My Content

Trump

Impeachment Turmoil on Ukraine Cannot Distract Us From Putin’s Game There

by D.J. McGuire

“You may not be interested in strategy, but strategy is interested in you.” – Leon Trotsky

One of the apparent consequences of the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump over his attempt to strong arm Ukraine into smearing Joe Biden is the fading of Russia and of Vladimir Putin from the drama. Putin himself celebrated his regime’s return to the shadows recently (NBC).

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he’s pleased that the “political battles” in Washington have put on the back-burner accusations that Russia interfered in U.S. elections.

“Thank God,” he told an economic forum in the Russian capital on Wednesday, “no one is accusing us of interfering in the U.S. elections anymore; now they’re accusing Ukraine.”

Of course, this is exactly what Putin wanted. The worst case scenario is part of what he’s getting now – less attention for what he had his regime do in 2016 to help Trump amid the arguments about whether Trump committed impeachable offenses (spoiler: he did). On top of that, Putin knows that millions of Americans are gaslighting themselves into believing he didn’t interfere, but rather was framed as part of a Rudy Goldberg scheme hatched out of Ukraine. So he’s already playing with house money.

That does not mean, however, that Putin has stopped paying attention to Ukraine, or to Washington. In fact, Putin is slowly getting the very thing Robert Mueller reported Russia wanted vis a vis Ukraine when its intelligence apparatus reached out to the Trump campaign in the first place.

Lest we forget, this is what Mueller reported back in April:

Separately, on August 2, 2016, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort met in New York City with his long-time business associate Konstantin Kilimnik, who the FBI assesses to have ties to Russian intelligence. Kilimnik requested the meeting to deliver in person a peace plan for Ukraine that Manafort acknowledged to the Special Counsel’s Office was a “backdoor” way for Russia to control part of eastern Ukraine; both men believed the plan would require candidate Trump’s assent to succeed (were he to be elected President).

What was that “peace plan”? Mueller answered thusly:

Under the Yanukovych-backed plan, Russia would assist in withdrawing the military, and Donbas would become an autonomous region within Ukraine with its own prime minister. The plan emphasized that Yanukovych would be an ideal candidate…

According to Mueller, Manafort claimed he “had said to Kilimnik that the plan was crazy.” Yet Mueller also reported that Manafort lied to him on numerous occasions, an assessment backed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson (CNN).

How did Judge Jackson come to this conclusion? Mueller answers in a foot note:

In resolving whether Manafort breached his cooperation plea agreement by lying to the Office, the district court found that Manafort lied about, among other things, his contacts with Kilimnik regarding the peace plan…

So we know a Russian intelligence agent reached out to his associate in the Trump campaign about a plan to cement Putin’s control over Eastern Ukraine, meaning it was a priority for Putin. Recent events are showing us something else: battered by the revelations regarding Trump, Ukraine’s president is close to giving Putin what he wanted (DW).

The Ukrainian government signed an agreement Tuesday with pro-Russia separatists, Russia and European monitors that will allow a local election to be held in separatist-controlled regions in eastern Ukraine.

The agreement was signed after the parties met in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, and is seen as a major step by the new Ukrainian government under President Volodymyr Zelenskiy toward resolution of the conflict in eastern Ukraine between Kyiv and pro-Russia separatists.

In preparation for the election, the Ukrainian government and separatist leaders said they would withdraw troops from two locations in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions next week.

… The president has faced criticism that Ukraine is giving concessions to Moscow and for following a policy of appeasement with Russia.

That came less than a week after the memorandum of the Trump-Zelensky call was released to the public.

One might also note that Manafort’s assertion that he blew off Kilimnik’s plan has an additional weakness: Germany has long been a fan of it, minus Yanukovych (Reuters). Indeed, it was originally called the “Steinmeier formula” – after Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who first floated it in 2016. As the Kyiv Post notes, it has never been popular in Ukraine itself.

That hasn’t stopped Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel from pushing it, however. Meanwhile, whatever Trump might think of the idea himself, those who might tell him why it’s a bad idea have been … otherwise occupied, as the editors of the Washington Post noted over the weekend:

Virtually every senior official who worked on the relationship in the past two years has resigned or testified in the impeachment inquiry and been denounced by the president.

That makes it a lot more difficult for anyone serious about resisting Putin’s irredentism from having Trump’s ear …

… which is just another benefit to Putin of this scandal.

D.J. McGuire – a Never Trump neoconservative – has been part of the More Perfect Union Podcast since 2015. He is also a contributor to Bearing Drift.

DJ ❤️ Mayor Mike (Ep. 233)

This episodes covers Trump’s interference with Navy discipline, the closing testimony in the House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearings, the most recent Democratic debate, and DJ’s latest crush on a candidate.

Roger Stone Table Dance (Ep. 232)

This episode looks at Roger Stone’s conviction, the latest impeachment testimony, new twists in the 2020 primary race, and how the latest high school shooting affected the hosts personally.

OK Boomer (Ep. 231)

This week’s podcast looks ahead to the opening of the public impeachment inquiry, the entry of Michael Bloomberg into the Democratic primary race, the new education plans proposed by Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris, and what the “OK boomer” culture war is really about.

Pathological Liar (Ep. 230)

This episode talks about how Democrats can use Trump’s documented pathology of lying to their electoral advantage, the latest from the primary campaigns, and what the outcomes of this week’s statewide elections can portend for the 2020 race.

The I-vote Cometh (Ep. 229)

 

On this week’s podcast, the MPU hosts discuss the sad sagas of Katie Hill, Harvey Weinstein, Trump versus Pelosi, and the GOP candidate who’s shoplifting America’s heart.

Ben Cline Betrays Conservatives and Beclowns Himself in Joining SCIF Stunt

by D.J. McGuire

There was a time when conservatives in general – and Republicans in particular – took national security seriously.

We can argue about when that era ended; after Wednesday, no one can argue the fact that it has ended. Dozens of Republican Congressmen proved that when they chose to violate the Secured Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) where the current impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump is being conducted. In the process, these clowns delayed testimony for nearly five hours and violated all sorts of security regulations by bringing in their phones (a flat-out violation).

One of these fools – at least in rushing the SCIF – was Virginia’s own Ben Cline (R-6th District), as can be seen from this Washington Post story (third video, titled “Desperate”: Lawmakers react to Republicans disrupting impeachment inquiry testimony; Cline can be seen about 24 seconds in as he pats his fellow committee crasher on the back).

Thus, less than two weeks before Election Day, Cline provided the perfect reason why I will be voting for the straight Democratic ticket on November 5 – with the full understanding that I am possibly the only one against the rest of the Bearing Drift contributors on this.

At first, I was going to be merely theoretical (although I still think correct) about how the GOP needed to by punished – hard and deep – for Trump, how the lesson needed to be sent to every single Republican on a ballot from now until he is defenestrated (either via impeachment and conviction or by losing re-election). I would then shift to how the Virginia Republicans behaved over the last two decades (three tax increases and rejected Medicaid expansion with a tax cut while accepting Medicaid expansion with “work requirements” that disincentivize entrepreneurial behavior and increase regulation of poor people).

Cline’s clown show, however, took this to an entirely new level of mandatory punishment for the GOP/RPV.

Nearly all of my fellow BD contributors who weighed in on the 6th District race in 2018 insisted that Ben Cline was the nice guy in the race for the GOP nomination. He was more reasonable than Cynthia Dunbar. His experience as a Delegate would mean he would keep his head down and do for his constituents – just as the Republicans running for state and local office this year are supposed to do.

Instead, he violated clearance rules in a manner that would make Hillary Clinton’s private server explode. He participated in the compromising of a SCIF. Mieke Eoyang (a former staffer of the House Intel Committee) explains what these fools did:

“Foreign adversaries are constantly trying to figure out what goes on inside those rooms to figure out what the US knows about them, to out US high-level sources in their governments, to know what the US government knows and use it against us.

“But in ‘storming the SCIF’ without observing the security protocols, Rep. Gaetz et al, endangered our national security & demonstrated they care more about a political stunt than protecting intelligence information. I cannot emphasize enough how serious this is.”

So if Ben Cline can beclown himself like this, what can we expect of the rest of this bunch?

No one can say with a straight face that the Republican Party of 2019 is anything remotely like the party the led us to victory in the Cold War, fought for freer trade, and defended American interests robustly abroad. For many 2019 Republicans, that’s a feature rather than a bug.

However, we now also know that the Republican Party of 2019 thinks “more about a political stunt than protecting intelligence information” – and that Virginia Republicans, rather than an exception to this rule, have become an example of this rule. That is what Ben Cline showed us all on Wednesday.

Ben Cline deserves neither power nor office. He exemplifies a party that needs to be taken to the woodshed, and the only way they will listen is if the voters replace them – all of them – with Democrats (I can’t even bring myself to accept Republican-in-all-but-name Chris Peace – sorry, Andrea). It’s a harsh remedy, but the Republicans have done this to themselves …

… especially Ben Cline.

D.J. McGuire – a self-described progressive conservative – has been part of the More Perfect Union Podcast since 2015. He is also a contributor to Bearing Drift.

Repackaging Medicare For All (Ep. 228)

 

This episode covers Trump’s sellout of the Kurds, John Bolton’s sellout of Rudy Giuliani, Mitch McConnell’s sellout of Thanksgiving, DJ’s sellout of Christmas music, and Kevin’s attempt to sell Medicare For All.

Rudy’s Partners In Crimea (Ep. 227)

This MPU episode covers the Turkish incursion into Syria and what ethnic cleansing of the Kurds might look like, Rudy’s unfortunate Ukrainian pals and what a straw donor scheme might look like, Trump’s growing impeachment headaches and what a senate impeachment trial might look like, what the fourth Democratic debate might look like, and AOC’s 30th birthday and what a $300 haircut actually does look like.

The Three Hour Debate (Ep. 223)

In this podcast the MPU gang looks back at the third Democratic primary debate, the Iran attack on the Saudi oil fields, Trump’s continued parade of corruption, and how the Felicity Huffman, Brett Kavanaugh and Shane Gillis controversies are redefining justice in America.

“F” The Gun Culture (Ep. 221)

On the heels of yet another mass shooting in Texas, the More Perfect Union hosts discuss the second amendment, the rationale for hunting as a sport, and how to take on the out-of-control gun culture in this country. Then they turn their sights to the 2020 primaries and the rest of the week in Trumplandia, then finish with a look at Dave Chappell’s new Netflix special and the state of standup comedy in the #metoo era.

Nuking Hurricanes (Ep. 220)

In this episode the MPU gang discusses Trump’s antics at the G7 summit, his idea about nuking hurricanes, and the latest entree into the Republican presidential primary contest.