A Line In The SandPosted: September 24, 2019
For those that take even the most cursory notice of events on the daily news, you have no doubt heard that the president once again broke the norms of presidential behavior by, again, using his office for personal gain. He will stop at nothing if it serves his personal interests. He has yet to see any consequences to his actions and is increasingly emboldened to do whatever the heck he wants to do — legal or not.
He already moved beyond the boundaries of ethical and moral behavior. Now that he sees no consequences from the Mueller Report and has an Attorney General that has decreed the president is above the law — any law — while in office, he sees nothing that can slow him down, much less stop him, from pursuing whatever he wants to do.
The only possible way to put a check on his actions is to impeach him, and the Democrats are dithering and wringing their hands in an ineffective effort to provide oversight of Mr. Trump’s presidency. So far they’ve brought a butter knife to a grenade fight. Mr. Trump has refused to provide any documents or to allow any testimony from anyone that he deems a possible threat to his reign. Across the board. Including hum-drum, every day just-trying-to-do-business subjects. Total non-cooperation.
That may be about to change.
The latest insult to the office, to our country and to all of us as citizens involves the president’s efforts, aided and abetted by his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani (who has no role in the government or the administration, a fact that will become significant) to get a foreign power to interfere in the 2020 election. Sound familiar?
As briefly as possible, the entire situation came to light when the president instructed his Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to break the law. Also known as obstruction of justice. (Note that Mr. Trump fired the DNI and the Deputy DNI last month.) That came about because an intelligence official turned in a complaint to the Inspector General (IG) of the Intelligence Community — who, by the way, was appointed by Mr. Trump — stating that the president interacted with the head of a foreign government in a way that was detrimental to the interests of the United States. The specifics of the claim are classified. The law requires that if the IG finds the complaint credible and urgent that it must (“shall be”) be turned over to the Intelligence Committees of the House and Senate. The Acting DNI refused based on directions from the Executive Branch. The IG went to Congress and explained what happened and stood by his initial determination that it should go to Congress. The Acting DNI continues to refuse to turn it over.
I predict that the president will release a transcript of his conversation that will be spun to show he didn’t do what is alleged. Firstly, we know we cannot trust Mr. Trump to be truthful, therefore how do we know it is the actual transcript? Secondly, and more importantly, the transcript is not nearly as important as the original whistle blower complaint. That document would give a fuller story and put the events in context. The Administration has no intention of turning that over. In itself, that to me is evidence that something serious occurred that Mr. Trump does not want us to know about.
In short, since then we have learned from Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani themselves, as well as from wide spread reporting in the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal, that the complaint involves the President of Ukraine who Mr. Trump tried to bully (eight times according to reports) into finding “dirt” on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. We learned today that Mr. Trump withheld needed military funding and aid for Ukraine totaling nearly 400 million dollars. The reporting alleges that Mr. Trump wanted the dirt before he would release the money. Congress had authorized the money in two different bills early this year. Over the summer inquiries began to build as to why the money had not been made available to the government of Ukraine, currently locked into a shooting war with Russia. (Russia! Again!)
In sum, Mr. Trump wanted the Ukrainian government to interfere in the 2020 election by supplying information (whether true or not, more on that in a minute) on Mr. Biden and his son that the Trump Campaign could use to slime the individual Mr. Trump most fears as his opponent in the election. In exchange, he would release the money Congress appropriated (yet another presidential abuse of the power invested by the Constitution in the Congress) to help the Ukrainians defend themselves against Russia — who annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and is trying to obtain more Ukrainian territory.
Mr. Trump and his allies are trying to make the focus of the story about Mr. Biden and corruption. (Kind of hits close to home when the president’s children are trotting around the world doing business with their father’s permission and help, spending taxpayer’s money for Secret Service protection and other expenses.)
The thing is, the Ukrainians already investigated the allegations against the Bidens and guess what? There is nothing to it. No corruption. No undue pressure. Nothing. And if you listen closely to Mr. Trump and his lackeys, they present no evidence that anything is amiss. Just innuendo and questions as to why no one is looking into it. (BECAUSE THEY ALREADY DID!) And don’t forget that Mr. Trump is on the record with over 12,000 lies since taking office.
I do not give Mr. Trump or his campaign any slack regarding their involvement with Russia during the 2016 campaign. (“Russia if you’re listening….”) But maybe one could make a case that they did not know what they were doing.
That does not fly in this situation.
The President. Of the United States. Used the full authority and weight of his office — himself, in his own voice — to try and convince a foreign state to interfere in our election against a specific opponent in exchange for funds desperately needed for their protection.
This alone is an impeachable offense. Abuse of power and obstruction of justice.
However, add it to the list of other impeachable offenses and one would think that the House of Representatives has to act. The Mueller Report defines ten times Mr. Trump obstructed the investigation of his involvement with Russia in 2016. Over one thousand former federal attorneys — Republicans and Democrats — publicly stated that they would have prosecuted any other citizen with that evidence. The U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of New York lists him as an unindicted co-conspirator in election campaign fraud when he paid off two mistresses to keep them from speaking up before the election. And on and on and on.
When do we put a stop to the madness? The more he gets away with, the more emboldened he is to do more. We are still over a year from the election. Anyone that thinks Mr. Trump won’t try every illegal dirty trick in the book to stay in office is not paying attention. At the risk of sounding like I am hyperventilating, I can envision our very democracy at stake.
The Republicans, led by Senator Mitch McConnell (Tr-KY), a.k,a. “Moscow Mitch” are now a wholly owned subsidiary of Trump, Inc. Perhaps my biggest disappointment, even shock, is that not one Republican Senator, or Congressman, has said “enough”! According to multitudes of reports, in private conversations many elected Republicans worry because they do not like the way Mr. Trump operates and see him as a threat to our country. Yet, not a peep. To stay silent is to be a co-conspirator. They are aiding and abetting a president that is out of control. Not a patriot among them.
As I get ready to publish this, it appears that later today the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will announce a preliminary impeachment inquiry.
Mr. Trump may not realize he has crossed a line in the sand. The American people will not stand for his shenanigans forever.
But if we do, God help us all.