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Fact Check: No, Gordon Sondland Did Not Prove Ukraine ‘Quid pro Quo’


Reported by Joel B. Pollak | 

URL of the original posting site: https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/11/05/fact-check-no-gordon-sondland-did-not-prove-ukraine-quid-pro-quo/

Gordon Sondland, the United States Ambassador to the European Union, adresses the media during a press conference at the US Embassy to Romania in Bucharest September 5, 2019. (Photo by Daniel MIHAILESCU / AFP) (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)

CLAIM: Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland confirmed, contrary to earlier testimony, that there had been a “quid pro quo” between President Donald Trump and the Ukrainian government: military aid for “dirt.”

VERDICT: FALSE. Sondland said that he “presumed” there was a “quid pro quo.” But he did not have any first-hand knowledge of one, and other witnesses have testified that there was no such “quid pro quo” at all.

The House Intelligence Committee began releasing transcripts this week of its behind-closed-doors interviews with witnesses in the “impeachment inquiry.” On Tuesday, it released the transcripts of the appearances of Sondland and former Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker.

Volker testified that there had never been a “quid pro quo” — that he had never heard one discussed, and that Ukrainian officials seemed unaware of any such arrangement at all.

But Sondland, who had also testified earlier that there was no “quid pro quo,” had to amend that testimony after he was apparently contradicted by U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, who testified last month that he believed there was a “quid pro quo,” under which the Trump administration was withholding key military aid to Ukraine unless it investigated alleged corruption related to former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

In a supplemental declaration filed with the committee, Sondland said that “by the beginning of September 2019, and in the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid,” he “presumed that the [Ukraine] aid suspension had become linked to the proposed anti-corruption statement” and the investigation of the Bidens. That led him to tell the Ukrainian government that “resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur” until it complied.

But there are two big logical leaps in Sondland’s statement.

The first is that he only “presumed” there was a “quid pro quo” — that is, he did not have direct knowledge of one.

The second is that he told the Ukrainians that a “quid pro quo” was “likely” — that is, he did not know with certainty.

In their rush to accuse the Trump administration of wrongdoing, Democrats and the media have overlooked one other key fact: the crucial August 2019 Politico article.

The article, “Trump holds up Ukraine military aid meant to confront Russia,” dated August 28, was the first that the Ukrainians ever knew about any withholding of aid — five weeks after the phone call between Trump and Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky which supposedly prompted the so-called “whistleblower” to approach Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee. Sondland refers specifically to September.

Therefore what changed his — and others’ — impression was not anything the administration (or its representatives) did or said. Rather, it was the media.

Since Sondland consumes the same media that everyone else does — indeed, it is part of a diplomat’s job to know what is being said — he drew his own conclusions. But when he asked President Trump directly, Trump told him there was no “quid pro quo”: he just wanted Zelensky to do “the right thing.”

All of this presumes there is something wrong with a “quid pro quo.” But even that seems untrue. In fact, “quid pro quo” arrangements are normal in diplomacy. A House bill passed recently by Democrats would establish a “quid pro quo” that bars Russia from access even to private U.S. funds until it can be shown not to have interfered in U.S. elections. Trump, Democrats say, sought his personal or political interest; it also happened to be a national interest.

For years, Democrats defended the investigations of President Barack Obama’s administration into then-candidate Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign by arguing that the country had to know if a major candidate was corrupt or compromised by a foreign power.

That investigation may have been conducted in an unlawful manner — and a grand jury is now on the case — but the logic they used then is even more appropriate to Ukraine and the Bidens.

Hunter Biden’s role as a go-between for Burisma — a Ukrainian gas company suspected of corruption — and his father’s administration has never been fully investigated. The so-called “whistleblower” worked for Biden at the time; that conflict of interest, too, has never been explored.

If Trump had demanded a “quid pro quo,” he would have been doing his job. As it is, there is no evidence of a “quid pro quo” — certainly not from Gordon Sondland.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

Exclusive — Fake News Echo Chamber: New York Times Prints Lies by Adam Schiff Witness Made in Secret Testimony


Authored by Matthew Boyle | Washington, D.C.

URL of the original posting site: https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/10/24/exclusive-fake-news-echo-chamber-new-york-times-prints-lies-by-adam-schiff-witness-made-in-secret-testimony/

The New York Times building is seen on September 6, 2018 in New York. – A furious Donald Trump called September 5, 2018 for the unmasking of an anonymous senior official who wrote in the New York Times that top members of his administration were undermining the president to curb …ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty 

The New York Times on Wednesday published what would have been a major story on White House National Security Council (NSC) aide Kash Patel—if only it had been true.

The story, which relies on leaks from Democrats conducting the “impeachment inquiry” into President Donald Trump of testimony by one witness who had no firsthand knowledge of the allegations she was making, claims Patel had provided President Trump with documents on Ukraine and met with the president about them.

Citing as its sources “people briefed on the matter,” the Times’ Julian Barnes, Adam Goldman, and Nicholas Fandos wrote that Patel was referred to by President Trump as “one of his top Ukraine policy specialists” and that President Trump “wanted to discuss related documents with him.” The Times reporters claimed that Patel’s NSC and White House colleagues “grew alarmed” over all this.

Later in the Times piece, it became clear where exactly this allegation came from—Fiona Hill, a former Trump administration Russia hand, whom the Democrats have been relying on for testimony in the impeachment inquiry. Hill testified earlier this month in the secret room in the basement of the Capitol building from which Democrats have been running their private impeachment proceedings.

Barnes, Goldman, and Fandos wrote:

Fiona Hill, the National Security Council’s former senior director for Eurasian and Russian affairs, testified to House investigators last week that she believed Mr. Patel was improperly becoming involved in Ukraine policy and was sending information to Mr. Trump, some of the people said. Ms. Hill grew alarmed earlier this year when an aide from the White House executive secretary’s office told her that Mr. Trump wanted to talk to Mr. Patel and identified him as the National Security Council’s ‘Ukraine director,’ a position held by one of Ms. Hill’s deputies. The aide said Mr. Trump wanted to meet with Mr. Patel about documents he had received on Ukraine. Ms. Hill responded by asking who Mr. Patel was. While the aide from the executive secretary’s office did not state explicitly that Mr. Patel sent the Ukraine documents to Mr. Trump, Ms. Hill understood that to be the implication, according to a person familiar with her testimony.

As the Times notes, if true, this would mean there were multiple backchannels for Trump on Ukraine matters—the other being through his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and Giuliani’s associates—and it would make it appear as though Trump was up to something by circumventing established channels for such policy, even though the president as the nation’s chief executive officer is well within his rights to do that.

But the problem with the Times story, and its sources that appear to be leaks from Democrats of Hill’s testimony, is that the entire premise is untrue, sources familiar with Patel’s meetings with the president told Breitbart News. Since the Times published its story, Breitbart News has spoken with a dozen sources including current White House officials, then-current-now-former White House officials, congressional officials familiar with the investigation and the meetings Patel had with President Trump, and others in the know about what actually happened and discovered that Patel’s meetings with President Trump had “absolutely nothing,” in the words of one source, to do with Ukraine whatsoever.

One now-former White House official confirmed that President Trump did in fact meet with Patel on a number of occasions, though it’s unclear if these were one-on-one meetings or there were others present.

A source close to House GOP leadership told Breitbart News that Patel’s meetings with the president were focused on domestic national security matters, and that Ukraine did not come up at all.

That source said of the Times story:

This story is complete nonsense. The meeting was arranged at the suggestion of multiple GOP congressmen and senators to discuss domestic national security issues that Kash has specific knowledge and unique expertise in. This meeting had absolutely nothing to do with Ukraine.

A second well-placed source familiar with Patel’s interactions with the president told Breitbart News that the Times story that relies on Hill’s testimony—leaked by Democrats—is “100 percent false.”

“The New York Times story is 100 percent false,” this source familiar with Patel’s interactions with Trump told Breitbart News. “Kash did not discuss Ukraine with Trump in any meeting, nor did he discuss any Ukraine-related documents with him. The Democrats involved in the impeachment interviews were obviously tipped off that Fiona Hill would invent some story like this if asked about Kash, and that’s why they brought up his name to her, then they leaked the exchange to their lackeys at the Times.”

Hill, Breitbart News has learned, was asked a number questions about Patel by the Democrats during her testimony, and a source in the room said her “responses appeared scripted,” suggesting that there was some coordination between Hill or her lawyers and the Democrats on Capitol Hill before her appearance.

Then, as has happened with so much more that has gone on in the secretive U.S. Capitol basement room in which House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is running the impeachment proceedings away from public view, this information was leaked to the Times and weaponized against the president and his administration—the actual truth and facts be damned.

This episode paints a broader and darker picture of what exactly Schiff and his team are doing in the secretive room and raises bigger questions about why Schiff is not holding these hearings in public.

The system Democrats have set up basically goes as such: They bring witnesses in for testimony and depositions and transcribed interviews for hours on end to a private room known as a Secure Compartmentalized Information Facility (SCIF)–behind closed doors and away from the press and public.

They allow no lawyers for the administration inside to challenge anything, present facts in defense of the president, or hear what’s happening down there. Then, Schiff and his team control the information gathered and collected down there—not allowing the minority sufficient access to it.

After that, Schiff, his team, and other Democrats leak the most damaging information to the media—usually out of context, and without the full story—in order to create a public narrative that the president is in serious trouble.

Then it takes a couple days at least for Republicans to get the full truth out about each of these instances to turn around the narrative and expose each “fact” the Democrats are putting forward as flawed. This latest example saw the Times story on Hill’s testimony as the official public record on this matter, until now, for about a full day.

Technically speaking, Hill did make these claims that the Times reported in her testimony—but the veracity of them was never checked by the Democrats who gathered said testimony then leaked it to the New York Times for publication.

The Times also did not check their veracity, even though the first source who spoke to Breitbart News, the one close to House GOP leadership who confirmed Hill’s claims were false, noted that Hill’s inaccurate claims were reproduced uncritically by the Times based upon Democrat leaks. And the Times, this source said, as an institution was aware of the fact that Hill’s claims were false because a separate White House correspondent at the Times was aware of Patel’s meetings with the president at the time of said meetings well before Hill’s testimony happened and well before Democrats even launched an impeachment inquiry—and that this Times reporter was aware that the content had nothing to do with Ukraine.

“What’s particularly shameful is that at least one New York Times White House reporter was told about this meeting in advance off the record, and knew what this meeting was about—and that it was not about Ukraine—but they printed this fake story anyway,” the source close to House GOP leadership told Breitbart News.

Part of the reason the media and the Democrats wanted to smear Patel and attempt to tie him into the impeachment madness, the second source who was familiar with Patel’s conversations with the president said, is because Patel was critical of exposing the failures of the narrative surrounding the previous attempts by the so-called “deep state” to entangle Trump in a scandal on the Russia narrative.

“The story is a lazy hit piece based entirely on rumors and purported second-hand and third-hand information,” that source told Breitbart News. “Both the Times and the Democrats have a vendetta against Kash because he helped blow up their three-year investment in the Russia hoax.”

In fact, this is evident by the fact that the Times story actually opens with a recounting of Patel’s history as an aide on the House Intelligence Committee when Republicans were in the majority and his role in exposing what has become known as “Spygate.”

Barnes, Goldman, and Fandos wrote to open their article, before they even got into the substance of the new but false allegations that Hill leveled against Patel over meetings with the president:

When Kashyap Patel was an aide to the House Intelligence Committee in the first years of the Trump administration, he played a key role in helping Republicans try to undermine the Russia investigation, writing a memo that accused law enforcement officials of abusing their power. The memo, which consumed Washington for weeks, was widely dismissed as a biased argument of cherry-picked facts. But it galvanized President Trump’s allies and made Mr. Patel a hero among them. After Republicans ceded control of Congress this year, he landed on Mr. Trump’s National Security Council staff.

Later in the story, the Times reporters further explain Patel’s role in exposing the Russia scandal as a hoax designed to harm the president.

“Mr. Patel was previously best known as a lead author of the politically charged memo released early last year accusing the F.B.I. and Justice Department leaders of abusing their power in the early stages of the Russia investigation,” Barnes, Goldman, and Fandos wrote. “Mr. Patel worked at the time as an investigator for the House Intelligence Committee under Representative Devin Nunes of California, who ran the panel when Republicans had control of the chamber. Mr. Patel’s efforts to discredit the Russia investigation made him a minor celebrity in conservative circles but a divisive figure on Capitol Hill.”

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