Day Two, Nothing New
Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, testified yesterday before Adam Schiff’s sham impeachment committee. President Trump recalled Ambassador Yovanovitch in April. It’s clear from her testimony that “Hell hath no fury like a diplomat scorned.” Here are some observations.
Yovanovitch, who was appointed by Obama, said she felt threatened by President Trump and was deeply frustrated that no one “justified” her dismissal. She reportedly wanted a statement from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defending her. Translation: How dare the president think he has the right to appoint his own people.
Memo to Ms. Yovanovitch: You serve at the pleasure of the president. He can fire you for any reason. Maybe he doesn’t like your singing voice. It doesn’t matter. And it certainly didn’t matter when Barack Obama fired all of George W. Bush’s ambassadors. Why does Ms. Yovanovitch think she’s somehow special?
Like fellow diplomats George Kent and William Taylor before her, Yovanovitch expressed concern that U.S. policy toward Ukraine had been “hijacked” and that Foreign Service professionals were being undermined. She declared, “This is not a time to undercut our diplomats.”
But exactly who is doing the hijacking? And whose policy? Policy is set by the duly elected president, not the unelected bureaucrats. What many Americans heard this week was entitled Deep State operatives venting their frustrations. They objected to Donald Trump winning the presidency and they object to him using the power of the presidency to enact his agenda. The Deep State is undermining Trump daily!
I was particularly amused during the opening round of questioning when the Democrat counsel went after Fox News, Sean Hannity, and investigative journalist John Solomon. Are they on trial now?
Some progressives are trying to make the day all about gender and a rerun of the Kavanaugh hearings.
While Ambassador Yovanovitch made a big deal about her efforts to fight corruption in Ukraine, Rep. Elise Stefanik noted that the Obama State Department was so concerned about Hunter Biden’s apparent conflict of interest with the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma that it specifically prepped Yovanovitch to deflect questions about Biden and Bursima during her Senate confirmation hearings. Yet now we’re not supposed to ask questions about Biden and Burisma.
Kudos to Rep. Mike Turner, who drew attention to the missing whistleblower who triggered this entire controversy. Turner read into the record a series of headlines such as “Whistleblower Wants To Testify To House Panel, Schiff Says” and “Whistleblower Reaches Agreement To Testify, Will Appear ‘Very Soon,’ Rep. Adam Schiff Says.” Well, where is the so-called “whistleblower”?
And kudos to Rep. Jim Jordan, who exposed the partisan hypocrisy on full display here. Democrats are attempting to impeach the president because they claim he abused his authority by inviting Ukraine to meddle in our elections (he did not.) But we know the Ukrainians were meddling in the 2016 election to help Hillary Clinton. Jordan recited a series of anti-Trump actions and statements from Ukrainian officials and asked Ambassador Yavonvitch whether she ever raised concerns about their partisan activity. Of course she didn’t.
It’s Bribery Now
As I have suggested before, Democrats are struggling to manufacture a crime. We noted earlier this week that they dropped “quid pro quo” for “extortion.” Now they’re trying out “bribery.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi leveled the charge Thursday.
Where did that come from? A focus group paid for by a political arm of the Democrat Party, as if we needed any more evidence that this was a purely partisan effort.
But, if it is bribery to say to a foreign government, “I will give aid if you do this or take aid away if you do that,” then America’s entire foreign-aid program is one gigantic bribe, and virtually every presidential candidate is guilty.
Many Democrats have said recently, in effect, “If I’m elected president, I will pull military aid from Israel if it builds homes in Judea and Samaria.” Or, “I will pull foreign aid from countries that don’t promote gay rights.”
I think those “incentives” are wrong, but they are not bribery. Foreign aid is given because we want countries to accommodate certain interests in order for us to share our tax money with them.
And, by the way, the Ukrainian foreign minister said Thursday that there was no “bribery” or linkage of U.S. aid and cooperation in investigations.
It’s time to stop this charade and move on!
Fighting the Faithful?
As you know, I was appointed by President Trump to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. This appointment was a tremendous honor as it gives me an opportunity to work on an issue I care deeply about.
One of my colleagues on the commission is Kristina Arriaga, appointed by former House Speaker Paul Ryan. She has a sterling record of fighting for religious liberty for decades and a passion that has made her one of the most effective advocates for religious freedom that I know in Washington.
That’s why I was so heartbroken to learn that she resigned from the commission Thursday night. Kristina explains her reasons for stepping down in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece.
She is particularly concerned, as am I, about efforts in Congress to “reform” the commission. Such efforts appear intended to push a left-wing agenda and control the commissioners.
For example, Ms. Arriaga writes that a Senate bill reauthorizing the commission requires it to explore the “abuse of religion to justify human rights violations.” Such a mandate would force “the commission to enter ideological fights over … sex segregation at religious services, circumcision or same-sex relationships.”
In addition, the legislation includes “new reporting requirements … as well as restrictions on commissioners’ public speaking and use of the USCIRF affiliation.”
These provisions are so broad that they appear to be an effort to muzzle the commissioners in the work we do outside the commission. I will never be muzzled nor will any of the other commissioners!
My friends, I assure you that the Democrats and Republicans on the commission have worked very closely together with very little division. We have diligently avoided bitter ideological disputes. In fact, most votes have been unanimous.
Unfortunately, there are some in Congress who are trying to politicize our work, pushing other agendas rather than working to end religious persecution. That will not help the commission fulfill its purpose to defend religious freedom.
We hope the Senate will reach a bipartisan agreement that will allow the commission to continue its vital work without undue interference.