Here. We. Go.
Nicholas Fandos, writing in The New York Times, reports on the actions taken by the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Tuesday that the House would begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump, opening a fresh chapter of confrontation in response to startling allegations that the president sought to enlist a foreign power for his own political gain.
“The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution,” she said after emerging from a meeting of House Democrats in the basement of the Capitol. Mr. Trump, she said, “must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”
The announcement was a stunning development that unfolded after months of caution by House Democrats, who have been divided over using the ultimate remedy to address what they have called flagrant misconduct by the president.
This could have been done so many times prior. Every day Trump has done something that rises or nearly rises to the level of formalizing an inquiry. Let’s see… you can start with him pressuring James Comey to drop the Michael Flynn investigation, all the meddling during the Mueller investigation, the actual Mueller report outlining collusion and obstruction of justice, the corruption of directing the military and other government officials to use his hotels and businesses, the problem of foreign governments trying to curry favor with him by staying at his properties, his violation of campaign finance laws (he would have been indicted were he not the president on that one), and on and on it goes.
The shift has happened because of the allegations the president asked several times for the new Ukraine government to look into unsubstantiated accusations of corruption by his political rival, Joe Biden, and withheld promised military aid until they acquiesced. That would be extortion and would rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors” impeachment requires. It’s also incredibly easy to understand for the average person and is not something that feels like a re-litigation of the 2016 election. It’s happening now. The President apparently is using his office as lev
erage to get dirt on his opponent.
Just to get everyone up to speed, here’s Seth Meyers explaining everything in a way the average person can understand.
Pete Gelling, in Quartz, outlines exactly what we know so far:
Here’s what is for certain: Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine at some point over the summer, blindsiding Ukrainian officials. A short while later, on July 25, he phoned up Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. The president pressured his counterpart to investigate Biden’s calls for Ukraine to dismiss one of the country’s notoriously corrupt prosecutors. Trump says he believes Biden—widely viewed as his most likely 2020 election opponent—was improperly trying to protect his son Hunter, who had business interests in Ukraine This theory, it’s worth noting, has been soundly disproved. So it looks a lot like the president was searching for dirt on his potential rival.
Withholding military aid from a foreign ally to leverage a domestic presidential campaign is unscrupulous at best, and damaging to US democracy at worst. But illegal? Hard to say.
This all came to light when someone in the intelligence community—now known only as “the whistleblower”—flagged Trump’s phone call, wrote up an official complaint, and sent it to his boss. The boss deemed it an “urgent concern” and passed it along to his own boss: Trump’s director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire. Maguire should have notified Congress within a week. He didn’t, which appears to be pretty shady. Now it doesn’t matter because the whistleblower wants to speak with lawmakers directly. That will likely happen later this week.
Plus, we can’t forget Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, has, at the president’s behest, been pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate this Biden garbage since at least May. Seriously, why hasn’t he been arrested yet? Mimi Rocah, writing for NBC News, outlines the full reasons why.
A full impeachment inquiry will likely lead to unexpected places and become unpredictable. I can only imagine the treasure trove of misconduct and corruption Democrats are going to find. I still think it’s politically risky, but inevitable. It had to be done. The biggest issue is there won’t likely be a piece of evidence that shows anything directly.
Alex Shepherd, in The New Republic, explains this perfectly.
More importantly, there likely will be no smoking gun. Trump announced on Thursday he would be releasing a transcript of his conversation with the Ukrainian president, something that he would be unlikely to do if the document contained an explicit quid pro quo. Instead, it’s more likely that there will be abundant evidence of wrongdoing—something similar to the dinner in which Trump repeatedly pressed former FBI Director James Comey for his “loyalty”—without anything that is indisputably illegal. The president and his allies will then make the most of the gray area, as they have done with a number of documents, including the Nunes and Comey memos and the Mueller report itself. (It’s also possible that the transcript of Trump’s call with Zelensky has been meddled with in an attempt to exonerate the president. Transcripts have been altered before. Again: Trump will do anything, everything.)
I’ll be waiting for the full transcript of the call, the full whistleblower complaint, the audio of the call from the Ukraine side, and I don’t know what else. It’s a shitshow and will continue to be one until such time as Trump is removed from office either with impeachment or election.