Thursday, October 24, 2019

Invasion of the GOPlins - and other tales from the Trumpublican crypt

Let’s start with the CBS News report that a Top diplomat tells lawmakers Ukraine aid was directly tied to investigations.

In extraordinary testimony that left lawmakers stunned, Bill Taylor – the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine – testified on Tuesday that U.S. aid to Ukraine was explicitly tied to the country’s willingness to investigate President Trump’s political rivals, providing new details about the events at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

William Taylor, the chargé d’affaires of the U.S. embassy in Kiev, delivered a 15-page statement behind closed doors to members of the House committees leading the impeachment probe. Taylor emerged as a key witness in the investigation into the Trump administration’s efforts to pressure Ukraine when text messages between him and two other top diplomats came to light earlier this month.

In the statement, Taylor describes a concerted effort to use U.S. leverage to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to commit to opening investigations into debunked allegations of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, as well as the gas company Burisma, which had hired former Vice President Joe Biden’s son in 2014. Taylor said these efforts came via an “irregular, informal channel of U.S. policy-making” consisting of Rudy Giuliani, then-special envoy Kurt Volker, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland.

So, Trump’s scheme is snaring more and more members of the administration. And it’s forcing them to behave more and more like common hooligans. Following Taylor’s testimony on Tuesday, the Trumpublicans in the House on Wednesday invaded a House committee meeting being conducted in a secured room thus disrespecting the House’s own rule and the customary procedures of investigations by such committees. Here’s more.

Behind close doors is an essential standard operating procedure (SOP) of grand juries, and the House in this case operates analogously to a grand jury. But that SOP is rankling the thuggish Trumpublicans in the House. They are trying to get the House to operate as if it were conducting a trial. Hey R’s: that is the responsibility of the Senate. Read the Constitution.

[Wikipedia defines:] “Impeachment in the United States is the process by which a legislature (usually in the form of the lower house) brings charges against a civil officer of government for crimes alleged to have been committed, analogous to the bringing of an indictment by a grand jury.

The critical words are highlighted. Grand jury investigations are not public and certainly don’t include in the deliberations the targets of those investigations. Likewise, the investigation by the House is shielded and does not function as a trial - that is the responsibility of the Senate. How many times must we tutor Republicans about the impeachment process? The House acts as prosecutor and the Senate functions as a trial.

But now it seems as though the Republicans in the House are willing to sabotage the House’s processes and rules to make some points at Faux News.

House Republicans May Have Committed Some Light Treason opines Senior Editor Jim Swift at Bulwark.com.

A few months ago, internet personalities devised a plan to storm Area 51.

As the logic went: if enough of us storm a 1,300 square mile facility, they can’t stop us all. Which was true enough, I guess.

On Wednesday a group of House Republicans decided to take a page from America’s real influencers and storm the impeachment inquiry.

Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-InfoWars), led a few dozen members of the House Republican caucus to Naruto run a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, inside the U.S. Capitol complex in order to perform a sit in.

The majority rules in the People’s House and there are rules. Gaetz and his co-conspirators are suggesting that Republicans have been shut out from the testimony being given in the impeachment inquiry because it’s being done in a classified setting to the House. It’s important to underscore that this simply is not true.

The Republican members of Congress who sit on the committee either were (or should have been) in this SCIF. The hearing is closed not to “Republicans” but to all members who are not on the relevant committee. And the members of the relevant committee come from both parties.

Gaetz and his colleagues weren’t just protesting, though. They compromised a secure area. This is not just foolish, but reckless. It’s like storming Area 51, except instead of idiot social media celebrities doing it for the engagement, it’s elected political representatives doing it to get airtime on Fox.

If you’ve never been in a SCIF, and 99.9 percent of Americans have not, it’s basically like being put in a rubber room prison that’s wrapped in a Faraday Cage. The whole point of the SCIF is that nothing gets in and nothing gets out that isn’t planned and accounted for. There are a few hundred of these facilities scattered throughout official Washington—the FBI, CIA, and Pentagon obviously need them—but only a couple on the Hill.

You are not, under any circumstances, supposed to bring electronic devices into a SCIF. You can understand why. Members of Congress are not like the president, getting their phones rigorously checked by security personnel for signs of compromise. The device protocol for the average member of Congress aren’t that much more security-conscious than your mom’s.

So, in an effort to defend President Trump, Gaetz and company stormed the SCIF to disrupt the hearing and they didn’t just byob their own devices—they likely used them to show off on Twitter.

Rep. Mark Walker screeched on twitter “Open the process!” As I said, the Trumpublicans just don’t understand the role of the House in impeachments. Or, worse: maybe they do and are acting for other reasons.

… after claiming, in the first person, to be “in” the SCIF, both Gaetz and Walker flipped and, well after the fact, claimed that their tweets were not from “inside the room,” but from “staff outside.” Either way, one of these claims is a lie.

Not that it matters which is which. Because either way, as Mieke Eoyang, a former congressional staffer who worked on national security issues, put it this way: House Republicans endangered national security in an attempt to cover for President Trump.

We have reached a point where the political interests of the president run counter to the security interests of the nation. Or maybe we’ve been at that point for a long time. It’s just that now, other elected Republicans are admitting it through their actions.

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