On Ukraine Aid, ‘Nothing to See Here’: Diplomats Urged to Play Down Funds’ Release

A series of internal State Department emails reflect diplomats’ frustration with the unexpected freeze on funding that Congress had already approved.

Comments: 193

  1. “He said the National Security Council would not publicly announce that $141 million in State Department assistance was being restored after being held up in what the White House described as a normal review.” How ironic that Trump wants to reduce the size of the National Security Council, through “attrition”, so soon after this sequence of “normal” events. Of course, not much of the Trump administration could be considered normal.

  2. @Karen Lee Dear Karen, If he can reduce staff through attrition, he can be more of a dictator and run everything around the world from one of his gold clubs..

  3. This is an incredibly disturbing story that I fear most American's fail to grasp. Sticking your head in the sand doesn't better the Republic.

  4. @DL True. I have had several people tell me that they are so sick about everything Trump has done that they don't even pay attention to what is going on anymore

  5. Diplomats serving at the pleasure of Donald Trump can not think they have a shred of credibility. They are nothing more than tools for a man who sells out national interest for personal and political gain. Staying on another day is a disgrace.

  6. @Suzanne Moniz Diplomats have families to feed and tuition to pay, just like everyone else. And when all of this is over we're going to need to rebuild our diplomatic corps to try to repair the damage this administration has done to our international reputation and foreign relationships.

  7. We are also going to need a truth commission to investigate all the corruption in the Trump administration. I don’t think all should be prosecuted, but all must be disclosed.

  8. @Suzanne Moniz I hope you are only referring to the political appointees, since career foreign service and civil service employees know and do their jobs regardless of which party is in power. They are doing all they can to limit the trump damage. If they left, they would surely be replaced by a trump enabler and we certainly don't want that.

  9. Add Brad Freden to the list of witnesses to be subpoenaed, but who will be told by Patsy Pompeo and the Swamp King not to appear. Subpoena his emails from, say, 1 May to 15 September, and watch for the same result by the same cover-up contingent. Tweets, emails and other electronic communications are the new "White House Watergate tapes". Calling Judge Sirica.

  10. What this entire thing boils down to is, from the president to the career civil servant, people trying desperately to hold on to their job.

  11. You know, it seems that Star Trek foresaw, once again, a future where a government is run as a crime syndicate in "A Piece of the Action". And just like 1984 we thought it could never happen here. We had moved on. We had moved beyond.

  12. It’s clear as day that Trump broke the law. That lawyers turned diplomats, turned policy advisers are co-conspirators is testimony of why money has to be removed from politics. Moreover, recruitment in the intelligence and bureaucracies has to be updated and more rigorously vetted to ensure that people with “special agendas” are kept out. Neo-Meritocrats don’t equal patriotism nor dedication to the good of the country. This is what we’re seeing in the Trump Administration, but really in earnest since Bill Clinton. Neocons, dressed as Administration and support staff forced the invasion of Iran with the present results: a very unsafe, volatile world with penury all around .

  13. @Ted v .... pushed invasion of Irak, you mean. Just keeping it clear. And yes, thst wsd really the beginning of the end and a massively and continually wasted opportunity to do smart things. Not prosecuting Cheney for corrupting CIA intelligence was - amongst other things - a signal to future WH occupants : once you get here, you are clear to do as you please.

  14. @Ted When the US invade Iran???? Or is this wishful thinking.

  15. How many Ukrainians died fighting Russians because this money was held up and they had no Javelin anti-tank weapons to defend themselves? How many Kurds are dying today? trump's narcissism is getting people killed.

  16. @Jon Doyle I would really love to know the answer to the question of how many Ukrainians died due to the lack of Javelins. Was it 0 or many? Does anyone reading this know how many Ukranians have been killed in the fighting during any of the summer months, so that we can understand the upper bound? If so, please respond, including with your source for that info.

  17. @Jon Doyle I would really love to know the answer to that question. Was it 0 or many?

  18. “Nothing to see here”... because we have something to hide, and we’re good at it.

  19. There is no doubt: trump is an extreme national security risk.

  20. Sondland’s “President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind” comment, made after receiving this talking point from the man himself, is, as things go in the world of Trump, a triumph of exculpation. “The President made clear that when he loaded and discharged the pistol toward the crowd on Fifth Avenue, he did not intend to shoot the unfortunate individual lying in the pool of blood ten feet in front of the President. The shooter must have been the European Union, which, by the way, was not shooting its fair share of civilians on Fifth Avenue until the President made them step up.”

  21. “‘In terms of public messaging, N.S.C. is deliberately treating both the hold and its lifting as administrative matters,’ he wrote.” I see this quote as key. He doesn’t say “The hold and its lifting *were* for administrative matters.” He specifically says it was to be treated as though it was an administrative delay, for public messaging purposes. I’ve worked on enough delicate topics for large organizations to know what that quote means.

  22. Republicans and the Trump administration communicate in "Newspeak" where words describe the opposite of their original meaning: "Nothing to see" - when the crime is in plain sight, "Totally exonerated" - when obstruction of justice was delineated clearly in the Mueller report, "No wrongdoing" - when Trump is a co-conspirator who cannot be convicted due to a dubious rule of the Department of Justice, but his associates sit in jail, "No collusions" - when there is plenty of evidence of contacts, but no paper trail to Trump himself, "Stable genius" - when his sixth grade level rants are an embarrassment for the Office of the President. The list goes on and on....

  23. @Konrad Gelbke Stable Genius is my favorite Makes me laugh!

  24. I recently read a story in the WSJ the DOD has a list of criteria a country has to abide by before and funds will be released. This is to ensure the US is not giving funds to corrupt governments. This piece stated the DOD gave their go-ahead in June to release the funds to Ukraine because they had deemed the Ukraine government not corrupt. For the life of me, I cannot find that article and was wondering if anyone here reads the WSJ as well and could point me to it.

  25. @Jane I read the WSJ but don’t recall seeing that article. I did read on NPR that the DOD completed its certification in May and informed the appropriate congressional committees of the certification. My understanding is that the DOD conducted a review and determined that Ukraine had undertaken substantial steps to ensure corruption was being addressed. The NPR article cited a federal law that requires certification by DOD before funds may be released. Congress delegates the authority to DOD and, while the President may have oversight authority, I have not seen any indication that the administration was reviewing the DOD’s certification. You can probably find the NPR article online and there may have been other reports of this as well.

  26. Maybe the WSJ deleted it?

  27. If the Kurds in Syria said they'd investigate Biden, we'd see our troops turn the Turkish armed forces back onto Turkish territory in a minute.

  28. @b fagan Clearly President Erdogan must have made a substantial promise of "aid" towards Trump's reelection campaign.

  29. @b fagan Heck, if ISIS in Syria said they'd investigate Biden, Trump would fall in line with them too.

  30. Normally foreign aid is announced with fanfare. But now it is part of the coverup and keeping it quiet shows the guilty conscience. It is absolutely inexplicable to me how Republican Senators are overwhelmingly not merely cowards but becoming co-conspirators in inviting Giuliani to testify.

  31. @mg I agree. It makes no sense for giuliani, trump's personal lawyer and not a USG employee, to keep getting called to stammer his way through lies that only mitch really believes, or pretends to just so his wife keeps her government job.

  32. "N.S.C. is deliberately treating both the hold and its lifting as administrative matters." "Deliberately treating." That is to say, they have chosen to describe it that way because there is an alternate description they wish to suppress. Just as the verbatim transcript of The Call was locked into an N.S.C. computer system, and a "call reconstruction" was released to the public. Just as Sondland texted "no quid pro quo" and then referred further communication to unrecorded phone conversations. So many attempts by the administration to draw a veil of misleading words over Trump's Ukraine dealings.

  33. What the GOP apparently fails to grasp is that their base is growing older and quite frankly dying, while a very young progressive voting base is growing and wants accountability for everything. Criminal and other dangerous behavior from the commander in chief, the environment, foreign policy, sensible gun policy, overall safety. The GOP is choosing to play the short game which is incredibly senseless and just a strategic failure.

  34. @DL GOP needs to look at how California turned deep blue. And see the future.

  35. @DL Good observation. It's important to remember that, without our antiquated Electoral College, there would not have been a Republican president for the last 26 years. But, if the GOP changes course on gun control, climate change, etc, they will lose their electorate.

  36. @RonBlood they have thats why they want to pack the courts with right wing activists judges some with no experience whatsoever

  37. We now appear to be governed by a criminal outfit and a kakistocracy to boot. How did the most advanced nation in history slide into this mess? Like the problems posed by climate destruction, if we do not act now, we are consigned to lead a slow, torturous death.

  38. @Maron A. Fenico sadly, maybe not so slow...

  39. There's nothing like obstructing justice, after all Trump does it day in and day out and the G.O.P. is backing him up all the way.

  40. A no “Quid pro quo” defense is an attempt to set a high bar for judging Trumps conduct as deserving of impeachment. He clearly was using the power of his office to obtain a personal benefit, regardless of whether he expressly withheld aid. If an important business customer calls his supplier and requests something personal and unseemly as “a favor “ no doubt the customer is using his official business role as leverage. The supplier knows they are at risk if they don’t comply. If a government official called a defense contractor asking for “a favor” that the contractor get tickets for a big sporting event, no one would doubt the official acted inappropriately even if the contract was not expressly mentioned. And the official would be fired.

  41. Every day we learn a little more. The picture grows more damning by the day. The illegal cover-up continues apace. The indications pile up that they knew Trump did wrong. The lies large and small proliferate. Ongoing and future military aid and weapons would not arrive unless Zelensky did Trump a private interference biggie "though." They reassure one another that the hold-up of aid was "a normal review," "an administrative matter." They broke the law. They violated the Constitution. They've covered it up. "Keep moving, people, nothing to see here," says a Trump appointee and acting something-or-other, bless his heart. "Nothing to see here," chant the unhinged and untethered Trumpies. "Nothing to see here," chant the immoral and bad-faith dust bunnies in the Senate.

  42. Anyone expecting to get an unbiased view from the rank and file foreign service staff at the state department is going to be sorely disappointed. Some 60 percent of state department employees currently serving were hired during the Obama administration. The department is a well-known bastion of starry eyed liberalism, and it always has been. The bias inside the department is considerably exacerbated these days, given the number of millennials who currently work there. It would be foolish to look too hard at these internal working level emails as a source of any evidence of wrongdoing by the administration, given that such communications can be loaded with political innuendo and bias.

  43. @David H Except that Bradley Freden is a 53-year-old Air Force veteran who was appointed to his current position in August 2018.

  44. @David H Ummm -- it is plain to read those messages are from the US Ambassidor and senior State officials---not working level millenials.

  45. @David H except the smoking guns evidence comes from Trump´s own appointed Ambassador to the E.U.-Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker-Special envoy to the Ukraine. See text messages and Sonland conversation with U.S. Senator Ron Johnson explaining quid pro quo.

  46. The focus should be on the simple solicitation of help in investigating a political rival as the impeachable offense, not the no quid pro quo. "No quid pro quo" is the new "no collusion", and it might just work again.

  47. @Tim Robert On his base? Of course it will work. On the rest of us though?

  48. It is very clear to anyone who looks what trump did holding up the funding for Ukraine was like one of his sleazy real estate deals. He does not understand what a real President does. A real American President is not a crime boss that applies a shake down of funds to get a favor. The more he hides the truth with his constant lies the worse it will be for him and all his republican enablers.

  49. @Richard He is a demented character who is living in a play. his inability to see the walls closing in on him finally let us all know he doesnt have a full deck .

  50. Please, please, NYT writers, STOP saying this: "There is no evidence that the Bidens were involved in wrongdoing." That's a ridiculous, misleading phrase. "No evidence" sounds like there may be something to uncover. The TRUTH is something like this: "The Trump administration was apparently seeking dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden based on a debunked conspiracy theory." Your phrasing just plays into the public's confusion and the Republican's both-sides-ism.

  51. Apparently Jedi mind tricks work on a solid 40% of the American electorate.

  52. King's new clothes in terms of "nothing here"

  53. "Keep moving, people, nothing to see here …” Brad Freden, the State Department’s acting deputy assistant secretary..." It seems no matter where you go or hear from in this Administration, there is a "rot" within. State, AG, Energy, EPA, Treasury, Transportation. It's prolific, I never heard of this Freden character, but there he is, hiding something. In the next Democratic Administration, every one of these people should be investigated for wrongdoing.

  54. So just another day in the life of the KLEPTOCRACY of Trump. Maybe if Kiev had a nice Trump Hotel things would have gone easier.

  55. If it was getting reviewed, surely there are details and transcripts of whet was reviewed?

  56. @N.B. good point! why is the WH not releasing all this "review"?

  57. There’s a scene in In & Out with Kevin Kline where a teacher is forced out of his job for being gay and one by one the horrified people in the town show solidarity by standing and proudly saying “I’m gay!” Stand with the whistleblower by becoming one. When there’s enough of you the President will be beaten back.

  58. I call for a million whistleblower march on the White House. All blowing whistles. In fact every American concerned about the destruction of our Democracy should wear a whistle around their necks and every time they hear another Trump lie they shall blow the whistle. And every time someone is within earshot of one of Trumps Congressional or media enablers they should blow that whistle real loud. A nation of whistle blowers we are.

  59. @Susan Murphy That's a great idea Susan. Imagine a huge crowd of people blowing whistles on the mall outside the white house.

  60. The Donald Ego is a huge compensatory device that evolved to hide the impulsive child within. The Donald Ego is very uncomfortable around real expertise and sophisticated, learned perspective. It is prone to vainglorious displays and sudden decisions to keep those around it off balance and constantly reacting rather than being proactive in their efforts on behalf of our country. This is a very unhealthy leadership model. The Donald Ego must go and go soon. It will lie, demean, insult, deflect, exaggerate, accuse, blame, avoid detection, withhold the truth, all to protect itself and its host from being discovered for what they are. Simply put: The Emperor Has No Clothes - Hans Christian Anderson

  61. "The email did not explain why the assistance was being withheld." The e-mail says it was a "normal review". I don't know what a "normal review" is so maybe the article can explain this process.

  62. @Jim T. I think in this administration a 'normal review' is just a tactic to shake down the congressionally intended recipient.

  63. @Jim T. Yes, what is the time to process a normal review? Was this WH review longer than normal, and if so, by how many days? The timing of any abnormal delays associated with the WH review would be interesting to know.

  64. @Jim T. I can help you with that. A "normal review" is what happens after a US President attempts extortion, but it's unsuccessful. The "review" normally ends, as this one suddenly did, right before an impeachment investigation is hinted at.

  65. Why is the Press not talking about the corruption behind the Trump children while their father plunders the Constitution of the US? Ivanka has gotten several patents from China and who knows what else she has pocketed while pretending to work in the White House. Her brothers have done the same no doubt.

  66. @Jacquie The same question I've had for several weeks now, that they are jumping all over Hunter Biden.

  67. @Jacquie - Good point. This should be front page news. Jared Kushner and the Trump spawn are being paid quite a lot of money for positions they have absolutely no qualifications for.

  68. @Jacquie I've seen reporting on the topic, especially on the trademarks Ivanka got from China. But, I agree, it should be all over the news. Maybe Hunter Biden was trading on his name for financial gain, which of course is wrong. However, there is no doubt the Trump children are doing the same. As usual, the hypocrisy from the right is staggering.

  69. A letter to the editor in my local News & Observer in Raleigh - stated it wasn't 'quid pro quo' it was Blackmail... Time to start putting those refusing to answer subpoenas in jail and add 'Obstruction of Justice' to the articles of Impeachment.

  70. @Leigh extortion also seems a good fit.

  71. @Leigh More properly "extortion" instead of blackmail.

  72. The "No quid pro quo" drumbeat that Trump and his GOP sycophants start every sentence with can be attributed to a lawyer's advice on how Trump, Pompeo and Pence can spin their criminal conduct. "No collusion" "No quid pro quo" and no decency from this cesspool of an administration. Can't the courts fast track the subpeona enforcement actions?

  73. "Nothing to see here," is not at all the same as "There's nothing (of substance) here." Nothing to see means "we've hidden it well. We hope you won't find it." Cover up. What those full of shame do to the truth.

  74. What utter nonsense. These foreign service officers have no political allegiance to the administration. In fact, most of them were hired under the Obama administration.

  75. @Penik "Nobody here but us chickens, boss."

  76. I am currently watching the TV show Gotham. The parallels are amazing: NOBODY is innocent, but some are much more guilty and infinitely more dangerous.

  77. “Ukrainians are aware, but N.S.C. said that in the spirit of the ‘hold’ being a normal review, there will be no public announcement that it has been lifted,” he wrote, referring to the president’s National Security Council. Why would you need to express that if it were true?

  78. @Emmy Lou "In the spirit of the lie that the hold is a normal review."

  79. I can't help but wonder if the government staff somehow got the funds released when trump lost interest, and were keeping it quiet so that Trump would not notice.

  80. @Karen, the funds were released three days after Intelligence Service IG Michael Atkinson informed Congress about the whistleblower’s report.

  81. To an extent, it is true that the release of good faith aid to the Ukraine is not noteworthy. What is apparent and hiding in plain sight, is the quid pro quo Mr Trump received in his initially holding up those funds. American taxpayers only had to spend $170 million on Mr Trumps 2020 political campaign.

  82. The U.S. Government and the State Department, especially, withhold foreign aid all the time using sticks and carrots for a variety of conditions and for all kinds of reasons -- some more rational than others. In the end, the President has wide latitude and lots of discretion to influence these decisions and direct when and where aid flows. The timing of aid in the Ukraine last summer is not atypical and is certainly not illegal.

  83. @Jeremiah Johnson I disagree. It's typical and legal to withhold aid for foreign policy goals to advance United States interests. It's not typical or legal to withhold aid for personal interests, such as publicly announcing an investigation into your leading political rival, when there is no open US investigation and no request to Ukraine to cooperate under the terms of the two countries' Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.

  84. @Jeremiah Johnson Everything you said is true, but not complete. It is not normal for the diplomats involved to fret over the personal political motives of the president. It is not normal for phone calls to be put on code only access. It is not normal for the president to withhold aid, while pressing foreign leaders to investigate his pet conspiracy theories. It is not normal for officials to worry in email after email that things look "normal." The president has wide latitude to exercise his powers for the benefit of the United States; not for the benefit of himself. Self-dealing is the very definition of "high crimes and misdemeanors."

  85. @Jeremiah Johnson It's true that the United States routinely conditions aid on certain behaviors that we want to change. It often has to do with human rights violations. And it is usually a collaborative effort among various agencies, the State Department, the NSC, our intelligence agencies and so on. What is very unusual, and what is very troubling, is that Trump withheld military aid for his own personal gain. And he withheld the aid with no input form anybody else. That's the problem, and that's what has led to the impeachment inquiry. Our constitution gave the power to Congress to hold the president accountable, and if he commits an act of "treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors" he shall be impeached. The framers of the constitution had just succeeded in revolting against a king. They felt it vital that no man be above the law, including the president. So this is why Congress has opened an impeachment inquiry; because Trump abused the power of his office for personal gain. He endangered our national security for personal gain; this is a violation of his oath of office, a "high crime."

  86. What I find particularly disturbing is the number of people working for/with Trump who believe that the appropriate response to the President breaking the law is to cover it up. By the way, ‘In terms of public messaging, NSC is deliberately treating the hold and its lifting as administrative matters’ is not the same thing as them being administrative matters.

  87. @Concerned I wonder how many of the ones covering for Trump had no government experience before and are/were in over their heads.

  88. But Republicans in the Senate are convinced that the nations laws and presidential norms only apply to democrats.

  89. Every single person that works for the government at this time has to ask themselves, am I loyal to Trump or am I loyal to the people and country of the United States of America. Yes you might lose your job, but you also might save America.

  90. "American diplomats who had pushed for the Trump administration to restore security funding to Ukraine were advised by the White House to play down the release of the money when it was finally approved, documents show." As if down playing that money makes it all the more legitimate or is an attempt to hide the ugly truth. Either way, I never realized American diplomats were doormats for Trump, doing whatever he says in exchange for the title of Ambassador. Their actions and deeds make them complicit to the many questionable decisions this guy continues to make. Such an insult and disgrace to this USA and to the role of being a diplomat.

  91. Shouldn’t there be an analysis by the times of: 1. Where and when have these reviews happened with other countries? 2. If so, were these also treated as low key and were folks encourage (similarly) to not announce/discuss?

  92. What is clear is the extraordinary dilemmas US diplomats dealing with Ukraine are forced into as a direct result of Trump's manipulation of US public funds to extort foreign governments to perform services for the personal benefit of Trump. Trump's self dealing is both criminal and treasonous misconduct that demands Trump is impeached and removed from office as soon as possible.

  93. @Allan Slipher, Ukraine is just one of MANY "extraordinary dilemmas" US diplomats have faced under this administration...

  94. The "nothing to see here" line is super shady, but let's also talk about the quotes around "hold." It's like saying this is quote-on-quote "perfectly legal activity." If it was perfectly fine, and if it is really was a normal hold, why the air quotes?

  95. If the funding was delayed for a “normal review,” then let’s see the contemporaneous paperwork which documented that review. Odds are that this after-the-fact “review” is just a cover story to justify criminal conduct.

  96. I totally get it... I try to avoid bringing attention to my law-breaking, too.

  97. '“Ukrainians are aware, but N.S.C. said that in the spirit of the ‘hold’ being a normal review, there will be no public announcement that it has been lifted,” he wrote, referring to the president’s National Security Council.' In the spirit of the lie that the hold was a "normal" review. In that spirit don't draw attention to it.

  98. Acting deputy assistant secretary? This is what happens when you have temp employees running the State Department. “Keep moving, people, nothing to see here …” Brad Freden better be on LinkedIn looking for another job by now. Of course, the scandalous bit is the State Department knew enough about the Ukrainian deal to hand down talking points to mid-level managers. A program coordinator shouldn't have to ask their boss why the checks are bouncing. We're talking about the US government here. Apparently, the Trump Administration didn't think anyone in the State Department would notice when Trump turned off the faucet on Ukraine. Talk about chatter around the water cooler. I wouldn't want to explain to a Ukrainian militia why Trump's credit card was unexpectedly declined. How do you think the diplomats feel? Whoops ... Trump has a knack for making enemies.

  99. @Andy Which is what really has me floored. Trump has made many enemies, who probably have mountains of dirt on Trump. If this is how Trump wants to try and win, and if his party accepts it as normal and okay, then any democrat running for office, could say on camera, the Iranians have already hacked into servers of Trumps, no one knows what data was stolen. Whats to stop a democrat from saying to anyone f you have reliable dirt on Trump, or even some vast conspiracy theory (that seems to be what these lunatics are operating on.

  100. @James Perhaps, Loyalty to their oath of office and the Constitution?

  101. The most troubling thing is even the Trump administration learns from their mistakes. There won’t be a paper or digital trail to help the public figure out why we’re leaving the Kurds to die on the same ground we fought shoulder to shoulder with, just months ago.

  102. @Allen J. Not so, there will always be a paper trail. Gotti thought the same thing, he was as wrong too. And the reason there always will be a paper trail, because that's the medium used, and people like this, seem to think one, that they won't get caught, or two, that what they are doing isn't fundamentally wrong. Criminals commit criminal acts, because they think that they are smarter than investigators, or that in the electronic world everything is saved, including deleted data. Deleting data, only makes that space available for use, the original data is still in tact until overwritten. Which is why when a hard drive is forensically examined they find all kinds of data that the user thought was deleted.

  103. To embellish what a writer in these comments has said, Trump's transaction with Volodymyr was, in fact, not quid pro quo, it was not a deal between two equals, but a deal between one person with power over the other. In an other word, it was extortion, aka blackmail. Do what I ask or I will withdraw the military aid you need for your country's survival. This was not a mutual scratching of backs between equals.

  104. @Cletus That's right, withholding funds, until you get what you want, is on its face, extortion.

  105. @Cletus yup, that is how US foreign and every nations foreign works and always has.

  106. @Mkm Except the funds are held to get some policy change in a foreign government, like protections against human rights abuse, and not to get dirt on a political rival.

  107. My Theory: Trump told Putin that he would flat out cut the funding to Ukraine. But Trump decided to use the funding as leverage to get info on Biden Jr. He wanted to keep the eventual release of the funds quiet because he didn't Want Putin to know that he was double crossing him. He gets orders from Putin but he tried to play both sides on this. Other recent gifts to Putin include pulling out of Syria and exiting the Open Skies Treaty.

  108. @Curious One And Trump allowed the leader of Turkey to invade Syria and kill our allies, because he has a two towers there, Trump admitted to it on the radio.

  109. It's true that the United States routinely conditions aid on certain behaviors that we want to change. It often has to do with human rights violations. And it is normally a collaborative effort among various agencies, the State Department, the NSC, our intelligence agencies and so on. What is very unusual, and what is very troubling, is that Trump withheld military aid for his own personal gain. To dig up dirt on his political rival. And he did so on his own, apparently with no input from anyone. That's the problem, and that's what has led to the impeachment inquiry. Our constitution gave the power to Congress to hold the president accountable, and if he commits an act of "treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors" he shall be impeached. The framers of the constitution had just succeeded in revolting against a king. They felt it vital that no man is above the law, including the president. So this is why Congress has opened an impeachment inquiry; because Trump abused the power of his office for personal gain. He endangered our national security for personal gain; this is a violation of his oath of office. This is a "high crime", an impeachable offense.

  110. The question here is why is Mr Sondland, the Ambassador to the EU, involved in Ukraine business when Ukraine isn’t even a part of the E.U.? Congress needs to hear his testimony. Enough stonewalling and delay.

  111. It doesn't matter if it's withholding money for Ukraine's security or diverting money to "The Wall" that was intended for infrastructure improvement to benefit U.S. military families. Trump in incapable of looking at a large standing pile of cash without thinking, "What's in it for me?"

  112. There is plenty to see here! We, as taxpayers diligently send our money to the government.Congress has the power to allocate the money.Once they have approved funding it should go to the designated country-it should not become Trump”s money to bribe a country to provide him with information he wants for his election campaign.Trump and his fixer , Michael Cohen,were experts at shifting money and disguising the purpose for which it was intended.Trump is still playing his “ money games” but it is with our tax dollars!

  113. Here's the one thing about this that really bugs me! American taxpayers give nations [Ukraine] free money- who then give the money back to American DOD contractors to purchase weapons... It's putrid cycle and somebody is getting very rich off this Ponzi scheme .. The DOD contractors make the Mafia look like an elementary school street gang ..

  114. @Aaron This is true of much of the aid the US dispenses. Agricultural aid ends up being returned as contracts for Caterpillar. And there is a reason that food stamps are part of the Dept of Agriculture budget. All the money "given" to the poor is really a subsidy to the farmers and corporations that produce and market the food.

  115. @Aaron, nailed it. Appalls me that our nation has become the largest arms dealer in the world - supplying arms to both sides in many third world conflicts. I continue to hope we will finally President Eisenhower’s warning about the dangers of the military-industrial complex. First we must free the government of the traitor in the Oval Office and his henchmen.

  116. Hmmm. On September 9, Intelligence IG Michael Atkinson informs Congress of the whistleblower compaint. On September 12, the White House magically releases the long-frozen military aid. It takes little imagination to see what happened here.

  117. @Brian The other reason the funds were finally released: Members of congress, both republicans and democrats, were trying to figure out WHY the appropriated funds had not been released, and got nothing from the WH. Senator Durbin wrote an amendment to be attached to a 2020 Defense Appropriation bill to force the release of funds. The day before the vote, the funds were released.

  118. This was a call by Trump; for his personal benefit with complete disregard of America.. and with bild support from GOP. It will be same case as well for Turkey-Syria and throwing our Kurdish friends to the wolves.. Trump is a traitor.. and GOP will go down as well to support a traitor.

  119. "..nothing to see here...." is a good summary since Moscow Mitch and the other GOP lap dogs in the Senate are violating their oaths of office to prop up our Evil Dictator.

  120. The Aid money was finally and fully approved (to support the Ukraine Military), and then ... voila !! ... it is mysteriously gone !! (??) A comic book writer could fashion a better script than that. That's call Blackmail. That's called Extortion. That's called Trump playing hardball with the US Constitution, AND with taxpayer dollars, for his own personal gain. That is 100% illegal. Throw the bums out.

  121. @W.Wolfe No, don't throw them out, throw them in to a place where they need orange jumpsuits.

  122. thank you for the interesting reporting. Please for accuracy sake change your Biden reference to "It has been proven false" and not "there is no evidence". thanks!

  123. How does it hurt when Ukraine did not know the funds were on hold....all of 4.5 weeks ? How could there be pressure felt or even exerted on a party who did not even perceive there was a problem?

  124. @Unhappy JD hello, they did know, hence the Ukrainian president's referencing to aid in the phone call, as well as a meeting. You can spin this any way you like, but Trump's own words puts the break on that merry-go-round.

  125. @Unhappy JD You seem to be completely oblivious to how this entire situation unfolded. The issue here is not whether or not Ukraine suffered from a lack of funding, the issue is the President of the United States using that funding to extort a foreign country to investigating his political opponent - then trying to cover it up.

  126. @Unhappy JD once they found out I’m sure they connected the dots. From what’s already publicly available, Trump wasn’t even remotely subtle about asking Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. If I tell you I’m going to send you money, and then in a subsequent discussion I mention that money, express doubt in your reciprocity, and ask for a favor, and then later you find out that I’ve put a hold on the transfer, what are you going to think? Unless you’re willfully refusing to take the hint, you’ll get the message that the money is contingent on the favor. That’s exactly what Trump did. Also note that the aid money was only freed up in response to congressional pressure. Trump likely would have kept it frozen as leverage otherwise.

  127. American diplomats, like the President and Moscow Mitch and most of the elected Republicans in Congress have all become stooges of the Kremlin. They should be rounded up and have their American flag lapel pins removed at once.

  128. Forget, for a minute, about the stink of unconstitutionality that envelops this whole affair and just think how petty, cheap, lousy, etc., this is in terms of U.S. diplomacy. What a fiasco. Way to go, "stable genius" [sic].

  129. Finally, finally, loyal, patriotic, oath-to-the Constitution-abiding government employees of integrity are bravely stepping up to do the informal whistle-blowing by leaking documents revealing the corruption of Trump appointees towards ridding the country of this Putin ally or "useful idiot" at the top. Bravo, or Brava, as the gender may be!

  130. Absolutely amazing and disgusting that this corruption has been going on for so long and that the Republicans keep denying and manipulating the truth! How long are our VIP diplomats going to take this crab and abuse on them! I hope they rise up! I hope our nation rises up. I doubt our GOP politicians have the integrity to rise up and I hope they suffer the rest of their lives for their lies. I hope their obituaries state their deciet and their grandchildren learn of their grandparents' corruption.

  131. Only the guilty stonewall!

  132. “No quid pro quo”? Trump’s challenge is, in effect, are you going to believe what you see with your own eyes — an undisputed sequence of events and statements that can only mean extortion — or what I tell you? Only the willfully delusional could accept Trump’s position.

  133. @Mitchell Zimmerman , he's already told them not to believe anything they see or hear. So that's a done deal. They are living in an alternate reality.

  134. Putin will love this stop-and-go for the embattered Ukrainian nation. It is evident that Putin and Trump play hand in hand.

  135. Mike ' Pompous' Pompeo sounds more like he fancies himself as the Secretary of War than he does a diplomat. Pompeo's bloviating bombastic rhetoric often borders on buffoonery and caricature. Just like Donald Trump.

  136. The President has his own twisted agenda in his own bizzaro world.

  137. Trump with GOP support are taking America inevitably toward authoritarianism. Democrats in leadership of SpeakerPelosi seemingly more concerned losing seats than telling Americans Trump’s actions are precursor to their losing freedoms. Impeachment is just academic exercise unless every citizen realizes first, its a Grand Jury action and in this Ukrainian case to show Trump’s cabal is positioning his next steps to taking our freedoms - Democrats need to make it plain, without equivocation, for any person to understand, that Trump is following in steps of worlds historical dictators.

  138. @ghostwhowalks Everyone, including Democrats and Speaker Pelosi, have been shouting from the rooftops about the threat to our democracy. Everyone but the Republicans.

  139. Thanks to the leakers for shining a light on the ACTUAL deep state. If "nothing to see here" isn't evidence of awareness of guilt, what is?

  140. Can "Your money (your investigators) or your life." be seriously considered a quid pro quo?

  141. The upper reaches of Department of State have shown all the backbone of a limp noodle in bowing to Trump's and Giuliani's imbecility and corruption -- failing to protect Ambassador Yovanovitch from slander and removal, failure the protest the suspension of military aid to Ukraine, failure to come forward and blow the whistle on Trump's skullduggery.

  142. How many other normal “holds” are there? I like that the words “next steps” were used. Zelensky told Trump he needed Javelin anti-tank missiles to prevent Vlad’s tank force from running his country over and specifically asked about the “next steps” for that to happen. That’s when Trump asked for a favor “though.” “Though” is a very important word in that sentence. It definitively means that something must happen before the “next steps” are taken, though ;) The Democrats aren’t turning him in, his own administration is!

  143. Trump's conversation with Zelensky is like if I went to the doctor for my test results. Doc says " You have cancer and I will treat it for you but first I'd like to ask if you could donate 3 thousand to my favorite " charity". You wouldn't mind doing that, now would you?"

  144. Why would anybody mention explicitly "Nothing to See here" unwarranted? This is beyond crazy that the Republican Congress is so blind to see crime at hand. In fact, it is easy to convince a blind/deaf person than the Republican Congress. I hope Ambassador Taylor resigns and volunteers to testify with supporting evidence.

  145. I hope the career diplomats realize that this behaviour is unacceptable and offer testimony to Congress, not just for our sake but for theirs. Eventually, they will become complicit in the fraud being commit ed- And, probably the first scapegoats.

  146. @Gdnrbob Oh, believe me, the career diplomats understand fully what is going on: The is why Marie Yovanovitch, the most recent ambassador to Ukraine—and a highly experienced professional, having served as ambassador twice before—pushed back on Guiliani’s pressure, and she got called back early. And why her charge, questioned the issue of the quid pro quo (investigation in Biden with the military aid to Ukriane) called it “crazy.” These diplomats swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. Amb. Sondland should have too, but somehow he gets involved with Ukraine, even though Ukraine is not a member of the EU. How did that happen??

  147. @luckycat , Curiouser and curiouser...

  148. While the quid pro quo of releasing the military funds to Ukraine is an additional potential article of impeachment, it follows (and is not really necessary) the first article of impeachment, which is that trump SOLICITED foreign help with his campaign. The quid pro quo is not "the heart of the impeachment inquiry." The SOLICITATION is the heart - it is the original felony, not to be diminished, and that SOLICITATION is impeachable all by itself on very firm Constitutional grounds - foreign intervention in our elections was a huge concern for our Founding Fathers. The quid pro quo is not necessary for impeachment - this time, it will just help, but it is not necessary.

  149. Brad Freden should be fired immediately and have his benefits revoked permanently. He is complicit in a crime. In fact, he should be arrested, charged, tried and punished accordingly. Anyone who accedes to Trump's criminal juggernaut should meet the same fate.

  150. "These aren't the droids you're looking for..."

  151. Indicating this has been planned for some time now. Wonder who’s pulling the strings? Obviously beyond Trump’s golf/pornstar wheelhouse.

  152. “Keep moving, people, nothing to see here . . .” A succinct summary of all the Republican talking points!

  153. “Keep moving, people, nothing to see here …” Funny, but that's what the cops say to keep traffic moving after an accident or a crime.

  154. “Being treated as administrate hold/release”.........one reason we know isn’t true. (No need to pass on a story line unless it’s just a story.)

  155. So, it's time to bring a clear analogy of Trump's witholding Congressional appropriations for foreign aid assistance to the Ukraine (for personal gain) to the actions of the "Sovereign Citizen" movement, which claims the U.S. government has no legal or moral claim to a "Sovereign's" pocketbook, i.e. taxation of any kind. By not paying taxes, a "Sovereign" increases personal gain, while simultaneously enjoying the safety and security wrought by the efforts of local, state, and federal police and fire departments, local, state, and federal courts, as well as the efforts on his and other's behalf of the U.S. Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and Air Force. All these benefits, worked by others, paid for in taxes by others, accrue to the benefit of the DEADBEAT "Sovereign." So, Middle, Red State America, isn't that your "beef" with food stamp, welfare, and medicare fraudsters? Isn't it your "beef" with Wall Street thieves who swindled your parents' and neighbors' 401 k's, or sold bad mortgages? Red State, Middle America, you claim to be God fearing, good citizens! Yet, your boy Trump is using our hard earned tax dollars, skimming them in essence really, like a "Sovereign," or a Scorcese movie character in a casino, for his own benefit. Is the comparison now clear enough to warrant a reappraisal of your MAGA MAN, Middle America?

  156. Dear Senate Republicans, You voted for military aid for Ukraine. Mr. Trump defied you, and blocked the aid. If you have one iota of respect for the institution of the United States Senate, as a co-equal branch of government, you will not let this stand. Otherwise, you do not believe in the Constitution and the Oath of Office that you swore to uphold. Otherwise, you believe that the president is a king. Which one is it?

  157. @MidtownATL I'm so sorry, but that train left several years ago. A Republican Senate happy to hold open a Supreme Court seat for 11 months, only to confirm a belligerent drunk to that Court by an absolutely partisan vote, has no particular interest in protecting your precious Constitution.

  158. "Keep moving, people, nothing to see here …” Brad Freden, the State Department’s acting deputy assistant secretary overseeing issues in Europe and Eurasia," Another ACTING official. Seems like this sort of chicanery is widespread. I, for one, would like to see the NYT, WaPo, or other legitimate news organization do a deep dive into how widespread the practice is in this arguably lawless administration, and what the implications are of this approach.

  159. Republicans who continue to not see the extortion here remind me of when I would say to my teenage son, “Look at this room! It’s a pig sty!” And my son would look around the piles of clothes, plates, pizza scraps and candy wrappers and say, “What?”

  160. Finally, finally, loyal, patriotic, oath-to-Constitution-abiding Government employees of integrity are standing up informally to blow the whistle by leaking unclassified emails to reveal the corruption of Trump appointees towards ridding our country of the willing Putin agent or "useful idiot" at the top who threatens both our democracy and global security. Bravo, or Brava, as the gender may be.

  161. The Biden freeze, or the Trump freeze?

  162. @OldEngineer I don't understand your comment. Could you elucidate, please?

  163. False equivalence. One was was advancing the interests of the United States; the other was advancing the interests of himself.

  164. “Keep moving, people, nothing to see here …” Brad Freden, the State Department’s acting deputy assistant secretary overseeing issues in Europe and Eurasia, wrote in a Sept. 12 email obtained by The New York Times. Obvious example of Nod-Is-As-Good-As-A-Wink coded "humor" (Trump Administration's public affairs.instructions). In plain English: Trump Train off rails AHEAD. Don't acknowledge, but DETOUR AROUND. Remind your wokers to --- "SEE NOTHING, SAY NOTHING".

  165. The quid pro quo (or, more specifically, bribery) is obvious but irrelevant. Trump, his personal attorney, and at least one member of his cabinet conspired to commit a violation of 52 USC § 30121. Game over.

  166. I lived through Watergate, and I think we are now finding Trump's "Watergate Tapes". It's all connected - Trump, Putin, Erdogan, Assad, and Trump's corrupt businesses. Rapid impeachment is critical. Time is of the essence, as desperate Traitor Trump flails about and leaves allies to be exterminated. The House should quit dithering about subpoenas; it has the evidence now. It's time to save the world.

  167. @Voter There was a cartoon in Rolling Stone during Watergate. Dean, Haldeman, Erlichman, Mitchell et al were portrayed in diapers. They were digging in the diapers and smearing the contents on each other. Déjà Vu

  168. It has to be said out loud, this request for Biden family election “dirt” was likely engineered by Putin, in a mostly successful finesse to withhold military support from Ukraine, and at the same time causing a constitutional crisis in the US by forcing an impeachment inquiry. Icing on Putin’s cake is trump allowing Turkey’s dictator free rein to attack our allies the Kurds, thus potentially revitalizing ISIS. And sinking the US further into middle Eastern mire.

  169. Just a pathological liar, tax cheat, philanderer, owner of failed hotels, failed airlines, failed football league, lying and colluding and cheating some more.

  170. Looks like a duck. Swims like a duck. Quacks like a duck. What could it be?

  171. Every nichol of US aid to any country in history has been approved by the Congress. But the NYT setup here is somehow the President defied the will of Congress. Utter nonsense.

  172. @Mkm Using Trump-speak, no its you who writes utter nonsense. He did defy it by slowing down the release of the aid and making it conditional on them giving him a favour.

  173. @Mkm It’s “nickel,” but anyway, yes, the Congress does appropriations, but somehow Trump or the administration could hold it up—and it did. And Congress and some diplomats in WashDC and the field were not happy—for obvious reasons.

  174. “Keep moving, people, nothing to see here …” sounds like what Trump, the GOP, all their overlords (Putin, MBS), strongmen allies (Kim, Erdogan, Modi, Johnson, Bolsonaro,...), and enablers (NRA, fundamentalists, white supremacists, certain Supreme Court appointees) would like the entire world to do.

  175. Next we’ll hear that the Trump administration encourages the use of burner cellphones by diplomats(and Rudi G.)... yet Mr Pres. continues to speak openly about his right to “suggest” foreign govts investigate conspiracy theories that would benefit his campaign. as a gesture of good faith)... Aargh... nothing to see here.

  176. Somehow Congress has to do away with “acting” appointees on a Permanent or semi-Permanent basis. They are destroying government, at trump’s bidding.

  177. This is getting to the point where a hero needs to take action. We need another Mark Felt. A person with impeccable ethics, a unbending non partisan commitment to our vales, the Constitution and the rule of law. Someone who is willing to be selfless and with the courage to start leaking the key documents, memos, taped recordings, sources and witnesses for key people. For Watergate no one knew hiw high into the administration the scandal rose. We know where it starts from in the Utin controlled Oval office but we don’t yet know how WIDE this scandal reaches. Frankly anyone supporting the Human Stain (and against the Constitution) needs to be considered a collaborator and filthy corrupt. The subpoenas need to flow lime wine at a bacchanalian toga party. The concept of the deep state is clever but for DJT it is his cover for the crimes he and his meatheads are doing. Its like the key line in The Usual Suspects “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled is making people think he never existed” and he was right in front of everyone the whole time

  178. So basically career diplomats at State knew something was very strange about the holdup of security aid . The WH knew it was wrong because it was tied to the president's request of a "favor" from Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. So the WH instructed everyone to hush up the final release of the funds and top State Dept officials (most certainly including Pompeo) were also in on this loop and attempted cover-up. The Trump corruption machine in operation. No wonder they don't want to release internal documents about this or testify. They would be nailed to the wall.

  179. IMPEACH. Move swiftly, and then move on-- even if it means that the Democrats will lose the election in 2020. They need to stand up for what is right: history will show that they were right because IF he isn't impeached now, he will be tossed to the curb after getting elected during the 2nd term: by the Republicans. I have heard some talking about it already.

  180. This still isn't going to change the minds of Trump supporters, nothing will unfortunately. We can rant and rave all we want but it won't change anything, Depressing.

  181. @Vail If we vote, this isn't a problem, since we outnumber them. If we vote . . . #BlueTsunami2020

  182. Impeach. And his call with Erdogan and his senile caving and weaking out should trigger article 25.

  183. I'm curios if there are other examples of military aid packages to other countries being held up for similar "administrative review".

  184. @ncoltman There is an annual review for military aid for Ukraine. Ukraine must meet certain anti corruption obligations. That review concluded in May.

  185. You cannot trust President Joker (always just joking when caught saying ridiculous lies) about anything at all. He is hiding a lot of stuff (as well as foolishly admitting things without realising the import of his admissions). I am sure he really believes that he is wise and great and accomplished. He is deluded and he has appalling judgment. Now he has Kurdish blood on his hands because he caved into Erdogan. He needs to resign now. Give the turkey (pun intended) a pardon in advance to get him to leave. The lazy clown is hanging on to stay out of prison. There is a new book claiming 43 more women making allegations confirming what he boasted about in Access Hollywood. Its time to go; this is bad for America, NATO, US allies, the Kurds... everybody including his intransigent base. He has blown up any leverage over North Korea... now they are contemptuously declining meetings with the U.S. President. Get him out yesterday. When his cronies say "the president has made it clear blah blah blah" it means he has done the opposite.

  186. The mindset of the political appointees here is basically the same as those at EPA, Interior, NOAA. Ignore the evidence, dispense with critical thought, and follow dear leader's instructions as we demand you do. If you don't like it, too bad. Just get out of our way since we're the new boss who will be around a good long while. At some point, this house of cards will collapse but the extent of the damage will be both long lasting and unfixable. This is how moral degeneracy and spiritual emptiness play out in very ordinary daily ways. The question is whether it can be countered and pushed back against with sufficient intelligence and fervor to mitigate the evil being done here, there and, it seems, everywhere else.

  187. It would be foolish to read too much into these emails. The department of state is a bastion of starry-eyed liberalism. Some 60 percent of current foreign service staff were hired under the Obama administration; most of these are millennials whose idea of history is what happened last week. Internal messages are bound to be politically infused, and not a good source of objective evidence.

  188. Golly, you’re right! Everything corrupt Trump and his minions have done is all Obama’s fault! Your country is in the toilet of international opinion under Trump, more Americans than not support impeachment and you’re still apologizing for the liar-in-chief and blaming Democrats? I wish there was an IQ test to vote.

  189. @David H This is one of those fairly convincing conservative arguments that has no basis in fact. You're referring to the emails from Brad Freden, who joined the Foreign Service office in 1990 after serving in the US Navy? Or perhaps Jim Kulikowski, who was appointed by Trump in July of 2017? Or maybe Bill Taylor, who served in Vietnam and was appointed Ambassador to Ukraine by George W Bush? I know, you must mean Gordon Sondland, who was appointed Ambassador to the European Union by Trump in 2018, with his only qualification being a million dollar donation to the Trump campaign ... and he builds hotels; he's got that going for him. Starry-eyed liberals the whole lot of them. Deep state = competent professionals doing their jobs.

  190. “The Democrats are on a collision course with a basic truth: The World of Politics (does not)=The World of the Courts. Up to now, the Impeachment Inquiry has existed in the World of Politics. And, the Democrats have enjoyed the backing of an unwritten consensus: that the intention behind Trump’s requests to foreign Gov.’s for corruption investigations was clearly to politically strengthen his 2020 campaign by undermining his adversaries. Because it is unwritten, the consensus of Trumps intention is held by Republicans and Democrats Alike. Both know the truth even though only one will admit it vocally. The collision will come when Democrats attempt to carry the support of the unwritten consensus enjoyed in the World of Politics into the World of the Courts. For the Democrats’, the The World of the Courts will demands conclusive, written evidence of Trumps intention that they simply cannot provide. The unwritten will not hold up for a minute, while the forces behind Trump will look for, and inevitably find, the smallest thing that shows Trumps intention has room for alternate interpretation, and in doing so will demonstrate the bare minimum of Reasonable Doubt needed to prevail in the Courts. In short, the Democrats are doomed from the minute they enter the World of the Courts, because intention is almost impossible to prove beyond all reasonable doubt. The Republicans, by spinning even one single word or deffintion, will prevail.”

  191. Why are Mr. Comey and Mr. Mueller so silent? We placed so much confidence in them. Where are they now? The president's words to Ukraine are almost identical to his words to Mr. Comey.

  192. @Bob Hillier Because both are Republicans. There is an obvious distinction between party leaders when it comes to how hard an allegedly “nonpartisan” Republican investigator will go after a scandal. Between Russia interfering in our election to help trump in the lead up to 2016 and the seriously non-issue of Weiner’s emails, Comey chose to make a stink about the emails two weeks before the election. Seems he made the wrong choice, yes? His measure of what was appropriate to target publicly had an odd bias written all over it. And yes, I’m suggesting that what Republicans have decried as the FBI covering for Hillary - and effectively made into a mockery - is actually yet another case of transference. As for Mueller, do we think he would have been QUITE so cautious and tip-toed QUITE so much around the word “collusion” if dealing with, say, a Clinton administration accused of working with Russian operatives to steal the election? Mueller pulled his punches. Sure, he did his job, but he released the report to a compromised fool and allowed them to muddy the already fairly murky waters he established on Trump’s traitors actions.

  193. The review of Ukraine’s compliance with anti corruption efforts was reviewed and approved by the DoD and State Dept in May. The joint letter approving the release is public. Would the funds have been released if we didn’t learn about the whistleblower?