The recent scandal in which President Trump was caught soliciting, in fact coercing, the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Biden has led to the House of Representatives beginning an impeachment inquiry that is likely to result in articles of impeachment against Trump. It began with a courageous whistleblower performing their patriotic duty. In response, the Trump administration, and the President personally, has revealed and admitted to sufficient information to support the serious allegation. Consequently, the administration is in complete spin and survival mode to deflect attention and public opinion away from this serious criminality.
Ironically, Trump now claims his interest was corruption, not campaign politics. If Trump was at all interested in corruption, he would begin by looking at his administration, the most corrupt in history. He would finally release his taxes to disprove well-founded concerns that he laundered money for Russian oligarchs and other foreign interests. If he were interested in corruption, he would not be surreptitiously dispatching his private attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to make unofficial visits with leaders in multiple countries. Giuliani’s missions were entirely unnecessary to address any issues of corruption, but the President availed himself of Giuliani’s services to dig up and even manufacture dirt on political opponents, coerce foreign governments to capitulate to Trump’s personal demands to investigate his political opponents, and encourage foreign governments to interfere in the 2020 Election. All of this violates U.S. law, none of this is in our national interest, and the American people need to be greatly concerned.
This is not about politics; this is about our democracy and again Trump poses an existential threat. The President has recently asserted his interest was corruption, at least the third version of what he claims he was trying to accomplish. This is a blatant attempt to fool the American people by trying to hide behind what President Obama and Biden were actually trying to do in the first place. Under Obama, U.S. policy was to firmly stand with Ukraine against illegal and unwarranted Russian aggression, albeit to avoid a major war. As a developing democracy, Ukraine was experiencing significant challenges fighting corruption, specifically concerning oligarchs and organized crime, but also with corporate payoffs. That is why Vice President Biden went to Ukraine – to support the leaders in combatting corruption and representing the frustration of not only the U.S., but also many other western nations as well as the IMF, with the slow pace of reform. Biden’s visit and message to Ukraine were all very public, official, and transparent, not a secret visit on behalf of personal interests.
The facts here are well known. Biden at all times acted on behalf of U.S. and allied interests, not at all to protect his son Hunter. His duty was to convince the Ukrainian leadership to remove the chief anti-corruption prosecutor because that individual he had been demonstrably failing to perform his duties and prosecute corruption. The U.S., et al, pushed Ukraine to install a more aggressive and focused prosecutor who would intensify the fight against corruption and finally take significant action. Hunter Biden was at the time a member of the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian natural gas company, that had been investigated for certain financial dealings of which Hunter Biden was not a part. If Burisma (or Hunter Biden) had engaged in corruption, this new prosecutor would have acted AGAINST them, not protect them. Thus, Biden was clearly not acting to protect his son or Burisma in any way. However, all investigation to date has determined that Hunter Biden had not been involved in any legal impropriety and that Joe Biden’s actions were all transparent and legitimate.
Unfortunately, as we have come to learn day after day, truth means little to the Trump machine and especially not to the liar-in-chief. Trump’s interest in this matter has nothing to do with fighting corruption. That is laughable coming from Trump. His interest is wholly personal – to use foreign governments to stage bogus investigations and dig up “dirt” on his political opponents as well as to interfere in the 20202 election. Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president at issue took place the day after Robert Mueller testified, laying out the case that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and the overtures to the Trump campaign. One day later… Once again, Trump acted out of pure self-interest with complete disregard for the country. His primary interest with Ukraine was to generate a bogus scandal he could use to weaken Biden. It mattered not to Trump that the story was entirely false, just that he could use his minions to perpetuate it to the point people were overpowered into accepting it.
Putin’s Russia inexcusably invaded Ukraine to steal territory and intimidate the Ukrainian people into capitulation. They illegally annexed Crimea and occupy portions of eastern Ukraine. Although Trump was highly critical of President Obama’s handling of the matter, Trump has continually failed Ukraine and American national security. Knowing the immense and perpetual threat Russia poses to Ukraine and Ukraine’s desperate need for the long-promised military assistance package from the U.S., Trump held it hostage to compel Ukrainian capitulation to his efforts to force them to investigate Biden and interfere in the 2020 election. Ukraine also wanted a White House visit and Trump similarly withheld that to force their hand. Although Congress mandated the aid package, Trump without authority delayed it for quite some time while his minions intimidated and coerced Ukrainian officials into a corner from which they would have no choice but to accede to Trump’s demands in order for their very survival. The law does not require a stated quid pro quo, nor does impeachment. The issue is that Trump made demands of a foreign power, forced them to act on his personal behalf, forced them to interfere in the upcoming election, and abused his office for personal gain. None of this is official U.S. business or in our national security interest.
This is not just about creating false controversy for his political opponent and the 2020 election. This is also about Russia and Trump’s inexplicable affection for Putin. We have yet another example of how Trump is compelled to do Putin’s bidding. Trump continues to seek to exonerate Russia for Russia’s incontrovertible efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. Shortly after taking office, Trump was forced to impose significant sanctions on Russia by a near unanimous vote in Congress that he could not ignore. While Congress was defending our national security, Trump was already plotting to violate it. He held an unprecedented, secret, and bizarre meeting in the Oval Office with the then Russian Foreign Minister and Russian Ambassador. We later learned that among the multiple improper topics they discussed, including Trump inexplicably passing top secret intelligence, Trump traitorously invited Russia to continue interfering in our elections. The American people cannot accept serious threat to our security and future.
Trump is sending henchman including Giuliani and AG Barr around the world to discredit the career professionals throughout our intelligence agencies. Let that set it – the President is actively attacking the dedicated professionals who spend, and often risk, their lives keeping us safe. This is all part of his orchestrated plan to unjustifiably exonerate Russia from election interference and remove the sanctions. Trump is also trying to pressure Ukraine into accepting an awful deal that supposedly ends Russian aggression. The deal allows Russia to keep Crimea, maintain a presence in eastern Ukraine, and provide for certain autonomy in eastern Ukraine. These terms would be devastating to Ukraine and likely to lead to Ukraine failing to be an independent and democratic nation. However, without U.S. support, Ukraine may have no choice but to accept Russia’s terms. If Trump can assert, albeit disingenuously, that Russia and Ukraine made peace and Russia did not interfere in the 2016 election, he could argue there is no need to maintain the sanctions regime. This is Putin’s primary objective and Trump is pushing diligently to deliver it to him, despite being wholly contrary to our national interests and contrary to the facts.
The President engaging for three years in a war against our law enforcement and intelligence agencies is as reprehensible as it is dangerous. His continuous attacks on the FBI, CIA, and other crucial agencies directly jeopardizes our national security and greatly diminishes the ability of the law enforcement and intelligence communities to perform their essential duties for the good of the nation. Trump weakens the agencies, the dedicated, capable public servants therein, and the country. What is even worse, he relies entirely on completely false narratives that he knows to be untrue. Yet he, and those who actively support him on television shows, have no hesitation about lying to the American people and embarrass our country around the world. We need our law enforcement and intelligence professionals, perhaps these days more than ever. Republican leaders, it is well past the time for you to own up to your obligations and duty to the nation above all else. If you cannot stand true now, you are unfit to hold office.
Whistleblowers have been an integral part of checking government power and performance for generations. As with numerous preceding cases, the whistleblowers involved in these issues were heroic and patriotic. They have done nothing but provide essential information through proper channels to ensure accountability in government and prevent gross abuse of power. When a whistleblower comes forward, the agency Inspector General opens an investigation that may in turn lead to a larger investigation. In other words, there is a process to ascertain the facts while also protecting the whistleblower from retaliation, harassment, etc. In this particular case, there appear to be multiple whistleblowers, adding to the credibility of the concerns they raised. This whistleblower followed all proper procedures and has acted in good faith. The Trump-appointed Inspector General has said so and so even have some Republican Senators, including Charles Grassley of Iowa. This is incredibly serious stuff and we all must act accordingly, without political blinders.
The White House and AG Barr actively sought to prevent disclosure in complete violation of their duties, federal law, and the public trust. Only through the commitment and professionalism of the Inspector General and the whistleblower did Congress receive the complaint and gain the opportunity to investigate. This whistleblower here performed an incredible service. The country learned of a diabolical practice of concealing evidence of Trump’s calls with international leaders behind the firewall of the highest level of security clearance, thus effectively preventing disclosure or scrutiny. This illegal practice was designed to protect the President by ensuring nobody was ever able to review all of the impropriety his advisors knew he committed during these calls. Similarly, White House staff continually provided knowingly inaccurate summaries of Trump communications with foreign leaders to agency career professionals who were required to receive the information. These professionals in state and intelligence billets knew the documents contained false or misleading information and were increasingly frustrated in trying to perform their duties on behalf of the country. Congress must now compel the administration to unseal the vault and provide the hidden phone call materials. It is safe to believe there will be additional issues.
All of this is contained within the ongoing Congressional impeachment inquiry. Wherever the facts take the investigation, it clearly includes critical national security interests and serious criminal behavior by the Trump administration. We deserve to know the truth and anyone who acted unlawfully must be held accountable. Instead, Trump, Giuliani, Secretary of State Pompeo, AG Barr, et al, are fervently obstructing justice and preventing disclosure of significant misconduct and national security violations. They are actively engaged in Trump’s fallacious quest against our intelligence community and in support of dangerous continued Russian interference. They refuse to comply with lawful subpoenas issued by Congress to provide documents and testimony. Congress not only has the right, but the obligation to investigate matters like these. Trump, his minions, and members of the administration have no justification to withhold everything from Congress or refuse to appear. This is per se obstruction of justice and a presumption of their collective guilt.
There is ample evidence that Trump has used and abused multiple aspects of national power and government to do his personal business to discredit political opponents for the 2020 election. This may be a very different matter if the focus of all of this activity was a legitimate national security interest. Instead, it is unfortunately much the opposite. This is about Trump’s reelection. Congressional Republicans are going to great lengths to try and protect the President rather than do their sworn duty to uphold and defend the Constitution. Even this extreme misconduct by the President has not convinced Republicans to do the right thing. They are not simply remaining quiet and allowing the process to run. They are actively repeating the President’s talking points, no matter how ridiculous or false. Members of the rabid Trump political base have been making death threats against witnesses and members of Congress. This must stop and Republicans must speak out.