SMOKING GUN

One salient difference between the wheels of justice and the machinations of public distractions are those wheels keep on rolling straight ahead. Justice remains the ineluctable underpinning of what remains of America’s free democracy. In its pure form it cannot be charmed, shouted down, seduced or disconnected. Justice is the dog that does not wag.

Whatever you may say about the death of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, he was a monster, and now at least anyone who replaces him is going to think twice about imitating him. But that does not change in any way the obvious fact that Trump’s motivations for taking him out were inherently selfish. Trump hoped and continues to hope that this executive action in Iraq will turn the tide on his impeachment and imbue him with a new luster. (Even Fox News has jumped on board, with their creation of an ad hoc Constitutional amendment that “you can’t impeach a president at war.”) But justice will take no notice. While the fireworks may all be in Iraq on page one, the quiet page 2 erosion of Trump’s legal case continues undeterred. And Fox News to the contrary, Trump has already been impeached.

Meanwhile, thanks to the intrepid work of the Center for Public Integrity, Trump administration emails have been seen and demonstrate beyond question that people close to the matter knew Trump was trying to blackmail the president of Ukraine into investigating Joe and Hunter Biden. What is more – and this is the most significant part – previous redacted versions of these emails now reveal that they were redacted precisely to cover up Trump’s criminal intent. In other words, those redactions were made as part of a coverup and not to protect national security. Redactions exist exclusively to preserve and protect state secrets, not to hide the corrupt intent of a criminal president.

That these revelations come in the form of emails provide the poetic part of justice. They reveal a scramble to make sense of Trump’s conditional hold on Congressionally approved Ukrainian aid and provide stunning confirmation of all that we have learned from witnesses testifying before the House of Representatives. These 300 or so emails reveal Department of Defense, Office of Management and Budget and Pentagon personnel questioning the rationale and legality of the move. There is a palpable tone of hand wringing in the staid and formal language of bureaucracy. The reason for the hold is summarized in an August 30th, 2019 email from OMB associate director Michael Duffy to acting Pentagon comptroller Elaine McCusker, where he says the hold on Ukrainian aid comes from a “Clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold.”

These are the emails the Trump administration is trying to keep from the public, despite congressional oversight efforts and court orders in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation to get them officially released. They have been seen in their unredacted form by personnel of the Center for Public Integrity, so we know what’s in them. And now that we know what’s in them, there is not a quibble nor a spin nor any rationale on earth that can disguise them for anything but what they are: clear and unequivocal blackmail of the president of Ukraine by Donald Trump, for Trump’s personal gain at the expense of America’s national security.

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