Nobody outside of the US intelligence community yet knows the exact details of what President Donald Trump allegedly asked of or promised an as yet unconfirmed foreign leader. Nobody knows exactly why a so-called whistleblower raised concerns about what the president said. Nobody knows why congressional Democrats and their media lackeys are – almost literally – making a federal case out of it. One thing is for certain, though: If this latest “scandal” turns out to be yet another fabrication, the president’s opponents will forfeit whatever shreds of credibility they still retain.
Considering presidential candidate Joe Biden’s questionable dealings with Ukraine – the country who’s president is believed to be the unidentified foreign leader involved – it is not unfair to speculate that the uproar over Trump’s conversations with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has a lot to do with panic.
What We Know
Certain facts are beyond dispute: Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, in 2014 secured a lucrative directorship with a Ukrainian energy company. The younger Biden’s enormous and highly unusual financial deals with the Chinese are another story altogether but it is worth noting that, everywhere then-Vice President Joe Biden went, his son seems to have benefitted from highly profitable business arrangements.
We know that Joe Biden himself in 2016 visited Ukraine and threatened to withhold a billion dollars in financial aid if the country’s top prosecutor was not fired. That prosecutor was, at the time, investigating the energy company for which Hunter Biden worked. Joe Biden publicly bragged about what he had done, so this is not a “debunked” story, as some in the media have claimed.
It is only fair to note that the Ukrainians have claimed Hunter Biden, personally, is not suspected of having broken any laws. The mere fact that he happened to land a $50,000-a-month position with a Ukrainian energy company, though – while his father was vice president and the White House’s point man on Ukraine – reeks of “pay-to-play.”
The Ukrainian company, Burisma, has been described by some as highly corrupt and controlled by a pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch with ties to Vladimir Putin. Viktor Shokin, the prosecutor who was investigating the company until he was fired, has also been called corrupt, so this story is extremely murky, which is why it warrants thorough investigation.
The third known fact is that former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was charged with crimes stemming from an investigation predicated upon information obtained from individuals in Ukraine.
And finally, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has received a complaint from a whistleblower, regarding something Trump said to a foreign leader. According to a CNN report, that whistleblower did not have first-hand knowledge of what was said but became aware of it after the fact.
Holding Presidents to the Same Standards
“Whataboutism” has become a common tactic for both sides of the political divide and can often be easily countered by the old adage: “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” Nevertheless, it is often a way to highlight the enormous differences in the way the current president is judged, as compared to previous presidents – particularly Barack Obama.
It is hard to recall the last time a US president’s interactions with foreign powers was so heavily scrutinized. With the possible exception of the Reagan-era Iran-Contra business, it has not happened in living memory.
When it comes to Obama’s questionable dealings with the leader of other countries, it is almost fun to play the “what if Trump did that?” game. For example: What if Trump approved the delivery, in the middle of the night, of pallets of cash to a foreign adversary and leading state sponsor of terrorism? What if Trump, unaware that a hot mic was picking up his words, murmured to the Russian prime minister: “It’s important that [Russian President Vladimir Putin] give me space … I have more flexibility after my election”?
Obama did both of those things and neither was questioned, for a single moment, by Democrats in Congress. Now there is a new question for this game: What if Trump, in the months leading up to the 2020 election, were to summon Ukrainians to the White House and direct them to essentially conduct opposition research on his presidential opponent?
Some would argue that Trump had done more or less the same thing during his phone calls to the Ukrainian president. Rudy Guiliani, though, is claiming that the Obama White House did that very thing in 2016. An April 2019 article by The Hill’s John Solomon describes the events to which Giuliani is referring.
Ukrainians at the Obama White House
In January 2016, Solomon reports, the Obama White House summoned a group of Ukrainian anti-corruption investigators to the White House for a “training and coordination” session. Some of those Ukrainian attendees have described how there was another agenda playing out at this meeting, though. These participants noticed, Solomon writes, that “it didn’t take long — during the meetings and afterward — to realize the Americans’ objectives included two politically hot investigations: one that touched Vice President Joe Biden’s family and one that involved a lobbying firm linked closely to then-candidate Trump.”
Speculation over the Trump-Zelensky phone call continues to mount and more facts will, no doubt, continue to emerge. There are still so many outstanding questions: Even if, as is alleged, Trump asked the Ukrainian leader to investigate potential corruption, peripherally involving Hunter Biden and – by extension – his father, what law has been broken? Since when is a US president not allowed to press a foreign leader and recipient of US financial aid to investigate corruption within the latter’s own country?
Why, when so few details are known, has the entire left-wing media establishment, along with congressional Democrats, Joe Biden himself, and Hillary Clinton breathlessly leaped to conclusions and accusations? Why is Biden on the defensive over his dealings with Ukraine? If he has nothing to hide, why would he not welcome a thorough investigation into both the Trump and Obama administration connections to that country? The Trump connections, of course, have already been meticulously examined by former special counsel Robert Mueller. Now it is time for the Obama-Biden connections to be likewise examined.
And last, why did the whistleblower lodge a complaint over something he or she heard about what a United States president may have said to a foreign leader? Whistleblowers are protected from retaliation when they expose something untoward within their own agency or department. If any government employee claiming to be a whistleblower can – with impunity – make an allegation against a sitting president, then no future president is safe from any number of accusations. This ODNI whistleblower, then, should be forced to publicly testify before Congress. Only then can we get to the bottom of this whole affair.
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