Information about the Ukraine thing was flowing fast and furious on Thursday, There was a torrent of self-serving leaks from both the White House and Congress, under oath testimony from the acting director of national intelligence, on camera pronouncements from both Republicans and Democrats, a slew of presidential “tweets,” and the belated release of the “whistler-blower’s” complaint that set it all in motion.
Various anonymous leaks indicate that the “whistleblower” is a Central Intelligence Agency official who had been assigned to duty at the White House, and his complaint alleges some serious misdeeds, including solicitation of the Ukraine’s government help in Trump’s reelection campaign, with help from the Justice Department, which a White House-released account of a presidential phone call with the Ukrainian president clearly confirms, as well as an effort to cover that up. The “whistleblower” wrote that “I am deeply concerned that the actions described constitute a ‘a serious or flagrant problem, abuse or violation of law or executive order,'” and that “I am also concerned that these actions pose risks to U.S. national security and undermine the U.S. Government’s attempts to deter and counter foreign interference in U.S. elections.”
The Democrats and their media allies were outraged, of course, and the Republicans and their media allies were left to insist that the dirt Trump was seeking on former Vice President and current Democratic primary front-runner Joe Biden is the real scandal. There was also talk of a “deep state” conspiracy to overturn the last election, and Trump was caught on a leaked audiotape telling a private audience that the “whistleblower” was “almost a spy,” and he got some nervous laughter by adding “You know what we used to do back when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little more differently than we do now.”
The expedited hanging Trump seems to either jokingly or ardently desire for his tormentor will be hard to achieve, though. Trump’s appointed acting directional of national television had earlier told a House committee that Trump’s appointed inspector general had agreed that the “whistleblower’s” complaint was “credible and urgent,” and he also told the committee that the “whistleblower” “did the right thing” and followed the law “at every step of the way.” After his initial hesitance to release the complaint, and his reliance on the White House’s legal office during two days delay, the Trump-appointed acting director of national intelligence admitted under oath that all along he’d been obliged by the law to pass it to Congress. If there is a “deep state” conspiracy afoot, it seems to pass legal and constitutional muster.
Perhaps there’s something to the Republican insistence that former Vice President and current Democratic front-runner Biden is the real villain of this convoluted tale. His son did make a lot of money in Ukraine while Biden was the point man for President Barack Obama’s strenuous efforts to influence the Ukrainian government, and we wouldn’t put anything past those damn Democrats, but so far the conspiracy theory’s timeline seems dubious, and all our other allies agreed on what Obama was seeking. In any case it doesn’t excuse what Trump has already admitted to doing, or his previous openly stated willingness to accept foreign interference in an election, and we can’t blame the damn Democrats for making political hay of it.
Even before the “whistle blower” and Ukrainian thing came along House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had cautiously given her blessing to an impeachment inquiry. Six separate committees lare now ooking into a special counsel report about Russia’s interference on Trump’s behalf during the last election and ten times that Trump attempted to hinder the investigation about it, the Trump-owned business that are making big bucks off his presidency, a hush money payment to a porn star that sent Trump’s personal lawyer to business, and a bunch of stuff we can’t quite remember on such a busy day.
Thursday’s plethora of news adds further momentum to the downhill slide toward impeachment, and makes it harder for Trump to persuade the country to lock up all the damn Democrats. The Democrats and a recent refugee from the Republican already have enough votes to impeach, and they reasonably expect to pick up after a few weeks of congressional hearings and subpoenaed documents and under oath testimony. Far less likely is that they’ll come up with a supermajority of votes in the Senate, which the Republicans hold by a razor-thin margin, but Trump has reason to be rattled, as he looks to be.
A few Republican Senators have expressed concern and cast procedural votes to force the release of documents, there are a record number of Republicans in the House who have decided to not seek reelection in their anti-Trump upscale suburban districts and have no reason to be loyal to Trump, and while most Republicans are digging in there are bound to be a few more defectors in the coming days. The “whistleblower” and the Ukrainian thing and what Trump has already confessed to are hard to defend, and those seven oversight committees might well turn up some skeletons in closets and smoking guns, and as it all ads uo it becomes wearisome to defend.
The momentum might well be to weak to remove Trump from office before the next election, and that’s probably the way to bet, but none of this can help his reelection chances. Were we the gambling sorts we’d probably bet that Biden won’t be the Democratic nominee, and that some loonier left sort of damn Democrat will be on the ticket, and for all of his or her inevitable flaws Trump will be hard pressed to get any dirt on him or her from any foreign powers.
Despite all the distractions the Senate overwhelmingly approved a stopgap spending resolution that closely remembered one passed earlier by the House, which prevents a government shutdown more easily than usual. The stock market is no longer booming but remains near its recent record highs, job growth has been slowing but the unemployment rate is still below what the economists used to call full employment, and for all the heightened tensions in the world none of them have yet brought us a new war, so Trump has that going for him. At least for now.
— Bud Norman