cloudy.png
Sunday December 8th, 2019 8:39AM

The new ‘three amigos’ riding into Trump impeachment inquiry

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — The “three amigos” used to stand for one thing in Washington — the pack of globe-trotting senators led by John McCain who brought American idealism to the world’s trouble spots.

Now it refers to another trio, the Trump envoys who pushed Ukraine to pursue investigations of Democrats and former Vice President Joe Biden.

The shift represents more than the appropriation of a name. It also marks a departure from efforts by the late Arizona senator to build bipartisan alliances and further broad foreign policy ideals pursued by Republican presidents from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush. That approach is unrecognizable today as the GOP has become the party of Donald Trump and his "America First" approach.

“I knew the ‘three amigos’ and believe me, these are not three amigos like we were,” said Joe Lieberman, the former Democratic, then independent senator from Connecticut who was part of the original group with Republicans McCain and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Lieberman said he believes McCain, his longtime friend, would be “really upset about what’s happening in Ukraine now.”

The House impeachment inquiry has detailed how the self-described “three amigos” — European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland, outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry and former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker — operated an “irregular” foreign policy channel that was pushing Ukraine to announce the investigations Trump wanted. In return, the White House would release $400 million in military aid the Eastern European ally needed to counter Russian aggression and would arrange a coveted Oval Office visit with Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Led by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, the trio assembled as a loose contingent of envoys whose activities were initially unseen by others in the administration specializing in Ukraine issues. But as their actions became known, the ``amigos’’ set off alarms among diplomats and officials who described them as pursuing the president’s political agenda over U.S. national security interests.

Fiona Hill, a former Russia adviser to the White House, testified before the impeachment inquiry that at one point she confronted Sondland to ask on whose authority he was operating in Ukraine.

The president, Sondland responded, according to Hill.

State Department official David Holmes testified that Sondland, Perry and Volker “styled themselves as the three amigos and made clear they would take the lead on coordinating our policy and engagement with for the Zelenskiy administration.”

Holmes said that ``over the following months, it became apparent that Mr. Giuliani was having a direct influence on the foreign policy agenda that the three amigos were executing on the ground in Ukraine.”

Presidents have often used back channels to facilitate foreign policy and leverage U.S. resources to achieve their policy goals, experts say. The difference is that Trump’s approach, as outlined in the impeachment inquiry, appears to be mobilizing U.S. policy and resource for personal political gain.

The Ukrainian matter is but one way the foreign policy landscape has shifted dramatically in the Trump era. As the White House pursues an “America First” agenda, the U.S. is seen as retreating from its traditional role of international engagement and democracy building and Trump is aligning himself with some of the world’s more autocratic leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Richard Fontaine, a former McCain national security aide who is now chief executive officer at the Center for New American Security, said the broader, bipartisan agreement on the U.S. role in the world has now become a “debate over fundamentals.”

Fontaine said McCain’s ``amigos’’ believed that “when the U.S. could act for the betterment of people, it should act ... rather than trying to keep our nose out of things.”

It was former Army Gen. David Petraeus who called McCain’s group the “three amigos” as the senators made frequent visits to Afghanistan and Iraq. They became the chief proponents of the troop increase that Bush proposed in 2006 and that Democrats and some Republicans derided as prolonging the unpopular war in Iraq.

But the trio also traveled broadly, including in Ukraine, where McCain repeatedly addressed democracy activists as the former Soviet state reached to the West.

Volker, who recently stepped down from his position at the McCain Institute at Arizona State University, distanced himself from his new title as one of Trump’s amigos.

“Much has been made of the term ‘three amigos’ in reference to Secretary Perry, Ambassador Sondland and myself,” Volker said in opening remarks before the impeachment inquiry.

“I never used that term — and frankly cringe when I hear it because for me, the ‘three amigos’ will always refer to Sen. John McCain, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, in reference to their work to support the surge in Iraq.”

Brian Katulis, a national security expert at the Center for American Progress, said McCain’s “amigos” are all but gone in the Trump era.

“They stood for a certain vision of America’s role in the world — one that was more predictable and reliable — and one we don’t have today,” he said.

“That was certainly McCain’s legacy,” he said. “Like a lot of things in the GOP, it’s so far gone because Trump has obliterated a lot of the ideals.”

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Hong Kong pro-democracy rally cut short by police tear gas
Pro-democracy protesters are renewing pressure on the Hong Kong government with three marches Sunday
7:30AM ( 5 minutes ago )
The new ‘three amigos’ riding into Trump impeachment inquiry
The “three amigos” used to mean the trio of globe-trotting senators led by John McCain who brought American idealism to the world’s trouble spots, but now it refers to the Trump envoys pushing Ukraine to pursue investigations of Democrats and Joe Biden
7:21AM ( 14 minutes ago )
UN chief warns of ‘point of no return’ on climate change
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the world’s efforts to stop climate change have been “utterly inadequate" so far and warns that “the point of no return is no longer over the horizon.”
7:19AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Thousands march to up pressure on Hong Kong government
Pro-democracy protesters are renewing pressure on the Hong Kong government with three marches Sunday
5:00AM ( 2 hours ago )
Paradise’s dream football season ends 1 year after fire
A Northern California community is rallying around its local high school football team after it lost a championship game one year after a deadly wildfire destroyed most of the town.
3:13AM ( 4 hours ago )
Protesters march to up pressure on Hong Kong government
Pro-democracy protesters are renewing pressure on the Hong Kong government with three marches Sunday
1:49AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP National News
Londoners a reminder of how ordinary people can fight back
The London residents who used a fire extinguisher and even a 5-foot narwhal tusk to fight back against an attacker who stabbed two people to death and wounded three others are a reminder of ordinary people who take extraordinary actions to save others
11:56PM ( 7 hours ago )
Powerful storm pushes into Midwest with heavy snow and winds
A powerful and dangerous storm is moving eastward, dumping heavy snow and rains round the country from parts of California to the northern Midwest
11:25PM ( 8 hours ago )
July 25 forecast: Sunny, with cloud of impeachment for Trump
If there was one day that crystallized all the forces that resulted in the impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump, it was July 25
11:00PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Hong Kong pro-democracy rally cut short by police tear gas
Pro-democracy protesters are renewing pressure on the Hong Kong government with three marches Sunday
7:30AM ( 5 minutes ago )
UN chief warns of ‘point of no return’ on climate change
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the world’s efforts to stop climate change have been “utterly inadequate" so far and warns that “the point of no return is no longer over the horizon.”
7:19AM ( 16 minutes ago )
19 dead in Siberia after bus plunges onto frozen river
Russian emergency officials say 19 people were killed when their bus plunged off a bridge onto a frozen river in eastern Siberia
6:33AM ( 1 hour ago )
Merry Clickmas: Black Friday online sales hit record $7.4B
This year’s Black Friday was the biggest ever for online sales, totaling $7.4 billion
6:30AM ( 1 hour ago )
Joyous Congolese dances, songs enliven St. Peter’s Basilica
Joyous Congolese dancing and singing have enlivened St. Peter’s Basilica as Pope Francis celebrated a special Mass for Catholics from that violence-wracked African nation
6:29AM ( 1 hour ago )