Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Real Impeachment Hearings of Donald Trump Jr.

Impeachment hearing on MSNBC
November 15, 2019

Forget the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, O.C., or anywhere else.

Forget Dallas and Game of Thrones.  

The show I'm glued to is called the Real Impeachment Hearings of Donald Trump Jr.  It's a sequel to Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, the January 2018 best-seller by Michael Wolff.

There have been seven episodes so far, each more riveting than the previous one, with villains, heroes, pimps, punks, and lots of international intrigue.

What I like most is that there are lots of female leading roles:

  • Marie Yovanovitch, ousted ambassador to Ukraine;
  • Jennifer Williams, special adviser on European and Russian affairs to Vice President Pence;
  • Dr. Fiona Hill, former top Russia adviser to the White House, on the National Security Council;
  • Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi;
  • Representative Jackie Speier (D), a member of the Committee on Armed Services and the Intelligence Committee;
  • Representative Elise Stefanik (R), as obnoxious as Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan;
  • Other congresswomen I hadn't heard of before.

The plot keeps me coming back:  will he get impeached? when?  will he get thrown out of office?

I'm hooked because I'm a bit player in the overall story.  In a year I will get to vote for a president of the USA.  Will Trump be on the ballot?  Will he win or be defeated?

My future hangs in the balance, as well as the future of everyone I see on my television screen.

In fact, 14,000 Ukrainians have already lost their lives.  A few Americans have died as well--Heather Heier, those shot in synagogues in Pittsburgh and suburban San Diego, those shot in the Walmart in El Paso by a Trump admirer.

Call me obsessed, but I'm turning on my television at 6 am to watch these hearings.  They make other reality TV look like child's play.

Hooray for Fiona Hill

Dr. Fiona Hill, presidential advisor

"I am an American by choice," said Dr. Fiona Hill, member of the National Security Council in the White House from 2017 to June 2019.

She also worked in the White House by choice in order to improve US-Russia relations--a White House ruled by the 45th president, the worst in history.  She hoped to do some good.

Courage is what she's all about.  Courage, intellect, and choice.

In a profile in today's NY Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg tells this anecdote from Dr. Hill's childhood:

Dr. Hill, 54, had an unusual path to academia. The daughter of a coal miner and a midwife, she had a hardscrabble childhood in northeast England — a childhood that bred toughness, her friends say. Once, when she was 11, a boy in her class set one of her pigtails on fire while she was taking a test. She put the fire out with her hands, and finished the test.

Dr. Hill grew up in northeast England.  Her mother was a midwife.  After earning an M.A. from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, she then earned a Ph.D. from Harvard and became an American citizen.  

"I grew up poor with a distinctive working-class accent," she said, "that would have prevented me from having the opportunities I had in the US."

Each witness in the public impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill has the opportunity to present a brief statement before testifying.  

Dr. Hill used her statement to make one strong point:  "Some appear to believe that Russia did not attack our 2016 election, but the conclusion by our intelligence agencies is that Russia did."  She provided evidence that Russian president Vladimir Putin is the source of these "false narratives."

"In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not repeat these politically-driven falsehoods," she concluded.

And all Republicans present agreed to drop the "Russia hoax" argument.

Well, not exactly, but they did say, in effect, "We never claimed that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 election.  We just want Democrats to admit that there was no collusion with Russians by our presidential candidate."

Thank you to the House Intelligence Committee for introducing us to another American heroine of 2019.

NPR's full text of Dr. Hill's testimony

C-SPAN's video of today's full testimony.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Trump as Corruption Fighter

Trump's big focus: Ukraine

The president was just "trying to be a good steward of US dollars." 

So claimed Steve Castor, the Republican counsel allowed to interview EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland after the main portion of today's impeachment hearings.  

That's why dt delayed delivering military aid to Ukraine.

He cared so much about stopping corruption in Ukraine that he needed to check out Volodimir Zelensky, the new president, for 55 days--holding up the Javelin missiles Ukraine needed to hold back the Russian army.

Of course, dt doesn't mind corruption in Saudi Arabia, where the assassination of a journalist was planned and then executed in Istanbul.  The Jamal Khashoggi death doesn't prevent our prez from selling arms to the Saudis.

Syrian corruption doesn't bother him--Bashar al-Assad can kill as many of his own citizens as he wants.

It's just Ukraine where dt cares about corruption.  

In fact, he doesn't care about run-of-the-mill corruption there, just corruption related to his rival in the 2020 presidential race, Joe Biden.

Oh, and the possible corruption that Vladimir Putin claims happened in Ukraine in during the 2016 presidential election.  dt is still focused on proving the authenticity of his victory three years ago, so focused that he needs to hold up the aid to Ukraine appropriated by Congress.

So now you have the truth as dt's supporters see it: the prez was just trying to make sure taxpayer dollars didn't go to an undeserving nation.

Obeying Putin had nothing to do with it.  He just happened to adopt the story Putin has proposed, the story that Ukraine--not Russia--interfered in the 2016 election.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Inspiring Woman: Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch

Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch

It was love at first sight for me and millions of other American women.

Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, Ambassador to Ukraine from 2016 to April 24, 2019, was testifying in the Real Impeachment Hearings of Donald Trump Jr.  

She had been framed by Rudolf Giuliani and the corrupt former Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Yuriy Lutsenko.  Then she was fired by the president--ordered to fly back to the US immediately.

I mean, you have to be really important to be framed and fired by the president.  

In fact, she was holding up dt's plan to use the Ukrainians to help him get re-elected in 2020.

The first day of the impeachment hearings was slow-going except for us fans who needed a careful history of Ukraine, its Revolution of Dignity in 2014, Russian invasion later in 2014 stealing Crimea, and recent political events in Ukraine.

But on Day 2 Ambassador Yovanovitch testified, and her words were riveting:

"How is it that foreign corrupt interests could manipulate the US government?" she asked.

"The 'do-not-prosecute list' was fabrication."

"Yes, it is very intimidating.," she said in reference to the president tweeting insults while she was testifying.  Chairman Adam Schiff responded: "Witness intimidation!"

Marie's parents brought her to the US at age three; they had fled the Soviet Union and the Nazis, staying in Canada a few years.  

She attended Princeton University and joined the US Foreign Service in 1986, serving consecutively in Ottawa, Moscow, London, Mogadishu, and Kiev.  

Thank you to the House Intelligence Committee for introducing us to Marie Yovanovitch, the first of the #AmericanImpeachmentHeroines of 2019.

Note to the maker of Barbie Dolls: start a line of heroine dolls introduced by this impeachment process.  The company's Inspiring Woman series of dolls already includes a Katherine Johnson doll (Hidden Figures) and the astronaut doll Sally Ride.  

Now we need a Marie Yovanovitch doll and a Dr. Fiona Hill doll.