“I have seen enough to know I have seen too much,” said the ballpark announcer in the championship game of the movie “A League of Their Own.” What is happening in the Trump administration right now is not a game, though. Or even a movie about a game. Still it is difficult to look away from what America has seen too much of in the White House.
I have written numerous columns which take issue with the president and his team over the last three years, but this is different. All of the things involving Ukraine, the whistleblower complaint, President Trump and members of his team are breathtaking. The complaint is publicly available, and unlike the Mueller report, it is only nine pages long this time. Read it. Read it twice.
The third sentence of the complaint states: “In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”
No, this document is not a verdict. It is only a complaint. However, it is a complaint that has been reviewed by the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, Michael Atkinson, a Trump appointee. Atkinson has determined the complaint detailed a “serious or flagrant problem, abuse or violation of the law,” and went on to state the matter met the definition of an “urgent concern” under the federal whistleblower statute. As complaints go, it is definitely a Cadillac.
The president has already corroborated the details of the telephone call he had with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25. This now infamous call details an exchange between the two heads of state in which Trump asked Zelensky to “do me a favor.” That favor was to investigate and gather dirt on Trump’s top political rival (of the moment), former Vice President Joe Biden.
While the phone call is evidence of an abuse of power in and of itself, the complaint is so much bigger than that. The engagement with Ukraine by Rudy Guiliani dates back to at least January of this year. The favor request on July 25 was merely the latest of a series of Team Trump moves designed to engage the Ukraine government in his reelection campaign.
Many of the things detailed in the complaint are criminal acts. But more importantly, the entirety of the complaint details an abuse of power, the likes of which has never been displayed by an American president.
Stonewalling congress won’t work this time. Cover up attempts are already exposed.
He will try to destroy the credibility of the whistleblower, who remains anonymous, and those who were his sources. On Thursday, he called those sources “spies” and issued a thinly veiled threat that “in the old days,” spies were handled differently than today.
Although I have always thought that Trump was corrupt, this corroboration of that popular sentiment is no cause for celebration. You won’t catch me celebrating it. It is a sad and shameful day in America.
Donald Trump has shown us who he is in a blatant way this time. All of his supporters clinging to childish fantasies that this latest episode is another made up hoax need to take a deep breath. And yes, this is at least the second elaborate, governmental confirmation of Trump’s badness. He is fundamentally not redeemable as president.
The impeachment process is a long and difficult one. There are any number of ways the process that was formally announced by Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday may end. Convicting a president of “treason, bribery or high crimes and misdemeanors,” resulting in his removal from office is, in effect, the undoing of an election. That is the main reason why it should not be done except in the most extreme circumstances.
Specifically, circumstances like these. Even so, the odds are against the GOP controlled senate being able to make such a move as things stand right now. They still fear the political consequences of crossing their partisan leader, even those who know they should.
That reluctance is only a delay tactic for them. One way or another, that selfish fear will cost them. Much like Trump’s selfishness will do him in, the GOP members of congress will face a similar fate. Either in 2020, or soon thereafter.
The sun is setting on this already dark and regretful chapter of the American story. It’s time we face it. All of us.