During an appearance with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky today, Donald Trump threw a gallon of jet fuel onto the already raging fire that is his latest scandal.
Just yesterday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced the official opening of impeachment proceedings into the president in response to the revelation that Trump asked Zelensky to pursue an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter as a “favor.” The request, made over the phone, came not long after Trump personally ordered the freezing of some $391 million in aid to Ukraine, a country still engaged in armed conflict against Russian proxy separatists.
While the memorandum of the call released by the White House today didn’t reveal an explicit quid pro (something which could change if the full, unedited transcript is released), the request alone is an impeachable offense. The President of the United States overtly asked a foreign leader use their state powers to damage a possible 2020 opponent. Our Republic cannot survive if this kind of dictatorial behavior goes unanswered.
Rather than lay low over the Biden scandal though, Trump doubled down on his Biden attacks while sitting beside Zelensky. When asked by a reporter if he would like the Ukrainian president to “do more” about Joe Biden, Trump responded that he wants Zelensky to “do whatever he can.”
“This was not his fault, he wasn’t there. He’s just been here recently. But whatever he can do in terms of corruption because the corruption’s massive,” Trump said, conveniently failing to mention that then-Vice President Biden was fighting Ukrainian corruption on behalf of the Obama administration when he pushed the country’s government in 2016 to fire a prosecutor suspected of criminality. As he so often does, Trump is dishonestly twisting the story of what actually happened in order to smear a rival.
“Now, when Biden’s son walks away with millions of dollars from Ukraine and he knows nothing and they’re paying him millions of dollars, that’s corruption,” Trump went on, indulging in his usual conspiracy theory peddling. “When Biden’s son walks out of China with 1.5 billion in a fund and the biggest funds in the world can’t get money out of China and he’s there for one quick meeting and he flies in on Air Force Two, uh… I think that’s a horrible thing. I think it’s a horrible thing but I’m going far beyond that.” Not surprisingly, Trump didn’t clarify what he was referring to or provide any evidence for his outlandish accusations. But he wasn’t done there.
“Uh, I know the president and I’ve read a lot about Ukraine. I’ve read a lot about a lot of countries,” claimed Trump, a man whose aversion to reading anything beyond a McDonald’s menu is infamous. “He wants to stop corruption. He was elected I think, number one, on the basis of stopping corruption which unfortunately has plagued Ukraine and if he could do that he’s doing really the whole world a big favor. And I think he’s going to be successful,” he added.
The “corruption” he is referring to here is presumably not the real intragovernmental corruption that Ukraine is struggling with, but the imagined Biden corruption that he hopes to spin in order to help himself win reelection. The fact that he is still willing to push Zelensky to go after the Biden family even after the widespread outrage over his coercive phone call shows that this man truly thinks he’s above the law. If he keeps making stunning mistakes like this, the Democrats are going to have more than enough material to make their impeachment case to the American people.
Here’s Trump urging the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden right out in the open, on camera. Totally shameless. pic.twitter.com/Alku4LayT4
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 25, 2019
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Rob Haffey is a writer, filmmaker, and winner of the ScreenCraft Writing Fellowship. He is a graduate of Drexel University.