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Ukraine probe offspring of Russiagate

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As the impeachment hearings on President Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal continue this week, his partisan supporters dismiss the process as a would-be coup and the Democrats’ second shot at succeeding where they failed with Russiagate. But recent events show that Russiagate was far from the “nothingburger” Trump apologists made it out to be — and that Ukrainegate is its hardly unexpected offspring.

Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to provide a “favor” in exchange for American military aid involved two issues. One was Hunter Biden’s high-paying job on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while his father was vice president of the United States and allegations that Joe Biden used his position to oust the Ukrainian prosecutor investigating the company. Whatever legitimate questions there may be about the younger Biden’s role, none of that justifies Trump’s blatantly political demands for an investigation. But the other part — Trump’s demand that the Ukrainian government pursue a conspiracy theory shifting the blame for 2016 U.S. election interference and for the hacking of the Democratic National Committee from Russia to Ukraine — is even more egregious.

Trump’s attempts to strong-arm Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into announcing the investigations he wanted stemmed from his determination to prove that he didn’t owe his victory to Russian help — something the report by special counsel Robert Mueller didn’t settle to his satisfaction.

Mueller found no evidence of the Trump campaign actively engaging in conspiracy to hack the DNC and obtain emails which were used to damage Hillary Clinton. But it’s fairly clear that the campaign, and Trump himself, eagerly welcomed the release of those emails via WikiLeaks despite knowing about their tainted provenance. What’s more, many questions remain about what and when Trump and his people knew. Last week, longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone was convicted in federal court of lying to Congress about his activities related to the pilfered emails, among other charges. According to prosecutors, Stone not only tried to obtain the emails but regularly briefed the Trump campaign on what he learned about WikiLeaks’ plans — something he denied to Congress in 2017.

The verdicts open new questions about whether Trump lied to Mueller about his contacts with Stone in the months before the election. Prosecution witness Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign official, testified that in July 2016, he heard Trump say that “more information” was coming from WikiLeaks after wrapping up a phone call with Stone.

None of this means that Trump is a Kremlin “asset” or Vladimir Putin’s tool. But there is ample evidence suggesting that he willingly took advantage of Russian operations to undermine his rival. Ukrainegate disclosures also show that he shared the Kremlin’s disdainful view of Ukraine as unworthy of independence.

Trump defenders point out that while Trump may have delayed military aid to Ukraine until Zelensky agreed to do his bidding, the Obama administration had denied such aid altogether, agreeing to provide only non-lethal assistance (such as clothing and medical supplies) for Ukraine’s defense against Russian incursions in the East. But even there, the story is more complicated. In 2016, the Trump campaign worked behind the scenes to remove support for lethal aid for Ukraine from the GOP platform. According to a Foreign Policy report based on information from current and former administration officials, Trump initially opposed such aid in 2017 until he was persuaded that it would be a good business deal for the United States.

Additional revelations are coming from Mueller grand jury materials, the first batch of which was published earlier this month after a court ordered their release.

Whatever the outcome of the impeachment effort, defending Trump in the matter of the Russian connection is increasingly indefensible.

Cathy Young is a contributing editor to Reason magazine.

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House Democrats are investigating whether Trump lied to Mueller

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The House of Representatives’ top lawyer told a federal appeals court Monday that the House is investigating whether President Donald Trump lied to special counsel Robert Mueller, and the attorney urged the judges to order the release of still-secret material from Mueller’s investigation.

Two of the three judges who heard arguments at the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit — Judith Rogers, a Clinton appointee, and Thomas Griffith, an appointee of George W. Bush — seemed prepared to order at least some of the material sought by the House to be turned over.

House General Counsel Douglas Letter told the judges that the need for the still-secret material redacted from the Mueller report is “immense” because it will help House members answer the question, “Did the president lie? Was the president not truthful in his responses to the Mueller investigation?” in his written responses to the probe.

The House Judiciary Committee is seeking grand jury testimony and other details redacted from the public version of Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Last month a judge ordered the Justice Department to turn over the redacted material, but the Trump administration appealed. Whatever the appeals panel decides, the case is likely headed to the Supreme Court.

Griffith suggested that the House had a particular need for the material since the Mueller report ultimately left it to Congress to decide whether Trump had obstructed the Mueller probe.

But a third judge, Trump appointee Neomi Rao, seemed more sympathetic to the Justice Department’s arguments against releasing the information. She questioned whether the courts should get involved in any way in a dispute over impeachment between the legislative and executive branches.

Justice Department lawyers say they are barred from releasing the redacted material, in part because an impeachment inquiry does not qualify as a “judicial proceeding” under the federal law governing release of grand jury materials. Trump has called the impeachment inquiry “a witch hunt.”

Griffith, in his questioning, raised the possibility of releasing less material than what U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell called for in her Oct. 25 order. Griffith asked whether it made more sense for a judge to hold a hearing and go through each redaction in the Mueller report and hear arguments on whether Congress could articulate a particularized need for that information.

He also asked whether the information could perhaps be released on a limited basis to House staff and lawyers while the courts continue to hear arguments on the broader question of what can be fully provided to Congress.

Democrats believe the redacted information could shed light on key episodes of the investigation, including discussions Trump is reported to have had with associates about the release of stolen emails during the campaign and conversations about a 2016 Trump Tower meeting at which Trump’s eldest son expected to receive damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

In court papers, House lawyers cited one redaction that “appears to relate to grand jury evidence indicating that President Trump sought or obtained advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’s plans during the campaign” to release damaging emails related to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. In his written testimony, Trump said he had no recollection of any particular conversations about the hacked emails.

The questions about whether Trump lied in his written testimony to Mueller come as Trump tweeted Monday he might be willing to offer written testimony as part of the House impeachment inquiry.

Other redactions cited in the court papers relate to contacts members of the Trump campaign met with Ukrainian officials “and therefore may be relevant to the House’s examination of whether the President committed impeachable offenses by soliciting Ukrainian interference in the 2020 Presidential election.”

In public proceedings last week in front of the House Intelligence Committee, the impeachment inquiry focused on whether the president withheld aid from Ukraine to pressure the government there to launch a public investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

At the court hearing Monday, Griffith asked Letter whether the material sought was still relevant, given the apparent recent focus on Ukraine as opposed to the Mueller report.

“Don’t believe everything you’ve read in the press,” Letter responded.

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FOX News: Neptune's moons are in a 'dance of avoidance,' NASA says | Freedom FM Radio Network

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Neptune may be one of the more mysterious planets in the Solar System, but a new study notes that two of its moons, Naiad and Thalassa, are locked in a “dance of avoidance.”

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FOX News: Michigan hunter mistakes brother for deer, shoots him during first days of hunting season

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A Michigan hunter was accidentally shot during the opening weekend of deer firearm hunting season.

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» Saved Stories - None: Fox News Live: Trump impeachment hearing Day 3

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The New Abwehr's and German hands are almost evident in both the Flynn Affair, with its Turkish underpinnings, and in the Ukrainian Affair.

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The New Abwehr's and German hands are almost evident in both the Flynn Affair, with its Turkish - European underpinnings, and in the Ukrainian Affair ("Ukraine Is Not For Yankees"), with its historical-political  background. 
The similar branches radiate from Berlin along the circle of vectors, from Finland, through Russia - Former USSR on the East, to Canada on the West; and with Israel in the comfy South. 
Berlin is The Nexus from which these vectors originate. 
The New Abwehr rules the World. Und how are we supposed to feel about ZIZ?! 

10:04 AM 11/18/2019 - Post Link
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