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For U.S. diplomats, public impeachment hearings could be catharsis and maybe a circus

36 Comments
By Humeyra Pamuk, Jonathan Landay and Arshad Mohammed

On the first day of November, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent an internal email to thousands of State Department staff that began: "As champions of American diplomacy, we are in the truth-telling business."

While the email seen by Reuters focused on global policy challenges, the message extolling truth struck a nerve in a diplomatic corps immersed in an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump that Pompeo himself has spurned.

This week three diplomats will be the first to testify in open hearings led by Democrats in the House of Representatives considering whether Trump should be impeached for abusing power by pressing Ukraine to investigate a rival. If so, his potential removal from office would be decided in the Senate.

Ten diplomats past and present have testified behind closed doors, most under subpoena. At least four voiced alarm at the efforts of Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to politicize a department that prides itself on being apolitical.

Pompeo's refusal to cooperate with the House inquiry and his failure to defend career diplomats from attacks fueled discontent. So did a White House spokeswoman's calling them"radical un-elected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution."

"It sure would have been nice for him to say something supporting the troops. The silence is deafening," a career diplomat said of Pompeo, a former CIA chief under Trump.

Early in the probe, Pompeo sternly objected to efforts to obtain depositions from current and former State Department officials and accused Democrats of bullying and intimidation. He has refused to heed subpoenas for documents.

When the three diplomats testify on Wednesday and Friday, with their reputations on the line as they face potentially harsh questions from Trump's fellow Republicans in Congress, they will have the backing of many colleagues.

“People are supportive. I think that’s the majority viewpoint,” said a veteran State Department official, one of the 10 current officials and diplomats who spoke to Reuters and who all requested anonymity to avoid retaliation. "There is a sense that we’re getting shafted."

The officials, who have served under both Democratic and Republican administrations, said the first public hearings are a chance for the diplomatic corps to show Americans they are public servants of integrity and principle who steer clear of partisan politics. While they spoke of deep frustration in the Trump era State Department, they stress it is their job to carry out the president's policies.

Trump's allies counter that he has changed the course of U.S. foreign policy with an "America First" approach that aims to bring back U.S. troops from "endless wars" and rebalance trade agreements in America's favor.

“On the whole, everyone is watching and cheering on Taylor and Yovanovitch,” said another official, referring to William Taylor, the top diplomat in Kiev, and Marie Yovanovitch, whom he replaced in June after she was abruptly recalled by Trump.

Taylor and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary who handles day-to-day policy on Ukraine, will testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday while Yovanovitch is scheduled to appear on Friday.

The State Department would provide no on-the-record comment for this story after multiple requests. A spokesperson confirmed a CBS News report that the department plans to provide legal assistance to employees called to testify.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

The impeachment inquiry centers on a July 25 phone call in which Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate unsubstantiated corruption accusations against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy firm.

Pompeo was on the call, but initially failed to acknowledge that he knew of its contents.

Biden is a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to oppose Trump’s bid for re-election next year. He and his son deny wrongdoing.

In closed-door testimony, witnesses have bolstered a whistleblower's accusations that Trump sought the Biden investigation in return for granting Zelenskiy a White House visit and releasing nearly $400 million in U.S. security assistance to help Ukraine against Russia-backed separatists.

"It’s not what Pompeo is doing. It’s not his responses," said another person who works in the State Department. "It’s the underlying facts of leveraging U.S. aid for political gain. That is so appalling."

Trump and Pompeo deny any improper conduct, the president calling the probe a Democratic bid to undo his surprise 2016 victory ahead of a November 2020 election.

Becoming secretary of state in April 2018, Pompeo won early plaudits from career staff for reversing some of the unpopular policies of his predecessor Rex Tillerson by, for instance, increasing promotions and lifting a hiring freeze.

One career diplomat said that while "morale is low and everyone is complaining," Pompeo was preferable to Tillerson in part because his access to Trump had allowed him to better advocate for the department.

While the hearings will give the diplomats a direct channel to Americans, some colleagues worry they will also be subject to brutal questioning in the room and vicious attacks outside by Trump allies looking to undermine their credibility.

“On the one hand, it’s good. On the other hand, it’s just going to degenerate into a circus,” one official said.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

36 Comments

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The State Department is a giant swamp, filled with Obama era appointees.

Drain it and start anew.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

The State Department is a giant swamp, filled with Obama era appointees.

Drain it and start anew.

Sure it is. If this were remotely true, why hasn't Donny done anything in the past three years to address the problem? He too busy golf, tweeting, and giving Kim photo ops?

3 ( +7 / -4 )

maybe a circus

Oh, it's a circus all right.

Biden is a leading contender for the Democratic nomination

That's what the polls keep telling us. In reality he's finished. He's not going to be the nominee.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Oh, it's a circus all right.

Thanks to the republicans obstructing and attempting to subvert the rule of law. TEE HEE! Oh my . . . HAR!

That's what the polls keep telling us. In reality he's finished. He's not going to be the nominee.

We can't trust the polls, but we can trust an anonymous internet poster he constantly pushes falsehoods. Got it.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Biden will win the nomination, but only after Bloomberg totally drains his war chest in the primaries.

Biden won't be able to afford campaign buttons after he's finished battling it out with Bloomberg.

Thanks Kuschner for calling in some New York favors with your buddies.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

The impeachment inquiry centers on a July 25 phone call in which Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate unsubstantiated corruption accusations against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy firm.

If Republicans continue to call for testimony by Hunter Biden to establish that this was all about corruption, then it is fair to establish the President's -- and the country's -- criteria for corruption by demanding testimony from the Trump children along with all their financials. Do Republicans really want to go down that road? I for one would love to stack Hunter Biden's actions up against the actions of Trump's spawn.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

It over for Trump, Google Lev Parnas

3 ( +5 / -2 )

It over for Trump, Google Lev Parnas

I wish I could agree, but as @burningbush pointed out Trump's backed by factions of the global elite, the fossils running the fossil economy who are getting richer and more powerful each day he's in office. Those factions will protect their goose and the US gold he allows them to use for their gain. They'll continue pouring millions into his campaign coffers for him to skim, like he did with his so called 'charity'. Since Trump's election his global backers have used their collective billions and their media to ensure he stays in office.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

It’s definitely going to be a circus as these people have to answer questions in public. schiff can’t hide or block them from answering.

Can’t wait to hear from the ex-ambassador why she lied under oath about not replying when contacted by Schiff staff. Of course she did.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

It over for Trump and the Republican, their is different between the court of pubic opinion, and court of legal opinion, Republican brace their Burden fantasies,at their own political peril, Google Lev Parnas

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Without evidence, I suspect Vindman (active duty military partisan) with ties to Russia and Ukraine didn’t like what Trump said.

he was on the call but can’t do anything. Goes to his “ethics lawyer” brother who puts him in touch with super partisan Eric who wasn’t on the call but could get IC protections.

someone leaked classified info to Eric (or the whistleblower). We aren’t finding out who that was as Vindman curiously isn’t listed for public testimony.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Vindman who did you talk to after the call about this? schiff/Swalwell/his lawyer: don’t answer that its an attempt to expose the whistleblower!

us: ummm we didn’t ask if he talked to the whistleblower. But thanks for confirming you all know he did.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Without evidence, I suspect 

Says it all right there.

You Trumpsters don’t have a real leg to stand on.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

"As champions of American diplomacy, we are in the truth-telling business."

(Cough)!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

BlacklabelToday  08:55 am JST

Can’t wait to hear from the ex-ambassador why she lied under oath about not replying when contacted by Schiff staff. Of course she did.

That sounds like nothing but supposition,.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Without evidence, I suspect

I stopped reading here.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

It’s going to be a huge circus. Americans better get used to it because every president from here on out will be impeached on a technicality whenever the opposition party controls the House of Representatives.

Biden won't be able to afford campaign buttons after he's finished battling it out with Bloomberg.

Neither Biden nor Bloomberg have any chance at all of getting the Dem nomination. They have several huge strikes against them among the parties activist base. They are both White and they are both men. That means they are beneficiaries of the dreadful “white privilege” and they are misogynists. The only chance they have is to declare they are Native American, gay, or in the process of changing genders. Otherwise, they are just wasting their time and a whole lot of rich people’s money.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

The State Department is a giant swamp, filled with Obama era appointees.

Drain it and start anew.

And fill with Russian spies - one's that think like Trump...you know, like Boris Badenov...

Without evidence, I suspect Vindman (active duty military partisan) with ties to Russia and Ukraine didn’t like what Trump said.

he was on the call but can’t do anything. Goes to his “ethics lawyer” brother who puts him in touch with super partisan Eric who wasn’t on the call but could get IC protections.

Today is Veterans Day - LTC Vindman volunteered to serve his country, went into battle, and was wounded with injuries he carries to this day. Veterans Day honors these heroes who sacrificed for their country.

That is, except Trumpers, who show how perverted they are by insulting and smearing them, on the day we hold to honor them.

Nothing can be more un-American - and shows they have no honor, no integrity, and no love of their country - except if that country is Russia...

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It'll be a circus alright. Just bringing in the blindly obedient Republican congressional representatives and senators guarantees that this will happen.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

In closed-door testimony, witnesses have bolstered a whistleblower's accusations that Trump sought the Biden investigation in return for granting Zelenskiy a White House visit and releasing nearly $400 million in U.S. security assistance to help Ukraine against Russia-backed separatists.

In closed-door testimony, witnesses offered no actual proof of any quid pro quo. Only their personal "feelings" that there woulda/should/coulda been evidence, if any evidence existed. The Democrats pet media outlets immediately proclaimed that Democrats had finally/once again discovered the smoking gun that they've been claiming to have ever since they discovered that Hillary had lost her 2nd attempt to become POTUS.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

For U.S. diplomats, public impeachment hearings could be catharsis and maybe a circus

Or they could be Pelosi's best chance to become President of the U.S.?

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

For U.S. diplomats, public impeachment hearings could be catharsis and maybe a circus

Or they could be Pelosi's best chance to become President of the U.S.?

I see you've already judged Pence guilty in all of this too - I agree - good assumption....

2 ( +3 / -1 )

In closed-door testimony, witnesses offered no actual proof of any quid pro quo

Donald Trump's transcripts did that well enough. Once again, President Fatty McImbecile is too stupid to know when he's incriminating himself. This idiocy is why Trump cultists vacillate between "read the transcript" and "don't read the transcript".

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Neither Biden nor Bloomberg have any chance at all of getting the Dem nomination. They have several huge strikes against them among the parties activist base. They are both White and they are both men. 

Bernie is a straight white man, and is hugely popular. Have you considered that you should get political education in places other than alt-right YouTube?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Its not Veterans Day in the United States yet. Plus, being in the military doesnt automatically make someone above and beyond reproach.

That is, except Trumpers, who show how perverted they are by insulting and smearing them, on the day we hold to honor them.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Yeah, the new thing is that Nikki Haley is supporting Trump so that when he blames Pence for all of this and removes him, she can be VP. Then when Trump is then removed, we have President Nikki Haley. Thanks CNN. No, she actually believes he did nothing wrong,

I look forward to the testimony when they are asked to identify the actual quid pro quo. I am sure the "feelings" part will go well, but the proof part is going to be really difficult for the public testimony. So far about the quid pro quo, we had there was none, I read it in the NY Times, I presumed there was and I heard it fourth hand from others. No one has taken the transcript and said "right there is the quid pro quo".

I see you've already judged Pence guilty in all of this too - I agree - good assumption....

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

No, she actually believes he did nothing wrong,

This is not true.

The former ambassador said she disagreed with the president over his handling of Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit in Helsinki in 2017. She also wrote that his comments after the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017, that there were good people on "both sides", had been "hurtful and dangerous". A counter-protester, Heather Heyer, was killed at the demonstration.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-50370347

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Nothing wrong, related to Ukraine call. Which is the topic. Come on man.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Actually this is just a preview of the articles of impeachment though.

Dems cant stay on topic and will be adding this and that, we will end up with trying to impeach him for 100+ separate things, normal people will lose interest and that will be the end of that. I still cant believe out of all the things Trump has ever done, Dems picked this Ukraine phone call to commit political suicide with.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Nothing wrong, related to Ukraine call.

Totally, that's totally why Donny refuses to allow witnesses in his administration to testify. That's also why he moved the actual transcript to an encrypted department. It's all because is very innocent, the most innocent. ;)

Its funny though that you think the people who testifies under oath are lying, and the ones who refuse to testify are telling the truth.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I still cant believe out of all the things Trump has ever done, Dems picked this Ukraine phone call to commit political suicide with.

Ah! So you do think there are lots of things Trump has done that are even worse than putting national security in peril. Okay, which of Trump's many crimes or glaring examples of being unfit for office would you impeach him for?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I read the transcript myself. Which was released by the President to be transparent. Where is the transparency from the Dems? Was even 1 of the Republican witnesses approved for public? what are they hiding by preventing this testimony in public?

I dont need the opinion of others or how they "feel" about it.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Dems cant stay on topic and will be adding this and that

Completely on topic. And I'm not a Dem.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I read the transcript myself. Which was released by the President to be transparent.

Lolololol no you didn't. What you read is clearly titled memorandum, not a verbatim transcript. There's at least 10 minutes of conversation missing from the "transcript." Nice own goal.

Was even 1 of the Republican witnesses approved for public?

Because this is an impeachment hearing for Trump. No one has time for dumb right-wing conspiracy theories, and you can't impeach Biden anyways. Boohoo.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The impeachment inquiry centers on a July 25 phone call in which Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate unsubstantiated corruption accusations against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy firm.

Did you read the transcript? The Ukranian president said he didn't feel pressured by the call. No Quid Pro Quo. This is just your emotions and feelings about the call. There is nothing impeachable in that call.

It over for Trump

Yepper! This time, Drumpf is really, really, finished! haha, you guys been saying this for at least 2 years now.

I see you've already judged Pence guilty in all of this too - I agree - good assumption....

In this country you are innocent until you are proven guilty. Unless you're Kavanaugh, Trump or Pence, lol.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

The impeachment inquiry centers on a July 25 phone call in which Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate unsubstantiated corruption accusations against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy firm.

Did you read the transcript? The Ukranian president said he didn't feel pressured by the call. No Quid Pro Quo. This is just your emotions and feelings about the call. There is nothing impeachable in that call.

We haven't seen a transcript, just a summary - Trump hasn't released it yet. And LTC Vindman who was on the call said there was much more troubling info that was left out of the summary.

It over for Trump

Yepper! This time, Drumpf is really, really, finished! haha, you guys been saying this for at least 2 years now.

When your own handpicked team, all Repubs, say you were shaking down a foreign government for political gain, you're in a bad way...

I see you've already judged Pence guilty in all of this too - I agree - good assumption....

In this country you are innocent until you are proven guilty. Unless you're Kavanaugh, Trump or Pence, lol.

Convince your fellow Trumper, he was the one that said Pence was history...

That is, except Trumpers, who show how perverted they are by insulting and smearing them, on the day we hold to honor them.

Its not Veterans Day in the United States yet. Plus, being in the military doesnt automatically make someone above and beyond reproach.

What a weak excuse - and I'll say it again - the Trumpers disrespect and insults to our military heroes on Veterans just shows they have zero patriotism or love of country...just like their President...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

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