The Worst Thing About Trump Extorting an Ally for Political Gain Is How Easily Everyone Accepts It
September 20th 2019
By Mark Sumner
Truthfully, not much is really known at this point about the whistleblower report that is being illegally withheld from Congress. However, there is every reason to expect that when descriptions of that report mention a call to a foreign leader, that call is the one Donald Trump made to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25. The listed purpose of that call was to congratulate Zelensky on his recent election. The real purpose seems to have been so that Trump could personally threaten Zelensky by holding a package of military aid hostage until the Ukrainian leader agreed to announce a pointless investigation into Joe Biden.
That phone call came just one day after Robert Mueller testified before Congress. A day in which Mueller, pointedly and repeatedly, reminded the nation that, at least in his interpretation, not only could no one lay charges against Trump, but no one could even discuss evidence that might lead to charges. Trump picked up the phone to Zelensky newly chuffed about his ability to get away with anything at any time. So of course he had no problem welcoming Zelensky into the club of world leaders by telling him that his whole country was going the way of Crimea unless he cooked up some nice, juicy lies about Biden.
The news that Trump extorted a U.S. ally for personal political gain is being treated with outrage heavily, heavily seasoned with crushing amounts of ennui. Or Weltschmerz. Or both. Because the picture of what happens now seems so utterly clear.
This scandal—one that makes Watergate seem like good clean high jinks—will be immediately defended by Republicans, who long ago ceased to have any function other than acting as a backstop for Trump. Democrats will display plenty of anger, but not quite enough to take any effective action. And the goldfish memory of the media will immediately be taken up with the next scandal. The nation has simply gone through the lather-rinse-repeat cycle too many times at this point to believe that something will be different this time around.
On Friday morning, Trump was up with some tweets claiming that his conversation was “pitch perfect” and that the whistleblower was “highly partisan.” He’s right about that last thing. To paraphrase Ulysses Grant, there are only two parties now: Trump supporters and democracy supporters. No one can be a partisan of both.
Trump has announced a press conference for this morning to be held at 11:45 ET. Presumably he will address this issue. However, it’s highly unlikely he’ll shed any light on the contents of the whistleblower report beyond what we already know.
Like Rudy Giuliani, Trump is likely to to keep up the act—saying that he’s done nothing wrong, but that someone should really look into that Biden guy. It’s worth a quick refresher to note that everything that Giuliani and Trump have been saying about Biden’s actions in Ukraine isn’t just a lie, but a complete inversion of the truth.
Joe Biden did ask for a Ukrainian prosecutor to be fired. But not because that prosecutor was going after the company where his son Hunter was on the board. In fact, that prosecutor had already cleared that company of wrongdoing and closed the investigation. Biden asked that he be fired at the request of investigators in the U. K. who had warned the United States that the prosecutor was corrupt and was blocking their investigation. By asking that the prosecutor be fired, Biden was actually putting the company—and potentially income for his son—at greater risk.
Biden did not block an investigation. Investigations both before and after his actions found no wrongdoing. And the original investigations involved acts that took place long before Hunter Biden was offered a spot on the board. As confirmed by every investigator and prosecutor involved, including the one that Giuliani put on a personal call to Trump, Biden did nothing wrong.
Don’t expect to hear that at 11:45 ET.
Posted with permission