Impeachment fever has overcome Washington, D.C. this week, with a partisan pro forma vote on the parameters of Congressman Adam Schiff’s inquiry and his Tuesday release of 500 pages of transcripts from Intelligence Committee interviews.

And the underlying reason behind the political theatre happening right now... many, many professional State Department envoys and “diplomats” very much don’t appreciate a cut in their precious taxpayer funded disbursement accounts. Especially when the cuts go against the “conventional wisdom” that pervades our capitol. How much of a threat is Trump when he commits to a baseline cut of $3 billion dollar in foreign aid? In D.C. it’s a huge threat if your dollars are ones up for cutting.

In reality, Ukraine has already received almost $50 billion in aid and loan guarantees since Obama took office. I can’t be the only one curious about where all that money went over the past 10 years.

While Congress’s goal is to completely neutralize Trump politically, in reality foreign policy direction is something that is completely under the purview of the president. In appointments, in policy, and to an extent in funding.

All foreign aid is appropriated through Congress, but the president has a say in funding that is not spent in the time allotted or if the monies are not allocated to specific projects and grants. The process, known as recission, requires Congressional approval. The foreign aid funding in question included unused loan guarantees for Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Ukraine that the administration wanted to return to the general fund. In this case, President Trump was notified that Congress would be voting to release the funds, against his recission package, in a letter from Speaker Pelosi to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin in mid-August.

Not mentioned much in the news swirling around the president withholding foreign aid funding... the hold was placed in June by the Office and Management and Budget (OMB) until USAID provided accounting for 12 of their funding accounts. These accounts are created for every line item in the national budget, and by law must be accounted for in specific ways at many different levels. Much of this money filters its way through the bureaucracy and ends up under the purview of ambassadors and upper management types at our embassies to spend in accordance with the goals outlined in the budget resolutions, with the actual disbursements going to non-governmental organizations, which are usually non-profit groups. Many of our government types who decide this funding sit on boards of these organizations.

After the Trump Administration withdrew the recission proposal, the hold on funding still remained until the accounting of accounts was reviewed, and the monies were released in September.

As an aside... so much of our foreign aid is corruptly wasted and mismanaged, as evidenced by Senator Rand Paul in his annual report on USAID spending.

Enter into this picture Alexander Vindman, former Army officer, government expert in Ukraine and Russia and brave bureaucrat, who is very upset that President Trump is upending all the apple carts contra Vindman’s perceived order of America’s role in foreign policy.

In his testimony, on which the Democrats have based all of this nonsense, he says “I became aware of outside influencers promoting a false and alternative narrative of Ukraine inconsistent with the consensus views of the interagency” which could harm national security and undermining government efforts “to expand cooperation with Ukraine.”

Well, there’s a lot to unpack in that one little statement.

I would wager that President Trump got elected because of his views that directly go against “the consensus views of the interagency.” This little tidbit seems to be a news flash for anyone not living in current reality, or paying attention to what is actually occurring, instead following the noise and circus atmosphere that the Democrats have centered around President Trump.

Make no mistake... Trump likes the noise, and contributes to it daily. Both intentionally and not.

Suffice it to say that shouts of the president breaking norms are meaningless when you consistently break norms trying to undo an election.

Lieutenant Colonel Vindman found himself locked outside a process after being part of the in crowd. Congress wants us to suspend reality in trying to make the case for impeachment stick. Lower level staffers no longer have access to the president’s call transcripts. Congressman Schiff wants us all to believe that this is because President Trump is demanding foreign countries do his bidding to beat Joe Biden.

Yes, Joe Biden... the guy that can’t figure out in which direction the crowd is sitting, and instead speaks to a giant screen behind the podium.

Could the call transcripts be held in a classified server because principled employees of the self-described Resistance leaked transcripts of the president’s calls with the leaders of Australia and Mexico? Would news that Vindman tried to unsuccessfully access and edit the transcript on numerous occasions which prompted his complaint, add some context to the story? Or the fact that he was was the one who wrote the memorandum to release the funding, but was was turned down by the president?

While everyone would like to tut tut about Trump’s brashness, I for one am very interested in shining a little sunlight on the spectacular grift that passes as our foreign policy. Non-governmental organizations have been used to overthrow governments, peddle propaganda and enrich our professional class at the expense of taxpayers for decades.

Much of our foreign aid is built around conditions. “If you play our game, we will release the funds” has been the backbone of American foreign policy since America had a big enough wallet to demand it. To pretend that it doesn’t takes a special kind of willful ignorance. President Trump pushing his objectives over those of “interagency consensus” is kind of the point of him being elected... and part of his mandate.

For President Trump and the country, rooting out the “burrowed in” resistance bureaucrats has become priority number one in continuing the the successes of his administration. Of course, in a city that went over 90 percent for Hillary, that would pretty much be everyone.

America should be quite thankful to Evelyn Farkas for her revelation on MSNBC early in Trump’s presidency that many political appointees in the Obama administration took pay cuts and civil jobs inside their departments where they could work to derail Trump’s agenda while being shielded from firing.

It’s definitely been helpful to realize what Americans are up against.

Instead of highlighting nefarious behavior of the president, all Congress has done is thumb its nose at Americans for having the temerity to say no more.

 

Staff columnist Toni Butero can be reached at tbutero@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 862-2222.