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Today In Impeachment

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House Dims released the transcript of yet another senior diplomat who felt that President Trump’s anti-corruption push in regards to Ukraine was problematic.

George Kent, a senior State Department official who is slated to testify publicly next week, was apparently bothered by Rudy Giuliani’s contacts with Ukraine and said so as far back as March of this year, before allegedly being told to “lay low” by his supervisors.

Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, oversees administrative policy in a bloc of Eastern European countries, which of course includes Ukraine. Kent testified in a closed session on Oct. 15, telling lawmakers that, like other career diplomats, he was essentially cut out of decisions about Ukraine due to maneuvering by other administration officials and outsiders, mainly Giuliani. Kent accused Giuliani of conducting a “campaign of lies” about the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, that led to her early recall from Kyiv.

You’ll recall that Yovanovitch was the Ambassador to Ukraine when Trump took office, then was relieved of her duties a short time later. There were reports at the time that Yovanovitch was fervently anti-Trump and didn’t care to hide it, which isn’t the ideal way for an American diplomat to conduct themselves.

Kent makes clear in his testimony that he was alarmed by the role Giuliani was playing in trying to shape Ukraine policy — especially his efforts to work with a Ukrainian prosecutor to “smear” Yovanovitch. 

But he said that others, like Kurt Volker, the special envoy to Ukraine, thought that it was better to engage with Giuliani than to ignore him because of the influence he wielded on President Trump. According to Kent, Volker even brushed off Giuliani’s push to investigate Hidin’ Joe Biden, reportedly saying: ”Well, if there’s nothing there, what does it matter?” 

An interesting question indeed.

Kent, however, was worried about the precedent being set, and the long-term implications. Or, as he put it: “What I understood was Kurt was thinking tactically and I was concerned strategically.” 

**Editor’s note: George Kent’s personal opinion or distaste for the White House strategy is absolutely irrelevant to the case for which he’s testifying. The only relevant question for Mr. Kent is whether he witnessed any crimes taking place. RUBBING A DIPLOMAT THE WRONG WAY IS NOT AGAINST THE LAW.

Kent’s primary beef seems to revolve around Giuliani’s efforts against his bureaucratic bedfellow, former ambassador Yovanovitch. As Trump’s personal lawyer, Giuliani was interested in getting Ukraine to investigate Biden and the 2016 election. According to the narrative, Yuriy Lutsenko, a top prosecutor in Ukraine at the time, saw Yovanovitch as an apparent threat to his ability to keep his position as it became clear that U.S. officials felt he was not doing enough to battle corruption. 

According to Kent, Giuliani became allies due to their mutual interests. 

“Based on what I know, Yuriy Lutsenko, as prosecutor general, vowed revenge, and provided information to Rudy Giuliani in hopes that he would spread it and lead to her removal,” Kent said. 

Kent said he learned that Lutsenko had even met in private with Giuliani in New York, where Lutsenko’s purpose was to “throw mud” at Yovanovitch and Kent himself. 

Kent said the two men essentially waged a “campaign of lies” about Yovanovitch, who would eventually be recalled early from her post in May. 

“I believe that Mr. Giuliani, as a U.S. citizen, has First Amendment rights to say whatever he wants, but he’s a private citizen,” Kent told lawmakers. “His assertions and allegations against former Ambassador Yovanovitch were without basis, untrue, period.”

I would like to thank Mr. Kent for recognizing Rudy Giuliani’s First Amendment rights, even when he’s discussing one of his colleagues. That must have been quite the sacrifice to his emotional well-being. But since this is an inquiry into whether the President of the United States should be removed from office, I’m compelled to point out an important fact:

THIS IS ALL SECOND, THIRD, AND FOURTH HAND GARBAGE. I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU HEARD THROUGH THE DIPLOMATIC GRAPEVINE ABOUT WHO WAS TALKING SMACK ABOUT WHOM. DID YOU HAVE ANY ACTUAL KNOWLEDGE OF A CRIME, OR NOT?

It can be argued that Rudy’s involvement in Ukraine was inappropriate, especially if the claims of seeking a public announcement of an investigation into the Bidens is true. However, it can also be argued—that is, if one is actually interested in a complete analysis—that the president felt he couldn’t trust bureaucratic insiders to get to the bottom of what he felt was likely corruption. The removal of Ambassador Yovanovitch seems to have tainted Kent’s perspective on the whole situation, as any defense lawyer worth his salt would surely point out in an actual court of law.

The good news is, this will not always be a one-sided affair, and facts from the other side will see the light of day. And I’m pleased to announce that the scorned Mr. Kent helped us toward that end today.

To his credit, Kent said he spoke with a member of Biden’s staff in February 2015 and raised concerns about his son Hunter’s role on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company. 

“I raised my concerns that I had heard that Hunter Biden was on the board of a company owned by somebody that the U.S. government had spent money trying to get tens of millions of dollars back and that could create the perception of a conflict of interest,” Kent told investigators.

The awkward appearance created by a sitting Vice President’s son sitting on the board of a Ukrainian energy company at the time said Vice President was the administration’s “point man” for Ukraine is a bit unsettling, but only disturbing enough to mention it to said Vice President’s staff. Thank God no one on Biden’s staff suggested something untoward about one of his diplomat buddies, otherwise Kent would’ve had to take it up a notch and testify before Congress.

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Now for the part that actually matters…..

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George Kent did not believe that there was a quid pro quo between the Trump administration and the Ukrainian government concerning military aid. Let me repeat that:

George Kent, the man who is currently being paraded around by the media as having testified on Rudy Giuliani’s “campaign of lies,” UNDERMINED THE ENTIRE REASON FOR THE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY. If you’ll recall, that’s what this is all about. It’s not about whether some assistant deputy thinks his former colleague got a raw deal from Rudy Giuliani. It’s about whether the president held up congressionally-authorized military aid in exchange for a political favor.

Kent says it was his “personal opinion” that only the White House meeting, not the military assistance, was part of a quid pro quo. 

“It strikes me that the association was a meeting with the White House, at the White House, not related to the security assistance,” Kent told investigators. “But again, that’s just my personal opinion, other people may have different opinions.”

Yes, they do, Mr. Kent. Everyone and their mama has a “personal opinion” about what the president wanted in exchange for that investigation announcement by Zelensky (which never happened, by the way). What they don’t have are facts. Yet Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi are perfectly content to base an impeachment crusade on personal opinions, hearsay and outright conjecture. Today’s transcript was a giant waste of everyone’s time, just like the impeachment inquiry itself.

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Big Picture

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George Kent’s testimony amounts to this:

The president’s personal attorney smeared his colleague and he was upset about it. He also felt that Giuliani’s actions in Ukraine were upsetting to a multitude of people within the State Dept and he personally felt that it set a bad precedent for foreign policy going forward.

As for quid pro quo, he thinks there might have been one, but it was more about giving Ukraine a high-level meeting than releasing military aid. And oh yeah, Hunter Biden’s dealings with Burisma were setting off alarms all the way back in 2015.

Bottom line: George Kent did not get the president any closer to removal from office, and if Democrats are relying on his testimony to further their case, they’re going to have a very hard time once this is no longer a one-sided engagement.

It’s another day of Schiff’s crusade to throw anything and everything against the impeachment wall to see what will stick. This one didn’t.

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