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First, this from Martha S:

Great questions as usual, Mike. But you forgot to ask Schiffty about his connections to the identical twin Vindman boys, Lt. Colonel Alexander and Lt. Colonel Yevgeny. Interesting to know that they have offices across the hall from each other at the NSC and they both have connections to the impeachment proceedings, albeit behind the curtain.

From the Gov:

Great idea, Martha, though I certainly haven’t forgotten that. There’s plenty more that Schiffty could be asked. The developing story about the identical twin Vindmans is fascinating, and I’ll be writing about it as more details are clear. In the meantime, let’s bring everybody up to speed…

NSC aide handling book approvals is twin brother of Lt. Col. Vindman: Report

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Alas, my list of suggested “fun” questions for Adam Schiff did not get asked on the Senate floor, but I would have loved to watch his face during one particular Q&A that did take place. It could go down as the Question Of The Day, as it opened the door to questioning by senators concerning the unnamed “whistleblower” (ERIC CIARAMELLA) and the activities surrounding the suspicious origin of the impeachment “inquiry” within Schiff’s House Intel Committee.

It was posed to Trump’s legal counsel by Republican Sens. Lee, Cruz and Hawley: “Is it true that Sean Misko, Abigail Grace and the alleged ‘whistleblower’ were employed by or detailed to the National Security Council during the same time period between January 20, 2017, and the present? Do you have reason to believe that they knew each other? Do you have any reason to believe that the alleged ‘whistleblower’ and Misko coordinated to fulfill their reported commitments to ‘do everything we can to take out the President’?”

Deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin calmly and matter-of-factly tackled this one, saying the only knowledge his team has comes from public reports. “I don’t want to get into speculating about that,” he said. It seemed for a moment that this was all he might say, but then he went on: “It is something that, to an unknown extent, may have been addressed in the testimony of the inspector general of the intelligence community before Chairman Schiff’s committees, but that testimony --- contacts with the ‘whistleblower,’ contacts between members of Manager Schiff’s staff and the whistleblower --- are shrouded in secrecy to this day.

“We don’t know what the testimony of the ICIG was; that remains secret, has not been forwarded. We don’t know what Manager Schiff’s staff’s contacts with the ‘whistleblower’ have been and what connections there are there. It’s something that would seem to be relevant, since the ‘whistleblower’ started this entire inquiry, but I can’t make any representations that we have particular knowledge of the facts suggested in the question. We know that there was a public report suggesting connections and prior working relationships between certain people –- not something that I can comment on other than to say that there’s a report there. We don’t know what the ICIG discussed. We don’t know what the ICIG was told by the ‘whistleblower.’ Other public reports about inaccuracies in the ‘whistleblower’s’ report to the ICIG, we don’t know the testimony on that. We don’t know the situation of the contacts, coordination, advice provided by Manager Schiff’s staff to the ‘whistleblower’ --- that all remains unknown, but something that, obviously, to get to the bottom of motivations, bias, how this, uh, how this inquiry was all created, could potentially be relevant. Thank you.”

Thank YOU, senators and Trump attorneys, for finally getting a discussion of this into the public record. The message was subtle but crystal clear to House managers: WE WILL GO THERE. DO NOT DOUBT US. Mr. Philbin was referring to the mysterious 18th transcript --- the one transcript from the House “inquiry” that Schiff will not release. (The House even refers to “the 17 witnesses,” when there were really 18.) Intel Committee IG Michael Atkinson gave his testimony inside the SCIF (“skiff”), and since that time, not even anyone on Schiff’s committee has been allowed to look at it outside that elaborately secure room in the basement of the Capitol building. We know, of course, that if it were helpful to their case at all, they would have not only revealed it, but trumpeted it.

It was bad enough that the President’s legal counsel were denied any presence during the House “inquiry” hearings. (Incidentally, I always use quotes around “inquiry” in this context because it wasn’t an inquiry at all, as the outcome had obviously been pre-ordained.) If Trump hadn’t been denied due process, his deputy counsel would have been present during the questioning of Atkinson and would have been able to ask questions himself; as it was, they didn’t even provide him with a transcript when it was done. Now, after all the other transcripts have been released, Schiff is STILL keeping Atkinson’s testimony from them.

It’s Atkinson who received the initial “whistleblower” complaint, AFTER Ciaramella had gone to Adam Schiff’s office and consulted with his staff on what to do with it. We’ve gone all over this: it was in Schiff’s office that Ciaramella was put in touch with his anti-Trump “whistleblower” attorneys. Ciaramella’s close friend who had worked with him at the National Security Council, Sean Miklos, was on Schiff’s staff. Ciaramella and Miklos were the two White House national security staffers overheard just two weeks after Trump’s inauguration loudly commenting that they would take Trump out.

Schiff probably thought he could keep the lid on the contrived origin of his phony “inquiry,” but his lies have caught up with him. He no doubt has a legal argument prepared to try to keep himself out of the witness chair if witnesses are called, but that is highly unlikely to work, and if it does, the truth will still come out through Ciaramella, Miklos, Atkinson and perhaps others on the House staff. I have a feeling it’s already been decided on BOTH sides of the aisle that witnesses won’t be called, as Schiff actually doesn’t want witnesses to be called now. Given the Pandora’s box that would be opened if Ciaramella and/or Schiff were called, I think House managers may just be pretending to demand witnesses so that when it doesn’t happen, they can complain forever about the “lack of fairness.” Yes, they are that disingenuous.

The idea that John Bolton would be a helpful witness for the House has been destroyed by a video clip of him being interviewed for Radio Free Europe in August, a month before he left the White House. In the clip, there is no hint of frustration with Trump concerning Ukraine; he even describes the two phone calls between Trump and Zelensky as “very warm and cordial.” Bolton says, “...the success of Ukraine maintaining its freedom, its system of representative government, a free-market economy FREE OF CORRUPTION (emphasis mine)...are high priorities here, obviously, but high priorities for the United States as well.”

Say, if witnesses are called after all and the Democrats decide not to call Bolton, can we have him?

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By the way, here’s a great question suggested by reader B. Drinkwine:

Many are wondering and would like an answer to this question: How can four Democrat Senators who are running for President in 2020 vote to impeach their opponent, Donald Trump? Is this not a conflict of interest or illegal?

From the Gov:

To my knowledge, no one has challenged this legally, but obviously they do have a huge conflict of interest and cannot possibly be unbiased. On the other hand, who among them is unbiased?

It does seem they had ample cause to recuse themselves, and you know they wish they didn’t have to be there. They've probably been driving around with bumper stickers reading “I’d Rather Be In Iowa.” Fortunately for all, the way things are looking as of this writing (early Thursday), they will get their wish in a matter of hours.