For several days, the most reported story has been President Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. It was based on the report of a yet unnamed whistleblower to the Inspector General and a referral that went to the Acting Director of the Department of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire. He sought the legal counsel of the Department of Justice as to whether he should – or was required to – send it on to various chairs of the Congress.
The fact that it did not go to Congress as the law SEEMS to suggest got the #NeverTrump Resistance Movement in the media into a feeding frenzy. This was the top story – with extended coverage. Every Trump-hating bobble-head panelists was brought in to give the story an APPEARANCE of being fact-based.
Rather than objectively exploring the issues, the elitist press again functioned as prosecutors – even bringing on former prosecutors – to present a one-sided brief to we the people. They engaged in an orgy of hyperbole, speculation, hypothecation, implication, innuendo, insinuation and downright misinformation to make their case. Then even suggested – with nothing but negative implications — that it had to do with a telephone call between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was that old debunked Russian connection thing that drove the speculation.
As is usually the case, as time went by, more and more details emerged. It had nothing to do with a call with Putin but rather with the Ukrainian President. It was reported that Trump had asked Zelensky to look into the investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter – who had a sweetheart deal with a Ukrainian oil oligarch while Biden was in office.
As could be expected, the anti-Trump media personalities are all in claiming that Trump has violated several federal criminal laws – and has provided yet another listing in their proposed Articles of Impeachment.
As news folks say on the telly, let’s unpack all that.
- Is the head of DNI required to pass the whistleblower complaint to Congress automatically? That is what the law says. BUT … of all of us citizens, the President of the United States has a unique legal exemption called Executive Privilege. Trump’s private conversations are NOT subject to requests or even subpoenas. That makes this a unique case. It would require the Department of Justice (DOJ) to make a determination – which is exactly what McGuire sought before refusing to pass on the information. The Congress can certainly disagree with the DOJ, and their only option – other than throwing a political tantrum for the benefit of the friendly press – is to take up the matter with the courts – and ultimately, the Supreme Court. In other words, the law is neither as clear nor applicable as Trump’s adversaries claim.
- Should members of Congress get complete transcripts or tapes of the telephone calls in question? They claim it is their right – and the public has a right to know all the details. That is political nonsense. It is very possible that among the subjects discussed with the Ukrainian President are highly confidential matters – even discussions as to how to deal with Putin. Those would not only be subjected to Executive Privilege but would be highly classified. The Democrats calling for the transcript and tapes know that – and they know that the request MUST be refused. They just want to misrepresent the obligatory refusal as political fodder for their compliant friends in the media.
- Did Trump do anything wrong or criminal in encouraging Zelensky to look into the investigation of Hunter Biden? Some Democrats are saying that Trump was seeking “something of value” from a foreign state – once again trying to work in the so-call Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. Since it has never been applied to a President, it has no precedent. However, constitutional scholars tend to see that Clause as meaning something physical – like a million dollars in a Swiss bank account, a small sack of diamonds or two tickets to a Lady Gaga concert. So far, every effort to invoke the Emoluments Clause against Trump has fallen flat – and it is likely that this one will, too.
- Are the media claims that Trump committed crimes credible? In a word, no. First of all, every one of those talking heads has not seen ANY of the evidence. We – and they — do not know the whistleblower and, therefore, cannot assess his or her credibility. They have not seen a transcript of the phone conversation. They have not seen that complete referral from the Inspector General to the head of DNI. They have not seen the request to or the response from the DOJ. All the hyper condemnations you get from the biased media is nothing more than political spin –and that is especially true of those politicized former prosecutors.
- Is raising the Hunter Biden case on the telephone an impeachable offense? If you are one of the House Democrats, Trump feeding table food to a dog would be an impeachable offense. It really does not matter since it is more and more unlikely that the House Democrats will not muster the votes to impeach Trump. It is unlikely that they will even vote for a formal impeachment hearing – leaving the matter to Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and his PRETEND impeachment hearing.
- Will Democrats – with media support – be able to turn this into a measurable change in the political dynamics? Not much, in my opinion. We have seen this movie before – or more apropos, we have seen this cartoon strip before. Democrats are the Charlie Brown’s of politics. Each time they think the ball has been set up for a field goal, they find the facts snatching the ball away at the last minute. Remember all they invested into the Report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller? Then there was the Michael Avenatti led Stormy Daniels affair. We haven’t heard much lately about the highly vaunted “other investigations.” Remember the Michael Cohen hearings … the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey … Andrew McCabe … Corey Lewandowski?
- And what about Hunter Biden? The interesting thing about this controversy is that it may shed a new and brighter light on Hunter Biden’s relationship with the Ukrainian energy company Bursima Holdings. Even the Obama administration expressed its concerns about the appearance that Joe Biden’s son was reaping HUGE monetary benefits arguably because his father was Vice President of the United States. According to a summary of the situation in Wikipedia:
With the revelation that Hunter Biden was serving on the board of the Ukrainian company Burisma, many raised concerns about Hunter Biden’s interests conflicting with official US government positions. The White House dismissed nepotism charges against Biden’s son. But the director of the US-Ukraine Business Council, Morgan Williams, pointed to an ‘American tradition that frowns on close family members of government working for organizations with business links to active politic’. Williams stated Biden appeared to have violated this unwritten principle: ‘… when you’re trying to keep the political sector separate from the business sector, and reduce corruption, then it’s not just about holding down corruption, it’s also the appearance.’ Joe Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion of loan guarantees if President Petro Poroshenko did not fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, who may have been investigating corruption in Burisma Holdings.”
And this is not the only time Hunter Biden appeared to have gained enormous financial benefits for his father’s influence. Again, from Wikipedia:
Peter Schweitzer, author of Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends, wrote: ‘In December 2013 Hunter Biden, son of Joe Biden, travels with his father aboard Air Force Two to Beijing. … Shortly after they return to the U.S., Hunter Biden’s firm receives a $1 billion private equity deal from the Chinese government. The deal was later increased to $1.5 billion’.”`
Was that an abuse of power – Biden taking Hunter aboard the Vice President’s private plane to help his son meet the highest government and business officials in China under the most favorable circumstances. While Democrats are trying to make the phone call a Trump issue, it has uncorked the dormant controversies surrounding the life of Hunter Biden. Hunter seems to have been provided with professional and monetary benefits (in the millions and billions of dollars) arguably because his father was a powerful senator and then Vice President of the United States. Hunter is not the kind of guy who would have had all that opportunity coming his way had he not had such a powerful father.
Hunter has a long history of gaining positions without discernible qualifications. This is especially true when one considers that Hunter has had a very unstable life — with serious problems of alcohol and drug abuse, run-ins with law enforcement and domestic issues. His resume is not the kind that gets those high-level jobs and positions.
In one of the more astounding examples of hypocrisy, MSNBC’s resident Trump hater, John Heilemann played the pity card –noting that Biden’s son Beau had died of brain cancer. He suggested that it was mean spirited to go after the former Vice President’s remaining son. Of course, Heilemann has never shown any pity in going after Trump’s children.
We also should not forget that Democrats were not so restrained when going after the Ukrainian connections of one-time Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort.
The left’s effort to bring down Trump over this phone call may actually knock the lid off the Biden family issues — and have a far more negative impact on the former Vice President’s campaign than Trump’s. I dare say that virtually no one in the general public was aware of the controversies surrounding Biden and his son. They are now.
So, there ‘tis.