zelensky phone call hearing

Impeachment hearing highlights conflict over Pindo policy in Ukraine
Patrick Martin, WSWS, Nov 20 2019

imageWilliams & Vindman before HPSIC. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP)

Public hearings in the impeachment inquiry against Trump continued Tuesday, with four witnesses appearing before HPSIC in a lengthy session extending into the evening. The first two witnesses, State Dept boxtop Jennifer Williams and NSC Lt-Col Alexander Vindman, were called by the Demagogs, while former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker and former NSC boxtop Tim Morrison were called by the Thugs. All four witnesses expressed concern over the Jul 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky which is the focal point of the inquiry. In the call, Trump bullied his Ukrainian counterpart, demanding an investigation into Hunter Biden, son of Joe Biden, and into alleged operations of the DNC in Ukraine during the 2016 election. Williams, Vindman and Morrison listened in on the Jul 25 call, Williams as a representative of Vice Pres Pence, whom she was advising on Eastern European and Russian affairs, and Vindman and Morrison as officials of the NSC. Vindman and Morrison immediately reported the call to the NSC legal counsel, a clear signal of concern. Vindman said he did so because he thought Trump’s demand for Ukraine to announce a corruption probe into the Bidens was wrong. Morrison claimed it was because he feared the political blowback if the call became public. Volker testified that he learned of the content of call only two months later, when it was made public by the White House on Sep 25. He had previously told HPSIC behind closed doors that there was no connection between the withholding of military aid to Ukraine and Trump’s demand for an investigation into Biden, but in the public session he was not so categorical and he described Trump’s reference to the Bidens in the Jul 25 call as “unacceptable.”

The content of the testimony and much of the tedious questioning revolved around the question of whether Trump had sought to condition military aid to Ukraine and an invitation for the Ukrainian president to visit the White House on Ukraine’s agreement to declare it was opening an investigation into Biden and the Demagogs. It is no secret that Trump engages in such transactional bullying on a daily basis, despite Thug efforts to disguise this obvious fact. For their part, the Demagogs, frustrated by the evident popular disinterest in the whole proceeding, have resorted to focus groups to test whether “quid pro quo,” bribery or extortion is the most effective term to use in pursuing impeachment. The entire debate over the Trump-Zelensky phone call is a diversion from the central issue in the inquiry. What has moved impeachment to center stage in Pindo politics is the furious reaction within the military intelligence apparatus to Trump’s actions in two key areas of foreign policy, Ukraine and Syria. In threatening the supply of military aid to Ukraine, as well as calling into question the Pindo position on Crimea and suggesting he might invite Putin to the G7 summit in Pindostan next year and accept a Putin invitation to Moscow for the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, Trump is seen to be undermining one of the most critical operations of Pindo imperialism over the past two decades: the installation of a puppet regime in Ukraine, the second-largest component of the FSU. Ukraine is widely regarded as a front-line state in any future war between NATO and Russia.

While the Demagogs profess shock and dismay that Trump would invite “foreign interference” in a Pindo election by seeking political dirt on Biden from Ukraine, the “Maidan revolution” of 2014 celebrated by both parties was the product of far more blatant foreign interference by Pindfostan in Ukraine. Victoria Nuland, ASS for European affairs under Obama and wife of leading neocon and Iraq warmonger Robert Kagan, boasted that the Pindo government spent $5b to help overthrow Yanukovych. In the questioning of witnesses on Tuesday, Demagog after Demagog invoked the 2014 coup in Ukraine as an historic advance for Pindo foreign policy that was being placed in danger by Russia and by Trump’s alleged accommodation with Moscow. All of them proceeded from the script enunciated by Nancy Pelosi, who has repeatedly declared that with Trump, “all roads lead to Putin.” In that sense, the impeachment of Trump over Ukraine is an extension of the anti-Russia campaign that was launched by the Demagog Party and the intelligence agencies in Jul 2016 and continued through the election and for the nearly two years of the Mueller investigation. Devin Nunes, the top Thug on the committee, was able to demonstrate this continuity quite effectively in his opening statement Tuesday, which included citations of media headlines from the past three years promoting the bogus claim that Trump is a Russian agent. Trump’s relations with the military intelligence apparatus were further aggravated by his decision last month to pull most Pindo forces out of Syria and abandon the Syrian Kurds, who had served as the main ground troops for Faschingsteion for the previous four years. On both issues, withholding aid from Ukraine and pulling out of Syria, Trump’s actions produced a backlash within his own administration, most notably in his firing of NSA Bolton. According to one report this weekend, Bolton had a private session with Trump over the Ukraine issue before his dismissal on Sep 10, which came one day after the complaint by a CIA “whistleblower” became publicly known and one day before Trump had to reverse himself and release the funds for the Ukraine military.

The reaction within the Pentagon has been similar, particularly over Syria. The tensions underlying civil-military relations in Faschingstein were reflected in a seemingly minor incident. When one Thug congresscrittur referred to Vindman as “Mr Vindman,” the military officer, dressed in full uniform, snapped that he should be addressed as “lieutenant colonel.” Much of Tuesday’s hearing was aimed at shaping expectations for the testimony Wednesday morning from mbassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, who has been depicted as the principal go-between for Trump’s campaign to pressure Ukrainian boxtops to investigate the Bidens. All four of the witnesses on Tuesday flatly denied that they had played any role in that effort, and claimed to oppose it. Sondland has already given two diametrically opposed accounts of his role in the Ukraine affair, and his credibility will undoubtedly be attacked Wednesday by one side or the other on the committee, depending on where he comes down on the question of whether in discussions with him, Trump explicitly linked military aid to an investigation of a potential Demagog opponent in 2020. In particular, he will be asked about a phone call on Jul 26 in which he allegedly spoke with Trump from a Kiev restaurant and then told other embassy staffers that Trump did not “give a shit about Ukraine” and was interested only in investigations of the Bidens. Sondland did not reveal that call in his previous closed door deposition, but David Holmes, a counselor in the embassy in Kiev, told the committee Saturday that he had overheard the call and then discussed it with Sondland afterwards. Holmes is to give public testimony on Thursday.

2 Comments

  1. Rich
    Posted November 20, 2019 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Was Mr. Vindman required to wear his Army uniform every day when he was loaned out by the military while his officer evaluation was written by a Harvard alum with no military experience?

  2. niqnaq
    Posted November 21, 2019 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    It struck me too, that a congress person is quite entitled to address a military person as ‘mister’ while questioning him in congress.

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