If we learned anything from Wednesday’s embarrassing stunt, it’s that Republicans have very little respect for democracy and the rule of law despite their rhetoric, but more importantly, that they’re very clearly shaken over how the impeachment probe will go. They’re now acting out of desperation as more witnesses are willing to defy the Trump administration and testify against the reckless behavior of their current and/or former boss.
The Republicans standing by Donald Trump only really have two options left: They can either muddy the waters (which they also did today with Sean Duffy’s outright lying on CNN) and hope that enough of their base will stay ignorant of what’s going on with these hearings, or they can routinely suppress witnesses and evidence that’s allowed to be admitted.
The problem with the latter strategy is that there isn’t much Trump and his buddies can do about foreign leaders from weighing in – and a critical one just did. While Trump and his supporters like to claim the basis for his impeachment is nothing but gossip, Ukrainian officials say otherwise. According to several advisors of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, their president was urged by Trump and Rudy Giuliani to investigate Joe Biden before he was even sworn into office. On May 7, Zelensky went to a gathering with his new advisers in Kyiv, thinking the meeting would be about his country’s energy needs. Instead, according to three of the advisors, who spoke to Associated Press anonymously, much of that three-hour discussion was spent talking about how to dodge Trump’s request to investigate his political opponent, knowing it would be seen as election interference.
This is two matching parts of the puzzle. It happened two weeks after Zelensky was elected on April 21, and he spoke over the phone with Donald Trump who offered him congratulations. The full details of that call remain unknown – particularly whether or not Trump brought up the investigation at that time. Considering that Biden had just entered the race at that time, there’s every reason to suspect it was on Trump’s mind. We also have damning testimony that Trump did threaten to withhold aid from Ukraine if they refused his request. We have an unflattering picture slowly coming together, made more worrisome by the fact that the White House still refuses to release a full transcript or comment on the April 21 phone call.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making