Some of you may notice that I took down a post I put up earlier saying exactly the opposite: that it was clear from the transcript of the phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky that Trump had dangled foreign aid in order to get Zelensky to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden.
But I read a comment by one of my many smart readers, Mr. Pibb, who pointed us to a twitter analysis of the call by one of my favorite columnists, Kimberly Strassel. And so I knew I had to read what she said.
Strassel argues, and I have come to agree, that the only thing Trump seems to have asked for in exchange for the money is help for an existing probe into the hacking of the DNC server, a look backward to the 2016 election. This, as far as I can tell, is a legitimate request for assistance in an investigation.
What Strassel also notes is that it is Zelensky who brings up Rudy Giuliani, who was trying to get the Ukrainians to investigate the Bidens. It is only after Zelensky brings it up that Trump asks Ukraine to look into the matter.
Did Trump plan to ask for this anyway? We don’t know. Maybe he did, but it’s far from provable. The distance in the conversation between Trump’s ask and the request for new aid, and the intervening statement by Zelensky bringing up Giuliani, casts reasonable doubt on whether Trump was going to discuss it and whether he would have done so in a way that suggested this was linked to the provision of aid to Ukraine.
It was Zelensky who also brought up the matter of future assistance for Ukraine, not Trump. The president had only mentioned assistance that had previously been given.
Now, I still don’t like that the president effectively asked a foreign leader to intervene in our election by going after one of his opponents. I don’t know that it’s an impeachable offense, though, especially since there are major questions about the legality, and at least the propriety, of what the Bidens did. Hunter Biden was paid $50,000 a month by a Ukrainian company. Good work if you can get it, and in Hunter’s case, he only got it because he was the vice president’s son.
If Democrats try to impeach Trump for simply asking for this investigation of the Bidens, without proof that he used foreign aid as a lever, they will fail. Americans will never support it. And the Democrats will manage to create a circus that will destroy Biden’s candidacy, help Trump win the presidency, and possibly even give Republicans the House. Not to mention further tearing the country apart.
They’d better hope this “whistleblower” has incredible information, or it is the Democrats, not Trump, who have a big problem.
And my apologies for the error.