In a single opening statement, Ambassador Bill Taylor destroyed the White House defense. This is that there were no conditions put in place to receive aid. They were, and this is absolutely clear. The statement is devastating for the storyline advanced by the White House, which is now reduced to saying that the legal term was not said, or that the Ukrainians did not know.
First, the readout from the call is clear. The President of the United States conditioned help to Ukraine on a favor. This is abusing the power of the White House and demanding the help of a desperate government fighting a stronger power inside their borders.
He told Congress that:
I found a confusing arrangement for making U.S. policy towards Ukraine. There appeared to be two channels of U.S. policy making and implementation, one regular and one highly irregular. As the Chief of Mission I had authority over the regular, formal diplomatic processes, including the bulk of the U.S. effort to support Ukraine against the Russian invasion and to help it defeat corruption.
This is of note since there was another channel, run by the Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, a political appointee, Rudy Giuliani, Kurt Volker and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. Their goal was to push a fully alternative foreign policy effort that has nothing to do with regular American policy going back to the 1990s.
Their efforts conditioned help to Ukraine on interference in American internal politics. This is what the investigation of the Biden’s, Hunter and his father Joe were part of.
They were asking, even demanding, that
”President Zelenskyy publicly commit to investigations of Burisma and alleged interference in the 2016 election showed how the official foreign policy of the United States was undercut by the irregular efforts led by Mr. Giuliani.”
To his credit, the President of the Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky refused to become a pawn in internal American politics. Yes, the ambassador used an alternative spelling of the last name.
Involving a foreign government in American internal politics is precisely one of the things that the founders were afraid of. This is impeachable. And this testimony is already hurting the case he was trying to make.
This is why hardcore Republicans are stuck on the process. They know that what already has come out is damming in the extreme. This is why people like Matt Gaettz led a Brookes Brothers riot this morning at the secured hearing room inside the House. They will try to distract, and to call this as a sham based on the process.
It is important to understand that the rules were changed when Republicans held the House. It is also critical to know that what the House is doing is the equivalent of a Grand Jury. Defendants are not invited into grand juries most of the time. This is where the government builds a case for charges that will come out in a court of law. The United States Senate is the Jury room for an impeachment trial, which is where the president and his lawyers will present a case.
However, impeachments are a political affair as well. The Founders know it, and the rest of us should understand this. It is not just a judicial event, nor is this just a political event.
Republicans know that this could damage the Republican brand for years to come. And it is clear that some republicans care far more about immediate power than the Constitution. Some are looking at what is emerging and realizing that their oath of office prevents them from excusing the president. Incidentally, the president is doing all the damage he can before he is impeached. That is coming.
This is why he declared victory in Syria, as he gave an immense strategic gift to Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. For those of us who are familiar with history, his speech was missing just one thing: A piece of paper. It almost sounded like Neville Chamberlain’s peace in our time speech. Russia has been conducting a shadow war, just short of going kinetic, for ten years or more. They are succeeding beyond their wildest dreams.
Turkey is looking for new alliances, away from the West and to become a regional power. They just did, I guess those towers in Istanbul were worth it.
I guess that Tower Moscow is worth it as well, maybe.
And that speech serves another purpose in the mind of the president. He is trying hard to change the conversation on the cables away from impeachment. From what I am hearing, he is hardly succeeding.
And if you have not read the statement, all fifteen pages, I urge you to do so. Many news outlets have it. For the moment, I will just give you a link to the first one that pops on Google.