Day 979: Damning Ukraine phone call reveals blatant Trump corruption, conspiracy ensnaring AG Barr
Most of GOP publicly pretends smoking gun is neither smoking nor a gun.
When Donald Trump quickly folded and provided the transcript of a phone call between him and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday, most people thought it would be interesting, but likely a bit banal. The belief was the whistleblower complaint initiated by a member of the U.S. intelligence community is where the full details resided.
That thinking went out the window quickly, as the summary document of the call — not a verbatim transcript according to the White House — revealed damning words from Trump. Together, the call seemed to indicate a full conspiracy involving the Attorney General, William Barr, and Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
For instance, during one part of the chat Zelensky said, “We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps [of defense], specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.”
The very next words out of Trump’s mouth were:
I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.
When an ally talks about defending their nation and a president’s next words are, “I would like you to do us a favor though…” that’s pretty damaging on its own.
But Trump then invoked Barr, making the whole situation far more complicated. Trump seemed to reference a wild conspiracy theory pushed by Giuliani regarding Ukraine and stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee. Trump pushed for Zelensky to get to the bottom of it and work with Barr. He said, “It’s very important that you do it if that’s possible,” to double down on his already incredible rhetoric.
When Zelensky told Trump that he was committed to open and candid investigation to root out corruption, Trump invoked both Giuliani and Barr, saying:
Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that. The other thing, There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.
These comments by Trump are truly remarkable. He is clearly pushing Zelensky to investigate the Biden family and wants his personal lawyer and the top lawyer in the U.S. to help.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) heads the House intelligence committee and summarized the call succinctly.
Eventually, the whistleblower complaint made its way to Congress, and even some Republicans were concerned by its contents.
Others talked a big game in public, and bent over backwards to ignore basic facts. Most of them falsely said the lack of quid pro quo — which isn’t even necessarily true based on a reading of the summary alone — meant Trump’s actions couldn’t be illegal.
However, in private, many are singing a different tune. They seem to understand what the ramifications should be for Trump’s actions.
Meanwhile, Barr has already done multiple unethical things in dealing with this issue. First, he hasn’t recused himself in something that he is obviously entangled in. Second, he tried to suppress a whistleblower complaint that implicated himself. And third, the Justice Department, which Barr heads, decided not to open an investigation into campaign finance violations.
This is blatant corruption from the top down. The call alone is grounds for impeachment. There was a clear plan to get dirt on a political rival and it ensnared multiple people at the top of the executive branch, all to benefit Trump. None of Trump’s actions had the U.S. well-being in mind. He was actively undermining American democracy for personal gain.
All of that is separate and apart from the rest of the whistleblower complaint, emoluments concerns, potential tax issues and the obstruction of justice matters as laid out by Robert Mueller.
Trump released part of a transcript thinking it would help him, as the White House had talking points ready to go. But a simple reading of the summary reveals just how deep Trump’s corruption runs.
979 days in, 483 to go
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