries denounced criticism of the trials as capitalist attempts to subvert Communism.[30]

A number of American communists and progressive “fellow travellers” outside of the Soviet Union signed a Statement of American Progressives on the Moscow Trials. These included Langston Hughes[31] and Stuart Davis,[32] who would later express regrets.

Some contemporary observers who thought the trials were inherently fair cite the statements of Molotov, who while conceding that some of the confessions contain unlikely statements, said there may have been several reasons or motives for this – one being that the handful who made doubtful confessions were trying to undermine the Soviet Union and its government by making dubious statements in their confessions to cast doubts on their trial. Molotov postulated that a defendant might invent a story that he collaborated with foreign agents and party members to undermine the government so that those members would falsely come under suspicion, while the false foreign collaboration charge would be believed as well. Thus, the Soviet government was in his view the victim of false confessions. Nonetheless, he said the evidence of mostly out-of-power Communist officials conspiring to make a power grab during a moment of weakness in the upcoming war truly existed.[citation needed] This defense collapsed after the release of Khrushchev’s Secret Speech to the Twentieth Congress.

In Britain, the lawyer and Labour MP Denis Nowell Pritt, for example, wrote: “Once again the more faint-hearted socialists are beset with doubts and anxieties,” but “once again we can feel confident that when the smoke has rolled away from the battlefield of controversy it will be realized that the charge was true, the confessions correct and the prosecution fairly conducted”, while socialist thinker Beatrice Webb “was pleased that Stalin had ‘cut out the dead wood'”.[33] Communist Party leader Harry Pollitt, in the Daily Worker of March 12, 1936, told the world that “the trials in Moscow represent a new triumph in the history of progress”. The article was ironically illustrated by a photograph of Stalin with Yezhov, himself shortly to vanish and his photographs airbrushed from history by NKVD archivists.[34]

In the United States, left-wing advocates such as Corliss Lamont and Lillian Hellman also denounced criticism of the Moscow trials, signing An Open Letter To American Liberals in support of the trials for the March 1937 issue of Soviet Russia Today.[35] In the political atmosphere of the 1930s, the accusation that there was a conspiracy to destroy the Soviet Union was not incredible, and few outside observers were aware of the events inside the Communist Party that had led to the purge and the trials.

However, the Moscow trials were generally viewed negatively by most Western observers including many liberals. The New York Times noted the absurdity in an editorial on March 1, 1938: “It is as if twenty years after Yorktown somebody in power at Washington found it necessary for the safety of the State to send to the scaffold Thomas Jefferson, Madison, John Adams, Hamilton, Jay and most of their associates. The charge against them would be that they conspired to hand over the United States to George III.”[36]

For Bertram Wolfe, the outcome of the Bukharin trial marked his break with Stalinism.[37]

In May 1937, the Commission of Inquiry into the Charges Made against Leon Trotsky in the Moscow Trials, commonly known as the Dewey Commission, was set up in the United States by supporters of Trotsky, to establish the truth about the trials. The commission was headed by the noted American philosopher and educator John Dewey, who led a delegation to Mexico, where Trotsky lived, to interview him and hold hearings from April 10 to April 17, 1937. The hearings were conducted to investigate the allegations against Trotsky who publicly stated in advance of them that if the commission found him guilty as charged he would hand himself over to the Soviet authorities. They brought to light evidence which established that some of the specific charges made at the trials could not be true.

The Dewey Commission published its findings in the form of a 422-page book titled Not Guilty. Its conclusions asserted the innocence of all those condemned in the Moscow Trials. In its summary the commission wrote: “Independent of extrinsic evidence, the Commission finds:

  • That the conduct of the Moscow Trials was such as to convince any unprejudiced person that no attempt was made to ascertain the truth.
  • That while confessions are necessarily entitled to the most serious consideration, the confessions themselves contain such inherent improbabilities as to convince the Commission that they do not represent the truth, irrespective of any means used to obtain them.”
  • That Trotsky never instructed any of the accused or witnesses in the Moscow trials to enter into agreements with foreign powers against the Soviet Union [and] that Trotsky never recommended, plotted, or attempted the restoration of capitalism in the USSR.

The commission concluded: “We therefore find the Moscow Trials to be frame-ups.”

For example, in Moscow, Pyatakov had testified that he had flown to Oslo in December 1935 to “receive terrorist instructions” from Trotsky. The Dewey Commission established that no such flight had taken place.

In Britain, the trials were also subject to criticism. A group called the British Provisional Committee for the Defence of Leon Trotsky was set up. In 1936, the Committee published an open letter in the Manchester Guardian calling for an international inquiry into the Trials. The letter was signed by several notable figures, including H. N. BrailsfordHarry WicksConrad NoelFrank Horrabin and Eleanor Rathbone.[38][39] The Committee also supported the Dewey Commission. Emrys Hughes, the British MP, also attacked the Moscow Trials as unjust in his newspaper Forward.[38]


All of the surviving members of the Lenin-era party leadership except Stalin and Trotsky, were tried. By the end of the final trial Stalin had arrested and executed almost every important living Bolshevik from the Revolution. Of 1,966 delegates to the party congress in 1934, 1,108 were arrested. Of 139 members of the Central Committee, 98 were arrested. Three out of five Soviet marshals (Alexander Ilyich YegorovVasily BlyukherTukhachevsky) and several thousands of the Red Army officers were arrested or shot. The key defendant, Leon Trotsky, was living in exile abroad, but he still did not survive Stalin’s desire to have him dead and was assassinated by a Soviet agent in Mexico in 1940.

While Khrushchev’s Secret Speech denounced Stalin’s personality cult and purges as early as 1956, rehabilitation of Old Bolsheviks proceeded at a slow pace. Nikolai Bukharin and 19 other co-defendants were officially completely rehabilitated in February 1988. Yagoda, who was deeply involved in the great purge as the head of NKVD, was not included. In May 1988, rehabilitation of Zinoviev, Kamenev, Radek, and co-defendants was announced.

After the death of Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev repudiated the trials in a speech to the Twentieth Congress of the Russian Communist Party:

The commission has become acquainted with a large quantity of materials in the NKVD archives and with other documents and has established many facts pertaining to the fabrication of cases against Communists, to glaring abuses of Socialist legality which resulted in the death of innocent people. It became apparent that many party, Government and economic activists who were branded in 1937–38 as ‘enemies,’ were actually never enemies, spies, wreckers, etc., but were always honest Communists … They were only so stigmatized and often, no longer able to bear barbaric tortures, they charged themselves (at the order of the investigative judges – falsifiers) with all kinds of grave and unlikely crimes.[40]

It is now known that the confessions were given only after great psychological pressure and torture had been applied to the defendants. From the accounts of former GPU officer Alexander Orlov and others the methods used to extract the confessions are known: repeated beatings, torture, making prisoners stand or go without sleep for days on end, and threats to arrest and execute the prisoners’ families. For example, Kamenev’s teenage son was arrested and charged with terrorism. After months of such interrogation, the defendants were driven to despair and exhaustion.[41]

In January 1989, the official newspaper Pravda reported that 25,000 persons had been posthumously rehabilitated.

The trials in literature

See also




Primary sources

Secondary sources

  • Conquest, Robert (1990). The Great Terror: A Reassessment. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505580-2.
  • Leno, Matthew L. (2010). The Kirov Murder and Soviet History. New Haven: Yale University Press ISBN 978-0-300-11236-8.
  • Orlov, Alexander (1953). The Secret History of Stalin’s Crimes. Random House, Inc.
  • Redman, Joseph, The British Stalinists and the Moscow Trials. Labour Review Vol. 3 No. 2, March–April 1958
  • Rogovin, Vadim Z. (1998). 1937: Stalin’s Year of Terror. Oak Park, MI: Mehring Books, Inc. ISBN 0-929087-77-1.
  • Snyder, Timothy (2010). Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-00239-9.
  • Tucker, Robert C. (1973). Stalin as Revolutionary, 1879–1929: A Study in History and Personality. New York: Norton. ISBN 0-393-05487-X.
  • Wolfe, Bertram David (1990). Breaking with Communism: The Intellectual Odyssey of Bertram D. Wolfe. Stanford: Hoover Institution Press. ISBN 0-8179-8881-5.

Further reading

  • Getty, J. Arch and Naumov, Oleg V. (2010). The Road to Terror: Stalin and the Self-destruction of the Bolsheviks, 1932–1939. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-10407-3.
  • Goldman, Wendy Z. (2011). Inventing the Enemy: Denunciation and Terror in Stalin’s Russia. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-19196-8.

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The Pronk Pops Show 1376, January 13, 2019, Story 1: U-3 Unemployment Rate 3.5%, U-6 Unemployment Rate 6.8% and 145,000 Non-farm Payroll Jobs Created in December 2019 — Labor Participation Rate Stuck at 63.3% — Not In Labor Force 95,625,000 — Videos — Story 2: Global Long Term (Secular) Stagnation, Excess Capacity and Massive Debt Levels — Videos — Story 3: The Peace and Prosperity President Trump With A Non-interventionist Foreign and Domestic Policies — Back To Realpolitik with Offshore Balancing? — Videos

Posted on January 13, 2020. Filed under: 2020 President Candidates, 2020 Republican Candidates, American History, Banking System, Benghazi, Bill Clinton, Blogroll, Breaking News, Bribery, Bribes, Budgetary Policy, China, Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy, Coal, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Cruise Missiles, Culture, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Drones, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Environment, European History, European Union, Fast and Furious, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ), Fifth Amendment, First Amendment, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Fourth Amendment, France, Free Trade, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Great Britain, Health, High Crimes, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, House of Representatives, Housing, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Impeachment, Independence, Iraq, Islam, Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic State, Israel, Japan, Labor Economics, Language, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Lying, Media, Mental Illness, Mike Pompeo, MIssiles, Monetary Policy, Natural Gas, News, Nuclear Weapons, Obama, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Progressives, Public Corruption, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Religion, Resources, Rule of Law, Scandals, Second Amendment, Security, Senate, Social Security, Spying, Spying on American People, Success, Surveillance and Spying On American People, Surveillance/Spying, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Terror, Terrorism, Trade Policy, Transportation, Trump Surveillance/Spying, Turkey, Ukraine, Unemployment, United States Constitution, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |



The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1376 January 13, 2020

Pronk Pops Show 1375 December 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1374 December 12, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1373 December 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1372 December 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1371 December 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1370 December 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1369 December 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1368 December 4, 2019 

Pronk Pops Show 1367 December 3, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1366 December 2, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1365 November 22, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1364 November 21, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1363 November 20, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1362 November 19, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1361 November 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1360 November 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1359 November 14, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1358 November 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1357 November 12, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1356 November 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1355 November 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1354 November 7, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1353 November 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1352 November 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1351 November 4, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1350 November 1, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1349 October 31, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1348 October 30, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1347 October 29, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1346 October 28, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1345 October 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1344 October 18, 2019

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Pronk Pops Show 1341 October 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1340 October 14, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1339 October 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1338 October 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1337 October 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1336 October 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1335 October 7, 2019

 Pronk Pops Show 1334 October 4, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1333 October 3, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1332 October 2, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1331 October 1, 2019


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Story 1: U-3 Unemployment Rate 3.5%, U-6 Unemployment Rate 6.8% and 145,000 Non-farm Payroll Jobs Created in December 2019 — Labor Participation Rate Stuck at 63.3% — Not In Labor Force 95,625,000 — Videos —

The ShadowStats Alternate Unemployment Rate for December 2019 is 20.8%.

See the source image

Labor Secretary on jobs report: Strong end to ‘extraordinary year’

December jobs report: ‘Best labor market for workers’

CNN’s King: Trump’s Booming Economy, Low Unemployment Rate A “Good Calling Card” For 2020

47% of Americans approve of Donald Trump’s job as president

Keiser Report 1485

Bad monetary and fiscal policy is good for gold

U.S. Economic Outlook 2020: On Firmer Ground

Civilian Labor Force Level


Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

Data extracted on: January 10, 2020 (6:05:45 PM)

Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey


Series Id:           LNS11000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Civilian Labor Force Level
Labor force status:  Civilian labor force
Type of data:        Number in thousands
Age:                 16 years and over


Series Id:           LNS11000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Civilian Labor Force Level
Labor force status:  Civilian labor force
Type of data:        Number in thousands
Age:                 16 years and over
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2000 142267(1) 142456 142434 142751 142388 142591 142278 142514 142518 142622 142962 143248
2001 143800 143701 143924 143569 143318 143357 143654 143284 143989 144086 144240 144305
2002 143883 144653 144481 144725 144938 144808 144803 145009 145552 145314 145041 145066
2003 145937(1) 146100 146022 146474 146500 147056 146485 146445 146530 146716 147000 146729
2004 146842(1) 146709 146944 146850 147065 147460 147692 147564 147415 147793 148162 148059
2005 148029(1) 148364 148391 148926 149261 149238 149432 149779 149954 150001 150065 150030
2006 150214(1) 150641 150813 150881 151069 151354 151377 151716 151662 152041 152406 152732
2007 153144(1) 152983 153051 152435 152670 153041 153054 152749 153414 153183 153835 153918
2008 154063(1) 153653 153908 153769 154303 154313 154469 154641 154570 154876 154639 154655
2009 154210(1) 154538 154133 154509 154747 154716 154502 154307 153827 153784 153878 153111
2010 153484(1) 153694 153954 154622 154091 153616 153691 154086 153975 153635 154125 153650
2011 153263(1) 153214 153376 153543 153479 153346 153288 153760 154131 153961 154128 153995
2012 154381(1) 154671 154749 154545 154866 155083 154948 154763 155160 155554 155338 155628
2013 155763(1) 155312 155005 155394 155536 155749 155599 155605 155687 154673 155265 155182
2014 155352(1) 155483 156028 155369 155684 155707 156007 156130 156040 156417 156494 156332
2015 157030(1) 156644 156643 157060 157651 157062 156997 157172 156733 157167 157463 158035
2016 158342(1) 158653 159103 158981 158787 158973 159123 159579 159817 159734 159551 159710
2017 159647(1) 159767 160066 160309 160060 160232 160339 160690 161212 160378 160510 160538
2018 161068(1) 161783 161684 161742 161874 162269 162173 161768 162078 162605 162662 163111
2019 163142(1) 163047 162935 162546 162782 163133 163373 163894 164051 164401 164347 164556
1 : Data affected by changes in population controls.

Employment Level



Series Id:           LNS12000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Employment Level
Labor force status:  Employed
Type of data:        Number in thousands
Age:                 16 years and over

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2000 136559(1) 136598 136701 137270 136630 136940 136531 136662 136893 137088 137322 137614
2001 137778 137612 137783 137299 137092 136873 137071 136241 136846 136392 136238 136047
2002 135701 136438 136177 136126 136539 136415 136413 136705 137302 137008 136521 136426
2003 137417(1) 137482 137434 137633 137544 137790 137474 137549 137609 137984 138424 138411
2004 138472(1) 138542 138453 138680 138852 139174 139556 139573 139487 139732 140231 140125
2005 140245(1) 140385 140654 141254 141609 141714 142026 142434 142401 142548 142499 142752
2006 143150(1) 143457 143741 143761 144089 144353 144202 144625 144815 145314 145534 145970
2007 146028(1) 146057 146320 145586 145903 146063 145905 145682 146244 145946 146595 146273
2008 146378(1) 146156 146086 146132 145908 145737 145532 145203 145076 144802 144100 143369
2009 142152(1) 141640 140707 140656 140248 140009 139901 139492 138818 138432 138659 138013
2010 138438(1) 138581 138751 139297 139241 139141 139179 139438 139396 139119 139044 139301
2011 139250(1) 139394 139639 139586 139624 139384 139524 139942 140183 140368 140826 140902
2012 141584(1) 141858 142036 141899 142206 142391 142292 142291 143044 143431 143333 143330
2013 143292(1) 143362 143316 143635 143882 143999 144264 144326 144418 143537 144479 144778
2014 145150(1) 145134 145648 145667 145825 146247 146399 146530 146778 147427 147404 147615
2015 148145(1) 148045 148128 148511 148817 148816 148830 149181 148826 149246 149463 150128
2016 150621(1) 150908 151157 151006 151119 151187 151465 151770 151850 151907 152063 152216
2017 152129(1) 152368 152978 153224 153001 153299 153471 153593 154371 153779 153813 153977
2018 154486(1) 155142 155191 155324 155665 155750 155993 155601 156032 156482 156628 156825
2019 156627(1) 156866 156741 156696 156844 157148 157346 157895 158298 158544 158536 158803
1 : Data affected by changes in population controls.

Not in Labor Force



Series Id:           LNS15000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Not in Labor Force
Labor force status:  Not in labor force
Type of data:        Number in thousands
Age:                 16 years and over


Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2009 80529 80374 80953 80762 80705 80938 81367 81780 82495 82766 82865 83813
2010 83349 83304 83206 82707 83409 84075 84199 84014 84347 84895 84590 85240
2011 85441 85637 85623 85603 85834 86144 86383 86111 85940 86308 86312 86589
2012 87888 87765 87855 88239 88100 88073 88405 88803 88613 88429 88836 88722
2013 88900 89516 89990 89780 89827 89803 90156 90355 90481 91708 91302 91563
2014 91563 91603 91230 92070 91938 92107 92016 92099 92406 92240 92350 92695
2015 92694 93256 93437 93205 92804 93601 93880 93924 94592 94374 94284 93901
2016 94055 93924 93665 93988 94388 94424 94497 94275 94274 94587 94989 95031
2017 94435 94479 94348 94279 94707 94725 94812 94667 94350 95388 95439 95571
2018 95712 95151 95414 95529 95579 95373 95670 96297 96212 95909 96045 95777
2019 95097 95345 95602 96147 96079 95905 95852 95538 95587 95444 95673 95625


Series Id:           LNS14000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Unemployment Rate
Labor force status:  Unemployment rate
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2000 4.0 4.1 4.0 3.8 4.0 4.0 4.0 4.1 3.9 3.9 3.9 3.9
2001 4.2 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.3 4.5 4.6 4.9 5.0 5.3 5.5 5.7
2002 5.7 5.7 5.7 5.9 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.7 5.7 5.7 5.9 6.0
2003 5.8 5.9 5.9 6.0 6.1 6.3 6.2 6.1 6.1 6.0 5.8 5.7
2004 5.7 5.6 5.8 5.6 5.6 5.6 5.5 5.4 5.4 5.5 5.4 5.4
2005 5.3 5.4 5.2 5.2 5.1 5.0 5.0 4.9 5.0 5.0 5.0 4.9
2006 4.7 4.8 4.7 4.7 4.6 4.6 4.7 4.7 4.5 4.4 4.5 4.4
2007 4.6 4.5 4.4 4.5 4.4 4.6 4.7 4.6 4.7 4.7 4.7 5.0
2008 5.0 4.9 5.1 5.0 5.4 5.6 5.8 6.1 6.1 6.5 6.8 7.3
2009 7.8 8.3 8.7 9.0 9.4 9.5 9.5 9.6 9.8 10.0 9.9 9.9
2010 9.8 9.8 9.9 9.9 9.6 9.4 9.4 9.5 9.5 9.4 9.8 9.3
2011 9.1 9.0 9.0 9.1 9.0 9.1 9.0 9.0 9.0 8.8 8.6 8.5
2012 8.3 8.3 8.2 8.2 8.2 8.2 8.2 8.1 7.8 7.8 7.7 7.9
2013 8.0 7.7 7.5 7.6 7.5 7.5 7.3 7.2 7.2 7.2 6.9 6.7
2014 6.6 6.7 6.7 6.2 6.3 6.1 6.2 6.1 5.9 5.7 5.8 5.6
2015 5.7 5.5 5.4 5.4 5.6 5.3 5.2 5.1 5.0 5.0 5.1 5.0
2016 4.9 4.9 5.0 5.0 4.8 4.9 4.8 4.9 5.0 4.9 4.7 4.7
2017 4.7 4.6 4.4 4.4 4.4 4.3 4.3 4.4 4.2 4.1 4.2 4.1
2018 4.1 4.1 4.0 4.0 3.8 4.0 3.8 3.8 3.7 3.8 3.7 3.9
2019 4.0 3.8 3.8 3.6 3.6 3.7 3.7 3.7 3.5 3.6 3.5 3.5


U-6 Labor Unemployment Rate


Series Id:           LNS13327709
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (seas) Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of all civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers
Labor force status:  Aggregated totals unemployed
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over
Percent/rates:       Unemployed and mrg attached and pt for econ reas as percent of labor force plus marg attached

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2000 7.1 7.2 7.1 6.9 7.1 7.0 7.0 7.1 7.0 6.8 7.1 6.9
2001 7.3 7.4 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.9 7.8 8.1 8.7 9.3 9.4 9.6
2002 9.5 9.5 9.4 9.7 9.5 9.5 9.6 9.6 9.6 9.6 9.7 9.8
2003 10.0 10.2 10.0 10.2 10.1 10.3 10.3 10.1 10.4 10.2 10.0 9.8
2004 9.9 9.7 10.0 9.6 9.6 9.5 9.5 9.4 9.4 9.7 9.4 9.2
2005 9.3 9.3 9.1 8.9 8.9 9.0 8.8 8.9 9.0 8.7 8.7 8.6
2006 8.4 8.4 8.2 8.1 8.2 8.4 8.5 8.4 8.0 8.2 8.1 7.9
2007 8.4 8.2 8.0 8.2 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.4 8.4 8.4 8.4 8.8
2008 9.2 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.7 10.1 10.5 10.8 11.0 11.8 12.6 13.6
2009 14.2 15.2 15.8 15.9 16.5 16.5 16.4 16.7 16.7 17.1 17.1 17.1
2010 16.7 17.0 17.1 17.1 16.6 16.4 16.4 16.5 16.8 16.6 16.9 16.6
2011 16.2 16.0 15.9 16.1 15.8 16.1 15.9 16.1 16.4 15.8 15.5 15.2
2012 15.2 15.0 14.5 14.6 14.7 14.8 14.8 14.6 14.8 14.4 14.4 14.4
2013 14.6 14.4 13.8 14.0 13.8 14.2 13.8 13.6 13.5 13.6 13.1 13.1
2014 12.7 12.6 12.6 12.3 12.2 12.0 12.1 12.0 11.7 11.5 11.4 11.2
2015 11.3 11.0 10.8 10.9 10.9 10.4 10.3 10.2 10.0 9.8 10.0 9.9
2016 9.8 9.7 9.8 9.8 9.9 9.5 9.7 9.6 9.7 9.6 9.4 9.2
2017 9.3 9.1 8.8 8.6 8.5 8.5 8.5 8.5 8.3 8.0 8.0 8.1
2018 8.1 8.2 7.9 7.8 7.7 7.8 7.5 7.3 7.5 7.4 7.6 7.6
2019 8.0 7.2 7.3 7.3 7.1 7.2 7.0 7.2 6.9 6.9 6.9 6.7

Labor Force Participation Rate


Series Id:           LNS11300000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Labor Force Participation Rate
Labor force status:  Civilian labor force participation rate
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over


Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2000 67.3 67.3 67.3 67.3 67.1 67.1 66.9 66.9 66.9 66.8 66.9 67.0
2001 67.2 67.1 67.2 66.9 66.7 66.7 66.8 66.5 66.8 66.7 66.7 66.7
2002 66.5 66.8 66.6 66.7 66.7 66.6 66.5 66.6 66.7 66.6 66.4 66.3
2003 66.4 66.4 66.3 66.4 66.4 66.5 66.2 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.1 65.9
2004 66.1 66.0 66.0 65.9 66.0 66.1 66.1 66.0 65.8 65.9 66.0 65.9
2005 65.8 65.9 65.9 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.1 66.0 66.0
2006 66.0 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.2 66.3 66.4
2007 66.4 66.3 66.2 65.9 66.0 66.0 66.0 65.8 66.0 65.8 66.0 66.0
2008 66.2 66.0 66.1 65.9 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.0 66.0 65.9 65.8
2009 65.7 65.8 65.6 65.7 65.7 65.7 65.5 65.4 65.1 65.0 65.0 64.6
2010 64.8 64.9 64.9 65.2 64.9 64.6 64.6 64.7 64.6 64.4 64.6 64.3
2011 64.2 64.1 64.2 64.2 64.1 64.0 64.0 64.1 64.2 64.1 64.1 64.0
2012 63.7 63.8 63.8 63.7 63.7 63.8 63.7 63.5 63.6 63.8 63.6 63.7
2013 63.7 63.4 63.3 63.4 63.4 63.4 63.3 63.3 63.2 62.8 63.0 62.9
2014 62.9 62.9 63.1 62.8 62.9 62.8 62.9 62.9 62.8 62.9 62.9 62.8
2015 62.9 62.7 62.6 62.8 62.9 62.7 62.6 62.6 62.4 62.5 62.5 62.7
2016 62.7 62.8 62.9 62.8 62.7 62.7 62.7 62.9 62.9 62.8 62.7 62.7
2017 62.8 62.8 62.9 63.0 62.8 62.8 62.8 62.9 63.1 62.7 62.7 62.7
2018 62.7 63.0 62.9 62.9 62.9 63.0 62.9 62.7 62.8 62.9 62.9 63.0
2019 63.2 63.1 63.0 62.8 62.9 63.0 63.0 63.2 63.2 63.3 63.2 63.2

Employment Situation Summary

Transmission of material in this news release is embargoed until	      USDL-20-0010
8:30 a.m. (EST) Friday, January 10, 2020

Technical information: 
 Household data:       (202) 691-6378  *  *
 Establishment data:   (202) 691-6555  *  *

Media contact:	       (202) 691-5902  *

                       THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- DECEMBER 2019

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 145,000 in December, and the unemployment
rate was unchanged at 3.5 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported
today. Notable job gains occurred in retail trade and health care, while mining
lost jobs.

This news release presents statistics from two monthly surveys. The household survey
measures labor force status, including unemployment, by demographic characteristics.
The establishment survey measures nonfarm employment, hours, and earnings by industry.
For more information about the concepts and statistical methodology used in these
two surveys, see the Technical Note.
|                                                                                       |
|                  Revision of Seasonally Adjusted Household Survey Data                |
|                                                                                       |
|  Seasonally adjusted household survey data have been revised using updated seasonal   |
|  adjustment factors, a procedure done at the end of each calendar year. Seasonally    |
|  adjusted estimates back to January 2015 were subject to revision. The unemployment   |
|  rates for January 2019 through November 2019 (as originally published and as revised)|
|  appear in table A, along with additional information about the revisions.            |

Household Survey Data

In December, the unemployment rate held at 3.5 percent, and the number of unemployed
persons was unchanged at 5.8 million. A year earlier, the jobless rate was 3.9 percent,
and the number of unemployed persons was 6.3 million. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.1 percent), adult
women (3.2 percent), teenagers (12.6 percent), Whites (3.2 percent), Blacks (5.9 percent),
Asians (2.5 percent), and Hispanics (4.2 percent) showed little or no change in December.
(See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more), at 1.2 million,
was unchanged in December and accounted for 20.5 percent of the unemployed. (See table

The labor force participation rate was unchanged at 63.2 percent in December. The
employment-population ratio was 61.0 percent for the fourth consecutive month but was
up by 0.4 percentage point over the year. (See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons, at 4.1 million, changed
little in December but was down by 507,000 over the year. These individuals, who would
have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been
reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs. (See table A-8.)

In December, 1.2 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, down by
310,000 from a year earlier. (Data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were
not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job 
sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had
not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 277,000 discouraged workers in December, down
by 98,000 from a year earlier. (Data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers
are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for
them. The remaining 969,000 persons marginally attached to the labor force in December
had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.
(See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 145,000 in December. Notable job gains
occurred in retail trade and health care, while mining lost jobs. In 2019, payroll
employment rose by 2.1 million, down from a gain of 2.7 million in 2018. (See table B-1.)

In December, retail trade added 41,000 jobs. Employment increased in clothing and 
accessories stores (+33,000) and in building material and garden supply stores (+7,000);
both industries showed employment declines in the prior month. Employment in retail trade
changed little, on net, in both 2019 and 2018 (+9,000 and +14,000, respectively). 

Employment in health care increased by 28,000 in December. Ambulatory health care services
and hospitals added jobs over the month (+23,000 and +9,000, respectively). Health care
added 399,000 jobs in 2019, compared with an increase of 350,000 in 2018. 

Employment in leisure and hospitality continued to trend up in December (+40,000). The
industry added 388,000 jobs in 2019, similar to the increase in 2018 (+359,000). 

Mining employment declined by 8,000 in December. In 2019, employment in mining declined
by 24,000, after rising by 63,000 in 2018. 

Construction employment changed little in December (+20,000). Employment in the industry
rose by 151,000 in 2019, about half of the 2018 gain of 307,000. 

In December, employment in professional and business services showed little change
(+10,000). The industry added 397,000 jobs in 2019, down from an increase of 561,000
jobs in 2018.  

Employment in transportation and warehousing changed little in December (-10,000).
Employment in the industry increased by 57,000 in 2019, about one-fourth of the 2018
gain of 216,000. 

Manufacturing employment was little changed in December (-12,000). Employment in the
industry changed little in 2019 (+46,000), after increasing in 2018 (+264,000). 

In December, employment showed little change in other major industries, including wholesale
trade, information, financial activities, and government. 

In December, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose
by 3 cents to $28.32. Over the last 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by
2.9 percent. In December, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and
nonsupervisory employees, at $23.79, were little changed (+2 cents). (See tables B-3 and

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.3
hours in December. In manufacturing, the average workweek and overtime remained at 40.5
hours and 3.2 hours, respectively. The average workweek of private-sector production and
nonsupervisory employees held at 33.5 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for October was revised down by 4,000 from
+156,000 to +152,000, and the change for November was revised down by 10,000 from +266,000
to +256,000. With these revisions, employment gains in October and November combined were
14,000 lower than previously reported. (Monthly revisions result from additional reports
received from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and
from the recalculation of seasonal factors.) After revisions, job gains have averaged
184,000 over the last 3 months. 

The Employment Situation for January is scheduled to be released on Friday, February 7,
2020, at 8:30 a.m. (EST).

|										       |
|                   Upcoming Changes to Household Survey Data			       |
|										       |
|  With the publication of The Employment Situation for January 2020 on February 7,    |
|  2020, two not seasonally adjusted series currently displayed in Summary table       |
|  A--persons marginally attached to the labor force and discouraged workers--will     |
|  be replaced with new seasonally adjusted series. The new seasonally adjusted	       |
|  series will be available in the BLS online database back to 1994. Not seasonally    |
|  adjusted data for persons marginally attached to the labor force and for	       |
|  discouraged workers will continue to be published in table A-16. These series       |
|  will also be available in the BLS online database back to 1994.		       |
| 										       |
|  Persons marginally attached to the labor force and discouraged workers are inputs   |
|  into three alternative measures of labor underutilization displayed in table A-15.  |
|  Therefore, with the publication of The Employment Situation for January 2020, data  |
|  for U-4, U-5, and U-6 in table A-15 will reflect the new seasonally adjusted	       |
|  series. Revised data back to 1994 will be available in the BLS online database.     |
|  Not seasonally adjusted series for the alternative measures will be unaffected.     |
| 										       |
|  Beginning with data for January 2020, occupation estimates in table A-13 will       |
|  reflect the introduction of the 2018 Census occupation classification system into   |
|  the household survey. This occupation classification system is derived from the     |
|  2018 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. In addition, industry       |
|  estimates in table A-14 will reflect the introduction of the 2017 Census industry   |
|  classification system, which is derived from the 2017 North American Industry       |
|  Classification System (NAICS). Historical data on occupation and industry will      |
|  not be revised. Beginning with data for January 2020, estimates will not be	       |
|  strictly comparable with earlier years.  					       |
| 										       |
|  Also beginning with data for January 2020, estimates of married persons will        |
|  include those in opposite- and same-sex marriages. Prior to January 2020, these     |
|  estimates included only those in opposite-sex marriages. This will affect marital   |
|  status estimates in tables A-9 and A-10.  Historical data will not be revised.      |
| 										       |
|  Also effective with the release of The Employment Situation for January 2020, new   |
|  population controls will be used in the household survey estimation process. These  |
|  new controls reflect the annual update of intercensal population estimates by the   |
|  U.S. Census Bureau. In accordance with usual practice, historical data will not     |
|  be revised to incorporate the new controls; consequently, household survey data     |
|  for January 2020 will not be directly comparable with data for December 2019 or     |
|  earlier periods. A table showing the effects of the new controls on the major labor |
|  force series will be included in the January 2020 news release. In addition, the    |
|  population controls for veterans, which are derived from a Department of Veterans   |
|  Affairs' population model and are updated periodically, will also be updated with   |
|  the release of January data. 						       |

|                 								       |
|                 Upcoming Revisions to Establishment Survey Data		       |
|										       |
|  Effective with the release of The Employment Situation for January 2020 on February |
|  7, 2020, the establishment survey will revise nonfarm payroll employment, hours,    |
|  and earnings data to reflect the annual benchmark process and updated seasonal      |
|  adjustment factors. Not seasonally adjusted data beginning with April 2018 and      |
|  seasonally adjusted data beginning with January 2015 are subject to revision.       |
|  Consistent with standard practice, additional historical data may be revised as a   |
|  result of the benchmark process.						       |

             Revision of Seasonally Adjusted Household Survey Data

At the end of each calendar year, BLS routinely updates the seasonal adjustment
factors for the national labor force series derived from the household survey. As
a result of this process, seasonally adjusted data for January 2015 through
November 2019 were subject to revision. (Not seasonally adjusted data were not
subject to revision.)

Table A shows the unemployment rates for January 2019 through November 2019, as
first published and as revised. The rates were unchanged for all 11 months.
Revised seasonally adjusted data for other major labor force series beginning
in December 2018 appear in table B.

More information on this year's revisions to seasonally adjusted household series
is available at 
Detailed information on the seasonal adjustment methodology is found at

Historical data for the household series contained in the A tables of this news
release can be accessed at Revised historical
seasonally adjusted data are available at and

Table A. Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates in 2019 and changes due to revision
January - November 2019

Month                 As first published          As revised              Change

January.............                 4.0                 4.0                 0.0
February............                 3.8                 3.8                 0.0
March...............                 3.8                 3.8                 0.0
April...............                 3.6                 3.6                 0.0
May.................                 3.6                 3.6                 0.0
June................                 3.7                 3.7                 0.0
July................                 3.7                 3.7                 0.0
August..............                 3.7                 3.7                 0.0
September...........                 3.5                 3.5                 0.0
October.............                 3.6                 3.6                 0.0
November............                 3.5                 3.5                 0.0
Table B. Employment status of the civilian population by sex and age, seasonally adjusted
[Numbers in thousands]
Employment status, sex, and age 2018 2019
Dec. Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May June July Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.


Civilian noninstitutional population(1)

258,888 258,239 258,392 258,537 258,693 258,861 259,037 259,225 259,432 259,638 259,845 260,020 260,181

Civilian labor force

163,111 163,142 163,047 162,935 162,546 162,782 163,133 163,373 163,894 164,051 164,401 164,347 164,556

Participation rate

63.0 63.2 63.1 63.0 62.8 62.9 63.0 63.0 63.2 63.2 63.3 63.2 63.2


156,825 156,627 156,866 156,741 156,696 156,844 157,148 157,346 157,895 158,298 158,544 158,536 158,803

Employment-population ratio

60.6 60.7 60.7 60.6 60.6 60.6 60.7 60.7 60.9 61.0 61.0 61.0 61.0


6,286 6,516 6,181 6,194 5,850 5,938 5,985 6,027 5,999 5,753 5,857 5,811 5,753

Unemployment rate

3.9 4.0 3.8 3.8 3.6 3.6 3.7 3.7 3.7 3.5 3.6 3.5 3.5

Men, 20 years and over

Civilian noninstitutional population(1)

116,739 116,436 116,513 116,586 116,665 116,752 116,843 116,939 117,040 117,140 117,242 117,331 117,413

Civilian labor force

83,483 83,586 83,588 83,566 83,421 83,569 83,568 83,771 83,852 83,841 83,911 84,057 84,008

Participation rate

71.5 71.8 71.7 71.7 71.5 71.6 71.5 71.6 71.6 71.6 71.6 71.6 71.5


80,496 80,474 80,677 80,570 80,609 80,761 80,780 80,975 81,046 81,146 81,196 81,377 81,390

Employment-population ratio

69.0 69.1 69.2 69.1 69.1 69.2 69.1 69.2 69.2 69.3 69.3 69.4 69.3


2,987 3,112 2,911 2,995 2,812 2,808 2,788 2,796 2,806 2,695 2,715 2,679 2,618

Unemployment rate

3.6 3.7 3.5 3.6 3.4 3.4 3.3 3.3 3.3 3.2 3.2 3.2 3.1

Women, 20 years and over

Civilian noninstitutional population(1)

125,393 125,099 125,177 125,252 125,332 125,419 125,509 125,604 125,705 125,806 125,907 125,998 126,082

Civilian labor force

73,673 73,643 73,667 73,508 73,440 73,439 73,655 73,585 74,116 74,313 74,542 74,291 74,584

Participation rate

58.8 58.9 58.8 58.7 58.6 58.6 58.7 58.6 59.0 59.1 59.2 59.0 59.2


71,123 71,004 71,169 71,056 71,136 71,038 71,209 71,120 71,665 71,990 72,130 71,881 72,200

Employment-population ratio

56.7 56.8 56.9 56.7 56.8 56.6 56.7 56.6 57.0 57.2 57.3 57.0 57.3


2,550 2,639 2,497 2,451 2,304 2,401 2,447 2,465 2,451 2,323 2,411 2,411 2,383

Unemployment rate

3.5 3.6 3.4 3.3 3.1 3.3 3.3 3.3 3.3 3.1 3.2 3.2 3.2

Both sexes, 16 to 19 years

Civilian noninstitutional population(1)

16,756 16,704 16,702 16,698 16,696 16,690 16,686 16,682 16,687 16,691 16,696 16,692 16,686

Civilian labor force

5,955 5,913 5,792 5,862 5,685 5,774 5,910 6,017 5,926 5,897 5,948 5,999 5,964

Participation rate

35.5 35.4 34.7 35.1 34.1 34.6 35.4 36.1 35.5 35.3 35.6 35.9 35.7


5,205 5,149 5,019 5,115 4,951 5,044 5,159 5,250 5,184 5,162 5,218 5,278 5,213

Employment-population ratio

31.1 30.8 30.1 30.6 29.7 30.2 30.9 31.5 31.1 30.9 31.3 31.6 31.2


750 765 773 747 734 730 751 767 742 735 730 721 752

Unemployment rate

12.6 12.9 13.3 12.7 12.9 12.6 12.7 12.7 12.5 12.5 12.3 12.0 12.6

(1) The population figures are not adjusted for seasonal variation.

NOTE: Seasonally adjusted data have been revised to reflect updated seasonal adjustment factors.


Employment Situation Summary Table A. Household data, seasonally adjusted

Summary table A. Household data, seasonally adjusted
[Numbers in thousands]
Category Dec.
Change from:

Employment status

Civilian noninstitutional population

258,888 259,845 260,020 260,181 161

Civilian labor force

163,111 164,401 164,347 164,556 209

Participation rate

63.0 63.3 63.2 63.2 0.0


156,825 158,544 158,536 158,803 267

Employment-population ratio

60.6 61.0 61.0 61.0 0.0


6,286 5,857 5,811 5,753 -58

Unemployment rate

3.9 3.6 3.5 3.5 0.0

Not in labor force

95,777 95,444 95,673 95,625 -48

Unemployment rates

Total, 16 years and over

3.9 3.6 3.5 3.5 0.0

Adult men (20 years and over)

3.6 3.2 3.2 3.1 -0.1

Adult women (20 years and over)

3.5 3.2 3.2 3.2 0.0

Teenagers (16 to 19 years)

12.6 12.3 12.0 12.6 0.6


3.4 3.2 3.2 3.2 0.0

Black or African American

6.6 5.5 5.6 5.9 0.3


3.3 2.8 2.6 2.5 -0.1

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

4.4 4.1 4.2 4.2 0.0

Total, 25 years and over

3.1 2.9 2.9 2.8 -0.1

Less than a high school diploma

5.8 5.5 5.3 5.2 -0.1

High school graduates, no college

3.8 3.7 3.7 3.7 0.0

Some college or associate degree

3.3 2.8 2.9 2.7 -0.2

Bachelor’s degree and higher

2.2 2.1 2.0 1.9 -0.1

Reason for unemployment

Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs

2,892 2,691 2,804 2,686 -118

Job leavers

827 846 776 829 53


1,968 1,698 1,663 1,655 -8

New entrants

600 622 581 551 -30

Duration of unemployment

Less than 5 weeks

2,117 1,978 2,026 2,065 39

5 to 14 weeks

2,007 1,747 1,753 1,730 -23

15 to 26 weeks

899 884 865 812 -53

27 weeks and over

1,311 1,259 1,219 1,186 -33

Employed persons at work part time

Part time for economic reasons

4,655 4,397 4,288 4,148 -140

Slack work or business conditions

2,895 2,747 2,634 2,657 23

Could only find part-time work

1,487 1,278 1,259 1,215 -44

Part time for noneconomic reasons

21,230 21,544 21,532 21,586 54

Persons not in the labor force (not seasonally adjusted)

Marginally attached to the labor force

1,556 1,229 1,246 1,246

Discouraged workers

375 341 325 277

– Over-the-month changes are not displayed for not seasonally adjusted data.
NOTE: Persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race. Detail for the seasonally adjusted data shown in this table will not necessarily add to totals because of the independent seasonal adjustment of the various series. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.

Employment Situation Summary Table B. Establishment data, seasonally adjusted

Summary table B. Establishment data, seasonally adjusted
Category Dec.

(Over-the-month change, in thousands)

Total nonfarm

227 152 256 145

Total private

224 164 243 139


40 -29 52 -1

Mining and logging

4 2 -8 -9


16 14 2 20


20 -45 58 -12

Durable goods(1)

14 -51 48 -7

Motor vehicles and parts

1.2 -43.6 39.3 -0.8

Nondurable goods

6 6 10 -5

Private service-providing

184 193 191 140

Wholesale trade

12.5 10.7 -2.5 8.3

Retail trade

-5.9 30.9 -14.1 41.2

Transportation and warehousing

-1.1 2.8 11.9 -10.4


-0.2 -1.4 1.2 0.8


-2 0 8 3

Financial activities

1 16 14 6

Professional and business services(1)

37 35 53 10

Temporary help services

13.5 -5.4 4.0 6.4

Education and health services(1)

67 31 72 36

Health care and social assistance

52.9 37.8 63.8 33.9

Leisure and hospitality

65 70 38 40

Other services

11 -2 10 5


3 -12 13 6

(3-month average change, in thousands)

Total nonfarm

233 188 200 184

Total private

236 170 197 182


Total nonfarm women employees

49.7 50.0 50.0 50.0

Total private women employees

48.3 48.6 48.6 48.7

Total private production and nonsupervisory employees

82.4 82.2 82.2 82.2


Total private

Average weekly hours

34.5 34.3 34.3 34.3

Average hourly earnings

$27.53 $28.20 $28.29 $28.32

Average weekly earnings

$949.79 $967.26 $970.35 $971.38

Index of aggregate weekly hours (2007=100)(3)

110.7 111.4 111.6 111.7

Over-the-month percent change

0.5 -0.1 0.2 0.1

Index of aggregate weekly payrolls (2007=100)(4)

145.6 150.1 150.9 151.2

Over-the-month percent change

0.8 0.1 0.5 0.2

(Over 1-month span)(5)

Total private (258 industries)

65.9 55.2 65.7 57.0

Manufacturing (76 industries)

65.1 38.2 65.8 44.7

(1) Includes other industries, not shown separately.
(2) Data relate to production employees in mining and logging and manufacturing, construction employees in construction, and nonsupervisory employees in the service-providing industries.
(3) The indexes of aggregate weekly hours are calculated by dividing the current month’s estimates of aggregate hours by the corresponding annual average aggregate hours.
(4) The indexes of aggregate weekly payrolls are calculated by dividing the current month’s estimates of aggregate weekly payrolls by the corresponding annual average aggregate weekly payrolls.
(5) Figures are the percent of industries with employment increasing plus one-half of the industries with unchanged employment, where 50 percent indicates an equal balance between industries with increasing and decreasing employment.
(P) Preliminary

NOTE: Data have been revised to reflect March 2018 benchmark levels and updated seasonal adjustment factors.

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This July 16, 2019, file photo shows the Capitol Dome in Washington. The U.S. budget deficit through the first three months of this budget year is up 11.8% from the same period a year ago, putting the country on track to record its first $1 trillion deficit in eight years. The Treasury Department said Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, that the deficit from October through December totaled $356.6 billion. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

The U.S. budget deficit through the first three months of this budget year is up 11.8% from the same period a year ago, putting the country on track to record its first $1 trillion deficit in eight years.

In its monthly budget report, the Treasury Department said Monday that the deficit from October through December totaled $356.6 billion, up from $318.9 billion for the same period last year.

Both government spending and revenues set records for the first three months of this budget year but spending rose at a faster clip than tax collections, pushing the deficit total up.

The Congressional Budget Office is projecting that the deficit for the current 2020 budget year will hit $1 trillion and will remain over $1 trillion for the next decade. The country has not experienced $1 trillion annual deficits since the period from 2009 through 2012 following the 2008 financial crisis.

The actual deficit for the 2019 budget year, which ended Sept. 30, was $984.4 billion, up 26% from the 2018 imbalance, reflecting the impact of the $1.5 trillion tax cut President Donald Trump pushed through Congress in 2017 and increased spending for military and domestic programs that Trump accepted as part of a budget deal with Democrats.

The projections of trillion-dollar deficits are in contrast to Trump’s campaign promise in 2016 that even with his proposed tax cuts, he would be able to eliminate future deficits with cuts in spending and growth in revenues that would result from a stronger economy.

For the first three months of the 2020 budget year, revenues have totaled $806.5 billion, up 4.8% from the same three months a year ago, while government spending has totaled $948.9 billion, an increase of 6.3% from a year ago.

Both the spending amounts and revenue amounts are records for the first three months of a budget year. The deficit in December totaled $13.3 billion, slightly lower than the $13.5 billion deficit in December 2019.

Secular stagnation: it’s time to admit that Larry Summers was right about this global economic growth trap

No laughing matter. Asia SocietyCC BY-SA

Summers would go on to suggest that secular stagnation “may be the defining macroeconomic challenge of our times”. There followed a major debate between heavyweight economists about whether he was right, but for several years the global economy contradicted him by growing steadily.

Now, however, this looks to be at an end. Look no further than the OECD projections from March 6, which foresee all advanced economies growing much more slowly than anticipated a few months ago. The left-hand chart below shows the OECD projections from last May, while the right-hand chart shows the latest outlook, complete with red arrows to indicate the sharpest downward revisions.


The overarching global theme seems to be Donald Trump’s trade war and the fact that central banks have been tightening monetary policy: the US Federal Reserve has hiked interest rates four times in the past year, while the European Central Bank is no longer “printing” money through its programme of quantitative easing. There are additional local reasons, such as UK fears about a hard Brexit, or excessive levels of private sector debt in China. Underlying all of this, however, is the growing feeling that secular stagnation is a major drag behind the scenes.

Back in fashion

The theory was originally put forward in 1938 by the Harvard economist Alvin Hansen in response to the Great Depression. He argued that America’s economy was suffering from a lack of investment opportunities linked to waning technological innovation; and not enough new workers due to an ageing population, too little immigration, and the closing of the old economic frontier in the American West.

In Hansen’s view, the weak growth in the economy was therefore here to stay – “secular” means “long term” in this context. Yet he would soon be proved spectacularly wrong as World War II provided a big temporary boost to the economy in the form of military spending, followed by a post-war baby boom and rapid technological progress in the 1950s and 1960s. Little more was heard of secular stagnation until Larry Summers’ intervention.

At the core of the theory today is real interest rates. This refers to the long-term interest rate, meaning the rate of return on ten-year government bonds, after inflation has been stripped out. For example, if a country’s long-term interest rate is 1% but the rate of inflation is 2.5%, the real interest rate is -1.5%.

When you take a global average of real interest rates from different countries, my own research shows that the global rate has declined from more than 5% in the early 1980s to below 0% after the financial crisis of 2007-09. Today, real interest rates remain negative in many advanced economies, including Japan, Sweden, Switzerland and the entire eurozone.

Summers has pointed to several structural factors behind this long-term decline. In an echo of what appeared true in 1938, rich countries are ageing as birth rates decline and people live longer. This has pushed down real interest rates because investors think these trends will mean they will make lower returns from investing in future, making them more willing to accept a lower return on government debt as a result.

Other factors that make investors similarly pessimistic include rising global inequality and the slowdown in productivity growth. It is a major paradox that labour productivity, the most important source of long-run economic growth, is actually rising much slower today than for decades, even though technological progress has seemingly accelerated.

This decline in real interest rates matters because economists believe that to overcome an economic downturn, a central bank must drive down the real interest rate to a certain level to encourage more spending and investment. This is referred to as the level required to reach full employment. Because real interest rates are so low, Summers and his supporters believe that the rate required to reach full employment is so far into negative territory that it is effectively impossible.

The remedy

Summers argues that this problem is why the massive cuts to headline interest rates after the financial crisis did not solve the problem. In other words, monetary policy was actually much less expansionary than many people believe (even though quantitative easing was actually helpful here). Not only that, there is now substantial evidence that austerity policies in places like southern Europe made things significantly worse.

The upshot is that in the eurozone and elsewhere, there is little or no room to cut interest rates when the next recession comes – probably fairly soon given the current expansion is already a few years old. Central bankers will meanwhile be wary of using more quantitative easing, since it has generated a lot of political backlash.

‘No stagnation here, mate.’ Markus Mainka

So what to do instead? Interestingly, the one country not to have had a recession in almost 30 years is Australia, which has enjoyed very high population growth and has never seen interest rates as low as many countries. This suggests that in the long run, more immigration might be a vital part of curing secular stagnation. Summers also heavily prescribes increased government spending, arguing that it might actually be more prudent than cutting back – especially if the money is spent on infrastructure, education and research and development.

Of course, governments in Europe and the US are instead trying to shut their doors to migrants. And austerity policies have taken their toll on infrastructure and public research. This looks set to ensure that the next recession will be particularly nasty when it comes. Alvin Hansen may have been wrong in the 1930s but his analysis is looking increasingly persuasive today. Unless governments change course radically, we could be in for a sobering period ahead.

Global debt hits an all-time high of $188 TRILLION – more than DOUBLE the world’s economic output – the IMF warns

  • IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva warned global debt has surged to a all-time high
  • Debt is at $188 trillion – which is around 230 per cent of world’s economic output
  • Kristalina Georgieva said high debt burdens left many governments vulnerable

Global debt has hit an all-time high of $188 trillion, which is more than double the output of the global economy, the IMF warned today.

The global debt load has surged to a new record of around 230 per cent of world’s output, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said.

While private sector borrowing accounts for the vast majority of the total, the rise puts governments and individuals at risk if the economy slows, she said.

‘Global debt – both public and private – has reached an all-time high of $188 trillion.  This amounts to about 230 per cent of world output,’ Georgieva said in a speech to open a two-day conference on debt.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva speaks during a news conference last month. She warned debt burdens on governments around the world

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva speaks during a news conference last month. She warned debt burdens on governments around the world

That is up from the previous record of $164 trillion in 2016, according to IMF figures.

While interest rates remain low, borrowers can use debt to make investments in productive activities or weather a bout of low commodity prices.

But it can become ‘a drag on growth’, she said.

‘The bottom line is that high debt burdens have left many governments, companies, and households vulnerable to a sudden tightening of financial conditions,’ she cautioned.

Corporate debt accounts for about two thirds of the total but government borrowing has risen as well in the wake of the global financial crisis.

‘Public debt in advanced economies is at levels not seen since the Second World War,’ she warned. And ’emerging market public debt is at levels last seen during the 1980s debt crisis.’

She called for steps to ensure ‘borrowing is more sustainable,’ including making lending practices more transparent and preparing for debt restructuring with ‘non-traditional lenders’ – an apparent reference to China, which has become a major creditor to developing nations including in Africa.


Secular stagnation

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In economics, secular stagnation is a condition when there is negligible or no economic growth in a market-based economy.[1] In this context, the term secular means long-term (from Latin “saeculum“—century or lifetime), and is used in contrast to cyclical or short-term. It suggests a change of fundamental dynamics which would play out only in its own time. The concept was originally put forth by Alvin Hansen in 1938. According to The Economist, it was used to “describe what he feared was the fate of the American economy following the Great Depression of the early 1930s: a check to economic progress as investment opportunities were stunted by the closing of the frontier and the collapse of immigration”.[2][3] Warnings of impending secular stagnation have been issued after all deep recessions since the Great Depression, but the hypothesis has remained controversial.[4][5]


Sectoral balances in U.S. economy 1990-2017. By definition, the three balances must net to zero. The green line indicates a private sector surplus, where savings exceeds investment. Since 2008, the foreign sector surplus and private sector surplus have been offset by a government budget deficit.[6]

The term secular stagnation refers to a market economy with a chronic (secular or long-term) lack of demand. Historically, a booming economy with low unemployment and high GDP growth (i.e., an economy at or above capacity) would generate inflation in wages and products. However, an economy facing secular stagnation behaves as if it is operating below capacity, even when the economy appears to be booming; inflation does not appear. Savings by households exceeds investment by businesses, which in a healthy economy would cause interest rates to fall, stimulating spending and investment thereby bringing the two into balance. However, an economy facing secular stagnation may require an interest rate below zero to bring savings and investment into balance. The surplus of savings over investment may be generating price appreciation in financial assets or real estate. For example, the U.S. had low unemployment but low inflation in the years leading up to the Great Recession, although a massive housing bubble developed.[7]

The idea of secular stagnation dates back to the Great Depression, when some economists feared that the United States had permanently entered a period of low growth.[8] The Economist explained in 2018 that many factors may contribute to secular stagnation, by either driving up savings or reducing investment. Households paying down debt (i.e., deleveraging) increase savings and are spending less; businesses react to the lack of demand by investing less. This was a major factor in the slow U.S. GDP growth during 2009-2012 following the Great Recession. Another possible cause is income inequality, which shifts more money to the wealthy, who tend to save it rather than spend it, thus increasing savings and perhaps driving up financial asset prices. Aging populations (which spend less per capita) and a slowdown in productivity may also reduce investment. Governments facing secular stagnation may choose to: a) accept slower growth; b) accept an asset bubble to temporarily stimulate the economy; or c) absorb the savings surplus through higher budget deficits, which reduces national savings but increases the risk of financial crises. Central banks face a difficult dilemma; do they raise interest rates to ward off inflation (e.g., implement monetary policy austerity) assuming the economy is in a cyclical boom, or assume the economy (even if temporarily booming) is in secular stagnation and therefore take a more stimulative approach?[7]

Stagnation and the financial explosion: the 1980s

An analysis of stagnation and what is now called financialization was provided in the 1980s by Harry Magdoff and Paul Sweezy, coeditors of the independent socialist journal Monthly Review. Magdoff was a former economic advisor to Vice President Henry A. Wallace in Roosevelt’s New Deal administration, while Sweezy was a former Harvard economics professor. In their 1987 book, Stagnation and the Financial Explosion, they argued, based on Keynes, Hansen, Michał Kalecki, and Marx, and marshaling extensive empirical data,[citation needed] that, contrary to the usual way of thinking, stagnation or slow growth was the norm for mature, monopolistic (or oligopolistic) economies, while rapid growth was the exception.[9]

Private accumulation had a strong tendency to weak growth and high levels of excess capacity and unemployment/underemployment, which could, however, be countered in part by such exogenous factors as state spending (military and civilian), epoch-making technological innovations (for example, the automobile in its expansionary period), and the growth of finance.[10] In the 1980s and 1990s Magdoff and Sweezy argued that a financial explosion of long duration was lifting the economy, but this would eventually compound the contradictions of the system, producing ever bigger speculative bubbles, and leading eventually to a resumption of overt stagnation.


Economists have asked whether the low economic growth rate in the developed world leading up to and following the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007-2008 was due to secular stagnation. Paul Krugman wrote in September 2013: “[T]here is a case for believing that the problem of maintaining adequate aggregate demand is going to be very persistent – that we may face something like the ‘secular stagnation’ many economists feared after World War II.” Krugman wrote that fiscal policy stimulus and higher inflation (to achieve a negative real rate of interest necessary to achieve full employment) may be potential solutions.[11]

Larry Summers presented his view during November 2013 that secular (long-term) stagnation may be a reason that U.S. growth is insufficient to reach full employment: “Suppose then that the short term real interest rate that was consistent with full employment [i.e., the “natural rate”] had fallen to negative two or negative three percent. Even with artificial stimulus to demand you wouldn’t see any excess demand. Even with a resumption in normal credit conditions you would have a lot of difficulty getting back to full employment.”[12][13]

Robert J. Gordon wrote in August 2012: “Even if innovation were to continue into the future at the rate of the two decades before 2007, the U.S. faces six headwinds that are in the process of dragging long-term growth to half or less of the 1.9 percent annual rate experienced between 1860 and 2007. These include demography, education, inequality, globalization, energy/environment, and the overhang of consumer and government debt. A provocative ‘exercise in subtraction’ suggests that future growth in consumption per capita for the bottom 99 percent of the income distribution could fall below 0.5 percent per year for an extended period of decades”.[14]


This chart compares U.S. potential GDP under two CBO forecasts (one from 2007 and one from 2016) versus the actual real GDP. It is based on a similar diagram from economist Larry Summers from 2014.[15]

Secular stagnation was dusted off by Hans-Werner Sinn in a 2009 article [16] dismissing the threat of inflation, and became popular again when Larry Summers invoked the term and concept during a 2013 speech at the IMF.[17]

However, The Economist criticizes secular stagnation as “a baggy concept, arguably too capacious for its own good”.[2] Warnings of impending secular stagnation have been issued after all deep recessions, but turned out to be wrong because they underestimated the potential of existing technologies.[4]

Paul Krugman, writing in 2014, clarified that it refers to “the claim that underlying changes in the economy, such as slowing growth in the working-age population, have made episodes like the past five years in Europe and the United States, and the last 20 years in Japan, likely to happen often. That is, we will often find ourselves facing persistent shortfalls of demand, which can’t be overcome even with near-zero interest rates.”[18] At its root is “the problem of building consumer demand at a time when people are less motivated to spend”.[19]

One theory is that the boost in growth by the internet and technological advancement in computers of the new economy does not measure up to the boost caused by the great inventions of the past. An example of such a great invention is the assembly line production method of Fordism. The general form of the argument has been the subject of papers by Robert J. Gordon.[20] It has also been written about by Owen. C. Paepke and Tyler Cowen.[21]

Secular stagnation has also been linked to the rise of the digital economy. Carl Benedikt Frey, for example, has suggested that digital technologies are much less capital-absorbing, creating only little new investment demand relative to other revolutionary technologies.[22]

Another is that the damage done by the Great Recession was so long-lasting and permanent, so many workers will never get jobs again, that we really can’t recover.[19]

A third is that there is a “persistent and disturbing reluctance of businesses to invest and consumers to spend”, perhaps in part because so much of the recent gains have gone to the people at the top, and they tend to save more of their money than people—ordinary working people who can’t afford to do that.[19]

A fourth is that advanced economies are just simply paying the price for years of inadequate investment in infrastructure and education, the basic ingredients of growth.

A fifth is related to decreased mortality and increased longevity, thus changes in the demographic structure in advanced economies, affecting both demand, through increased savings, and supply, through reduced innovation activities.[23]

And a sixth is that economic growth is largely related to the concept of energy returned on energy invested (EROEI), or energy surplus, which with the discovery of fossil fuels shot up to very high and historically unprecedented levels. This allowed, and in effect fueled, dramatic increases in human consumption since the Industrial Revolution and many related technological advances. Under this argument, diminishing and increasingly difficult to access fossil fuel reserves directly lead to significantly reduced EROEI, and therefore put a brake on, and potentially reverse, long-term economic growth, leading to secular stagnation.[24] Linked to the EROEI argument are those stemming from the Limits to Growth school of thinking, whereby environmental and resource constraints in general are likely to impose an eventual limit on the continued expansion of human consumption and incomes. While ‘limits to growth’ thinking went out of fashion in the decades following the initial publication in 1972, a recent study[25] shows human development continues to align well with the ‘overshoot and collapse’ projection outlined in the standard run of the original analysis, and this is before factoring in the potential effects of climate change.

A 2018 CUSP working paper by Tim Jackson, The Post-Growth Challenge,[26] argues that low growth rates might in fact be ‘the new normal’.[27]

See also


Story 3: The Peace and Prosperity President Trump With A Non-interventionist Foreign and Domestic Policies — Back To Realpolitik with Offshore Balancing? — Videos

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Oct 21, 2019

Stephen M. Walt: What Went Wrong with Liberalism?

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John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt – The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy

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The Great Delusion with Professor John Mearsheimer

“Iran must come after Iraq” Israel Lobby Steers U.S. Foreign Policy – John Mearsheimer

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The rise and fall of the liberal international order

John Mearsheimer – The Future of NATO in the Age of Trump | ROEC

Nov 4, 2018

John Mearsheimer: We are Moving to a Multipolar World with Three Great Powers

John J. Mearsheimer, “The False Promise of Liberal Hegemony”

John J. Mearsheimer, “The Roots of Liberal Hegemony”

Why are Iran and Saudi Arabia enemies?

Trump’s Iran Policy Is Brain-Dead

Lacking coherent objectives and a strategy for achieving them, moves like the assassination of Qassem Suleimani are foreign policy as theater—and could leave the United States worse off.

A man holds a picture of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei with Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani during a demonstration in Tehran on Jan. 3.

A man holds a picture of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei with Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani during a demonstration in Tehran on Jan. 3. ATTA KENARE/ AFP/ GETTY IMAGES

Well, that didn’t take long. 2020 is less than a week old, and U.S. President Donald Trump has managed to stumble into another pointless and dangerous crisis with Iran. It is the near-inevitable result of his myopic approach to the entire Middle East (and especially Iran) and another demonstration of Washington’s inability to formulate a coherent and effective policy toward any important global issue.

When did this country get so bad at strategy?

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In fairness, the problem predates Trump, although his own incompetence, impulsiveness, indifference to advice, and uncanny ability to pick third-rate advisors has made the problem worse. The end result may be more innocent lives lost—some of them American—and a further erosion in the United States’ global position. And that’s assuming that Trump’s ordering of the killing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qassem Suleimani doesn’t lead to all-out war.

With respect to Iran, the assassination is a strategic error entirely of Trump’s own making. Egged on by Saudi Arabia, Israel, hawkish institutes like the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and some of his wealthy backers, the president abandoned the multilateral agreement that had successfully capped Iran’s nuclear program and also created a diplomatic opening that a savvier administration could have used to address Iran’s regional activities. He then began his campaign of so-called maximum pressure—a comprehensive program of economic warfare against Iran that sought to eliminate the country’s enrichment capacity, force Iran to change its foreign policy to suit the United States, and maybe topple the regime itself. Ordinary Iranians are suffering mightily as a result of U.S. sanctions, but the regime has neither caved to Trump’s demands nor collapsed. Instead, it has moved gradually to restart its nuclear program, cultivated closer ties with Russia and China, and retaliated against U.S. allies in the region. The logic of Tehran’s response is straightforward and utterly predictable: If the United States wants to make life difficult for Iran, its leaders will demonstrate that they can make life difficult for the United States too. It wouldn’t take more than a shred of strategic thinking to anticipate Iran’s response and recognize that unilateral pressure was not going to work.

By eschewing diplomacy and relying solely on threats and coercion, Trump gave himself no choice but to back down or escalate once it became clear that maximum pressure had backfired. When an Iraqi militia with ties to Iran staged a rocket attack in early December 2019 that killed a U.S. contractor, Trump responded with airstrikes against the militia camps that killed some two dozen Iraqis. Pro-Iranian Iraqi demonstrators proceeded to besiege the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, although with no loss of life. The demonstrators eventually dispersed, and the situation seemed to be deescalating. But then Trump approved the assassination of Suleimani, a very senior and highly respected Iranian official, in Baghdad early Friday morning.

To understand how this chain of events might look from Iran’s perspective, consider how the United States might respond if a foreign adversary killed a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the head of the CIA, or maybe even the vice president. Washington would not just shrug it off. To say this is not to defend Suleimani, who was by all accounts an ardent foe of the United States. It is rather to ask the proper strategic question: Did assassinating a prominent official of a foreign government advance the country’s national interest? Will this act make Americans safer and richer, or increase their influence around the world? The answer is: no and no.

For starters, Iran will almost inevitably respond, just as the United States would were the situation reversed. The regime will do so at a time and with means of its own choosing, and in ways designed to maximize the pain and political impact. Second, the assassination is going to inflame Iranian nationalism and strengthen hard-line forces in Iran, further reducing any possibility of regime change there. Third, killing Suleimani on Iraqi soil is a violation of Iraqi sovereignty that put its fragile government on even shakier ground, and it is worth noting that caretaker Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has already condemned the U.S. action. Fourth, Trump has now given Iran even more incentive to acquire nuclear weapons, a step that would force Washington to go to all-out war or back down and accept an Iranian bomb. All this over a country that has serious disputes with some of the United States’ regional partners but does not threaten the security or prosperity of the United States itself in any meaningful way.

And finally, there’s the precedent the United States is setting. As the political scientist Ward Thomas explained in a seminal article in 2000, there has long been a powerful international norm against assassinations by governments, largely because the leaders of powerful states understand that it is in their mutual self-interest not to try to kill each other. The taboo didn’t completely eliminate the use of this tactic, of course, and Thomas argues that the norm has begun to break down in recent decades. But do we really want to live in a world where assassination is regarded as a perfectly normal way of doing business and becomes more and more commonplace? Surely hawkish American politicians who think killing Suleimani was acceptable don’t really want to run the risk of ending up on somebody else’s target list. And to be sure, if Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the killing of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, or if North Korean leader Kim Jong Un decided to redouble his grandfather’s efforts to murder politicians in South Korea, it would be far harder for the United States to object.

Moreover, although taking out bad guys may appeal to a crude desire for vengeance, it rarely solves the underlying political problem. A lot of bad leaders have departed this mortal coil in recent decades, yet the political challenges they embodied continue to bedevil us. Al Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden, Libya’s Muammar al-Qaddafi, North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, the Taliban’s Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Islamic State’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and many other U.S. foes are gone, but their deaths didn’t magically solve the foreign-policy problems with which they were associated. Indeed, there is some evidence that “decapitation” (that is, killing top leaders) tends to empower extremists and incline them toward even greater violence.

In short, the Trump administration’s approach to Iran—including this most recent incident—appears devoid of strategic logic or purpose. Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and the rest of the administration’s foreign-policy team are like chess players who have failed to consider more than one move at a time and thus miss what should be an obvious fact of life in international politics: The other player gets to move their pieces too. Their denunciations, reinforcements, sanctions, and drone strikes are foreign policy as performance art, instead of the tough-minded and careful realpolitik that should inform a great nation’s approach to the world.iran

Now for the really bad news: The lack of strategic thinking—formulating a clear objective and developing a coherent plan to achieve it that anticipates how others are likely to respond—isn’t limited to the United States’ dealings with Iran. And it goes well beyond the Trump administration, besides. Indeed, I’d argue that the country’s ability to formulate clear and effective strategies has been steadily eroding for some time. In my next column, I’ll offer some additional illustrations of the problem and explain why genuine strategic thinking is now an endangered species in the Land of the Free.

Trump’s Iran Policy Is Brain-Dead

Has Trump Become a Realist?

America finally has a president who grasps the basic logic of offshore balancing in the Middle East.

Donald Trump attends a roundtable discon April 16, 2018 in Hialeah, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Donald Trump attends a roundtable discon April 16, 2018 in Hialeah, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

There’s reason to think Donald Trump is becoming a closet realist or even — dare I say it? — an offshore balancer.

Admittedly, it’s hard to credit him with having a coherent strategy of any kind, given the recurring contradictions in what he says and his penchant for reversing course without warning or explanation. But in the Middle East, at least, one could argue that Trump is trying — in his own ill-informed, impulsive, and erratic way — to return to the strategy of offshore balancing that the United States pursued more or less successfully in this region from 1945 to 1992.

To review: After World War II, U.S. leaders recognized that the Middle East was of increasing strategic importance. Oil and natural gas were fueling the world economy, and the Middle East contained enormous and readily accessible reserves. Accordingly, preventing any single power from dominating the region and gaining effective control of these critical resources became a central U.S. objective. But the United States didn’t try to protect Middle East oil by colonizing the region or garrisoning it with its own troops. Instead, it relied on Great Britain (until the late 1960s) and a variety of local clients to maintain a regional balance of power and prevent the Soviet Union from acquiring excessive influence.

When the United States did intervene with military force — as it did in Lebanon in 1958 — it kept its presence small and didn’t stay long. Concerns about a potential Soviet grab for the Gulf led the United States to create a new Rapid Deployment Force after the 1979 Iranian revolution, but Washington kept it offshore and over the horizon and didn’t bring it into the region until Iraq seized Kuwait in 1990. Because that invasion posed a serious threat to the regional balance of power, it made good sense for the United States (and many others) to intervene to expel Iraq and demolish much of its military machine.

The United States abandoned this sensible strategy after the first Gulf War, however, opting first for dual containment and then regional transformation. The first approach helped produce 9/11; the second brought us the debacle in Iraq and played no small role in the emergence of the Islamic State and the wider chaos we see there today. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that Trump was critical of past U.S. involvement and promised to act differently as president.

In that light, consider what Trump has done since he took office.

First, as his recent actions in Syria remind us, he has shown no enthusiasm whatsoever for an expanded U.S. role in that conflict and especially not if it might involve a major U.S. ground force presence. Remember that a couple of weeks ago he was talking about getting out entirely, to the horror of nearly everyone in the foreign-policy mainstream. Like his predecessors, he’s willing to order missile strikes on thugs such as Bashar al-Assad — earning the usual cheers from liberal interventionists who never saw a military action they couldn’t find some rationale for supporting — but he’s not going to do more than that, and there’s no sign of a U.S.-led diplomatic initiative (such as the one Aaron Stein has proposed) that might actually move that brutal conflict closer to a solution. Blowing things up from a safe distance is all Trump seems willing to contemplate, even when it won’t affect the situation in Syria in the slightest.

The rest of Trump’s approach to the Middle East has been to let America’s local clients — Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Syrian Kurdish militias, etc. — do more to counter various regional opponents (Iran, Syria, and increasingly Russia), as well as nonstate troublemakers, including al Qaeda and offshoots such as the Islamic State. Hezbollah and Hamas fall under that bad guy umbrella, too. To aid these efforts, the United States will sell or give its allies lots of sophisticated weapons (which helps reduce the trade deficit) and provide them with diplomatic cover at the United Nations. Washington will also turn a blind eye to whatever foolish cruelties its regional partners decide to inflict on mostly helpless victims and forget about trying to promote democracy, human rights, regional transformation, or any of that idealistic sob stuff.

Isn’t this more restrained approach what I (and other realists) have been recommending for years, to little avail? The United States stays out of the region and lets the locals duke it out so long as none of them comes close to winning it all. Over time, it can worry less and less about the entire Middle East as the world weans itself off fossil fuels (and the country’s own shale gas production provides whatever residual it needs). In the meantime, the United States can focus its attention on regions that matter more, such as East and Southeast Asia. Shouldn’t I be cheering (and claiming credit) for Trump’s handling of these issues?

Not quite.

There’s no question that Trump is appropriately wary of what he sees as open-ended military quagmires, and that’s a step in the right direction after the follies of the past 25 years. But that wariness hardly makes him unique at this point. No sensible leader starts a war if he or she knows in advance that it will be an open-ended and costly affair, and for the United States, the more demanding challenge is getting out of the endless wars of choice it has stumbled into by mistake. And here Trump has visibly failed.

Tweeted misgivings and sometimes sensible rhetoric aside, the cold, hard truth is that Trump has done next to nothing to reduce the U.S. footprint in the greater Middle East. In addition to sending more troops to the unwinnable Afghan war, he has authorized the Defense Department to ramp up U.S. counterterrorism activities in several places and sent more troops to do the job. By one estimate, the U.S. military presence in the region has increased by about 33 percent on Trump’s watch, to a total of roughly 54,000 troops and civilian support personnel.

To be clear, that’s not exactly what people like me mean by “offshore.”

Second, the central goal of offshore balancing is to prevent any hostile power from dominating a critical strategic region and, if possible, to get others to bear most of the burden of that effort. Well, as Trump (or George W. Bush) might say: “Mission accomplished.” Preserving a balance of power in the region is easier today than it has ever been because the Middle East is already as divided as it has ever been and there’s no outside power (like the old Soviet Union) that might aspire to such a goal. (Russia’s role in Syria is limited to keeping Assad in power — full stop — and that’s a very modest objective.) The idea that any single power is going to dominate or control the entire region is presently remote and likely to remain so for decades. The United States couldn’t do it when it was the uncontested unipolar power, and China, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, or Iran wouldn’t be able to do it if they tried.

Yet Trump’s headlong support for America’s present clients rests on the assumption that the regional balance of power is actually quite delicate. Poorly informed and easily bamboozled, he has swallowed the Saudi/Israeli/Emirati view that Iran is a rapacious potential hegemon that is on the brink of establishing a new Persian Empire. In Trump’s mind, therefore, the United States has little choice but to give its local allies uncritical and unconditional support. (One suspects the equally gullible Jared Kushner had a role in this feverish vision, too.) At the same time, Trump inexplicably thinks walking away from the nuclear deal with Iran will make containing the country easier because he fails to grasp that sabotaging the deal will make it more likely that Iran ends up a nuclear weapons state like North Korea. The United States could launch a preventive war, but that possibility has quagmire written all over it and is hardly what offshore balancers would recommend. America’s local clients may be delighted if it took this fateful step (and if it worked, of course), but that would only prove that Washington’s allies were better at passing the buck to it than it was at passing the buck back to them.

Needless to say, Trump’s uncritical embrace of U.S. allies’ self-interested worldview is at odds with the sober realism that offshore balancers recommend. And as I’ve already explained in an earlier column, paranoia about Iran is badly at odds with reality and just gets in the way of a more sensible Middle East strategy.

Furthermore, giving present allies unconditional support while ostracizing Iran reduces America’s leverage over everyone’s behavior and thus limits its ability to shape events in positive ways. It encourages allies to take U.S. support for granted — and why shouldn’t they, given the fawning adoration on display for leaders such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — and gives them little incentive to do what they can to stay in America’s good graces.

Even worse, such an uncritical stance encourages what Barry Posen, a security studies expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, calls “reckless driving,” meaning the tendency for allies to take unnecessary risks and pursue foolhardy policies because they believe their powerful patron will bail them out if they get into difficulties. That overconfidence explains why the Israeli government thinks building settlements poses no risks and helps us understand why Mohammed bin Salman is waging a costly and inhumane war in Yemen, trying (and failing) to ostracize Qatar, and interfering in Lebanon and Syria to no good purpose. It is partly because he is headstrong and impulsive but also because he’s confident that America has his back now no matter how badly his initiatives fare.

If the United States were truly acting like an offshore balancer (i.e., the way Great Britain did in its great-power heyday), it would have diplomatic relations and businesslike dealings with all countries in the Middle East, not just the ones that have successfully convinced it to back their agendas and ignore its own interests. Offshore balancers want U.S. diplomats talking to everyone pretty much all of the time and to drive a hard bargain with friends and foes alike. That’s the luxury America’s providential position in the Western Hemisphere affords it, and you’d think a selfish guy like Trump would understand it easily. The United States should have regular dealings with its adversaries not because it likes them or agrees with them but because that is the best way to advance U.S. interests. Frequent interactions with both friends and (current) foes give Washington the opportunity to explain how it sees things, make it easier for it to understand what others are thinking, and facilitate devising strategies that will get them to give the United States most of what it wants.

Lastly, talking to everyone reminds enemies that they might become friends if they play their cards right and reminds current friends that they aren’t the only game in town and that they shouldn’t take American support for granted. When U.S. officials meet with their counterparts in in Riyadh or Tel Aviv or Cairo, I want everyone in the room to know that some other U.S. officials are busy discussing regional affairs in Tehran and Moscow, too. And vice versa, of course. That’s how other great powers do it: Why shouldn’t the United States?

To sum up: Trump has a ways to go before he can be considered a true offshore balancer. He seems to grasp part of the logic — it’s better to let others contend than to do the heavy lifting yourself — but he lacks the knowledge, skill, and subtlety to make a sophisticated strategy like this work. I’m not expecting him to improve either, because he may not have that much time left. And even if he does, learning on the job just doesn’t seem to be in his skill set.

Stephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.

United States non-interventionism

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Non-interventionism is the diplomatic policy whereby a nation seeks to avoid alliances with other nations in order to avoid being drawn into wars not related to direct territorial self-defense, has had a long history among government and popular opinion in the United States. At times, the degree and nature of this policy was better known as isolationism, such as the period between the world wars.



Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Whig Prime Minister, proclaimed in 1723: “My politics are to keep free from all engagements as long as we possibly can.” He emphasized economic advantage and rejected the idea of intervening in European affairs to maintain a balance of power.[1] Walpole’s position was known to Americans. However, during the American Revolution, the Second Continental Congress debated about forming an alliance with France. It rejected non-interventionism when it was apparent that the American Revolutionary War could be won in no other manner than a military alliance with France, which Benjamin Franklin successfully negotiated in 1778.[2]

After Britain and France went to war in 1792, George Washington declared neutrality, with unanimous support of his cabinet, after deciding that the treaty with France of 1778 did not apply.[3] Washington’s Farewell Address of 1796 explicitly announced the policy of American non-interventionism:

The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.[4]

No entangling alliances (19th century)

President Thomas Jefferson extended Washington’s ideas about foreign policy in his March 4, 1801 inaugural address. Jefferson said that one of the “essential principles of our government” is that of “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.”[5] He also stated that “Commerce with all nations, alliance with none, should be” the motto of the United States.[6]

In 1823, President James Monroe articulated what would come to be known as the Monroe Doctrine, which some have interpreted as non-interventionist in intent: “In the wars of the European powers, in matters relating to themselves, we have never taken part, nor does it comport with our policy, so to do. It is only when our rights are invaded, or seriously menaced that we resent injuries, or make preparations for our defense.” It was applied to Hawaii in 1842 in support of eventual annexation there, and to support U.S. expansion on the North American continent.

After Tsar Alexander II put down the 1863 January Uprising in Poland, French Emperor Napoleon III asked the United States to “join in a protest to the Tsar.”[7] Secretary of State William H. Seward declined, “defending ‘our policy of non-intervention—straight, absolute, and peculiar as it may seem to other nations,'” and insisted that “[t]he American people must be content to recommend the cause of human progress by the wisdom with which they should exercise the powers of self-government, forbearing at all times, and in every way, from foreign alliances, intervention, and interference.”[7]

President Ulysses S. Grant attempted to Annex the Dominican Republic in 1870, but failed to get the support of the Radical Republicans in the Senate.[8] The United States’ policy of non-intervention was wholly abandoned with the Spanish–American War, followed by the Philippine–American War from 1899–1902.

20th century non-interventionism

Wake Up, America! Civilization Calls, poster by James Montgomery Flagg, 1917

Theodore Roosevelt‘s administration is credited with inciting the Panamanian Revolt against Colombia in order to secure construction rights for the Panama Canal (begun in 1904).

The President of the United States Woodrow Wilson, after winning reelection with the slogan “He kept us out of war,” was able to navigate neutrality in World War I for about three years. Early on, their historic shunning of foreign entanglements, and the presence in the US of immigrants with divided loyalties in the conflict helped maintain neutrality. Various causes compelled American entry into World War I, and Congress would vote to declare war on Germany;[9] this would involve the nation on the side of the Triple Entente, but only as an “associated power” fighting the same enemy, not one officially allied with them.[10] A few months after the declaration of War, Wilson gave a speech to congress outlining his aims to end the conflict, labeled the Fourteen Points. While this American proclamation was less triumphalist than the aims of some of its allies, it did propose in the final point, that a general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike. After the war, Wilson traveled to Europe and stayed for months to labor on the post-war treaty; no president had previously enjoined such sojourn outside of the country. In that Treaty of Versailles, Wilson’s association was formulated as the League of Nations.

Protest march to prevent American involvement in World War II before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Isolationism Between the World Wars

In the wake of the First World War, the non-interventionist tendencies gained ascendancy. The Treaty of Versailles, and thus, United States’ participation in the League of Nations, even with reservations, was rejected by the Senate in the final months of Wilson’s presidency. Republican Senate leader Henry Cabot Lodge supported the Treaty with reservations to be sure Congress had final authority on sending the U.S. into war. Wilson and his Democratic supporters rejected the Lodge Reservations,

The strongest opposition to American entry into the League of Nations came from the Senate where a tight-knit faction known as the Irreconcilables, led by William Borah and George Norris, had great objections regarding the clauses of the treaty which compelled America to come to the defense of other nations. Senator William Borah, of Idaho, declared that it would “purchase peace at the cost of any part of our [American] independence.”[11] Senator Hiram Johnson, of California, denounced the League of Nations as a “gigantic war trust.”[12] While some of the sentiment was grounded in adherence to Constitutional principles, most of the sentiment bore a reassertion of nativist and inward-looking policy.[13]

The United States acted independently to become a major player in the 1920s in international negotiations and treaties. The Harding Administration achieved naval disarmament among the major powers through the Washington Naval Conference in 1921-22. The Dawes Plan refinanced war debts and helped restore prosperity to Germany, In August 1928, fifteen nations signed the Kellogg–Briand Pact, brainchild of American Secretary of State Frank Kellogg and French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand.[14] This pact that was said to have outlawed war and showed the United States commitment to international peace had its semantic flaws.[15] For example, it did not hold the United States to the conditions of any existing treaties, it still allowed European nations the right to self-defense, and it stated that if one nation broke the Pact, it would be up to the other signatories to enforce it.[16] The Kellogg–Briand Pact was more of a sign of good intentions on the part of the US, rather than a legitimate step towards the sustenance of world peace.

The economic depression that ensued after the Crash of 1929, also continued to abet non-intervention. The attention of the country focused mostly on addressing the problems of the national economy. The rise of aggressive expansionism policies by Fascist Italy and the Empire of Japan led to conflicts such as the Italian conquest of Ethiopia and the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. These events led to ineffectual condemnations by the League of Nations. Official American response was muted. America also did not take sides in the brutal Spanish Civil War.

Non-interventionism before entering World War II

As Europe moved closer to war in the late 1930s, the United States Congress continued to demand American neutrality. Between 1936 and 1937, much to the dismay of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Congress passed the Neutrality Acts. For example, in the final Neutrality Act, Americans could not sail on ships flying the flag of a belligerent nation or trade arms with warring nations. Such activities had played a role in American entrance into World War I.

On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded PolandBritain and France subsequently declared war on Germany, marking the start of World War II. In an address to the American People two days later, President Roosevelt assured the nation that he would do all he could to keep them out of war.[17] However, his words showed his true goals. “When peace has been broken anywhere, the peace of all countries everywhere is in danger,” Roosevelt said.[17] Even though he was intent on neutrality as the official policy of the United States, he still echoed the dangers of staying out of this war. He also cautioned the American people to not let their wish to avoid war at all costs supersede the security of the nation.[17]

The war in Europe split the American people into two camps: non-interventionists and interventionists. The two sides argued over America’s involvement in this World War II. The basic principle of the interventionist argument was fear of German invasion. By the summer of 1940, France suffered a stunning defeat by Germans, and Britain was the only democratic enemy of Germany.[18][19] In a 1940 speech, Roosevelt argued, “Some, indeed, still hold to the now somewhat obvious delusion that we … can safely permit the United States to become a lone island … in a world dominated by the philosophy of force.”[20] A national survey found that in the summer of 1940, 67% of Americans believed that a German-Italian victory would endanger the United States, that if such an event occurred 88% supported “arm[ing] to the teeth at any expense to be prepared for any trouble”, and that 71% favored “the immediate adoption of compulsory military training for all young men”.[21]

Ultimately, the ideological rift between the ideals of the United States and the goals of the fascist powers empowered the interventionist argument. Writer Archibald MacLeish asked, “How could we sit back as spectators of a war against ourselves?”[22] In an address to the American people on December 29, 1940, President Roosevelt said, “the Axis not merely admits but proclaims that there can be no ultimate peace between their philosophy of government and our philosophy of government.”[23]

However, there were still many who held on to non-interventionism. Although a minority, they were well organized, and had a powerful presence in Congress.[24] Pro-German or anti-British opinion contributed to non-interventionism. Roosevelt’s national share of the 1940 presidential vote declined by seven percentage points from 1936. Of the 20 counties in which his share declined by 35 points or more, 19 were largely German-speaking. Of the 35 counties in which his share declined by 25 to 34 points, German was the largest or second-largest original nationality in 31.[25] Non-interventionists rooted a significant portion of their arguments in historical precedent, citing events such as Washington’s farewell address and the failure of World War I.[26] “If we have strong defenses and understand and believe in what we are defending, we need fear nobody in this world,” Robert Maynard Hutchins, President of the University of Chicago, wrote in a 1940 essay.[27] Isolationists believed that the safety of the nation was more important than any foreign war.[28]

As 1940 became 1941, the actions of the Roosevelt administration made it more and more clear that the United States was on a course to war. This policy shift, driven by the President, came in two phases. The first came in 1939 with the passage of the Fourth Neutrality Act, which permitted the United States to trade arms with belligerent nations, as long as these nations came to America to retrieve the arms, and pay for them in cash.[24] This policy was quickly dubbed, ‘Cash and Carry.’[29] The second phase was the Lend-Lease Act of early 1941. This act allowed the President “to lend, lease, sell, or barter arms, ammunition, food, or any ‘defense article’ or any ‘defense information’ to ‘the government of any country whose defense the President deems vital to the defense of the United States.'”[30] American public opinion supported Roosevelt’s actions. As United States involvement in the Battle of the Atlantic grew with incidents such as the sinking of the USS Reuben James(DD-245), by late 1941 72% of Americans agreed that “the biggest job facing this country today is to help defeat the Nazi Government”, and 70% thought that defeating Germany was more important than staying out of the war.[31]

After the attack on Pearl Harbor caused America to enter the war in December 1941, isolationists such as Charles Lindbergh‘s America First Committee and Herbert Hoover announced their support of the war effort.[32] Isolationist families’ sons fought in the war as much as others.[25]

Non-interventionism after World War II

Ohio Senator Robert A Taft was a leading opponent of interventionism after 1945, although it always played a secondary role to his deep interest in domestic affairs. Historian George Fujii, citing the Taft papers, argues:

Taft fought a mostly losing battle to reduce government expenditures and to curtail or prevent foreign aid measures such as the British loan of 1945 and the Marshall Plan. He feared that these measures would “destroy the freedom of the individual, freedom of States and local communities, freedom of the farmer to run his own farm and the workman to do his own job” (p. 375), thereby threatening the foundations of American prosperity and leading to a “totalitarian state” (p. 377).[33]

In 1951, in the midst of bitter partisan debate over the Korean War, Taft increasingly spoke out on foreign policy issues. According to his biographer James T. Patterson:

Two basic beliefs continued to form a fairly consistent core of Taft’s thinking on foreign policy. First, he insisted on limiting America’s overseas commitments. [Taft said] “Nobody today can be an isolationist…. The only question is the degree to which we shall take action throughout the entire world.” America had obligations that it had to honor – such as NATO – and it could not turn a blind eye to such countries as Formosa or Israel. But the United States had limited funds and problems at home and must therefore curb its commitments….This fear of overcommitment was rooted in Taft’s even deeper faith in liberty, which made him shrink from a foreign policy that would cost large sums of money, increase the power of the military, and transform American society into what he called a garrison state.[34]

Norman A. Graebner argues:

Differences over collective security in the G.O.P. were real in 1952, but Taft tried during his pre-convention campaign to moderate his image as a “go-it-aloner” in foreign policy. His whole effort proved unsuccessful, largely because by spring the internationalist camp had a formidable candidate of its own in Dwight D. Eisenhower. As the personification of post-1945 American commitment to collective security, particularly in Europe, General Eisenhower had decided to run because he feared, apparently, that Taft’s election would lead to repudiation of the whole collective security effort, including NATO.[35]

Eisenhower won the nomination and secured Taft’s support by promising Taft a dominant voice in domestic policies, while Eisenhower’s internationalism would set the foreign-policy agenda.[36] Graebner argues that Eisenhower succeeded in moving the conservative Republicans away from their traditional attacks on foreign aid and reciprocal trade policies, and collective security arrangements, to support for those policies.[37] By 1964 the Republican conservatives rallied behind Barry Goldwater who was an aggressive advocate of an anti-communist internationalist foreign policy. Goldwater wanted to roll back Communism and win the Cold War, asking “Why Not Victory?”[38]

Non-interventionism in the 21st century

During the presidency of Barack Obama, some members of the United States federal government, including President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, considered intervening militarily in the Syrian Civil War.[39][40] A poll from late April 2013 found that 62% of Americans thought that the “United States has no responsibility to do something about the fighting in Syria between government forces and antigovernment groups,” with only twenty-five percent disagreeing with that statement.[41] A writer for The New York Times referred to this as “an isolationist streak,” a characterization international relations scholar Stephen Walt strongly objected to, calling the description “sloppy journalism.”[41][42] According to Walt, “the overwhelming majority of people who have doubts about the wisdom of deeper involvement in Syria—including yours truly—are not ‘isolationist.’ They are merely sensible people who recognize that we may not have vital interests there, that deeper involvement may not lead to a better outcome and could make things worse, and who believe that the last thing the United States needs to do is to get dragged into yet another nasty sectarian fight in the Arab/Islamic world.”[42]

In December 2013, the Pew Research Center reported that their newest poll, “American’s Place in the World 2013,” had revealed that 52 percent of respondents in the national poll said that the United States “should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own.”[43] This was the most people to answer that question this way in the history of the question, one which pollsters began asking in 1964.[44] Only about a third of respondents felt this way a decade ago.[44]

A July 2014 poll of “battleground voters” across the United States found “77 percent in favor of full withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of 2016; only 15 percent and 17 percent interested in more involvement in Syria and Ukraine, respectively; and 67 percent agreeing with the statement that, ‘U.S. military actions should be limited to direct threats to our national security.'”[45]

Conservative policies

Rathbun (2008) compares three separate themes in conservative policies since the 1980s: conservatismneoconservatism, and isolationism. These approaches are similar in that they all invoked the mantle of “realism” and pursued foreign policy goals designed to promote national interests. Conservatives, however, were the only group that was “realist” in the academic sense in that they defined the national interest narrowly, strove for balances of power internationally, viewed international relations as amoral, and especially valued sovereignty. By contrast, neoconservatives based their foreign policy on nationalism, and isolationists sought to minimize any involvement in foreign affairs and raise new barriers to immigration.[46] Former Republican Congressman Ron Paul favored a return to the non-interventionist policies of Thomas Jefferson and frequently opposed military intervention in countries like Iran and Iraq.

Supporters of non-interventionism


Government officials

Public figures

See also



External links

Offshore balancing

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Offshore balancing is a strategic concept used in realist analysis in international relations. It describes a strategy in which a great power uses favored regional powers to check the rise of potentially-hostile powers. This strategy stands in contrast to the dominant grand strategy in the United States, liberal hegemony. Offshore balancing calls for a great power to withdraw from onshore positions and focus its offshore capabilities on the three key geopolitical regions of the world: Europe, the Persian Gulf, and Northeast Asia.


Christopher Layne[1] attributes the introduction of the term “offshore balancing” to himself in his 1997 article.[2] Several experts on strategy, such as John Mearsheimer[3]Stephen Walt[4]Robert Pape[5], Sumantra Maitra[6], Patrick Porter[7] and Andrew Bacevich, have embraced the approach. They argue that offshore balancing has its historical roots in British grand strategy regarding Europe, which was eventually adopted and pursued by the United States and Japan at various points in their history. [8]

According to political scientist John Mearsheimer, in his University of Chicago “American Grand Strategy” class, offshore balancing was the strategy used by the United States in the 1930s and also in the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War. Mearsheimer argues that when the United States gave Lend-Lease aid to Britain in the 1940s, the United States engaged in offshore balancing by being the arsenal of democracy, not the fighter for it.

That is consistent with offshore balancing because the US initially did not want to commit American lives to the European conflict. The United States supported the losing side (Iraq) in the Iran–Iraq War to prevent the development of a regional hegemon, which could ultimately threaten US influence. Furthermore, offshore balancing can seem like isolationism when a rough balance of power in international relations exists, which was the case in the 1930s. It was also the strategy used during the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union.


The grand strategy of “offshore balancing” arguably permits a great power to maintain its power without the costs of large military deployments around the world. It can be seen as the informal-empire analogue to federalism in formal ones (for instance the proposal for the Imperial Federation in the late British Empire). Offshore balancing, as its name implies, is a grand strategy that can be pursue only by island states on the edges of Eurasia and by isolated great powers, such as the United States.

The strategy calls for such states to maintain a rough balance of power in the three key geopolitical regions of the world: Europe, the Persian Gulf, and Northeast Asia. The three regions are the focus, since Europe and Northeast Asia are the major industrial centers of the world, which contain all of the other great powers and the Persian Gulf for its importance to the global oil market. Outside of these regions, an offshore balancer should not worry about developments. Also, a state pursuing offshore balancing should first seek to pass the buck to local powers and intervene only if the threat is too great for the other powers in the region to handle.[9]

Notable thinkers associated with offshore balancing



Further reading



Stephen Walt

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Stephen Walt
Stephen Martin Walt

July 2, 1955 (age 64)

Alma mater Stanford University (B.A.)
University of California, Berkeley
School Neorealism
Institutions Harvard University
University of Chicago
Princeton University
Main interests
International relations theory
Notable ideas
Defensive realismBalance of threat theory

Stephen Martin Walt (born July 2, 1955) is an American professor of international affairs at Harvard University‘s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He belongs to the realist school of international relations.[1] He made important contributions to the theory of defensive neorealism and has authored the balance of threat theory. Books he has authored (or co-authored) include Origins of AlliancesRevolution and War, and The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.[2]

Early life and education

Walt was born in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where his father, a physicist, worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory. His mother was a teacher. The family moved to the Bay Area when Walt was about eight months old. Walt grew up in Los Altos Hills.[3]

Walt pursued his undergraduate studies at Stanford University. He first majored in chemistry with an eye to becoming a Biochemist. He then shifted to history, and finally to International Relations.[3]

After attaining his B.A., Walt began graduate work at UC Berkeley, graduating with a M.A. in Political Science in 1978, and a Ph.D. in Political Science in 1983.


Walt taught at Princeton University and the University of Chicago, where he served as Master of the Social Science Collegiate Division and Deputy Dean of Social Sciences. As of 2015, he holds the Robert and Renee Belfer Professorship in International Affairs in the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.[2][4]

Other professional activities

Walt was elected a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in May 2005.[4]

He spoke at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University in 2010.[5] In 2012, Walt took part in a panel at the one-state solution conference at the Kennedy School, along with Ali Abunimah and Eve Spangler.[6]

Walt spoke at Clark University in April 2013.[7] He gave a talk at the College of William and Mary in October 2013 about “Why US Foreign Policy Keeps Failing.”[8]

He delivered the 2013 F.H. Hinsley Lecture at Cambridge University.[9]

Views and opinions

American power and culture

In a comprehensive 2005 article, “Taming American Power”, Walt argued that the US should “make its dominant position acceptable to others – by using military force sparingly, by fostering greater cooperation with key allies, and, most important of all, by rebuilding its crumbling international image.” He proposed the US “resume its traditional role as an ‘offshore balancer'”, intervening “only when absolutely necessary” and keeping “its military presence as small as possible.”[10]

In a late 2011 article for The National Interest entitled “The End of the American Era”, Walt wrote that America is losing its position of world dominance.[11]

Walt gave a speech in 2013 to the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies entitled “Why does US foreign policy keep failing?” The Institute later described him as seeing “an overwhelming bias among US foreign policy institutions toward an activist foreign policy” and “a propensity to exaggerate threats, noting the chances of being struck by lightning have been far greater since 2001 than death by terrorist attack.” He also characterized the US as lacking “diplomatic skill and finesse” and advised Europeans “to think of themselves and not rely on the US for guidance or advice on solving their security issues.” Ultimately, he argued, “the United States is simply not skilled enough to run the world.”[12]

“Why are Americans so willing to pay taxes in order to support a world-girdling national security establishment,” asked Walt in 2013, “yet so reluctant to pay taxes to have better schools, health care, roads, bridges, subways, parks, museums, libraries, and all the other trappings of a wealthy and successful society?” He said this question was especially puzzling given that “the United States is the most secure power in history and will remain remarkably secure unless it keeps repeating the errors of the past decade or so.”[13]

Foreign policy views

A critic of military interventionism, Walt stated, “Hawks like to portray opponents of military intervention as ‘isolationist’ because they know it is a discredited political label. Yet there is a coherent case for a more detached and selective approach to U.S. grand strategy, and one reason that our foreign policy establishment works so hard to discredit is their suspicion that a lot of Americans might find it convincing if they weren’t constantly being reminded about looming foreign dangers in faraway places. The arguments in favor of a more restrained grand strategy are far from silly, and the approach makes a lot more sense to than neoconservatives’ fantasies of global primacy or liberal hawks’ fondness for endless quasi-humanitarian efforts to reform whole regions.”[14]


In 1998, Walt wrote that “deep structural forces” were “beginning to pull Europe and America apart.”[15]

Walt argues that NATO must be sustained because of four major areas where close cooperation is beneficial to European and American interest.[16]

  1. Defeating international terrorism; Walt sees a need for cooperation between Europe and the United States in managing terrorist networks and stopping the flow of money to terror cells.[16]
  2. Limiting the spread of weapons of mass destruction; Walt argues that anti-proliferation efforts are most successful when Europe and the U.S. work in concert to bring loose nuclear material into responsible custody. He cites the case of Libya’s willingness to abandon its nascent fission program after being pressured multilaterally as evidence of this.[16]
  3. Managing the world economy; lowering barriers to trade and investment particularly between the U.S. and the E.U. will accelerate economic growth. Notable differences in trade policy stem mainly in areas of agricultural policy.[16]
  4. Dealing with failed states; failed states are breeding grounds for anti-Western movements. Managing failed states such as Afghanistan, Bosnia and Somalia require a multinational response since the U.S. has insufficient wealth to modernise and rebuild these alone. In this area European allies are especially desirable because they have more experience with peacekeeping and “nation-building”.[16]

Eastern Europe and Russia

Walt believes extending invitations for NATO membership to countries in the former Soviet bloc is a “dangerous and unnecessary goal” and that nations such as Ukraine ought to be “neutral buffer state(s) in perpetuity”.[17] From this perspective, he believed that arming Ukrainian armed forces after the annexation of the Crimea by Russia “is a recipe for a longer and more destructive conflict.”[17]

Middle East

Walt said in December 2012 that America’s “best course in the Middle East would be to act as an ‘offshore balancer’: ready to intervene if the balance of power is upset, but otherwise keeping our military footprint small. We should also have normal relationship with states like Israel and Saudi Arabia, instead of the counterproductive ‘special relationships’ we have today.”[18]

An article by Stephen Walt, ″What Should We Do if the Islamic State Wins? Live with it″, appeared on June 10, 2015 in Foreign Policy Magazine.[19] He explained his view that the Islamic State is unlikely to grow into a long-lasting world power on Point of Inquiry, the podcast of the Center for Inquiry in July 2015.[20]


Walt has been a critic of the Israel lobby in the United States and the influence he says it has on foreign policy. He wrote that President Obama erred by breaking with the principles in his Cairo speech by allowing continued Israeli settlement activity and by participating in a “well-coordinated assault” against the Goldstone Report.[4]

Walt suggested in 2010 that, owing to State Department diplomat Dennis Ross‘s alleged partiality toward Israel, he might give President Obama advice that was against US interests.[21] Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), defended Ross and criticized Walt, in a piece published by Foreign Affairs (which had published Walt’s piece a few days earlier).[22] Satloff wrote that Ross’s connection to WINEP is innocuous (Ross was a distinguished fellow at WINEP throughout George W. Bush’s administration, and Mearsheimer and Walt’s book described WINEP as “part of the core” of the Israel lobby in the United States) and that Walt mistakenly believes the U.S. cannot simultaneously “advance strategic partnership both with Israel and with friendly Arab and Muslim states”[22]

After the Itamar attack, in which a Jewish family was killed on the West Bank in March 2011, Walt condemned the murderers, but added that “while we are at it, we should not spare the other parties who have helped create and perpetuate the circumstances”, listing “every Israeli government since 1967, for actively promoting the illegal effort to colonize these lands”, “Palestinian leaders who have glorified violence”, and “the settlers themselves, some of whom routinely use violence to intimidate the Palestinians who live in the lands they covet”.[23]

Walt criticized the US for voting against a Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s West Bank settlements, calling the vote a “foolish step” because “the resolution was in fact consistent with the official policy of every president since Lyndon Johnson.”[24]


Walt has frequently criticized America’s policy with respect to Iran. In 2011, Walt told an interviewer that the American reaction to an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in the United States “might be part of a larger American diplomatic effort to put Iran on the hot seat.”[25]

“Washington continues to insist on a near-total Iranian capitulation,” wrote Walt in December 2012. “And because Iran has been effectively demonized here in America, it would be very hard for President Obama to reach a compromise and then sell it back home.”[26]

Walt said in November 2013 that “Americans often forget just how secure the United States is, especially compared with other states,” thanks to its power, resources, and geography, and thus “routinely blows minor threats out of all proportion. I mean: Iran has a defense budget of about $10 billion…yet we manage to convince ourselves that Iran is a Very Serious Threat to U.S. vital interests. Ditto the constant fretting about minor-league powers like Syria, North Korea, Muammar al-Qaddafi’s Libya, and other so-called ‘rogue states.'” Therefore, whatever happens in the Middle East, “the United States can almost certainly adjust and adapt and be just fine.”[13]


After visiting Libya, Walt wrote in Foreign Policy in January 2010 that while “Libya is far from a democracy, it also doesn’t feel like other police states that I have visited. I caught no whiff of an omnipresent security service—which is not to say that they aren’t there…. The Libyans with whom I spoke were open and candid and gave no sign of being worried about being overheard or reported or anything like that. … I tried visiting various political websites from my hotel room and had no problems, although other human rights groups report that Libya does engage in selective filtering of some political websites critical of the regime. It is also a crime to criticize Qaddafi himself, the government’s past human rights record is disturbing at best, and the press in Libya is almost entirely government-controlled. Nonetheless, Libya appears to be more open than contemporary Iran or China and the overall atmosphere seemed far less oppressive than most places I visited in the old Warsaw Pact.”[27]

David E. Bernstein, Foundation Professor at the George Mason University School of Law, criticized Walt in 2011 for accepting funding from the Libyan government for a trip to Libya, where he addressed that country’s Economic Development Board and then wrote what Bernstein called “a puff piece” about his visit. Bernstein said it was ironic that “Walt, after fulminating about the American domestic ‘Israel Lobby'” had thus become “a part of the ‘Libya lobby'”. Bernstein found it ironic that “Walt, a leading critic of the friendship the U.S. and Israel, concludes his piece with the hope ‘that the United States and Libya continue to nurture and build a constructive relationship.’ Because, you know, Israel is so much nastier than Qaddafi’s Libya.”[28]

Under the headline “Is Stephen Walt Blind, a Complete Fool, or a Big Liar?”, Martin Peretz of the New Republic mocked Walt for praising Libya, which Peretz called a “murderous place” and for viewing its dictator as “civilized”. Peretz contrasted Walt’s view of Libya, which, Peretz noted, he had visited for less than a day.[29]


In August 2013, Walt argued that even if it turned out that Bashar al-Assad of Syria had used chemical weapons, the U.S. should not intervene. “Dead is dead, no matter how it is done”, wrote Walt. Yes, “Obama may be tempted to strike because he foolishly drew a ‘red line’ over this issue and feels his credibility is now at stake. But following one foolish step with another will not restore that lost standing.”[30] In September 2013, Walt wrote an open letter asking his congressman to vote against a strike on Syria. Dr. Josef Olmert pointed out “at least two glaring inaccuracies”, including Walt’s failure to recognize that Syria is already a failed state and already riven by sectarian struggle, “something that ‘realist’ liberals find somehow hard to accept.” Olmert noted that despite Walt’s professed belief that Israel is at the center of all Middle East conflicts, Israel in fact has nothing to do with the conflicts in Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, or other countries in the region, which “are mostly the makings of the Arabs, ones which ought to be solved by them.”[31]


Walt posits that offshore balancing is the most desirable strategy when dealing with China.[32][33] In 2011 Walt argued that China will seek to gain regional hegemony and a broad sphere of influence in Asia which was comparable in size to the USA’s position in the western hemisphere.[32] If this happens, he predicts that China would be secure enough on the mainland to give added attention to shaping events to its favour in far flung areas. Given that China is resource poor, the nation will likely aim to safeguard vital sea lanes in areas such as the Persian Gulf.[34][35]

In a December 2012 interview, Walt said that “the United States does not help its own cause by exaggerating Chinese power. We should not base our policy today on what China might become twenty or thirty years down the road.”[36]

“Balance of Threat” theory

Walt developed the ‘balance of threat‘ theory, which defined threats in terms of aggregate power, geographic proximity, offensive power, and aggressive intentions. It is a modification of the “balance of power” theory developed by neorealist Kenneth Waltz.[37]

Snowden case

In July 2013, Walt argued that President Obama should give Edward Snowden an immediate pardon. “Mr Snowden’s motives,” wrote Walt, “were laudable: he believed fellow citizens should know their government was conducting a secret surveillance programme enormous in scope, poorly supervised and possibly unconstitutional. He was right.” History, Walt suggested, “will probably be kinder to Mr Snowden than to his pursuers, and his name may one day be linked to the other brave men and women – Daniel EllsbergMartin Luther King JrMark FeltKaren Silkwood and so on – whose acts of principled defiance are now widely admired.”[38]


In his 1987 book The Origins of Alliances, Walt examines the way in which alliances are made, and “proposes a fundamental change in the present conceptions of alliance systems.”[39]

Revolution and War (1996) exposes “the flaws in existing theories about the relationship between revolution and war” by studying in detail the French, Russian, and Iranian revolutions and providing briefer views of the American, Mexican, Turkish, and Chinese revolutions.[40]

Taming American Power (2005) provides a thorough critique of U.S. strategy from the perspective of its adversaries.[41] Anatol Lieven called it “a brilliant contribution to the American foreign policy debate.”[42]

The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of U.S. Primacy was published on 16 October 2018.

The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

In March 2006, John Mearsheimer and Walt, then academic dean of the Kennedy School of Government, published a working paper entitled “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”[43] and an article entitled “The Israel Lobby” in the London Review of Books on the negative effects of “the unmatched power of the Israel Lobby.” They defined the Israel lobby as “the loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to steer US foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction.”[44] Mearsheimer and Walt took the position that “What the Israel lobby wants, it too often gets.”[45]

The articles, as well as the bestselling book Walt and Mearsheimer later developed, generated considerable media coverage throughout the world. Contending that Walt and Mearsheimer are members of a “school that essentially wishes that the war with jihadism had never started”, Christopher Hitchens concluded that, “Wishfulness has led them to seriously mischaracterize the origins of the problem….”[46] Former U.S. Ambassador Edward Peck wrote the “tsunami” of responses condemning the report proved the existence of the lobby and “Opinions differ on the long-term costs and benefits for both nations, but the lobby’s views of Israel’s interests have become the basis of U.S. Middle East policies.”[47]

Personal life

Walt is married to Rebecca E. Stone,[48] who ran for Massachusetts House of Representatives in the 2018 election.[49] The couple has two children.[50]

Titles and positions


External links

John Mearsheimer

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John Mearsheimer
John Mearsheimer.jpg

John Joseph Mearsheimer
Born December 14, 1947 (age 72)

Education United States Military Academy
University of Southern California
Cornell University
School Neorealism
Institutions University of Chicago
Main interests
International relations theoryinternational securitydeterrence theory[1][2][2]
Notable ideas
Offensive neorealism

John Joseph Mearsheimer (/ˈmɪərʃmər/;[3] born December 14, 1947) is an American political scientist and international relations scholar, who belongs to the realist school of thought. He is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago.

Mearsheimer proposed the theory of offensive realism which describes the interaction between great powers as dominated by a rational desire to achieve hegemony in a world of insecurity and uncertainty regarding other states’ intentions. He was a vocal opponent of the Iraq War in 2003 and was almost alone in opposing Ukraine’s decision to give up its nuclear weapons in 1994 and predicted that, without a deterrent, they would face Russian aggression.

His most controversial views concern alleged influence by interest groups over US government actions in the Middle East which he wrote about in The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. In accordance with his theory, Mearsheimer considers that China’s growing power will likely bring it into conflict with the United States. His work is frequently taught to and read by twenty-first century students of political science and international relations.


Early years

Mearsheimer was born in December 1947 in BrooklynNew York. He was raised in New York City until the age of eight, when his parents moved his family to Croton-on-Hudson, New York, a suburb located in Westchester County.[4] When he was 17, Mearsheimer enlisted in the U.S. Army. After one year as an enlisted member, he chose to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point. He attended West Point from 1966 to 1970. After graduation, he served for five years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force.[5][6]

In 1974, while in the Air Force, Mearsheimer earned a Masters Degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California. He subsequently entered Cornell University and in 1980 earned a Ph.D. in government, specifically in international relations. From 1978 to 1979, he was a research fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.; from 1980 to 1982, he was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University‘s Center for International Affairs. During the 1998–1999 academic year, he was the Whitney H. Shepardson Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.[4]


Since 1982, Mearsheimer has been a member of the faculty of the Department of Political Science Faculty at the University of Chicago.[7] He became an associate professor in 1984, a full professor in 1987, and was appointed the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor in 1996. From 1989 to 1992, he served as chairman of the department. He also holds a position as a faculty member in the Committee on International Relations graduate program, and is the co-director of the Program on International Security Policy.[8]

Mearsheimer’s books include Conventional Deterrence (1983) which won the Edgar S. Furniss Jr. Book Award, Nuclear Deterrence: Ethics and Strategy (co-editor, 1985); Liddell Hart and the Weight of History (1988); The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (2001), which won the Lepgold Book PrizeThe Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (2007); and Why Leaders Lie: The Truth About Lying in International Politics (2011). His articles have appeared in academic journals like International Security and popular magazines like the London Review of Books. He has written op-ed pieces for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune.[8]

Mearsheimer has won several teaching awards. He received the Clark Award for Distinguished Teaching when he was a graduate student at Cornell in 1977, and he won the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at the University of Chicago in 1985. In addition, he was selected as a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar for the 1993–1994 academic year. In that capacity, he gave a series of talks at eight colleges and universities. In 2003, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[8]


Conventional deterrence

Mearsheimer’s first book Conventional Deterrence (1983) addresses the question of how decisions to start a war depend on the projected outcome of military conflict. In other words, how do decision makers’ beliefs about the outcome of war affect the success or failure of deterrence? Mearsheimer’s basic argument is that deterrence is likely to work when the potential attacker believes that a successful attack will be unlikely and costly. If the potential attacker, however, has reason to believe the attack will likely succeed and entail low costs, then deterrence is likely to break down. This is now widely accepted to be the way the principle of deterrence works. Specifically, Mearsheimer argues that the success of deterrence is determined by the strategy available to the potential attacker. He lays out three strategies. First, a war-of-attrition strategy, which entails a high level of uncertainty about the outcome of war and high costs for the attacker. Second, a limited-aims strategy, which entails fewer risks and lower costs. And, third, a blitzkrieg strategy, which provides a way to defeat the enemy rapidly and decisively, with relatively low costs. For Mearsheimer, failures in the modern battlefield are due mostly to the potential attacker’s belief that it can successfully implement a blitzkrieg strategy in which tanks and other mechanized forces are employed swiftly to effect a deep penetration and disrupt the enemy’s rear.[9] The other two strategies are unlikely to lead to deterrence failures because they would entail a low probability of success accompanied by high costs (war of attrition) or limited gains and the possibility of the conflict turning into a war of attrition (limited aims). If the attacker has a coherent blitzkrieg strategy available, however, an attack is likely to ensue, as its potential benefits outweigh the costs and risks of starting a war.[10]

Besides analyzing cases from World War II and the Arab–Israeli conflict, Mearsheimer extrapolates implications from his theory for the prospects of conventional deterrence in Central Europe during the late Cold War. Here, he argues that a Soviet attack is unlikely because the Soviet military would be unable to successfully implement a blitzkrieg strategy. The balance of forces, the difficulty of advancing rapidly with mechanized forces through Central Europe, and the formidable NATO forces opposing such a Soviet attack made it unlikely, in Mearsheimer’s view, that the Soviets would start a conventional war in Europe.[11]

Nuclear proliferation and nuclear deterrence

In 1990 Mearsheimer published an essay[12] where he predicted that Europe would revert to a multipolar environment similar to that in the first half of the twentieth century if American and Soviet forces left following the end of the Cold War. In another article that year, in The Atlantic, he predicted that this multipolar environment would increase nuclear proliferation in Europe, especially in Germany.[13]

In this essay and in the 1993 Foreign Affairs article “The case for a Ukrainian nuclear deterrent”,[14] he argued that to reduce the dangers of war, the United States should encourage Germany and Ukraine to develop a nuclear arsenal, while working to prevent the rise of hyper-nationalism. Mearsheimer presented several possible scenarios for a post-Cold-War Europe from which American and Russian forces had departed. He believed that a Europe with nuclear proliferation was most likely to remain at peace, because without a nuclear deterrent Germany would be likely to once more try to conquer the continent (See pages 32–33).[12] Mearsheimer argued that it would be strategically unwise for Ukraine to surrender its nuclear arsenal (remnants of the Soviet stockpile). However, in 1994 Ukraine consented to get rid of its entire former Soviet nuclear stockpile, a process that was complete by 1996. When challenged on the former assertion at a lecture given to the International Politics department at the University of Wales in Aberystwyth, he maintained that in spite of European integration and expansion, he still believed that his predictions would come true if the United States military left Europe.[15]

Also, in op-ed pieces written in 1998 and 2000 for The New York Times, Mearsheimer supported India’s decision to acquire nuclear weapons. In support of this position, he argued that India has good strategic reasons to want a nuclear deterrent, especially in order to balance against China and Pakistan, guaranteeing regional stability. He also criticized United States counter-proliferation policy towards India, which he considered unrealistic and harmful to American interests in the region.[16]

Offensive neorealism

Mearsheimer is the leading proponent of offensive neorealism. It is a structural theory which, unlike the classical realism of Hans Morgenthau, places the principal emphasis on security competition among great powers within the anarchy of the international system, and not principally on the human nature of statesmen and diplomats. In contrast to another structural realist theory, the defensive neorealism of Kenneth Waltz, offensive neorealism maintains that states are not satisfied with a given amount of power, but seek hegemony for security because the anarchic makeup of the international system creates strong incentives for states to seek opportunities to gain power at the expense of competitors.[17] Mearsheimer summed this view up in his 2001 book The Tragedy of Great Power Politics:

Given the difficulty of determining how much power is enough for today and tomorrow, great powers recognize that the best way to ensure their security is to achieve hegemony now, thus eliminating any possibility of a challenge by another great power. Only a misguided state would pass up an opportunity to be the hegemon in the system because it thought it already had sufficient power to survive.[18]

He has also dismissed democratic peace theory, which claims that democracies never or rarely go to war with one another.[19]

Mearsheimer usually does not believe it is possible for a state to become a global hegemon and occasionally recognizes the global hegemon as an accomplished fact (see chapter “Night Watchman” below). When the global hegemon is theoretically impossible, it is because there is too much landmass and too many oceans which he posits have effective stopping power and act as giant moats. Instead he believes that states can only achieve regional hegemony. Furthermore, he argues that states attempt to prevent other states from becoming regional hegemons, since peer competitors could interfere in a state’s affairs. States which have achieved regional hegemony, such as the U.S., will act as offshore balancers, interfering in other regions only when the great powers in those regions are not able to prevent the rise of a hegemon.

Endorsement of E. H. Carr

In a 2004 speech, Mearsheimer praised the British historian E. H. Carr for his 1939 book The Twenty Years’ Crisis and argued that Carr was correct when he claimed that international relations was a struggle of all against all with states always placing their own interests first.[20] Mearsheimer maintained that Carr’s points were still as relevant for 2004 as for 1939, and went on to deplore what he claimed was the dominance of “idealist” thinking about international relations among British academic life.[20]

Night Watchman

Night Watchman is “global hegemon” in Mearsheimer’s terminology—theoretical impossibility as stated in The Tragedy of Great Power Politics.[21] Nevertheless, in 1990 Mearsheimer mentioned an existing “watchman”: Democracies lived at peace because “America’s hegemonic position in NATO… mitigated the effects of anarchy on the Western democracies and induced cooperation among them … With the United States serving as a night watchman, fears about relative gains among the Western European states were mitigated…”[22]

Afterwards, Mearsheimer lost the watchman. A decade later, he described the “international anarchy” as having not changed with the end of the Cold War, “and there are few signs that such change is likely any time soon. States remain the principal actors in world politics and there is still no night watchman standing above them.”[23] Five more years later, Mearsheimer confirmed that “in an anarchic system there is no night watchman for state to call when trouble comes knocking at their door.”[24]

Precisely two decades since Mearsheimer detected the watchman in the world for the last time, he rediscovered him again. Watchman exists and, moreover, keeps Europe at peace. The article titled by question “Why Is Europe Peaceful Today?” unambiguously answers: “The reason is simple: the United States is by far the most powerful country in the world and it effectively acts as a night watchman.”[25]

Gulf War

In January and early February 1991, Mearsheimer published two op-eds in the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times arguing that the war to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi forces should be quick and lead to a decisive US victory, with less than 1,000 American casualties. This view countered the conventional wisdom at the start of the war, that predicted a conflict lasting for months and costing thousands of American lives. Mearsheimer’s argument was based on several points. First, the Iraqi Army was a Third World military, unprepared to fight mobile armored battles. Second, US armored forces were better equipped and trained. Third, US artillery was also far better than its Iraqi counterpart. Fourth, US airpower, unfettered by the weak Iraqi air force, should prove devastating against Iraqi ground forces. Fifth and finally, the forward deployment of Iraqi reserves boded ill for their ability to counter US efforts to penetrate the Iraqi defense line along the Saudi–Kuwaiti border. These predictions came true in the course of the war.[26][27]

Noelle-Neumann controversy

In October 1991, Mearsheimer was drawn into a bitter controversy at the University of Chicago regarding Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, a visiting professor from Germany. Noelle-Neumann was a prominent German pollster and a leading academic on public opinion research, who authored the highly regarded book, The Spiral of Silence. The debate centered on an article written by Leo Bogart called “The Pollster and the Nazis”. It described Noelle-Neumann’s past employment as a writer and editor for the Nazi newspaper Das Reich from 1940–42. Noelle-Neumann’s response to the article was to claim “texts written under a dictatorship more than 50 years ago cannot be read as they were in 1937, 1939 or 1941. Severed from the time and place where they were written, they are no longer real, for reality is in part based on time and place.”[28]

As chairman of Chicago’s political science department at the time, Mearsheimer sat down with Noelle-Neumann to discuss the article and the allegations. After meeting with her for over three hours, Mearsheimer publicly declared, “I believe that Noelle-Neumann was an anti-Semite,”[28] and he spearheaded a campaign asking her for an apology.[29] He joined other University of Chicago faculty in writing a joint piece for Commentary Magazine that reacted to Noelle-Neumann’s reply to the accusation against her. They declared, “by providing rhetorical support for the exclusion of Jews, her words helped make the disreputable reputable, the indecent decent, the uncivilized civilized, and the unthinkable thinkable.”[30] Mearsheimer said “Knowing what we know now about the Holocaust, there is no reason for her not to apologize. To ask somebody who played a contributing role in the greatest crime of the 20th century to say ‘I’m sorry’ is not unreasonable.”[31]

Israel lobby

In March 2006, Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, began to write jointly about the Israel lobby. Stephen Walt was the former academic dean and professor of International Relations at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and together they published a Harvard University Kennedy School of Government working paper[32] and a London Review of Books article[33] discussing the power of the Israel lobby in shaping the foreign policy of the United States. They define the Israel lobby as “a loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to steer US foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction”. They emphasize that it is not appropriate to label it a “Jewish lobby“, because not all Jews feel a strong attachment to Israel and because some of the individuals and groups who work to foster U.S. support for Israel are not Jewish; according to Mearsheimer and Walt, Christian Zionists play an important role. Finally, they emphasize that the lobby is not a cabal or a conspiracy but simply a powerful interest group like the National Rifle Association or the farm lobby. Their core argument is that the policies that the lobby pushes are not in the United States’ national interest, nor ultimately that of Israel. Those pieces generated extensive media coverage and led to a wide-ranging and often heated debate between supporters and opponents of their argument. The article was subsequently turned into a book entitled The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.

Statements on Israeli wars and a Palestinian state

Mearsheimer was critical of Israel’s war against Lebanon in the summer of 2006. He argued that Israel’s strategy was “doomed to fail” because it was based on the “faulty assumption” that Israeli air power could defeat Hezbollah, which was essentially a guerrilla force. The war, he argued, was a disaster for the Lebanese people, as well as a “major setback” for the United States and Israel.[34] The lobby, he said, played a key role in enabling Israel’s counterproductive response by preventing the United States from exercising independent influence.[35]

Mearsheimer was also critical of Israel’s offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip that began in December 2008. He argued that it would not eliminate Hamas’s capability to fire missiles and rockets at Israel, and that it would not cause Hamas to end its fight with Israel. In fact, he argued that relations between Israel and the Palestinians were likely to get worse in the years ahead.[36]

Mearsheimer emphasizes that the only hope for Israel to end its conflict with the Palestinians is to end the occupation and allow the Palestinians to have their own state in Gaza and the West Bank. Otherwise, Israel is going to turn itself into an “apartheid state.” That would be a disastrous outcome not only for Israel, but also for the United States and especially the Palestinians.[37]

Mearsheimer’s criticisms of Israel further extended to Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons. In remarks made at the International Spy Museum in 2010, Mearsheimer asserted that a nuclear Israel was contrary to U.S. interests and questioned Israel’s accountability in the matter, stating that there was “no accountability for Israel on any issue” because, he surmised, “The Israelis can do almost anything and get away with it.”[38]

The “Future of Palestine” lecture

In April 2010, Mearsheimer delivered the Hisham B. Sharabi Memorial Lecture at the Palestine Center in Washington, DC, which he titled “The Future of Palestine: Righteous Jews vs. the New Afrikaners.” He argued that “the two-state solution is now a fantasy” because Israel will incorporate the Gaza Strip and the West Bank into a “Greater Israel”, which would become an apartheid state. This state, according to Mearsheimer, would not be politically viable, most American Jews would not support it, and it would eventually become a democratic bi-national state, politically dominated by its Palestinian majority. He suggested that “American Jews who care deeply about Israel” could be divided into three categories: the “new Afrikaners” who will support Israel even if it is an apartheid state, “righteous Jews,” who believe that individual rights are universal, and apply equally to Jews and Palestinians, and the largest group who he called the “great ambivalent middle”. He concludes that most of the “great ambivalent middle” would not defend an apartheid Israel because “American Jews are among the staunchest defenders of traditional liberal values” resulting in the “new Afrikaners” becoming increasingly marginalized over time. Mearsheimer stated that he “would classify most of the individuals who head the Israel lobby’s major organizations as “‘new Afrikaners'” and specifically listed Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation LeagueDavid Harris of the American Jewish CommitteeMalcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish OrganizationsRonald Lauder of the World Jewish CongressMorton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America, as well as businessmen such as Sheldon AdelsonLester Crown, and Mortimer Zuckerman and “media personalities” like Fred HiattCharles KrauthammerBret Stephens and Martin Peretz.[39]

Statements on Gilad Atzmon

In 2011, John Mearsheimer wrote of Gilad Atzmon‘s book The Wandering Who: “Gilad Atzmon has written a fascinating and provocative book on Jewish identity in the modern world. He shows how assimilation and liberalism are making it increasingly difficult for Jews in the Diaspora to maintain a powerful sense of their ‘Jewishness.’ Panicked Jewish leaders, he argues, have turned to Zionism (blind loyalty to Israel) and scaremongering (the threat of another Holocaust) to keep the tribe united and distinct from the surrounding goyim. As Atzmon’s own case demonstrates, this strategy is not working and is causing many Jews great anguish. The Wandering Who? should be widely read by Jews and non-Jews alike.”[40]

Atzmon has been called an antisemite and Holocaust denier, and Jeffrey Goldberg said the book espoused Neo-Nazi views.[41] Alan Dershowitz wrote an article in response titled: “Why are John Mearsheimer and Richard Falk Endorsing a Blatantly Anti-Semitic Book?” and the book “argues that Jews seek to control the world.”[42]

Mearsheimer said he had “no reason to amend it or embellish” his review,[41] and defended his position. Writing with regard to the charge by Jeffrey Goldberg that Atzmon is anti-semitic, and by implication so is his own positive review of Atzmon’s work, Mearsheimer responded: “Atzmon’s basic point is that Jews often talk in universalistic terms, but many of them think and act in particularistic terms. One might say they talk like liberals but act like nationalists… It is in this context that he discusses what he calls the “Holocaust religion,” Zionism, and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. Again, to be perfectly clear, he has no animus toward Judaism as a religion or with individuals who are Jewish by birth.”[40][40]

The rise and containment of China

Mearsheimer asserts that China’s rise will not be peaceful[43][44][45] and that the U.S. will seek to contain China and prevent it from achieving regional hegemony.[46][47][48][49] Although military, and perhaps diplomatic containment of China is possible, economic containment of China is not.[50] Mearsheimer believes that China will attempt to dominate the Indo-Pacific region just as, he asserts, the U.S. set out to dominate the western hemisphere. The motivation for doing so would be to gain a position of overwhelming security and superiority against its neighbors which it sees as potential challengers to its status.[51] Additionally, he maintains that the U.S. will attempt to form a balancing coalition that consists primarily of India, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia to counter the growing strength and power projection capabilities of China.[52] He points to increased alliances and warming U.S.–Vietnam and U.S.–India relations as evidence of this.[53][54]

Mearsheimer asserts that Australia should be concerned with China’s accretion of power because it will lead to an intense security competition between China and the US that would destabilize the region.[55] He also argues that China is implementing the militarily aggressive philosophy of the U.S. naval strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan, who argued for sea control and decisive battle.[51]

Why Leaders Lie

Mearsheimer wrote a book that analyzes lying in international politics. He argues in Why Leaders Lie (Oxford University Press, 2011) that leaders lie to foreign audiences as well as their own people because they think it is good for their country. For example, he maintains that President Franklin D. Roosevelt lied about the Greer incident in September 1941, because he was deeply committed to getting the United States into World War II, which he thought was in America’s national interest.[56]

His two main findings are that leaders actually do not lie very much to other countries, and that democratic leaders are actually more likely than autocrats to lie to their own people.[57] Thus, he starts his book by saying that it is not surprising that Saddam Hussein did not lie about having WMD—he truthfully said he had none—but that George Bush and some of his key advisors did lie to the American people about the threat from Iraq. Mearsheimer argues that leaders are most likely to lie to their own people in democracies that fight wars of choice in distant places. He says that it is difficult for leaders to lie to other countries because there is not much trust among them, especially when security issues are at stake, and you need trust for lying to be effective. He says that it is easier for leaders to lie to their own people because there is usually a good deal of trust between them.[56]

Types of lies

Mearsheimer does not consider the moral dimension of international lying, which he views from a utilitarian perspective. He argues that there are five types of international lies.[58]

  1. Inter-state lies are where the leader of one country lies to a leader of another country, or more generally, any foreign audience, to induce a desired reaction.
  2. Fear-mongering is where a leader lies to his or her own domestic public.
  3. Strategic cover-ups employ lies to prevent controversial policies and deals from being made known publicly.
  4. Nationalist myths are stories about a country’s past that portray that country in a positive light while its adversaries in a negative light.
  5. Liberal lies are given to clear up the negative reputation of institutions, individuals, or actions.

He explains the reasons why leaders pursue each of these different kinds of lies. His central thesis is that leaders lie more frequently to domestic audiences than to leaders of other states. This is because international lying can have negative effects including blowback and backfiring. “Blowback” is where telling international lies helps cause a culture of deceit at home. “Backfiring” is where telling a lie leads to a failed policy. He also emphasizes that there are two other kinds of deception besides lying: “concealment,” which is where a leader remains silent about an important matter, and “spinning,” which is where a leader tells a story that emphasizes the positive and downplays or ignores the negative.[56]

The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities (Yale University Press, 2018)

In his 2018 book, The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities, Mearsheimer presents a critique of the geopolitical strategy he refers to as ‘liberal hegemony’. Mearsheimer’s definition of liberal hegemony includes a three-part designation of it as an extension of Woodrow Wilson’s original initiatives to make a world safe by turning its governments into democracies, turning geopolitical economic initiatives towards open markets compatible with democratic governments, and thirdly opening up and promoting other democratically liberal international social and culture societies on a global scale of inclusion. Mearsheimer states in an interview broadcast on CSPAN that this represents a ‘great delusion’ and that much more weight should be associated with nationalism as a policy of enduring geopolitical value rather than the delusions he associated with liberal hegemony.


Nuclear weapons and Ukraine

After the break up of the Soviet Union, the new independent Ukraine had a large arsenal of nuclear weapons on its territory. However, in 1994 Ukraine agreed to give up nuclear arms, became a member of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and within two years had removed all atomic weapons. Almost alone among observers, Mearsheimer was opposed to that decision because he saw a Ukraine without a nuclear deterrent as likely to be subjected to aggression by Russia. [59]

2014 Crimean Crisis

In September 2014 Mearsheimer wrote the article “Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault. The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin” published in Foreign Affairs. The essay was highly critical of American policy towards Russia since the conclusion of the Cold War.[60] Mearsheimer argued that Russian intervention in Crimea and Ukraine had been motivated by what he saw as the irresponsible strategic objectives of NATO in Eastern Europe. He compared US-led NATO expansion into Eastern Europe and planned inclusion of Ukraine to the hypothetical scenario of a Chinese military alliance in North America, stating, “Imagine the American outrage if China built an impressive military alliance and tried to include Canada and Mexico.”

Mearsheimer argued that Russia’s annexation of the Crimea was fueled by concerns that it would lose access to its Black Sea Fleet naval base at Sevastopol if Ukraine continued to move towards NATO and European integration. Mearsheimer concluded that US policy should shift towards recognising Ukraine as a buffer state between NATO and Russia rather than attempting to absorb Ukraine into NATO.[60][citation needed] Mearsheimer’s article provoked Michael McFaul and Stephen Sestanovich to publish their response in November/December 2014 issue of Foreign Affairs.[61]


Mearsheimer has been critical of US policy toward China, which he regards as fated to engage in “intense security competition” and possible war, if it continues on its steep trajectory of economic growth.[62] His recommended US policy towards China is containment, which calls for the US to keep China from occupying territory and expanding its influence in Asia.[63] Mearsheimer recommended that US policy makers form a balancing coalition with China’s neighbors. According to Mearsheimer, India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Russia, and Vietnam could be potential allies of the United States against a great-power China’s attempt to dominate.[62]

Mearsheimer argued in a 2019 article for International Security that the “liberal international order was crumbling by 2019″ and that the liberal order will be replaced by “three realist orders: a thin international order that facilitates cooperation, and two bounded orders—one dominated by China, the other by the United States—poised for waging security competition between them.”[64]

Leaving theory behind: Why simplistic hypothesis testing is bad for International Relations.

John J. Mearsheimer and Stepen M. Walt from Harvard University wrote the article Leaving theory behind: Why simplistic hypothesis testing is bad for International Relations. They point out that in recent years International Relations scholars have devoted less effort to creating and refining theories or using them to guide empirical research. Instead there is a focus on what they call a simplistic hypothesis testing which emphasizes discovering well-verified empirical regularities. They state that that is a mistake, because insufficient attention to theory leads to misspecified empirical models or misleading measures of key concepts. They also point out that because of the poor quality data in International Relations it is less likely that these efforts will produce cumulative knowledge. This will only lead to a short term gain and make International Relationship scholarship less useful to concerned citizens and policymakers.

Theories gives a scholar an overarching framework of the myriad realms of activity. Theories are like maps, they both aim to simplify a complex reality, but unlike maps theories provide a causal story where a theory says that one or more factors can explain a particular phenomenon. Theories attempt to simplify assumptions about the most relevant factors in the aim to explain how the world works. Some grand theories like realism or liberalism claim to explain broad patterns of state behavior while middle-range theories focus on more narrowly defined phenomena like coercion. Deterrence and economic sanctions. They list eight reasons why theories are important. The problems that arise from inadequate attention to theory is that it isn’t possible to construct good models or interpret statistical findings correctly. By privileging hypothesis testing this is overlooked. It might make sense to pay more attention to hypothesis testing if it produced a lot of useful knowledge about international relations, however, Mearsheimer and Walt claim that this is not the case and simplistic hypothesis test is inherently flawed. One of the consequences is that it will result in omitted variable bias. This is often treated as a methodological issue, though it should be treated as a theoretical matter. Selection bias is also a problem that arise from inadequate attention to theory. To examine this clearer the authors point out James Fearson’s critique of Paul Huth and Bruce Russett’s analyses of extended deterrence. Mearsheimer and Walt also point out that contemporary International Relations scholarship faces challenging measurement issues that are because of inadequate attention to theory and cause misleading measures. A few examples are given to support their claim, including Dan Reiter and Allan Stam’s work called Democracies at War. There Mearsheimer and Walt state that it is a sophisticated study that however contains questionable measures of key concepts and that the measure they employ to test their idea do not capture the theories core concepts. Poor data, absence of explanation and lack of cumulation is also some problems that arise from inadequate attention to theory by focusing too much on simplistic hypothesis testing.[65]

Personal Life

John Mearsheimer currently lives in Chicago and is married to his second wife, Pamela. They have 2 children together. John also has multiple children from his first marriage.


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