The nightly news ‘bombshells’ on our nation’s networks are often delivered in somber voices with deep timbre, a grave sense of urgency and dramatic background music. The headlines on newspapers and web pages are often large and capitalized.
Unfortunately many of our Trump era breaking political stories have been fake: rigged to distort or obscure facts or push outright lies. The impeachment story lines are no different.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson said on his Tuesday night show, “No wonder people are paranoid about the media. They have every reason to be.” His guest, The Federalist senior editor Mollie Hemingway, concurred: “They know the game is rigged…seeing that power that the media have and seeing how corruptly they wield that power is really eye opening for a lot of Americans.”
House Democrats heralded the release of new testimonies from Intelligence Committee hearings conducted for their secret impeachment inquiry on Tuesday. It’s fun to watch the air slowly leak out of the Democrats’ baseless case. In desperation, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff announced Wednesday that open impeachment hearings would begin next week.
U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland revised his original testimony, a cue to the baying media wolves to crank up the volume. Their new chunk of fake red meat had arrived.
Sondland now claims that President Donald Trump used a quid pro quo with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky during his July phone call after his memory was “refreshed.” The phone call and events surrounding it are being investigated by House Democrats as grounds for Trump’s impeachment.
Trump sought help from Zelensky with a Justice Department probe of the 2016 election, specifically cybersecurity company CrowdStrike, which concluded that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee in 2016. Trump suggested that the DNC’s server might be in Ukraine. He also urged Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a 2020 presidential candidate, and his son Hunter Biden for deals that were raising questions.
Democrats accuse Trump of using 400 million dollars in military aid as a quid pro quo, even though the now-unclassified transcript had no reference to one. The aid was also released without the launching of an investigation into his so-called “political rival.”
Sondland’s revision, found in paragraph four stated:
“With respect to the September 1, 2019, Warsaw meeting, the conversations described in Ambassador Taylor’s and Mr. Morrison’s opening statements have refreshed my recollection about conversations involving the suspension of U.S. aid, which had become public only days earlier. I always believed that suspending aid to Ukraine was ill-advised, although I did not know (and still do not know) when, why, or by whom the aid was suspended. However, by the beginning of September 2019, and in the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid, I presumed that the aid suspension had become linked to the proposed anti-corruption statement. As I said in my prepared testimony, security aid to Ukraine was in our vital national interest and should not have been delayed for any reason. And it would have been natural for me to have voiced what l had presumed to Ambassador Taylor, Senator Johnson, the Ukrainians, and Mr. Morrison.”
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) tweeted on Tuesday: “Seeing many overblown (and outright false) reports about Ambassador Sondland’s testimony. Here’s what he actually said.
- 1. I did not (and still don’t) know why aid was held up;
- 2. I ‘PRESUMED’ it was because of corruption
- 3. I told Yermak my assumption.”
The media presented Sondland’s assumptions and purely subjective observations as proof that Trump demanded Ukrainians probe Biden and his son while withholding military aid. Democrats are also shifting their goal posts, suggesting that Trump was also dangling a potential meeting with Zelensky as a corrupt incentive.
The bribery and extortion statutes require clear, unequivocal evidence of giving or receiving something of value in exchange for some kind of influence or action in return, that the recipient would otherwise not offer. Ukrainians did not know the military aid was on hold at the time and it was released in September, even though a probe of the Bidens had not been initiated.
House Democrats also released a transcript of testimony by former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, who contradicted Mr. Sondland’s ‘refreshed’ recollection.
Volker refuted claims President Trump sought to withhold a meeting with Zelensky until Kiev committed to investigate allegations concerning the 2016 election.
House lawmakers asked Volker, “Did President Trump ever withhold a meeting with President Zelensky or delay a meeting with President Zelensky until the Ukrainians committed to investigate the allegations that you described concerning the 2016 election?”
Volker said: “The answer to the question is no… we did have difficulty scheduling a meeting, but there was no linkage like that.” He added: “You asked what conversations did I have about that quid pro quo, et cetera. None, because I didn’t know there was a quid pro quo.”
Meadows again tweeted Tuesday, “Both transcripts released today show there is even less evidence for this illegitimate impeachment sham than previously thought.”
“The Volker/Sondland transcripts lay it out: @realDonaldTrump wanted to clean up corruption in Ukraine, and ensure taxpayer funded aid wasn’t going to corrupt causes. Only D.C. Democrats could spin protecting taxpayer money into an impeachable offense. Blatant partisanship,” said Meadow.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. “Ambassador Sondland squarely states that he ‘did not know, (and still does not know) when, why or by whom the aid was suspended.’… By contrast, Volker’s testimony confirms there could not have been a quid pro quo because the Ukrainians did not know about the military aid hold at the time. No amount of salacious media-biased headlines, which are clearly designed to influence the narrative, change the fact that the President has done nothing wrong.”
Senate Republicans are privately debating whether to call Biden and his son as witnesses during a potential impeachment trial. Senator John Barrasso told Fox News Wednesday he does not see a single Republican voting to remove the president.