September 20, 2019

So judging by last night's leaks from various sources, it looks like the whistleblower Bill Barr is working so hard to gag knows specifically that Trump threatened Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky with loss of military aid -- unless he agreed to investigate Joe Biden.

Now, this is not really shocking to anyone who's followed Trump. We already knew he had Rudy Giuliani trying to make that happen in the Ukraine. But this is different. Whoever the whistleblower is, he or she apparently has proof that Trump tried to turn military aid into a specific quid pro quo for his personal political benefit.

Rachel Maddow explains:

"So, this story, this part of the story in this new development -- that this complaint about President Trump may involve the nation of Ukraine, this is -- this ought to ring a bunch of bells for you, because we've been covering this pretty intensively. Two weeks ago on September 5th, the Washington Post ran this on the editorial page and even though it was on the editorial page, it contained this remarkable claim," she said.

"See the headline there: 'Trump tries to force Ukraine to meddle in the 2020 election.' Meaning the 2020 U.S. election, explaining that the newly elected president of Ukraine appears to be a real reformer and a real small "d" democrat and that, therefore, ought to be a cause for celebration in Washington. The Post argues that nevertheless the new Ukrainian president (Volodymyr Zelensky) has received the cold shoulder from the Trump administration. He, quote, 'has so far failed to winning the backing of President Trump. Not only has he refused a White House visit, he suspended the delivery of $250 million in U.S. military aid to this country that is still fighting Russian aggression in its eastern provinces. Some suspect Mr. Trump is once again catering to Russian president Vladimir Putin who, of course, is dedicated to undermining Ukrainian democracy and independence,' but the Post says 'we're reliably told the president has a second and more venal agenda. Trying to force the Ukrainian president to intervene in the U.S. 2020 election by launching an investigation in Ukraine of the leading Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Mr. Trump is not just soliciting Ukraine's help with his presidential re-election campaign, he's using U.S. military aid that that country desperately needs in an attempt to extort it.'

"So, again, we still do not know if that's exactly what this whistle blower complaint is about that's currently blowing up proverbial Washington. Shane Harris from the Washington Post tonight is reporting the whistle blower complaint has something to do with Ukraine, but the timeline here may be instructive. This is what we know of the timeline. President Trump has a phone call with the new president of Ukraine July 25th. Three days later, the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, is out. He submits his resignation.

"Less than two weeks later there's a strange incident in the White House first reported by CNN in which that outgoing Director of Intelligence Dan Coats for some reason steps into a meeting being led by his deputy, Sue Gordon, and tells her in the middle of the meeting in bunch of a few front of -- four days later, the whistle blower complaint is filed with the intelligence community's inspector general. Three days after that, Dan Coats and Sue Gordon leave the White House. Before that week is out, President Trump says publicly, that should be forgiven. Russia and Vladimir Putin should be let back into the G8. That week, Politico is first to report Trump put on hold $250 million in military aid to Ukraine, money that was appropriated by the Congress to help Ukraine stand up to Russia.

"Before the next week is out, the White House announces that it is cutting almost the entire military construction budget in Eastern Europe that is specifically designated to help other nations on Russia's border stand up themselves against Russian aggression of the type faced by Ukraine. Two days after that, the Washington Post publishes its op-ed about Trump allegedly demanding help from Ukraine for his re-election effort and threatening to deny Ukraine U.S. military assistance unless and until he gets it.

"And now there's a new acting director of national intelligence that isn't letting the whistle-blower complaint be disclosed to Congress."

Hmm. So is this why the Ukraine aid was finally released yesterday?

ANd then there was Rudy Giuliani's batshit interview with Chris Cuomo last night, in which he both denied and confirmed he asked Ukraine to investigate Biden in the same sentence:

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