I’ve always been skeptical about the RussiaGate narrative which fundamentally argued that Donald Trump was a tool of Vladimir Putin’s. I was also skeptical about UkraineGate because we still only know about it through undisclosed intelligence sources, who, we’ve seen time and again, are frequently unreliable and have their own agenda. We still haven’t seen the whistleblower complaint that triggered UkraineGate, or know the identity of the whistleblower.
I also find it ridiculous that much of the media is dismissing the actions of Joe Biden and his son in Ukraine as much ado about nothing. Look, Trump is obviously interested in politically exploiting the story about Hunter Biden, who was paid $50,000 per month to sit on the board of a crooked Ukrainian energy company. But there’s an obvious appearance problem when his father was closely involved in the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy, and this issue was widely reported on before Trump became president.
That, though, doesn’t get Trump off the hook now for allegedly demanding that Ukraine investigate Biden’s son and holding up military aid if it didn’t. Whether Ukraine should have gotten $400 million in military aid — my view is it shouldn’t — is an interesting question but irrelevant to the question of Trump’s actions.
For the past few years Trump’s impeachment has been routinely sought and with Democrats in control of the House it’s now a distinct possibility. (Getting a conviction in the senate would obviously be trickier.) So just for the hell of it, I called up a political lawyer in town and asked him whether he thought impeachment was on the horizon.
He did, and I’ll state his case here. I’ll also disclose that he’s pro-impeachment, but he knows the law. I spoke to him before Trump announced he would release tomorrow a transcript of his call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. But this source said that enough has come out already, through the president’s own admissions and those of his attorney Rudy Giuliani, to demonstrate that Trump committed impeachable offenses.
This person said as president you’re not allowed to ask a foreign government for anything of value to you or your campaign. “Quid pro quos happen all the time in foreign affairs, but you’re supposed to be asking for something for the country,” he said.
The quo here seems to be an investigation that serves Trump’s personal interests. He already admitted that he told [White House chief of staff Mick] Mulvaney to hold up the aid to Ukraine shortly before he phoned their president and he and Giuliani have admitted that they asked for the president to investigate Biden’s son. The quo doesn’t have to be money, it can be a favor of personal value, and that’s what he asked for. He’s not guilty of treason, but it could be seen as bribery, which is a high crime and misdemeanor.
This person said Trump won’t be able to shield information demanded by congress — especially now that Rep. Nancy Pelosi has announced the House will start an impeachment inquiry — by citing executive privilege and even if he tried, the Supreme Court won’t go along. “Executive privilege doesn’t cover evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors,” he said. “That was settled in 1974 with the Watergate Tapes on a 9-0 vote. Even this Supreme Court is not going to reverse that precedent.”
Anyway, this may all blow up in smoke but it will be interesting to see what the transcript shows tomorrow and it now seems inevitable that the whistleblower complaint is going to be released. And if this source is correct, get ready, at last, for President Pence.