John Colson: An initial look at the current Trump circus
Hit & Run
Holy ten-ringed circus, Batman, what’s a political junkie to do?
The first order of business is to recognize that it is incumbent upon all of us in this country to unravel the tangled string of intrigue, misinformation and outright lies that make up President Donald Trump’s multi-pronged defensive battle against a whistleblower complaint and an impeachment inquiry by the U.S. House of Representatives.
I know that the ongoing political implosion known to many as Trump World is a tough nut to crack open, perhaps worsened by byzantine published reports about the mess that can lead observers to occasionally trip themselves up with their own verbal balls of yarn.
To ward against further entanglement, let’s try to get down to a couple of basics as we strive to make sense of all the names, places and players in this sad but critically important dustup. I caution the reader that we cannot get it all covered in one go, and probably will need to revisit this issue in the future.
First off, I feel constrained to point out (as have others trying to separate the wheat from the chaff in all this) that what is at stake is our national electoral integrity, our right to expect that our votes are cast based on having the correct information about candidates, issues and propositions.
Trump has proven himself capable of doing whatever he can to undermine our electoral process, both as a candidate and as an office-holder, because he knows full well that he does not have the backing of a majority of voters in this country.
As proof, we all know he lost the popular election in 2016 by a margin of some 3 million votes, and is in office only because of that antiquated and undemocratic institution known as the Electoral College, which has given the presidency to an undeserving candidate at least twice in less than 20 years — George W. Bush (nicknamed The Shrub by the late Texas columnist Molly Ivins) in 2000, and Trump in 2016.
But back to current events, and the ongoing debacle over an unnamed whistleblower’s accusations that Trump may have acted illegally in late July of this year, when he ham-handedly pressured newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to dig up dirt on Hunter Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden, the leading Democrat hoping to unseat Trump in 2020.
As I have read through press accounts, I have been struck by several key points:
First, why on Earth would Trump make that July 25 call the very day after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before Congress made it clear that Trump likely is guilty of a number of impeachable offenses related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, not the least of which is obstruction of justice for his efforts to scuttle Mueller’s investigation? Was he perhaps thumbing his nose at all of us, daring us to find out about this latest effort to undermine the integrity of our elections?
Next, what is a political hack like Rudy Giuliani doing in the middle of all this? He reportedly has been making money hand over fist in Ukraine for at least 15 years, aided in recent times by his role as Trump’s “personal lawyer” and hatchet man where political subterfuge is involved. Giuliani has been caught playing both sides against each other in certain internal Ukrainian political squabbles, in connection with Trump’s insane insistence that Ukraine is the culprit in the vote-interference controversy and that Hillary Clinton was that country’s intended beneficiary of some shadowy campaign against Trump. Giuliani apparently is the one who came up with this gem of political misdirection and misinformation, and perhaps with the idea that it is in the Ukraine that we can find all the damning evidence we need to prove that Hillary Clinton was the real force behind any 2016 electoral interference. Giuliani’s fingerprints also are all over the nutty notion that the mythical “missing Clinton emails” can be found on a secret server somewhere in Ukraine.
While we’re at it, how did Hunter Biden’s efforts to get rich on his own in the Ukraine, something Giuliani and various Trump acolytes also have done, suddenly become so suspect as to pose a significant threat to U.S. national security, as alleged by Giuliani and Trump? There reportedly have already been probes by the FBI and Ukrainian security agencies into these matters, and nothing incriminating turned up. But lack of proof against his enemies has never bothered Trump before, so why should this time be any different?
His boosters might argue that what the president believes must become the policy of the government (as though he were, what, a tyrant or a dictator?), if not equivalent to the Word of God.
I note that Candidate Trump firmly believed (or said he did) that the Mexican government would pay to build his famously idiotic wall along the southern border, which proved entirely false.
Trump is now trying to rob Peter to pay Paul, as the saying goes, siphoning off funds from disparate parts of the federal budget in order to get the wall built. This is proving difficult, at least in part because his 2017 $1.5 trillion tax cut for corporations and the wealthy (some estimates say the fiscal impact will actually be $2.3 trillion over the next decade) has impoverished the federal treasury.
In any event, what seems to be undeniable is that the current, probably fabricated controversy about Ukrainian involvement has murky ties to the 2016 Russian election interference (and to the probability that Russia is gearing up to do it again in 2020), and it’s all tied back to the White House, the paranoid and corrupt natures of our own president and his favorite legal beagle, and the spinelessness of the Republican Party when confronted with the illegal actions of this rogue administration.
The July 25 phone call to Zelensky can be seen as a case of bribery or extortion, whichever criminal characterization you prefer, and it is appropriate that the U.S. House of Representatives has begun a formal impeachment inquiry to determine the facts and affix the blame.
As for myself, I join in a growing chorus of demands for Trump to resign and let the government begin the process of healing from the wounds he has inflicted.
Email at email@example.com.
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