Day Four, Still A Bore
Today it was Gordon Sondland's turn in the impeachment sham spotlight. Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, suggested there was a "potential quid pro quo" between the Trump Administration and Ukraine. But his remarks also undercut the Democrats' primary line of attack.
Sondland said the quid pro quo related to a White House meeting. As for as any demands linked to U.S. military aid (lethal aid that Obama would never give), Sondland said Trump never expressed such a demand and that he merely guessed at it.
Democrats have repeatedly insisted that President Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden in order to help his 2020 prospects. But Sondland was clear in his testimony that the request for investigations related to Ukraine's efforts in the 2016 election to help Hillary Clinton and the natural gas company Bursima, which paid Hunter Biden at least $50,000 a month.
Sondland also said that when he pressed the president about what he wanted from Ukraine's leaders, President Trump replied, "I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid-pro-quo. Tell Zelensky to do the right thing." (The president triumphantly read that statement in the Rose Garden on his way to Texas this afternoon.)
That doesn't sound like bribery or extortion to me.
Speaking of bribery and extortion, watch this video of Rep. Elise Stefanik questioning Ambassador Kurt Volker and former National Security Council official Tim Morrison. Both men denied that there was ever any hint of bribery or extortion.
In addition, Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, Vice President Mike Pence's National Security Adviser, who also sat in on the July 25th call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky, said he heard "nothing wrong or improper" on the call.
This is essentially boiling down to a disagreement over individual perceptions, opinions and guesses -- hardly the stuff of "high crimes and misdemeanors."
Meanwhile, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee announced today that they intend to subpoena Hunter Biden, the mysterious whistleblower and Alexandra Chalupa, a liberal operative who was in Ukraine in 2016 digging up dirt on Donald Trump.
The Deep State On Display
As I suggested earlier, what's on display in these hearings is not "high crimes and misdemeanors," the offenses our Founding Fathers believed might justify impeachment, but the Deep State's sense of entitlement.
Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch appeared to be in an existential crisis because the president no longer wanted her to serve as ambassador to Ukraine. Her feelings were hurt because she was fired.
But just to repeat, all ambassadors serve at the pleasure of the president. And Barack Obama fired all of George W. Bush ambassadors before he was even inaugurated!
Can you imagine the media's reaction if Republican senators had called up Bush's ambassadors to testify about how upset they were, how their feelings were hurt? They would have been laughed out of the room, and rightly so.
Yesterday we heard from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who said it was his job to coordinate U.S. policy toward Ukraine. Vindman never met the president, and his superiors expressed concerns about his judgment and temperament.
During his testimony yesterday, it seemed Vindman was upset that Trump wasn't reading his memos. Nevertheless, Vindman did concede that the president ultimately sets policy and was within his rights to request Ukraine's help with any investigations.
Again, what we're witnessing in the House Intelligence Committee is the Deep State throwing a temper tantrum, upset that the bureaucratic establishment isn't calling the shots anymore.
Several weeks ago, I told you about reports that the Trump Administration was taking steps to stop China's efforts to recruit scientists in the United States for its espionage efforts. A Senate report released this week reveals just how extensive Beijing's efforts were.
The Chinese "Thousand Talents" program began in 2008. It recruited at least 2,600 scientists in the United States, most of them Chinese nationals, at government labs or federal funded university research facilities.
While these scientists were being paid by the U.S. government to conduct research on a wide range of issues, they were also being paid by the Chinese Communist Party to make sure their research found its way back to China.
Incredibly, the FBI did not begin aggressively confronting the Chinese espionage until 2018! Presumably, James Comey, Andrew McCabe and Peter Strzok were just too busy sniffing out Russians in the Trump campaign to notice all the Chinese spies crawling around our college campuses and government labs.
But I do remember being surprised when Comey's successor, FBI Director Christopher Wray, told the Senate Intelligence Committee at the beginning of this year:
"[T]he Chinese counterintelligence threat is more deep, more diverse, more vexing, more challenging, more comprehensive and more concerning than any counterintelligence threat I can think of."
While the left and the media are focused on Russia and Ukraine, the Chinese are robbing us blind.
Ten candidates will take the stage tonight for the fifth Democrat presidential debate hosted by MSNBC and the Washington Post. The debate begins at 9:00 PM ET. The participating candidates are:
- Former Vice President Joe Biden
- Senator Cory Booker
- Mayor Pete Buttigieg
- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
- Sen. Kamala Harris
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar
- Sen. Bernie Sanders
- Billionaire activist Tom Steyer
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren
- Businessman Andrew Yang
Two candidates who participated in the October debate will not be on the stage tonight: former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who dropped out, and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, who failed to qualify for tonight's show.
Also not appearing tonight are the two newest candidates, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.