To me it shows how Trump effectively keeps himself out of shot by not sharing too much information with people outside of his closest circle . I can totally believe that the ambassadors that had to arrange the public announcement of the investigations into the company Burisma, have never heard the name Biden attached to it from their interactions with Giuliani & the president. Rudy Giuliani would know about it, given that he was doing his own investigations in Ukraine already. (or according to him, the information about the Biden - Burisma link was handed to him) Anyway, in both cases, he knew about the link between Biden & Burisma. Why raise concerns with a bunch of ambassadors that don't need to know about this link? They don't need to know why the optics of an investigation into this business was of importance, they just needed to know that it was a thing that president Zelensky should do. And perhaps that would lead to the release of the military aid and an invitation to the White House meeting for President Zelensky. After all, why else is this congress-approved aid not getting through even when the US keeps confirming to them that it should go through? It's worth a shot at least right? Using this uncertainty + time pressure to make ambassadors make a presumption of which actions lets the aid go through is making this case quite difficult.
An announcement from the ukranian president that Burisma, a company that had corruption issues in the past, needs to be investigated. That's the desire from the higher-ups and that could technically be in line with the official US-Ukraine relationship from the vantage point of these ambassadors. After all, that relationship does see the reduction of corruption as an objective to drag Ukraine away from their Soviet past. Ambassadors Sondland & Volker had already agreed to work with Giuliani in the hope to achieve their goals of getting the aid resumed & the white house meeting for the ukranian president, this Burisma investigation announcement was just one extra requirement to attain that ultimate goal. They might not realize why this is important, but again, they already agreed to work with Giuliani despite their concerns, so this wasn't something they were going to spend time questioning neither. The aid needed to get through ASAP, The White House meeting needed to happen. That's what mattered to these ambassadors.
I do think it's rich for Sondland to act like he felt like his channel through Giuliani was the 'centerlane' and a regular channel when he admits that it all having to go through Giuliani is something he didn't feel comfortable with at all. With the benefit of hindsight, now he agrees that it was improper to work with Giuliani, yet he still holds on to the belief that his 'three amigo's' channel was regular. And clearly there was a 2nd channel, the one William Taylor (replacement for the ousted Marie Yovanovitch) used when he arrived in Ukraine before knowing about the Giuliani-led channel. So Sondland feels uncomfortable using the channel with Giuliani attached to it, but reveals that he kind of had to use it to get things done, given that Trump told Volker that they needed to talk to Giuliani about Ukrainian matters. Yet, he won't agree that the original Giuliani-less channel is more centerlane than his Three Amigos channel that he 'proudly' is a part of? Even now with 20/20 hindsight and knowledge that Biden's son was on that board & Giuliani knew about this link between Burisma & Biden? Buuuullll-shiitttt. The official channel might have been seen as less effective perhaps, but that's not what Sondland said. In my opinion, this is where he tries to cover his own ass. Naturally the other channel was more official & regular, he just felt like if he wanted to get anything done, that channel would not be of any use. Trump said he needed to talk to Giuliani, so he did.
I also think it's very strange that after the military aid is held up for apparently no reason & Sondland phones Trump in an act of desperation to find out what the fuck Ukraine has to do, that Trump responds by says Nothing! I DONT WANT NO QUID PRO QUO! Like why would you bring up a this for that-type of arrangement if Sondland doesn't even suggest that there should be one? He just wants to know why the aid is not getting through. The more logical response would be like 'I want nothing from Ukraine. Why are you even asking me? That's not my job. Is the aid not coming through? It should, congress approved of it. I'll speak to ... and .. about that.' It should at least try to figure out why this ambassador is directly calling the president in full desperation-mode when the president is not the one that gets to put secret conditions on aid-packages. If i received that call, i'd wonder why this ambassador is casting suspicions on me in the first place.
Funds being conditioned (as a quid pro quo) is not a bad thing in itself. The thing here is that these funds were approved by congress already so anything Ukraine had to do to get these funds (like fighting corruption, ousting corrupt officials or such) had been done. It's also possible that there were no specific requirements for this aid package. the problem here, it seems like the aid & the meeting were conditioned on a objective that was not assigned by congress, but by the president himself. Conditions solely meant for the benefit of his presidential re-election campaign. Again, if Trump's inner circle truly didn't block the aid from coming through and wanted no secret conditions to be met, he should be surprised to get this phone call and wonder why he's even being contacted about this. He shouldn't whip out the latin phrase that he has on hand. The one that now is THE PHRASE attached to this whole case, when it's also a phrase that is conveniently not a crime at all. It's exactly the phrase that you would want this to be about as a defendant. Especially given that a 'do this to get that' type of deal is not unusual regarding to aid. As long as it is all out in the open & goes through congress.
The correct way this should have gone was to announce the condition that Burisma needs to be investigated by the Ukranian President. Congress asks why it's in US interest that this company gets investigated and whether it's fair to ask another president to do an internal investigation on the behalf of the US. A case has to be made why this is of US importance and if that's important enough to with-hold military aid to help the ukranian allies from defending themselves against the russian threat. If that case is able to be made, and the investigation showcases that Hunter Biden is a corrupt bad person working against US interests, that's fair game. But that's not what happened here.
Anyway, i see these proceedings as mostly going through the motions and at least taking away some of the shade around this whole ordeal. I don't see it leading to an removal of the president or anything, but mostly something that had to be done because otherwise the power to impeach would lose it's strength in the future. A time when they try to figure out when it's suitable to use this power and stare at this 2019 occassion that was apparently still not enough to use those powers. At least it lifts up the fog about this one operation to those that care about it and perhaps provides some ammunition on figures that have done shady things in this matter. Senators will also be on record with their decisions.
It's pretty crazy how a personal lawyer can effectively spearhead policy in Ukraine. He knew about the biden-link with burisma (either through own investigations or because he was handed this information) & he let the ambassadors know that they should tell President Zelensky to announce an investigation into Burisma afterwards. Personally i think that's a pretty clear cut case that Giuliani was not acting in the US interests. Also, the dude is a personal lawyer. He should not even be in this position! Sondland might get booted from his post, And i could see Pompeo & Mulvaney have to resign but i think that's pretty much the extent of this. Or they could just laugh this whole thing off and do nothing i guess.
Oh on a lighter note, as an European i'm sort of annoyed how i see all these ambassadors that are all taking notes about their workdays, yet we get assigned this affable guy that mostly relies on other parties to take the notes :D. Like i can totally see how a guy like Sondland is more easy-going and laid back in conversation with allies than say a William Taylor type, but it would still be nice to know that this ambassador keeps track of important stuff himself. Like at one point during the hearings he was like UGH, I HAVE TO DEAL WITH SO MANY IMPORTANT PEOPLE, THERE ARE SO MANY COUNTRIES IM INVOLVED IN, ITS HARD TO KEEP TRACK OF ALL THE CONVERSATIONS WITHOUT ANY DOCUMENTS TO JOG MY MEMORY. Like dude, maybe don't rely on everyone around you forthe transcripts, maybe start taking notes for yourself to make this easier? Other ambassadors are doing that. Surely this hearing isn't the first time that this bit you in the ass. Perhaps it is even convienient that you are known to be someone that doesn't keep notes. Helps to keep the light away from shady practices & conversations.
Also, it's pretty funny how that whole thing with Aesop Rocky keeps popping up in these proceedings. Sondland had no recollections of that day until someone mentioned that it was about Aesop Rocky & then it came all back to him :D
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