CD222: 116th Congress Performance Review

In the last episode before the 2020 election, let’s take a comprehensive look at what went on in the 116th Congress, a divided Congress during which the House of Representatives was controlled for the first time since Congressional Dish began by the Democratic Party. It was a chaotic two years, with a series of unprecedented events. Did our Congress serve us well in these crazy times?


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Recommended Episodes

CD221: Kicking the Funding Can

CD216: Dingleberries Against Police Brutality

CD213: CARES Act – The Trillions for COVID-19 Law

CD212: The COVID-19 Response Laws

CD211: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

CD209: USMCA with Lori Wallach

CD208: The Brink of the Iran War

CD207: State of Corporatism

CD206: Impeachment: The Evidence

CD192: Democracy Upgrade Stalled

CD188: Welcome to the 116th Congress

CD167: Combating Russia (NDAA 2018) LIVE

CD131: Bombing Libya

CD068: Ukraine Aid Bill

CD067: What Do We Want In Ukraine?


Articles/Documents


Additional Resources


Images

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Tweet: Chris Murphy, Twitter

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Tweet: Joe Biden, Twitter

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Tweet: Joe Biden


Sound Clip Sources


News Clip: Mark Meadows: We’re not going to control the pandemic, CNN, October 25, 2020


News Clip: Woodward tapes show Trump knew the dangers of COVID-19 but downplayed it, CBS News, September 9, 2020


Hearing: Leaked conversation between Joe Biden and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, May 20, 2020

Transcript:

13:00 VP Joe Biden: Hey, Mr. President. Joe Biden. How are you? Petro Poroshenko: Very well indeed, as is usual when I hear your voice. What we’re doing now, I think within the last three weeks, we have demonstrated a real, real great progress in the reforms. We voted in the Parliament 100% tariffs, despite the fact that the IMF expected only 75%. We are launching real reform of the state owned enterprises. We are launching reform for the prices for medicine, removing all the obstacles. VP Joe Biden: I agree, I agree.

14:45 VP Joe Biden: Hey, Mr. President. Joe Biden. How are you? Petro Poroshenko: Very well indeed, as is usual when I hear your voice. VP Joe Biden: You are doing very well. Congratulations on getting the new Prosecutor General. I know that there’s a lot more that has to be done but I really think that’s good and I understand your working with the Rada in the coming days on a number of additional laws to secure the IMF, but congratulations on installing the new prosecutor general. It’s going to be critical for him to work quickly to repair the damage Shokin did, and I’m a man of my word, and now that the new prosecutor general is in place we’re ready to move forward in signing that new one billion dollar loan guarantee. I don’t know how you want to go about that? I’m not going to be able to get to Kiev anytime soon, I mean, in the next month or so, and I don’t know whether you could either sign it with our ambassador…

26:20 VP Joe Biden: Hey, Mr. President. Petro Poroshenko: Very good to hear you. VP Joe Biden: Good to hear you. By the way, you know I’ve talked about this a lot before. I guess Monday is the second anniversary. Remember, I’m counting on you to be the founding father of the modern Ukraine. Petro Poroshenko: Thank you, Joe. And I… I just want to be a little bit proactive. So we have no doubt that we should… implement the reforms but we should implement the reforms in a way that the people trust because if people do not trust the reforms, the reforms will be impossible to implement.


Hearing: Coronavirus Preparedness and Response, House Oversight and Government Reform, March 12, 2020

Watch on Youtube

Witnesses:

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci: Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Institutes of Health
  • Dr. Robert Redfield: Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Dr. Robert Kadlec: Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the Department of Health and Human Services
Transcript:

36:30 Anthony Fauci: In the spirit of staying ahead of the game, right now, we should be doing things that separate us as best as possible from people who might be infected. And there are ways to do that. You know, we use the word social distancing, but most people don’t know what that means, for example, crowds. We just heard that they’re going to limit access to the capital. That’s a really, really good idea to do. I know you like to meet and press the flesh with your constituencies. I think not now, I think you need I need I think you need to really cool it for a while because we should we should be practicing mitigation, even in areas that don’t have a dramatic increase. I mean, everyone looks to Washington State. They look to California, they’re having an obvious serious problem. But their problem now may be our problem tomorrow.


News Clip: Trump praises Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó at the State of the Union | 2020 State of the Union, White House, PBS NewsHour, February 4, 2020


Hearing: Impeachment Inquiry, House Hearings, Impeachment Inquiry Hearing with E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, C-SPAN Coverage, November 20, 2019

Watch on Youtube

Witness

Transcript:

54:00 Gordon Sondland: As I testified previously, Mr. Giuliani’s requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a white house visit for President Zelensky. Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing the investigations of the 2016 Election DNC server, and Burisma.

54:30 Gordon Sondland: Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the president of the United States, and we knew these investigations were important to the president.

55:10 Gordon Sondland: I tried diligently to ask why the aid was suspended, but I never received a clear answer. Still haven’t to this day. In the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid, I later came to believe that the resumption of security aid would not occur until there was a public statement from Ukraine committing to the investigations of the 2016 elections and Burisma as Mr. Giuliani had demanded.

1:01:15 Gordon Sondland: Unfortunately, President Trump was skeptical. He expressed concerns that the Ukrainian government was not serious about reform, and he even mentioned that Ukraine tried to take him down in the last election. In response to our persistent efforts in that meeting to change his views, President Trump directed us to quote, “talk with Rudy.” We understood that talk with Rudy meant talk with Mr. Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer. Let me say again, we weren’t happy with the President’s directive to talk with Rudy. We did not want to involve Mr. Giuliani. I believe then as I do now, that the men and women of the state department, not the president’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for Ukraine matters. Nonetheless, based on the president’s direction we were faced with a choice, we could abandon the efforts to schedule the white house phone call and a white house visit between Presidents Trump and Zelensky, which was unquestionably in our foreign policy interest, or we could do as president Trump had directed and talk with Rudy. We chose the latter course, not because we liked it, but because it was the only constructive path open to us.

1:14:10 Gordon Sondland: I know that members of this committee frequently frame these complicated issues in the form of a simple question. Was there a quid pro quo? As I testified previously with regard to the requested white house call and the white house meeting, the answer is yes. Mr. Giuliani conveyed to Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker and others that President Trump wanted a public statement from President Zelensky committing to investigations of Burisma and the 2016 election. Mr Giuliani expressed those requests directly to the Ukrainians and Mr. Giuliani also expressed those requests directly to us. We all understood that these prerequisites for the white house call and the right white house meeting reflected President Trump’s desires and requirements.

1:43:00 Gordon Sondland: Again, through Mr. Giuliani, we were led to believe that that’s what he wanted.

2:06:25 Gordon Sondland: President Trump never told me directly that the aid was conditioned on the meetings. The only thing we got directly from Giuliani was that the Burisma and 2016 elections were conditioned on the white house meeting. The aide was my own personal guess based again, on your analogy, two plus two equals four.

3:44:10 Daniel Goldman: It wasn’t really a presumption, you heard from Mr. Giuliani? Gordon Sondland: Well, I didn’t hear from Mr. Giuliani about the aid. I heard about the Burisma and 2016. Daniel Goldman: And you understood at that point, as we discussed, two plus two equals four, that the aid was there as well. Gordon Sondland: That was the problem, Mr. Goldman. No one told me directly that the aid was tied to anything. I was presuming it was.

5:02:10 Rep. Jim Himes (CT): What did mr Giuliani say to you that caused you to say that he is expressing the desires of the president United States? Gordon Sondland: Mr. Himes, when that was originally communicated, that was before I was in touch with mr Giuliani directly. So this all came through Mr. Volcker and others. Rep. Jim Himes (CT): So Mr. Volcker told you that he was expressing the desires of the President of the United States. Gordon Sondland: Correct.


Hearing: [Impeachment Inquiry, House Hearings

Ambassador Kurt Volker and National Security Aide Tim Morrison](https://www.c-span.org/video/?466377-1/impeachment-hearing-kurt-volker-tim-morrison), House Judiciary Committee, C-SPAN Coverage, November 19, 2019

Watch on Youtube

Witnesses:

Transcript:

57:35 Kurt Volker: President Zelensky’s senior aide, Andriy Yermak approached me several days later to ask to be connected to Mayor Giuliani. I agreed to make that connection. I did so because I understood that the new Ukrainian leadership wanted to convince those like Mayor Giuliani, who believes such a negative narrative about Ukraine, that times have changed and that under President Zelensky, Ukraine is worthy of us support. Ukrainians believed that if they could get their own narrative across in a way that convinced mayor Giuliani that they were serious about fighting corruption and advancing reform, Mayor Giuliani would convey that assessment to president Trump, thus correcting the previous negative narrative. That made sense to me and I tried to be helpful. I made clear to the Ukrainians, the mayor Giuliani was a private citizen, the president’s personal lawyer, and not representing the US government. Likewise, in my conversations with mayor Giuliani, I never considered him to be speaking on the president’s behalf or giving instructions, rather, the information flow was the other way. From Ukraine to mayor Giuliani in the hopes that this would clear up the information reaching President Trump.

1:00:15 Kurt Volker: I connected Mary Giuliani and Andriy Yermak by text and later by phone they met in person on August 2nd, 2019. In conversations with me following that meeting, which I did not attend, Mr Giuliani said that he had stressed the importance of Ukraine conducting investigations into what happened in the past, and Mr. Yermak stressed that he told Mr. Giuliani it is the government’s program to root out corruption and implement reforms, and they would be conducting investigations as part of this process anyway.

1:00:45 Kurt Volker: Mr. Giuliani said he believed that Ukrainian president needed to make a statement about fighting corruption and that he had discussed this with Mr. Yermak. I said, I did not think that this would be a problem since that is the government’s position. Anyway, I followed up with Mr. Yermak and he said that they would indeed be prepared to make a statement.

1:02:10 Kurt Volker: On August 16th, Mr. Yermak shared a draft with me, which I thought looked perfectly reasonable. It did not mention Burisma or 2016 elections, but was generic. Ambassador Sondland I had a further conversation with Mr. Giuliani who said that in his view, in order to be convincing that this government represented real change in Ukraine, the statement should include specific reference to Burisma and 2016 and again, there was no mention of vice president Biden in these conversations.


Hearing: Diplomats Bill Taylor and George Kent Impeachment Inquiry Testimony, House Select Intelligence Committee, C-SPAN Coverage, November 13, 2019

Witnesses:

  • William Taylor
  • George Kent
Transcript:

45:30 George Kent: In mid August, it became clear to me that Giuliani’s efforts to gin up politically motivated investigations were now infecting U.S. Engagement with Ukraine, leveraging President Zelensky’s desire for a white house meeting.


Video: Mitch McConnell praises Trump for ‘changing the federal courts forever’, The Week, November 4, 2019


Press Video: Pelosi praises ‘cleaner government’ provisions in H.R. 1 , The Washington Post, March 7, 2019


2019 State of the Union Address, White House, U.S. Senate, February 5, 2019

Watch

Transcript:

1:05:28 President Donald Trump – Two weeks ago, the United States officially recognized the legitimate government of Venezuela, and its new interim President, Juan Guaido. We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom — and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair. Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence — not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.


News Clip: Rep. Jordan: We have to fund Trump’s border wall now, Fox Business Network, December 18, 2018


News Clip: Trump says he would be ‘proud’ to shut down the government over border wall funding, Jennifer Haberkorn, Los Angeles Times, December 11, 2018


Remarks by Secretary of State: Remarks on the Way Forward for the United States Regarding Syria, U.S. Department of State, January 17, 2018.

Discussion: Foreign Affairs Issue Launch with Former Vice President Joe Biden; Council on Foreign Affairs; January 23, 2018.

Speakers:

  • Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations
  • Joe Biden, former Vice President of the United States
Transcript:

00:24:15 Haass: In the piece, the two of you say that there’s no truth that the United States—unlike what Putin seems to believe or say, that the U.S. is seeking regime change in Russia. So the question I have is, should we be? And if not, if we shouldn’t be seeking regime change, what should we be seeking in the way of political change inside Russia? What’s an appropriate agenda for the United States vis-à-vis Russia, internally? Biden: I’ll give you one concrete example. I was—not I, but it just happened to be that was the assignment I got. I got all the good ones. And so I got Ukraine. And I remember going over, convincing our team, our leaders to—convincing that we should be providing for loan guarantees. And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kiev. And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t. So they said they had—they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I’m not going to—or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said—I said, call him. (Laughter.) I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.


Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations


Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Check out this episode!