House Intelligence Committee member and Texas representative Joaquin Castro dropped some serious info about the ongoing investigation into the ties between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.
In an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, Rep. Castro talked about what he and the committee are looking into and what they want from those involved in the investigation. According to Castro, one of the biggest issues so far in the investigation is that the Trump administration is not being “honest or forthright about the deep connections that many on the Trump team have to Russia, Russian agents, [and] Russian businesspersons.” Back in March, California Representative and Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Adam Schiff laid out the lengthy list of evidence mounted against the Trump administration and their ties to Russia.
But the real juicy part of this interview came after Blitzer asked Castro if he had seen any “hard evidence of collusion” from Trump aides to Russia. Castro responded simply by saying:
“I guess I would say this. My impression is that I wouldn’t be surprised that after all of this is said in done that some people end up in jail,” Castro told Blitzer.
Castro was not able to elaborate on his point because of the ongoing investigation but one thing is for sure, this Russia investigation is just getting started.
We have just wrapped up the first week of what is expected to be a 10-day inquiry into President Donald Trump’s controversial dealings with Ukraine. After more than a month of closed-door depositions, the American public is getting a first-hand opportunity to hear directly from three key witnesses in the probe. As more public and private hearings are still being scheduled, testimonies this week kicked off the next step in the Democrats’ investigation into President Trump’s attempts to have Ukraine spy on his political rivals.
On Wednesday, Bill Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent testified in a joint hearing in front of the House Intelligence Committee. On Friday, it was former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch that would be testifying. She used the hearing as an opportunity to tell her side of the story in which she says she was a victim of a smear campaign led by President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. Yovanovitch described how President Trump had tarnished a reputation after 33 years of serving the U.S. and left her “shocked” and “appalled.”
It’s just the second hearing but this first week has already revealed various details into President Trump’s dealings in Ukraine.
Friday’s hearing proved to be filled with as much drama as Wednesday with Yovanovitch placed on center stage. She was praised by both Democrats and Republicans who thanked her for her service to the U.S never casting doubt on her testimony. However, that didn’t stop Republicans from attacking Democrats for the way they’ve handled these impeachment proceedings. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) stood by having Yovanovitch testifying saying that her long years of service to the country warranted her testimony.
Yovanovitch spoke at length about her removal as ambassador to Ukraine and was then “attacked” by Trump and Giuliani. She recounted how she felt threatened by President Trump and fellow associates when she read the transcript of the July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.
“It was a terrible moment,” Yovanovitch told the House Intelligence Committee on Friday. “A person who saw me actually reading the transcript said that the color drained from my face. I think I even had a physical reaction. I think, you know, even now, words kind of fail me.”
The transcript between the two leaders shows that Trump told Zelensky that Yovanovitch was “bad news” and Zelensky said he agreed “100 percent.” The heartfelt testimony was felt throughout the room as she recounted the emotions that went through her mind as she read the transcript for the first time.
President Trump would get involved in the hearing even though he wasn’t there.
One of most shocking moments from Friday’s hearing came from someone that wasn’t even in the room. In the middle of Yovanovitch’s testimony, President Trump took to Twitter to further attack her.
“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” he wrote on Twitter. “She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.”
The critique was attacked by Rep. Schiff, Democrats and even some Republicans, who labeled the tweets as witness intimidation. The real-time tweets gave Schiff an opportunity to ask Yovanovitch about it and her reaction.
“Ambassador, you’ve shown courage to come forward today and testify, notwithstanding the fact you were urged by the White House or State Department not to, notwithstanding the fact that as you testified earlier the president implicitly threatened you in that call record. And now the president in real time is attacking you,” Schiff told Yovanovitch.
“What effect do you think that has on other witnesses willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing,” Schiff asked.
“It’s very intimidating,” Yovanovitch said. “I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating.”
When later asked about the tweets, President Trump said he wasn’t trying to intimidate Yovanovitch but just trying to speak his mind on the issue. “I want freedom of speech,” Trump told reporters as he spoke about what he called an “unfair process”.
As the hearings wrapped on Friday, Yovanovitch was met with resounding applause and cheers after testifying for almost 7 hours. The moment marked the ending of what was surely an eventful week in Washington.
South America’s poorest country, Bolivia, is in the midst of a political crisis, and Guatemala’s indigenous people are marching in solidarity with ousted Bolivian President Evo Morales. After the Guatemalan government joined the United States in recognizing extreme right self-appointed Jeanine Anez as the interim president of Bolivia, Guatemala’s indigenous people expressed their outrage in an organized protest. Hundreds of indigenous people marched in Guatemala’s capital Thursday to protest the change of government, which they view as a coup d’etat of Bolivia’s first indigenous president. With a “Brother Evo, Guatemala is with you” banner in hand, the protesters marched toward a heavily guarded US embassy. The next day, Morales announced that he won’t be “taking part in new elections.”
Before Morales rose to the presidency, he was a campesino activist, representing indigenous traditions and customs under attack by the US government. “We are repudiating the discriminatory and racist coup d’etat that took place in Bolivia,” said Mauro Vay, march organizer and head of Guatemala’s Rural Development Committee.
Protesters proudly waved the wiphala flags, an indigenous symbol of solidarity.
This man held an image that told the story of a thousand words. As a child, Evo Morales’ family were subsistence farmers, which allowed him to enjoy a basic education. He later moved to grow coca, the raw plant used to make cocaine. During the U.S.’ “War on Drugs,” coca farmers were under attack. Morales rose to defend the campesinos from what he called an imperialist violation of indigenous culture. His protests may have led to several arrests, but his notoriety grew to elect him to Congress as the leader of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party.
In Paraguay, Bolivian ex-patriates went up against the police to rehang the wiphala flag at the Bolivian embassy.
Several indigenous residents of Paraguay arrived at the Bolivian embassy to hang the Wiphala flag, which was reportedly taken down. They faced police resistance but eventually succeeded. The next day, the flag was removed.
In 2005, Morales ran against former President Carlos Mesa and won, becoming the first indigenous president of Bolivia.
Then, it gets murky. By the time his first term was over, MAS rewrote their constitution to lift the one-term limit on presidents. Morales ran for a second term and won. Even though he claimed he wouldn’t run for a third term, Morales claimed the first term didn’t count because it was completed under the old constitution. So he ran again and won for the third time. In October 2019, Morales ran for his fourth term, and won by a small margin, prompting a recount.
Just 24 hours into the recount, Morales ordered the recount to an end and declared himself president over his opponent, former president Mesa. the Organization of American States (OAS) conducted an audit that flagged the election as possibly fraudulent.
“The OAS is not in the service of the people of Latin America, less so the social movements. The OAS is at the service of the North American empire,” Morales later said. Still, protests erupted across the country.
In a quickly developing government coup, military chiefs removed Morales.
On Nov. 10, General Williams Kaliman, the commander of Bolivia’s armed forces, decided, along with other military chiefs, that Morales should step down. Morales tweeted, “I denounce to the world and the Bolivian people that a police officer publicly announced that he is instructed to execute an illegal arrest warrant against me; likewise, violent groups assaulted my home. A coup destroys the rule of law.” He added, “After looting and trying to set fire to my house in Villa Victoria, vandalism groups of the Mesa and Camacho coup docked my home in the Magisterio neighborhood of Cochabamba. I am very grateful to my neighbors, who stopped those raids. A coup destroys peace.”
Mexico offered him asylum and sent a plane to escort Morales to Mexico City.
“This was my first night after leaving the presidency, forced by the coup of Mesa and Camacho with the help of the Police. There I remembered my times as a leader. Very grateful to my brothers from the federations of the Tropic of Cochabamba for providing security and care,” Morales tweeted. Right-wing Christian opponent, Luis Fernando Camacho, also called “Bolivia’s Bolsonaro,” led violent protests against Morales and his Indigenous supporters, burning Bolivia’s Indigenous Wiphala flag.
Mexico, Cuba, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Argentina have maintained that his removal from office was a coup. The United States, led by a right-wing president, has recognized Bolivia’s interim right-wing president as valid.
Morales announced Friday that he won’t run for president in the reelection “for the sake of democracy.”
Morales resigned Sunday after protests left four people dead. “For the sake of democracy, if they don’t want me to take part, I have no problem not taking part in new elections,” Morales told Reuters while remaining in asylum. “I just wonder why there is so much fear of Evo,” he offered.