Most of the attention yesterday went to Army Lt. Col. Alex Vindman’s testimony before House committees investigating impeachable offenses by the president.
There were two areas of focus. First was on Vindman’s direct witness of Donald Trump’s extortion of Ukraine’s president for political gain. Second was on Vindman himself and whether a decorated Ukrainian-American combat veteran is trustworthy.
I’ll get to why the second point is bosh in a minute. Meanwhile, there is a third area of focus that’s not getting the attention it deserves. One of the reasons Vindman came forward against the wishes of the White House was because he was worried about the president and his allies outside of government working to establish a “false narrative” about what happened in 2016 to undermine the special counsel’s Russia investigation.
That “false narrative” was about Ukraine. Vindman believed, per the Times, that it was “counter to the consensus view of American national security officials, and harmful to United States interests.” Moreover: “Vindman was concerned as he discovered that Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, was leading an effort to prod Kiev to investigate Mr. Biden’s son, and to discredit efforts to investigate Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his business dealings in Ukraine.”
This false narrative is something we have been seeing a lot lately. It’s what the Washington press corps keeps referring to as a “conspiracy theory.” But as the Editorial Board has regularly noted, there’s conspiracy theory that goes nowhere and there’s conspiracy theory that rulers use to supplant the truth, paralyze public opinion, and dominate the minds of those they rule. Trump is not engaging in conspiracy theory as much as making war against the truth so nothing is left but loyalty to The Leader.
What is the false narrative? That it was the Ukrainians who attacked our sovereignty in 2016, not the Russians, and that it was the Democrats, including Joe Biden and everyone in the Obama administration, not Paul Manafort and others on Trump’s campaign, who conspired with foreign leaders to undermine the will of the people. As a result, Donald Trump lost the popular vote, and few people came to celebrate his inauguration. He is the original victim and ultimate hero of this false narrative.
Where did this false narrative come from? Well, the whistleblower knew. He or she cited a series of interviews and columns in The Hill conducted and written by American journalist John Solomon. The subject of the interviews and a source for Solomon’s columns was Yuriy Lutsenko, the former top prosecutor in Ukraine.
Lutsenko told Solomon, per the whistleblower complaint, that unnamed “officials” had evidence that Ukraine’s government “interfered” in the 2016 US election in collaboration with the Democratic National Committee; that Barack Obama’s ambassador to Ukraine obstructed corruption cases by providing a “do not prosecute” list; that Obama blocked Ukrainian prosecutors from delivering “evidence” to America about the 2016 election; and that Joe Biden pressured Ukraine’s former president to fire the prosecutor investigating the energy company that Biden’s son worked for.
Sound familiar? It should. This is the “conspiracy theory” the president keeps talking about, and it’s the “conspiracy theory” that has gripped Trump’s media allies and pretty much the whole of the Republican Party. It is, in other words, a big lie akin to Obama being a secret Muslim and tax cuts fueling economic growth. It is a big lie that would have gotten bigger had not patriots like Alex Vindman said enough is enough.
One last question. How did Solomon find Lutsenko? Hold on to your butts.
Solomon’s attorneys connected them. His attorneys are Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing. DiGenova and Toensing appear regularly on Fox News, echoing Trump’s false narrative. DiGenova and Toensing also represent Dmitry Firtash. Firtash is a Ukrainian oligarch—that is, a mobster—who’s fighting extradition to the US.
Now, Firtash wanted to get Trump’s attention probably to get out of the conspiracy charges against him. So he dug up dirt on Joe Biden! His associates cajoled a statement out of Ukraine’s former top prosecutor saying Biden “tried in 2016 to sway Ukrainian politics to help his son.” That, according to Bloomberg News, got Giuliani’s attention. Giuliani, of course, is Trump’s attorney. Giuliani also did business with Lev Parnas.
OK, so Lev Parnas worked for DiGenova and Toensing’s law firm. He arranged the interviews between Yuriy Lutsenko and The Hill’s John Solomon, according to documents reviewed by Pro Publica. (Indeed, Parnas watched the interview between them; he was later arrested on federal charges of campaign finance fraud.) From there, you have the creation of the “false narrative” that Alex Vindman said hurts America. Meanwhile, Lutsenko has recanted, saying everything he told Solomon was bogus.
I told you to hold on to your butts.
There’s more to this, more layers, but I won’t burden you with them. For now, the focus shouldn’t be on Vindman’s loyalty. The focus should be on the fact that he came forward, risking his reputation and even his life, to say the president seems to be parting ways with America. In one direction awaits the truth. In the other, lies.
Internet disgusted after Buffalo first responders cheer cops charged with assaulting 75-year-old protester
Commenters on Twitter expressed both contempt and disgust for Buffalo firefighters and police officers who turned out in front of Buffalo City Court to support two suspended police officers with applause and cheering.
Moments after officers Aaron Torglaski and Robert McCabe were charged with second-degree assault and then released without having to post bail, they were greeted as heroes outside the courthouse.
After a video was posted showing the celebration, commenters on Twitter vented at cops and firefighters for defending the two officers who assaulted the 75-year-old man who had to be rushed to a hospital after they shoved him to the ground where he sustained a head injury.
Donald Trump’s lurch toward fascism is backfiring spectacularly
Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.
During the 2016 campaign, as Donald Trump railed against "Mexican rapists" and other "criminal aliens," pollsters found that the share of Americans who said that immigrants worked hard and made a positive contribution to our society increased significantly, and noticed a similar decline in the share who said they take citizens' jobs and burden our social safety net. After Trump was elected and began pursuing his Muslim ban, the share of respondents who held a positive view of Islam also increased pretty dramatically. I'm not aware of any polling of the general public about transgender troops serving in the military before Trump decided to discharge them, but Gallup found that 71 percent of respondents opposed his position after he did.
Can it happen here? Bill Moyers says it’s happening right before our very eyes
At 98, historian Bernard Weisberger has seen it all. Born in 1922, he grew up watching newsreels of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler as they rose to power in Europe. He vividly remembers Mussolini posturing to crowds from his balcony in Rome, chin outthrust, right arm extended. Nor has he forgotten Der Fuehrer’s raspy voice on radio, interrupted by cheers of “Heil Hitler,” full of menace even without pictures.
Fascist bullies and threats anger Bernie, and when America went to war to confront them, he interrupted his study of history to help make history by joining the army. He yearned to be an aviator but his eyesight was too poor. So he took a special course in Japanese at Columbia University and was sent as a translator to the China-Burma-India theater where Japanese warlords were out to conquer Asia. Bernie remembers them, too.