This is surreal. Did someone simply forget about this? Or is it OK that the senators did this – with, bonus, an implied threat to congressional support for U.S.-Ukraine relations (read: quid pro quo)? And if so, then it’s obviously OK for Trump to do it? (Perhaps the House Democrats didn’t get the memo?)
Alternatively: is it a high crime and/or misdemeanor that the senators did this, and it therefore means that the senators should be censured and expelled by their fellows from the Senate?
The letter is here: https://www.foreign.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/5-4-18%20Menendez%20jo...
The opening paragraph contains the veiled threat – which is pretty much exactly as veiled as any threat Trump can be deemed to have made to President Zelensky in their July 2019 phone call.
If it’s a threat in one case, it’s a threat in the other. If not – not.
Note that the senators’ letter is about Ukrainian investigations inside Ukraine. It’s not simply requesting cooperation with Mueller. It’s about the senators’ concern that Yuriy Lutsenko, then the prosecutor-general, had reportedly suspended Ukrainian investigations (which might have had relevance to the Mueller operation).
That’s the same substance of Trump’s concern from his phone call with Zelensky. In 2018, the Democratic senators suggested that Ukraine had been pressured by Trump to drop investigations in Ukraine. In his phone call with Zelensky, Trump spoke of similar foot-dragging by the previous Ukrainian government, due to its connections with (implicitly) the Obama administration, including an ambassador appointed by Obama who had remained in place well into Trump’s presidency.
No double standard is tolerable here. If it’s nefarious for Trump to address such an issue with Ukraine, it’s nefarious for the senators to address it.
If it’s appropriate for the senators to address it, it’s at least as appropriate for Trump to address it. It’s probably more appropriate for Trump, given his constitutional powers over foreign relations and the concerns of the executive branch (e.g., the Department of Justice).
Who has the preponderance of evidence on his side? You, my dear friend, do not know. I may have an opinion, but I don’t pretend to know either. I do, however, take the only fair position, which is that the whole thing needs a scrub, and one that’s transparent to the public. No action against Trump is conscionable until the facts have been established to an objective standard of fairness.
I don’t have the slightest problem if all the evidence about what everyone has done is made public, up to and including the president. But that must include everything that is found out about what Democratic politicians, political operatives, bureaucrats, and the media have done.
Although I do trust the integrity of William Barr and John Durham, I’ve agreed with Alan Dershowitz for some time that the responsible thing would be to appoint a congressional commission, one in which Republicans and Democrats have equal power to enforce transparency and balance, to ultimately sort this thing out. Moreover, the mainstream media cannot be trusted as the privileged brokers of information from such a commission. The commission should be on the hook, by its charter from Congress, to issue regular updates; if necessary (and I would say it’s necessary) from parallel Republican and Democratic websites set up for the purpose. The “big tech” owners must be constrained by transparently-validated monitoring — and yes, I mean third-party snooping on their algorithms and other software arrangements, also publicized regularly — to give both websites the exact same treatment, so that there is no impediment to the public in accessing them equally.
Until Congress is prepared to charter such a commission, Durham’s investigation for the DOJ will have to do.
All that said, the “cosmic justice” effect does keep kicking in, and every attempt by the Left to attack Trump keeps exposing the Left’s own machinations and bad faith. It may be that if we just wait for the Democrats and the mainstream media to go their length, we will get the investigative effect of a congressional commission in the end, without having to appoint one. Perhaps our legacy leadership class shouldn’t be remembered for behaving responsibly. Perhaps such a protracted melodrama of ignominy and self-owning is all that class is due, as its departing gift to America.