The House Intelligence Committee has heard testimony from several people — national security officials and diplomats — supportive or not of the interpretation that President Donald Trump conditioned military aid to Ukraine on the opening of an investigation against Hunter Biden’s company, Burisma Holdings, Ltd. (Hunter Biden is, of course, the son of former Vice President Joseph Biden.)
As the Republican members of the committee ably pointed out, none of these witnesses had direct proof the president had “bribed” or “extorted” Ukrainian officials to get an investigation of Burisma. The most celebrated witnesses, from the Democrat point of view, were (1) Fiona Hill, an NSC official and daughter of a British coal miner who attended university in the Soviet Union; (2) Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Soviet-born U.S. military official; (3) EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who changed his interpretation of the president’s actions after leftists organized threats to his hotel business; and (4) David Holmes, a State Department bureaucrat who “righteously” reported overhearing an embarrassing phone call between President Trump and Ambassador Sondland; — a kind of testimony as discreditable in its telling as all tattletale.
Congressman Will Hurd (R-Texas) impressed some non-partisan observers by saying that all the witness testimony — if taken at face value — failed to prove bribery or extortion. The president’s actions were irregular, unfortunate and messy, of course; but everyone is familiar by now with Trump’s style of governance.
If one spends time listening to Rudy Giuliani, however, a darker idea of the witness testimony comes into focus. Ukraine is a place where nearly all officials are corrupt, and the corruption is not strictly limited to Ukrainian officials. Furthermore, American diplomats in Ukraine are responsible for overseeing the way U.S. aid is used — to prevent embezzlement. This assigned task in itself requires an almost superhuman integrity and uprightness. We should not be too surprised if reports from the Ukrainian side suggest that the embezzlers of U.S. aid shared their booty in the form of kickbacks to America’s financial-aid overseers at the U.S. Embassy. In fact, Giuliani claims that he has Ukrainian witnesses who can provide damning counter-testimony to the Democrats’ narrative; — but the United States Embassy in Ukraine has blocked their visa applications so they cannot travel to the U.S. and testify.
All of this, of course, is related to the pre-existing Trump-Russia collusion allegations. As President Trump’s lawyer, Giuliani went to Ukraine looking for exculpatory evidence. He was not running a “separate channel of U.S. policy.” Lawyers are allowed to investigate matters on behalf of their clients, even if their client is the president. Is it messy? Yes. The personal interests of heads of state are, by the nature of the thing, often intertwined with the national interest. These interests cannot always be disentangled. To say that a president acts in his own personal interest when he seeks to investigate a rival is not proof of wrongdoing. It is proof that ours is a system of checks and balances in which countervailing interests keep each other in check. In other words, this is a process our Founding Fathers favored and built into the Constitutional system.
The dangerous precedent of the Democrat impeachment maneuver is found in their claim that any check on them — any investigation into their corruption — is itself a crime. If the public accepted their premise, we would not be a free country for long. In that case, honesty itself would be criminalized. The only possible whistleblower, then, would be the whistleblower whose testimony kills an investigation. Such is the case for impeachment.
This brings us to an obvious point: If Joe Biden is innocent of wrongdoing in halting the investigation into Burisma, what do the Democrats have to fear? Shouldn’t they welcome the chance to exonerate their man? But no, they characterize any effort to renew the investigation as criminal. Concern that Joe Biden misused his power is no concern at all. It is “a conspiracy theory.”
The President of the United States doesn’t have to be nice to the President of Ukraine. The President of Ukraine doesn’t have to do “the right thing.” The negotiation that may or may not lie between one thing and the other is not a criminal transaction. It cannot be criminal. But take a look at the following video:
If this doesn’t raise serious questions, then nothing does. It cannot be a crime for the president to seek answers in this matter — even if Joe Biden is running against him.
If it is criminal to seek an investigation of Burisma, then what are we to make of President Obama’s investigations into candidate Donald Trump?
We must uphold our system of checks and balances.