The long-awaited impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump has finally begun with the swearing-in of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and the oaths taken by of all one hundred United States Senators. While we can expect a significant portion of the Republican Senators to immediately violate their oaths, the moment the entire world has been aching for is finally here — and the president took to Twitter to let us all know how he’s feeling about it:
I JUST GOT IMPEACHED FOR MAKING A PERFECT PHONE CALL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 16, 2020
The “perfect phone call” was made to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to ask him to “do us a favor.” That favor was for the Ukrainian government to work with the U.S. Attorney General in order to open sham investigations into the conspiracy theory that a Ukrainian company was involved in the 2016 election interference probe and into Hunter Biden over his position on the board at a major natural gas company.
In the course of the past few months, we have learned that the White House deliberately and illegally withheld millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine in order to cajole them into cooperation. It appears that the President dispatched his ally Rudy Giuliani and his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, to Ukraine in order to set up the sham investigations, the results of which would be used to bolster Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.
Following the October arrest of Parnas and the president’s subsequent disavowal of him, Parnas has released a trove of documents that appear to indicate they had arranged an earlier quid pro quo with Ukrainian ex-prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko, who would publicly criticize Joe Biden on the condition that a U.S. ambassador critical of his record, Maria Yovanovich, was removed from her position.
Yovanovich was recalled from Ukraine in May 2019 after a smear campaign orchestrated by Parnas, the right-wing media machine, and participation from the president’s son Don Jr. The recall effort was spearheaded by Texas Republican Pete Sessions, who just so happened to have received a seven-figure re-election ad buy from the Trump Super PAC which Parnas had illegally given money too.
Other documents appear to indicate that a Republican congressional candidate close to the Trumps, Robert Hyde, had been surveilling Yovanovich and may even have threatened her.
So it would be appropriate to call it a “perfect storm of criminality” rather than a “perfect call,” which the president’s obsessive and rapidly decaying brain has somehow fixated on as the keyword to his exoneration. The impeachment case has escalated drastically in the last couple of days, and the acquittal which seemed so certain just a week ago suddenly looks to be on much shakier ground.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.