I am still attempting to get my head around this, and having a difficult time. I guess it should be noted up top that Republicans could actually defend this matter with a fraction of dignity. They could admit that Trump did appear to ask for a quid pro quo, and it was an abuse of power and wrong, and thus regrettable. But the act doesn’t amount to something worthy of impeachment.
Now, we would respond by pointing out that use of one’s office to utilize $400 million in aid, appropriated by Congress for the express purpose of protecting lives, all to punish your political rival, equates to the most extreme abuse of power that doesn’t involve intentional killing. It is the definition of abuse of power, the quintessential impeachable act. But toss aside our rational response for a moment. The “legitimate” defense at least acknowledges factual reality, acknowledges some limits on power, and in that sense can be defended and debated.
The problem is Trump. Because he believes he is perfection personified, he cannot admit fault. He sees admitting fault as weakness. Indicative, because mentally healthy people see it as the ultimate sign of strength; “My personal self-esteem can withstand acknowledging I screwed up.” Trump’s insecurities leave Republicans – trapped by Trump directing them to not admit a wrong in this matter – must delve into defenses matching Trump’s. These defenses are insulting, absurd, exist outside reality, and ultimately, are damned dangerous.
The latest defense is that Trump could not have offered a quid pro quo because Ukrainian leadership did not know of the quid pro quo.
Break me a fcking give.
First of all, of course Ukraine’s leadership states they were not aware of a “quid pro quo.” They still want American aid, and having seen Trump hold up its aid once, they are unlikely to come forth with a statement that reads; “Yeah, we damn well knew what he was doing through the summer, and it sucked. It scared the shit out of us. But we had to play along while the big baby bumbled around until some Americans noticed and forced his hand. But have no doubt we knew of the quid pro quo and we didn’t appreciate it!”
Hell no. Ukraine’s leadership isn’t stupid. They know it is more likely than not that Trump will be president for another year and a third. Presumably, in that time, more aid will be going to Ukraine. Having seen themselves get jacked once, they damn sure aren’t going to put themselves in the same position again. They’re going to play along, with the assumption that right-minded Americans see what is going on here.
But their response – understandable as it may be – is also entirely f-ing irrelevant! It is not a defense!
In “law,” a principle that used to mean something, we have these crimes called “attempts” and you may well be familiar with them. There is “attempted murder,” and “attempted burglary,” and a million others. Moreover, we have a crime called “solicitation of a bribe” that is complete the moment the solicitation is offered, whether accepted or not. You don’t get to “attempt” to commit a crime, and then defend yourself by stating that the victim didn’t agree to it, didn’t know it was happening, thus you didn’t commit it.
UPDATE: Here we go, our favorite girl, being Nicole, smart. She posted an article I had not seen, directly applicable to above. From Lawfare, lawyers think alike:
Read. Every. Word: “In addition to the role that possible criminal wrongdoing by the president could play in the ongoing impeachment inquiry, evidence about criminal misconduct might also apply, more directly, to the possible investigations of others …” https://t.co/uRSXDVtTWW
— Nicolle Wallace (@NicolleDWallace) October 24, 2019
And even that argument is irrelevant (We find ourselves down 3 layers below relevant, or “3 degrees from relevancy”). The fact is, we hold the president to an even higher standard than regular criminal law. An abuse of power equates to abuse of the public’s trust. The moment Trump held up the money that Congress expressly appropriated for Ukraine, he abused his power, even if he was actually concerned about corruption generally!
We presume that Congress knows of corruption concerns throughout the world. We presume that Congress can debate such concerns. We know that Congress is the only entity that decides where to spend money under our constitution (there is “some” latitude the president gets on domestic concerns that arguably are within the appropriated purpose). No one, even the president, in our constitutional scheme, gets to personally decide that Congress was wrong to appropriate the money, that it was a bad idea, and decide to withhold it. Judges can decide that Congress acted unconstitutionally, but that is way different than “wrong.” By withholding the money, Trump decided Congress was “wrong” and he knew better. It doesn’t matter that Ukraine ultimately got the money, he withheld it for an amount of time based upon believing he knew better than Congress. Abuse of power.
All that ignores the fact we have mountains of evidence he did it to hurt Joe Biden. We set it out to demonstrate the deep dive into abuse of power.
Are we moving together here?
“We want to buy more javelin missiles.”
“I need you to do me a favor, though.”
Are we really to believe that President Zelensky wasn’t damned well aware of what was going on here? Guess what? Even if Zelensky didn’t (and that’s impossible), Trump instructed him to talk to Rudy, who would make it crystal clear.
Sum it all up? Sure.
Because Trump cannot admit to any fault, cannot come out and say “I was wrong. I accept a censure from Congress and will not do such a thing again,” we are left to deal with Alice in Wonderland defenses.
Were that our only problem.
The more disturbing thing is that Trump’s true believers, those people in the red hats, accept it wholly. They rage. They rage at people who have the audacity to note that Trump is a danger, that this is wrong, and will hurt the long term health of the nation.
So we’re stuck. Republicans in office know Trump is full of shit, know it is dangerous, know it is morally wrong, but for their own political interests, have to play along, lest they get punished by the 75% of Republican voters (35-40% of total population) and lose their jobs. We are stuck.
I was listening to a talk by a London psychologist early this morning. He advocates self-help through what he calls the 1% doctrine. He says that if you do tiny things to improve your life each day, 1% better than yesterday, every day, in five years you’ll be shocked at how far you’ve come. It is the power of compound interest, on a personal scale. But math and psychology works both ways. If we lose 1% of our national unity, our national ideal, our national commitment, every day, by even a fraction, we’ll be horrified in an astonishingly short time. It takes years to get it all back to where you started.
This “defense,” which will prove to be Trump’s bottom line defense, because what the fck else does he have? Shaves far more than 1% off the nation’s unity, its health. The defense is cynical. It is fictional. It is contemptuous. And it is only getting worse.
I know. Acknowledging all this? It is a shitty way to start a day. But all of us here, the Zoom family, we deal in reality. It is healthier than the alternative. I suspect that retaining a healthy outlook, even among a small segment of citizens, will prove to be damned important into the future. Even if we gain only 1%, day by day. Go compound it.
firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @MiciakZoom
- Nicole posted “Read. Every. Word.” I first used the period after each word in a paper in college. I hadn’t seen it anywhere, just liked it. I have this fantasy (no, not Nicole) that my writing on the net over 20 years started the trend. Prolly not. But still …