Starting to Fall
(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
Last week was not a good one for Trump. After Ambassador Taylor’s testimony Lt. Col. Vindman, the Ukraine expert at the National Security Council, and Ambassador Yovanovitch, who had abruptly been removed from her post in Ukraine, testified. Both were attacked by the president. Alexander Vindman, whom Trump already had labeled a ‘never Trumper’ after his closed door testimony, on the official White House Twitter account, because Ukraine had offered him the position of Secretary of Defense no less than three times. Marie Yovanovitch on the president’s personal account in the middle of her testimony, which was yet another attempt to intimidate a witness. Vindman was also criticized by a Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee for wearing his uniform and insisting on being addressed by his rank, which is standard protocol for military officers who give testimony. Ambassador Yovanovitch testified about the brutal way in which she had been ordered to return to the US and how she felt threatened by Trump, and Lt. Col. Vindman about his concerns regarding the president’s call with Zelensky.
The testimonies apparently took a toll on Trump, because on Saturday afternoon he was rushed to a hospital for some testing, which the White House later said was an unscheduled part of his regular physical. Apparently concerned about the optics the White House Press Secretary put out a statement that the president works from 6 am until late at night, which became the laughing stock of all political talk shows but not of FOX News, where Judge Jeanine Pirro called Trump ‘almost super-human.’ The president’s anxiety about the way the impeachment inquiry was unfolding made him declare that he considered submitting written testimony, something he did for the Mueller probe and will never do again, because he’s still being investigated for possibly having lied to the Special Counsel. This week things got worse for Trump. The most important witness was the US Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, one of the ‘three amigos’ who were told by the president to ‘work with Rudy Giuliani,’ meaning that they had to strongarm Zelensky into investigating Joe Biden and his son Hunter as well as Ukraine’s role in the 2016 election.
Giuliani was peddling the ludicrous theory Putin had whispered into Trump’s ear that not Russia had interfered in the presidential election but Ukraine on behalf of Hillary Clinton, and the equally debunked theory that Biden had meddled in Ukraine’s justice system on behalf of his son’s business interests. Sondland and his team had to convince the Ukrainian president to publicly announce investigations in these matters for fear of not getting a White House meeting and not receiving the badly needed military assistance that had already been approved by Congress.
Sondland decided not to follow Michael Cohen and Roger Stone into the slammer and confirmed the bribery plot, adding that ‘everybody was in the loop,’ including Secretary of State Pompeo, acting White House Chief of Staff Mulvaney and Vice-President Pence. Republican attempts to dismantle Sondland’s testimony by referring to the fact that Trump had told him in a phone call ‘I want nothing’ failed, because at the time of that call the whistleblower had already revealed the plot.
In defense of Trump Republican congressmen were left with the mind boggling contradiction that there had not been a plot because the plot had failed, and Trump appeared on the White House lawn with a scribbled note saying ‘I want nothing’ and the name Zelensky misspelled as Zellinsky. Last night the president had a White House dinner with Republican senators to try and keep them on his side.
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