The July 25 Phone Call Was Act Two

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Ukraine, Trump & Administration, Trump ImpeachmentLeave a Comment

Today, The Washington Post reported that it wasn’t just Rudy Giuliani and his merry band of international criminals who were running U.S. policy in Ukraine. Instead, that role was also shared by Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, Special Envoy Kurt Volker, and—as earlier head-scratching statements had suggested—Energy Secretary Rick Perry. And all of them were apparently assigned their roles not via direct contact with Donald Trump, but by acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

And with half a dozen layers of isolation now established, Trump is more than ready to start feeding associates to the wood chipper.

The news that Trump and Mulvaney moved control of Ukraine policy out of traditional channels was apparently provided through the testimony of one of those traditional channels, in the form of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent, who would normally have been at the center of policy planning regarding Ukraine. Instead, Kent reportedly testified on Tuesday that he was instructed to “lay low,” check out what was happening elsewhere, and just leave Ukraine to the “three amigos”—Sondland, Volker, and Perry.

When Kent—who has worked as a foreign service officer since 1992, was previously the deputy chief of the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, and is regarded as one of the top experts on Ukraine—tried to inject some reality into the situation and push back against the conspiracy-theory-based policy being imposed, he was told he was not welcome and should stay away.

All of this happened weeks before Trump was on the phone to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and it all plays into a still unfolding narrative showing that what Trump did on that phone call wasn’t an isolated incident, but part of a play that began months earlier and continued right up until the release of the whistleblower complaint and the beginning of the impeachment inquiry. 

Trump continues the conspiracy theory, planted by his own people, about Clinton’s emails on a server in Ukraine today:

UPDATE: Another press conference with Trump, where he spouts the (Kremlin) party line:

Graham will probably respond with “Thank you sir. Can I have some more?” Nobody knows better how to get thrown under a bus than Lindsay Graham.