TRUMP’S NEWEST BAGMEN? FOLLOW THE MONEY

This is an updated version of a post that appeared at Dan Rather’s News & Guts on Oct. 16, 2019.

Rudy Giuliani is well known. The two associates who helped him remove the US ambassador to Ukraine are getting there.

Who Are These Guys?

Ukrainian-American Lev Parnas and Belarus-American Igor Fruman were born in former Soviet republics. Parnas grew up in Brooklyn and got his start in real estate selling condos for Fred Trump in the late 1980s.

In the fall of 2018, Guiliani received $500,000 from a company that Parnas co-founded. But according to their attorney, Parnas and Fruman have also been working for Giuliani “in connection with his representation of President Trump.”

And Parnas has been working for ardent Trump supporters Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing in their representation of Dmitry Firtash — a Ukrainian oligarch. Since 2014, Firtash has been living in Vienna under house arrest, awaiting extradition on bribery and racketeering charges in Chicago.

Make a note: Vienna.

Did Trump Know Them?

You decide.

Late October 2016: Parnas contributes about $100,000 to the Trump campaign, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Nov. 8, 2016: Parnas attends Trump’s VIP invitation-only election celebration in New York.

March 2018: Fruman attends a Republican National Committee fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago and posts on Facebook a photo of himself standing next to Trump.

May 1, 2018: Parnas and Fruman have dinner with Trump in the White House. In a subsequent interview with a Brooklyn-based Russian-language publication, Fruman says it’s an eight-person meeting during which they discuss the upcoming midterm elections and US-Ukraine relations. Later that month, they meet with Don Jr. at a fundraising breakfast in Beverly Hills.

Link: https://twitter.com/TimOBrien/status/1182292238572904448

What Did They Want From Trump?

At the request of “one or more Ukrainian government officials,” Parnas and Fruman seek the removal of US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch — an outspoken critic of the country’s public corruption. Her ouster would also clear a path for their personal gain: They hope to make big money on a deal that requires replacing the anti-corruption CEO of Ukraine’s Naftogaz gas company. 

May 9, 2018: After meeting with Parnas in Washington, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) writes a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo questioning Yovanovitch’s fitness. 

May 17, 2018: Parnas and Fruman donate $325,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC that gives Rep. Sessions more than $3 million for his re-election campaign. They had also promised Sessions that they would raise $20,000 for his campaign, according to their indictment.

Around August 2018: Parnas’ firm, Fraud Guarantee, engages Guiliani and pays him $500,000. Guiliani later says that he consulted on the company’s technologies and provided legal advice on regulatory issues.

January 2019: Giuliani meets with Ukraine’s general prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko. They discuss the Bidens.

Make another note: Lutsenko.

Early March: At the State Department’s request, Yovanovitch extends her Ukraine assignment until 2020, but…

Mid-March: At a meeting where Parnas and Fruman tout a plan to replace Naftogaz’s CEO, Parnas says that Trump will be replacing Yovanovitch. On Mar. 24, he repeats the prediction. 

Mar. 28: Giuliani prepares a nine-page document for Pompeo, outlining the Bidens’ dealings in Ukraine and making false allegations against Yovanovitch. “The reason I gave the information to the secretary was I believed that he should know that the president’s orders to fire her were being blocked by the State Department,” Giuliani says later.

Late April: Yovanovitch is summoned abruptly to Washington “on the next plane.” The deputy secretary of state tells her that she has done nothing wrong, but the department has been under pressure from Trump to remove her since the summer of 2018.

After Yovanovitch departs, general prosecutor Lutsenko sends a message to a Ukrainian anti-corruption activist, gloating about his role in her dismissal.

What Did Trump and Giuliani Want From Ukraine?

For this phase of the Ukraine operation, Trump and Giuliani seek two things: 1) “dirt” on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and 2) revival of Russia’s false narrative that Ukraine was the source of interference in the 2016 US presidential election. 

May to July 2019: As Trump withholds nearly $400 million in military aid, Giuliani works with State Department officials and an aide to newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The US side pushes Ukraine to reopen investigations into the Bidens and revive Russian propaganda regarding Ukraine’s role in the 2016 election.

July 10: National Security Council official Fiona Hill and her boss, NSA John Bolton, are so concerned that Guiliani, Gordon Sondland (US Ambassador to the EU), and Mick Mulvaney (Trump’s acting chief of staff) are running a campaign to pressure Ukraine to do Trump’s political bidding that they notify the chief White House lawyer for the NSC, according to The Washington Post’s later reporting of Hill’s testimony.

Make one more note: Sondland. He’s scheduled to testify Oct. 17.

July 25: In his phone call pressuring Zelensky for investigations, Trump also urges Zelensky not to fire general prosecutor Lutsenkoand says that Yovanovitch is “going to go through some things.”

July 29: Parnas, Giuliani, and US Ambassador Kurt Volker have breakfast together. Giuliani mentions the accusations about Biden and Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.

August: Trump continues withholding military aid as State Department officials press Trump’s demands in exchange for a White House meeting date between Trump and Zelensky.

Sept. 1: US Ambassador Bill Taylor texts Sondland: “Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?”

Sondland answers, “Call me.”

Sept. 11: The day after Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) demands a copy of the whistleblower complaint against Trump, Trump releases the military aid to Ukraine.

Oct. 4: Zelensky had fired Lutsenko at the end of August, but Ukraine’s new general prosecutor announces that he will review cases involving Biden’s son.

Busted

Oct. 9: Parnas and Fruman have lunch with Giuliani at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. Giuliani tells a reporter that he cannot meet with her that evening because he’s planning to fly to Vienna. But Giuliani later denies that the trip has anything to do with Firtash.

Oct. 9: Fearing that Parnas and Fruman are headed out of the country to escape prosecution, federal agents arrest them at Dulles International Airport around 6:00 pm. They have one-way international tickets. According to Giuliani, the two men are planning to travel to Vienna on matters “related to their business.” DiGenova says the trip isn’t connected to Parnas’ work for his firm.

Oct. 10: A week earlier, Parnas’ and Fruman’s attorney had said that they worked for Giuliani in his representation of Trump. But after prosecutors unseal the Parnas-Fruman indictment, Trump says, “I don’t know them. I don’t know about them. I don’t know what they do but I don’t know, maybe they were clients of Rudy. You’d have to ask Rudy, I just don’t know.”

Link: https://twitter.com/ABC/status/1182400090901639169

Sound familiar? When reporters first asked Trump about Michael Cohen’s hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, he feigned ignorance: “You’ll have to ask Michael.”

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tE2XHYxkJgw

We know how that ended.

TRUMP-UKRAINE SCANDAL: IT ALWAYS COMES BACK TO RUSSIA

[This post first appeared on Dan Rather’s News & Guts on Oct. 8, 2019]

Trump’s heavy-handed dealing with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky produced more than an impeachment inquiry. It also gave Vladimir Putin another geopolitical victory.

After Putin annexed Crimea in 2014, Russian-backed nationalists seized large parts of eastern Ukraine’s nearby Donbas region, which borders Russia. As Ukraine’s army tried to recapture rebel-held areas, conflict broke out. Since then, Russian-backed forces have been trying to separate the area from the rest of the country.

Putin’s goal is to force local elections in Donbas as a prelude to rejoining the Russian Federation. America has stood steadfastly on Ukraine’s side of the battle to retain its sovereignty — until now.

The Setup

In the months preceding Trump’s July 25 phone call to Zelensky:

  • Russia continued aggressive attacks in the Donbas region.
  • Trump withheld desperately needed military aid from Ukraine.
  • Trump used US ambassadors and diplomats in the State Department working with Rudy Giuliani and representatives of the Ukrainian government to deliver on Trump’s personal political demands.

The Infamous Call

Based solely on the White House’s “summary memorandum” of the July 25 conversation between Trump and Zelensky, Trump’s own words incriminate him: “…do us a favor though…”

In addition to seeking “dirt” on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, Trump also asked Zelensky to pursue Trump’s discredited conspiracy theory, promoted by Russia, that interference in the 2016 presidential election actually originated in Ukraine.

The Aftermath

With or without a quid pro quo, Trump abused his presidential power for personal political gain. But the evidence of a quid pro quo is mounting. Highlights from the Trump-Russia Timeline tell the story of what happened after Trump’s call:

  • Throughout August and September: Russian-backed forces continue to mount attacks in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
  • Sept. 1: US charge d’affaires for Ukraine, William Taylor, texts Gordon Sondland, US ambassador to the EU (a $1 million contributor to Trump’s inauguration committee before Trump appointed him): “Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?”

Sondland responds: “Call me.”

  • Sept. 9:Taylor reiterates, “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

By that time, the White House had known for almost a month about the whistleblower complaint alleging that Trump was abusing presidential power for personal political purposes. The CIA’s general counsel had referred the claims to the Justice Department.

Before answering Taylor four hours after receiving his message, Sondland speaks with Trump, according to The New York Times.Then he tells Taylor that their conversation should move to phone rather than text.

  • Sept. 10: The House Intelligence Committee demands a copy of the whistleblower complaint
  • Sept. 11: Trump releases his hold on military aid to Ukraine.
  • Sept. 25: At a joint press conference on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly Meeting, Trump tells Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, “I really believe that President Putin would like to do something. I really hope that you and President Putin get together and can solve your problem. That would be a tremendous achievement. And I know you’re trying to do that.”
  • Oct. 1: As Russian-backed attacks continue in Donbas, Zelensky accepts the “Steinmeier formula” for the region. Consistent with Putin’s goal, it calls for local elections in the Russian-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine, followed by special self-governing status for the region.

Ukrainian nationalists decry the deal as “capitulation.” Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, calls it a “positive development.”

  • Oct. 4: Ukraine’s general prosecutor announces that he will review cases involving Biden’s son.

Domestic and International Ramifications

At great expense to America’s fundamental institutions and the world order, Trump is getting his way on two counts:

  • Ukraine is once again looking at Hunter Biden — a controversy that has been debunked. But to achieve that result, Trump compromised the US State Department by using it as his political tool.
  • Zelensky made a deal with Putin. But the agreement puts Russia on a path to absorb eastern Ukraine by allowing local elections to take place in the occupied parts of the country before Russian-backed forces have withdrawn and Kiev has control of the border.

And that sets up a big problem for the free world. In his 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard, former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski described newly independent Ukraine as “a geopolitical pivot.” “Without Ukraine,” he wrote, “Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire… However, if Moscow regains control over Ukraine, with its 52 million people and major resources as well as its access to the Black Sea, Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia.’”

It always comes back to Russia.

TRUMP DOESN’T WANT GORDON SONDLAND TO TESTIFY: THE LATEST TRUMP-RUSSIA TIMELINE UPDATE EXPLAINS WHY

If you’re wondering why, at the 11th hour, the White House today blocked the congressional testimony of US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland — a $1 million contributor to Trump’s inauguration committee before Trump appointed him — this week’s update to the Trump Russia Timeline at Dan Rather’s News & Guts and Just Security offers an explanation.

It has nothing to do with lawyers’ specious objections based on executive privilege.

It has everything to do with this:

  • July 19: Rudy Giuliani tells Kurt Volker, US special representative to Ukraine, that he wants Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, as well as 2016 election interference by Ukraine. Sondland texts Volker: “Looks like Potus call tomorrow. I spike [sic] directly to Zelensky and gave him a full briefing. He’s got it.”
  • July 25: An hour before Trump’s infamous call to Zelensky, Sondland speaks directly with Trump.
  • Aug. 9: Volker texts Sondland about Zelensky’s proposed statement reopening investigations relating to the Bidens and the 2016 election: “Mentioned Z making a statement. Can we all get on the phone to make sure I advise Z correctly as to what he should be saying? Want to make sure we get this done right.” At the same time, Sondland is also communicating with the White House about a proposed Trump-Zelensky meeting after Zelensky issues the statement.
  • Aug. 13: Volker sends Sondland the proposed Zelensky statement. Sondland responds: “Perfect.”
  • Aug. 17: Sondland texts to Volker: “Unless you think otherwise I will return [Zelensky’s aide Andrey Yermak’s] call tomorrow and suggest they send us a clean draft.”

Then things get really interesting.

  • Aug. 30: Sondland tells Sen. Ron Johnson (W-WI) of a possible quid pro quo: Zelensky agrees to probe matters related to Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 US election. In return, Ukraine will receive nearly $400 million in US aid that Trump had been withholding for months.
  • Sept. 1: US charge d’affaires for Ukraine, William Taylor, texts Gordon Sondland, US ambassador to the EU : “Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations? Sondland responds: “Call me.”
  • Sept. 9: Taylor reiterates, “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

By that time, the White House had known for almost a month about the whistleblower complaint alleging that Trump was abusing presidential power for personal political purposes. The CIA’s general counsel had referred the claims to the Justice Department.

Before answering Taylor four hours after receiving his message, Sondland speaks with Trump, according to The New York Times.

Then Sondland — four hours after receiving Taylor’s message — texts back that their conversation should move to phone rather than text.

If you were Trump, would you want investigators in the House impeachment inquiry hearing from Sondland?

Here is a list of the latest update to the Trump-Russia Timeline at Dan Rather’s News & Guts and Just Security:

JAN. 28, 2017: Trump ‘Fawns’ Over Putin

SUMMER 2018: Trump Dismisses May on Russia

JANUARY 2019: Giuliani and Lutsenko Meet in New York

MARCH 20, 2019: Trump Tweets Headline of Ukraine General Prosecutor Lutsenko’s Interview Pushing False Conspiracy Theory

MARCH 28, 2019: Giuliani Prepares List of Complaints About Bidens, Yovanovitch; Gives it to Pompeo

APR. 21, 2019: Zelensky Wins Ukraine Presidential Election; Trump Urges Him to Work With Giuliani on ‘Corruption’ (revision of previous entry)

EARLY MAY 2019: Pompeo Receives Packet of Disinformation Aimed at Bidens, Yovanovitch; Giuliani Later Admits That Some Came From Him

MAY 6, 2019: US Ambassador to Ukraine Recalled (revision of previous entry)

MAY 20, 2019: Trump Tells Pence Not to Attend Zelensky’s Inauguration

MAY 23, 2019: Volker Meets With Trump; Concerned That Giuliani is Providing Negative Information About Ukraine

JUNE 4, 2019: Kushner Sits Next to Zelensky in Brussels

JUNE 18, 2019: Trump Asks China To Investigate Biden

JULY 18, 2019: Volker Learns About Hold on US Assistance to Ukraine

JULY 19, 2019: Giuliani, Volker, Sondland, and Taylor Exchange Text Messages Re: Effort to Get Ukraine to Investigate Bide

JULY 21, 2019: Taylor Flags Zelensky’s Concern About Becoming Involved in US Domestic Politics

JULY 22, 2019: Giuliani Pushes for Trump-Zelensky Call

JULY 25, 2019: Quid Pro Quo In Place For Trump-Zelensky Call

JULY 25, 2019: Trump Calls Zelensky (revision of previous entry)

JULY 25, 2019: Yermak and Volker Text About Giuliani Meeting in Madrid

JULY 26, 2019: TRUMP ASKS BORIS JOHNSON TO HELP UNDERMINE MUELLER

AUGUST-SEPTEMBER 2019: Giuliani Seeking Ukraine Help From Manafort

AUG. 9, 2019: US State Department Seeks Giuliani’s Guidance on Proposed Zelensky Statement; Discuss White House Visit

AUG. 10, 2019: Zelensky Aide Presses for White House Meeting Date

AUG. 13, 2019: Volker and Sondland Exchange Texts About Ukrainian Statement on Corruption

AUG. 14, 2019: CIA General Counsel Confers With White House Lawyer and DOJ; Makes Criminal Referral to DOJ

AUG. 17, 2019: Volker and Sondland Continue Discussions About Ukrainian Statement

AUG. 28, 2019: Ukrainian Expresses Concern About US Reported Withholding of Military Aid

AUG. 30, 2019: Trump Cancels To Meet Zelensky

AUG. 30-31, 2019: Sen. Johnson Asks Trump About Ukraine Quid Pro Quo

AUG. 31, 2019: Pence, Perry, and Sondland Meet With Zelensky in Warsaw

SEPT 1, 2019: Taylor Asks Sondland About Ukrainian Quid Pro Quo; Sondland Says, ‘Call Me’

SEPT. 8, 2019: Taylor Describes Ukraine “Nightmare”

SEPT. 9, 2019: Ambassadors React to Withholding Aid to Ukraine; Trump Involved

SEPT. 25, 2019: Trump Tells Zelensky To ‘Get Together’ With Putin

SEPT. 30, 2019: US Issues Sanctions For Russian Interference

OCT. 1, 2019: Pompeo Defies Congressional Subpoenas

OCT. 1, 2019: Trump Tweets That He Wants to Interview Whistleblower

OCT. 1, 2019: Ukraine Agrees to Formula Favorable to Russia

OCT. 3, 2019: Volker Testifies to Congress, Says He Told Giuliani That Claims About Biden Were False

OCT. 3, 2019: Trump Urges Ukraine and China to Investigate Biden

OCT. 4, 2019: Ukraine Announces Reexamination of Biden Investigation

OCT. 4, 2019: House Subpoenas White House, Asks Pence for Documents

OCT. 5, 2019: Trump Says Perry Prompted Call to Zelensky

THE WIDE SHOT: WHERE WE ARE WITH TRUMP’S UKRAINE MESS

This post first appeared on Dan Rather’s News & Guts on Oct. 3, 2019.

On Oct. 3, Trump did it again, this time publicly: He urged China to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. The public has yet to see the complete transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. But the White House memorandum summarizing their exchange reveals a key point: Trump’s request for “dirt” on Biden was actually the second item on his “to do” list for Zelensky.

At the top of Trump’s agenda was a request for help in undermining America’s intelligence community, the FBI, and the Justice Department. As the cover-up collapses, we’re learning that Trump is a repeat offender.

“Do Us A Favor Though…”

When the July 25 call began, Trump was singlehandedly withholding previously authorized military aid that Ukraine needed desperately to resist Russian aggression. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) couldn’t explain Trump’s delay. After reminding Zelensky “the United States has been very, very good to Ukraine,” Trump said:

“I would like you to do us a favor though….”

He then asked Zelensky to work with Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr to revive a conspiracy theory that the CIA, FBI, every other US intelligence agency, and special counsel Robert Mueller debunked long ago: that Ukraine, rather than Russia, was responsible for the attack on the 2016 US presidential election:

“The server, they say Ukraine has it… [T]hey say a lot of it started with Ukraine.”

Only then did Trump turn to “the other thing” — helping Giuliani and Barr get dirt on Biden. Plenty of people knew that Trump had done something wrong. Their actions reveal what prosecutors call “consciousness of guilt.”

Who Denied Knowing About The Call? 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo initially feigned ignorance about the entire episode:

https://twitter.com/abc/status/1175762758245109761

Three days later, Pompeo admitted that he was on the call.

Initially, Vice President Mike Pence said that the memorandum summarizing Trump’s call “completely vindicated” Trump. Pence’s defenders are now saying that, although he should have had access to the transcript within hours of the call, he probably didn’t read it or it didn’t “fully register.”

On Oct. 2, The Washington Post reported that Pence’s national security adviser, Keith Kellogg, was on the call and that the transcript was probably in the briefing book Pence took to Warsaw when he met with Zelensky on Sept. 1. That’s when Pence told Zelensky personally that US military aid would not be forthcoming until Ukraine took more aggressive action on “corruption.”

Eventually, we’ll learn the complete roster of everyone who knew the truth and remained silent.

Who Hid The Evidence?

The White House buried the records of Trump’s call in a repository for super-secret intelligence. Experts familiar with the system say that Trump’s phone calls with foreign leaders aren’t close to qualifying for such treatment. So how did they get there?

“Administration officials say John Eisenberg, the White House deputy counsel for national security affairs and a national security legal adviser, directed the Ukraine transcript call be moved to the separate highly classified system, as detailed in the whistleblower complaint. That system is normally reserved for ‘code word’ documents that are extremely sensitive, such as covert operations,” CNN reported.

But until October 2018, Eisenberg’s boss was White House counsel Don McGahn. Then Emmet Flood took over for two months until Pat Cipollone became McGahn’s permanent replacement.

What Else Remains Hidden?

That leads to one of the most important lines in the whistleblower’s complaint:

“According to White House officials I spoke with, this was ‘not the first time’ under this Administration that a Presidential transcript was placed into this codeword-level system solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive—rather than national security sensitive—information.”

Now we’re learning about more troubling conversations during which Trump used foreign policy for personal gains:

  • May 10, 2017: “President Trump told two senior Russian officials in a 2017 Oval Office meeting that he was unconcerned about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election because the United States did the same in other countries, an assertion that prompted alarmed White House officials to limit access to the remarks to an unusually small number of people,” The Washington Post reported last week. [Emphasis supplied]
  • Trump’s calls with Vladimir Putin and the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman went into the super-secret system, according to CNN.
  • “In Recent Weeks”: Trump called Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison seeking help that, according to The New York Times, “Trump hopes will discredit the Mueller investigation…. The White House curbed access to a transcript of the call — which the president made at Mr. Barr’s request — to a small group of aides, one of the officials said. The restriction was unusual and similar to the handling of a July call with the Ukrainian president….”
  • July 26, 2019: The day after his call to Zelensky, Trump asked British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for help in discrediting special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to The Times of London.

What Did They Know And When Did They Know It?

Despite the herculean efforts of President Richard Nixon and his allies, Nixon’s own words eventually reached the public. Former White House counsel John Dean counted 21 lawyers involved in Watergate wrongdoing. Some of them, including Attorney General John Mitchell and Dean himself, went to prison. Many more lost their law licenses.

Start counting.

TRUMP’S DIRE STRAITS: TRUMP-RUSSIA TIMELINE UPDATE THROUGH SEPT. 30, 2019

Trump is approaching Nixon territory. According to a Quinnipiac poll released on Sept. 30, 47% of Americans support his impeachment AND removal from office. On the day Nixon resigned, that percentage was 57%.

In less than a week, Trump closed–in a bad way–a 20 point gap.

And the story is coming back to where it always was: Trump-Russia.

Here is a list of the latest update to the Trump-Russia Timeline at Dan Rather’s News & Guts and Just Security:

MAY 10, 2017: Trump Reveals Highly Classified Intelligence to Russian Ambassador, Foreign Minister; Tells Them Comey Is a ‘Nut Job’; Says He Doesn’t Care About Russian Election Interference (revision of previous entry)

LATE MARCH 2019-EARLY APRIL: Ukrainian Prosecutor Makes Unfounded Claims About 2016 Election Interference, the US Ambassador, and Biden

APR. 21, 2019: Zelensky Wins Ukraine Presidential Election

MAY 6, 2019: US Ambassador to Ukraine Recalled

MAY 10, 2019: Giuliani Tweets That Ukraine Is Investigating Biden

JUNE 18, 2019: Pentagon Announces Release of $250 Million to Ukraine

JUNE 21, 2019: Giuliani Tweets That Ukraine Should Investigate Biden

PRIOR TO JULY 18, 2019: Trump Orders Hold on Previously Authorized Military Aid to Ukraine

JULY 19, 2019: Volker Text to Giuliani

JULY 23 and 26, 2019: Trump Hold On US Aid to Ukraine Reiterated

JULY 25, 2019: Trump Calls Zelensky (revision of previous entry)

JULY 26, 2019: US Special Representative for Ukraine Meets With Zelensky (revision of previous entry)

DURING THE WEEK OF JULY 29: Intelligence Official Expresses Concern About Trump’s July 25 Call to CIA General Counsel; White House Already Aware of Concerns

LATE JULY/EARLY AUGUST 2019: Giuliani Meets With Zelensky Aide To Press Biden Investigation (revision of previous entry)

AUG. 9, 2019: Trump Says Peace Is Coming to Ukraine

AUG. 12, 2019: Whistleblower Files Complaint Allegedly Involving Trump (revision of previous entry)

AUG. 26, 2019: Inspector General for Intelligence Community Finds Whistleblower Claim ‘Credible’ and ‘Urgent’; WH Counsel Involved (revision of previous entry)

PRIOR TO AUG. 28, 2019: Pentagon Recommends That Trump Release Hold On Military Aid to Ukraine

SEPT. 3, 2019: DOJ Says Whistleblower Complaint Not ‘Urgent’

SEPT. 4, 2019: Intelligence Community’s Inspector General Refers Whistleblower Complaint to FBI.

SOMETIME DURING THE WEEK OF SEPT. 16, 2019: DOJ Declines to Investigate Whistleblower Complaint

SEPT. 23, 2019: Trump Attacks Whistleblower on Twitter

SEPT. 23, 2019: Trump Defends His Conversation With Zelensky, Attacks Biden

SEPT. 24, 2019: Trump Says He Would Withhold Aid From Ukraine Until Other Nations Contribute

SEPT. 24, 2019: Senate Passes Resolution Calling For Release of Whistleblower Report

SEPT. 24, 2019: Pelosi Announces Official Impeachment Inquiry

SEPT. 24, 2019: Court Acquits Flynn Business Partner

SEPT. 25, 2019: Trump Releases Memorandum Summary of July 25 Call With Zelensky; Maguire Sends Whistleblower Report to Congress

SEPT. 26, 2019: Whistleblower Complaint Released; Maguire Testifies

SEPT. 26, 2019: Trump Tells UN Mission: Whistleblower’s Source Is ‘Almost a Spy’

SEPT. 27, 2019: Kremlin Hopes Trump Doesn’t Publish Transcripts of Putin’s Conversations With Trump

SEPT. 27, 2019: Senate Dems Report: NRA Was ‘Foreign Asset’ to Russia in 2016 Election; NRA President Meets With Trump

SEPT. 27, 2019: House Issues Subpoenas; Volker Resigns

SEPT. 30, 2019: Kremlin Says Russia’s Consent Required Before Trump Can Release Transcript of Trump-Putin Calls

SEPT. 30, 2019: House Subpoenas Guiliani’s Records

SEPT. 30, 2019: Trump and Barr Pressing Foreign Leaders For Help

TRUMP-RUSSIA TIMELINE UPDATE THROUGH SEPT. 23, 2019

A year’s worth of news seems to arrive every day. But we’re trying to keep up.

The most important development: We’ve added a “UKRAINE/WHISTLEBLOWER 2019” to the Timeline Name Filter. Click on that button to see only the entries on that thread.

Here is a list of the latest Trump-Russia Timeline update entries through Monday, Sept. 23. Another update is in the works.

AUG. 13, 2018: Trump Signs Bill Approving Military Aid For Ukraine

JUNE 2019: Giuliani Meets With Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office to Press Biden Investigation 

PRIOR TO JULY 18, 2019: Trump Orders Hold on Previously Authorized Military Aid to Ukraine

JULY 25, 2019: Trump Calls Zelensky

JULY 26, 2019: US Special Representative for Ukraine Meets With Zelensky 

EARLY AUGUST 2019: Giuliani Meets With Zelensky Aide To Press Biden Investigation

AUG. 12, 2019: Whistleblower Files Complaint Allegedly Involving Trump

AUG. 26, 2019: Inspector General for Intelligence Community Finds Whistleblower Claim ‘Credible’ and ‘Urgent’

PRIOR TO AUG. 28, 2019: Pentagon Recommends That Trump Release Hold On Military Aid to Ukraine.

SEPT. 9, 2019: House Probing Giuliani’s Ukrainian Efforts

SEPT. 9, 2019: Intelligence Community’s Inspector General Alerts House Intelligence Committee to Whistleblower Complaint

SEPT. 10, 2019: Schiff Demands Whistleblower Complaint

SEPT. 11-13, 2019: White House Releases Ukraine Military Aid and Adds More

SEPT. 11, 2019: Trump Retweets About Comey

SEPT. 12, 2019: Trump Tweets About Mueller Report

SEPT. 12, 2019: House Judiciary Committee Consider Impeachment Inquiry Procedures

SEPT. 12-13, 2019: Trump Tweets and Retweets About Comey, McCabe, Impeachment

SEPT. 13, 2019: After Consulting Justice Department, Acting DNI Refuses to Produce Whistleblower Complaint; House Intelligence Committee Issues Subpoena

SEPT. 14-16, 2019: Trump Tweets and Retweets About Forthcoming DOJ Report on FISA Warrants, Impeachment, ‘Witch Hunt’

SEPT. 16, 2019: Trump Directs Lewandowski to Limit Testimony; Directs Dearborn and Porter Not to Appear

SEPT. 17, 2019: Lewandowski Testifies to Accuracy of Mueller Report

SEPT. 17, 2019: Acting DNI and Inspector General at Impasse

SEPT. 17-18, 2019: Trump Tweets and Retweets About Lewandowski’s Testimony, Impeachment

SEPT. 19, 2019: Giuliani Admits He Asked Ukraine To Investigate Biden

SEPT. 19, 2019: Maguire Defies House Subpoena

SEPT. 19, 2019: McConnell Reverses Position On Election Security Funding

SEPT. 19-20, 2019: Trump Tweets About Whistleblower Reports

SEPT. 20, 2019: Ukraine Ready to Investigate Biden When Trump Makes Official Request

SEPT. 20, 2019: Trump Says Whistleblower is ‘Partisan’; Claims He Had ‘Beautiful Conversation’ With Foreign Leader Involved in Whistleblower Claim

SEPT. 21, 2019: Trump Tweets and Retweets About Whistleblower Story Involving Biden, Tweets About McCabe

SEPT. 22, 2019: Trump Admits Talking to Zelensky About Biden

 

TRUMP AND THE WHISTLEBLOWER: A TIMELINE

This post first appeared on Sept. 24, 2019 on Dan Rather’s News & Guts.

On Thursday, Sept. 26, the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, is scheduled to testify publicly about his refusal to provide congressional intelligence committees with a whistleblower complaint.

The inspector general for the intelligence community, Michael Atkinson, has already found the complaint “urgent” and “credible.” He’s slated to testify in closed session on the same day.

By all accounts, the subject of the complaint is Donald Trump.

The Facts 

In a nationally televised interview on June 12, Trump said he’d take “dirt” on a political opponent from a foreign government to win an election. In fact, he was already using the power of the presidency to get that help. Now Trump is preventing Congress and the public from learning the truth about his potential use of American foreign policy for personal political gain. And he’s spinning the episode into attacks on his new targets: former Vice President Joe Biden and a whistleblower.

It’s that simple.

To follow the crisis, we’re adding a new name to the Trump-Russia Timeline filter: “UKRAINE/WHISTLEBLOWER 2019.” Here are the highlights so far:

  • Aug. 13, 2018: Trump signs into law a bill authorizing $250 million in military aid to Ukraine, which requires US support to resist ongoing Russian aggression.
  • May and June 2019: Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, meets with present and former Ukrainian officials. He’s looking for political “dirt” and wants them to pursue an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
  • June 12: Trump tells ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he’d take foreign “dirt” on an opponent to help win an election.
  • Days Prior to July 18: Trump orders a hold on the previously authorized military aid to Ukraine.
  • July 25: Trump calls Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and pressures him to investigate Biden. He urges Zelensky to work with Giuliani.
  • July 31: Trump calls Putin. The White House’s two-sentence readout says only that they discussed Siberian wildfires and trade.
  • Aug. 12: A whistleblower from the intelligence community files a formal complaint that relates to Trump’s alleged commitment to another world leader and that, at least in part, concerns Ukraine.
  • Aug. 21: Giuliani boasts that over the previous few weeks, he’s been meeting with Ukrainian officials and pushing them to investigate Biden’s son.
  • Sept. 1-2: Vice President Mike Pence meets with Zelensky in Warsaw. The next day, reporters ask Pence whether he can assure Ukraine that Trump’s delay in military aid is unrelated to Giuliani’s efforts to get “dirt” on the Biden family. Rather than answer the question, Pence deflects: “[A]s President Trump had me make clear, we have great concerns about issues of corruption…”
  • Sept. 9: Inspector General Atkinson informs House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) about the whistleblower complaint. After finding it “urgent” and “credible,” on Aug. 26, Atkinson sent it to acting DNI Maguire, who was required by law to transmit it to congressional intelligence committees within seven days. But he has failed to do so.
  • Sept. 10: Schiff sends Maguire a letter asking for a copy of the complaint.
  • Sept. 11: Trump releases the hold he’d placed on military aid to Ukraine.
  • Sept. 13: Jason Klitenic, general counsel for the office of the director of national intelligence, tells Schiff that after consulting with Attorney General William Barr’s Department of Justice about how to handle the situation, Maguire will not produce the complaint. Klitenic’s stated legal justification would put Trump above the law. In a Sept. 17 letter to Schiff, Inspector General Atkinson disagrees with Klitenic’s argument, but is bound by Maguire’s decision to follow it.
  • Sept. 15: Schiff tells CBS News that Maguire told him that he wasn’t providing the complaint “because he is being instructed not to. This involved a higher authority, someone above” the director of national intelligence, a cabinet position.
  • Sept. 20: Sure enough, The Washington Post reports,“White House counsel Pat Cipollone has been engaged in the matter since shortly after the whistleblower action surfaced, officials said, helping to identify legal obstacles to the sharing of information that could be politically damaging to Trump.”

Trump Denies, Distracts, and Counterattacks

  • Sept. 20: Trump asserts that he doesn’t know the whistleblower’s identity, but says that the person was “partisan.” He professes not to know what conversation the media were referring to, but claimed it was “beautiful” and “totally appropriate.”

  • Sept. 21: In more than a dozen tweets and retweets, Trump attacks Biden and the whistleblower story.
  • Sept. 22: Trump now admits that he spoke with Zelensky on July 25 about “all of the corruption taking place…the fact that we don’t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the corruption in the Ukraine [sic].”

  • Sept. 23: Trump’s twitter attacks target the whistleblower:

  • Sept. 24: Trump gives a new reason for having withheld military aid from Ukraine — “I’ll continue to withhold until such time as Europe and other nations contribute to Ukraine” — and says he’d do it again.

This 30-second CNN video speaks for itself:

  • Sept. 24: Trump promises to release a transcript of his July 25 phone call with Zelensky on Sept. 25.

Wholly apart from the White House track record of doctoring “official transcripts,” Trump’s offer is a distraction. By law, congressional intelligence committees must see the entire whistleblower report. The Timeline confirms that Trump’s dubious conduct involves far more than the Zelensky phone call. That’s the real story.