The impeachment process is about power. Who has it and who gets to keep it? The trumpists, having taken over the Republican Party, the Senate and the White House, are determined to keep their hold on these points of power. Naturally, they hope to regain control of the House of Representatives and are most likely assuming they own the judicial system, at least in terms of the Supreme Court. To various degrees, neither the Democrats nor the trumpists acknowledge the power of the people. This understanding goes a long way in explaining why the trumpists insist on portraying the hearings as a coup instead of an investigation of corruption and the abuse of power. It is also why the Democrats have limited the focus of the hearings at this point. Despite this lack of acknowledgement, the people will feel the effects.
Thursday AM: Schiff begins the day by describing what his (and counsel’s) line of questioning will be. Interestingly, he breaks from this line of presentation to address Trump and Pompeo, warning them that their continued failure to provide subpoenaed documents and witnesses is comparable to Richard Nixon’s obstruction of justice in 1973 and 1974. Nunes repeats his already tired line welcoming the audience to the circus. It’s like he is genuinely unaware that it is him and his fellow trumpists that provide the circus element to the hearings. I’m not afraid of clowns, but trumpists are not ordinary clowns. He forges on, repeating his half-truths and misinterpretations of the facts already established. I’d stay and listen, but there’s nothing new to report and the snark continues to be pathetic. So does his ongoing attempt to out the whistleblower.
Gordon Sondlund, the billionaire donor who became Ambassador to the European Union, continues Schiff’s attack on the State Department, Trump and Pompeo and their refusal to turn over documents. He also makes it clear that he and his team only worked with Rudy Giuliani because Trump demanded it. But wait, it gets better. Sondland goes on, stating that what he was doing was known by many people throughout the State Department. Did he just implicate the entire top levels of the Trump State Department in the extortion scheme? Like many of the people in the room, Sondland believes that Ukraine’s “stability” is crucial to Europe. In other words, Washington needs to prop up and maintain its client state on the Russian border in order to keep Russia at bay. He states again that he kept the State Department informed every step of the way. “They knew what we were doing and why.” This apparently includes the involvement of Giuliani. Pompeo insisted that Giuliani be included, despite the opposition of the official channel.
There’s a reasonable analogy that is made somewhat often that governments are run something like organized crime. Part protection racket, part strongarm brutes, and interested in expanding and dominating their rivals. What Donald Trump and his cabal have done is actually run the government like a crime syndicate. Although Richard Nixon ran his White House in a similar manner, Trump probably considers himself to be smarter and doesn’t anticipate getting caught. His bombast and lack of any moral center serves him well in that regard. Indeed, Nixon’s approach actually seems subtle compared to Trump’s Gotti-esque manner.
Sondland is careful, refuses to allow Castor to put words in his mouth. It seems clear that he is sticking to his story that Trump spoke through Giuliani and Rudy told him that the deal for everything Zelensky wanted was dependent on the investigation. One wonders if the investigation had taken place and what was discovered was that Trump and his phalanx of fools were wrong, completely wrong. In other words, there was no there there. The internet conspiracies were just stories made up by trumpist minds and enhanced by their fears. I am fairly convinced that this is the case, but now we will probably never know. Castor quotes Ron Johnson, who would defend Trump all the way to hell. It was also Johnson who wrote in the Washington Post that he thinks that this whole episode and these hearings should have been secret; handled in-house as he wrote. Hell, Castor just made me laugh. He stated that Trump wanted to be a “good steward of our taxpayer dollars.” I suppose he means all those taxpayer dollars that he and his rich friends (and enemies) no longer pay thanks to his tax cut. Once again, the idea that because the quid pro quo did not take place, there was no crime. This intentional obfuscation of what attempted bribery or extortion means is a consistent argument made by the trumpists. One wonders if their constant misrepresentation of this will serve its purpose to confuse and mask what actually occurred. Is an irregular channel irregular even when it acts outside the regular channel? This is a question Sondland actually brings up. His naivete regarding the nature of who he was working with becomes apparent in his conversation with Castor. His failure to recall conversations and events leaves the notes taken by others as fundamental evidence unless the coverup is ended and the documents are released to the committee. The fact that they aren’t being released makes the stonewalling by the White House and other departments that much more effective but also makes obstruction charges more likely unless they are released.
Now, Nunes is redefining what obstruction of justice means, pretending that the process is somehow unfair when in reality it is merely following its trajectory. Now, he is attacking NATO as if it were not a tool of US imperialism, but a fair share agreement between the US and those nations it includes. The truth is quite different. NATO serves the designs of Washington over every other capitol and has always done so. That is why it was created and that is why it continues to exist. Nunes and his stupidly phrased ramblings do nothing to clarify anything except the trumpist contempt for the proceedings. His cohorts take the baton he passes to them and repeat the same rumors and questions until their time is up. In a real court, this line of questioning would be stopped, since much of it is based on already disproven and unsubstantiated rumor. Despite the trumpist complaints about the nature of the process, it actually serves their intentions better than the majority who called the impeachment hearings.
I’m not sure how much it matters or the actual meaning of it, but it seems that Trump was using the State Department appointees in this series of escapades regarding Giuliani and not the National Security Council.
I get emails and occasional texts regarding my impeachment position. They come from people across the political spectrum. Trumpists to anarchists, Democrats and Republicans, socialists and Green Party advocates. Those who disagree with my support for impeaching Trump vocalize their fears that the impeachment might fail or that it isn’t far reaching enough. I understand and agree that these are both true. Others who oppose impeachment either read me the trumpist riot act calling it a criminal conspiracy to overthrow a popularly elected president. Or they suggest that this impeachment sets a precedent, meaning that if Sanders or another left-leaning candidate got elected, the right wing could easily mount impeachment proceedings against them. This particular argument assumes several things. The first is that such a candidate would make it into the White House; that the electoral process from the primaries to the Electoral College wouldn’t shut them out. In other words, it assumes that there is more democracy in our democratic elections than there actually is. However, let’s assume a president with left-leaning politics did make it to the White House. Unless they also had the majority support of both houses of Congress, it is unlikely they would be able to pass much of the legislation they campaigned on. However, unless they were clearly criminal it seems safe to say that they would not be impeached. Instead, their opponents would use the electoral process to remove them. Then there are those who just oppose the system in its entirety.
Although it is tempting to write the ending of this before it occurs, my primary intent is to provide regular commentary on the impeachment proceedings until they end this year or the next. It is my hope that those who read these dispatches understand that I have no real favorites in the match, although it is true I hate trumpist politics and what Donald Trump represents. I write with the intent to expose the criminal nature of the US ruling class and to make it clear that, while it appears monolithic to those of us not in it, any examination of the US ruling class reveals numerous factions within it. These factions make and break alliances according to their interests—most all of which involve profiteering from the exploitation of the earth and those who labor on it. Some factions and individuals are certainly more diplomatic and perhaps even compassionate in varying degrees, while others are openly vicious about their avarice. The rise of Donald Trump and he trumpists represents the rise to power of this latter element after decades of less repulsive and more refined representatives of the class. You can bet, though, that if there is ever a socialist revolution in this country, they will all band together to destroy it. If fascism becomes the reality, you can bet that they will similarly come together to support it. If the impeachment of Donald Trump can do anything to reveal the nature of those who rule us, it is worthy of my support. The challenge is in getting those following the proceedings to disconnect from the pro-imperialist/democrat vs. republican narrative being provided by the ruling class media.
The evening hearings opened with FoxNews guy and special prosecutor in the Clinton impeachment Ken Starr suggesting that after Sondland’s morning testimony the GOP might want to talk to Trump about resigning. During the evening segment Special Assistant on Europe and Ukraine Hooper tells the audience that the Ukrainian government knew the aid had been suspended before the infamous phone call on July 25th. This potentially changes the narrative and certainly changes the timeline. It could be argued that the bribe had already been presented.
The mainstream media will debate the meaning of this potentially new timeline. Meanwhile, as if we forgot that the entire group of people in the room share an imperial mindset, the questioning somehow turns to an argument essentially about whether Trump or Obama is more of a warmonger. The argument centers on the military aid package that is a focus of these hearings, and specifically the javelin missiles. The fact that it was under Trump that this package was delivered becomes a notch in his belt, even though it was under Obama that the pro-US government was undemocratically installed, with substantial assistance from Washington. It’s also likely that if a Democrat had won the electoral college vote in 2016, a Democrat would have sent those missiles. If that Democrat was Hillary Clinton, there’s no doubt those missiles would have been sent, probably as part of even larger and more lethal package. The pretense by the trumpists, the Democrats and the bureaucrats that they care about democracy is belied by the ongoing US supported coup attempts going on in Venezuela and Bolivia. Domestically speaking, the fact that the PATRIOT Act was just given an extension by Congress further belies any genuine concern for freedom and democracy.
Thursday’s hearings open with Adam Schiff—the opposite of charisma—reminding the audience that Fiona Hill, one of the day’s witnesses, considered, in war criminal John Bolton’s words, that Rudy Giuliani was “a hand grenade…who would blow everyone up….” Yeah, Rudy Giuliani, the president’s man, who told the press last week that if Trump gave him up, then he had some “insurance” he could use. One assumes this insurance is what the rest of us would call blackmail. Nunes continues his alternative narrative that becomes less coherent each day. It’s a narrative whose bottom line is that Trump did nothing wrong and the Democrats did. Besides, Trump is more of a patriotic American because he gave the Ukrainians Javelin missiles. So there. Like I stated before, there were many other things Trump could get impeached for, but the right wing of the Democratic Party chose this one. The bonus for those of us watching is that we can get a glimpse into the machinations and manipulations of the US foreign service and other bureaucracies. If matched together with the massive dump of diplomatic cables by Wikileaks in 2010, one can get a pretty good idea of the role these bureaucracies play in expanding the reach of US capitalist predations.
Witness David Holmes, a Political Affairs Counselor, ties Trump and his men even closer to the to the bribery/quid pro quo these hearings are about. He also repeats the narrative that the overthrow of the government in Ukraine (which took place six years ago this week) was a popular democratic upsurge. His comments ignore the intervention of the US, focusing instead on the “competitors”—that is, Russia. Ms. Hill introduces herself as a non-partisan witness, making it clear that she serves US imperial interests no matter which party is in power. Her personal biography is a bit different. She comes from a family of coal miners and points out her working-class accent, which she claims would have been held against her in Britain (which it would have.) Her story is an immigrant story—one wonders when her identity as a woman and an immigrant will bring the wrath of Trump’s twitter finger. She calls the narrative pushed by the trumpists regarding Ukraine and the server et cetera as Russian propaganda. That ought to’ get Messrs. Nunes and Jordan jumping and shouting. It seems to me that what Russia is accused of is business as usual for many nations, especially the US, Russia and China. Like I noted earlier…this is inter-imperial rivalry in real time.
I have to admit that Fiona Hill is an impressive personality. Her neocon take on things is useful only in its certitude. She won’t back down. It’s Trump tweet time again. After calling his opposition, specifically the Democrats, human scum, he claims they’re ruining his legitimacy, something I never thought he had. As for the human scum, well that’s the pot calling the kettle black. It’s his buddy Roger Stone who is hanging out and hatching up conspiracies with Alex Jones. To his credit, Schiff reproaches his Republican colleagues, asking they listen to their conscience not their dear leader or their base, but their conscience.
Her politics are purely of the US imperial variety, but her refusal to change her tone of disgust when it comes to addressing the trumpist element is admirable and unique in these hearings so far. Unfortunately, the trumpist element is beyond reason and are already blaming their opponents for their failure to inflate the life jackets they were provided on their crashing airliner. In his closing remarks, Nunes does have some good news within his lament for the persecuted Donald Trump: the new free trade bill will not be passed this year.
One word heard throughout these hearings that begs examination is corruption. Not only do the trumpists and Democrats seem to have different understandings of what is corrupt, the very existence of the US anti-corruption program focusing on Ukraine either glosses over or ignores the corruption essential to modern day international capitalism. Whole banks are dedicated to laundering illegal/dirty money and big deals almost always involve some kind of obvious or cloaked bribery masked as incentives or some other kind of fees. These types of corruption would probably be okay with almost every individual involved in the hearings. More blatant corruption such as an outright bribe for money or other personal benefit would not be. The fact that Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani were to be involved in any anti-corruption campaign is not only ironic but darkly comedic given their current reputations.
Next week Congress is in recess. We don’t know when the committee will meet again in public or if the hearings will shift to the Judiciary Committee. We don’t know what Trump and his capos have in mind. The participants will be taking time to celebrate the colonizer’s creation myth. The shining city on a hill built on the blood and sweat of the indigenous, the enslaved and the laboring classes will spend the week congratulating itself in between bites of poultry, tofurky, pie and potatoes. Those inclined to do so will all find something in these hearings and the process to make them feel like patriotic Americans. Gobble Gobble…and stay tuned.