Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for November 21, 2019

Newsline: Stunning ambassador’s testimony links Trump to abuse of power

US ambassador to EU Gordon Sondland wrote his name in history and triggered a turning point in the House impeachment inquiry with stunning testimony implicating the President in an abuse of power. In effect, one of President Donald Trump’s political appointees confirmed the core allegation of the entire scandal: that he conditioned aid and recognition for Ukraine on personal favors that could help him in his 2020 reelection campaign. (https://edition.cnn.com/2019/11/21/politics/donald-trump-impeachment-gordon-sondland-today/index.html) This was no “Never Trumper” bureaucrat perpetrating what some of the President’s conservative backers have called a coup. He was a glad-handing businessman who paid $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee and ended up with a plum job. Sondland destroyed once and for all the earliest presidential talking point that there was no quid pro quo with Ukraine. He explicitly said the prospect of a White House visit for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was conditional on Ukraine announcing an investigation against Trump’s possible 2020 rival Joe Biden.

Newsline: Lawyer for German embassy in Ankara arrested

Turkish authorities took the lawyer into custody, Germany’s Foreign Ministry confirmed. The man, from Turkey, had been assisting the embassy in Ankara by looking into the cases of Turkish citizens seeking asylum in Germany, according to news magazine Der Spiegel, which first broke the story. A German diplomatic source told Agence France-Presse that the lawyer had provided “internationally customary and, in our view, indisputably acceptable support.” (https://www.dw.com/en/lawyer-for-german-embassy-in-ankara-arrested/a-51341528) “His detention is incomprehensible to us,” they added. The diplomatic source said Germany was “intensively engaging to clear up the allegations and free him from custody.” The lawyer, who Der Spiegel says has been accused of espionage, cannot receive consular assistance from Germany because he is a Turkish citizen.