The Chaotic Story of Trump’s Ukraine Aid Freeze

December 29, The New York Times broke what they called “An 84 Day Clash of Wills ‘’  An in depth article traced the people and events that occurred from the inception of Donald Trump’s idea that he would put a hold on necessary funds Congress had passed to help Ukraine withstand Russian tanks on their border.

The president was known to make impulsive decisions without the advice of his Security aides.  He refused to read the daily policy briefs that gave him the latest information on foreign and domestic affairs.  He also had a fixed idea that Ukraine was a corrupt state.  This was unsupported by current information that  newly elected President Zelensky was a reformer.

The Story Begins:  June 27 was more than a week after Donald Trump first suggested putting a hold on security aid to embattled Ukraine.   Mick Mulvaney, Acting Chief of Staff, was on Air Force One with Trump flying to Japan. Mulvaney sent an email to an aide in D.C. asking, “Did we ever find out about the money for Ukraine and whether we can hold it back?” The aide, Robert Blair, wrote back, “ Expect Congress to become unhinged “. He had written in a previous email that would happen if the White House tried to countermand spending passed by The House and Senate. The aid Congress had approved was $391 million for javelin missiles,  rocket propelled grenades,  sniper rifles, night vision goggles, medical aid and other equipment .

During July and August,  top lawyers at the OMB ,Office of Management and Budget, met with White House lawyers to see if Trump as Commander in Chief could be able to freeze the aid to Ukraine.  Mulvaney shared Trump’s demands across the administration while the OMB and Pentagon were kept in the dark.   Trump insisted about Ukraine, “They are all corrupt…. Terrible people.”

In late August,  Mulvaney was joined by Defense Secretary Mark Esper,  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton. They  arranged a meeting in the Oval Office with Trump sitting behind the Resolute Desk.   One by one, each man presented his case for lifting the aid freeze.   They were powerful men in important positions and all agreed that this should not happen.  The discussion was long and heated.  However, Trump had decided and they were not successful in changing his mind.  He declared, “Ukraine is a corrupt country…. And we are pissing away our money.”

It is important to note that these three men had been subpoenaed by The House Intelligence Committee in their Impeachment Inquiry.   The president had told all his administration officials to refuse the subpoenas and they had agreed.  However, Ambassador Taylor,  Ambassador Yovonovich,  Colonel Vindaman  and  fourteen other witnesses   gave one hundred hours of sworn testimony and answered questions from members of The Intelligence Committee.

Trump orders freeze on Ukraine aid  be partially lifted on September 12. 

Then, on  September 25, he made his  famous call to President Zelensky asking  that he do us “a favor”.  The favor had two parts.  First, announce publicly that he would start an investigation of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter for unlawful activities in Ukraine.  Second, he would support the unproven conspiracy theory that Ukraine had meddled in the 2016 election.  In return, Zelensky would be invited to a meeting in the Oval office, a much desired boost to his prestige as a new president. Note:This meeting never happened and Zelensky never supported the conspiracy theory.

Later, during the Impeachment Inquiry,  Trump’s offer was described as Bribery, one of the two examples of  High Crimes and Misdemeanors named  in The Constitution.

Enter The Whistle Blower:  A C.I.A. official who had once worked in the White House learned of the phone call. He or she wrote a complaint that was declassified and given to The House Intelligence Committee.  For the record, The Whistle Blower Protection Act was passed by Congress in 1989. It protects whistle blowers who report activities that violate laws, rules and regulations in government as well as business and industry.

Epilogue:   On September 25. The New York Times ran a banner headline: Pelosi Will Open Formal Impeachment Inquiry, Accusing President of Betrayal of The Nation.”

……………………………………………………..Joyce S. Anderson

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What We Saw and Heard During The Debate on The Articles of Impeachment.

On the day of the debate, each member was given one minute to speak.  Democrats alternated with Republicans over the long hours.  The entire session, carried live on cable channels,  gave the viewers a chance to see the vast differences between the Representatives of the two parties and to hear what they stressed.

As I watched and listened,  I saw the Republicans were mostly  old white men (  90 percent confirmed later). The Democratic white men (38 percent confirmed later) were joined by women (white and of color ) young  Blue Wave and  older  women alternated with  Black and Hispanic men.

Behind  Republican Jim Jeffords was a huge picture of the United States Map from the 2016 election with Red states and Blue states.  Trump states covered more space since his votes were spread out over the middle of the country, while the East and West coasts were heavily Blue.  The Title was “ Impeachment Is Their Only Option.”    The actual count of course, gave Trump 63 million votes.  Hillary Clinton polled 65 million votes despite James Comey’s press conferences and Russian interference for Trump, she won The Popular Vote.

During the speeches, Republicans  spoke with fury and anger  about  the act of impeaching  Donald Trump.   One compared him to Jesus Christ being nailed to the cross.  Another asked for a moment of silence for the sixty three million people who had voted for him.   They attacked the process of Impeachment throughout, naming Adam Schiff and others who led the Investigation in The House .

It is notable that not one Republican spoke of the president’s behavior , character, actions or morals in reference to the Articles based on his Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress of which they are all members.   He was portrayed as a victim.

Epilogue:

Donald J. Trump was impeached  on both Articles of Impeachment by solid majority votes in The House of Representatives.  He will forever have an asterix next to his name in the history books.  However, his fate lies with the Senate trial that should take place next.  The Senate decides on Conviction and Removal from Office or Acquittal.

The next step is a trial in the Senate.  However, a major problem has arisen, since the Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell has made clear that he is working with the  president’s lawyers to produce the trial.   He has said,  “I am not impartial”  although he and every senator has to take an oath saying they will be impartial jurors.

As a result, The Speaker of The House, Nancy Pelosi has said she will wait until it is clear that there will be a fair trial before she will forward the Impeachment Results to the Senate.   Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has presented McConnell with ways that can happen.   Now, it is a waiting game until  Congress returns after the Recess

The American people will celebrate the holidays and The New Year in the weeks ahead.   Whatever our political persuasion… let us all hope for a fair trial that will  bring witnesses and documents before the Senate and the American public.   Then a vote would have meaning for the president and the American people.

………………………………………………. Joyce S. Anderson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Love With Writing

While reading Edith Wharton’s memoir, A Backward Glance, I came across a description

of another writer that blazed from the page.  She wrote of Joseph Conrad that “…he had

worshiped the English language all his life like a lover.”

As I read these words, I was struck by the passion of her imagery.  Of course, Edith

Wharton’s entire life was devoted to the English language from the time when she first

discovered  hundreds of leather bound books in her father’s library.  She went on to become a

distinguished novelist whose books limned the manners and mores of her day. The Age of

Innocence brought her the Pulitzer Prize; Ethan Frome, the ironic novella of life in a small

New England town,  appears on reading lists in many of our high schools.

I remember in eighth grade when we were first introduced by our English teacher to the

technique of ‘diagraming’ a sentence.  First, we had to separate each word as to the particular

part of speech: noun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, article.  Then, out came the rulers to

draw a graphic design of the sentence.  The straight line and placement of the subject and

predicate.  Once these essentials were in place, we had to position the object. And then the many

diagonal lines for the modifiers and the phrases.

We started with simple sentences and progressed to more complex ones.  I must confess

that I was probably the only one in the class who appeared to enjoy this entire endeavor. There

was something about the order and symmetry of the design that I found profoundly satisfying.

Every word had a place in relation to every other word.  It all could be broken down and put back

together again.  Voila!  The structure of the sentence was revealed in its purest form.

In high school, when I studied Latin, the appeal was the same. To take the sentence

apart — finding the verbs,  nouns and modifiers. Then, reconstructing the sentence in English.

It was a puzzle that could be deciphered in measured steps.  And it served to heighten my

appreciation for the order of the English language as well. Some said that was the main reason to

study Latin, labeled a ‘dead language’. But I always felt it had intrinsic worth in itself. My

mother, the only person I knew who had studied Latin for eight years and Greek for seven,

agreed.  She was a wise woman in many ways, one of which was to value the Classics.

Many decades later, as I write this column, I still retain the wonder and love for the

beauty and majesty of the English language.  And I still have a lot to learn.

In the year 2000, when I began the interviews and writing that led to my first book,

Courage In High Heels, I was embarking in a new direction.  Writing articles for newspapers

and magazines for over twenty years was a different pursuit from writing a book.  Both, of

course, require the disciplined use of the language.   I like the term, ‘wordsmith’ as a descriptor

— a writer molds words  as a sculptor shapes the clay and a silversmith works with the precious

metal.

During the interviews with the eight women who gave me their life stories for Courage

In High Heels, I learned that their words were the heart of their stories. In an atmosphere where

trust was essential, they told me with candor and honesty  what they had thought and felt during

the skein of events that threaded through their lives.  They each had overcome formidable

obstacles in life with amazing spirit and resilience. Yet each woman had dealt with life in

an individual way. The words that they shared with me were very powerful and I used them liberally in each story. I call their quotes —  the “juices of the book”.

After completing my first book, there was the daunting task of finding a publisher.

Twenty proposals were out at all times to prospective agents and/or editors, in a process called

simultaneous submission.  During the two and a half years before the book was accepted for

publication, I embarked on a wonderful new romance with the English language — writing

fiction.  I found it exhilarating to create the characters and their ever evolving lives — the twists,

the conflicts, the drama in human relationships. I became totally engrossed in the writing.

The first novel, Flaw In The Tapestry, will be in print within the next six months.  If

Winter Comes and The Mermaids Singing are also completed and waiting in the wings.   All

three are indeed the fruits of a long and continuing love affair with the English language.

As my mother often said — onward!

 

 

Kimchi Family: Jewish Literary History

Our family had ancestors who wrote in the 19th and 20th centuries.  They can be found on Wikipedia under the Title above with pictures and books they wrote.  It is fascinating to explore.  Take a look.

When my sister, Shirley Sloan Fader went to Israel with her husband Seymour to live after the State of Israel was born, they met several  Kimchis who were writers.

It is fascinating to trace the probability that writing genes have been passed from generation to generation in our family.  Here goes:

Shirley and I were the daughters of Miriam Marcus Sloan.  Her mother was Hannah KIMCHI Marcus.  She had come to America with her father in about 1890 from Poland.  He didn’t   like it here and then went to Palestine.  She said, “I like it here.  I’m staying.”  Lucky for all of us, she was very independent and beautiful.  She was courted in the Lower East Side of New York by a German Jewish Doctor whose last name was Marcus.

They had three daughters, Deborah, Rose and Miriam. Deborah and Miriam were early scholars and loved to write.  They both went to Hunter College , free in those days, and studied many languages: Latin, Greek, Old English, Hebrew of course, French, German .  In later years, Miriam learned Braille to teach on a volunteer basis to classes for l7 years of her later life. She and her students sent books to The Library of Congress in Washington.

Deborah wrote “The Three Pillars”, the book given by The Theological Seminary to Jewish brides on their weddings for decades. The pillars were Thought. Worship. Practice. Deborah was also the Supervisor of Languages in Elizabeth , New Jersey where they lived.  Once a year she gave a lecture in Latin. She married a Sephardic Rabbi, Raphael Melamed.

Miriam married Samuel Louis Sloan, a doctor who opened his practice in Paterson , New Jersey.  My sister and I both loved to write.  Shirley became what was known as a three name lady writer.  Shirley Sloan Fader.   Her books are  in my library.  She wrote articles and books for children and adults.  “The Princess Who Grew Down”  , “From Kitchen to Career”  and “Jobmanship”  under a man’s name S. R. Redford.  ( The initials were for Shirley Ruth )

I started writing books after writing a weekly column for 15 years in Jewish Times, “ Dimensions” on Social and Political aspects of current life.  My first book, “Courage in High Heels”, published in 2003 became my bestseller.  My novels: “Flaw in The Tapestry” was followed by a sequel, “If Winter Comes”.  “The Mermaids Singing”  led to “The Critical Eye”, a collection of my articles on American life style and culture that have been published in newspapers and magazines over the years.

It appears that some of the original Kimchi genes from the European and Palestine Kimchi writers are appearing in my children and their children.   How delightful to contemplate this genetic progression.

Steven and David write as an integral part of their professional positions.  Steve is managing partner of the law firm he founded in New York City. Dave is a Senior Executive at the Washington Center in D.C.  He was  the editor of  “‘Leverage” and contributes Op Ed columns to The Hill, Baltimore Sun and other major publications. Faith has used her writing skills to build a solid career in the corporate business world where reports, and analyses are required in many aspects of the positions she has held.

Next Generation:   Steven & Lauren’s son Jason has a degree in English and has written a novel as well as several TV or Movie scripts.   David and Adrienne’s daughter Eden is aimed at a career in Design where she will edit and create in writing and pictures.  Faith’s daughter Jennifer matched writing skills to her art work  in college years.  She is currently  preparing Power Point presentations for a New York Doctor who gives lectures around the world on complex medical subjects.  Jen does the writing.

It seems to me the proud grandmother that all three of the next generation are displaying Kimchi genes to advantage.  Fantastic!

………………………………………………………………………………………Joyce S. Anderson

 

Alert:William Barr Preparing a Report to Blow up The Impeachment Inquiry!

 

Daily Kos has released a detailed account of what The Attorney General  has been doing as he races around the world.  He proved he was the president’s lawyer rather than the people’s lawyer when he gave his four page summary of the Mueller Report’s 400 plus pages.  For the past months, he has visited many countries seeking ways to build Donald Trump’s reputation and denigrate The Impeachment Inquiry and The Democrats.

Recommend:  Read Daily Kos 11/18/19 posting on your computer.   Full account of Barr’s actions , plans and Republicans cooperation in this scheme.

………………………………………..Joyce S. Anderson

 

Public Impeachment Hearings and Fireside Chats

Prologue :  The Impeachment Inquiry moved into a second phase with a vote in The House of Representatives on Thursday, October 31.  The subject was new Rules for the Inquiry that gave the president and his lawyers a role to participate that was not offered in the Nixon and Clinton impeachments.  The result was 232 Democrats (minus 2)  in favor and 196 Republicans against. New York Times banner headline: “Fractured House Backs Impeachment Inquiry”

On Friday, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham spoke about a potential impeachment, saying “ I wouldn’t say it’s a foregone conclusion. I would say that we‘re expecting it.”  On Thursday, Trump, while giving an interview to The Washington Examiner,  had suggested he might read the transcript from his call to Ukraine’s president as “a fireside chat”  (ala FDR) on live television because people have to hear it.”

This vote followed weeks of former public officials defying subpoenas from the White House and testifying under oath before The House Intelligence Committee. They spoke about the phone call Trump made to President Zelensky of Ukraine asking for a “favor”
in return for allowing millions of dollars in aid that had been passed by Congress to be sent.  The favor was to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter for illegal activity in Ukraine.  Trump had put a hold on that aid earlier.

Possible Articles of Impeachment:

First, consider his Oath of Office and then weigh his actions, speech and behavior during almost three years as president.

Oath of office: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States , and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

 

Article One of ImpeachmentBetrayal of The United States Constitution.

The Emoluments clause of The Constitution in Article I, Section 9 prohibits the President “without the consent of Congress”  from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office or Title of any kind from a King, Prince or Foreign State.”

Donald Trump failed to divest himself of his business interests in the United States and other countries on assuming the presidency as all former presidents have done. Thus, he has reaped millions of dollars at the Trump International Hotel in Washington from foreign officials who visit the White House ,  as well as his other hotels and sports locations in foreign countries.

He has also had his lawyers block releasing his tax returns to avoid a public record of the millions he has made while in office.

 

Article Two: Abuse of Power

President Trump called President Zelensky of Ukraine and offered Javelin missiles to protect against Russian tanks only if he would do “a favor”.  The favor was to investigate former Vice President Biden and his son Hunter for illegal business dealings. A whistle blower revealed this telephone call that developed into a major White House scandal.   It was labeled a “shake down”  and a form of corruption to ask a foreign president to interfere in our political system.

 

Article Three : Obstruction of Justice

The Mueller Report , Volume 2, lists seven examples of Donald Trump’s Obstruction of Justice. They were highlighted in blocks on the front page of The New York Times after the 400 plus pages were finally made public.  April 19, 2019.

Example six: “Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the president’s corrupt use of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances that no person is above the law.”

Epilogue:  Article II, Section 4 of The Constitution was part of the original document written in l787.  “The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from office on Impeachment for and Conviction of Treason, Bribery and other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

They had fought the revolution against King George and they wanted to make sure this final section of Article  II, The Executive, gave Congress the responsibility of removal from office on Impeachment and Conviction.

A famous anecdote describes Benjamin Franklin emerging from the building in Philadelphia where The Constitution was signed. He was  asked a question by one of the women in the crowd, “Dr. Franklin, do we have a monarchy or a republic?”  His reply was quoted by Speaker Pelosi after the House vote on Impeachment Rules was passed.  “A Republic…. If you can keep it. “

…………………………………………Joyce S.  Anderson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Ellis Island

 

Prologue: Immigrants have been a major emphasis during Donald Trump’s first years in office. A series of administration travel bans have been halted by Federal Judges.  The president continues to promise to build “The Wall” to stop immigration from Mexico and Central American countries. Trump sees immigrants as a threat to the nation, especially Muslims and Hispanics. What a contrast with President John F. Kennedy who wrote , “A Nation of Immigrants”.

One of the most interesting immigrant experience that my husband and I have taken part in was when we visited the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York City some years ago. It was a travel back in time to the years when immigrants were welcomed into our country from nations all over the globe.

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Where did the immigrants go, once they passed the stern uniformed inspectors, the daunting tests and disembarked onto the dock in New York Harbor? How did they live — this generation that Oscar Handlin described so brilliantly in his Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Uprooted ?  What was the quality of their lives?

The immigrants were risk takers, leaving generations of ancestors behind them to venture over thousands of miles of ocean into a completely new life. Of the 12 million immigrants who came through Ellis Island, 8 million left the area with destinations pinned to their lapels. They climbed aboard trains and traveled to distant places across the country on the huge network of railroads. However, by 1900, most of the newcomers settled in four industrial states: New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Illinois. In New York City, they lived in ethnic enclaves on the Lower East Side. For the surge of eastern and southern European immigrants, the crowded tenements were a vast change from the villages they left behind in Belarus, Ukraine, Poland or Italy.

 

Today, at 90 Orchard Street on the corner of Broome Street in New York City, you can visit the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and enter the world of your ancestors who came and settled there. It is a fascinating and very personal experience to move with the tour guide through the building that was one of the actual tenements where immigrants lived. To walk into a cramped, dark three room apartment of 300 square feet and hear the history of the family who ate, slept and often worked there.

In 1920, Lazarus Salamon, A Hungarian immigrant wrote, “I feel like I had two lives. You plant something in the ground. It has its roots, and then, you transplant it where it stays permanently. That’s what happened to me.”

In a strange city, with streets jam-packed with pushcarts and trolley cars, the immigrants had to learn fast. Where to find work? Where to go to the butcher? Where to send the children to school? There was little time for contemplation or leisure. Each day brought new challenges and problems to solve. New questions to be answered. New hardships.  And of course, a new language to learn. The children who went to school learned the fastest and became interpreters for their parents.

“It was very, very different and very peculiar. We looked around and didn’t know what it was all about. A different world with different people. And it’s hard to adjust.” Helen Wolraich, a Polish immigrant, 1920.

At the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, three different tours bring the past to life. “Piecing It Together: Immigrants in the Garment Industry” takes you to two apartments, the Levine family in l897 who ran a garment shop in their home and the Rogarshevskys who are in mourning for their father, Abraham, who worked as a presser in a factory before succumbing to tuberculosis in l918. Almost every generation of immigrants to the Lower East Side had some connection to the garment industry.

A second tour, “Getting By: Immigrants Weather The Great Depressions of l873 and 1929” centers on the homes of the German-Jewish Gumpertz family (l870’s) and the Sicilian-Catholic Baldizzi family (1930’s). How they found work during hard times is vividly told as you stand and absorb their furnishings and treasured possessions brought from the old country. A tape by one of the descendants tells the personal story of each family. And the pictures, the faces looking out over the years are very powerful.

“My mother brought her candles, the ones you use on Friday nights. She brought her Bibles. She brought the things that were near and dear to us which were not very important to anybody but us. To us, they brought back memories.” Sam Auspitz, a Czechloslovakian immigrant, 1920.

A third tour is to the  “Confino family Apartment”, the recreated 1916 home of a Sephardic family from Kastoria. A costumed guide acting as Victoria Confino welcomes you and invites you to touch items, try on period clothing and dance to music played on a wind-up victrola. The museum describes this tour as “ perfect for families”. Children are welcomed on all the tours which run approximately one hour. There is also a walking tour, “The Streets Where We Lived.”

“Most dear to me are the shoes my mother wore when she first set foot on the soil of America. You must see those shoes to appreciate the courage my parents had and the sacrifices they made giving up family and security to try for a better life, but not knowing what lay ahead. We came to this country as many others did. POOR!  My mother’s shoes tell the whole story.”

Birgitta Hedman Fichter, a Swedish immigrant in 1924.

Visit the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Take your children. It’s a very human experience. And it tells an inspiring story of “ The Uprooted” and the new life  they made here in America — for us.  Museum hours are Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For information  and reservations for all tours, phone 1-212-431-0233. Fax 212-431-0402.  Website: www.tenement.org

 

…………………………………………….Joyce S. Anderson