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NOTE: The fact that Team Trump *wants* America focused on Joe Biden should be one of *many* indications that Joe Biden is *not*—in fact—at the *heart* of the Ukraine scandal.

Naftogaz, Turboatom, Parnas, Fruman, Firtash, Manafort, Putin, and the Russian war against Ukraine *is*.
1/ The Ukraine scandal begins with a Kremlin-sponsored conspiracy theory intended to cover up Russian cyber-aggression in 2016 and legitimize Trump as president—doing so, ironically, via a plan that would see him carrying water for the *Russian narrative* about its enemy Ukraine.
2/ There's a reason that *Rick Perry* was sent to Zelensky's inauguration. There's a *reason* his only significant act there was to hand Zelensky a list of new advisory board members for Naftogaz—a list aimed at replacing the *anti-corruption* CEO of the Ukraine-owned gas giant.
3/ Giuliani, Parnas, Fruman, Perry, Sondland, Firtash, Manafort and Putin all wanted one thing: the corruption of the Ukrainian energy industry to a) enrich the Kremlin, b) degrade anti-corruption efforts in Kiev, c) enrich Trump's circle and—there's good reason to believe—Trump.
4/ Trump has *many* things to gain from the approach he took to Ukraine in 2017 and after—and Biden's one of the *last items* added to his list. Before that, an excuse to end sanctions on Russia, an excuse to pardon Manafort, an excuse to exculpate Russia for aiding his election.
5/ There was money for his circle to make from Ukrainian corruption; there were business opportunities that failed for Trump in 2006 that—with a little work—he could resurrect; there were 99 ways to use Ukraine's corruption to benefit himself. A hitjob on Biden was *one* example.
6/ It's fine for Democrats to focus on Biden, as it's an easy narrative to understand for most Americans. And Biden—and for that matter moderate Democrats—love it because they want Biden elevated to sufficient prominence to be the 2020 nominee. But it's not the actual story here.
7/ The *actual* story here—a story every impeachment witness would have told if asked—is that Ukraine is America's *indispensible buffer zone* against Russian military aggression, which threatens all of Eastern Europe, and Trump has *taken Putin's part* in the Russia-Ukraine war.
8/ Let me repeat that: Ukraine is one of America's most important allies in the world, and Russia one of America's most dangerous enemies, and those two countries went to war and DONALD TRUMP CHOSE THE RUSSIAN SIDE. That's what the Ukraine scandal is about, at the top-line level.
9/ Trump and his circle sought to *degrade* Ukraine *economically and militarily* to the advantage of *Russia*, and they did so *intentionally*. They sought to *suck Ukraine dry*—they still do—to line their own pockets *and* please Putin *and* help themselves politically at home.
10/ The more the Democrats make this all about a "hitjob on Biden"—which is about 5% of the Ukraine scandal—the more Trump will *lean into it* by (a) turning Biden into the defendant here, and (b) making us all feel like Trump was just engaged in conventional opposition research.
11/ The Ukraine scandal *is* the Russia scandal, and the Russia scandal *is* and *always was* a bribery scandal. Trump has thrown in, policy-wise, with the Kremlin, because doing so offers him all *sorts* of benefits—some of which are economic, some political, and some personal.
12/ The Ukraine scandal is therefore, like the Russia scandal—because the two are one and the same—a *national security scandal*. It has minor features that touch on domestic politics, but it's finally about liquified natural gas, nuclear power, and propping up certain autocrats.
13/ I *get* Democrats' political calculus in making the years-long scandal of Trump's Ukraine "policy" all about a 2019 "Biden hit-job"—when Biden's a weak candidate who didn't announce until this spring—but I can't let this feed run with a false narrative for convenience's sake.
14/ The reason I can't allow this feed to pretend 5% of the Ukraine scandal is 100% of the Ukraine scandal is that my interest has always been primarily (a) rule of law, (b) the preservation of our democracy, (c) national security. Party politics is of *much* less interest to me.
15/ More than that, I reject the idea US voters—in the main—are stupid. I think media—currently running with the "it's all about Biden" line—should have enough confidence in itself and us to explain this is really about a POTUS who, policy-wise, has *thrown in with our enemies*.
16/ Russia wanted Trump elected. WIN. Russia wanted Trump to mistrust his intel services. WIN. Russia wanted Trump not to trust his diplomatic corps. WIN. Russia wanted Trump to use nonstandard channels to execute policy. WIN. Russia wanted Trump's aid in destroying Ukraine. WIN.
17/ Putin, his agent Kilimnik, and Manafort—a man *literally under contract for years to aid Putin in America*—seeded the Ukraine conspiracy theory Trump was working on in 2019 *back in 2016* because they *knew* it played to his venality, vanity, and personal/political interests.
18/ The idea Putin was afraid of Biden is ridiculous, as *any* Democratic POTUS—Gabbard excepted—will take roughly the same position toward Russia that Biden does. Why is no one in media noticing this? While Trump may have some fear of Biden, that *hasn't* been his motive engine.
19/ Biden is a good man with a bad history as a campaigner and presidential candidate. He doesn't energize people. Trump likely *did* see bad head-to-head polling data on Biden but the idea that *this* set his actually 2016-set Ukraine "policy" is preposterous and *ahistorical*.
20/ There's a small number of folks in media who get this. @maddow is one—she wrote a whole book on how energy policy drives geopolitics. She's right, though I don't know that she has dovetailed the major media-confirmed and *energy-sector specific* "grand bargain" with her work.
@maddow CONCLUSION/ I will, in the coming months, be writing a lot about Ukraine here. Some of it will dovetail with the Democrats' impeachment case. *Much* of it will dovetail with what the USIC is working on: the question of Trump being—in the *CI*, *not* the "movie" sense—compromised.
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