Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump answered questions from the press while departing the White House on Nov. 26, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

'This Is a Lie': Critics Challenge Trump Suggestion That Ukrainians Didn't Know Military Aid Was Being Withheld

The president tweeted a "lackluster" attack in response to a career diplomat's "explosive" testimony to House impeachment investigators.

Jessica Corbett

Democratic lawmakers and impeachment supporters on Wednesday called out President Donald Trump for suggesting on Twitter that Ukrainian officials were not aware that military aid was being withheld as part the administration's efforts to convince the country's leader to publicly launch an investigation involving former Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump's tweet was a "relatively lackluster" response to career diplomat William Taylor's 10 hours of "explosive" testimony Tuesday about the administration's "pervasive" attempts to force a Ukrainian investigation into an energy company that employed Biden's son Hunter. Taylor testisfied behind closed doors to the House Oversight, Intelligence, and Foreign Affairs committees as part of Democrats' impeachment inquiry into Trump.

Shortly before a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky—which provoked a whistleblower complaint that led Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to finally launch an impeachment inquiry last month—Trump instructed acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to hold back $391 million in military aid for Ukraine.

Lawmakers present for Taylor's hearing Tuesday said the diplomat provided "the most thorough accounting we've had of the timeline" of the Trump administration's push for a Ukrainian probe and called the testimony "a sea change" that "could accelerate" the impeachment inquiry—with which the president has refused to cooperate.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), who sits on the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees, attended Taylor's testimony. In response to Trump's suggestion that the Ukrainians didn't know about the administration withholding the military aid package, Lieu declared, "This is a lie."

"The Ukrainians are not stupid," Lieu added. "Nor is the American public."

Although the Trump administration's attempts to pressure Zelensky to launch a probe that could potentially harm Biden's 2020 campaign for the White House were ultimately unsuccessful, legal experts have pushed back against Trump's suggestion—which he also tweeted Wednesday—that "you can't have a quid pro quo with no quo."

As a pair of experts at the Campaign Legal Center explained earlier this month, "By directly requesting or suggesting that President Zelensky use Ukraine's resources to help his reelection efforts, Trump violated campaign finance law."

Impeachment HQ, a joint project of Stand Up America and Defend the Republic, addressed Trump's latest comment on the matter in an email to supporters Wednesday.

"Trump and his allies are falsely claiming that Ukraine didn't know that military aid was being withheld and, therefore, couldn't have felt pressure to launch the phony investigations into his political rival," the project said. "This is a laughable claim."

Pulling from Taylor's opening statement (pdf) and Wall Street Journal reporting, Impeachment HQ pointed out:

  1. On September 1, Ambassador Gordon Sondland told a top Ukraine official that military aid was contingent on an investigation into the Bidens, according to Ambassador Bill Taylor's deposition.
  2. Sondland also had a conversation with Ukrainian President Zelensky directly where he conditioned military aid on launching an investigation into the Bidens, according to Taylor's deposition.
  3. Senator Chris Murphy [D-Conn.] visited Ukraine and said they were worried that aid was cut off because they wouldn't launch an investigation into the Bidens.

Stand Up America founder and president Sean Eldridge tweeted Wednesday that "Taylor's testimony was crystal clear," alongside a short excerpt from the diplomat's statement.

The New York Times, citing interviews and documents the newspaper obtained, reported Wednesday that "word of the aid freeze had gotten to high-level Ukrainian officials by the first week in August."

"The problem was not a bureaucratic glitch, the Ukrainians were told then," according to the Times. "To address it, they were advised, they should reach out to Mick Mulvaney."

The reporting, the Times notes, "corroborates, and provides additional details about, a claim made by a CIA officer in his whistleblower complaint that sparked the impeachment inquiry."

The whistleblower wrote that "as of early August, I heard from U.S. officials that some Ukrainian officials were aware that U.S. aid might be in jeopardy, but I do not know how or when they learned of it." He added that the order to freeze the aid package "had come directly from the president" and "might have a connection with the overall effort to pressure Ukrainian leadership."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'It's Not Coming Out': Bernie Sanders Stands Firm on Medicare Expansion

"It's what the American people want and, after waiting over 50 years, what they are going to get."

Julia Conley ·


'When We Organize, We Win': Ocasio-Cortez Joins India Walton at Rally in Buffalo

The two progressives joined striking hospital workers on the picket line at Mercy Hospital after the early voting rally.

Julia Conley ·


Fatal Film Set Shooting Followed Outcry by Union Crew Members Over Safety Protocols

"When union members walk off a set about safety concerns, maybe 'hiring scabs' isn’t the solution you think it is."

Julia Conley ·


New Whistleblower Sparks Calls to 'Crack Down on Facebook and All Big Tech Companies'

Hours after another ex-employee filed a formal complaint, reporting broke on internal documents that show the tech giant's failure to address concerns about content related to the 2020 U.S. election.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Catastrophic and Irreparable Harm' to Wolves Averted as Wisconsin Judge Cancels Hunt

"We are heartened by this rare instance of reason and democracy prevailing in state wolf policy," said one conservation expert.

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo