By Robert A. Vella
They say that “shit happens.” Well, it’s certainly happening today. We’ll cover three major stories for this last Tuesday in September, plus some other news. The first one puts President Trump squarely in the crosshairs of impeachment. The second details a monumental decision by the U.K. supreme court which ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s proroguing (i.e. suspending) of parliament (intended to undemocratically force a hard, no-deal Brexit) was illegal. And, the third covers young climate activist Greta Thunberg who is making big waves at the U.N. summit meeting in New York and capturing the attention of the world. Let’s get to it.
Here’s a timeline of the whistleblower complaint that has President Trump in very hot water:
- For fiscal year 2019, Congress had approved a total of $391
billionmillion in military aid for Ukraine’s resistance against Russian aggression.
- On February 28th, the White House informed Congress that the aid would be paid.
- On May 23rd, the White House again informed Congress that the aid would be paid.
- In June, internal White House deliberations occur in which President Trump expressed opposition to foreign aid.
- On July 18th, Trump ordered the transfer of military aid funding to Ukraine to be withheld.
- On July 25th, Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky occurred which allegedly involved a quid pro quo offer of the funds in exchange for Ukrainian investigation of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son.
- In mid-August, a whistleblower within the U.S. intelligence community reported details of Trump’s phone call and other communications to Inspector General Michael Atkinson.
- On September 9th, Atkinson filed a formal whistleblower complaint with Congress. Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire illegally refused to provide details of the complaint to Congress.
- On September 10th, National Security Advisor John Bolton – who had been trying to get the funding transferred – is fired by Trump.
- On September 11th, the White House suddenly allowed the military aid funding to be transferred – the timing of which appears to be a tacit admission of “oops, we got caught.”
This incident of outright corruption – bribery at the least, and probably extortion too – is finally moving hesitant Democrats in Congress towards impeachment. A top intelligence official is scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday which is also the deadline for the State Department to turn over related documents regarding Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Failure to comply could mark the breaking point for Dems.
President Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to hold back almost $400 million in military aid for Ukraine at least a week before a phone call in which Trump is said to have pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate the son of former vice president Joe Biden, according to three senior administration officials.
Officials at the Office of Management and Budget relayed Trump’s order to the State Department and the Pentagon during an interagency meeting in mid-July, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. They explained that the president had “concerns” and wanted to analyze whether the money needed to be spent.
It appears the Ukrainian leader came away from the discussion with a different impression. [Senator Chris] Murphy [D-CT], 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.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and party leaders are ramping up their offensive against President Donald Trump for pressuring Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden — with a potential House vote on a resolution condemning Trump as the caucus edges toward impeachment.
Pelosi spent all weekend and Monday working the phones, including reaching out to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, as she sought to take the temperature of the caucus on impeachment. She’s set to meet with the six committee chairmen investigating Trump on Tuesday afternoon to discuss Democrats’ next steps.
Pelosi is expected to make a statement on the issue Tuesday and has seemed more open to the idea of an impeachment investigation than ever before, according to lawmakers and aides.
Democratic leaders have also called a full caucus meeting for Tuesday afternoon, where the discussion is expected to center on their response to the episode, and which comes after a dozen new lawmakers embraced an impeachment inquiry.
Boris’ brief tenure as U.K. Prime Minister has been tumultuous and filled with humiliating political defeats. Now, he has suffered an historic legal defeat as well.
The supreme court has ruled that Boris Johnson’s advice to the Queen that parliament should be prorogued for five weeks at the height of the Brexit crisis was unlawful.
The judgment from 11 justices on the UK’s highest court follows an emergency three-day hearing last week that exposed fundamental legal differences over interpreting the country’s unwritten constitution.
At the U.N. summit meeting in New York, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is juxtaposed against the dark foreboding anti-environmental figure of President Trump who callously rejects the desperate concerns of young people about their future on a planet devastated by global warming. World leaders are siding with her unequivocally. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, California governor Gavin Newsom, Washington state governor Jay Inslee, and others blasted the lack of U.S. leadership on climate. Even Russia, albeit for geopolitical reasons, surprisingly decided to ratify the Paris Climate Accords in an unexpected move that surely rankled Trump. Although the positive gestures and rhetoric from the global community are welcome, it will take much more than words and promises to solve this crisis. Still, the fact that Greta’s passionate voice was heard over the isolated and embattled American president is an encouraging sign.
(Bloomberg) — World leaders and chief executives of global corporations gathered at a United Nations summit on Monday to say that a 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden is right: They are failing.
Greta Thunberg — the teenager who sparked a global youth movement to fight climate change — arrived in New York on a zero-emissions sailboat, climbed the stage at the UN and told a crowd of more than 300 presidents, prime ministers, CEOs, bankers and delegates that they’ve let down her entire generation by not acting on climate change. “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” she said Monday. “How dare you!”
(Bloomberg) — Iran’s key European partners distanced themselves from Tehran amid rising tension with the U.S., saying the Islamic Republic was responsible for attacks on Saudi oil facilities on Sept. 14 and calling for an expanded deal to constrain the country’s nuclear and missile programs.
The FBI has arrested a U.S. soldier who allegedly discussed plans to bomb a major American news network, planned to travel to Ukraine to fight with violent far-right group Azov Battalion and allegedly distributed information online on how to build bombs. He also allegedly suggested targeting Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke.
According to charging documents in the case, Jarrett William Smith, who transferred to Fort Riley, Kansas, in July, joined the U.S. military only after first expressing his desire to fight in Ukraine.
MIAMI — A South Florida eighth grader was arrested on a felony charge after he sent messages threatening to kill minorities and members of the LGBTQ+ community in a group chat, the Miami-Dade Police Department said.
Police picked up the 13-year-old Leewood K-8 Center student at his school, located on the corner of Southwest 124th Street and 104th Avenue, on Thursday, according to his arrest report.