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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Transcripts and Ukraine

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.     The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. Impeachment is becoming likely.

 Nicholas Fandos and Michael S. Schmidt at NYT:
The former United States ambassador to Ukraine told impeachment investigators last month that she felt “threatened” by President Trump after it emerged that he told the Ukrainian president she would “go through some things,” adding that she is concerned to this day that she will be retaliated against based on a smear campaign against her by Mr. Trump’s allies.
The details from testimony by Marie L. Yovanovitch, who was abruptly recalled in May, emerged on Monday as House committees began making public witness interviews, releasing transcripts of private questioning taken last month with both her and a top diplomat who advised Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Ms. Yovanovitch told Democrats and Republicans during her deposition last month that she believed she was the victim of a conservative smear campaign that sought, incorrectly, to portray her as disloyal to President Trump and prompted him to remove her. The transcript shows that she also detailed what she knew of attempts by Mr. Trump’s private lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and his allies to work with the former Ukrainian prosecutor general to “do things, including to me.”

The diplomat, Michael McKinley, described to investigators how he pressed top State Department officials to publicly support Ms. Yovanovitch as she was dragged through the news. According to the transcript, Mr. McKinley spoke directly with Mr. Pompeo and other senior officials this fall about issuing a public statement about Ms. Yovanovitch’s professionalism, but was eventually told by a department representative that they did not want to “draw undue attention” to Ms. Yovanovitch.

Greg Jaffe and Josh Dawsey at WP report that Trump has long hated Ukraine.
“We could never quite understand it,” a former senior White House official said of Trump’s view of the former Soviet republic, also saying that much of it stemmed from the president’s embrace of conspiracy theories. “There were accusations that they had somehow worked with the Clinton campaign. There were accusations they’d hurt him. He just hated Ukraine.”
...

In the fall of 2017, Trump was set to meet with then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the United Nations in New York. At the time, U.S. officials were working to convince Trump that Ukraine, locked in a long war with Russian-backed forces, was worthy of American support.

Then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told [adviser Kurt] Volker that he would have about 45 seconds to brief Trump ahead of his meeting with Poroshenko. If Trump was interested in learning more, Tillerson said, the president would ask questions. Volker rushed through his pitch, according to former U.S. officials who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic topics.

Trump then peppered Volker with his negative views of Ukraine, suggesting that it wasn’t a “real country,” that it had always been a part of Russia, and that it was “totally corrupt.”