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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Foggy Bottom Breakdown

In Defying the Odds, we discuss foreign policy issues in the 2016 campaign. Our update takes the story through the 2018 election.

Sean Collins at Vox:
A tranche of State Department documents obtained by the advocacy group American Oversight suggest Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani discussed US-Ukraine policy as early as March 2019, further tying Pompeo to the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
The documents — obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request — lay out Giuliani’s efforts to establish direct contact with Pompeo. They also seem to support the public testimony of US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, who told lawmakers Wednesday “everyone was in the loop” when it came to Trump’s campaign to pressure Ukraine into investigating the Biden family.
The nearly 100 pages of new documents could point to the beginning of that involvement for Pompeo, who has worked to distance himself from the pressure campaign.
Jim Wyss at The Miami Herald:
Two of Colombia’s top diplomats — caught in a moment of candor in a surreptitiously taped conversation — declared the U.S. State Department “destroyed” and said a Washington-backed effort to force humanitarian aid into Venezuela earlier this year was “a fiasco.”
Colombian newspaper Publimetro earlier this week released a 24-minute audio of Colombia’s Ambassador to the United States Francisco Santos and the country’s Foreign Minister-designate Claudia Blum. The paper said the pair had been recorded last week in a Washington, D.C., café by an unnamed third party.
In the animated and muddy recording, Santos — the country’s former vice president and a longtime diplomat — offers Blum advice about navigating the Washington power structure.
“The U.S. State Department, which used to be important, is destroyed, it doesn’t exist,” he said. In particular, he said President Donald Trump’s first secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, “salió con un chorro de babas” — a colorful expression that translates literally to “let out a stream of drool,” and which means, roughly, he was all talk and ineffectual.