President Trump was caught attempting to coerce Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 Election on his behalf. The key question was how he would choose to address his misconduct. Any decent leader would choose to be responsible, especially once caught, admit to the facts and focus on the consequences. Professionalism and humility go a long way towards redemption. Trump, however, lacks the character to admit even the slightest error or fault. There was no way his seriously damaged psyche could ever allow him to admit genuine criminality like this. In fact, Trump outright prohibited anyone in his administration or Congressional Republicans from conceding that his now infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky was anything but perfect! They could not even acknowledge something so innocuous and obvious such as to say he could have said things better during the call.
In 2 weeks of public, transparent, professional hearings, the House Intelligence Committee heard from almost 20 witnesses consisting of career public servants, all of whom had earned impeccable records and reputations for integrity, and Trump’s political appointees, all of whom were clearly supporters, not “never-Trumpers.” None of the witnesses was pursuing a personal crusade against Trump or his policies. Each answered a subpoena that compelled them to appear and tell the truth under oath. The result was an unequivocal, uncontroverted factual predicate supporting the serious allegations against Trump as well as his incredible dishonesty. Gordon Sondland, who donated $1,000,000.00 to Trump, thus “purchasing” his ambassadorship to the EU, testified that Trump orchestrated a quid pro quo, essentially bribing Ukraine to conduct improper and baseless investigations. Sondland would certainly know of such things…
The hearings were thorough and painted an incredibly clear picture. Trump and Congressional Republicans chose to continue Trump’s unprecedented campaign of dishonesty and deceit to the American people. Their strategy was to deny, distract, and distort at any cost. They persisted no matter how ridiculous, how contrary to proven facts, or how dangerous their tactics were to the country. Trump banks on the notion that the American people, especially his base, are ignorant and uninformed. They will not watch the hearings or read about them and thus are extremely susceptible to whatever farfetched machinations Trump spins. The fact that the polls did not move after the hearings and the country remains evenly split on impeachment ratifies this despicable approach.
Clearly Democrats were influenced by politics as well, swayed by the prospect of weakening Trump prior to the 2020 Election. However, Trump chose to extort Ukraine and regardless of any political interest, the Democrats are genuinely doing their sworn duty to uphold the Constitution. Throughout the hearings they overwhelmingly asked poignant, respectable questions designed to elicit critical facts. Republicans overwhelmingly used their time to lie to the American people, focus on widely debunked conspiracy theories, raise wholly irrelevant matters, and disgrace themselves by acting against our national interests, instead favoring Russian interests and pushing Russian talking points. It would be an outrageous work of fiction if not captured on live television. To begin and end each session, Chairman Adam Schiff respectably elucidated on the facts and the witnesses. Ranking member Nunes distinguished himself much the opposite by continually outright lying, denigrating career public servants, advocating for Russian interests, and hurting the country. Nunes and his colleagues chose to be disgraceful while Schiff and his colleagues chose dignity. In fact, we recently learned that Nunes himself engaged in highly inappropriate, illegal activity in furtherance of Trump’s scheme.
Trump and the Congressional Republicans could have focused on minimizing the possible consequences of his actions. Although it is hard to see how this was not important or not warranting serious action, they could at least make a credible argument against removing him from office. Instead, they continue to insist Trump’s dealing with Ukraine were “perfect” and the calls were “perfect.” They assert that Trump was merely focused on anti-corruption efforts. The evidence is much to the contrary. The State Department, Intelligence Community, and Department of Defense had all reviewed the Ukrainian arms sale and officially certified that Ukraine had taken the proper steps against corruption. In fact, Trump attacked Zelensky for terminating a corrupt prosecutor that Trump had favored. Trump removed a highly effective and respected ambassador, Marie Yovanovich, who was a committed anti-corruption champion. In almost 3 years in office, Trump has not showed any interest whatsoever in corruption anywhere in the world, including his own administration, yet he wants people to believe that in this once instance that was his only concern.
Trump utilized Rudy Giuliani, his private attorney who had never been appointed and held no official position, to do his dirty work and secretly manipulate Ukraine. Trump kept the professional diplomatic staff in the dark while inexplicably having his EU Ambassador (Sondland) run Ukraine policy for him, despite having no relevant experience. They engaged in clandestine activity to withhold Congressionally approved military aid, aid they knew Ukraine desperately needed, to force Ukraine to publicly declare investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 election, knowing there was no legitimate basis for either investigation. If the issue was corruption, the corruption was by the Trump team, not Ukraine. This is another example of where Trump prioritizes his personal interests over our national interests in complete disregard for our national security.
Similarly, Trump is again clearly doing Putin’s bidding, acting against U.S. interests. With the full ascent of his Congressional allies, he is fulfilling Russian priorities and furthering Russian talking points. The thought of a U.S. President suborning himself to Russia is unfathomable, but here we are again. Russia, our enemy, invaded Ukraine, our partner, annexed the Crimea, occupies eastern Ukraine, and is fighting a war with the Ukrainian military. Their goal is to recreate Ukraine as a Russian puppet. Trump delayed the military aid until the last minute, doing his utmost to help Russia and hurt Ukraine. Thousands of Ukrainian soldiers died during this time. He released the aid right at the end of the fiscal year and immediately upon learning that Congress had evidence of his wrongdoing. Getting caught in the act is not a defense for any crime.
Trump continues to deny Russian interference in the 2016 Election, something overwhelmingly supported by the evidence. Trump and his Congressional enablers in the Russia Caucus (Nunes, Jordan, Collins, Gohmert, Ratcliffe, Chabot, et al) are pushing the widely debunked conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine that interfered in the 2016 Election. That is entirely untrue, and they knowingly push this falsehood in service to Putin’s Russia. Both the U.S. and Ukrainian governments know this to be the case, yet Trump did his best to force Ukraine to waste time and resources investigating this nonsense along with the Bidens. Trump’s only goal was to use Ukraine to achieve a political advantage in the 2020 Election. Every member of the Senate received an intelligence briefing proving Ukraine did not interfere in 2016 and that this was a Russian propaganda weapon against us. The intelligence officials asked our leaders not to continue to push Russian talking points, as it was harmful to the country. Yet Trump and the Republicans continue to use this to do this and hurt the American people.
Republicans are prohibited in any way from acknowledging the slightest flaw or mistake in Trump’s words and actions. This leaves them with the process. Unfortunately, they cannot even be honest when discussing that. Perhaps most importantly, while they accuse Democrats of an unfair process, the reality is that the process was established and enacted by the Republican majority led by Speaker John Boehner. Republicans falsely claim the White House did not have the opportunity to participate or to challenge the evidence. They most certainly did. However, the administration has chosen to obstruct and distort, intimidate witnesses, issue false statements, refuse to comply with subpoenas, and prevent witnesses from testifying or turning over documents. President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, Chief of Staff Mulvaney, and other leaders all refused to testify or provide statements. Republicans claimed the case was all hearsay with no primary witnesses. They cannot properly make that claim when they are withholding evidence and denying the primary witnesses from participating. Republicans put on a fallacious display to gain access to the depositions, falsely claiming they were not allowed in. The truth is that the committees that conducted the depositions were the standing committees on which they had full membership, all members had the ability to attend, and most Republicans fully participated. Therefore, the process is fundamentally fair and is producing reliable results.
The truth is clear and the facts incontrovertible. The American people know what Trump did and believe it to be wrong. The focus is on what should happen. If impeachment goes through, the Senate determines what sanction to impose. Republicans want the country to acquiesce around the reality that we have a corrupt president, and this is just how Trump does things. “Get over it…” They want us to simply accept that Trump uses personal and private means to conduct official business, all in secret from Congress and the American people. This is what they do in Russia and authoritarian regimes. It is not what we do in the U.S. and in free democracies. The rule of law and the Constitution must always reign supreme.