Tag Archives: Ukraine

‘Quid pro quo’ to become part of our lexicon

I’ll make a prediction: When the tumult over Donald Trump’s time as president is over, millions of Americans will develop a thorough understanding of the term “quid pro quo.” 

It might even become of those “cool” phrases that we’ll actually enjoy reciting.

It’s a Latin phrase that means “something for something.” Donald Trump’s current troubles involve his asking a foreign government for “something” in exchange for “something.”

The “something” Trump sought was dirt on Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Joe Biden is the former vice president who might become the Democratic Party presidential nominee in 2020. The “something” Trump would deliver in exchange for the dirt would be weapons for Ukraine, which is fighting Russia-backed rebels.

The quid pro quo has become a central part of this impeachment inquiry. It’s a bad scene, man, if you’re the president of the United States and have sought this quid pro quo while serving as head of state of the world’s mightiest nation.

You see, the Constitution forbids a quid pro quo. Presidents aren’t allowed to solicit foreign governments for political help. Therein lies the impeachable offense that House of Representatives Democrats believe they have on the president.

The discussion going forward is going to involve plenty of references to quid pro quo. Americans might get sick of hearing the phrase. Or, they might decide that a president who sought to offer “something for something” is a serious enough offense to warrant getting tossed out of the White House.

Whistleblower is entitled to keep ID a secret

Donald Trump and a number of prominent Republicans want the whistleblower who tore the skin off the impeachment fight to reveal his or her identity.

Trump says the individual is a “Never Trumper,” a former Barack Obama campaign or administration aide. Senate Republicans want the individual’s identity made public and they want the person to testify in public.

I want to dial this back.

I have always understood that the law creating the whistleblower allowed for people with information to share about government abuses to remain secret. That is why they’re called “whistleblowers,” isn’t that right? They are afforded a level of protection from those who would bully them, coerce them, intimidate them, force them to take back what they say.

The individual who, um, “blew the whistle” on the president seeking foreign government help in his re-election bid did so on information he or she obtained. One can challenge the veracity of what the person has revealed. There’s no need, though, to identify the individual, who is entitled to the level of protection that the whistleblower law provides.

There will be plenty of opportunities to challenge the testimony of other individuals with even more direct knowledge of what occurred, who did it and for what purpose.

Let’s all stay tuned and primed for when it all hits the fan.

Patriot getting a dose of typical Trump response

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is no one’s puppet. He is the farthest thing I can imagine from being a political creature.

Vindman is a career military man. He is an immigrant who came here to this country as a toddler. The United States is the only country he has known. It is the country he loves and for which he has shed blood on the battlefield.

Yet he has run straight into a fusillade of fire from allies of Donald Trump. Why? Because he had the courage to tell congressional questioners what he heard in real time on July 25, which was the president of the United States seeking a political favor from a foreign government.

He now is getting the Trump treatment. The president decided to label Lt. Col. Vindman a “never Trumper.” Granted, it’s not nearly as hideous as the comments from some of Trump’s media allies, who have questioned the soldier’s loyalty to his country, suggesting he is more loyal to Ukraine, the Soviet state he and his parents fled.

To their great credit, many high-level Republican politicians have stood up for Alexander Vindman. They have praised his service to his country and said the dubious accusations of disloyalty to the United States have no place in the current discussion. I am heartened to hear such rhetoric from the nation’s GOP political leadership.

Still, that doesn’t lessen the idiocy that continues to flow from right-wing media and, yes, from the president of the United States.

Career military personnel take an oath to defend that nation against its enemies. They do not take political oaths. They are as non-political as anyone in public service. So, for the president to call Lt. Col. Vindman a “never Trumper” is to disparage the oath he took when he donned the nation’s military uniform.

To think that this president, who famously avoided (or evaded?) military service during the Vietnam War, would even assert such a thing about an actual patriot is utterly beyond belief.

They’re now calling this fellow a spy? What the … ?

What in the name of military valor am I missing here?

A decorated U.S. Army officer, a refugee from the Soviet Union, a Purple Heart recipient and a true-blue American patriot, is now being challenged by Donald Trump’s supporters on the right and far right, being called a “spy” and a “traitor.”

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is talking to congressional committees about what he heard in real time when Donald Trump spoke on the phone to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and then sounded alarm bells in the moment about what he heard come from the president’s mouth.

Vindman reportedly heard Trump ask Zelinskiy for a political favor. He heard the president reportedly withhold military aid until the Ukrainians delivered on the favor.

And for speaking out in closed session to congressional inquisitors, the president’s friends on Fox News and other conservative media — as well as politicians — are calling Vindman dirty names that impugn his loyalty to the country he has served with valor.

I do not understand this misplaced loyalty. I do not comprehend how one can demean, denigrate and disparage a proven battlefield hero in this fashion.

However, it is happening.

Actually, I suppose I can understand it. The reaction appears to be a product of the cult of personality that has consumed the once-great Republican Party.

Reprehensible.

Waiting on former national security adviser’s testimony

It was reported when John Bolton left the national security adviser’s post that the fiery foreign policy guru is no shrinking violet, that he wouldn’t sit quietly by while Donald Trump trashed him.

Trump said he fired Bolton, who then said he resigned. Trump said his decision to let Bolton go was over differences in how to handle Middle East policy.

OK, but now Bolton has become a key player in this impeachment inquiry. You see, we don’t know what Bolton might have heard when Trump was dealing with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelinskiy and whether he sought foreign government help for personal political purposes.

It is now assured that Bolton will speak to congressional committees about what he knows and what he saw and heard while serving in the White House. I am one American — who, by the way, doesn’t think much of Bolton’s world view — who is awaiting what he has to say.

My hunch is that he won’t shy away one bit from providing whatever information he has about the president. House committee members already have gotten an earful from other former Trump administration officials, notably from one-time Ukraine envoy William Taylor, who reportedly has said that Trump did withhold military assistance to Ukraine in exchange for a political favor.

Will the former national security adviser’s deposition support that assertion? Will he add more grist for the impeachment mill? John Bolton doesn’t strike me as a shrinking violet. He is a tough guy clothed in a business suit.

If I were a betting man, I would wager that those close to Donald Trump are seriously worried about what John Bolton is going to say about how the president has violated his oath of office.

GOP should hold off on ‘secrecy’ mantra

Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress need a dose of reticence as they complain about so-called “secrecy” by their Democratic colleagues who are pushing ahead with the impeachment inquiry into Trump’s conduct as president.

They are complaining that Democratic-led House committees are conducting a clandestine hearing by listening to witnesses in private, behind closed doors, out of public view. They contend the secrecy removes legitimacy from the impeachment probe.

It does nothing of the kind.

The so-called secrecy is standard operating procedure in the House. Republicans did the very same thing when they launched their hearings into the Benghazi tragedy in 2012. You recall that, yes? A House select committee examining the circumstances regarding the fire fight that killed four U.S. embassy officials in Libya did so in private. It looked for complicity by Hillary Clinton, who then was secretary of state. Then, after collecting evidence, they went public. They put Clinton at the witness table for 11 hours. Oh, by the way: They came up empty!

Now the shoe is on the other foot, metaphorically speaking.

Democrats are going by the book. Eventually, and I hope it is soon, they will throw open the doors and the entire world will hear much of what they have heard already in private.

For the GOP alliance lining behind the president to suggest a “coup” and an attempt to “overturn the results of the 2016 election” is just so much demagoguery.

Then again, that is torn straight out of Donald J. Trump’s playbook.

Trump or Taylor: Who do we believe?

Well now. The impeachment inquiry into Donald J. Trump’s presidency has taken yet another decisive turn and it doesn’t look good for the president.

William Taylor, a career diplomat, a West Point grad, an infantry officer with combat experience in Vietnam, someone with 50 years of public service under his belt has testified that Donald Trump did seek a political favor from a foreign government.

On the other side is Trump, a president, a man with zero public service experience, no national security experience, a serial liar, a novice who doesn’t the first or second thing about diplomacy denying the existence of a “quid pro quo” with Ukraine.

Who should we believe? I am going to go with the first fellow, Ambassador Taylor.

Taylor is a top U.S. envoy to Ukraine. He has been at or near the center of what has gotten Trump into so much political trouble. He reportedly told a congressional committee that Trump did indeed seek a political favor from Ukraine. He said Trump did seek to withhold military assistance until Ukraine provided dirt on Joe Biden and his son, Hunter; oh yeah, Biden might run against Trump for president in 2020.

My head is spinning.

If there can be a more decisive moment in this impeachment inquiry to date, I am hard-pressed to identify it.

William Taylor is credible. Donald Trump is not.

How about some more chaos and confusion at White House?

Do you want some more chaos and confusion emanating from the Donald Trump administration? Let’s try this out.

The president asserts repeatedly that he did nothing wrong when he talked with the president of Ukraine about “corruption” in Ukraine, even when he asked for a “favor, though” regarding the shipment of military hardware for Ukrainian forces fighting Russia-backed rebels. The “favor” involved some dirt that Trump wanted on Joe Biden, who might be a 2020 opponent in the presidential election. Ukraine would get the equipment if it delivered the goods to Trump’s re-election team.

Then we hear from the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who declares that, yes, the president withheld the arms for political purposes. Then he tells the nation, while standing in the White House press room, to “Get over it.”

What? You mean the chief of staff of the White House has admitted that Donald Trump broke the law? That he violated his presidential oath? That he has committed an offense for which he can be impeached by the House of Representatives?

Reporters gave Mulvaney several chances to take it back. He didn’t. He insisted that was the essence of the phone call Trump had with the Ukrainian president, Volodormyr Zellenskiy.

Oops!

Now he has sought to walk it back. He said his remarks were “misconstrued.” Mulvaney has actually sought to take back what the entire nation heard him say. It’s as if he is saying we all need hearing aids. You didn’t really hear him say what he said.

The White House team is scrambling. They were stunned, bumfuzzled by what the chief of staff said. They couldn’t believe it either in real time, which makes Mulvaney’s effort to erase the record as ridiculous as it looks.

He said it. As it is declared on occasion: You cannot unhonk the horn.

Sen. Cruz is breaking his silence on Trump and election interference

What do you know about this?

Ted Cruz, who I dislike intensely in his role as the junior U.S. senator from Texas, is speaking out — finally! — on this matter of election interference from foreign governments.

Cruz, the Republican firebrand who nearly lost his seat in 2018, now says that foreign governments have no place in our nation’s electoral system. None, man! He has been critical of Donald Trump’s asking for electoral help from China and Ukraine.

According to the Texas TribuneDuring an appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation, Cruz said no foreign government should be involved in American elections.

“That’s true for all of them,” he told moderator Margaret Brennan. “It should be the American people deciding elections.”

OK, so he hasn’t yet declared that Donald Trump needs to get booted out of office because of his solicitation of help from foreign governments. However, his statement — in my view — marks an important turning point in GOP reticence regarding the president’s current difficulties.

Trump is facing increasingly probable impeachment by the House of Representatives over issues relating to foreign interference in our elections. Cruz isn’t likely to join his Democratic colleagues in calling for Trump’s impeachment, conviction and ouster. However, at least The Cruz Missile is standing on an important principle that has been lost on the president.

What’s more, Cruz told Face the Nation that Trump’s lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, needs to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in connection with reports that the former New York City mayor met with Ukrainian officials about Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, regarding Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine.

Is the senator signaling a turn against a president — who he once called a “sniveling coward” and an “amoral” narcissist who is unfit for the presidency?

I won’t bet the mortgage on it. Then again … stranger events have occurred.

No ‘need’ to know whistleblower’s ID

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan is one of Donald Trump’s most ardent defenders on Capitol Hill. The Ohio Republican, though, has difficulty answering direct questions, such as whether it was appropriate for Trump to ask China to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Jordan, an Ohio Republican, had the chance this past weekend to answer that question on national TV. He dodged it many times.

Oh, but now he says we need to know the identity of the whistleblower who has, um, blown the whistle on what he or she believes has happened in the White House.

Jordan said this: “Frankly I think the American people have a right to know who this whistleblower is. If we’re talking about the impeachment of the President of the United States, I think that’s important.”

No, it’s not critical, congressman, for us to know the ID of the individual who has put his or her career on the line.

All the public needs to know is whether this individual’s allegations are credible, that they can be proven, that he or she has told the truth to what he or she understands.

Federal law protects the identity of these folks who step forward to tell the nation when the witness wrongdoing or corruption within our government. Revealing these people’s identity strips away the intent of the law and deters others in a position to reveal wrongdoing from doing the right thing.

If Jim Jordan is going to “defend” the president against charges that he has violated his oath of office and put our national security at risk by inviting foreign interference in our elections, then let him make the case on its merits.

That is, if he can find any merits on which to base his defense.