The House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry regarding President Donald Trump preempted “Jeopardy!” on Tuesday afternoon, so we figure this getting to be serious business. All the critics on the talk radio right are panning the televised hearings as boring and lacking pizzaz, and so far the ratings are not boffo, but we’re finding it “binge-worthy,” as the kids might say.
If you’ve been following the latest installment of Trump’s ongoing reality show, you already know why the Trump-loving talk radio right doesn’t like it. So far all the evidence indicates that Trump sought help from the Ukrainian government in his reelection campaign in exchange for much-needed military aid that Congress had appropriated to an important ally, the polls show that most of the country thinks it was not a good thing for an American president to do, and no one in the Republican party has yet come up with a coherent rebuttal.
The pilot episode of the televised hearings featured a West Point alum and Vietnam war hero and distinguished foreign service officer who’d been lured out of retirement by Trump’s Secretary of State to take over in Ukraine, and he testified that Trump had sought reelection help from Ukraine in exchange or that much-needed military aid, and that he thought it was a bad thing to do. There was also the distinguished foreign service officer he replaced as ambassador to to Ukraine, who testified under oath that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and two of his recently indicted associates were seeking help for Trump’s reelection, and that she was removed from her post because she thought it was a bad thing to do. In addition, there was an aide to Vice President Mike Pence who told pretty much the same story, and Trump of course “tweeted” that they’re both “Never Trumpers,” as if that’s a bad thing and necessarily makes them liars.
Tuesday’s episode started out with Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testifying in uniform, replete with his many combat decorations from the Iraq War, with his credentials as a National Security Council member and America’s top expert on Ukraine mentioned in the introductions, and he also testified that Trump was leaning on the Ukrainians for political advantage and that he thought it was a wrong thing to do. Under questioning from the Republicans Vindman admitted that he’ been born in Ukraine and was fluent in both Russian and Ukrainian, and the Republicans thought it damned suspicious that he wound up as a high-ranking expert on Ukraine, but Vindman’s uniform and decorations and and impeccable record of public service and no apparent reason to lie seemed to carry the day. There was also corroborating evidence from Jennifer Williams, and aide to Vice President Mike Pence, who was also dismissed by “tweet” as a “Never Trumper.”
The Republicans got to call two witnesses in the hearings, but neither did them much good. Trump loyalist and former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker wound up vouching for the character of former Vice President and possible Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, the very man Trump was allegedly seeking dirt on. He also derided the “conspiracy theories” that it was the Ukrainians and not the Russians were the ones who meddled in the last presidential election, depriving talk radio of a favorite talking point, and he couldn’t deny the bargain Trump is alleged to have sought political gain from Ukraine in exchange for the much-needed aid. Senior director on the National Security Council Timothy Morrison was no more helpful, admitting that when Trump admittedly asked the Ukrainian president for “a favor” it was “not what what we recommended the president discuss.”
Future guest stars in this embarrassing reality show surely include Gorland Sondland, the billionaire who bought an ambassadorship to the European with a million-dollar donation to Trump’s inaugural and has already amended his testimony and now finds himself neck-deep in this mess, and potentially Giuliani and his recently indicted associates, and Trump himself is threatening to give written testimony. This will likely be increasingly hard for the talk radio right to explain, and it can only hope that the ratings remain low.
— Bud Norman