Everyone grew excited as the call for impeachment slowly came to a boil throughout the day on Tuesday. VIP House Democrats that were previously cautious with the idea suddenly started coming out of the woodwork in favor of launching impeachment. The end result was Nancy Pelosi taking the podium to say that she was finally willing to do what she had previously been wary of; launch a formal impeachment inquiry.
According to NPR, “The landmark move comes after controversy over a phone call Trump had with the newly elected Ukranian leader in July and reporting that the president pressured him to investigate political rival Joe Biden.” This action, according to Speaker Pelosi, shows the president’s “…betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.”
I think we can all agree those are some pretty serious criminal allegations. But let’s read what Trump actually said about Biden to Zelensky in the transcript (which you can read here).
Trump first commented to Zelensky saying that “I would like you to do us a favor… to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it.”
In case you’re wondering; Crowdstrike is a reference to allegations previously referenced by the president, that the Ukraine participated in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee servers and releasing thousands of internal e-mails. So this actually makes Trump look good. He only mentions Biden later on due to his alleged role in using the prospect of U.S. financial support to pressure the Ukrainian government to fire its top prosecutor in 2016. Why? Because the prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, was investigating the gas company Burisma, and allegedly, Biden’s son Hunter. Trump said to Zelensky:
“The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.” – Trump
Needless to say this is far from any sort of smoking gun. Republicans quickly rebutted that the accusation was incredibly weak. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-CA put it best:
“The president did not ask [Zelensky] to investigate Joe Biden. What he asked the president of the Ukraine to do is to participate in an open — from the AG — investigation of what transpired in 2016. That is lawful, for us to look to another government to actually participate in an open investigation of what happened in 2016, because we want to make sure that never happens again. When he said, ‘I have a favor’ … [it’s] 540 words later before Biden ever comes up. Everybody has been misquoting here about what transpired afterwards: participate in an open investigation by the Attorney General, which is totally lawful, of something that transpired in 2016… Nothing about Biden and the further election. ” – McCarthy
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s advisor/attorney, added more strength to the president’s defense by criticizing the source. He said on Thursday that the whistleblower was using second-hand information, something that simply wouldn’t hold up in court.
So why are democrats using this opportunity to finally attempt impeachment when they had much better chances before? It’s most likely that they were biding their time to use the impeachment process, and the mud that comes along with it, to help wreck the president’s chances of reelection in 2020, much like he and the GOP did to Hillary regarding her email scandal back in 2016. This does not bode well for Congress, which is already slow to pass bills, but is good for Democrats that are up for election.
“Impeachment can have the effect of all other business in Congress grinding to a halt. There was a push, for example, to pass new gun restrictions after a spate of mass shootings, but the future of any movement on that is now unclear. Formal impeachment proceedings would very likely take months. If the House does, in fact, impeach the president, it would move to the Senate to contemplate his removal, which means the potential for Senate impeachment hearings in a presidential election year — and likely in the middle of the Democratic primaries.” – Domenico Montanaro, NPR Senior Political Correspondent, Washington Desk.
The biggest clue as to why this is a weak political stunt by Democrats was with how quickly Trump released the transcripts in an effort to be transparent; a rare move for him. Democrats were originally worried that the executive branch would withhold the information, and republicans refused to takes sides until they saw any proof, leaving a lot of power in the president’s hands. His release of the transcripts that show little if any wrongdoing are enough to put this to rest. Now we shall see how democrats plan to inflate this story in an effort to derail the president’s reelection campaign.
What goes around comes around, I guess. It should come as no surprise that democrats are not pulling their punches this time around with how they were treated during the last election and the years since. Trump is going up against a lot of political veterans, and they know how to play just as dirty as him if pressed enough.