If the dreadful reality TV show that is the Trump Presidency had titled its first series “The Mueller Probe” then series two should be called “Impeachment”. The catchphrase is series one was “No Collusion”, it’s now “No Quid Pro Quo”.
Although it was apparently difficult for Robert Mueller’s investigators to provide direct evidence of collusion between the Trump team and agents of Putin’s secret state in the run up to the 2016 election, evidence Trump has committed crimes in his dealings with Ukraine are in plain sight. Asking for a favour from a foreign government to help his re-election bid is a crime according to the US Constitution. Further revelations that military aid was dependent on a willingness of the Ukrainian government to dig up dirt on his potential rival Joe Biden compounds Trump’s criminality.
Over the past week or so Washington witnessed a succession of testimonies from straight laced establishment figures in the government bureaucracy that Trump was criminally culpable. Amongst the most damaging were those of William Taylor, currently America’s senior diplomat to Ukraine, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the Director of European Affairs on the National Security Council.
Taylor testified that US military aid to Ukraine and a meeting of their President Volodymyr Zelensky with Trump were explicitly link by the administration to the Ukrainians investigating Biden’s son and a discredited conspiracy theory that the Democrats had help from Ukraine in the 2016 election.
Vindman testified that the transcript of the now notorious Trump/Zelensky phone call was not a full one. There were ellipses (lots of dot dot dots) where specific mention of Biden was made. Vindman’s testimony went against Trump’s claim that he’d issued an “exact transcript”. The number of lies Trump has told since assuming office has already passed the 14,000 mark, with one satirist to comparing Trump’s signature to the printout of a failed lie detector test.
Now that Congress has voted to make the impeachment hearings public, these witnesses will come across as highly credible to much of the American public when proceedings go on TV. Their testimony will present a sharp contrast to the impending trial of reprobates Trump’s personal lawyer Rudi Giuliani associates with.
Last month the FBI arrested Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — both of whom look like they’ve come from central casting for a “Goodfellas” movie — as they tried to board a plane for Vienna on a one way ticket. They were subsequently charged with campaign fund violations, principally the directing foreign money to US politicians. Parnas and Fruman have been involved in a string of dubious business dealings including setting up a company called Fraud Guarantee, which kind of gave the game away! Parnas also has a history of making death threats and had three guns confiscated from him by Florida police.
Parnas and Fruman have been specifically charged with hiding the origin of a $325,000 donation to a pro-Trump committee. They’ve been photographed with Trump but naturally he says he doesn’t know them. Coincidentally the pair are being defended by John Dowd, who acted as Trump’s personal attorney during the Mueller investigation. His clients here had been assisting Giuliani with what’s been termed a parallel foreign policy aimed at denigrating Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Someone who took particular exception to Giuliani’s antics was the recently fired National Security Advisor John Bolton.
Reportedly Bolton referred to Giuliani as “a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up”, and described the White House’s efforts to pressurise Ukraine as “a drug deal” he didn’t want to be part of. His appearance before Congress should be pretty explosive too.
The smears against the Bidens are apparently baseless, but that doesn’t mean they themselves shouldn’t escape scrutiny. Hunter Biden has been honest in saying that he wouldn’t have got on the board of Burisma holdings, a major Ukraine gas producer, but for the fact that he was the son of a Vice President. The Washington lobbying industry is what the Trumpers characterise as “the Swamp” and Biden is just as big a fan of corporate capitalism as Trump.
Nevertheless, it’s a bit rich for Hunter Biden to get castigated for using the family name by... Donald Trump Jnr!
The money is definitely on impeachment proceedings going to trial in the Senate as nightly revelations of Trump’s criminality unfold on TV. Will they convict though even though there’s cast iron evidence of his guilt? The partisanship shown by Republicans so far suggests not, but that may not be the case if Trump’s poll ratings start to slide. Nixon went down 10 points during the Watergate hearings and similar could happen to the Donald. He could get dumped particularly if there was a secret ballot.
American socialists want to see the criminal gang in the White House brought to book. They also want a genuine draining of the Washington swamp of corporate greed. Hopefully the elections next year will provide an opportunity to advocate socialist policies such as universal health care and a chance to see off “populist” fakers like Trump and his ilk.