Things That Matter

Fifth Day Of Impeachment Hearings Show Republicans Desperate To Change The Narrative

Thursday marked the end of five days of public testimony by dozens of witnesses and evidence put forward in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump. While there is still so much to consider, it looks apparent that there have been no Republicans that have been swayed to support impeachment as of now.

If there is going to be any testimony that is going to change that, it had to have come on Thursday as Fiona Hill, who served as the senior director for Europe and Russia on the White House’s National Security Council before resigning last summer, took charge at Republicans. 

Hill, along with David Holmes, a political counselor at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, criticized Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee for putting forth such theories that Ukraine, and not Russia, interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

“I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternate narrative that the Ukrainian government is a U.S. adversary, and that Ukraine — not Russia — attacked us in 2016. These fictions are harmful even if they are deployed for purely domestic political purposes.” Hill said in her opening statements.

Hill gave an eye-opening testimony that criticized Republicans for taking part in advancing unproven claims that Ukraine not Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential elections. 

Hill emphasized the importance of her testifying in front of the House Intelligence Committee, especially what’s at stake in these hearings. She spoke about her background growing up in the U.K. and her family’s respect for America is why she became a U.S. citizen.

 Hill, who has served under three different Republican and Democratic presidents, also spoke at length about the dangers of having debunked conspiracies that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election. The theory, which was promoted by President Trump, was based on the presumption that Ukraine favored Hillary Clinton and harmed Trump. 

“Some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country — and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves,” she said. “In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.

Hill also spoke about her conflict with Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and his efforts in Ukraine.  

Hill said she questioned Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, about his relationship with President Trump and his testimony on Wednesday that he was working on Ukraine policy at Trump’s direction. At first, Hill suspected Sondland was overreaching in his authority to push Ukraine to launch investigations into the Biden family. Later, he realized that he was acting on instructions given by Trump sent through his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. 

“He was being involved in a domestic political errand. We were being involved in national security, foreign policy,” Hill said. “And those two things have just diverged.”

She made it clear that Giuliani played an influential role in pursuing these investigations with Ukraine. He “was clearly pushing forward issues and ideas that would, you know, probably come back to haunt us and in fact,” Hill said. “I think that’s where we are today.”

What does all of this mean moving forward when it comes to President Trump getting impeached? It’s hard to say. 

As of today, Rep. Will Hurd of Texas is the lone Republican on the House Intelligence Committee that has found any of the president’s actions troublesome. While Hurd wasn’t pleased to hear how Trump has conducted foreign policy, it’s not enough to push forward impeachment.

“I disagree with this sort of bungling foreign policy,” Hurd said. “I have not heard evidence proving the president committed bribery or extortion.”

If Democrats are going to have any chance of proceeding with this impeachment inquiry they will need more Republicans to be swayed. These are important issues to consider as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats will have to decide how they’ll move ahead in this battle of impeachment.

One thing did become clear after five days of hearings: evidence is pointing clearly to the notion President Trump directed a foreign policy campaign to get Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to investigate Democrats in exchange for an Oval Office meeting.

 Whether that’s enough to move forward with impeachment is hard to say. If House Democrats do indeed move forward with articles of impeachment, a Senate trial in which Republicans can use their majority and easily protect Trump. 

READ: Latino War Veteran Files $1 Million Lawsuit Against ICE After Being Detained With American Passport In His Possession

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One Town’s Residents Made A Citizen’s Arrest Of Their Mayor For Alleged Corruption And Shoddy Construction

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One Town’s Residents Made A Citizen’s Arrest Of Their Mayor For Alleged Corruption And Shoddy Construction

QUETZALLI BLANCO/AFP via Getty Images

Residents of a village in Chiapas, Mexico have become so fed up with their mayor that they decided to do something about it. Eschewing long, bureaucratic legal processes to hold him accountable, residents of a southern Chiapas town decided to hold their mayor accountable for what they said was a public works project so poorly done that it was useless.

A mayor in Chiapas was tied to a tree by his own residents for a job done badly.

Residents from eleven neighborhoods of the Chiapas town Comalapa held their mayor accountable for his inaction on a public works project. According to reports, the residents arrested Mayor Óscar Ramírez Aguilar to a tree in a public area to expose him to the rest of the town. They told the newspaper Diario de Chiapas, that they wanted to expose him for the “bad public servant” that he is and that he shouldn’t be reelected.

The townspeople say the municipal water storage cistern — whose installation they say was a campaign promise — is in such poor condition that it does not comply with water safety requirements. It currently has no water, they said, due to leaks, and the residents accuse the government of merely patching the tank — badly — to stop them.

In a video on social media, residents showed how the concrete patch job is already chipping away and easily crumbles.

“He promised us that this would be a public works project worthy of Comalapa residents, but [this tank is] a farce; the water system doesn’t work well. It’s an old problem that he should have attended to properly and should have been a priority during his administration because he came to see us in our homes with this promise, and now he doesn’t want to live up to it,” a resident told the newspaper.

But the mayor is denying what happened in a social media post.

The mayor though has a totally different version of events. After he was released, Ramírez posted a video on his official social media account to counter the residents’ version of the story.

“They did not tie me up,” he claimed. “The meeting was with 11 representatives of Comalapa neighborhoods in order to agree upon details regarding a major public project, the introduction of potable water.”

However, photographs clearly showed the mayor standing before a tree with his hands behind his back.

Three years ago, another local official suffered a similar fate after allegedly failing to deliver promised funds. He was bound to a post in the the central plaza of Comalapa.

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US Prosecutors Allege That Honduran President Hernández Said He Wanted to ‘Shove Drugs Up the Noses of Gringos’

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US Prosecutors Allege That Honduran President Hernández Said He Wanted to ‘Shove Drugs Up the Noses of Gringos’

Photo via Getty

They say the truth is stranger than fiction, and in this case, that saying happens to be true. New reports from federal prosecutors in New York have come out that implicate Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández in drug trafficking, embezzlement, and fraud.

For years, Honduras and the United States have publicly touted themselves as partners in global the war on drugs. But it seems that, privately, President Hernández felt differently.

Prosecutors allege that Hernández said that he wanted to “shove the drugs right up the noses of the gringos”.

Federal prosecutors say that Hernández “said that he wanted to make the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration think that Honduras was fighting drug trafficking, but that instead he was going to eliminate extradition.”

The allegations against President Hernández are part of a larger drug trafficking case prosecutors have against, Geovanny Fuentes, a prolific Honduran trafficker whom authorities arrested in Miami.

Fuentes alleges that President Hernandez accepted bribes in exchange for protecting a cocaine laboratory and drug shipments headed towards the U.S. They say President Juan Orlando Hernández used his nation’s armed forces to protect huge shipments of cocaine in exchange for hefty bribes.

The case also alleges that Hernandez funneled aid money from the U.S. to non-governmental organizations.

The Honduran president isn’t explicitly named in the documents, but is instead referred to as “co-conspirator 4”. But the documents reference his political position as well as his relationship to his brother, Juan Antonio Hernández, who was also convicted of drug smuggling in 2019.

It’s worth mentioning that the 2019 case against Hernández’s brother also named President Hernández as a co-conspirator. That case alleged that President Hernández had accepted approximately $1 million in bribes from El Chapo.

President Hernández is denying the allegations and claiming that they are retaliations by cartel lords for his hardline stance against drug trafficking.

Recently, his office tweeted out: “The claim that Pres. Hernández supposedly accepted drug money from Geovanny Daniel Fuentes Ramirez, or gave protection or coordination to drug traffickers is 100% false, and appears to be based on lies of confessed criminals who seek revenge and to reduce their sentences.”

But at home, Hondurans seemed to have lost faith in their president. In fact, many are suspicious of his shady connections and seemingly never-ending scandals. Some Hondurans are reportedly worried that President Hernández may try to “illegally extend” his time in office in order to avoid prosecution by the United States”.

As of now, the prospects of him being prosecuted by the Trump administration are dubious at best.

Hernández and Trump have historically had a cozy relationship based on how fervently the Honduran president supported Trump’s strict immigration policies.

“[Indictment] will probably depend on the political will or political decision of the incoming Biden administration,” said InSight Crime senior investigator Hector Silva to Vice.

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