Mutually Assured Destruction: Sondland Confirms Quid Pro Quo and Claims Wide Circle Of Knowledge

European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland sent shockwaves around Washington after he not only confirmed what he deduced as a quid pro quo demand but that a wide circle of top officials were fully informed for the effort. Sondland did not directly implicate Trump who he recounted denied any quid pro quo to him in a call on September 9th. However, he offered compelling testimony that he was told to speak to Rudy Giuliani who pursued such a quid pro quo. His testimony suggested knowledge of these efforts by Vice President Michael Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former National Security Adviser John Bolton, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and others. Pence and Pompeo immediately issued direct denials of that meetings or communications with Sondland ever occurred. What was striking is that Sondland made it clear that he would not go down alone. His testimony reflected a type of mutually assured destruction strategy for a wide circle of officials.

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Rep. Blumenauer Under Fire For Calling For Boycott Of Sondland’s Hotels To Pressure Him

In the course of the impeachment hearings, many Democratic members repeatedly accused President Donald Trump of intimidating witnesses with tweets. Indeed, many of us have criticized Trump for his attacks on Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch. Yet, not a single Democratic member objected to the call of Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) for a boycott of the hotels owned by Gordon Sondland to pressure him in testifying before Congress. The tweet by Blumenauer was wildly inappropriate, particularly in a process with pressure on witnesses is a central theme. Yet, when asked, members like Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) simply dismissed the criticism by saying that Trump does worse things. It was a signature moment in our age of rage. There is no self-evaluation or self-awareness in engaging in the very acts that you are objecting to by the other side. The reason is that you are right so any means is viewed as righteous.

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“Democrat Lies”: Rudy Giuliani Attacks Republican Counsel And Demands Apology

While long ridiculed over his own representational performance, Rudy Giuliani attacked the Republican Counsel Steve Castor for spreading “Democrat lies” and demanded an apology for saying that he had business interests in Ukraine. [For the full disclosure, Castor is a graduate of George Washington Law School] . Of course, Giuliani’s conduct in Ukraine has become a full-fledge scandal and he maintained a number of highly dubious associations including his now indicted associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman who were arrested at an airport trying to leave the country (not long after meeting with Giuliani). Fruman and Parnas were pursuing business deals in Ukraine but it is not clear if Giuliani was part of those efforts. Giuliani is currently under investigation by federal prosecutors over his dealings in Ukraine. Giuliani has made a mess of this entire matter and one way to clarify such facts would be to appear for testimony.

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DNA Test Proves Hunter Biden To Be Father Of Child With Former GW Student Despite His Denials

Former George Washington student Lunden Alexis Roberts has faced a long and drawn out fight to prove that Hunter Biden is the father of her child. According to The New Yorker, Biden denied ever having sex with Roberts. It was not until November 9th that Hunter allowed himself to be tested. That would make the birth immaculate because DNA testing just proved that he is the father and, despite receiving his controversial payments of $50,000 a month from Burisma as well as other deals, Hunter Biden has been effectively a deadbeat dad.

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Gallup: Trump’s Support Unchanged By Impeachment Hearings

A new Gallup poll shows that, despite damaging testimony on the Ukrainian controversy, President Donald Trump’s popularity has not fallen and his support among Republicans remains extraordinarily high. The President has held steady at 43 percent popularity overall and an astronomical 90 percent among Republicans. In addition, a Marquette Poll in the critical state of Wisconsin shows support for impeachment falling, not rising among voters. Indeed, Trump is now beating potential Democratic rivals.

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“The Gordon Problem”: Former Ambassador To Face Grilling Before House Committee

President Trump’s European Union ambassador, Gordon Sondland, will appear today before the House Intelligence Committee in what may be the most awaited testimony of the impeachment hearings. Indeed, Sondland has few options and none of them are good as a witness. He has been skewered by witness after witness — leaving the image of a dim-witted braggart with virtually no diplomatic experience and even less judgment. Former National Security Council aide Tim Morrison simply referred to him in clinical terms as “the Gordon problem.” While some of us have questioned whether the Democrats are building a viable impeachment case, they are clearly building a compelling case for a highly inappropriate and damaging campaign for a quid pro quo. Sondland was either a dupe or a designer of that ill-conceived strategy.

In his opening statement, Sondland states that there was a quid pro quo stated by Giuliani but he is less clear about President Donald Trump. However, he makes clear that he did not want to work with Giuliani but that it was clear that Giuliani was carrying out the wishes of the President. That may throw Giuliani under the bus but it is not likely to make this day any easier for Sondland. On page 5, Sondland makes clear that he came to understand that aid was conditioned on the investigations. That will not however make today any easier for Sondland as members delve into the Trump connections and directions.

I will be doing the coverage of the hearings today for CBS News and BBC.

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Harvard Study: Only 35 Percent Of Young Republicans Feel Comfortable Sharing Their Views On Campus

The Institute of Politics at Harvard University has released a poll that once again highlights the failure of universities to protect free speech on our campuses, particularly for religious and conservative students. The poll found that only 35 percent of young Republicans felt comfortable sharing their political opinions on campus. That is called a “chilling effect” and is the manifestation of a hostile environment to free speech.

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SUNY Students Shut Down Leading Economist In Latest Attack On Free Speech

I have previously written about the curtailment of free speech and the refusal of both faculty and students to allow opposing views to be heard on campuses, including the recent move by students to keep both students and faculty from hearing remarks (and have a dialogue with) former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The latest such denial of free speech occurred at the State University of New York at Binghamton where protesters stopped others from listening to Arthur Laffer. Laffer is sometimes called the “father of supply-side economics” and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in June. The videotape shows how the “heckler’s veto” has taken over our campuses — the same week that a new poll shows most Republican students are uncomfortable in expressing their views on campuses.

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Senator Murphy’s Defense Of Hunter Biden Conspicuously Leaves Out One Word . . .

If, as expected, the House impeaches President Donald Trump on the basis of the Ukrainian controversy, the contract of Hunter Biden with the Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, will likely be a focus of the defense. That has made some members uneasy since the $50,000 paid every month to Biden is widely viewed as a classic scheme to influence his father, who was the key official in charge of Ukrainian aid and assistance. For that reason, the defense of the Bidens by Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) on CNN’s “State of The Union” drew many Beltway insiders. Murphy however may have highlighted the problem with the omission of a single word.

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Now For Your Moment Of Zen From The Trump Impeachment Hearings

Below is my column in The Hill on the unfolding impeachment hearings. As I have stated, the hearings have proved damaging for President Donald Trump — damage that was bizarrely magnified by Trump himself with an attack on Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. The move only pushed many Republicans on the Committee to avoid aggressive questioning of the diplomat. The tweet was unfair and remarkably self-defeating. As with the attacks by Trump on Taylor and Kent as “never Trumpers,” the tweet was wildly off base. While I have raised concerns over these allegations as a basis for impeachment, these diplomats strike me as people who have served our country with distinction and dedication. They are indeed the type of professionals that we need in our foreign posts.

That does not change the difficult questions that lie ahead. Perhaps this week’s testimony will materially change the zen-like questions discussed in this column.

Here is the column:

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Airline Cracks Down On Fat Cats

MIKHAIL_GALIN/INSTAGRAM

Well, at least it does for one fat cat. Mikhail Galin, 34, was barred from taking his cat Viktor on board an Aeroflot flight from Moscow to Vladivostok because his cat was too heavy. Faced with a cat over the 17 pound limit and unwilling to put Viktor in with baggage, Galin came up with a clever idea. He got a thinner cat and checked in with it. After the substitute cat was weighed and approved, he swapped the cat with Viktor and tried to board. The problem is Galin boasted on social media and that consequently left him with an engorged feline and no flight pass.

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University of Washington Student Government Declares Doctor Notes Can Make You Sick

The student government unanimously passed a curious resolution this month to denounce the requirement of some professors for students to bring a doctor’s note for short-term illnesses. The resolution objects that such notes could impose costs and even added illnesses for students.

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Saudi Princess: Women Have More Rights In The Kingdom Than The West

Sometimes it takes a princess to truly make a royal fool out of yourself. Last week, Princess Lamia bint Majid spoke to the World Tolerance Summit in Dubai. That appearance alone raised issues of hypocrisy and absurdity. However, what the princess said was breathtaking: that in a country where women have been arrested for driving or moving about without permissions of male relatives, Saudi women enjoy more rights than their apparently oppressed counterparts in the West.

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As Impeachment Draws Near, An “Agent Provocateur” May Have To Wait For An Urgent Pardon

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Below is my column in USA Today on the conviction of Roger Stone and his final battle for a presidential pardon to avoid a potentially terminal prison sentence.

Here is the column:

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