Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Did Trump ever express concern for Ukraine corruption BEFORE Joe Biden started campaigning?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, January 30, 2020

While the news reporting outlets (aka “media”) do their best to report on the goings-on of the Senate Trial of the Impeachment of Donald John Trump, President of the United States, they are hampered significantly because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has disallowed electronic devices in the chambers – even for Senators – and the press is squirreled away in a little cubby corner of the viewing gallery on the 2nd floor.

The only cameras are 2 television cameras owned/operated by the Senate. Even C-SPAN (the Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network) must carry the Senate’s broadcast version of the public proceedings.

Majority Leader McConnell did that specifically to limit exposure of the event to the press, which in turn reports to the public. He claimed that it would prevent “grandstanding” and “preening” by the Senators to the press, some of whom have a well-known-and-deserved reputation for being attention hogs.

West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd’s body lies in repose in the United States Senate Chamber. Pool photograph by Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

As an aside, the Senate is, as groups go, a very stodgy group of curmudgeonly old White men (primarily). Unlike the more vigorous (some say rancorous) House of Representatives, they are very “straight-laced,” and sticklers for the rules – which Majority Leader McConnell enforces with an iron fist. Aside from the C-SPAN cameras during Senate proceedings, they do not allow (and have not allowed) photography. During the funeral for Senator Robert C. Bryd (D-WV), the longest-serving Senator, a rarity of a still camera was allowed to make a few limited photographs of the event.
Read the related story here: https://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/01/behind-46/

“The very Senate that has defied still photographers and an independent television camera asked both Sotomayor and Kagan in their confirmation hearings if they would support camera coverage of Supreme Court proceedings,” Mr. Crowley said.

As it is now, he said, “every image you see out of the House and Senate, except the State of the Union, is controlled by the government.”

“They would say, ‘Senator Byrd doesn’t want any technology in there.’ They used him as an excuse.”

“With respect to Senator Byrd,” Mr. Crowley said, “I hope the leadership of both chambers will revisit the issue.”

Often, try as they might, the media doesn’t get it 100% error-free, though to their credit, they often acknowledge that their transcriptions are rushed, and for that reason, may contain errors. Thus, the only spot-on word-for-word transcript of the days proceedings are to be found in the Congressional Record of the Senate, which is published daily.

The following is excerpted from the CRS. The “S663” refers to the page number in the journal from which it is taken, and refers specifically to the Senate’s proceedings. The “116” in the url refers to the 116th Congress, while “CREC” in the url refers to “Congressional RECord.”

Congressional Record – Senate S663 January 29, 2020



Ms. COLLINS. Mr. Chief Justice.


Ms. COLLINS. I send a question to the desk on behalf of myself and Senator MURKOWSKI.

The CHIEF JUSTICE. Thank you. The question is to counsel for the President: Witnesses testified before the House that President Trump consistently expressed the view that Ukraine was a corrupt country. Before Vice President Biden formally entered the 2020 presidential race in April 2019, did President Trump ever mention Joe or Hunter Biden in connection with corruption in Ukraine to former Ukrainian President Poroshenko or other Ukrainian officials, President Trump’s cabinet members or top aides, or others? If so, what did the President say to whom and when?

Mr. Counsel PHILBIN. Mr. Chief Justice, Senators, thank you for that question. Of course, I think it is important at the outset to frame the answer by bearing in mind I am limited to what is in the record, and what is in the record is determined by what the House of Representatives sought. It was their proceeding. They were the ones who ran it. They were the ones who called the witnesses. Part of the question refers to conversations between President Trump and other Cabinet members and others like that. There is not something in the record on that. It wasn’t thoroughly pursued in the record, so I can’t point to something in the record that shows President Trump, at an earlier time, mentioning specifically something related to Joe or Hunter Biden. It is in the record that he spoke to President Poroshenko twice about corruption in Ukraine, both in June of 2017 and again in September of 2017. But there is other information publicly available and in the record that I think is important for understanding the timeline and understanding why it was that the information related to the Bidens and the Burisma affair came up when it did. One important piece of information to bear in mind is that from the tapes we have seen, President Poroshenko was the person who Joe Biden himself went to to have the prosecutor fired. So as long as President Poroshenko was still in charge in Ukraine, he was the person who Joe Biden had spoken to to get the prosecutor, Shokin, fired when, according to public reports, Shokin was looking into Burisma. As long as he was still the President in Ukraine, it questioned the utility of raising an incident in which he was the one who was taking the direction from Vice President Biden to fire the prosecutor. When you have an election in April of 2019 and you have a new President— President Zelensky—who has run on an anti-corruption platform, and there is a question ‘‘Is he really going to change things; is there going to be something new in Ukraine?’’ it opens up an opportunity to really start looking at anti-corruption issues and raising questions. The other thing to understand in the timeline is that we have heard a lot about Rudy Giuliani, the President’s private lawyer, and what was he interested in in Ukraine and what was his role? Well, as we know—it has been made public—Mr. Giuliani, the President’s private lawyer, had been asking a lot of questions in Ukraine dating back to the fall of 2018, and in November 2018, he said publicly he was given some tips about things to look into. He gave a dossier to the State Department in March of this year. Remember, Vice President Biden announced his candidacy in April—April 25. In March, Rudy Giuliani gave documents to the State Department, including interview notes from interviews he conducted both with Shokin and with Yuriy Lutsenko, who was also a prosecutor in Ukraine. Those interview notes are from January 23 and January 25, 2019—so months before Vice President Biden announced any candidacy—and it goes through in these interview notes, Shokin explaining that he was removed at the request of Mr. Joseph Biden, the Vice President. It explains that he had been investigating Burisma and that Hunter was on the board, and it raises all of the questions about that. So it was Mr. Giuliani who had been, as Jane Raskin as counsel for the President explained the other day—Mr. Giuliani is looking into what went on in Ukraine: Is there anything related to 2016? Are there other things related there? And he is given this information— tips about this—and starts pursuing that as well. He is digging into that in January of 2019. We know that Mr. Giuliani is the President’s private counsel. I can’t represent specific conversations they had. They would be privileged. But we do know from testimony that the President said in a May 23 Oval Office meeting with respect to Ukraine: Talk to Rudy. Rudy knows about Ukraine. It seems from that that the President gets information from Mr. Giuliani. Months before Vice President Biden announced his candidacy, Mr. Giuliani is looking into this issue, interviewing people, and getting information about it. In addition, in March of 2019, articles began to be published. Then three articles were published by ABC, by the New Yorker, and by the Washington Post before the July 25 call. On July 22, 3 days before the call, the Washington Post has an article specifically about the Bidens and Burisma. That is what makes it suddenly current, relevant, probably to be in someone’s mind. That is the timeline.

The CHIEF JUSTICE. Thank you, counsel.

Mr. Counsel PHILBIN. Thank you, Senator.


FROM: Congressional Record – Senate S663 January 29, 2020


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