Parnas evidence, GAO assessment on Ukraine funding and Yovanovitch intimidation

As the Donald J. Trump impeachment trial started out with the serious and sober presentation of the articles of impeachment and swearing in by the Chief Justice, two news bullets of the last two days are shaping the trial. With the evidence from Lev Parnas, who is one of Rudy Giuliani’s henchmen, and his interview that notes “of course Trump knew” what Parnas was up to, coupled with the non-partisan GAO stating Trump’s withholding of funding of Ukraine broke the law, the president and those close to him have questions to answer.

As an independent and former Republican voter, I have been asking Senators for some time to call witnesses as we need to get to the bottom of this. I want to hear from Messers. Bolton, Pompeo, Giuliani, and Pence among others. Rep. Adam Schiff noted nine witnesses that Trump denied access to obstructing Congress. Having watched these honorable diplomats and public servants testify under oath and at great risk, having watched Rep. Devin Nunes not recuse himself from the questioning since his name shows up in the dirt gathering, and seeing the president’s people try to hide the “perfect phone call” from view, I have concerns about the president as a national security risk.

I am also concerned about the treatment to defame and intimidate an honorable diplomat named Marie Yovanovitch as she would not play ball with the Giuiliani and Trump narrative. This is beyond bad behavior and could be criminal. But, there is one thing I am very clear of as he did it out in the open – the president obstructed Congress. How any reasonable person could say otherwise is beyond me. We are not a kingdom – we are a Republic with three equal branches of government.

Politico published the attached piece called “Parnas and Ukraine bombshells jolt impeachment trial” yesterday. Please click the link below and read the article. It is important. It is up to Americans to demand the Senate to remember their oaths to the Constitution and that oath they just took with the Chief Justice.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/parnas-and-ukraine-aid-bombshells-jolt-impeachment-trial/ar-BBZ1PJl?ocid=spartandhp

We must applaud political courage

Earlier this week, two Republican Senators, Mike Lee and Rand Paul, said the briefing by the White House on the assassination of the Iranian Soleimani, was not just poor, but the worst of briefings. I applaud their political courage to push back on the president for less than satisfactory explanation. I have called each Senator to share my thank you as an Independent and former Republican voter.

I had the same type of kudos for the parade of diplomats and other public servants who testified under oath and at great risk to the House Intelligence committee about their concerns over the shadow diplomacy being used by the president in Ukraine to strong arm action for his personal benefit. I watched these witnesses speak under oath about how we should be doing our best to nurture and protect the young democracy in Ukraine. On the flip side, I saw a president, not under oath, berate these public servants for being less than truthful, without really addressing the need to protect the interests of Ukraine.

Political courage seems to be in short supply these days. At the same time the two Senators were sharing their concerns, a US Congressman was being questioned for the release of a doctored photograph. The intent of the photograph which showed the preceding president shaking hands with the current Irani president, whom he has never physically met, seems to be less than meritorious. Yet, when questioned, the Congressman was flippant and disdainful of the reporter.

Unlike the two Senators’ political courage, the act and the response by the Congressman is poor form. We need our legislators to be among our better Angels, not our worst demons. With it so easy to disinform these days, we need our legislators to avoid such temptation, and to condemn it even when it is done on their behalf. We all must be truth seekers.

I am reminded of the late Senator John McCain, when running for president in 2008, correcting a woman when she attacked the character of Barack Obama. He told her that Obama was a fine person, but he and Obama just disagreed on issues and policies. I miss the Senator and his political (and military courage). We need to emulate him and the recent actions of Senator Lee and Paul.

Are we safer? – not so per The Washington Post editorial

The following editorial by Joe Scarborough called “Trumps ignorance has created an international crisis” appeared in The Washington Post. It is not an isolated opinion, as variations of concerns can be found in other publications. Yet, this is the first one where reference to the president’s “ignorance” of history and the gravity of the situation is not reassuring to us or our allies.

My concern is the assassination has galvanized hatred toward the US in the martyred Soleimani. Instead of more reasonable relations with Iran via the Nuclear Agreement, by going against the wishes of our five allies who co-signed the agreement, we are escalating tensions with “no off ramp” per former Joint Chiefs Chair Admiral Mike Mullens. And, we have destabilized our relations with Iraq as well.

Yet, what troubles as much is how we have harmed our relationships with our allies. The US is not trusted because our president is untrustworthy. How does this make us safer? Coupled with the national security risk following the Ukraine shadow diplomacy and strong-arming and the answer is we are not safer under this president.

Please read the attached brief editorial. It will not be reassuring.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/opinion/opinions-trumps-ignorance-has-created-an-international-crisis/ar-BBYGezL?ocid=spartandhp

A few why moments the past decade

Since I speak often that we need to ask more why questions, as well as a few more what, how, and when questions, permit me to ask a few why questions about the past decade.

Why would Prince Andrew think it was a good idea for him to visit a known pedophile’s house and be photographed with teen girls he is accused of having sex with?

Why do people still not find it a national security concern when a US president bends over backwards to support various Russian narratives and running shadow diplomacy?

Why do mass shootings continue at such a rampant rate in the US and no tangible action is taken to address these and everyday shootings?

Why do the kids (such as Greta Thunberg, Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, eg) understand our climate change and gun problems better than many adults?

Why are two of the heroes of the decade female – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who led to new gun laws in one week after mass shooting and the 16 year old climate activist, Thunberg?

Why have people allowed the media to be labeled around the world as enemies of the people by so-called leaders not known for truth – Trump, Putin, Bolsonaro, Duterte, Xi, Johnson, Erdogan, et al?

Why are we not actively condemning hate groups for domestic terrorism – this is not right?

Why is the current White House trying to solve our growing poverty problem by kicking people off their healthcare and food stamps, and defanging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau designed to punish predatory lending?

Why is there not a bigger outcry for screwing over our Kurdish allies who fought our enemies?

Why is the Hong Kong story being covered far more than China’s abduction and brainwashing of Muslim and other religious groups within concentration camps?

There are so many more why questions than I have space. Please add a few of yours.

Three why questions

Tell me why, three why questions have not sunk into more people’s minds about the Ukraine mess caused by the US president?

– Why did people who heard the “perfect” phone call try to hide it?

– Why does the US president want witnesses called, but prevents those in the know from testifying?

– Why don’t more people believe hard working, honorable public servants who testified under oath at great risk instead of a person who is known to be cavalier with the truth?

I would like to hear some answers to these three why questions starting with people named McConnell, Graham and Barr. This American would like to hear from folks like Mulvaney, Pompeo, Giuliani, and Pence under oath. Tell me why I should not be able to do so?

Senator Murkowski is on the side of the angels

In an ongoing effort to highlight political courage, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska continues to fight for the soul that has been trampled on in the Republican Party. She is concerned that Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is coordinating with the White House on the impending trial. An article on her stance is provided in the link below.

Americans should step back and think about that, regardless of political party. The Senate Leader is coordinating with the defense while he sets up the trial. To make matters worse, Senators like Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Kennedy of Louisiana have bragged that they do not plan on being impartial. Really?

Senator Murkowski says this is not right. She is correct. It is not right. Senators McConnell, Graham, Kennedy et al took an oath to the US Constitution. They did not swear an oath to the GOP and certainly did not swear one to the person in the White House. It matters not what party someone is, this is not right. If people are telling you it is, you should ask them a why question.

Please join me in applauding the courage of Senator Murkowski. Swimming against the tide in your own party, with a vindictive leader, takes chutzpah. Kowtowing to such a leader is, to be frank, shameful and not courageous at all. Murkowski is on the side of the angels.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/republican-senator-disturbed-by-mcconnells-coordination-with-white-house-on-impeachment/ar-BBYm9e8?ocid=spartandhp

A letter to a conservative editorialist who says we just don’t like Trump

As an independent and former Republican (in fairness, I was a Democrat for a few years after college), I am bemused at how Trump supporters are dismissive of people’s criticisms because they just don’t like him. That does not give him a hall pass to be untruthful, be a bully, name call critics, or act in a corrupt manner.

What I find telling is conservative groups like “Republicans for the Rule of Law,” “Checks and Balances,” and “Christianity Today” who have called out this president for impeachment for his abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Plus, the Mueller report, which I read, has several examples of obstruction of justice and lying.

But, we also should heed the voices of respected Conservative voices like George Will, David Brooks, Michael Gerson, Eric Erickson, Ross Douthat et al, who have shared concerns about the president.

Donald Trump got elected because he is a great salesman. He got folks to look more at his opponents’ imperfections than his own. He is acting as president no differently than he ran his business. As Thomas Wells, an attorney who worked for Trump, wrote before the election, “Donald Trump lies every day, even about things of no consequence.” And, we should not forget the words of Michael Cohen under oath, “Donald Trump is racist, he is a con artist and he is a cheat.”

So, excuse me if I take the word of a parade of dutiful, honorable public servants who courageously testified under oath of their concerns about the president’s actions rather than a president known to be less than truthful.

Do I like Donald Trump? Not really, but it is mainly due to how weary I am of his tendency to lie, demean, bully and make too many things about himself. I also have concerns about his acting like an autocrat and treating our treasured allied relationships like transactions.

I personally find Donald Trump the most corrupt and dishonest president in my lifetime, and that includes Richard Nixon.

I am sorry to push back on you, but I am frustrated with the ongoing rationalization of this incumbent. My question to you is the same one I ask of our Senators. What will you have to defend next week, next month, and next year?