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Ukraine, Trump, Biden: The Real Story Behind “Ukrainegate” –Part 2

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THE CENTRALITY OF UKRAINIAN OLIGARCH IHOR KOLOMOYSKY

The real person who was the benefactor to, and the boss of, Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, at the Ukrainian gas-exploration company Burisma Holdings, was not the person that the American press says was, Mykola Zlochevsky, who had been part of the Ukrainian Government until Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown in February 2014, but it was instead  Ihor Kolomoysky, who was part of the newly installed Ukrainian Government, which the Obama Administration itself had actually just installed in Ukraine (and that phone-conversation appointing Ukraine’s new leader is explained here), in what the head of the “private CIA” firm Stratfor has correctly called “the most blatant coup in history.” (Here’s more explanation of that coup which was done by Obama.

One cannot even begin accurately to understand the impeachment proceedings against America’s current President Donald Trump (“Ukrainegate”), unless one first knows and understands accurately what the relationships were between Trump and the current Government of Ukraine, and the role that the Obama Administration had played in forming that Government (installing it), and the role that Hunter Biden had been hired to perform for his actual boss at Burisma, Kolomoysky, soon after Obama (via Obama’s agent Victoria Nuland) had installed Ukraine’s new Government.

As I had written on 28 September 2019, “In order to understand why Ukraine’s President Voldomyr Zelensky doesn’t want the dirt about Joe Biden to become public, one needs to know that Hunter Biden’s boss and benefactor at Burisma Holdings was, at least partly, Zelensky’s boss and benefactor until Zelensky became Ukraine’s President, and that revealing this would open up a can of worms which could place that former boss and benefactor of both men into prison at lots of places.”

That article, at the phrase “dug up in 2012,” discussed and linked to a careful 2012 study of Burisma which had actually been done in Ukraine by an investigative nonprofit  (Antac) funded by America’s billionaire George Soros (who was another major funder of the 2014 Ukrainian coup, as well as of Barack Obama’s political career itself) in order to help to bring down Yanukovych. However, what this study found was not the incriminating evidence against Zlochevsky which had been hoped. It found instead that the person who owned the controlling interest in Burisma was not really the Yanukovych-supporter Mykola Zlochevsky; it was, in fact, the Ukrainian billionaire Ihor Kolomoysky, who supported Yanukovych’s overthrow. Kolomoysky, shortly after the coup, became appointed as the governor in a region of Ukraine, by the Obama Administration’s post-coup Ukrainian Government. Obama’s financial backer Soros knew, or should have known, that Zlochevsky had sold almost all of his Burisma holdings to Kolomoysky in 2011, but Obama’s Administration was nonetheless trying to get the newly installed Ukrainian Government to prosecute Zlochevsky because Zlochevsky was associated with the Ukrainian President whom Obama had just overthrown. Hunter Biden’s function was to help to protect Mr. Kolomoysky against being targeted by the newly installed Government in the anti-corruption campaign that the Obama Administration and the EU were pressing upon that new Ukrainian Government. Hunter Biden was to serve as a U.S. fixer for his new boss Kolomoysky, to deflect the anti-corruption campaign away from Kolomoysky as a target and toward Zlochevsky as a target. And Hunter’s father, Joe Biden, followed through on that, by demanding that Ukraine prosecute Zlochevsky, not Kolomoysky. Soros isn’t really against corruption; he is against corruption by countries that he wants to take over, and that he uses the U.S. Government in order to take over. Neoconservatism is simply imperialism, which has always been the foreign-affairs ideology of aristocrats and of billionaires. (In America’s case, that includes both Democratic and Republican billionaires.) So, it’s just imperialism in America. All billionaires who care at all about international relations are imperialists; and, in America, that’s called “neoconservative.” The American issue regarding Ukraine was never actually Ukraine’s corruption. Corruption is standard and accepted throughout the U.S.-and-allied countries; but against countries they want to take over it becomes a PR point in order to win acceptance by the gulls, of their own country’s imperialism and its own associated corruption. “Our country’s corruption is acceptable, but yours is not,” is the view. That’s the standard imperialist view. Neoconservatism — imperialism anywhere, actually — is always based on lies. Imperialism, in fact, is part of nationalism, but it is excluded by patriotism; and no nationalist is a patriot. No patriot is a nationalist. Whereas a nationalist supports his country’s billionaires, a patriot supports his country’s residents — all of them, his countrymen, on a democratic basis, everyone having equal rights, not the richest of the residents having the majority or all of the rights. A nationalist is one-dollar-one-vote; a patriot is one resident one vote. The only people who are intelligently nationalist are billionaires and the agents they employ. All other nationalists are their gulls. Everyone else is a patriot. Ordinarily, there are far more gulls than patriots.

Information hasn’t yet been published regarding what Trump’s agent Rudolph Giuliani has found regarding Burisma, but the links in the present article link through to the evidence that I am aware of, and it’s evidence which contradicts what the U.S.-and-allied press have been reporting about the Bidens’ involvement in Ukraine. So: this information might be what Trump’s team intend to reveal after the Democratic-Party-controlled House of Representatives indicts Trump (send to the Republican Senate a recommendation to replace him by Mike Pence as America’s President), if they will do that; but, regardless, this is what I have found, which U.S.-and-allied news-media have conspicuously been not only ignoring but blatantly contradicting — contradicting the facts that are being documented by the evidence that is presented here. Consequently, the links in this article prove the systematic lying by America’s press, regarding Ukrainegate.

After the Soros-funded Antac had discovered in 2012 that Kolomoysky ruled Burisma, the great independent Australian investigative journalist who has lived for 30 years in and reported from Moscow, John Helmer, headlined on 19 February 2015 one of his blockbuster news-reports, “THE HUNT FOR BURISMA, PART II — WHAT ROLE FOR IGOR KOLOMOISKY, WHAT LONDON MISSED, WHAT WASHINGTON DOESN’T WANT TO SEE”, and he linked there not only to Ukrainian Government records but also to UK Government records, and also to corporate records in Cyprus, Panama, and elsewhere, to document that, indeed, Kolomoysky controlled Burisma. So, all of the U.S.-and-allied ‘news’-reporting, which merely assumes that Zlochevsky controlled this firm when Hunter Biden became appointed to its board, are clearly false. (See this, for example, from Britain’s Guardian, two years later, on 12 April 2017, simply ignoring both the Antac report and the even-more-detailed Helmer report, and presenting Zlochevsky — Kolomoysky’s decoy — as the appropriate target to be investigated for Burisma’s alleged corruption.) So: when Joe Biden demanded that Ukraine’s Government prosecute Zlochevsky, Biden was not, as he claims he was, demanding a foreign Government to act against corruption; he was instead demanding that foreign Government (Ukraine) to carry out his own boss, Barack Obama’s, agenda, to smear as much as he could Viktor Yanukovych — the Ukrainian President whom Obama had overthrown. This isn’t to say that Yanukovych was not corrupt; every post-Soviet Ukrainian President, and probably Prime Minister too, has been corrupt. Ukraine is famous for being corrupt. But, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Zlochevsky was corrupt. However, Kolomoysky is regarded, in Ukraine, as being perhaps the most corrupt of all Ukrainians. 

Perhaps Kolomoysky’s major competitor has been Victor Pinchuk, who has long been famous in Washington for donating heavily to Bill and Hillary Clintons’ causes. For example, on 11 March 2018, the independent investigative journalist Jeff Carlson, bannered “Victor Pinchuk, the Clintons & Endless Connections” and he reported that 

Victor Pinchuk is a Ukrainian billionaire.

He is the founder of Interpipe, a steel pipe manufacturer. He also owns Credit Dnipro Bank, some ferroalloy plants and a media empire.

He is married to Elena Pinchuk, the daughter of former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma.

Pinchuk’s been accused of profiting immensely from the purchase of state-owned assets at severely below-market prices through political favoritism.

Pinchuk used his media empire to deflect blame from his father-in-law, Kuchma, for the September 16, 2000 murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze. Kuchma was never charged but is widely believed to have ordered the murder. A series of recordings would seem to back up this assertion.

On April 4 through April 12 2016, Ukrainian Parliamentarian Olga Bielkov had four meetings – with Samuel Charap (International Institute for Strategic Studies), Liz Zentos (National Security Council), Michael Kimmage (State Dept) and David Kramer (McCain Institute).

Doug Schoen filed FARA documents showing that he was paid $40,000 a month by Victor Pinchuk (page 5) – in part to arrange these meetings.

Schoen attempted to arrange another 72 meetings with Congressmen and media (page 10). It is unknown how many meetings took place.

Schoen has worked for both Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Schoen helped Pinchuk establish ties with the Clinton Foundation. The Wall Street Journal reported how Schoen connected Pinchuk with senior Clinton State Department staffers in order to pressure former Ukrainian President Yanukovych to release Yulia Tymoshenko – a political rival of Yanukovych – from jail.

The relationship between Pinchuk and the Clintons continued.

A large network of collaborators, all connected to NATO’s PR agency the Atlantic Council, were also discussed and linked to; and, in one of the video clips, Victoria Nuland headed a panel discussion in Munich Germany at which numerous leading Democratic Party neoconservatives, and neoconservative foreign leaders, discussed how wonderful the “Deep State” is, and praised the Republican neocon John McCain, who had helped Victoria Nuland to install the fascist Government of Ukraine.

On 6 October 2019, Helmer headlined “UKRAINIAN OLIGARCH VICTOR PINCHUK IS PUTTING HIS MONEY ON JOE BIDEN FOR PRESIDENT AT $40,000 PER MONTH – THAT’S $3,000 MORE PER MONTH THAN BURISMA WAS PAYING HUNTER BIDEN”. He reported:

Joe Biden’s campaign for president, as well as his defence against charges of corrupt influence peddling and political collusion in the Ukraine, are being promoted in Washington by the Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk through the New York lobbyist, candidate adviser and pollster, Douglas Schoen (left).

This follows several years of attempts by Pinchuk and Schoen to buy influence with Donald Trump, first as a candidate and then as president; with Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani; and with John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Adviser in 2018 and 2019. Their attempts failed.

Pinchuk has been paying Schoen more than $40,000 every month for eight years. The amount of money is substantially greater than Biden’s son Hunter Biden was paid by Pinchuk’s Ukrainian rival Igor Kolomoisky through the oil company Burisma and Rosemont Seneca Bohai, Biden’s New York front company.

Pinchuk’s message for the Democratic candidates and US media, according to Schoen’s Fox News [4] broadcast in August, is: “Stop killing your own, stop beating up on your own frontrunner, Joe Biden.”

On November 12th, the New York Times headlined “Ukraine’s President Seeks Face-to-Face Meeting With Putin” and reported that Zelensky is now sufficiently disturbed at the declining level of the EU’s and Trump Administration’s continuing support for Ukraine’s Government, so that Zelensky is desperately trying to restore friendly relations with Russia. The next day, that newspaper bannered “A Ukrainian Billionaire Fought Russia. Now He’s Ready to Embrace It.” This report said: Mr. Kolomoisky, widely seen as Ukraine’s most powerful figure outside government, given his role as the patron of the recently elected President Volodymyr Zelensky, has experienced a remarkable change of heart: It is time, he said, for Ukraine to give up on the West and turn back toward Russia.” Kolomoysky, in other words, who had been on Obama’s team in Ukraine, no longer is on the U.S. team under Trump. A reasonable inference would be that Kolomoysky increasingly fears the possibility of being prosecuted. Continuation of the Obama plan for Ukraine seems increasingly unlikely.

Here are some crimes for which Kolomoysky might be prosecuted:

Allegedly, Kolomoysky, along with the newly appointed Ukrainian Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov, masterminded the 2 May 2014 extermination of perhaps hundreds of people who had been trapped inside Odessa’s Trade Unions Building after those victims had distributed anti-coup flyers.

Allegedly, Kolomoysky, on 20 March 2015, brought to a board meeting of Ukraine’s gas-distribution company UkrTransNafta, of which Kolomoysky was a minority shareholder, his hired thugs armed with guns, in an unsuccessful attempt to intimidate the rest of the board to impose Kolomoysky’s choice to lead the company. Ukraine’s President, Petro Poroshenko, soon thereafter, yielded to the pressure from Ukraine’s bondholders to fire Kolomoysky as a regional governor, and then nationalized Ukraine’s biggest bank, PrivatBank, which had looted billions of dollars from depositors’ accounts and secreted the proceeds in untraceable offshore accounts, so that the bank had to be bailed out by Ukraine’s taxpayers. (Otherwise, there would have been huge riots against Poroshenko.) Zelensky is squeezed between his funder and his public, and so dithers. For example, on 10 September 2019, the Financial Times reported that “The IMF has warned Ukraine that backsliding on Privatbank’s nationalisation would jeopardise its $3.9bn standby programme and that officials expect Ukraine to push for recovery of the $5.5bn spent on rescuing the bank.” Stealing $5.5B is a big crime, and this was Obama’s Ukrainian Government. Will it also be Trump’s?

There are others, but those could be starters. 

So, both Kolomoysky and Zelensky are evidently now considering to seek Moscow’s protection, though Kolomoysky had previously been a huge backer of, and helped to fund, killing of the Donbassers who rejected the Obama-imposed Russia-hating Ukrainian regime.

Any such prosecutions could open up, to international scrutiny, Obama’s entire Ukrainian operation. That, in turn, would expose Obama’s command-complicity in the ethnic cleansing operation, which Kolomoysky’s co-planner of the 2 May 2014 massacre inside the Odessa Trade Unions Building, Arsen Avakov, euphemistically labelled the “Anti Terrorist Operation” or “ATO,” to eliminate as many as possible of the residents in the former Donbass region of Ukraine, where over 90% of the voters had voted for Yanukovych. 

It could also open up the enormous can of worms that is George Soros, because though Trump doesn’t at all care about corruption in Ukraine (nor should he, since that’s a Ukrainian domestic matter and therefore not appropriate and certainly not a matter of U.S. national-security interest), Soros himself was quite possibly breaking both national and international laws in his interventions in Ukraine, and possibly also in his related investments or his threats not to invest there. Not only was he deeply involved in the coup but afterward he was regularly advising Victoria Nuland. Whether even America’s laws against insider-trading were violated should also be considered.

TRUMP’S MANY POLICY-DILEMMAS REGARDING UKRAINE

If Putin offers no helping hand to Zelensky, what will happen to Ukraine, and to Ukrainians? Might Trump finally campaign for the United States to become one of the “States Parties” to the International Criminal Court, so that Obama, Nuland, Soros, and others who had overthrown Ukraine’s democratically elected Government could be tried there? How would Trump be able to immunize himself for such crimes as his own 14 April 2018 unprovoked missile-attack against Syria? How likely is it that he would ever actually become a supporter of international law, instead of an imperialist (such as he has always been) and therefore opponent of international law? He, after all, is himself a billionaire, and no billionaire has ever fought for international law except in an instance where he benefited from it — never for international law itself. Trump isn’t likely to be the first. But here’s how it could happen: 

Donald Trump has surrounded himself with neoconservatives. There’s not much distance between his policies toward Ukraine versus Barack Obama’s and Joe Biden’s. However, after Trump becomes impeached in the House (if that happens) and the impeachment trial starts in the Republican U.S. Senate, there will then be a perfect opportunity for Trump to embarrass the Democratic Party profoundly by exposing not only Joe Biden but Biden’s boss Obama as having caused the war in Ukraine. In order for him to do that, however, he’d also need to expose the rot of neoconservatism. Nobody in Washington does that, except, perhaps the rebelling Democrat, Tulsi Gabbard, and she’s rejected in the national polls now by the public within her own Party. Neoconservatism is the uniform foreign-policy ideology of America’s billionaires, both Republican and Democratic, and this is why Washington is virtually 100% neocon. In America, wealth certainly doesn’t trickle down, but ideology apparently does — and that’s not merely neoliberalism but also its international-affairs extension: neoconservatism. Nonetheless, if a Trump re-election ticket were Trump for President, and Gabbard for Vice President, it might be able to beat anything that the Democrats could put up against it, because Trump would then head a ticket which would remain attractive to Republicans and yet draw many independents and even the perhaps 5% of Democrats who like her. Only Sanders, if he becomes the Democratic nominee (and who is the least-neoconservative member of the U.S. Senate), would attract some of Gabbard’s supporters, but he wouldn’t be getting any money from the 607 people who mainly fund American politics. The 2020 U.S. Presidential contest could just go hog-wild. However, America’s billionaires probably won’t let that happen. Though there are only 607 of therm, they have enormous powers over the Government, far more than do all other Americans put together. The U.S. Supreme Court made it this way, such as by the 1976 Buckley decision, and the 2010 Citizens United decision.

So: while justice in this impeachment matter (and in the 2020 elections) is conceivable, it is extremely unlikely. The public are too deceived — by America’s Big-Money people.

As the neoconservative Democratic Representative from Vermont, Peter Welch, said in the impeachment hearings, on November 19th:

And you know, I’ll say this to President Trump. You want to investigate Joe Biden? You want to investigate Hunter Biden? Go at it. Do it. Do it hard. Do it dirty. Do it the way you do, do it. Just don’t do it by asking a foreign leader to help you in your campaign. That’s your job, it’s not his.

My goal in these hearings is two things. One is to get an answer to Colonel Vindman’s question [“Is it improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a United States citizen and political opponent?”]. And the second coming out of this is for us as a Congress to return to the Ukraine policy that Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy both support, it’s not investigations, it’s the restoration of democracy in Ukraine and the resistance of Russian aggression.

He wants a return to Obama’s anti-Russian Ukraine-policy. Though Zelensky had won Ukraine’s Presidency by a record-shattering 73% because he had promised to end the war (which the U.S. had started), America’s Deep State are refusing to allow that — they want to force him to accept more U.S.-made weapons and more U.S. training of Ukraine’s troops in how to use them against its next-door neighbor Russia. 

Furthermore, in some respects, Trump is even more neoconservative than Obama was. Trump single-handedly nullified Obama’s only effective and good achievement, the Iran nuclear deal. Against Iran, Trump is considerably more of a neocon than was Obama. Trump has squeezed Iranians so hard with his sanctions as to block other countries from buying from and selling to Iran; and this blockade has greatly impoverished Iranians, who now are rioting against their Government. Trump wants them to overthrow their Government. His plan might succeed. Trump’s biggest donor, Sheldon Adelson, hates Iranians, and Trump is his man. On Iran, Trump remains a super-neocon. Perhaps Adelson doesn’t require him to hate Russians too.

Furthermore, on November 17th, the same day when riots broke out in Iran against Iran’s Government, Abdullah Muradoğlu headlined in Turkey’s newspaper Yeni Safak, “Bolivia’s Morales was overthrown by a Western coup just like Iran’s Mosaddeg”, and he presented strong circumstantial evidence that that coup, too — which had occurred on November 10th — had been a U.S. operation. How could Trump criticize Obama for the coup against Ukraine when Trump’s own coup against Bolivia is in the news? America is now a two-Party fascist dictatorship. One criminal U.S. President won’t publicly expose the crimes of another criminal U.S. President who was his predecessor.

The next much-discussed witness that the Democrats brought forth to testify against Trump was America’s Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, on November 20th. Sondland was a hotels and real-estate tycoon like Trump. Prior to Trump’s becoming President, Sondland had had no experience in diplomacy. At the start of 2017, “four companies registered to Sondland donated $1 million to the Donald Trump inaugural committee”; and, then, a year later, Trump appointed him to this Ambassadorial post. Sondland evasively responded to the aggressive questioning by Senate Democrats trying to get him to say that Trump had been trying to “bribe” Zelensky. Then, the Lawfare Blog of the staunchly neoconservative Brookings Institution’s Benjamin Wittes headlined “Gordon Sondland Accuses the President of Bribery” and Wittes asserted that “today, Amb. Gordon Sondland, testifying before the House in the ongoing impeachment inquiry, offered a crystal clear account of how President Trump engaged in bribery.” But Sondland provided no evidence except his opinion, which can be seen online at “Opening Statement before the United States House of Representatives”, when he said:

Fourth, as I testified previously, Mr. Giuliani’s requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky. Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing investigations of the 2016 election/DNC server and Burisma. Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the President of the United States, and we knew that these investigations were important to the President.

However, in his prior (closed-door) 17 October 2019 testimony to the Senators, he had said (pp. 35-6) that on September 9th:

I asked the President, what do you want from Ukraine? The President responded, nothing. There is no quid pro. The President repeated, no quid pro. No quid pro quo multiple times. This was a very short call. And I recall that the President was really in a bad mood. I tried hard to address Ambassador Taylor’s concerns because he is valuable and [an] effective diplomat, and I took very seriously the issues he raised. I did not want Ambassador Taylor to leave his post and generate even more turnover in the Ukraine Mission.” 

That “Ambassador Taylor” was William. B. Taylor Jr., a West Point, Army, and NATO neoconservative, whom George W. Bush had made U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine in 2006-9, and whom Trump, at the suggestion of Trump’s neoconservative Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, had appointed to succeed Ambassador Yovanovitch in May.

The testimony of all of these people was entirely in keeping with their neoconservatism and was therefore extremely hostile toward anything but preparing Ukraine to join NATO and serve on the front line of America’s war to conquer Russia. Trump might be too stupid to understand anything about ideology or geostrategy, but only if a person accepts neoconservatism is the anger that these subordinates of his express toward him for his being viewed by them as placing other concerns (whether his own, or else America’s for withdrawing America from Obama’s war against Russia) suitable reason for Congress to force Trump out of office. Given that Trump, even in Sondland’s account, did say “The President responded, nothing. There is no quid pro. The President repeated, no quid pro. No quid pro quo multiple times,” there is nothing that’s even close to a “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard which is provided by their personal feelings that Trump had a quid-pro-quo about anything regarding Ukraine — a policy of Obama’s that Trump should instead firmly have abandoned and denounced as soon as he became President. Testimony from his own enemies, whom Trump had been stupid enough to have appointed, when he hadn’t simply extended Obama’s neoconservative policies and personnel regarding Ukraine, falls far short of impeachable. But right and wrong won’t determine the outcome here anyway, because America has become a two-party, one-ideology, dictatorship.

This is what happens when billionaires control a country. It produces the type of foreign policies the country’s billionaires want, rather than what the public actually need. This is America’s Government, today. It’s drastically different than what America’s Founders had hoped. Instead of its representing the states equally with two Senators for each, and instead of representing the citizens equally, with proportional per-capita representation in the U.S. House, and instead of yet a third system of the Electoral College for choosing the Government’s Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief, it has become thoroughly corrupted to being, in effect, just one-dollar-one-vote — an aristocracy of wealth controlling the entire Government — exactly what the Founders had waged the Revolution in order to overthrow and prevent from ever recurring: a dictatorial aristocracy, as constituting our Government, today. 

PS: Though I oppose almost everything that the hearings’ Ranking Minority Member, the neoconservative (and, of course, also neoliberal) Republican Devin Nunes, stands for, I close here with his superb summary of the hearings, on November 21st, in which he validly described the Democrats’ scandalously trashy Ukrainegate case against Trump (even though he refused to look deeper to the issues I raise in this article — he dealt here merely with how “shoddy” the case the Democrats had presented was):

Throughout these bizarre hearings, the Democrats have struggled to make the case that President Trump committed some impeachable offense on his phone call with Ukrainian president Zelensky. The offense itself changes depending on the day ranging from quid pro quo to extortion, to bribery, to obstruction of justice, then back to quid pro quo. It’s clear why the Democrats have been forced onto this carousel of accusations. President Trump had good reason to be wary of Ukrainian election meddling against his campaign and of widespread corruption in that country. President Zelensky, who didn’t even know aid to Ukraine had been paused at the time of the call, has repeatedly said there was nothing wrong with the conversation. The aid was resumed without the Ukrainians taking the actions they were supposedly being coerced into doing.

Aid to Ukraine under President Trump has been much more robust than it was under President Obama, thanks to the provision of Javelin anti-tank weapons. As numerous witnesses have testified, temporary holds on foreign aid occur fairly frequently for many different reasons. So how do we have an impeachable offense here when there’s no actual misdeed and no one even claiming to be a victim? The Democrats have tried to solve this dilemma with a simple slogan, “he got caught.” President Trump, we are to believe, was just about to do something wrong and getting caught was the only reason he backed down from whatever nefarious thought crime the Democrats are accusing him of almost committing.

I once again urge Americans to continue to consider the credibility of the Democrats on this Committee, who are now hurling these charges for the last three years. It’s not president Trump who got caught, it’s the Democrats who got caught. They got caught falsely claiming they had more than circumstantial evidence that Trump colluded with Russians to hack the 2016 election. They got caught orchestrating this entire farce with the whistleblower and lying about their secret meetings with him. They got caught defending the false allegations of the Steele dossier, which was paid for by them. They got caught breaking their promise that impeachment would only go forward with bipartisan support because of how damaging it is to the American people.

They got caught running a sham impeachment process between secret depositions, hidden transcripts, and an unending flood of Democrat leaks to the media. They got caught trying to obtain nude photos of President Trump from Russian pranksters pretending to be Ukrainians, and they got caught covering up for Alexandra Chalupa, a Democratic National Committee operative, who colluded with Ukrainian officials to smear the Trump campaign by improperly redacting her name from deposition transcripts, and refusing to let Americans hear her testimony as a witness in these proceedings. That is the Democrats pitiful legacy in recent years. They got caught.

Meanwhile, their supposed star witness testified that he was guessing that President Trump was tying Ukrainian aid to investigations despite no one telling him that was true, and the president himself explicitly telling him the opposite, that he wanted nothing from Ukraine. Ladies and gentlemen, unless the Democrats once again scramble their kangaroo court rules, today’s hearing marks the merciful end of this spectacle in the Impeachment Committee, formerly known as the Intelligence Committee. Whether the Democrats reap the political benefit they want from this impeachment remains to be seen, but the damage they have done to this country will be long lasting. Will this wrenching attempt to overthrow the president? They have pitted Americans against one another and poison the mind of fanatics who actually believe the entire galaxy of bizarre accusations they have levelled against the president since the day the American people elected him.

I sincerely hope the Democrats in this affair [end this] as quickly as possible so our nation can begin to heal the many wounds it has inflicted on us. The people’s faith in government and their belief that their vote counts for something has been shaken. From the Russia hoax to this shoddy Ukrainian sequel, the Democrats got caught. Let’s hope they finally learn a lesson, give their conspiracy theories a rest, and focus on governing for a change. In addition, Mr. Chairman, pursuant to House Rule XI, clause 2(j)(1), the Republican members transmit a request to convene a minority day of hearings. Today you have blocked key witnesses that we have requested from testifying in this partisan impeachment inquiry. This rule was not displaced by H.Res.660, and therefore under House Rule 11 clause 1(a), it applies to the Democrats impeachment inquiry. We look forward to the chair promptly scheduling an agreed upon time for the minority day of hearings so that we can hear from key witnesses that you have continually blocked from testifying.

I’d also like to take a quick moment on an assertion Ms. Hill made in the statement that she submitted to this Committee, in which she claimed that some Committee members deny that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. As I noted in my opening statement on Wednesday, but in March, 2018, Intelligence Committee Republicans published the results of a year long investigation into Russian meddling. The 240 page report analyzed 2016 Russian meddling campaign, the US government reaction to it, Russian campaigns in other countries and provided specific recommendations to improve American election security. I would [have] asked my staff to hand these reports to our two witnesses today just so I can have a recollection of their memory. As America may or may not know, Democrats refused to sign on to the Republican report. Instead, they decided to adopt minority views, filled with collusion conspiracy theories. Needless to say, it is entirely possible for two separate nations to engage in election meddling at the same time, and Republicans believe we should take meddling seriously by all foreign countries regardless of which campaign is the target.

Later that same day, the New York Times headlined “The Impeachment Hearings Revealed a Lot — None of It Great for Trump”, and CNN headlined “The public impeachment hearings were a total GOP disaster”. The non-mainstream news-medium Zero Hedge instead bannered, “Amid Impeachment Circus, Dems Sneak PATRIOT Act Renewal Past The American People”, and reported that the “bill was pushed through with not a single Republican vote.” The following day, the AP headlined “Analysis: Mountain of impeachment evidence is beyond dispute” and closed “Asked what the consequences are if Congress allows an American president to ask a foreign government to investigate a political rival, [Fiona] Hill said simply, ‘It’s a very bad precedent.’”

The latest (2019) Reuters international survey in which over 2,000 people in each one of 38 countries were asked whether they agree that “You can trust most news most of the time” shows that the United States scores #32 out of the 38, at the very top of the bottom 16% of all of the 38 countries surveyed, regarding trust in the news-media. Reuters had previously found, in their 2018 edition, that, among Americans, “those who identify on the left (49%) have almost three times as much trust in the news as those on the right (17%). The left gave their support to newspapers like the Washington Post and New York Times while the right’s alienation from mainstream media has become ever more entrenched.” In the 2019 edition, what had been 49% in America rose now to 53%, and what had been 17% sank now to 9%: the billionaires’ (i.e., mainstream) media are trusted almost only by liberals here. What the media report is considered trustworthy almost only by liberals, in today’s America. By 53% to only 9% — an almost 6 to 1 ratio — the skeptics of the billionaires’ press are Republicans. Of course, if the media are distrusted, then the nation can’t be functioning as a democracy. But the media will be distrusted if they lie as much as America’s do. Untrusted ‘news’-media are a sure indication that the nation is a dictatorship (such as it is if the billionaires control the media). In America, only liberals think that America is a democracy and therefore might possess the basic qualification (democracy) to decide what nations need to be regime-changed (such as America did to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Honduras, Bolivia, and is still trying to do to Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran again, Syria, and Yemen; but not to — for examples — Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Israel); and which ones don’t (such as America’s governmentally-anointed ‘allies’, including some barbaric dictatorships). Liberals trust America’s dictatorship as if it were instead a democracy. Conservatives do not; nor, of course, do progressives. FDR’s vision, of a United Nations which would set and enforce the rules for international relations (neither the U.S. nor any other country would do that), is now even more rejected by the Democratic Party than it is by the Republican Party. And the politically topsy-turvy result is Democrats trying to impeach the Republican Trump for his trying to cut back on Obama’s imperialistic (anti-FDR) agenda. Trump, after all, didn’t do the coup to Ukraine; Obama did.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010

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Indictment of Trump associate threatens UAE lobbying success

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This month’s indictment of a billionaire, one-time advisor and close associate of former US President Donald J. Trump, on charges of operating as an unregistered foreign agent in the United States for the United Arab Emirates highlights the successes and pitfalls of a high-stakes Emirati effort to influence US policy.

The indictment of businessman Thomas  J. Barrack, who maintained close ties to UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed while serving as an influential advisor in 2016 to then-presidential candidate Trump and chair of Mr. Trump’s inauguration committee once he won the 2016 election, puts at risk the UAE’s relationship with the Biden administration.

It also threatens to reduce the UAE’s return on a massive investment in lobbying and public relations that made it a darling in Washington during the last four years.

A 2019 study concluded that Emirati clients hired 20 US lobbying firms to do their bidding at a cost of US$20 million, including US$600,000 in election campaign contributions — one of the largest, if not the largest expenditure by a single state on Washington lobbying and influence peddling.

The indictment further raises the question of why the Biden administration was willing to allow legal proceedings to put at risk its relationship with one of America’s closest allies in the Middle East, one that last year opened the door to recognition of Israel by Arab and Muslim-majority states.

The UAE lobbying effort sought to position the Emirates, and at its behest, Saudi Arabia under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed’s counterpart, Mohammed bin Salman, at the heart of US policy, ensure that Emirati and Saudi interests were protected, and shield the two autocrats from criticism of various of their policies and abuse of human rights.

Interestingly, UAE lobbying in the United States, in contrast to France and Austria, failed to persuade the Trump administration to embrace one of the Emirates’ core policy objectives: a US crackdown on political Islam with a focus on the Muslim Brotherhood. UAE Crown Prince Mohammed views political Islam and the Brotherhood that embraces the principle of elections as an existential threat to the survival of his regime.

In one instance cited in the indictment, Mr. Barrack’s two co-defendants, a UAE national resident in the United States, Rashid Al-Malik, and Matthew Grimes, a Barrack employee, discussed days after Mr. Trump’s inauguration the possibility of persuading the new administration to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a designated foreign terrorist organization. “This will be a huge win. If we can list them. And they deserved to be,” Mr. Al-Malik texted Mr. Grimes on 23 January 2017.

The unsuccessful push for designating the Brotherhood came three months after Mr. Barrack identified the two Prince Mohammeds in an op-ed in Fortune magazine as members of a new generation of “brilliant young leaders.” The billionaire argued that “American foreign policy must persuade these bold visionaries to lean West rather than East… By supporting their anti-terrorism platforms abroad, America enhances its anti-terrorism policies at home.”

Mr. Barrack further sought to persuade America’s new policymakers, in line with Emirati thinking, that the threat posed by political Islam emanated not only from Iran’s clerical regime and its asymmetric defence and security policies but also from the Brotherhood and Tukey’s Islamist government. He echoed Emirati promotion of Saudi Arabia after the rise of Mohammed bin Salman as the most effective bulwark against political Islam.

“It is impossible for the US to move against any hostile Islamic group anywhere in the world without Saudi support…. The confused notion that Saudi Arabia is synonymous with radical Islam is falsely based on the Western notion that ‘one size fits all,’ Mr. Barrack asserted.

The Trump administration’s refusal to exempt the Brotherhood from its embrace of Emirati policy was the likely result of differences within both the US government and the Muslim world. Analysts suggest that some in the administration feared that designating the Brotherhood would empower the more rabidly Islamophobic elements in Mr. Trump’s support base.

Administration officials also recognized that the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt constituted a minority, albeit a powerful minority, in the Muslim world that was on the warpath against the Brotherhood.

Elsewhere, Brotherhood affiliates were part of the political structure by either participating in government or constituting part of the legal opposition in countries like Kuwait, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain, Morocco, Jordan, and Indonesia.

The affiliates have at times supported US policies or worked closely with US allies like in the case of Yemen’s Al Islah that is aligned with Saudi-backed forces.

In contrast to UAE efforts to ensure that the Brotherhood is crushed at the risk of fueling Islamophobia, Nahdlatul Ulama, one of, if not the world’s largest Muslim organization which shares the Emirates’ rejection of political Islam and the Brotherhood, has opted to fight the Brotherhood’s local Indonesian affiliate politically within a democratic framework rather than by resorting to coercive tactics.

Nahdlatul Ulama prides itself on having significantly diminished the prospects of Indonesia’s Brotherhood affiliate, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), since the 2009 presidential election. The group at the time successfully drove a wedge between then-President Susilo Yudhoyono, and the PKS, his coalition partner since the 2004 election that brought him to power. In doing so, it persuaded Mr. Yudhoyono to reject a PKS candidate as vice president in the second term of his presidency.

Nahdlatul Ulama’s manoeuvring included the publication of a book asserting that the PKS had not shed its links to militancy. The party has since failed to win even half of its peak 38 seats in parliament garnered in the 2004 election.

“Publication of ‘The Illusion of an Islamic State: The Expansion of Transnational Islamist Movements to Indonesia’ had a considerable impact on domestic policy. It primarily contributed to neutralizing one candidate’s bid for vice president in the 2009 national election campaign, who had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood,” said militancy expert Magnus Ranstorp.

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Biden Revises US Sanctions Policy

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Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

In the United States, a revision of the sanctions policy is in full swing. Joe Biden’s administration strives to make sanctions instruments more effective in achieving his political goals and, at the same time, reducing political and economic costs. The coordination of restrictive measures with allies is also seen as an important task. Biden is cautiously but consistently abandoning the sanctions paradigm that emerged during Donald Trump’s presidency.

The US sanctions policy under Trump was characterised by several elements. First, Washington applied them quite harshly. In all key areas (China, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, etc.), the United States used economic and financial restrictions without hesitation, and sometimes in unprecedented volumes. Of course, the Trump administration acted rationally and rigidity was not an end in itself. In a number of episodes, the American authorities acted prudently (for example, regarding sanctions on Russian sovereign debt in 2019). The Trump-led executives stifled excess Congressional enthusiasm for “draconian sanctions” against Russia and even some initiatives against China. However, the harshness of other measures sometimes shocked allies and opponents alike. These include the 6 April 2014 sanctions against a group of Russian businessmen and their assets, or bans on some Chinese telecommunications services in the United States, or sanctions blocking the International Criminal Court.

Second, Trump clearly ignored the views of US allies. The unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran in 2018 forced European businesses to leave Iran, resulting in losses. Even some of the nation’s closest allies were annoyed. Another irritant was the tenacity with which Trump (with Congressional backing) threw a wrench in the wheels of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project. Despite the complicated relations between Moscow and the European Union, the latter defended the right to independently determine what was in its interests and what was not.

Third, concerns about sanctions have emerged among American business as well. Fears have grown in financial circles that the excessive use of sanctions will provoke the unnecessary politicisation of the global financial system. In the short term, a radical decline in the global role of the dollar is hardly possible. But political risks are forcing many governments to seriously consider it. Both rivals (Moscow and Beijing) and allies (Brussels) have begun to implement corresponding plans. Trade sanctions against China have affected a number of US companies in the telecommunications and high-tech sectors.

Finally, on some issues, the Trump administration has been inconsistent or simply made mistakes. For example, Trump enthusiastically criticised China for human rights violations, supporting relevant legislative initiatives. But at the same time, it almost closed its eyes to the events in Belarus in 2020. Congress was also extremely unhappy with the delay in the reaction on the “Navalny case” in Russia. As for mistakes, the past administration missed the moment for humanitarian exemptions for sanctions regimes in connection with the COVID-19 epidemic. Even cosmetic indulgences could have won points for US “soft power”. Instead, the US Treasury has published a list of pre-existing exceptions.

The preconditions for a revision of the sanctions policy arose even before Joe Biden came to power. First of all, a lot of analytical work was done by American think tanks—nongovernmental research centers. They provided a completely sober and unbiased analysis of bothха! achievements and mistakes. In addition, the US Government Accountability Office has done serious work; in 2019 it prepared two reports for Congress on the institutions of the American sanctions policy. However, Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election significantly accelerated the revision of the sanctions instruments. Both the ideological preferences of the Democrats (for example, the emphasis on human rights) and the political experience of Biden himself played a role.

The new guidelines for the US sanctions policy can be summarised as follows. First, the development of targeted sanctions and a more serious analysis of their economic costs for American business, as well as business from allied and partner countries. Second, closer coordination with allies. Here, Biden has already sent a number of encouraging signals by introducing temporary sanctions exemptions on Nord Stream 2. Although a number of Russian organisations and ships were included in the US sanctions lists, Nord Stream 2 itself and its leadership were not affected. Third, we are talking about closer attention to the subject of human rights. Biden has already reacted with sanctions both to the “Navalny case” and to the situation in Belarus. Human rights will be an irritant in relations with China. Fourth, the administration is working towards overturning Trump’s most controversial decisions. The 2020 decrees on Chinese telecoms were cancelled, the decree on sanctions against the International Criminal Court was cancelled, the decree on Chinese military-industrial companies was modified; negotiations are also underway with Iran.

The US Treasury, one of the key US sanctions agencies, will also undergo personnel updates. Elisabeth Rosenberg, a prominent sanctions expert who previously worked at the Center for a New American Security, may take the post of Assistant Treasury Secretary. She will oversee the subject of sanctions. Thus, the principle of “revolving doors”, which is familiar to Americans, is being implemented, when the civil service is replenished with personnel from the expert community and business, and then “returns” them back.

At the same time, the revision of the sanctions policy by the new administration cannot be called a revolution. The institutional arrangement will remain unchanged. It is a combination of the functions of various departments—the Treasury, the Department of Trade, the Department of Justice, the State Department, etc. The experience of their interagency coordination has accumulated over the years. The system worked flawlessly both under Trump and under his predecessors. Rather, it will be about changing the political directives.

For Russia, the revision is unlikely to bring radical changes. A withdrawal from the carpet bombing of Russian business, such as the incident on 6 April 2018 hint that good news can be considered a possibility. However, the legal mechanisms of sanctions against Russia will continue to operate. The emphasis on human rights will lead to an increase in sanctions against government structures. Against this background, regular political crises are possible in relations between the two countries.

From our partner RIAC

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Sea Breeze 2021: U.S. is worryingly heading closer to conflict with Russia in the Black Sea

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On July 10th, the 2021 iteration of the joint military exercise, Sea Breeze, concluded in the Black Sea. This exercise, which began on June 28th was co-hosted by the Ukrainian Navy and the United States Navy’s Sixth Fleet. According to the U.S. Navy, the annual Exercise Sea Breeze consists of joint naval, land, and air trainings and operations centered around building increased shared capabilities in the Black Sea.

This year’s Sea Breeze included participation from 32 countries, including NATO members and other countries that border the Black Sea, making it the largest Sea Breeze exercise since its inception in 1997. All other countries bordering the Black Sea were included in participating in the joint drills, except Russia.

Russia’s exclusion from these exercises is not unsurprising, due to its current tensions with Ukraine and its historical relationship with NATO. However, it signals to Moscow and the rest of the world that the NATO views Russia as an opponent in a future conflict. At the opening ceremony of Sea Breeze 2021 in Odessa, it was made clear that the intention of the exercise was to prepare for future conflict in the region when the Defense Minister of Ukraine, reported that the drills “contain a powerful message – support of stability and peace in our region.”

These exercises and provocations do anything but bring peace and stability to the region. In fact, they draw the United States and NATO dangerously close to the brink of conflict with Russia.

Even though Sea Breeze 2021 has only recently concluded, it has already had a marked impact on tensions between NATO countries and Moscow. U.S. Navy Commander Daniel Marzluff recently explained that the Sea Breeze drills in the Black Sea are essential deterrents to Russian assertions in region. However, these drills have consisted of increasingly provocative maneuvers that ultimately provoke conflict in the region.

These drills have done anything but act as a deterrent for conflict in the Black Sea. In response to the Sea Breeze drills, Russia conducted its own drills in the Black Sea, including the simulation of firing advanced missile systems against enemy aircraft. As the Black Sea is of utmost importance to Russia’s trade and military stature, it follows that Russia would signal its displacement if it perceives its claims are being threatened.   

Sea Breeze followed another rise in tensions in the Black Sea, when just a week prior to the beginning of the exercise, a clash occurred between Russia and Britain. In response to the British destroyer ship, the HMS Defender, patrolling inside Crimean territorial waters, Russia claimed it fired warning shots and ordered two bombers to drop bombs in the path of the ship. When asked about the HMS Defender, Russian President Vladimir Putin described the ship’s actions as a “provocation” that was a “blatant violation” of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Putin also went on to claim that Moscow believes U.S. reconnaissance aircraft were a part of the operation as well. Despite this, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson responded with a denial of any wrongdoing.

Russia’s actions to provocations by the United States-led Sea Breeze and interaction with the HMS Defender in the Black Sea signal its resolve to retaliate if it feels as its sovereignty and its territorial claim on Crimea is being impeded on. Despite Russia signaling its commitment to defending its territorial claims in the Black Sea, the United States still willingly took actions during Sea Breeze that would bring the United States closer to a clash with Russia.  

Provoking conflict in the Black Sea does not align with the national security interests of the United States. In fact, it only puts the United States in the position to be involved in a costly clash that only would harm its diplomatic relationships.  

As Russia has signaled its commitment to its resolve and scope of its military response in a possible conflict, any potential conflict in the Black Sea would be costly for the United States. Over the past few years, Russia has increased the size and capabilities of its fleet in the Black Sea. Two of these improvements would especially pose a challenging threat to the U.S. and NATO – Russia’s drastically improved anti-access/area-denial capabilities and its new Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile. This would mean any conflict in the Black Sea would not be a quick and decisive victory for U.S. and NATO forces, and would instead likely become costly and extensive.  

A conflict with Russia in the Black Sea would not only be costly for the U.S. and its allies in the region, but could irreparably damage its fragile, but strategically valuable relationship with Russia. If the United States continues to escalate tensions in the Black Sea, it risks closing the limited window for bilateral cooperation with Russia that was opened through increased willingness to collaborate on areas of common interests, as evidenced by the recent summit that took place in Geneva. After a period of the highest levels of tension between the U.S. and Russia since the Cold War, this progress made towards improving bilateral relations must not be taken for granted. Even if the U.S. and NATO’s maneuvers in the Black Sea do not ultimately materialize into a full-scale conflict with Russia, they will most likely damage not just recent diplomatic momentum, but future opportunities for a relationship between the two powers.

In such a critical time for the relationship between the United States and Russia, it is counterproductive for the United States to take actions that it can predict will drive Russia even further away. Entering into a conflict with Russia in the Black Sea would not only engage the U.S. in a costly conflict but would damage its security and diplomatic interests.  

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