The GOP Knows Damn Well That Donald Trump Ordered That Code Red
Let's cut to the chase, shall we? Donald Trump has been using American tax dollars to extort the Ukrainian government into ginning up charges against Joe Biden, and congressional Republicans have known about it for months. And they only dropped the hammer and made Trump hand over the funds to Ukraine when it was already clear that the whistleblower complaint was coming down the pike. Which we at Wonkette knew because it only took us five minutes after the news of the whistleblower complaint broke to work out that it had to be about Ukraine. And if we figured it out, there is no way on God's green earth that members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who were negotiating daily with the White House to get the Ukrainian allocation unblocked while watching Rudy Giuliani spin his bullshit about Joe Biden, didn't put those pieces together for themselves.
THEY KNEW. THE GOP HAS ALWAYS KNOWN.
But let's back up for a second. Last night, The Washington Post reported and the Wall Street Journal confirmed that Donald Trump himself ordered the freeze of congressionally allocated funds for Ukraine just one week before that phone call where he requested eight separate times that Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelenskiy open a sham investigation of Joe Biden and his son. Which means Trump had personally started putting the squeeze on Ukraine before he made the big ask on July 25. Because That Idiot would take a shit on the Oval Office carpet and sign his name on it with a Sharpie to ensure he got credit for it.
As with so much White House fuckery, Trump's trusty henchman Mick Mulvaney set the wheels in motion. On July 18, the Office of Management and Budget, headed by Mulvaney, told the Pentagon and the State Department that the funds allocated by Congress for Ukraine were being frozen because the president had "concerns." Except, as the Post reports, the White House made darn sure not to tell them what those "concerns" were -- which is how you know they were trying to cover their tracks.
Administration officials were instructed to tell lawmakers that the delays were part of an "interagency process" but to give them no additional information — a pattern that continued for nearly two months, until the White House released the funds on the night of Sept. 11.
This is a BFD. Donald Trump held up the $500 million allocation for Ukrainian weapons systems, maritime defense, and coordination with NATO, and then took steps to hide what he was doing by getting his underlings to lie about it. That's pretty strong circumstantial evidence that he intended to use the money as leverage to get the Ukrainian government to gin up a bogus case against Joe Biden.
After the fact, Trump and his cronies in Congress have back-formulated some nonsense about the President's sincere and abiding concern about corruption. Which is why he embraced his "favorite dictator" Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi yesterday. And heaped praise on Kim Jong Un. And is sending American troops to protect Mohammed bin Salman, who just imprisoned hundreds of his family members in hotels and pulled their fingernails out until they coughed up $100 billion. Because Donald Trump cares so very deeply about corruption, obviously.
Last week Trump had another explanation entirely, though, saying he was holding up the funds because he wanted our European partners to pick up more of the tab: "Germany should be spending much more, France, all of the European Union should be spending money. Why are we spending money and they're not?"
Zelenskiy himself seems to have received the real message loud and clear, according to the Post.
[Democratic Senator Chris] Murphy, who spoke with Zelensky during an early September visit to Ukraine, said Monday that the Ukrainian president "directly" expressed concerns at their meeting that "the aid that was being cut off to Ukraine by the president was a consequence" of his unwillingness to launch an investigation into the Bidens.
Meanwhile, back in Washington, senators on the Appropriations Committee were starting to freak out as the September 30 end of the fiscal year approached, worried that the allocation would expire and then the money could no longer be disbursed. They were also flummoxed as to how the OMB outranked the Pentagon and the State Department and Congress's constitutional authority over the budget.
The Wall Street Journal reports that a bipartisan group of four Democratic and two Republican senators wrote to Mulvaney at the OMB on September 3 saying, "This funding is crucial to the long term stability of Ukraine and has the continued backing and approval of the U.S. Congress which appropriated these funds." And still Donald Trump continued to sit on the allocation. The Senate finally managed to shake it loose on September 11, when Democratic Senator Dick Durbin attached a mandate to release the Ukraine funding to must-pass spending legislation, after which the White House had a sudden change of heart.
"Why was it released?" asked Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) of Mr. Durbin during a committee markup of the spending bill on Sept. 12. "Because of your amendment. That's why it was released, because I was going to vote for it."
That's a mighty goddamn convenient explanation, Lindsey. But it looks like ya might have left one of two details out of that timeline. Because the whistleblower complaint that concerns that July 25 phone call and other as-yet unknown additional inappropriate conduct landed on DNI Joseph Maguire's desk on August 26 after the Intelligence Community Inspector General found it both credible and urgent. And instead of forwarding it to Congress like the law requires, Maguire kicked it upstairs to the Justice Department and the White House Counsel's office. So everyone in Trumpland knew they had a Ukraine problem by the first week of September. Which is, by amazing coincidence, about the time Lindsey Graham and his fellow Gippers on the Senate Appropriations Committee had a road to Damascus conversion and decided it was time for the Ukrainians to get paid.
Which is how we at this here mommyblog worked out that the whistleblower complaint had to be about Ukraine.
And if we figured it out, THEN SO DID EVERY SENATOR ON THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE. Which is why Republicans were so bloody desperate to shake those funds loose before that whistleblower complaint made its way to Adam Schiff at the House Intelligence Committee. (And probably to Richard Burr at Senate Intel, too, but he's not saying.) Because they knew goddamn well that Trump didn't cancel his meeting with Zelenskiy in August to stay home and monitor Hurricane Dorian -- FFS, he played golf the entire weekend. They know he doesn't give a shit about corruption. These Republicans saw Rudy doing his Ukraine song and dance, they saw Trump holding up the money based on flimsier and flimsier pretexts, and they knew exactly what was going on.
So keep that in mind when John Cornyn, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, says this is all probably just a bunch of unfounded rumors.
Or Marco "Bible Tweets" Rubio, who watched this all go down from his perch on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and still says, "I personally believe that is a legitimate issue. I mean the vice president brags about getting a prosecutor fired that was looking into the company that his son was running." Yes, that timeline has been thoroughly debunked, and yes Marco Rubio knows it.
THEY ALL KNEW. And they all participated in the coverup.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.