No. of Recommendations: 18
There is a certain irony here: for three years, we have been told that investigating foreign interference in the 2016 election is of paramount importance. Now, it apparently is an impeachable offense...

Politico’s investigation found evidence of Ukrainian government involvement in the race that appears to strain diplomatic protocol dictating that governments refrain from engaging in one another’s elections.

Someone forgot to tell Barack Obama about that “diplomatic protocol.” He contributed substantial resources to trying to defeat Prime Minister Netanyahu in Israel, and endorsed Justin Trudeau for Prime Minister of Canada just a few days ago.


No irony here at all.

The question is not whether or not foreign interference is impeachable or illegal. It may be hypocritical for the Americans to weigh in on other country's elections, but it isn't illegal. It may be undesirable for other countries to interfere in American elections, but it doesn't mean that the candidate who benefits should be impeached.

So, the Mueller inquiry was not about whether or not Russia interfered in our election. The intelligence community had already concluded that. The question was whether or not there was coordination of this effort with the Trump campaign, especially considering that the intelligence community concluded(from the Politico article referenced in your OP):

Russia’s effort was personally directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, involved the country’s military and foreign intelligence services, according to U.S. intelligence officials... And at a Senate hearing last week on the hacking, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said “I don't think we've ever encountered a more aggressive or direct campaign to interfere in our election process than we've seen in this case.”

American election law is very clear that campaigns cannot receive anything of value from foreign donors. This is very difficult to police for two reasons--there is nothing stopping a foreign power from running an internet campaign on behalf of a candidate. This is what Russia did for Trump in 2016. Trump clearly welcomed the help, but unless you can prove the help was coordinated in some way (for example finding voter date transferred to Russia) you can't prove a crime. The second factor is that there are legitimate reasons to investigate political opponents (or associates) abroad because of the global economy.

Regarding the Ukraine, the DNC involvement was to find out what Manafort was doing in Ukraine when he was lobbying on behalf of the previous (pro-Russian) government. They found he was paid $10 million which was funneled into a bank account in Cyprus owned by a shell company, which was owned by Manafort. He didn't report this income to the IRS which is what he is in trouble for.

In the current situation, it is not that the Trump campaign is looking for dirt on Hunter Biden. Hunter Biden was doing business in Ukraine with legitimate cloudiness surrounding the circumstances. The RNC could send a staffer to Ukraine to do oppo research and it would be perfectly legitimate because Hunter Biden worked in Ukraine, just like Manafort.

The impeachable offence in the current situation is that Trump is evidently using the power of the Presidency to advance his political goals. When Trump starts calling personally to ask for the dirt, when he has his personal lawyer running shadow foreign policy to get the dirt, that is when it crosses the line into abuse of power.

Perhaps here is where the irony lies. In the transcript, Trump isn't asking Ukraine to look into whatever help the Clinton campaign might have had from Ukraine (as you cite in the OP). He was asking them to look into Crowdstrike, which Tom Bossert, Trump's first Director of Homeland Security called, "It's not only a conspiracy theory, it is completely debunked."

Ignoring Trump's bazaar obsession with a debunked conspiracy theory, he also asks Ukraine to dig dirt on Hunter Biden. So, the call was not only about 2016, Trump is clearly asking Ukraine to get involved in 2020.

The Presidency has a great deal of power. "High crimes and misdemeanors" is a phrase from the 18th century to imply political crimes--using that power for personal political or financial gain. If a President uses that power to advance his political campaign (in this case, to damage a political rival) it creates an unfair playing field.

Nixon used that power to break into DNC headquarters and then to cover it up. The Republicans stood by him until only a few weeks before they didn't. Gerald Ford claimed "the democrats are trying to undo the election of 1972". In the end, I believe the overwhelming majority of Americans agreed that Nixon had crossed the line and had to go.

We'll see how this one plays out, but from my spot in the cheap seats, it sure looks like Trump crossed the same line.
Print the post  

Announcements

What was Your Dumbest Investment?
Share it with us -- and learn from others' stories of flubs.
When Life Gives You Lemons
We all have had hardships and made poor decisions. The important thing is how we respond and grow. Read the story of a Fool who started from nothing, and looks to gain everything.
Contact Us
Contact Customer Service and other Fool departments here.
Work for Fools?
Winner of the Washingtonian great places to work, and Glassdoor #1 Company to Work For 2015! Have access to all of TMF's online and email products for FREE, and be paid for your contributions to TMF! Click the link and start your Fool career.