John Colson: Impeachement? Fine, but remember to vote
Hit & Run
On Tuesday, the United States Congress embarks on what will almost certainly be remembered by future historians as the day the flea tried to put a leash around the neck of the dog.
In case you’ve been living in a news-free cave for the past few months, this is the day that the actual impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump gets underway in the U.S. Senate, which is reluctantly being forced to act on formal Articles of Impeachment handed down by the U.S. House of Representatives (the formal proceedings started last week).
On the off chance that you are unaware of the underlying reasons for this trial, here they are: The president earlier this year allegedly abused the power of his office and violated the U.S. Constitution when he tried to pressure a foreign leader, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, to announce an investigation of Trump’s baseless, politically motivated claims of corrupt behavior on the parts of Trump’s perceived chief rival in the 2020 presidential election, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden, who once served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.
To put it most simply, Trump tried to use the promise of nearly $400 million in military aid, previously approved by Congress to help Ukraine stave off an invasion by its neighbor, Russia, to force Zelensky to smear the Bidens as a way of helping Trump win re-election, whether or not an investigation ever really took place. The smear was the thing.
On top of that, Trump has cynically and perversely blocked Congressional efforts to get at the truth about the extortion effort, leading to a second impeachment charge of obstructing Congress.
The blizzard of evidence against the president is, in my view, overwhelming, and in any atmosphere other than our current tribal partisanship in government could easily lead to Trump being kicked out of office (just imagine if, say, this kind of case had ever been amassed against Barack Obama or Bill Clinton and the resultant explosion of outrage and supposedly patriotic condemnation from Republicans).
Anyway, the game is on for real now.
Starting from the release of a partial account of the famed July 25 phone call between Trump and the relatively new and inexperienced Zelensky, which clearly lays out what Trump was trying to do, there has been a deepening tide of testimony by government officials, emails among many of the officials involved in the months leading up to the damning phone call, guilty pleas or convictions of many of those Trump used to put his extortion scheme into motion.
Then there is the plain fact that Trump has done everything in his power (and some things that were not at all within the scope of presidential authority) to undermine and block a Congressional investigation, including the withholding of witnesses and records that many believe would add to the weight of evidence against the president.
And Trump, with his Republican allies in the Senate and in the right-wing media’s ongoing campaign of disinformation and outright lies, continues this blocking technique, probably gambling that the public will grow utterly confused and exhausted by the internecine battles in Washington and let him off the hook.
From out here in the vast expanse of Middle America, we look on in horror as Trump truly goes to war with the very government he is sworn to lead and protect.
In his time in office, he has severely reduced the manpower of certain agencies that might serve to block his worst impulses, he has ridiculed and insulted our nation’s intelligence services whenever their work yields conclusions he doesn’t like, and he has tried to shift attention away from Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, claiming with no evidence that it really was Ukraine that tried to rig the election, but in favor of then-candidate Hillary Clinton.
And if icing were needed for this foul-tasting cake, Trump specifically targeted and ultimately fired a senior U.S. diplomat, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who bravely and demonstrably refused to toe the Trumpian line. The president also may have been involved (this is a developing story) in the surveillance of Yovanovitch while she worked in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine (it used to be called Kiev) and a city where political differences can easily result in someone being killed, as history has proven time and again.
At least one of those involved in this sordid tale, Russian-American Lev Parnas, has said openly that Trump knew all along what was going on, starting with a telephone conference with the corrupt former Ukrainian Pres. Petro Poroshenko, and that Trump has been overseeing the deeply corrupt campaign to smear the Bidens, get rid of Yovanovitch and convince everyone that the real corruptor of the 2016 election was not Russia, but the Ukraine.
I realize that Parnas has a history as a liar and grifter in Ukrainian as well as American politics, and as such is not the most credible witness.
But considering the old proverb, “when thieves fall out, honest men come by their own,” I believe Parnas’ claims deserve to be vetted and, if proven true, used in the impeachment trial.
I also believe that all of the evidence that heretofore has been withheld by Trump — including testimony from former National Security Adviser John Bolton — must be made part of the record in the Senate trial. Otherwise, Trump’s enablers and sycophants will succeed in turning the trial into a complete whitewash of the president and his criminal behavior.
Oh, and by the way, in case the flood of impeachment news has driven you to complete distraction, keep one thing in mind: Whether Trump survives this impeachment or not, in November, get out there and vote, because the real goal of Trump and his cabal has been to corrupt the next election and keep himself in the Oval Office to wreak even more havoc in a second term.
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