By Robert A. Vella

This post details the testimony of two witnesses from the impeachment inquiry hearing held yesterday afternoon and two witnesses from today’s hearing.  Also, there’s a damning revelation about the lead Republican defender of President Trump (Devin Nunes) in these hearings, the criminal indictment of Israel’s president Benjamin Netanyahu, and a fact-checking link regarding last night’s Democratic presidential debate.

In today’s hearing which just concluded, Russia expert and adviser to the former National Security Advisor (John Bolton) Fiona Hill and U.S. embassy in Ukraine staffer David Holmes delivered the coup de gras to Republican efforts to absolve President Trump of guilt in trying to coerce the Ukrainian government to interfere in the 2020 U.S. election on his behalf.  Their testimonies, which focused on the National Security Council’s opposition to Trump’s involvement of domestic politics in American-Ukrainian relations and an overheard phone call between Trump and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland to the same effect, cemented the impeachment case against Trump and also offered damning condemnation of congressional Republicans’ strategy to discredit the witnesses and to promote a debunked conspiracy theory to shift attention away from Russia’s proven interference in the 2016 election.  Hill’s testimony was especially damaging to Republicans, and completely contradicted the testimony of her NSC successor Tim Morrison who cast doubt on the reputation of a previous witness – NSC expert on Ukraine Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.

In yesterday afternoon’s hearing, the most notable revelation from the testimonies of Laura Cooper and David Hale detailed the awareness and concern of Ukrainian officials about Trump’s hold on military aid weeks before that was testified to by other key witnesses.

From:  Impeachment hearings live updates: Trump calls Democrats ‘human scum’ as two more witnesses testify in inquiry

Hill disputed Sondland’s testimony that Bolton had endorsed the idea of a phone call between Trump and Zelensky, saying Bolton shared her concerns that Trump was “not properly prepared” to take full advantage of the opportunity to “make sure there was a fulsome bilateral agenda.”

Hill added that Bolton “never indicated in any way” that he accepted Sondland’s claims that he was in charge of the Trump administration’s Ukraine policy — authority Sondland claimed he had from Trump, who he said had given him “very broad authority.”


The U.S. effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate an obscure Ukrainian energy company called Burisma was always an effort to target Biden, both Hill and Holmes testified.


Holmes also agreed that Burisma was “code word” for Biden, and testified that anyone involved in Ukraine matters in the spring and summer would have understood that.


Hill, meanwhile, raised the specter of Russia using the impeachment process itself to meddle in the next U.S. presidential election.

She implored members of Congress not to give rise to conspiracy theories that could be used to drive wedges between Americans.


Goldman also asked Holmes to confirm a subsequent conversation in which Sondland told him that Trump only cares about “big stuff” in Ukraine like the investigation into the Bidens that Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani was pushing.

“Correct,” Holmes said.

From:  Fiona Hill chides Republicans for peddling ‘fictions’ on Ukraine, Russia

Fiona Hill, a Russia expert who worked on President Donald Trump’s National Security Council, on Thursday publicly rebutted a Republican narrative that Ukraine intervened in the 2016 elections, while reasserting that Russia has and continues to meddle in U.S. politics.

Hill’s comments, made before the House Intelligence Committee during its fifth day of public hearings on the impeachment inquiry into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, directly challenged defenses made by Republican members of the panel who have grasped for debunked conspiracy theories throughout the proceedings.

“Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country — and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did,” Hill told the House Intelligence Committee during its fifth day of public hearings. “This is a fictional narrative.”

Hill went on to say that “these fictions” hurt the United States, even if Republicans deploy them purely for domestic political purposes.

From:  Key Moments From Sondland, Cooper and Hale Testimony

Laura K. Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, said that she was aware of multiple communications between Ukrainian Embassy officials and members of her staff in which the embassy officials asked questions about delivery of the security aid to their country.

Ms. Cooper said that a member of her staff received a question about the aid on July 25 from the Ukrainian Embassy, which asked “what was going on with Ukraine assistance.” She said that during the week of Aug. 6, other members of her staff saw officials from the embassy who raised the issue of the aid.

The timing of when Ukraine knew that the aid had been frozen is a critical question as Democrats build a case that Mr. Trump tried to leverage the aid for a public announcement of investigations into his political rivals. The security aid was frozen in early July, and Republicans have insisted that Ukraine did not know about the hold until it was reported by a news outlet on Aug. 28.


David Hale, the State Department’s No. 3 official, also fielded questions about the hold on security aid to Ukraine and the attacks by Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, on the reputation of Marie L. Yovanovitch, the United States ambassador to Ukraine. She was eventually recalled from her post.

Mr. Hale told lawmakers that what happened to Ms. Yovanovitch was “wrong” and that “I believe that she should have been able to stay at post and continue to do the outstanding work.”

From:  Lev Parnas Helped Rep. Devin Nunes’ Investigations

Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, helped arrange meetings and calls in Europe for Rep. Devin Nunes in 2018, Parnas’  lawyer Ed MacMahon told The Daily Beast.

Nunes aide Derek Harvey participated in the meetings, the lawyer said, which were arranged to help Nunes’ investigative work. MacMahon didn’t specify what those investigations entailed.

Nunes is the top Republican on the House committee handling the impeachment hearings—hearings where Parnas’ name has repeatedly come up.

From:  Netanyahu Indicted on Corruption Charges, Throwing His Future Into Doubt

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted Thursday on bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges in a set of long-running corruption cases, immediately throwing his political future into doubt and heightening the uncertainty and chaos surrounding Israel’s fitful, yearlong struggle to choose its next leader.


The cases against Mr. Netanyahu involve allegations of giving or offering lucrative official favors to several media tycoons in exchange for either favorable coverage in news outlets or gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. He has rejected the charges as false and politically motivated.

Mr. Netanyahu is not legally required to step down. But with Israel’s political system already in uncharted territory, having failed to settle upon a new prime minister despite two elections and three attempts at forming a government since April, the criminal case against him could make it far more difficult for him to retain power.

Fact-Checking the November Democratic Debate

13 thoughts on “Latest impeachment developments, and the criminal indictment of Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu

  1. “Hill went on to say that “these fictions” hurt the United States, even if Republicans deploy them purely for domestic political purposes.”
    ~ I wonder if our country would ever be able to recover from this damage inflicted by DT45, his GOP enablers, and Fox supporters.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. As I have stated in the past many times in various ways regarding our current federal, state, and district politics/governing:

    We do not live (supposedly) in an authoritarian oligarchy (or shouldn’t) or a ONE-BRANCH system of governing (the Executive) based upon our nation’s Founding Fathers, their cherished documents, later Amendments, and our Supreme Court alignments and supporting landmark decisions. The purpose of Checks-n-Balances are to protect the American public under a Constitutional democracy against a singular or powerful (wealthy?) group of tyrants abusing their power of their public/federal office. This DAMN SURE includes the White House!!!!! DUH!!!! Under a true and pure Constitutional democracy by the people, for the people, full liberty is a condition like this…

    “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.”

    Their people’s constant watchful eye and scrutiny! However, it all only works when the citizens, the general public constantly utilize their RIGHTS of civil duties and responsibilities for ALL citizens equally without prejudice, discrimination, and high levels of tolerance, understanding, and most of all CONTACT empathy!

    Liked by 5 people

    • One of the reasons why this is such a problem is that virtually all of society’s problems are inter-connected. We’ve been conditioned to think compartmentally, but we’ll only come up with solutions once we approach things with a holistic mindset.

      For example, we need regulation of media ownership to broaden diversity of opinion to help bring about a better informed populace, but we need campaign finance reform in order to have real elections (instead of selections) to get more honest people in government who will execute the will of the people, but we need regulation of media ownership to get enough people to understand how diversity of opinion is integral to democracy, but we…

      We need people to stop buying items with the absolute cheapest price since those prices are due to deeply corrupt business practices (child labor, dangerous workplace conditions, wages far below a living wage, corporate tax breaks & subsidies, bypassing of environmental regulations, union busting, etc.), but millions of families live in or close to poverty so need the lowest prices available – so, we poor people help keep poor people poor.

      If we stop allowing huge corporations to receive corporate welfare we’d have more money for people in need, but we continue to vote corporate puppets into our government who continue promoting austerity economic measures because so many of us are ill-informed due to corporate-controlled media because…

      What a vicious cycle, huh professor? We need to address many things simultaneously and the bulky nature of democratic government makes that difficult and we’re way too lazy to put in the effort. We treasure convenience and spend a lot of time on entertainment. What are we going to do? Commit societal suicide or buckle down and become responsible? 😮 😆

      C’mon, you’re the professor! 😆

      Liked by 4 people

    • It should, but the Dems could screw it up. After watching Wednesday’s debate and media “analysis,” I think a Dem screw-up is quite possible. They are obsessed with fighting an internal ideological battle between centrists and progressives when they should be fighting against Trump, his Republican supporters, and the authoritarian threat he poses to democracy, the rule of law, and to the welfare of ordinary people.

      Still, Trump’s negative and unpopular image is ingrained in the American public. That won’t change. Dems need to refocus their energies, run moderate candidates in red states, more progressive candidates in blue states, and choose a sensible and practical presidential candidate who won’t alienate their base supporters nor independent voters. They have a good cast of candidates to choose from, but the infighting must stop.

      The electoral dynamics next year will be different from 2016. Trump is no longer the unknown populist outsider bucking the system. Now, he is the system and that label should work against him if Dems can exploit it.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. I feel like this is the fight of a lifetime against racism, bigotry, corruption, religious extremism, but most of all apathy and ignorance of facts.
    I can’t tell you how many times I hear people say they no longer watch any news…and while I agree it can be overwhelming and stressful to all but trump’s cult, it’s vital we keep ourselves informed as best as we can.

    Liked by 4 people

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