Marco Levytsky, Editorial Writer.
On January 31, the United States Senate voted 51-49 to block any witnesses from being called in to testify in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, as well as to prevent any new documents from being presented. Only two Republicans joined the 45 Democrats and two Independents in calling for more witnesses and documents. The rest of the 53-member Senate Republican caucus dutifully followed Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s diktat to shut down the process before any new information could be brought forward.
That is extremely unfortunate because while acquittal in the Republican-controlled Senate is a foregone conclusion, since conviction requires 67 votes, there have been a number of recent revelations that called for much further investigation.
One of these are the bombshells contained in the upcoming book by Former national-security adviser John Bolton. According to The New York Times, which obtained a copy of the manuscript and reported on it on January 26, Trump had told Bolton that he wanted to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in security aid to Ukraine until it helped him with investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
Another is the acknowledgement by the Department of Justice that it has two dozen emails related to Trump’s involvement in the withholding of almost $400 million in Congressionally-approved military aid. This was revealed in a court filing that was conveniently released just hours after the Senate had voted against subpoenaing additional documents. This filing marks the first official admission from the Trump administration that emails about the President’s thinking related to the aid exist, and that he was directly involved in asking about and deciding on the aid as early as June. The administration is still blocking those emails from the public and has successfully kept them from Congress.
In light of much of the information that has been brought forward by a conscientious media doing their job of keeping politicians accountable in a democratic society, even Trump’s legal team is now backtracking from its original claim that there was no quid pro quo in Trump’s dealings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The new line is that even if Trump did attempt to trade military aid to Ukraine in exchange for political favors, it was not grounds for his impeachment and removal from office. Retired professor Alan Dershowitz, a member of the Trump defense team, asserted that every politician equates his or her own interests with the public good and, therefore, “it cannot be impeachable.” That prompted veteran journalist Carl Bernstein who, along with fellow Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, exposed the Watergate scandal which brought former President Richard Nixon down, to term this as a “catechism for the cult of Trump” in a January 30 CNN interview, adding: “That’s an astonishing assertion Dershowitz made about what the president can do.”
Frankly, let’s go beyond this sham “trial” in the Republican-controlled Senate and look at the facts. Basically it is quite clear from all the reports that have come in so far that Trump set out right from the beginning to pressure Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian government to dig up some dirt on Biden, who is currently the front-runner in the race to oppose him in this year’s election, by withholding aid so desperately needed to defend Ukraine against the rapacious aggression of Moscow. Aid that was approved by the U.S. Congress with an overwhelming majority which, in itself, makes this a violation of the U.S. Constitution. But even if that wasn’t a violation of the U.S. Constitution, it would still be morally reprehensible. Think of an analogy where a person is drowning and begs another to throw down a life-saving float. The other replies: “OK, but first you have to do me a favor.”
Perhaps the Trump administration’s attitude to Ukraine is best exemplified by one of the lines that came out during the tantrum Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threw when, during a January 24 interview, National Public Radio (NPR) reporter Mary Louise Kelly asked him questions about defending U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was fired by Trump last year. “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?” he bellowed.
Of course, this was not raised either by him, nor by Zelenskyy during Pompeo’s visit to Ukraine, January 31. Instead it was all smiles and handshakes as Pompeo waxed poetic about the USA’s “unwavering support” for Ukraine. But then what can Zelenskyy do anyway. He knows very well that Ukraine depends heavily on US aid, and in order to get it he has to massage Trumps gargantuan ego.
But what Trump and his associates have clearly shown is nothing but a flagrant disdain for Ukraine. Whether this comes about as a result of Trump’s bromance with Russian dictators Vladimir Putin, who may hold some compromising material on Trump, or whether he simply feels Ukraine is nothing but a doormat to wipe your feet on, or whether it’s a combination of both, one thing is clear. Trump is no friend of Ukraine. And it’s about time Ukrainians around the world realized that fact.