The official Impeachment thread.

Jul 2019
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Ukraine’s Zelensky Bowed to Florida Man’s Demands, Until Luck Spared Him
Aides to Ukraine’s leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, decided that military aid and support for peace talks outweighed the risks of appearing to take sides in American politics.


KIEV, Ukraine — It was early September, and Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, faced an agonizing choice: whether to capitulate to Florida Man’s demands to publicly announce investigations against his political enemies or to refuse, and lose desperately needed military aid.

Only Florida Man could unlock the aid, he had been told by two United States senators, and time was running out. If the money, nearly $400 million, were not unblocked by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, it could be lost in its entirety.

rest of text to article in the next post due to character limits



this makes me livid because Zelenskyy ran on an anti-corruption campaign, and the first thing dotard does when he gets into office is put him in that predicament.


edit: ooops forgot I was using the Florida Man extension :lol:, I'll take it off soon, but today has been pretty hilarious with it turned on
 
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Jul 2019
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rest of NYT article

In a flurry of WhatsApp messages and meetings in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, over several days, senior aides debated the point. Avoiding partisan politics in the United States had always been the first rule of Ukrainian foreign policy, but the military aid was vital to the war against Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, a conflict that has cost 13,000 lives since it began in 2014.

By then, however, Mr. Zelensky’s staffers were already conceding to what seemed to be the inevitable, and making plans for a public announcement about the investigations. It was a fateful decision for a fledgling president elected on an anticorruption platform that included putting an end to politically motivated investigations.

Elements of this internal Ukrainian debate have appeared in the Ukrainian news media and seeped into congressional testimony in the United States, as part of an impeachment inquiry undertaken after accusations surfaced of Florida Man’s demands.

But interviews in Kiev with government officials, lawmakers and others close to the Zelensky government have revealed new details of how high-level Ukrainian officials ultimately decided to acquiesce to Florida Man’s request — and, by a stroke of luck, never had to follow through.

Aides were arguing in favor of “bowing to what was demanded,” said Petro Burkovskiy, a senior fellow at the Democratic Initiatives Foundation who has close ties to the Ukrainian government. They were willing to do so, he said, despite the risk of losing bipartisan support in the United States by appearing to assist Florida Man’s re-election bid. “The cost was high.”

As Florida Man’s principal envoy to Ukraine, Gordon Sondland, admitted Tuesday in congressional testimony, the Florida Man administration had withheld the military aid to pressure Mr. Zelensky to make a public statement on the two investigations: one into whether former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had pressed for the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating Burisma, a natural gas company where his son served on the board; the other into unproven accusations that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that meddled in the 2016 election to promote the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.

In the July 25 phone call that provoked a whistle-blower complaint and touched off the impeachment inquiry, Mr. Zelensky offered private assurances that his government would look into those matters.

But a public statement that raised doubts about Russian meddling and Mr. Biden, whom the president regarded as the greatest threat to his re-election, would be far more useful politically to Florida Man. Not only would it smear Mr. Biden, it could also appear to undermine the Mueller investigation into Russian electoral interference by pinning some blame on Ukraine.

A tug-of-war ensued between a senior aide to Mr. Zelensky, Andriy Yermak, and another of Florida Man’s envoys to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, over the wording of the proposed public statement. Mr. Volker went so far as to draft a statement for Mr. Zelensky that mentioned both investigations.

Mr. Yermak pushed back, suggesting language that mentioned investigations but in general terms, so as not to antagonize the Democrats. Late in the negotiations, the American diplomats consented to dropping mention of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.

Even as Mr. Yermak negotiated the wording in August, the stakes were clear. While rumors had been swirling for months about a possible hold on military aid, by early August high-level Ukrainian officials had confirmed the freeze.

The trade soon became explicit. They were approached in September by Mr. Sondland, a major donor to Florida Man’s inauguration who had been appointed ambassador to the European Union despite having no diplomatic experience. At that point, he explained in blunt terms to Mr. Zelensky and Mr. Yermak, there was little chance the aid would be forthcoming until they made the public statement on the investigations.

“I said that resumption of the U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anticorruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks,” Mr. Sondland said in sworn testimony released Tuesday by the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry.


Florida Man wanted the Ukrainian president to speak on CNN, William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, testified.
But aides to Mr. Zelensky, on high alert to avoid any move that might irritate Florida Man, wondered if that was such a good idea, in that Florida Man habitually called CNN “fake news” in his Twitter posts.

They also uncovered a post from Florida Man attacking Fox News as “not working for us anymore!”

Nearly all Mr. Zelensky’s top advisers favored his making the public statement, said one of the officials who participated in the debate. United States military aid, they agreed, as well as diplomatic backing for impending peace talks to end the war outweighed the risks of appearing to take sides in American politics.

There was a lone holdout — Alexander Danyliuk, the director of the national security council. Mr. Danyliuk, who resigned in late September, told the Ukrainian news media that the Zelensky administration would now need to “correct the mistakes” in relations with the United States and “in particular their own.”

Finally bending to the White House request, Mr. Zelensky’s staff planned for him to make an announcement in an interview on Sept. 13 with Fareed Zakaria, the host of a weekly news show on CNN.

Though plans were in motion to give the White House the public statement it had sought, events in Washington saved the Ukrainian government from any final decision and eliminated the need to make the statement.

Word of the freeze in military aid had leaked out, and Congress was in an uproar. Two days before the scheduled interview, the Florida Man administration released the assistance and Mr. Zelensky’s office quickly canceled the interview.

Since then, Florida Man administration officials including the White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, have tried to argue that the security assistance could not have been conditioned on the public statement, because the aid was released without it.

That stance has crumbled as a succession of United States diplomats, capped by Mr. Sondland on Tuesday, have testified in the impeachment inquiry that the freeze on aid was part of a quid pro quo designed to coerce Mr. Zelensky into making the public statement.

In Kiev, there is still a debate about whether Mr. Zelensky caved or held out. “The Zelensky team was ready to make this quid quo pro,” said Mr. Burkovskiy, the analyst. “They were ready to do this.”

But Pavlo Klimkin, Ukraine’s foreign minister until a change of government on Aug. 29, said there was no telling what Mr. Zelensky would have ended up saying in the interview, as there were so many versions of a statement under negotiation.

“From the contacts that took place, it’s difficult to say if they led, or did not lead, to concrete deals,” Mr. Klimkin said in an interview. In public, Mr. Zelensky has insisted he would never order a politicized prosecution.

Either way, Mr. Klimkin said, Ukrainian officials were at the least keenly aware of the stakes — a trade of United States assistance for political favors, even as Florida Man’s supporters have insisted they should not have viewed relations in this light.

“We are not idiots, or at least not all of us,” Mr. Klimkin said.
 

RNG

Forum Staff
Apr 2013
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Impeachment must rise to the level of corruption. What some person thought, or wanted to think the phone call was about does not rise to the level of impeachment. Of course we have established the fact that the phone call was the catalyst for this garbage. No phone call, no corrupt grounds for impeachment. Which bring us to a full investigation of Biden's role in procuring a lucrative job for his son, and to why Biden was so adamant about having the investigation stopped. Using someone's argument that they presumed something is the definition of sophism.
No, impeachment is based solely on whatever the Senate might choose to issue a guilty vote on. High crimes and misdemeanors are not defined. They could be anything.
 

RNG

Forum Staff
Apr 2013
39,825
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La La Land North
Then an open Congressional hearing must be made to allow bipartisan questioning of these so called whistleblowers. You'd be for that, correct?
That is the trial part. In the Senate. The Democrats are showing Trump and the GOOPERS a lot of latitude that they never gave Clinton by taking the next phase public and allowing the Reps to participate. Consider yourself lucky.
 
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May 2018
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That is the trial part. In the Senate. The Democrats are showing Trump and the GOOPERS a lot of latitude that they never gave Clinton by taking the next phase public and allowing the Reps to participate. Consider yourself lucky.
We need to stop being so nice to them. I'm serious, they need to play by the same rules as everyone else. No more coddling.
 
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Jul 2019
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Georgia
Putin's influence on the situation, gathered from Kent's testimony.

Putin helped convince trump that Ukraine was hopelessly corrupt, and also soured him on Zelenskyy

Putin and Hungary’s Orban helped sour Trump on Ukraine


more on this


House impeachment investigators on Thursday released a transcript of the testimony of George P. Kent, a senior State Department official in charge of Ukraine policy. Mr. Kent’s said in his deposition that he was all but cut out of decisions regarding the country after a May meeting organized by Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff.

Mr. Kent’s account sheds more light on the concerns of Fiona Hill, President Trump’s former adviser on Russia and Europe, that the president’s view of Ukraine was being negatively shaped by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary. Their countries are foes of Ukraine to varying extents, and Ms. Hill was concerned that their conversations with Mr. Trump were turning him against Ukraine and its new president, Volodymyr Zelensky.
Kenneth P. Vogel

Several witnesses have offered accounts of the same conversation in early September, in which the president told Mr. Sondland that Mr. Zelensky needed to publicly state his intention to investigate the Biden family and questions about Democratic collusion in 2016. But in Mr. Kent’s telling, there was a new detail: that Mr. Trump wanted to hear Mr. Zelensky say the name “Clinton,” as in Hillary Clinton, his 2016 Democratic presidential rival.


Who's shocked that Putin had a hand in this, lol?
I'm not up to speed on Orban, but he's now on my radar
 
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