Fairy Godfathers in Congress Cast Their Riddikulus Spell For Ambassadorships

 

We are the only country in the developed world that does this over and over and over again. Remember when Russia sent one of its top diplomats to the UN and we sent our amateurs? Yep, that wasn’t fun to watch.  The Russians must have wondered, “how did we get this lucky?”
The Gordon Sonland episode during the first impeachment trial may have shocked people to attention but it did not dampen the interests of political donors, nor that of the current administration.  In fact, this is a tradition gleefully shared by the Democratic and Republican administrations. Of course, promises will be made, now and again but in the end, this will never get fixed. Why? Both parties benefit from the practice of using plum ambassadorships as rewards to friends, donors, political allies, and supporters. Also if you’re a congressional representative, would you really shut the door on a potential new career in diplomacy when the time comes for you to retire from politics?  Nah, that would be silly!
Obviously, Congressional representatives think the job is easy peasy it does not require diplomatic experience, and it can be done by anyone with good manners and a nice bark.
Now, we’re just wondering which party would be the first to award an ambassadorship to man’s best friend! Because why not?
Wouldn’t a well trained dog like Major could do just as well?  Just get Major an excellent DCM who will not crash his party!  And really, Major is the President’s best pal in DC, who wouldn’t want to be friends with him?
Somebody give that dog an agrément!
Note that Palmerston did run Whitehall for a bit, and Larry, the Cat, well, he does lord over 10 Downing Street and poor Boris. They’re two nice  inspiration; Palmerston and Larry, that is, not Boris. Pardon me? Incitatus, too? Well, that horse was never made a consul contrary to ancient rumors.
Listen. Here’s the thing. If you recommend Major for an ambassadorship and senator cruz barks about everything (except the insurrection), Major could just as quickly bark back about doggy biscuits or anything at all under the sun.  The Senators could then have their bark-a-bark marathon, and it’ll be on a double pay-per view at C-SPAN and DOGTV.
In any case, who can blame entry level diplomats considering their career options with this reality in mind (not the doggy ambassador, silly!). Not that all career diplomats get to become ambassadors, of course.  But most of them will get to babysit most amateur ambassadors unless Elon Musk develops an FSD for ambassadorships.  When that happens, folks can just skip FSI’s three-week Ambassadorial Seminar, and get the George Kennan chip (with two ambassadorships). Or level up to a Thomas Pickering chip (with seven ambassadorships). You can’t cram 30 years experience into a three-week seminar, how could you? But Elon can put all that in an embedable chip!
You think we’re making fun of the Senate? Nah, won’t dream of it. But don’t you think Congress is now just having fun with us since elected reps don’t really think the general public cares?

Somehow, the folks over at Share America are missing a few important steps; who’s going to tell them that their infographic needs more work?

EUR/DAS George Kent Returns to Ukraine as Chargé d’Affaires

Thank you to over 500 readers and supporters who made our continued operation possible this year. Raising funds for a small outlet that is already open and free for all to read has often been the most challenging part of running  this blog. We are grateful for your continued support and well wishes. Grazie — DS

 

We could not locate the announcement but EUR DAS (and Trump Impeachment witness) George Kent is back in Ukraine as Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Kyiv.  Kent has served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau overseeing policy towards Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan since September 2018. He was also Deputy Chief of Mission in Kyiv from 2015-18.
As of July 12, he is back in Ukraine as CDA per tweet from US Embassy Kyiv. Until recently, Embassy Kyiv’s Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. was Kristina A. Kvien. She is still listed as CDA on embassy’s website as of this writing. This is a tad confusing, unconfuse us, please.
Embassy Kyiv has a new DCM who previously served at post as political counselor.  Alan Purcell became Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine in May 2021. A career Foreign Service Officer, he served most recently as Acting Consul General in Hamilton, Bermuda, from January to May 2021. He was acting DAS at the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor prior to his stint in Bermuda.

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Ex-Ambo Gordon Sonland Sues Ex-SecState Pompeo, U.S. for $1.8M Impeachment Bills #Popcorn

13 Going on 14 — GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27

 

 

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Trump Ousts Impeachment Witnesses, Amb. Gordon Sondland, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, Plus Brother Yevgeny Vindman

 

Pompeo Helpfully Highlights Lisa Simpson’s Cesspool on the Potomac

OH. MY.
“The city of Washington was built on a stagnant swamp some 200 years ago, and very little has changed. It stank then, and it stinks now. Only today, it is the fetid stench of corruption that hangs in the air. And who did I see taking a bribe but the “Honorable” Bob Arnold! Don’t worry, Congressman, I’m sure you can buy all the votes you need with your dirty money! And this will be one nation, under the dollar, with liberty and justice for none.” – Lisa Simpson
See the longer snippet here in Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington.

 

BONUS item:

World’s Greatest Debilitative Body Votes Acquittal in Best Show Category

 

 

Impeachment Open Hearings Week #1: William Taylor, George Kent, Marie Yovanovitch

Updated: Nov 13, 2019
Updated: Nov 15, 2019

The House Intelligence Committee  Chairman Adam Schiff announced the first open hearings this week:

Wednesday, November 13, 2019 10:00 am ET

WHERE: Longworth House Office Building, Room 110
WATCH: Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrL2q91fnnQ&feature=youtu.be
Witnesses:
  • Ambassador William Taylor
    Chargé D’affaires, US Embassy Kyiv, Ukraine
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent
    Deputy Assistant Secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau at the U.S. Department of State.

Friday, November 15, 2019 9:00am ET

Ambassador Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch
US Ambassador to Ukraine (2016-May 2019)
WHERE: Longworth House Office Building, Room 1100
WATCH: Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPoc_sj1hgQ

 

WaPo Editorial Board: Pompeo is enabling the destruction of U.S. diplomacy

 

Via WaPo Editorial Board:

Mr. Pompeo listened on July 25 while Mr. Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate that theory as well as the false story that Mr. Biden sought the removal of a Ukrainian prosecutor to protect his son. He listened while Mr. Trump slandered the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch — a dedicated Foreign Service professional — whose tour in Kiev Mr. Pompeo had cut short.
[…]
Mr. Pompeo’s claim that the conversation was “in the context” of long-standing U.S. policy is demonstrably false.

So, too, was Mr. Pompeo’s assertion that a request by House committees for depositions from Ms. Yovanovitch and other State Department officials was improper. Mr. Pompeo claimed the committees had not followed proper procedure or given the officials enough time to prepare. He insisted that State Department lawyers must be present at all depositions to prevent the disclosure of “privileged information.” The House committee chairmen correctly interpreted this bluster: Mr. Pompeo, they said, was “intimidating Department witnesses in order to protect himself and the President.”

Fortunately, one of those witnesses, former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt D. Volker, is due to testify on Thursday, and Ms. Yovanovitch has reportedly been scheduled for next week. They and other State Department professionals should not hesitate to tell Congress the truth about how Mr. Pompeo enabled the destruction of U.S. diplomacy.

Give this guy the “One Team” Award!

116th Congress Regulations for the Use of Deposition Authority and 3 FAM 4170/10 FAM 130

The long-standing governing guidelines at the State Department for public speaking, teaching, writing, and  media engagement is 3 FAM 4170. The provisions of this subchapter apply to all public communications as defined in 3 FAM 4173, such as speaking, teaching, writing, and press/media engagement, including that prepared for electronic dissemination in an employee’s official capacity, or in an employee’s personal capacity if on a topic “of Departmental concern,” as defined in 3 FAM 4173. This subchapter makes no exceptions for special government employees (SGEs).
The most recent update for this subchapter was in March 2017 and it says in part:

The provisions of this subchapter are consistent with and do not supersede, conflict with, or otherwise alter the employee obligations, rights, or liabilities created by statute or executive order relating to: (1)  Classified information; (2)  Communications to Congress; (3)  Reporting to an Inspector General of a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety; or (4)  Any other whistleblower protection.

3 FAM 4170 Overview notes:

The personal capacity public communications review requirement is intended to serve three purposes: to determine whether the communication would disclose classified or other protected information without authorization; to allow the Department to prepare to handle any potential ramifications for its mission or employees that could result from the proposed public communication; or, in rare cases, to identify public communications that are highly likely to result in serious adverse consequences to the mission or efficiency of the Department, such that the Secretary or Deputy Secretary must be afforded the opportunity to decide whether it is necessary to prohibit the communication (see 3 FAM 4176.4)

On March 14, 2019, the State Department also updated 10 FAM 130 REMARKS AND WRITINGS FOR THE MEDIA AND GENERAL PUBLIC.  This subchapter defines “official” as public remarks including speeches, congressional testimony, press statements, and remarks prepared for photo opportunities.
This subchapter’s policy also says that “Official appearances before the media or general public to give formal interviews, speeches, or remarks must be cleared with the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs.  See 10 FAM 131.4.  See also 3 FAM 4174.2 and 3 FAM 4174.3.” And it says that “former employees remain obligated by law not to disclose classified information, and certain employees may be bound by nondisclosure agreements.  See also 3 FAM 4174.2 paragraph d.”
On the matter of noncompliance, last updated in July 2015 per 3 FAM 4177:  “Failure to follow the provisions of this subchapter, including failure to seek advance reviews where required, may result in disciplinary or other administrative action up to and including separation. … Publication or dissemination of classified or other protected information may result in disciplinary action, criminal prosecution and/or civil liability.
We dug this up due to the forthcoming depositions by State Department officials in the coming days. In one hand, the FAM says that 3 FAM 4170 is consistent and do not supersede, or conflict with an employee’s obligation related to communication with Congress, and yet 10 FAM 130 updated in March 2019, a couple of months after congressional rules on depositions was adopted, specifically notes that congressional testimony is considered “official” remarks and require clearance. Somebody would have to sort this out very soon. Or we’ll know soon enough.
The first depositions in the Impeachment Inquiry will start tomorrow with the scheduled appearance of former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker (described by NBC News as an “unpaid volunteer” and reportedly classified as a “Special Government Employee”).  Given that he is only the first to be deposed and we expect there will be many more before this is over, we thought we’d also dig up the rules for depositions in the 116th Congress.
Per section 103(a)(2) of House Resolution 6, 116th Congress, the following regulations regarding the conduct of depositions by committee and select committee counsel was printed in the Congressional Record on January 25, 2019. The Congressional Record version is available to read here, and in PDF file here. Perhaps most notable here is #3 regarding the presence of USG observers or counsels during depositions.
This is probably not a bad time to remind folks why Professional Liability Insurance is needed. Read here and here.

1. Notices for the taking of depositions shall specify the date, time, and place of examination. Depositions shall be taken under oath administered by a member or a person otherwise authorized to administer oaths. Depositions may continue from day to day.

2. Consultation with the ranking minority member shall include three days’ notice before any deposition is taken. All members of the committee shall also receive three days written notice that a deposition will be taken, except in exigent circumstances. For purposes of these procedures, a day shall not include Saturdays, Sundays, or legal holidays except when the House is in session on such a day.

3. Witnesses may be accompanied at a deposition by personal, nongovernmental counsel to advise them of their rights. Only members, committee staff designated by the chair or ranking minority member, an official reporter, the witness, and the witness’s counsel are permitted to attend. Observers or counsel for other persons, including counsel for government agencies, may not attend.

4. The chair of the committee noticing the deposition may designate that deposition as part of a joint investigation between committees, and in that case, provide notice to the members of the committees. If such a designation is made, the chair and ranking minority member of the additional committee(s) may designate committee staff to attend pursuant to regulation 3. Members and designated staff of the committees may attend and ask questions as set forth below.

5. A deposition shall be conducted by any member or committee counsel designated by the chair or ranking minority member of the Committee that noticed the deposition. When depositions are conducted by committee counsel, there shall be no more than two committee counsel permitted to question a witness per round. One of the committee counsel shall be designated by the chair and the other by the ranking minority member per round.

6. Deposition questions shall be propounded in rounds. The length of each round shall not exceed 60 minutes per side, and shall provide equal time to the majority and the minority. In each round, the member(s) or committee counsel designated by the chair shall ask questions first, and the member(s) or committee counsel designated by the ranking minority member shall ask questions second.

7.  Objections must be stated concisely and in a non-argumentative and non-suggestive manner. A witness’s counsel may not instruct a witness to refuse to answer a question, except to preserve a privilege. In the event of professional, ethical, or other misconduct by the witness’s counsel during the deposition, the Committee may take any appropriate disciplinary action. The witness may refuse to answer a question only to preserve a privilege. When the witness has refused to answer a question to preserve a privilege, members or staff may (i) proceed with the deposition, or (ii) either at that time or at a subsequent time, seek a ruling from the Chair either by telephone or otherwise. If the Chair overrules any such objection and thereby orders a witness to answer any question to which an objection was lodged, the witness shall be ordered to answer. If a member of the committee chooses to appeal the ruling of the chair, such appeal must be made within three days, in writing, and shall be preserved for committee consideration. The Committee’s ruling on appeal shall be filed with the clerk of the Committee and shall be provided to the members and witness no less than three days before the reconvened deposition. A deponent who refuses to answer a question after being directed to answer by the chair may be subject to sanction, except that no sanctions may be imposed if the ruling of the chair is reversed by the committee on appeal.

8. The Committee chair shall ensure that the testimony is either transcribed or electronically recorded or both. If a witness’s testimony is transcribed, the witness or the witness’s counsel shall be afforded an opportunity to review a copy. No later than five days after the witness has been notified of the opportunity to review the transcript, the witness may submit suggested changes to the chair. Committee staff may make any typographical and technical changes. Substantive changes, modifications, clarifications, or amendments to the deposition transcript submitted by the witness must be accompanied by a letter signed by the witness requesting the changes and a statement of the witness’s reasons for each proposed change. Any substantive changes, modifications, clarifications, or amendments shall be included as an appendix to the transcript conditioned upon the witness signing the transcript.

9. The individual administering the oath, if other than a member, shall certify on the transcript that the witness was duly sworn. The transcriber shall certify that the transcript is a true record of the testimony, and the transcript shall be filed, together with any electronic recording, with the clerk of the committee in Washington, DC. Depositions shall be considered to have been taken in Washington, DC, as well as the location actually taken once filed there with the clerk of the committee for the committee’s use. The chair and the ranking minority member shall be provided with a copy of the transcripts of the deposition at the same time.

10. The chair and ranking minority member shall consult regarding the release of deposition testimony, transcripts, or recordings, and portions thereof. If either objects in writing to a proposed release of a deposition testimony, transcript, or recording, or a portion thereof, the matter  shall be promptly referred to the committee for resolution.

11. A witness shall not be required to testify unless the witness has been provided with a copy of section 103(a) of H.Res. 6, 116th Congress, and these regulations.

 

WSJ Says Pompeo Took Part in #July25 Ukraine Call, Let’s Recall 100% His Sept 22 Interviews