Pelosi Thumbs Her Nose at Congressional Budget Office Warnings

IMPORTANCE of article – Prior to the passage of Obamacare, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously told an audience: “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it away from the fog of the controversy.” To this former Capitol Hill reporter, voting in favor of Pelosi’s $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act in bullet-train speed, without understanding the contents and implications of the legislative package, is a fundamental abdication of responsibility by members of the House of Representatives.  

By: Jeffrey Winograd

Older folks will remember Willie Sutton, the much-beloved (in some quarters) and crème de la crème of American bank robbers, who, when asked why he robbed banks, supposedly retorted “Because that’s where the money is.”

“Why did I rob banks? Because I enjoyed it. I loved it. I was more alive when I was inside a bank, robbing it, than at any other time in my life. I enjoyed everything about it so much that one or two weeks later I’d be out looking for the next job. But to me the money was the chips, that’s all.”

Now along comes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who wants to emulate Sutton to the tune of $3 trillion, a sum far beyond the wildest imagination of the bank robber.

On May 12, Pelosi unveiled what she has dubbed the HEROS Act, which carries the $3 trillion price tag and is being promoted as “a bold response to the coronavirus pandemic and the economic collapse.”

All of this in a matter of less than four full days with a floor vote scheduled for May 15 and not even one committee of jurisdiction, excluding the House Rules Committee, conducting a hearing on germane provisions.

Congressional Budget Office Warns of Fiscal Earthquake

In an April 16 letter to Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, CBO offered a preliminary estimate that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) will increase federal deficits by about $1.8 trillion over the 2020-2030 period.  

CBO noted that the estimated budgetary effects of the CARES Act are uncertain for several reasons, including:

– “The effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic on economic output and the labor markets are difficult to predict, and those effects drive CBO’s estimate of the act’s changes to unemployment compensation benefits.”

– “The duration of the emergency declarations related to the coronavirus pandemic and the number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 could differ significantly from what CBO has projected, and the budgetary effects of some provisions, such as those affecting Medicare, will depend on those factors.”

On May 8, CBO, in its Monthly Budget Review for April 2020, said that the federal government incurred an estimated deficit of $737 billion in April compared with a surplus of $160 billion in April 2019.

“The federal budget deficit was $1.48 trillion in the first seven months of FY 2020, CBO estimates, $949 billion more than the deficit recorded during the same period last year,” the budget review said.

“Overall, if laws currently in place governing spending and revenues generally remained unchanged and not significant additional emergency funding was provided, the federal deficit would be roughly $3.7 trillion in fiscal year 2020 (which ends on September 30) and $2.1 trillion next year,” CBO said.    

This is the financial state of the U.S.A. as Pelosi and House Democrats self-righteously promote a $3 trillion Pandora’s box of woes upon the nation.

An In-Depth Look At One Murky Provision

One provision allows Economic Impact Payments to be made to an individual who provides a Taxpayer Identification Number [TIN], rather than a Social Security number (SSN).

According to the IRS website: “The TIN is generally a Social Security number. However, in some cases, individuals who become U.S. resident aliens for federal tax purposes are not eligible to obtain an SSN. These individuals must apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) which is a tax processing number issued by IRS. It does not authorize work in the U.S., provide eligibility for Social Security benefits, or qualify a dependent for earned income tax credit purposes.”

A person in one of the following categories requires an ITIN:

  • Nonresident alien who is required to file a U.S. tax return
  • U.S. resident alien who is (based on days present in the United States) filing a U.S. tax return
  • Dependent or spouse of a U.S. citizen/resident alien
  • Dependent or spouse of a nonresident alien visa holder
  • Nonresident alien claiming a tax treaty benefit
  • Nonresident alien student, professor or researcher filing a U.S. tax return or claiming an exception

Can Nancy Pelosi tell us if this means an illegal immigrant or some other foreigner with an ITIN can receive $1,200 payments from the government?

A Quick Look at Some Other Provisions of the Bill

What follows is just a sampling of provisions that stuck out during a cursory review of a summary of the bill.

My purpose is to demonstrate the complexity of what is being voted on and to suggest that those who vote in favor of passage of the bill are clueless about what they are actually supporting in a coronavirus-related bill.

  • Second Chance Act grants – $250 million for grants to help facilitate the reintegration of ex-prisoners back into society and to prevent recidivism.
  • Elections – $3.6 billion for grants to states for contingency planning, preparation, and resilience of elections for federal office.
  • Postal Service – $25 billion for revenue forgone due to the coronavirus pandemic, plus language providing additional protections to postal workers.
  • Environmental Protection Agency – $50 million for environmental justice grants, including investigating links between pollution exposure and the transmission and health outcomes of coronavirus in environmental justice communities.
  • Department of Labor – $925 million to assist states in processing unemployment insurance claims.
  • Department of Education – $100.15 billion to support the educational needs of states, school districts, and institutions of higher education in response to coronavirus.
  • House of Representatives – $5 million, in part to provide funding for the newly formed Select Committee that will provide oversight of the funds provided for coronavirus and economic aid. {Author’s Note: this new committee will, in practice, usurp the jurisdiction of standing committee’s and would likely be used by Democrats as a purely partisan attack dog against the Trump administration.)
  • Refundable tax credit – Temporary special rule for determining earned income for purposes of earned income tax credit (EITC). Allows taxpayers in 2020, for purposes of computing the EITC, to substitute their 2019 earned income for their 2020 earned income if their 2020 earned income is less than their 2019 earned income. (Author’s Note: IRS estimates 25.3% (or $17.4 billion) of the total EITC payments of $68.7 billion made in FY 2019 were improper.)
  • Authorizes payments for private education loan borrowers as a result of the COVID–19 national emergency and provides up to $10,000 in debt relief to be applied to a private student loan. The Treasury Department will make monthly payments on behalf of the borrower up to $10,000 until September 2021.
  • Early voting and voting by mail – This provision requires at least 15 consecutive days of early voting for federal elections. Prohibits states from requiring notarization or witness signatures to obtain or cast an absentee ballot.   

THE BOTTOM LINE = House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic stooges are willing to plunder the Treasury (or wherever the money will originate), at a cost of $3 trillion, to the detriment of the current and future generations. Will President Trump let them get away with it?

Powerful House Democrat Extols President Trump’s Trade Policy

By: Jeffrey Winograd

A seemingly wily congressman from western Massachusetts got carried away with his own verboseness when he lavished praise on the Trump administration’s announcement that the United States plans to enter the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) into force on July 1.

Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, on April 24 sang the praises of the new trade pact which replaces the controversial North American Free Trade Act, better known as NAFTA.

The Irish-American pol spouted more than the typical touch of the blarney one encounters when celebrating Saint Paddy’s Day as he, in effect, placed himself in the leading American role during the negotiation and passage of USMCA.

Neal’s remarks suggested that House Democrats twisted the arm of U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer in order to secure a deal that “now includes the most robust enforcement mechanisms ever incorporated in a U.S. trade agreement.”

Then came the now obligatory Democratic injection of the “COVID-19 crisis” into the picture. The new trade agreement “includes a balanced set of intellectual property obligations that promote innovation, including the research and development of new medical therapies,” Neal said.

The chairman of the House tax-writing committee was a Democratic back-bencher in 1993 when, to his credit, he voted against passage of NAFTA.

However, that was long ago and far away.

In 2016, Neal, a man of great convictions, was an avid supporter of Hillary Clinton for president despite her cast-in-stone position regarding NAFTA.

She Said, He Said, About NAFTA

Clinton was quoted in a May 25, 2011, Huffington Post article as follows:

“I believe in the general principles [NAFTA] represented. But what we have learned is that we have to drive a tougher bargain. Our market is the market that everybody wants to be in. We should quit giving it away so willy-nilly. I believe we need tougher enforcement of the trade agreements we already have.”

Candidate Donald Trump, on June 28, 2016, while campaigning in Pennsylvania, made abundantly clear his intentions regarding NAFTA.

“I’m going tell our NAFTA partners that I intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement to get a better deal for our workers. And I don’t mean just a little bit better, I mean a lot better.”

Should they not agree to negotiate, Trump added, he would notify Mexico and Canada pursuant to the terms of the treaty “that America intends to withdraw from the deal.”

With an eye on the July 1 kickoff of the USMCA trade pact, Neal said “it is critical that the United States holds our trading partners accountable for their obligations from day one.”

He also vowed to be the American watchdog to ensure proper implementation and enforcement going forward.

And here is Neal’s finale, lauding the trade-deal achievement of President Trump …

I take comfort knowing that there is a new generation of rising House Democratic trade leaders who share my investment in the USMCA’s success and my belief that the deal is the standard upon which future U.S. trade agreements should be built.”

Yes, Congressman Neal, the USMCA is a success, a President Donald Trump success!

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Rand Paul Question Ensnares Chief Justice In Likely Deep State- Adam Schiff Whistleblower Coverup

By: Jeffrey Winograd

At the outset of the Senate’s second day of impeachment-related questions and answers, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) submitted the first question from the Republican side and it related to the whistleblower who complained about President Trump’s phone call with Ukraine President Zelenskyy on July 25, 2019.

After perusing the question, Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the impeachment trial, stated he “declines to ask the question as submitted.”

Roberts reportedly has signaled he will not allow the naming of the alleged whistleblower or any question seeking details that might lead to the whistleblower’s identity.

Here are the contents of two tweets Sen. Paul transmitted in the immediate aftermath of Chief Justice Roberts’ refusal.

          “My question is not about a “whistleblower” as I have no independent information on his identity. My question is about the actions of known Obama partisans within the NSC and House staff and how they are reported to have conspired before impeachment proceedings had even begun.”

          “My exact question is: Are you aware that House intelligence staffer [redacted] had a close relationship with [redacted] while at the National Security Council together?”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the lead House impeachment manager, on Jan. 29 refused to answer a probing question regarding the entire whistleblower affair. It was a blanket refusal cloaked in a lecture on the importance of protecting everything and everyone related to intelligence.

Disturbing facts about whistleblower affair

  1. The alleged whistleblower was not entitled to file a claim because he did not have first-hand knowledge about the July 25 Trump-Zelenskyy phone call. Why did the Intelligence Community inspector general permit the submission of the complaint?
  2. The Intelligence Community inspector general reportedly changed the form which allowed the whistleblower to submit a complaint and first-hand knowledge was no longer required. Why did the inspector general take such an action?
  3.  Rep. Schiff allegedly lied about his knowledge of the whistleblower’s identity and/or interaction with Schiff’s committee staff. Is Schiff believable?
  4. The alleged whistleblower has personal and professional relationships with a specific Schiff staffer. Is this not a sensitive matter requiring a public explanation?
  5. The Intelligence Community inspector general was deposed by the House Intelligence Community and Schiff slapped a “secret” classification on the transcript. What is Schiff afraid of?

It would seem that since the Senate is sitting as a court and Roberts is the presiding judge, he could have called a sidebar to instruct Sen. Paul on how to rephrase his question.

Why didn’t you, Chief Justice Roberts?

Impeachment Surprise – Journalist’s Lawsuit Paves Way To Call CrowdStrike Executive As Witness

By: Jeffrey Winograd

A lawsuit filed in a Maryland federal court on January 10 offers Republican senators, should they decide to call witnesses during the impeachment trial, a politically acceptable pathway to debunk one of the impeachment charges against President Trump.

The lawsuit names a former FBI official, an expert in cybersecurity and one of the top people at CrowdStrike, as a defendant in an action alleging illegal government surveillance and hacking of a prominent journalist’s personal electronic equipment.

In 2016, CrowdStrike was hired to investigate the hacking of Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer servers and Trump dropped the company’s name during his July 25, 2019, phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. This conversation lies at the heart of the impeachment.   

Although CrowdStrike said that it “immediately identified two sophisticated adversaries on the network,” both “Russian intelligence-affiliated adversaries,” the FBI says it never conducted its own examination of the computer servers,

It remains unknown whether there were any other nation-state hackers identified by CrowdStrike, it is unfathomable why the FBI and the Justice Department did not use the investigative tools available (such as a grand jury subpoena or search warrant) to gain access to the computer hardware, and it is unclear why the DNC withheld FBI access to its servers.

One individual named in the lawsuit, who was a key FBI cybersecurity expert and knows the ins-and-outs of the agency’s methodology in dealing with hacking investigations, was likely CrowdStrike’s point man in the DNC probe.

Shawn Henty’s answers would surely provide the details President Trump wanted when he sought Zelenskyy’s help and he should be called as an impeachment witness.    

Given the glare of the public spotlight that will shine on him due to the lawsuit, Henry will hardly be in the position to turn his back on a Senate subpoena.

Background

The relevant portion of the transcript of the July 25 phone conversation is this:

Trump: “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. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people.”

CrowdStrike was the company hired by the DNC to investigate the hacking of its servers.

One provision of the articles of impeachment indirectly refers to the president’s desire to know exactly what, if anything, this U.S. company did regarding the hacking allegation but does not name the company:

“(1) President Trump – acting both directly and through his agents within and outside the United States Government – corruptly solicited the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into: … (B) a discredited theory promoted by Russia alleging that Ukraine – rather than Russia – interfered in the 2016 United States Presidential election.”

Democrats Toss A Red Herring

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the spearhead of Democratic efforts to impeach the president, saw a way to distract attention away from the real issue – did the Russians actually hack the DNC servers and, if so, was it only the Russians?

Democrats and their cohorts in the media and Deep State promoted the claim that Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, was peddling conspiracy nonsense. This alleged theory suggested that the DNC server or servers somehow wound up in Ukraine, a founder of CrowdStrike has Ukrainian roots (when, in fact, his family came from Russia), and Ukraine was responsible for the hacking.   

So, according to the Democrats, Trump bought into this somewhat bizarre scenario and wanted the Ukraine president to publicly announce an investigation into the matter.

Intelligence Community Labels Russia As Hacker, Maybe

On Jan. 6, 2017, as the Obama administration was reaching its expiry date, the intelligence community (IC) released a report titled “Russia’s Influence Campaign Targeting the 2016 Presidential Elections.”

The report stated that “in July 2015, Russian intelligence gained access to DNC networks and maintained that access until at least June 2016.”

It continued: “We assess that the General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) cyber operations resulted in the compromise of the personal e-mail accounts of Democratic Party officials and political figures. By May, GRU had exfiltrated large volumes of data from the DNC.”

However, the report contained this rather stunning disclaimer: “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.”

Why, given the combined resources of the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency, was there no out-and-out proof of Russian hacking?

Was it a botched FBI/Justice Department (DOJ) investigation? Or, was the James Comey-led FBI attempting to protect unsavory DNC activities documented on its servers, such as its role in the Steele Dossier affair?

The Sharyl Attkisson Lawsuit

During the time span involved in the suit, Sharyl Attkisson was an investigative reporter for CBS and was in the spotlight for her coverage of Operation Fast and Furious as well as the Benghazi (Libya) debacle, both of which were bringing unwanted negative publicity for the Obama administration. 

Attkisson alleges that the named defendants, acting in their capacity as federal employees, conducted “unauthorized and illegal surveillance of the plaintiff’s’ laptop computer from 2011 to 2014.” Such activity constituted a violation of both the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, she claims.

The first named defendant is Rod Rosenstein, who at the time was U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland. Of course, Rosenstein is best known for his tenure as deputy attorney general of the United States and as the guy who named Robert Mueller as special prosecutor to probe President Trump for alleged links to Russia.

However, it is the second named defendant, Shawn Henry, who can be the vehicle for Senate Republicans to totally discredit one impeachment allegation – that Trump’s interest in a CrowdStrike probe was part of a “scheme or course of conduct for corrupt purposes in pursuit of personal political benefit.”

Who Is Shawn Henry?

On Sept. 15, 2010, Henry was named the executive assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch.

During his agency career, Henry served as chief of the Computer Investigations Unit in the National Infrastructure Protection Center; field supervisor of the Computer Crimes Squad for the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office; deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Cyber Division, with program management responsibility for all FBI computer investigations worldwide; and assistant director of the Cyber Division, where, in the words of an FBI press release, “he played a central role in restructuring the FBI’s cyber strategy and investigative programs.”

According to the CrowdStrike website, Henry joined CrowdStrike in 2012 after retiring from the FBI, where he oversaw half of the FBI’s investigative operations, including all FBI criminal and cyber investigations worldwide,

The bottom line is that Shawn Henry is a heavyweight in the field of cybersecurity and probably remains extremely influential in FBI circles.

In the wake of being named in the Attkisson lawsuit, Henry likely is not in a favorable position to rebuff any impeachment-related Senate subpoena to answer detailed questions about CrowdStrike’s work in the DNC computer server hacking investigation, as well as the conduct of the FBI in the matter.

CrowdStrike And The DNC Servers

Exactly why the DNC selected CrowdStrike to investigate possible hacking is open to question.

Andrew C. McCarthy, in “Ball of Collusion,” says that while “CrowdStrike has a good reputation,” it was a “private DNC contractor that had deep ties to the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration.”

According to a CrowdStrike blog dated June 15, 2016, and updated on Sept. 25, 2019, “at the DNC, COZY BEAR intrusion has been identified going back to summer of 2015, while FANCY BEAR separately breached the network in April.” Both of the intruders are related to Russian intelligence agencies.

CrowdStrike stated that it has never taken physical possession of any DNC servers. Rather, they capture evidence of hacking using a process call imaging. “The images, not the computer’s hardware, provide the evidence,” the firm said.

“We’ve provided all forensic evidence and analysis to the FBI related to the DNC investigation as requested,” CrowdStrike said. “We have never declined any request for information from the FBI related to this investigation, and there are no pending requests for information by the FBI,” it added.

Conclusion

There are at least three key issues that remain to be addressed.

#1 CrowdStrike has never publicly stated that it offered everything it had on the hacking to the FBI. Why not?

#2 The FBI has never revealed everything they have requested from CrowdStrike. Why not?

#3 The IC report only cited hacking by the GRU. However, as CrowdStrike reported in its discussion of COZY BEAR and FANCY BEAR: “Both adversaries engage in extensive political and economic espionage for the benefit of the government of the Russian Federation and are believed to be closely linked to the Russian government’s powerful and highly capable intelligence services [emphasis added].” Why the disparity?   

CrowdStrike has not responded to an email request for an interview.

President Trump and the country deserve to know if everything involving government agencies, CrowdStrike and the DNC probe was kosher.

Smart money says Shawn Henry can fill in the blanks.

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Ukrainians Dirty Hands With 2016 Campaign Shenanigans

By: Jeffrey Winograd

If you really believe that Russian operatives were working covertly to undermine the candidacy of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign, then you must surely want to know if Ukrainian conspirators were overtly working to support Hillary and undermine the candidacy of Donald Trump. Wouldn’t you?

Well, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, together with Speaker Nancy Pelosi ((D-CA) and most Democrats on Capitol Hill, would rather you don’t even ponder such an outrageous possibility.

This is clearly evident from the words frequently emanating from the mouth of Schiff. As he well knows, words have meaning and they often have great importance in the halls of Congress.

Schiff has been spewing forth “discredited” so much in recent weeks that I thought to take a look in the dictionary to see what it actually means.

“Discredit,” as defined in the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th Ed.), means: “(1) to refuse to accept as true or accurate; (2) to cause disbelief in the accuracy or authority of.”

The past tense of this verb now seems to be a favorite of the congressman and here are some choice examples:

Schiff on Nov. 19: “One of those investigations involved the Bidens and the other involved a discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine and not Russia was responsible for interfering in our 2016 election.”

Schiff on Nov. 20: “The first investigation was of a discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine – and not Russia – was responsible for interfering in our 2016 election.”

Rep. Schiff’s modus operandi during the impeachment inquiry seems to be if he says discredited often enough, the average person will accept, as fact, that there was no Ukrainian conspiracy and only the Russkies would stoop to such despicable conduct.

Clearly, to say that something has been discredited does not mean that it has been proven false. Schiff is engaging in a bit of razzle-dazzle to distract people from what is clearly provable.

Ukrainians Apparently Conspired To Impact Election

A serious investigation is warranted to see if disparate events, when taken together, constitute a conspiracy, but there are clearly enough provable facts to suggest this was most likely the case.

What follows are some examples.

#1 There is the matter of the so-called “black ledger” which contained financial documents claiming to show that Paul Manafort, who briefly served as Trump’s campaign manager, received  under-the-table payments for services rendered to the tainted former president, Viktor Yanukovych. The New York Times reported on this in its Aug. 14, 2016 edition.

#2 Who actually leaked the document to the media? A guy by the name of Serhiy Leshchenko, a well-known former parliamentarian and vocal supporter of Clinton. Fast forward to Dec. 11, 2018, when a Ukrainian court found that Leshchenko had interfered in the American election. The court also found that the chief of the country’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau illegally participated in the “black journal” affair.

#3 On Aug. 4, 2016, Valerly Chaly, Ukraine’s ambassador in Washington, tossed his hat into the anti-Trump ring, stating in a scathing op-ed in The Hill: “Even if Trump’s comments [regarding Crimea] are only speculative, and do not really reflect a future foreign policy, they call for appeasement of an aggressor and support the violation of a sovereign country’s territorial integrity and another’s breach of international law.” Is it normal conduct for an ambassador to publish such an opinion in the midst of a hotly contested political campaign?

#4 In a July 20, 2017, letter from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), who at the time was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the senator voiced his concerns about the activities of Alexandra Chalupa, a contractor for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) who had a close association with the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington. According to Grassley, “Chalupa’s actions appear to show that she was simultaneously working on behalf of a foreign government, Ukraine, and on behalf of the DNC and [Hillary] Clinton, in an effort to influence not only the U.S. voting population but U.S. government officials.” Almost two years after Grassley sent his letter, the Ukrainian Embassy released an official statement on the matter

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire

Adam Schiff wants people to think that the intelligence community has clearly proven, which it has not, that the Russians, and no other government, hacked the DNC servers.

However, as you have just seen, those who are crying out about Ukrainian interference have not been alleging hacking, It’s all about those overt activities.

Meanwhile, something rather despicable has been going on.

Various Democrats on the impeachment inquiry panel have sought to discredit the honest reporting of John Solomon, who has been relentless in his probing of a likely conspiracy among Ukrainian – both in and out of government – to influence the presidential campaign in favor of Clinton. Un-American-Activities.com  reported on Solomon’s efforts in its Nov. 13th edition.

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Impeachment Inquiry – 5 Key Takeaways from Week 2 (Day 1)

By: Jeffrey Winograd

The second week of the impeachment inquiry by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence kicked off with both morning and afternoon (extending into the evening) sessions that produced no bombshells.

However, some continuing trends were apparent, a few interesting facts were revealed AND, in the view of this reporter who served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, a poignant and unfortunate situation befell an honorable man.

So, here is my list of the key takeaways in the order to which I attach importance:

#1 Adam Schiff protects the provocateur (and himself).

It was into the third hour of the morning session that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the ranking member of the committee, had his first chance to question the witnesses and he honed in on Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the director for European affairs on the National Security Council.

Nunes wanted to know who Vindman spoke with in the aftermath of the July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, The Army officer said he spoke with several people in the White House who had a need to know, but he also spoke with two individuals in other agencies who, he said, had the proper security clearance and the appropriate need-to-know.

The first was George Kent, the State Department official who testified at the first hearing last week.

Who was the second person? asked Nunes. The answer was someone in the intelligence community. At this point Schiff intervened in the questioning and, with a don’t-defy-me look on his face which was directed at Vindman, pronounced:

“I want to make sure that there is no effort to out the whistleblower through these proceedings. If the witness has a good faith belief that this may reveal the identity of the whistleblower, that is not the purpose that we’re here for. I want to advise the witness accordingly.”

The colonel’s lawyer instructed Vindman not to identify the person in the intelligence community and he followed his attorney’s lead and Schiff’s dictate.

Unfortunately, in the minds of many, Vindman will now be seen as a leaker when if, in fact, the anonymous member of the intelligence community had a proper need-to-know, that individual abused the trust place in him by the colonel and was the lead provocateur and the leaker in the impeachment spectacle.

#2 Lt. Col. Vindman is no longer an “unwitting” victim of the Democrat’s impeachment plot.

By most accounts, the colonel has had a distinguished military career. His many accomplishments and performance in a combat zone, as well as linguistic skills (English, Russian and Ukrainian) earned him a coveted stint at the National Security Council.   

There can be little doubt that Vindman genuinely was worried about President Trump’s comments to Zelenskyy about former Vice President Biden and his son, CrowdStrike (which reported that the Russians had hacked the computer server of the Democratic National Committee) and Burisma (the Ukrainian private gas company).

However, as became clear during his testimony, Vindman made a serious error in judgment for a military officer – he sidestepped his chain of command and instead of directly reporting his concerns to his immediate boss he chose to go directly to the legal counsel for the National Security Council. By doing so, he unexpectedly became a centerpiece in the events that followed and had to face harsh but proper questioning from some Republican members of the committee.

And now, according to fresh news reports, the Army may be taking measures to ensure the safety of the colonel and his family.

While Lt. Col. Zindman may have been naïve, he has earned my respect … Duty, Honor, Country.

#3 The Democrats on the committee continue to signal that the “quid pro quo” charge is out and “bribery” and “witness tampering” are very much in.

The day was sprinkled with references to bribery and other matters. For example, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D- NY) inquired of one witness if anyone on the National Security Council expressed anything about the possibility of “some crime or bribery.”

Also, a quick glance at the Democratic majority site on the committee’s webpage reveals more of what we can expect and was evident from the onset of the proceedings.

Certainly, Rep. Schiff’s remarks at the opening session tells us a lot about his and, one presumes, Nancy Pelosi’s intentions, to wit: “If the President abused his power and invited foreign interference in our elections, if he sought to condition, coerce, extort, or bribe an ally into conducting investigations to aid his reelection campaign and did so by withholding official acts — a White House meeting or hundreds of millions of dollars of needed military aid — it will be up to us to decide, whether those acts are compatible with the office of the Presidency.”

#4 Both Republicans and Democrats can focus on the same particular fact and turn it to their own advantage.

For those who are unable to watch the televised sessions, this can be kind of tricky to fully grasp. But here is one example that sticks in my mind.

FACT: Vice President Pence did not attend the inauguration of Ukrainian President Zelenskyy.

THE ISSUE: Why didn’t he attend?

The Democrats contended the possibility of Pence attending was used as a form of pressure on Zelenskyy to publicly announce a probe of Burisma and the younger Biden.

The Republicans countered that it was not meant to express displeasure or to apply pressure of some sort.

The points made by both sides merited some thought.

In the end, it turns out, thanks to the testimony of  Jennifer Williams, a career Foreign Service Officer detailed to the Office of the Vice-President and responsible for European and Eurasia issues, that the May 20 date for the inauguration was decided on May 16 (after parliamentary elections) and Pence only had a brief window of opportunity to travel (May 30, May 31 and June 1) due to other major commitments. The inauguration was held on May 20.

Ms. Williams also explained that due to such short notice, it would have been impossible to send an advance team of Secret Service and other personnel.

#5 Delivery of additional Javelin anti-tank missiles.

My apologies to readers but I have been unable to confirm with 100% certainty what I thought I heard. If I can do so, I will report on this topic.

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WHY NOT SIGN UP TO BECOME A FOLLOWER. THERE IS NO COST AND YOUR NAME WILL NOT BE USED OR SOLD FOR ANY FINANCIAL GAIN.

Impeachment Inquiry – 5 Key Takeaways from Week One

By: Jeffrey Winograd

The first week of the impeachment inquiry by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence treated viewers to bloviating members of Congress (almost exclusively Democrats) under marching orders from pseudo-dictator and chairman of the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), and three highly experienced American diplomats who pontificated on their overseas exploits and heroism, as well as their (not the Trump administration’s) blueprints for U.S. foreign policy.

With all the talk, a number of key points may have been missed by viewers or those who rely on the Capitol Hill cadre of inexperienced and/or partisan journalists who are supposed to be reporting on what actually was going on.

So, here is my list of the key takeaways in order of importance:

#1 Politization of a crucial legislative committee.

Talk about undermining U.S. national security!

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) placed the highly partisan inquiry into the collective lap of a panel whose oversight responsibilities can best be described by citing the names of its four subcommittees – Strategic Technologies and Advanced Research (STAR); Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation (C3); Intelligence Modernization and Readiness (INMAR); and Defense Intelligence and Warfighter Support (DIWS).

Why did the House speaker take such a rash decision? For the answer, look no further than the twin fiascos that took place during impeachment-related hearings conducted by the House Judiciary Committee under the gavel of Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). Those hearings featured Robert Mueller, the former special counsel, and John Dean of Watergate fame. They would have been first-night flops in the Broadway theaters which happen to sit in Nadler’s district.

#2 Obama administration was leery of the Joe Biden-Hunter Biden conflict of interest.

It is common knowledge that President Obama handed the Ukraine portfolio to Joe Biden whose son was sitting on the board of directors of a Ukrainian private energy company called Burisma. It is also well known, as constantly heralded in the testimony of the three witnesses who appeared during week one, that the promotion of strong anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine was a paramount feature of U.S. foreign policy.

Yet, the White House turned a blind eye, at least publicly, to the appearance of a significant conflict of interest given that Burisma and its founder either had been or still were under criminal investigation (a point of big-time controversy) by Ukrainian authorities. According to George Kent, who served as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Kiev, he contacted the vice president’s office and raised his concerns about a possible perceived conflict of interest. What was their response? “I have no idea,” he replied to the GOP questioner. He was then asked if Biden’s engagement with Ukraine remained the same. “Correct, because the vice president was promoting U.S. policy objectives in Ukraine,” Kent said.

Two days later, the cat was out of the bag when former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, testifying under oath, was hit with a few probing questions by Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX). Did the Bidens come up in your preparations to assume the ambassadorship?” Yovanovitch explained how she was rehearsed for her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing and she was instructed how to answer any possible question about the Bidens. “I would refer you to the vice president’s office,” she was instructed to say.

#3 NATO’s relationship with Ukraine deserves scrutiny.

During his opening remarks, George Kent, who has been serving as deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs since September 2018, made a comment that was ignored by all the committee members. Stated Kent: “Ultimately, Ukraine is on a path to become a full security partner of the United States within NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization].”

What exactly Kent meant by that is unclear. However, a cursory reading of a NATO publication titled Security Through Partnership hints at a possibility, even though it is unlikely. The publication notes that a special relationship has been developed with Ukraine since 1997. “Steps were taken to deepen and broaden the NATO-Ukraine relationship in November 2002 with the adoption of the NATO-Ukraine Action Plan, which supports Ukraine’s reform efforts on the road to full integration in Euro-Atlantic security structures,” it adds. The publication goes on to say that 10 Partner countries have become Allies, among them the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.

Since the three diplomats who testified have left the impression that it is diplomats who create foreign policy and not just carry it out, it might have been the perfect occasion to ask the Deep Staters in the State Department what is really in store for Ukraine, Russia willing.

#4 Schiff’s chicanery with committee rules and procedures undercut his credibility.

Rep. Schiff wielded his chairman’s gavel in a cavalier and disrespectful manner towards his GOP colleagues, and along the way it appears he trampled on a basic courtesy of allowing committee members to request various items be added to the hearing record by unanimous consent. Once the Republicans began requesting such courtesy to add a host of news reports about Schiff saying the so-called whistleblower would be testifying before the committee, Schiff couldn’t stand the heat and put a stop to it. This ultimately forced Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) to change her plans for using her five-minute opportunity to ask questions. Instead, she read aloud more of the stuff Schiff now finds embarrassing and which will appear in the record.

Schiff also used his power to make the deposition of Timothy Morrison, formerly on the staff of the National Security Council, unavailable to the public until Nov. 18. According to applicable House rules, Republicans were unable to use anything from Morrison’s deposition when they were questioning witnesses. They clearly felt there was information in the deposition that Schiff didn’t want them to use. And he was able to stop them.

#5 Elise Stefanik Shines

It was clear that Schiff was afraid of the articulate, self-assured and pugnacious Rep. Stefanik, who, when she had limited chances to speak, was well worth listening to. In fact, when Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the ranking member of the committee, wanted to yield his time to Stefanik, Schiff refused to allow it by invoking his handcrafted rules for the impeachment inquiry.

Schiff may well rue the way he treated the third term legislator from upstate New York. Commenting on Stefanik’s performance, President Trump said, “A new Republican star is born.” Somewhat surprising since Trump is not known for understatements!

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Impeachment Scam Should Sink Schiff – Part IV (Hamilton v. Schiff)

By: Jeffrey Winograd

Part IV – Alexander Hamilton Trumps Adam Schiff

Alexander Hamilton, a key architect and signer of the Constitution, wrote in Federalist No. 65 on the proper court for a trial of impeachments, Stated Hamilton: “A well constituted court for the trial of impeachments, is an object not more to be desired, than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective.”

He continued: “In many cases, [the venue for such a court] will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence and interest on one side, or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger, that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strengths of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”

What a fitting description of the House of Representatives led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).  

Why did the framers of the Constitution place “the delicacy and magnitude of a trust,” as is the court for a trial of impeachment, in the hands of the Senate which, at that time, was comprised of members chosen by state legislatures? In Hamilton’s words: “The  difficulty of placing it rightly in a government resting entirely on the basis of periodic elections, will as readily be perceived, when it is considered that the most conspicuous characters in it will, from that circumstance, be too often the leaders, or the tools of the most cunning or the most numerous faction; and on this account, can hardly be expected to possess the requisite neutrality towards those whose conduct may be the subject of scrutiny.”  

How could Hamilton possibly have foreseen the emergence of such a devious, lying, leaking legislator as Adam Schiff (D-CA)?

Going back to the words of Schiff in his Nov. 5th op-ed: “The president’s corrupt pressure to secure [Ukraine’s] interference in our election betrayed our national security and his oath of office.”

Finishing in a blaze of self-centered glory, Schiff wrote: “For over a year, I resisted calls for an impeachment inquiry because impeachment was intended to be used only in extraordinary circumstances. But the Founders who devised our government understood that someday, a president might come to power who would fail to defend or would sacrifice the country’s national security in favor of his own personal or political interests, and that Congress would need to consider such a remedy.”

Schiff is guilty of willful ignorance and perhaps he should read the words of Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution: “The President … of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Is President Trump guilty of Treason?

Is President Trump guilty of Bribery?

Has President Trump committed other high Crimes and Misdemeanors?

To this point, it seems that Mr. Schiff has been unable or unwilling to offer any evidence of such illegal conduct by President Trump.

Finally, take a quick look at the House Intelligence Committee’s webpage devoted to impeachment. Forget that it looks and reads like a political flyer.

Instead, focus on what is alleged to be President Trump’s “grave abuse of the power of the presidency.”

Specifically, it reads: “The House of Representatives launched an impeachment inquiry to ascertain the full extent of the president’s misconduct, and thanks to testimony from dedicated, nonpartisan public servants, we now have a much fuller picture of how President Trump abused the State Department and other levers of government for his own political gain.”

IN OTHER WORDS, SCHIFF IS SAYING IMPEACH AND CONVICT THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR ABUSING THE DEEP STATE.

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Impeachment Scam Should Sink Schiff – Part III

By: Jeffrey Winograd

Part III – Javelins For Ukraine And Deep State Opinions

It was a bit strange to read Adam Schiff’s claim that “Americans can read for themselves how President Zelenskyy sought more weapons critical to Ukraine’s defense….” Schiff seems to be suggesting that during the July 25 telephone call between President Trump and Zelenskyy the Ukraine president was requesting a wide array of weapons.

However, a careful reading of the totality of his words makes it clear that Zelenskyy was specifically referring to Javelin anti-tank weapons. Furthermore, he told Trump: “It turns out that even though logically, the European Union should be our biggest partner but technically the United States is a much bigger partner than the European Union and I’m very grateful to you for that because the United States is doing quite a lot for Ukraine.” 

At this point, it is informative to look at a sampling of what the news media is saying about the manufactured dispute over security assistance and Javelins for Ukraine. Of particular interest, we can also see the interaction between the Fourth Estate and the establishment Deep Staters.   

For this, here is a quick look at Defense News, Foreign Policy, National Public Radio, Defense One (a property of Atlantic Media) and the New York Times to see who they use as sources.

On Sept. 25, Defense News reported on “the latest scandal threatening to take down President Donald Trump.” Specifically, there was a focus on the “freeze” Trump placed on a $391 million military aid package for Ukraine ($250 million via the Pentagon and $141 million from the State Department).

The author first turned to Mark Simakovsky, who served as chief of staff in the Defense Department’s office focused on Europe and NATO during the Obama administration. “As a political signal, there is no more important ally to Ukraine than the United States, and the United States’ aid dwarfs aid from other countries,” Simakovsky said. “The sharpness and abruptness with which this was frozen surprised many in government, and I think now we are seeing why,” he added. The author opined that Simakovsky was “convinced Trump was trying to exercise leverage over Zelenskyy for personal political gain.”

Next up was James Townsend, who had served as a deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO policy. “When Trump was elected, the first thing they did was send in the Javelin. It wasn’t exactly high-end, but we were very happy, and they built on a very firm foundation,” Townsend said. “Playing games with them now is nuts because we want to keep this trajectory upward,” he added. He still had more to say. “Javelins were considered a step up, and the concern was what the Russians were going to step up on their end. It wasn’t that there was a lot of tree hugging [in the Obama administration], it was to go up a notch if they go up a notch.”

Not to be outdone by other publications regarding the Javelin, the authors of an Oct. 3, 2019, article in Foreign Policy turned to Samuel Charap, a senior political scientist at the Rand Corp. “I see these more as symbolic weapons than anything else, It became this sort of embodiment of U.S. support for Ukraine,” Charap said.

The next expert to chime in was the aforementioned James Townsend. Without attributing a direct quote to him, the author stated Townsend felt that the Obama administration chose not to provide Javelins and other lethal weapons to Ukraine “due to fears that they could fall into Russia’s hands or prompt Moscow to escalate.” In addition, there were concerns that the untrained Ukrainian military could not handle sophisticated weapons, he said.

Foreign Policy also went to Michael Carpenter, who had served as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia and Eurasia under Obama. He observed that the Javelins are not deployed in the combat zone but were housed hundreds of miles away in western Ukraine. “If the Russians know that the Javelins are not there, the deterrent effect is negated,” Carpenter said. He did note that the Javelins could be transferred should there be an attack. 

Now let’s turn to NPR and an October 24 broadcast cohosted by Ailsa Chang, who then brings on correspondent Greg Myre. The topic is U.S. assistance to Ukraine and why it matters. Things began well enough as Myre said: “Now, the Trump administration is often criticized as being too soft on Russia. But in this particular case, Trump did take a tougher position than his predecessor and has been sending lethal aid – rifles, grenade launchers and, a weapon we’ve been hearing a lot about, Javelin missiles.”

Next to come in Myre’s report was Edward “Ned” Price, who was introduced as being on the National Security Council during the Obama administration. He was questioned about the importance of U.S. and European Union aid for Ukraine. Price said: “This is to send a signal that Russia cannot violate one of the key tenets of international affairs, and that is that big countries cannot bully small countries. Our aid has been an integral part of a deterrence against Putin’s worst ambitions.” In other words, Myre concluded, “So [Price] said this controversy over the suspended aid this summer has not helped, sent the wrong signal to Vladimir Putin, that he could keep pushing on the Ukraine.”

Next comes an opinion piece published on Oct. 29, 2018, in Defense One and authored by Jeremy Bash and Mark Simakovsky. Bash was described as former chief of staff at the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Department. A real high flyer. Simakovsky was described as a former Russia country director in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.

The subject of their article was President Trump’s announced intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia. “It was an open secret in Washington that compliance with the INF was lopsided,” the authors wrote, adding that “while the U.S. adhered to the treaty, the Russians quietly research, tested, and ultimately deployed weapons … that violated the INF accord.” They also noted that “the treaty had few fans in Washington.”

At this point, the Bash/Simakovsky tone switched into anti-Trump mode. Why would Trump, who had a “fondness” for Russia, pull out of the INF agreement? They laid out “four major strands” of Trump’s seemingly haphazard foreign policy but focused on the fourth – “which is decidedly pro-Russia [and] this is where his relationship with Putin makes things dangerous.”

What comes after INF withdrawal? “Trump’s track record suggests he will pursue a new deal with Putin, whom he admires and with whom he has already shown a penchant for secret diplomacy in Helsinki,” wrote the duo. 

The New York Times is a late entry to this narrative. In a Nov. 11 white-wash Biden article titled “What Joe Biden Actually Did in Ukraine,” the authors sought to explain away as relatively unimportant Hunter Biden’s membership on the board of Burisma and lauded Joe Biden’s anti-corruption efforts.

“The position regarding getting rid of Shokin was not Vice President Biden’s position; it was the position of the U.S. government, as well as the European Union and international financial institutions,” said Amos Hochstein, former coordinator for international energy affairs at the State Department. The authors pointed out that Hochstein was “one of the few administration officials who directly confronted Mr. Biden at the time about his son.” 

To sum up the point I am trying to make, journalists writing about security assistance for Ukraine, as well as a variety of other publications, frequently share a short-list of go-to experts.

What the Fourth Estate often does not tell readers is what these experts are doing while out of the government.

Wait until Part VI to learn more.

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Impeachment Scam Should Sink Schiff – Part II

By: Jeffrey Winograd

PART II – Evidence Debunks Myths of Anti-Trump Ukraine Claims

John Solomon, a highly-regarded and experienced journalist, published a masterful, must-read article on Oct. 31 “debunking some of the bigger fables in the Ukraine scandal.”

Particularly noteworthy about Solomon’s article is that it is replete with links to documents and sources that substantiate what he writes.

Unfortunately, he seems to have enemies out there who are trying to discredit him and his work. This becomes quite apparent when doing an online search as well as by looking at the Wikipedia entry for Solomon.

The key points of his article can best be summarized in the form of questions-and-answers.

QUESTION: Did the Democratic National Committee (DNC) request Ukraine’s help during the 2016 U.S. presidential election?

ANSWER: Yes! Alexandra Chalupa, a DNC contractor, “did, in fact, solicit dirt on Donald Trump and Paul Manafort [who briefly served as Trump’s campaign manager] during the spring of 2016 in hopes of spurring a pre-election congressional hearing into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia,” Solomon wrote. The Ukraine embassy in Washington, D.C. attested to that fact and you can read an official statement here.

QUESTION: Is there evidence supporting the allegation that Ukrainian government officials tried to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election?

ANSWER: Yes! According to Solomon, one documented episode involved a member of the Ukraine parliament and a senior Ukrainian law enforcement officer who released financial records in the spring and summer of 2016 from a probe into Paul Manafort’s lobbying activities. “The publicity from the release of the so-called Black Ledger documents forced Manafort to resign,” Solomon wrote. He also commented on an Aug. 4, 2016, op-ed published in The Hill (see it here), which criticized Trump and suggested he was an appeaser of Russia while in the midst of the election campaign.

QUESTION: Did former Vice President Joe Biden seek the ouster of the Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating Burisma Holdings, where his son, Hunter Biden, served on the board and was a consultant? (His son’s firm received compensation of $166,000 per month, not just the widely reported $50,000 per month, over a period of XX months)

ANSWER: Yes! “Joe Biden is captured on videotape bragging about his effort to strong-arm Ukraine’s president into firing Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin,” wrote Solomon. In fact, on Jan. 23, 2018, Biden spoke before the Council on Foreign Relations and stated: “And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t. I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. 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. Well, son of a bitch. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”

QUESTION: During their July 25 telephone conversation, was Trump trying to pressure Zelenskyy to reopen the probe of Burisma Holdings?

ANSWER: No! “Trump could not have forced the Ukrainians into opening a new Burisma investigation in July because the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s office had already opened a new probe on March 28, 2019, or three months before the call,” Solomon wrote.  He posted on Scribd the prosecutor’s notice of suspicion although it is in Ukrainian.

QUESTION: In June 2016, did Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, tell the former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko the names of people and entities she did not want to have prosecuted in Ukraine?

ANSWER: Yes! Solomon provided a quote from an interview he conducted with Lutsenko this past spring. Stated Lutsenko: At no time since our interview have I ever retracted the statement I made about the U.S. ambassador providing me a list of names of people and organizations she did not want my office to prosecute. I explained to the reporter [who had asked for a copy of the letter with a written list] that the ambassador did not hand me a written list but rather provided the list of names orally over the course of a meeting.” He also posted a letter signed by then Charge d’Affaires George Kent, which stated: “The investigation into the actions of the Anti-Corruption Action Center, based on the assistance they have received from us, is similarly misplaced.” According to Solomon, this nonprofit organization is funded jointly by the State Department and “liberal megadonor George Soros.”

myth regarding Joe Biden, the U.S. embassy in Ukraine and Ukrainian election interference to affect the 2020 presidential election?

ANSWER: No! While Giuliani began his probe in late fall 2018, prior to that Ukrainian prosecutors believed they had relevant evidence to convey to the Justice Department, explained Solomon, adding that visas to deliver said evidence were not forthcoming from the American embassy. He provided a link to an April 7, 2019, article he authored, quoting Kostiantyn Kulyk, deputy head of the Prosecutor General’s International Legal Cooperation Department, as saying: “We were supposed to share this information during a working trip to the United States. However, the [U.S.] ambassador blocked us from obtaining a visa. She didn’t explicitly deny our visa, but also didn’t give it to us.” 

The Solomon article can be found here.

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