Today in Washington

Reopened October 2019 - includes archived threads from pre-2019

Today in Washington

Postby toucana on October 23rd, 2019, 4:08 pm 

So today in Washington DC a group of about 30 Republican Congressmen stormed a basement SCIF (secure compartmented information facility) to prevent a closed-door committee witness hearing of Laura Cooper, a Pentagon official with jurisdiction over Ukraine policy from taking place. Last reports said that protesters had refused to leave, were tweeting from inside the SCIF on their electronic devices, and had ordered in pizza because they were hungry.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/house-republicans-literally-storm-the-impeachment-hearings

Meanwhile, two of Rudi Giuliani’s henchmen claimed executive privilege with president Trump while being arraigned in court on charges of laundering foreign money via straw donors to corrupt the 2018 US mid-term elections.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/giuliani-henchmen-lev-parnas-and-igor-fruman-plead-not-guilty-in-campaign-finance-case

Naw… I’m only joking.

Actually I’m not.
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Re: Today in Washington

Postby Serpent on October 23rd, 2019, 4:23 pm 

toucana » October 23rd, 2019, 3:08 pm wrote:
Naw… I’m only joking.

Actually I’m not.

What difference does it make? Events morph into spoof as central players manifest their own parodies.
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Re: Today in Washington

Postby TheVat on October 24th, 2019, 10:45 am 

These buffoons have been to law school, so presumably they know that the impeachment inquiry phase is analogous to a grand jury phase, which is done behind closed doors until an indictment is handed down. It's not the actual trial, which takes place in the Senate, and is quite public. Some Republicans have actually pointed this out. Lindsey Graham did so, 20 years ago, when Clinton was under a similar inquiry.

This circus is built on a huge lie.

Also, the inquiry delves into facts that may have national security issues, which Republicans know perfectly well merits closed door sessions....and always has.
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Re: Today in Washington

Postby Serpent on October 24th, 2019, 11:53 am 

It always sounds good on them to demand transparency - while withholding relevant information.
I suspect the real objective of this farcical performance is to out the whistle-blower(s) and witnesses for intimidation. Every one of these guys knows what Trump's lynch-mob is capable of.
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Re: Today in Washington

Postby toucana on October 24th, 2019, 3:14 pm 

In the wake of the deadly 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed the US ambassador to Libya and three other embassy staff, there were no fewer than ten different investigations. Six of these were carried out by Republican controlled House committees.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Investigation_into_the_2012_Benghazi_attack

These house committee investigations involved 33 separate hearings, of which 32 were carried out in camera behind closed doors.

For some curious reason there were no reports at the time of Republican Congressmen storming the SCIF and demanding that these hearings take place in public in the interest of transparency. I wonder why not ?
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Re: Today in Washington

Postby TheVat on October 24th, 2019, 3:20 pm 

This, from a professor of criminal law at GWU, was helpful....

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions ... -nonsense/

(extensively quoted for those with paywall problems at The Post)


As mounting evidence demonstrates that President Trump’s withholding of aid to Ukraine did in fact involve an improper quid pro quo, Trump and his Republican allies have pivoted to step up their attacks on the impeachment inquiry itself. On Wednesday morning, more than two dozen Republican House members, reportedly with Trump’s approval, stormed a secure House hearing room to disrupt the testimony and protest what they claim is an unfair, secret investigation. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) has attacked the non-public impeachment inquiry as a sham and a violation of due process. But these objections are baseless: At this stage, there are sound reasons for the House to proceed behind closed doors.

Impeachment is a two-step process. The House investigates and votes on articles of impeachment. If those articles are passed, the Senate holds a trial. In this context, the House is analogous to a criminal grand jury, the body that investigates and returns charges in the form of an indictment. The Senate proceeding is analogous to the public criminal trial that results from an indictment.

In the federal criminal system, grand jury proceedings are secret, closed not only to the public but also to those under investigation. Prosecutors question witnesses before the grand jury but defense counsel are not allowed to be in the room, much less to participate and cross-examine witnesses. With Republican committee members present and able to ask questions at the closed House hearings, the president already has far more representation at the investigative stage than a target of a grand jury investigation.


Many of the reasons for grand jury secrecy apply equally to the impeachment inquiry. One is to protect the integrity of the investigation. Secrecy prevents witnesses from reviewing the testimony of others and tailoring their own testimony to be consistent or “get their stories straight.” It also prevents targets of the investigation from engaging in obstructive acts in response to the testimony, such as witness intimidation or destruction of evidence. Volume Two of the report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III provides ample reason for Congress to be concerned about this president’s potential willingness to attempt to obstruct an ongoing investigation.

Grand jury secrecy also can provide some comfort to reluctant witnesses who may fear retaliation by powerful people against whom they testify. Secrecy assures them that the targets of the investigation will not know exactly what they said. In the context of the impeachment inquiry, witnesses reasonably may fear becoming the subject of a Twitter tirade by the president or vitriolic attacks by his most devoted followers. Taking depositions behind closed doors may allow witnesses to feel more comfortable and be more forthcoming.

In a congressional investigation, secrecy serves another important function. Open congressional hearings are a notoriously ineffective method of investigation. They frequently degenerate into squabbles involving members of Congress primarily concerned with scoring political points and generating cable TV sound bites. The typical five-minute rounds of questioning do not allow even a skilled examiner to make much headway with a witness. Closed-door hearings, with questioning by trained staff attorneys and no television cameras, provide a much better opportunity to discover the truth.
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Re: Today in Washington

Postby toucana on October 24th, 2019, 4:57 pm 

I should perhaps have mentioned that the one public congressional hearing on the 2012 Benghazi attacks was conducted by a self-appointed ad-hoc Republican 'House Committee On Benghazi' chaired by the inimitable Trey Gowdy which subjected secretary of State Hillary Clinton to a hostile interrogation in public for many hours in October 2015.

You can find a transcript of that hearing here:
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/hillary-clinton-benghazi-testimony-read-the-full-transcript-a6705281.html

It's worth re-reading, not least because the principal Democratic party spokesman of record was the late Elijah Cummings, a legislator from Maryland, and Chair of the Oversight and Reform Committee who recently died in office. His body is currently lying in state at the Capitol, and his funeral is tomorrow.
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Re: Today in Washington

Postby hyksos on October 25th, 2019, 4:36 pm 

toucana » October 24th, 2019, 11:14 pm wrote:In the wake of the deadly 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed the US ambassador to Libya and three other embassy staff, there were no fewer than ten different investigations. Six of these were carried out by Republican controlled House committees.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Investigation_into_the_2012_Benghazi_attack

These house committee investigations involved 33 separate hearings, of which 32 were carried out in camera behind closed doors.

For some curious reason there were no reports at the time of Republican Congressmen storming the SCIF and demanding that these hearings take place in public in the interest of transparency. I wonder why not ?

It's worse than this. The very republicans storming the Schiff deposition room themselves created the rules of secret depositions. They created them in 2015 during the Benghazi debacle.

At least one expert was brought on Fox-and-Friends to explain to the audience that Schiff and the democrats are playing completely by-the-book.
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Re: Today in Washington

Postby toucana on October 31st, 2019, 2:31 am 

It’s a little bit difficult to decide which is the most unusual story to come out of Washington DC in the last couple of days, but here are two contenders:-

Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Vindman, a Russian speaking NSC specialist who testified in camera to Congress about the July 25th telephone call between president Trump and president Zelensky has an identical twin brother Yevgeny who like his twin brother is *also* a serving military officer, also a member of the the NSC, and also an impeachment inquiry witness, one who happens to be a JAG military lawyer to boot. (There is also yet another sibling called Leonid who is another military officer).

https://www.gq.com/story/alexander-vindman-immigrants-america

Yesterday, White House press sources circulated a photo of president Trump solemnly placing a medal of honour around the neck of a K9 miltary dog that was injured during the Delta force operation in Syria that killed ISIS leader al-Baghdadi.

Image

This improbable picture was quickly exposed as a photoshop fake. According to the WP, the head of the original stock image of the K9 was cut and pasted over that of James McCloughlan, a Vietnam War hero who saved the lives of ten of his fellow soldiers, and later went on to become a high school teacher. Steve Herman from Voice of America managed to get the White House to admit that the image was indeed photoshopped.

https://twitter.com/W7VOA/status/1189610528517300224
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