As we approach the vote in the House of Representatives to file articles of impeachment against the current sitting president, there are a few things you need to consider, and here they are.
First, as much as the impeachment of Donald J. Trump may be about abuse of power when he sought the assistance of a foreign entity to find “dirt” on his political opponent, there is so much more that should find every single American outraged about Trump’s behavior in office. Compulsive lying should be near the top of the list and his use of lying as a tried and true campaign tactic should not be ignored, especially as we approach the 2020 election.
Let’s begin by laying out the actual facts regarding Ukraine and the telephone call Trump had with the new president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, on July 25, 2019.
First, during that telephone call, Trump asked Zelensky to look into false allegations that Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden stopped the Ukraine prosecutor from prosecuting his son, Hunter.
That is confirmed in the memo of the telephone conversation issued by the White House in the aftermath of the whistleblower complaint about this telephone conversation.
It also noted that asking a foreign government to dig up dirt on a political rival, in this case, Joe Biden, is an abuse of power of the office of the president.
In 2016, Joe Biden was still vice president, and his son was serving on the board of a Ukrainian oil and gas company by the name Burisma. The Prosecutor General of the Ukraine at that time was Viktor Shokin, and he had been investigating Burisma, not, specifically, Hunter Biden and indeed not investigating Joe Biden of any wrongdoing. This is important to remember.
Claims by Trump and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, that either Bidens were being investigated and that Joe Biden intervened are entirely unfounded and designed to put forth more “fake news” to make him look bad in the wake of his official announcement of his 2020 presidential campaign in April of 2019. The timeframe should not be overlooked.
Yuriy Lutsenko, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General, stated as recently as May of 2019 that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing by either Biden: “Hunter Biden did not violate any Ukrainian laws;” …we do not see any wrongdoing.” To be clear, the investigation was explicitly into Burisma, and there was apparently no basis for investigating either Biden, and such an investigation never took place.
For Trump to claim that Joe Biden halted an investigation of his son while he sat as vice president, accordingly is baseless and totally, pardon the expression, “fake.”
What did occur at that time while Biden was still vice president is that Biden, representing the United States government, in conjunction with European governments and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), did try to get Shokin fired as prosecutor general, but because they did not think he was doing enough regarding investigations into corruption. In other words, Biden was part of a group pushing for more oversight of Ukraine and its investigations of corruption including that involving Burisma.
According to Congressman Tom Malinowski of New Jersey, who was a member of the State Department at the time, as recently as Sept. 25, 2019, he stated: “I was an Assistant Secretary of State when this happened.
“All of us working on Ukraine wanted this Prosecutor General gone because he was NOT prosecuting corruption. So did the Europeans. So did the IMF. That did not come from Joe Biden. He just delivered the message.”
How interesting that both Trump and Giuliani pretend to care so much about Ukraine corruption since it was Trump who hired to lead his campaign none other than Paul Manafort, who was paid millions of dollars by the previous and very corrupt president of the Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, to lobby for Ukraine. He did not did not disclose his dealing in Ukraine to the United States government, resulting in his current housing in prison.
Zelensky was elected in April of 2019 and specifically ran on an anti-corruption platform. How ironic to be pressured by the president of the United States to fabricate an investigation for political purposes? Moreover, at the same time that the request for dirt on Biden was being made, Zelensky was trying to get military aid from the U.S. government to defend itself in a war in Eastern Ukraine with, who else, Russia!
As you likely will recall, the war began when Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 and annexed Crimea. Russia continues to try to take control of Eastern Ukraine, and military aid is essential to Ukraine’s independence.
It goes without saying how vital to Ukraine the continued support from the United States and Europe is, yet weeks before the July 25 call, Trump instructed his administration to withhold almost $400 million in military aid to Ukraine.
When Zelensky brings the issue of military aid up during the phone call, Trump’s immediate response was, “I would like you to do us a favor, though…” Those are his exact words and is captured in the call summary released by the White House.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what is known as a quid pro quo, whether needed for impeachment or not. Remember how both James Comey and Michael Cohen testified how Trump implied what he wanted them to do without stating it in specific terms? “Mr. Trump speaks in code” is how Michael Cohen described the process.
If a president of the United States coercing a foreign leader to participate in undermining a political opponent of that same president of the United States is not an abuse of power, then what is?
Yet, this tactic should not be surprising to anyone who was around for the 2016 presidential campaign.
There were old tricks on new players; the 2016’s created Hillary’s email scandal to be replaced by 2020’s baseless Biden Ukraine scandal. 2016’s need for Russian interference of the election to be replaced in 2020 by reaching out to Ukraine to interfere. The difference this go around, however, is that the voters have seen this script before and, I hope, are now wise to it.
Disinformation campaign, deflection of criticism of his own corruption onto his political opponent? Who can ever forget Trump’s now immortal comeback to Hillary: “…no, you’re the puppet!” Will it work in 2020? Stay tuned. Trump is, we must remember, the CONmander-in-Chief!