Now that we are calling the impeachment inquiry an impeachment inquiry the battle is one for public opinion. Impeachment is largely a political process and it will only be successful if it has public support. When it was based mainly on Russiagate the truth is there was insufficient public support. Ukrainegate may have either changed that or more likely was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Viewing polling in the next few weeks will be both interesting and telling. Let’s explore.
The basics of Ukrainegate are best illustrated by a simply timeline.
July 18 – Trump orders Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to withhold congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine.
July 24 – Robert Mueller testifies before Congress on national television and Trump appears to avoid a bullet.
July 25 – Trump places a phone call to Ukrainian President Zelensky feeling emboldened after apparently dodging impeachment over Russiagate.
Sept. 9 – Congress becomes aware of the whistleblower report that has been illegally stopped from getting to Congress as mandated by federal law by Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire at the direction of Bill Barr’s Justice Department.
Sept. 11 – The military aid funds are released.
Those are the easily understandable basics but there is so much more.
Trump has admitted that he asked Zelensky to look into Biden related corruption allegations via his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani who would be traveling to the Ukraine on a trip arranged by Mike Pompeo’s State Department. Why is the State Department arranging a trip for a private citizen who happens to be Trump’s personal attorney?
I have long contended that to understand the Trump administration you have to view it as what it is at its core: an organized criminal enterprise. That is also how to approach it if you want to eliminate it.
Trump’s primary mission when dealing with Zelensky was to intimidate him into coming up with (manufacturing if necessary) dirt on Joe Biden. Allegations of Biden’s interfering with the Ukrainian government on the behalf of his son while he was Vice President have been long ago investigated and debunked. Trump thought he had a no lose proposition going. If Zelensky came through for him he again had foreign interference in an election to aid him. (That is illegal under our campaign finance laws but Trump and Moscow Mitch McConnell have neutered the FEC which is the only enforcement agency dealing with federal elections.) If Zelensky didn’t knuckle under and the funds were withheld that would be a favor to Vladimir Putin who helped Trump in 2016 and appears poised to do the same in 2020. Trump’s gambit was a play on the old extortion game and the money involved is yours not his. What a sweet scam.
The way you get to a mob Don is by getting one or more of his underlings to flip. My advice to prosecutors – which is what the House will be if they vote to impeach – is to go after Barr, Maguire, Mulvaney and Pompeo who all abused and/or misused their government office in this caper. The cost of mounting a legal defense may loosen some lips. This makes no mention of other lesser known people drawing a government paycheck or private citizens like Giuliani. Somebody is going to do a cost/benefit analysis on staying loyal to Trump and that will be the first crack in the dam.
There is no doubt in my mind that Trump is using campaign funds to help finance some of the legal defenses. (Depending on the position, former position or circumstances some of those actions may actually be legal.) But those dollars, while considerable, are finite. When the checks to back up the Trump promises don’t materialize some of the underlings may start to get second thoughts.
Trump is a liar and a crook. His current scam is in large part a Ponzi scheme and like all Ponzi schemes it will come to a crashing end if pushed. My advice to House Democrats is to sell the timeline and squeeze the underlings.
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