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The Ukraine blame game

There was never anything in the great Ukrainian quid pro quo. It was props and stagecraft

November 22, 2019

1:34 PM

22 November 2019

1:34 PM

This article is in The Spectator’s December 2019 US edition. Subscribe here.

The unfolding deep-state effort to remove Donald Trump from office diffuses an acrid aroma of paranoia, partly because of its ever-expanding cast of enemies.

After the tears and disbelief of 2016, there were rumors about ‘Russian collusion’ between the Trump campaign and Moscow. It emerged that investigations into Trump and his associates dated back to at least July 2016, when the FBI covertly launched ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ to investigate Michael Flynn, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and other Trump campaign associates. The Obama administration had been sniffing around Trump since 2015, when his campaign first began to show signs of life.

Next came Christopher ‘Mr Dossier’ Steele, the ‘highly-respected’ British spook who wound up a discredited hack. Here’s where the first whiff of paranoia floated by alert nostrils. Steele was hired by the high-powered investigative firm Fusion GPS. Fusion GPS was covertly paid by the law firm of Perkins Coie, which in turn was covertly paid by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The ‘dossier’ was gossip-infused fantasy, bought and paid for by Trump’s political rival.

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Next, the New York Times introduced George Papadopoulos. This young, low-level Trump campaign adviser encountered a host of shadowy operatives. Who was Stefan Halper? Whence Alexander Downer? What price Joseph Mifsud? (We now know Stefan Halper’s price: more than $1 million paid to him for ‘research’ through the Office of Net Assessment at the Department of Defense. Why?)

The efforts of Devin Nunes, former chair of the House Intelligence Committee, exposed the lovebirds Peter Strzok and Lisa Page; Andrew McCabe, the disgraced former acting director of the FBI; and the FBI’s Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie, who also worked for Fusion GPS.

Robert Mueller, on his way to Get Trump, exposed so many bit players and shadowy ministrations. But it all amounted to — nothing. Then came Trump’s appointment in Samarra, or rather Kiev, in July.

During a telephone call with Volodymyr Zelensky about interference in the 2016 election, Trump mentioned Hunter Biden’s corrupt dealings in Ukraine. Adam Schiff, citing an unnamed ‘whistleblower’, claimed that Trump had offered the quid of damaging Joe Biden pro the quo of American money, and screamed for impeachment. It all seemed odd, if not downright preposterous. The ‘whistleblower’ was an antiTrump CIA analyst named Eric Ciaramella. He used to work with Joe Biden and John Brennan, the dyspeptic former CIA director. Among other things, Ciaramella, as RealClearInvestigations put it, ‘helped initiate the Russia “collusion” investigation of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election’.

We are only hearing about Ciaramella now because we are only now hearing about Ciaramella’s lawyer, Mark Zaid. At a Keep America Great rally on November 6, Trump quoted Zaid on Twitter, January 30, 2017: ‘#coup has started. As one falls, two more will take their place. #rebellion #impeachment.’ And then Zaid on Twitter, July 1, 2017: ‘It’s very scary. We will get rid of him, and this country is strong enough to survive even him and his supporters. We have to.’

Even paranoids have real enemies. ‘Sundance’ who writes for the site Conservative Treehouse sounds a bit paranoid too: ‘What is happening now with Adam Schiff and his Lawfare-contracted legal aide, Daniel Goldman, was designed last year. The current HPSCI legislative impeachment process, and every little aspect within it, is the execution of a plan, just like the DOJ/FBI plan was before it in 2016, 2017 & 2018.’ It’s all part, Sundance thinks, of a ‘coup continuum’.

The phrase ‘coup continuum’ has a slight stigma of paranoia about it. But what if it is true? What if Schiff’s impeachment charade was even more of a charade than we suspected? What if it was carefully staffed and orchestrated months ago, part of that ‘coup’ Zaid mentioned way back in 2017? What if, as Sundance asserts, anti-Trump members of the NSC and State Department were ‘always going to be used’ to ‘construct an impeachment narrative…designed to detonate later’.

‘When Bill Taylor is texting Gordon Sondland about a quid-pro-quo, and Sondland is reacting with ‘wtf are you talking about’, Taylor was texting by design. He was manufacturing evidence for the narrative. This was all a set-up. All planned.

‘When Marie Yovanovitch shows up to give her HPSCI deposition to Daniel Goldman with three high-priced DC lawyers: Lawrence Robbins, Laurie Rubenstein and Rachel Li Wai Suen, having just sent her statements to the Washington Post for deployment immediately prior to her appearance, Yovanovitch is doing so by design. All planned.’

Paranoia? Mr Taylor, the former Ambassador to Ukraine and supposed star witness, is not the kingpin we were led to believe. He has admitted he wasn’t on the July 25 phone call and had never even spoken with Trump about Ukraine military aid.

‘This isn’t firsthand. It’s not secondhand. It’s not thirdhand,’ Rep. Lee Zeldin said to Taylor during the hearing. ‘But if I understand this correctly, you’re telling us that Tim Morrison told you that Ambassador Sondland told him that the president told Ambassador Sondland that Zelensky would have to open an investigation into Biden?’

Quoth Taylor: ‘That’s correct.’

There was never anything in the great Ukrainian quid pro quo. It was props and stagecraft, just as the ‘Russia collusion’ cabaret was a charade. It’s all about as real as The Truman Show, and the actors are beginning to make mistakes, leave inappropriate props lying around, break out of character and forget their lines. As in The Truman Show, it’s time to ‘cue the sun’.

This article is in The Spectator’s December 2019 US edition. Subscribe here.


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