Imagine you manage a small business in a part of town that sees more than its share of crime and a wealthy guy from another part of town walks in trailing a couple big guys that look like bodyguards. Imagine further that you’re having a conversation with the wealthy guy about the local business climate, fair treatment of employees, and other topics when he changes the subject and asks very nicely to dig back in your records and find evidence that a mutual acquaintance has been involved with something shady.
Then he says “You’ve got a great business here, it would be a shame if something happened to it.” Would you think he’s a mobster? If he’d asked for cash, you’d probably call it a protection racket.
Donald Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, have both admitted to having had that conversation with Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine. They’ve both admitted to withholding congressionally authorized military aid, specifically weapons, from Ukraine in order to extract the promise of help finding dirt on Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Were Russia not continuing its illegal and undeclared war on Ukraine it would be easy for Zelensky to shrug off such demands but support from the United States is critical to maintaining the freedom, autonomy, democracy of Ukraine. Zelensky needs all the help he can get to respond to Russian aggression.
The fact that Trump has admitted to extortion for political gain both in his own statements and in the purported “transcripts” suggests to me that the whistleblower report is likely even more damning. Trump and his cronies have been illegally withholding the whistleblower report for nearly a month then he suddenly admits and can’t stop talking about just what the rumors have been suggesting.
Based on Trump’s past use of outrageous statements to distract from more important issues, I think these revelations likely mean that the report will document even worse transgressions than the early rumors suggested. Based on his actions toward Ukraine it would appear Trump actually believes that his statement from late July, “Then I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,” is true.
Article II of the U.S. constitution says nothing of the sort. In fact Article II clearly limits presidential power, it assigns the title Commander in Chief of the armed forces, the power to make treaties, appoint ambassadors, judges, department heads and others but only with agreement of two thirds of the senate. Article II doesn’t even include the power to veto legislation but it does provide that the President “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Our congressman, Vicente Gonzalez, finally got on board with calling for an impeachment inquiry just hours before Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House would begin such an investigation. The House leadership has withheld support for impeachment for many months and many committee investigations have been stymied by witnesses who refused to cooperate. Now that Speaker Pelosi has taken off the brakes, we may see quite a bit of action from the six committees assigned to the investigation in the coming months.
None of it will matter if their chairs don’t hold witnesses in contempt if they refuse to truthfully and completely answer questions and provide requested evidentiary documents.
Now is not the time to let up on our member of congress, it is every bit as imperative now as it was last week to push him to support a full inquiry into Trump’s misdeeds.