The Trump administration today released a transcript of a call between the President and the leader of Ukraine.
A whistleblower had previously suggested that Trump tried to hustle a quid pro quo deal with Ukraine, with the quid being U.S. foreign aid and the quo being a Ukranian investigation into alleged corruption perpetrated by Hunter Biden. Son to Trump political rival Joe Biden.
The transcript isn’t quite what the anti-Trump faction wants it to be. Trump asks for an investigation but doesn’t offer anything in return for it, leaving Democrats to suggest the deal was implied:
The transcript of the call reads like a classic mob shakedown:
– We do a lot for Ukraine
– There’s not much reciprocity
– I have a favor to ask
– Investigate my opponent
– My people will be in touch
Nice country you got there.
It would be a shame if something happened to her.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) September 25, 2019
The fact that Trump didn’t provide a quid for a quo on this particular call does not preclude the potential for such an offer being made through other means. I don’t know what else was said or done. Neither does Rep. Schiff, or any of the other partisan demagogues currently baying for Trump’s head on a pike somewhere.
That Trump even asked a foreign leader to investigate a political rival, that he put himself in a position where we have to ask questions and wonder, is something beyond the usual sort of awful judgment we expect from this chief executive.
What Trump did was wrong. A precedent-setting level of wrong. If we allow this sort of behavior to be normalized, we’ll have future presidents – Democrats and Republicans alike – doing this sort of thing. If Trump gets away with it, Democrats will do it too despite the high moral dudgeon they’ve worked themselves into over this episode.
President Donald J. Trump needs to be held accountable for this.
The problem is, the Democrats haven’t exactly left themselves in a position to bring that sort of accountability. They’ve been talking about impeachment since the day Trump was inaugurated. They spent years panting about Russia and collusion, only to see that scandal campaign die an ignoble death at the hands of one-time-left-wing-heart-throb Robert Mueller.
National Review’s Jim Geraghty points this out. He’s not supporting Trump – “Trump’s behavior is inexcusable, a sadly typical demonstration of his inability to separate his personal and political interests from the national interest,” he writes – but notes that Democrats have exhausted the public by seeing a wolf behind every tree:
The Democratic party spent the better part of two years claiming that Trump’s election was illegitimate; that the election had been hacked, rigged, and stolen; and in many, many cases, that Trump was a Russian agent. It was a festival of implausible paranoia that approached quasi-religious status, complete with prayer candles. The Democrats and their media allies didn’t just cry “wolf,” they made their cries more ubiquitous and omnipresent than Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road.” And when the wolf didn’t show up in the Mueller report as expected, a lot of people decided to tune them out.
Interestingly, Alexander Hamilton foresaw this exact sort of thing. Here’s what he wrote, in Federalist 65, about the impeachment process established in the Constitution:
A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.
Trump’s actions in this matter are indefensible, but I suspect the best way to hold him accountable will be at the ballot box.
Which is still far from perfect, given that the choice for voters will likely be between Trump and either former VP Joe Biden, who doesn’t come out of this situation smelling like roses either…
Thank you whistleblower. Before this began I didn’t know that Hunter Biden has been paid 50K a month for five years to sit on board of Ukrainian gas company while his dad was VP. I didn’t know about the China deal. I didn’t know @JoeBiden bragged about a quid pro quo in Ukraine.
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) September 25, 2019
…or a screeching left-wing zealot like Senator Elizabeth Warren.