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THIS IS A TEST OF THE EMERGENCY ELECTION SYSTEM. Today we're getting a preview of how America's journalists will handle another electoral cycle where the GOP gins up fantastical lies and pretends they're smoking gun evidence of Democratic corruption. Will the media give oxygen to Rudy Giuliani's smear campaign about Joe Biden and Ukraine the way they did the Hillary Clinton Uranium One stories? Or will they do their damn jobs and cut the bothsides-ing bullshit?

So far the record is mixed, with the New York Times falling on its ass right out of the gate by printing Giuliani's Ukrainium One crap about Biden's role in the 2016 firing of massively corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin. Despite zero evidence that Biden even knew that his son was associated with a Ukrainian natural gas firm, Times reporter Ken Vogel referred to "the Bidens' Ukrainian work" six times in his article. Thanks, Ken!

Bloomberg conclusively demonstrated that Giuliani was lying, since Shokin had closed his investigation of the company more than a year before Biden, backed up by the IMF and the EU, pressured Ukraine to clean house and get rid of Shokin. No doubt Dean Baquet will get right on clarifying that ... NEVER.


The good news is that Democrats won't get fooled again. We might have ignored the Uranium One story because it was an obvious, idiotic conspiracy, but that only allowed it to take root in the wingnut-o-sphere unchallenged. Luckily Rudy and Donny are bumbling bloody incompetents who never do anything without shouting HEY, LOOKIT ME CRIMING RIGHT OUT IN THE OPEN! Gone are the days when Steve Bannon would launder his shit through always-debunked Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer and pretend that intrepid investigators had dug up the story they were desperately trying to bury. Not only does Trump's own State Department set up meetings for Giuliani to lean on Ukrainian officials to investigate both Joe Biden and also the release of damaging info about Paul Manafort during the campaign, but then Giuliani texts a dozen reporters admitting it.

"So what?" Giuliani sputtered to The Hill when asked if he was pressuring Ukraine to help Trump win re-election. "I'm doing that, and Biden takes millions out of China?" If the intrepid gumshoes at The Hill pressed Giuliani for evidence for any of his claims, they didn't print it.

"If I didn't do it, I wouldn't be a good lawyer, I wouldn't be defending him," Giuliani told the New York Times. "The Ukrainian government is uniquely situated to dig up facts that would vindicate my client." Huh, we were under the impression that Donald Trump was already TOTALLY VINDICATED, NO OBSTRUCTION, NO COLLUSION by the Mueller Report. Guess we need to go back and give that another read.

Just kidding. NOT TODAY, SATAN!

Yesterday, the House Oversight, Foreign Affairs, and Intelligence Committees announced an investigation of Trump's and Giuliani's efforts to strong-arm the Ukrainian government. In letters to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, they demanded all documents "relating to President Trump's and Mr. Giuliani's attempts to manipulate the Ukrainian justice system to benefit the President's re-election campaign and target a possible political opponent."

A growing public record indicates that, for nearly two years, the President and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, appear to have acted outside legitimate law enforcement and diplomatic channels to coerce the Ukrainian government into pursuing two politically-motivated investigations under the guise of anti-corruption activity. The first is a prosecution of Ukrainians who provided key evidence against Mr. Trump's convicted campaign manager Paul Manafort. That investigation aims to undercut the Mueller Report's overwhelming evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to support Trump's campaign. The other case targets the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, who is challenging Mr. Trump for the presidency in 2020.

The letters refer to reports that President Trump is withholding $250 million in congressional allocations to help Ukraine fight Russian aggression in an effort to force Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden. Vlad must be so proud!

According to the Ukrainian government, in a July 25, 2019 call with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President Trump apparently focused on these investigations, telling President Zelenskyy that he is "convinced the new Ukrainian government will be able to quickly improve [the] image of Ukraine, [and] complete [the] investigation of corruption cases, which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA." The next day, Ambassador Kurt Volker, U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine, was dispatched to meet with President Zelenskyy. Days later, the President's personal attorney met Andriy Yermak, an aide to President Zelenskyy, in Spain, where the President's personal attorney, who has no official administration or diplomatic position, reportedly suggested a "possible heads of state meeting" between Presidents Trump and Zelenskyy and tweeted an accusation about former Vice President Biden's son. The State Department subsequently acknowledged that Ambassador Volker used his office to facilitate the meeting between the two. Although the State Department has insisted that President Trump's attorney is "a private citizen" who "does not speak on behalf of the U.S. Government," Mr. Yermak publicly stated that "it was not clear to him whether Mr. Giuliani was representing Mr. Trump in their talks."

The White House has mumbled some nonsense about bureacratic holdups, and Mike Pence furrowed his Christian brow manfully and said that the president is just super duper concerned about corruption: "I mean, to invest additional taxpayer [money] in Ukraine, the President wants to be assured that those resources are truly making their way to the kind of investments that will contribute to security and stability in Ukraine. And that's an expectation the American people have and the President has expressed very clearly." Which is not a standard he applies to his friends Vlad, Kimmy (Jong Un) and Mo (hammad Bone Saw), but that's different 'cuz reasons.

In fact CNN confirms that the Pentagon has already completed the anti-corruption review and recommended that the money be released, but the White House is still blocking it. And here's where the rubber meets the road. Is the Times going to continue to print both sides of this story as if either version could be the truth? Or are we going to cut the shit and print the blatant corruption happening right before our eyes?

In private, though, the president has been more adversarial, declaring in May that all Ukrainian politicians are "corrupt," and that the Ukrainian government "tried to take me down," according to people familiar with an Oval Office briefing delivered by a United States government delegation that had recently returned from attending Mr. Zelensky's inauguration in Kiev. The delegation had been impressed by Mr. Zelensky, and had encouraged Mr. Trump to assist the new government.

Slow fuckin' clap for Ken Vogel, who did manage to put this in his story, alongside Pence's wanking denials. Might have been nice if he'd mentioned the CNN scoop from a week ago saying the Pentagon had cleared the funds for release. Or the sweeping reforms enacted by Ukrainian President Zelensky, fulfilling every recommendation of the IMF to root out corruption as the country begins the process to privatizing state-owned businesses.

Hey, you know who did mention those things? THE WASHINGTON POST. In fact, let's quote this passage from its editorial board in full, not (just) because we're lazy, but because it demonstrates that at least one paper is done playing the BOTH SIDES game as we gear up for the 2020 election:

Mr. Zelensky is incapable of delivering on either demand. The revelations about Mr. Manafort came from a Ukrainian legislator who was fighting for domestic reform, not Hillary Clinton. And the Biden case, which has already been investigated by Ukrainian authorities, is bogus on its face. The former vice president was one of a host of senior Western officials who pressed for the dismissal of the prosecutor, who was accused of blocking anti-corruption measures.

God bless.

There's no evidence that Joe Biden ever used his official position to help his family. There's ample evidence that his family used his name to make money -- although they seem to have been astonishingly bad at it. Hunter Biden is clearly a fuckup, though. So let's not elect that guy as president, okay?

Time to come out swingin', kids. It's gonna be gutter fight.

[NYT / CNN / The Hill / WaPo / Oversight Press Release / Cipollone Letter]

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