Wikipedia defines abuse of power as the commission of an unlawful act, done in an official capacity, which affects the performance of official duties. … Abuse of power can also mean a person using the power they have for their own personal gain (emphasis added).
Today’s question: Has the president engaged in any instance of abuse of power?
The answer is maybe.
This past July President Trump repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden’s son. According to Wall Street Journal reporting, the President urged Volodymyr Zelensky about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, on investigating Joe Biden and his one remaining surviving son.
There are several actions and alleged actions that Trump has committed which strongly suggest he has abused the power of the office for his own benefit, to the extent that our own intelligence agencies consider the President to be a national security threat.
This week’s bombshell story boils down to this:
President Trump withheld $250 Million Dollars in military aid to the Ukraine in order to pressure Ukraine to investigate one of his political enemies, a/k/a Joe Biden. At least, that is what everyone suspects is being alleged in the now famous “whistle blower” complaint. In support of this, we have the following:
1. Over the summer the Trump administration withheld $250 million in military aid to the Ukraine. The White House gave no valid reason for the delay.
2. The whistleblower’s complaint apparently centers around a phone call Trump had with the leader of Ukraine, if you believe the Washington Post and its sources. We don’t know for certain because the Director of National Intelligence won’t release the complaint to Congress, as he is legally required to under law.
3. The Inspector General vetted the complaint, found it credible and forwarded it to the DNI. The allegations in the complaint were deemed urgent.
4. The Department of Justice has told the DNI not to release the complaint to Congress, despite the DNI being legally obligated to do exactly that.
5. Reporting is out that the White House is also preventing the DNI from doing it’s legal duty.
6. Rudy Giuiliani, Trump’s personal attorney, admitted to Chris Cuomo that he went to the Ukraine to ask them to investigate Joe Biden. Giuiliani is pushing a debunked conspiracy theory that Joe Biden pressured Ukrainian leadership to dismiss a prosecutor that was investigating his son. Biden did pressure Ukraine to fire the prosecutor. Corruption in Ukraine is rampant and the prosecutor that was fired was known by the world to be corrupt. Joe Biden has pointed out that the investigation into his son had already been closed and dismissed when Biden insisted that Ukraine fire the prosecutor.
If President Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political enemies, that is a clear and blatant abuse of power.
If you believe the President, this is more fake news and just another partisan attack.
You also have to believe that Trump was concerned about corruption in the Ukraine, ostensibly the reason Guiliani went there in the first place. Given Trumps refusal to call out corruption in Russia, North Korea and other authoritarian regimes, it seems unlikely he is concerned about corruption in Ukraine.
You would also have to believe that Trump’s past actions are coincidental and not part of a disturbing pattern. For instance:
His meeting with Putin where he confiscated the transcribed notes is not suspicious.
His disclosure of top classified information to the Russian ambassador in the oval office was nothing more than a slip up.
His public request to have Russia release Hillary’s emails was just a joke.
That the WikiLeaks release of the DNC emails the day the Hollywood access tape became public was just a coincidence.
That Trumps continued use of a unsecured apple phone, even after it was reported that China was getting information about the President’s phone usage, is not a national security risk.
That Trump’s repeated public demands that his then Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, investigate Hillary Clinton, President Obama, and other political enemies (James Comey, Andrew McCabe, etc.) are not a pattern of abusing the office to attack political enemies.
These instances of potential corruption are almost impossible to ignore. Yet, there are millions and millions and millions of U.S. citizens who are doing the impossible.
This latest bribery /extortion charge involving Trump and the Ukraine isn’t going away any time soon. If it turns out to be true, the Republicans and Democrats will be unified in their outrage, demand the president’s resignation and immediately start the impeachment process…
in a normal world.