Donald Trump is such an obvious crook that he’s been a prime candidate for impeachment from the minute he assumed office.
There has been such a substantial menu of grounds for impeachment that it’s difficult to know what to choose.
Soliciting help from Putin’s secret services to win the election itself? Illegal election payments to porn stars?
Trump’s various businesses benefiting from his presidency? As of last week, there were 30 separate investigations into Trump being conducted by Congressional, Federal or State authorities.
The problem so far has been that none of the accusations have stuck. Trump infamously said that he could shoot someone dead on Fifth Avenue and not lose any votes.
As befits someone with a background of privileged entitlement, he believes he can get away with anything and that seems to have been the case for the past 73 years of his life!
However, this latest crisis which nobody yet seems to have dubbed Ukrainegate yet, might spell the beginning of the end.
Trump’s belief in his untouchability received a great boost when the Mueller report turned out to be something of a damp squib. On 24 July Mueller himself gave final testimony to Congress where he said his investigation had not reached the determination that Trump had committed a crime and Trump hailed this “as a great day for me.”
Emboldened he made a phone call to Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of the Ukraine the very next day asking him to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, Trump’s potential Democrat rival in the 2020 election.
The 25 July call to Ukraine was continuation of a plan to smear Biden which began in November last year, its chief architect none other than Trump’s demented consigliere Rudy Giuliani.
The explosive whistleblower complaint that raised the alarm over Trump’s efforts to solicit Ukrainian help for his re-election bid mentions Giuliani 31 times.
Giuliani has been trying to get an anti Trump conspiracy theory to stand up involving the former US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch (an American citizen whose been with the US foreign service since 1986) and, amongst others, the bête noire of the anti Semitic conspiracy theorists everywhere, George Soros!
Giuliani got Yovanovitch sacked last May in what was described as “a political hit job”. She had been quite vociferous in urging Ukraine to crack down on corruption and appears to have fallen foul of false accusations made by the discredited and undoubtedly highly corrupt former Ukraine Prosecutor General, Yuriy Lutsenko.
It’s alleged that Lutsenko is the source of the apparently baseless accusations against Biden and his son and has also been feeding the Trump media with additional bullshit claims that Ukraine helped Hilary Clinton in the 2016 election.
Giuliani is a private citizen who happens to be Trump’s personal attorney. He is in no way a representative of the American government and yet he has stated on television that his Ukraine “investigation” was carried out at the request of the State Department.
Furthermore, he brandished his phone to the camera as proof of such communication. Is this the claim the product of Giuliani’s febrile imagination? If not, then Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo has a lot of explaining to do!
Then we have the matter of the Trump phone call itself in which he says to the Ukrainian President: “I would like you to do us a favour”.
In the context of the conversation and the fact that the White House put a block on $391 million of Congress approved military aid the previous week with no really plausible reason, this amounted to a quid pro quo — Trump clearly blackmailing Zelensky.
Damming enough as this revelation is — and soliciting aid from a foreign entity for electoral advantage is a crime — the full extent of Trump criminality is not yet known because only a memo of the conversation has been released. Plenty has been left out and the full conversation record has been squirrelled away onto a secret server — a classic attempt at cover up.
Trump has already denounced the impeachment moves in his familiar terms of “hoax” and “witch-hunt” and rubbished the whistleblower as “a partisan person” even though he doesn’t know who this person actually is. For good measure Trump has also suggested that those in his administration who provided information to the whistleblower should be treated as “spies” and executed “just like in the good old days”.
Impeachment will get voted through the Democrat controlled House, but requires a two thirds majority in the Senate to pass. So far Republicans have been reluctant to go against Trump, but evidence in this case seems pretty clear cut. Trump is in office caught on tape committing a crime and maybe other phone conversations of a damaging nature with foreign leaders will come to light in due course?
John Gotti, the New York mobster, was once dubbed “the Teflon Don” because criminal charges against him never stuck. In the end justice caught up with Gotti and he spent the rest of his life in prison. Nothing has stuck to Donald Trump so far, but Teflon eventually wears out.
His erstwhile followers in the top levels of the Republican Party may yet desert him.
Much of Trump’s right-wing base in the country, however, remains solid.
A successful fight against that right-wing base will take more than legal manoeuvres by the Democrats.
It requires the remobilisation of the US labour movement, with a political programme and a plan of battle which can win over sections of Trump’s plebeian base.