The Whistle Blows for Trump
I won’t even try to fight it, as I did in my last blog. Now the whistleblower’s complaint has been released and so was a summary memo describing the telephone conversation Donald Trump had with the President of Ukraine.
Please, I beg you. READ the complaint and the telephone call memo. Make up your own mind. Beware the pundits and the spinners. Even me. It remains both inexplicable and frustrating to me that two people can look at the same material and come to different conclusions. But that’s life. What I can’t abide is people voicing an opinion without having read the material. Each document is only a handful of pages long. Make the effort.
The solid core of people who are in Trump’s corner see a partisan anti-Trumper who has “cloaked himself in whistleblower camouflage” to attack Trump, to quote Michael Goodwin in Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post. Jim Jordan, Republican Congressman from Ohio, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee and a staunch Trump defender has been all over the media attacking the credibility of the whistleblower and alleging wrongdoing on the part of Joe Biden and his son Hunter during the Obama-Biden administration. Sean Davis writes for The Federalist about changes made to the whistle-blower complaint form which he says removed a requirement that the whistleblower have first hand knowledge of the event being reported. Kevin Poulsen of the Daily Beast has debunked this as a false flag effort by the GOP, similar to the actions of Russian trolls interfering with our elections.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says there is nothing in the “transcript” which is impeachable and that the Trump appointed Inspector General, Michael Atkinson, who found the whistleblower’s complaint to be “urgent” and “credible,” had not read the “transcript” when he made that determination.
People on the other side of this debate see the whistleblower, whoever he or she may be, as a patriot doing exactly what the law says should be done, report knowledge of events which may compromise national security up through the chain of command. They add that you can completely discard the whistleblower’s report, and still find impeachable actions right in the memo released by the White House, and in the other events known to be facts, specifically:
- Ukraine desperately needs American military aid in its battle with Russia, which has already invaded and annexed Crimea, a region which was an autonomous part of Ukraine.
- Congress allocated several million dollars in military aid to Ukraine, and all the required reviews by the Pentagon, State Department and NSC, cleared the payment.
- Donald Trump ordered the payment be held up.
- The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, sought a telephone conference with Trump, but Trump resisted until Ukraine agreed to discuss allegations of corruption in that country.
- Ukraine agree and the conference took place. As is routine, several American officials listened to the call and a detailed memo was made for the records. This memo has now been released by the White House.
- The summary memo, which may be a paraphrase rather than an exact quote, records that Trump told Zelenskyy that the United States “has been very, very good to Ukraine.” Trump continued, “I wouldn’t say that it’s reciprocal necessarily very good to Ukraine and that Ukraine had not been as good the the United States.”
- Zelenskyy replied “I’m very grateful” for the American aid and said he wanted to buy more Javelin missiles, which are especially effective against the kind of tanks and armored vehicles Russians and their proxies used in the invasion of Crimea.
- The memo records Trump immediate response as, “I would like you to do us a favor though….” Trump then goes on to ask that Ukraine investigate Biden and his son.
To Trump’s defenders, Lindsay Graham and Rudolph Giuliani for two, say this is a “nothingburger” because Trump never actually offers a quid pro quo, trading in so many words military aid to Ukraine for an investigation into Trump’s political opponents.
Here I apply abductive reasoning with my own variation of the “duck test.” If it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, it probably isn’t a penguin!
It certainly seemed to me to be a bold threat, investigate my political rival or I will withhold your aid.
For support, I call on no other than one of the few fair voices on Fox, Chris Wallace:
Wallace: “I’m not saying therefore there’s a hot, solid case and the president should be impeached. I’m not saying that, but what is clear from reading the complaint is that it is a serious allegation. A lot has been proven to be born out already.”
“The whistleblower lays out a blueprint for talking to various officials in the White House, various officials in the State Department. And to dismiss this as a political hack, it seems to me to be an effort by the president’s defenders to make nothing out of something. And there is something here.”
Yes there is something here. And it needs to be investigated. Trump’s own actions following this telephone call speak to the urgency. In the days after the call, the White House worked to move the call memo onto a highly secure computer server, one used only for the most secret material, which would have greatly reduced the number of intelligence community members who had access to it. They also tried to move records of conversations between Trump and other leaders, including Russian leader Vladimir Putin. This reeks of cover-up. The whistleblower had specifically complained about this effort to “lock down” the information.
And Trump and his inner circle have staged a full court press to discredit the whistleblower and the investigators. Trump has suggested House Judiciary Committee Chairman be arrested for treason.
Trump has retweeted a screed threatening Civil War if he is impeached. And his senior domestic policy advisor Stephen Miller has called this a “partisan witch hunt.” The primary author of Trump’s draconian policy on refugees and immigrants appeared with Chris Wallace, refused to answer Wallace’s direct questions and in a paranoid rage blamed a mysterious “deep state” cabal for attempting to depose the president.
I can understand Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reluctance to engage in impeachment proceedings. But the Democrats would be derelict in their duty if they failed to act now. The formal impeachment process strengthens the House in its efforts to obtain documents and testimony from the executive branch. Trump has been withholding both on a blanket basis, making it impossible for the House of exercise its oversight responsibilities.
An impeachment vote will put House members on record and they will have to face the political consequences. But it is interesting to note that seven first-term members who were elected to Congress from swing districts came off the sidelines and joined the calls for impeachment in the wake of these recent revelations.
Yes, if the House impeaches the Senate will probably fail to convict. A two-thirds super majority is needed for conviction and no president has been convicted in the history of our country. My initial thought was that this was an exercise in futility and would allow Trump to declare a victorious vindication. I now believe a full public airing of Trump’s many impeachable offenses will be healthy.
Let the crimes to exposed fully to the public. Let Trump make his defense. And let the members vote. They will all have to run on the record of their vote in 2020. And if Trump is still sitting in the Oval Office, the people will have the information they need to remove him or not.
In the interim, expect the vicious combat we are experiencing daily to continue. I’m not worried about a Civil War to come. I think it’s already begun.