Trump, Biden and Ukraine

I wrote a week ago that impeachment of President Donald Trump is a mirage, and now Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has called for an impeachment investigation of the President.  Such are the perils of commenting on breaking news.

The circumstantial  information already available to the public indicates that President Trump has abused the powers of his office.

President Trump

He acknowledged holding back $250 million in military aid that Congress had appropriated for Ukraine.

He acknowledged talking to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine about reopening an investigation of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company that paid Hunter Biden, the son of Joe Biden, $50,000 a month to serve on its board of directors.  The younger Biden resigned from the board earlier this year.

The House Judiciary Committee wants the transcript of Trump’s conversation with Zelensky, but even if nothing was said that connects the aid package to the investigation, the implication is clear.

The House has a duty to investigate.  I don’t think it is a good idea to call it an impeachment investigation just yet because calling it that means the investigation will be considered a failure if it does not result in impeachment recommendations.

Impeachment by the House may or may not be justified.  Conviction by the Senate would be next to impossible because it would require unanimity among the 47 Democratic Senators plus support by at least 20 Republicans.

Joe and Hunter Biden

What Republicans will point out is that Vice President Joe Biden threatened to hold up $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine unless the government fired Viktor Shotkin, the prosecutor that was investigating Burisma.

Biden claims that Shotkin was corrupt, and his threat had nothing to do with his son.

I know of no evidence that either Joe Biden or his ne’er-do-well son, Hunter, broke the law.  But it’s obvious that Hunter would not have gotten his position if his father had not been Vice President.

It was a conflict of interest for Biden to be President Obama’s point man for Ukraine after his son took the job.

Biden may suffer more political damage than Trump.  The Trump Organization’s worldwide operations involve more extensive potential conflicts of interest.  But Biden has a reputation to lose and Trump doesn’t.

The greatest reputational damage of all in the whole affair is to the reputation of the United States of America as a whole.  It shows that American political leaders do not respect the sovereignty of allies.  It shows they use American power to advance their personal family and political interests.

So far as political strategy goes, I think that so long as public attention is focused on personalities, Trump benefits, and that Democrats can win only if they focus on policy and governance.  Trump may win if the 2020 election hinges on impeachment, and impeachment fails.

I don’t think the full story has been told.  I expect more surprises.  The only thing I know for sure about the future is that I can’t predict it.

Update 9.26.2019.  My morning-after thought is that impeachment still is a mirage.  We’ll see.

LINKS

Trump a Banana Republican by Rod Dreher for The American Conservative.  An honest Republican’s reflections, as of Monday.

He’s not going to stop on his own  by Doug Muder for The Weekly Sift.  The case for impeachment, also as of Monday.

Joe Biden’s 2020 Ukrainian nightmare: A closed probe is revived by John Solomon for The Hill.  There were good reasons for a corruption investigation of Hunter Biden.

Biden, Inc.: How ‘Middle Class’ Joe’s family cashed in on the family name by Ben Schreckinger for POLITICO.  Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, and brother, James, have a long history of leveraging their family relationship for gain.   Schreckinger does not accuse them of breaking laws.

Trump impeachment: Pelosi launches inquiry into Ukraine claims by BBC News.

Trump call transcript summary shows he pressed Ukrainian president to probe Biden by Grace Seggers, Kathryn Watson, Clare Hymes and Emily Tillett for CBS News. [Added Later]

Rudy Guiliani. Our Secretary of State by Rod Dreher for The American Conservative. [Added Later]

All Aboard!  Impeachment Train Finally Makes Stop for Democrats by Peter Van Buren for The American Conservative.  A sober look at the obstacles to impeachment.  [Added Later]

Ukraine: A Short History of Meddling by Yasha Levine for Immigrants as a Weapon.  [Added 10/1/2019]

The Ukraine Scandal Might Be a Bad Gambit for Democrats by Aaron Maté for The Nation. [Added 10/7/2019]

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4 Responses to “Trump, Biden and Ukraine”

  1. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    There may well be some duplicitous behavior here that needs to be looked at. I am not going to suggest there aren’t potential reasons for impeachment. I just doubt the Senate would convict, even if there were. However, with the newest information, it becomes a possibility.

    But…

    Trump will make the claim he was only investigating corruption relating to Hunter Biden. Hunter likely got the job because of who he is related to. It can – and will – be argued that pressuring a foreign government into investigating potential US corruption is a legitimate tactic. He doesn’t need armor, only a fig leaf. Nixon called it plausible deniability.

    I’d be curious to see if there were a historical precedent Trump could fall back on. It would not surprise me if prior presidents had done something similar.

    With Trump buried in fighting impeachment, he will become less effective, just as Clinton was while being investigated for Monica Lewinsky. Only Trump now has the added stress of an election coming up. The investigation may cause Trump to not get re-elected and I think that is the real endgame here. I don’t think for a heartbeat that even-handed apolitical justice is a value held in high esteem by Nancy Pelosi.

    It is all a grand Kabuki anyhow. The opposing power blocks in government are looking for red meat to feed their cores. Biden will now play the victim card to one-up Warren who surely wishes she’d had relatives in high places in foreign countries for Trump to investigate.

    Like

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