I usually try to post articles here that people may have missed over the weekend, but this weekend, nothing I read seemed as important as the latest news of Trump attempting to pressure Ukraine into fabricating an investigation into his political opponent Joe Biden. (And he knows it’s a fabrication because he pressured Ukraine through his personal lawyer, not standard DOJ methods.)
The reason this latest news is important is because it is the most clear-cut situation so far with clear evidence of High Crimes out in the open even before digging into the details of the whistleblower complaint the White House and Department of Justice are illegally withholding from Congress. This just seems like the sort of tipping point where if Congress does not act forcefully now, it will lose its power to act on Trump’s future crimes. He will see it as a free pass to keep on self-dealing and harming our national security and that of other countries for his own benefit. He’s doing exactly that right now, inviting a foreign country to interfere in US elections one day after Mueller’s testimony did not lead to any immediate consequences for this same behavior during the 2016 elections.
So the links below provide some background as well as information on what we can do about it. (Don’t get too excited. It’s not much. But every single one of us needs to act now, even those of us worn down to a cynical nub at this point.)
- Trump and Giuliani’s Quest for Fake Ukraine “Dirt” on Biden: An Explainer, by Viola Gienger at Just Security: This article precedes our knowledge of the whistleblower complaint and provides a great deep dive into the situation in Ukraine that Trump and Giuliani have been attempting to twist into false political dirt on Biden. Just in case you are wondering if Russia plays any role in this (aside from obviously benefiting from delayed US military aid to Ukraine), an interesting detail in the article notes that Giuliani’s efforts have been helped by “two Soviet-born Florida businessmen Giuliani has publicly identified as his clients, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.”
- How Trump and Giuliani Pressured Ukraine to Investigate the President’s Rivals, by Josh Dawsey, Paul Sonne, Michael Kranish, and David L. Stern of the Washington Post: The previous article focuses on the Ukraine angle, before the whistleblower complaint came out. This article, published ten days later, provides details about what’s happening in the US end of things, including the whistleblower complaint and Trump and Giuliani repeatedly admitting to crimes.
- Trump Didn’t Bribe Ukraine. It’s Actually Worse Than That. By Renato Mariotti of Politico: Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, explains that any focus on bribery or extortion or quid pro quo is a dangerous distraction. What Trump did is an abuse of power far worse than those crimes.
- Rudy Giuliani Just Declared That It’s Open Season for Foreign Influence, by Casey Michel of the Daily Beast: Michel makes the important point that just because Ukraine appears to have refused Trump and Giuliani’s demands to fabricate kompromat on Biden, other countries won’t be unwilling. If Congress doesn’t act now, we’re looking at huge problem for the 2020 election–and free elections thereafter. “Pick any government you’d like that doesn’t enjoy the protection of the separations of power that we see out of Kyiv. Take China, for instance. Giuliani has already claimed that Biden and his family struck a corrupt bargain with Beijing. Like the supposed deal with Kyiv, there’s little evidence any financial ties played a role in Biden’s policy regarding Beijing. But what’s to stop Trump from explicitly linking a Chinese investigation into Biden to, say, an easing of American tariffs? What’s to stop Beijing from opening an investigation if Trump offers to recognize Chinese sovereignty across the entirety of the South China Sea? Or what about Iran? What if the White House offers to ease military pressures on Tehran if the Iranian government manufactures evidence that, say, Elizabeth Warren had investments in Iranian government-controlled entities?”
- If This Isn’t Impeachable, Nothing Is, by Tom Nichols at the Atlantic: Many articles are laying out the extraordinarily obvious case for impeachment, but I chose this one in part for this perfect description: “In this matter, we need not rely on a newspaper account, nor even on the complaint, so far unseen, of a whistle-blower. Instead, we have a sweaty, panicked admission on national television by Trump’s bizarre homunculus, Rudy Giuliani, that he did in fact seek such an investigation on Trump’s behalf.”
And in case you’re wondering, here’s a link to the law the Trump administration, the DOJ, and the director of national intelligence are breaking by withholding the whistleblower complaint (scroll down to title VII): WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION FOR INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY EMPLOYEES REPORTING URGENT CONCERNS TO CONGRESS.
So, what can ordinary citizens do about it?
Every single one of us needs to call our senators and representative to demand that they pressure, visibly, vocally, and repeatedly for DOJ to turn over the whistleblower complaint to Congress that AG Barr and DNI Maguire are illegally withholding. Call every day, after hours if you hate talking on the phone and would prefer to speak to voicemail.
Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121.
Every single one of us needs to also insist to our representatives that they publicly support impeachment investigations. Trump has already committed numerous impeachable offenses. For one, self-dealing is the definition of a high crime, an impeachable offense. But for those who have been dragging their feet on supporting impeachment, namely the Democratic reps who fear political repercussions, the president attempting to get a foreign government to interfere in our election on behalf of his campaign (AGAIN) should be a clear red line. He and his personal attorney admitted to this High Crime on television for all to see. As frustrated as many of us are with Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not forcefully supporting impeachment proceedings, keep in mind that she doesn’t have the votes yet. We need to demand that those holdouts put country over their political fortunes. What good is retaining power if they ensure that they’ll never be able to use that power again?
The problem with calling for impeachment as a solution to these problems is: what happens if Trump is removed from office?
Will Pence be any better?
No matter how bad you think things are, they can always be worse.
It seems to me that our focus should be on evicting the Republicans from Congress and from state legislatures first. Trump has power in large part because so many of the people in power at all levels are willing to support what he does.
I doubt Trump will be removed from office, both because of the Republicans in the Senate and because of the timing before the next election. But even if Trump were removed, and even if Pence were not implicated (which he is in the current Ukraine situation–he also pressured Ukraine to investigate Biden), Pence wouldn’t have the power to do much (or the time to do it in), and Pence isn’t likely to be actively attempting to court foreign interference in our election. He’s going along, but I don’t see him initiating this.
The problem with NOT starting impeachment proceedings now is that we would likely not have a free and fair election in 2020 to vote Trump and the Republicans out. Impeachment is now a necessary response to stop Trump et al. from seeking foreign interference in our elections–and that’s just what we know about. We need the impeachment proceedings SO THAT WE CAN vote them out in 2020.
Then, of course, there is the moral issue. Not starting impeachment proceedings is condoning everything Trump and company are doing: the obstruction, the corruption, the abuses of power. Impeachment loses all power if it is not used in such obvious circumstances.
If Trump is impeached, who is the Republican nominee next year? They have a lot of (awful) candidates, but do those candidates have the “appeal” of Trump?
That should be removed, not impeached.
I suspect Romney is in the mix.
He’d do better than he did in 2012? Hmmm.
I didn’t imply that. Some of his recent statements imply to me that he is trying to position himself as the moderate, sane, competent alternative to Trump and might be considering a run if Trump gets removed or seems to most Repubs to be so obviously unelectable that they feel safe trying to dump him.
BTW, there were almost 400 of us residents of Romney’s home town (Belmont MA) who actively campaigned against him in 2012… By “actively”, I mean people who participated in door-to-door canvassing, phone banks, car-pooling up to New Hampshire for GOTV on election day, etc. not just putting up lawn signs or signing petitions against him. I don’t think he’s particularly gain popularity since then, but what do I know? I’m from Massachusetts…
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