My view of the “whistle blower scandal,” as the press has dubbed it, is a little more benign than Paul’s. The story begins with the fact that the Biden family took advantage of Joe’s status as vice president to get rich through foreign connections, principally China and Ukraine. This is a common phenomenon–a Democratic politician labors away for years at a modest salary, then retires a rich man. How does that happen, exactly? The public suspects corruption, and the public isn’t wrong.
Here, Joe Biden revealed the real scandal. A Ukrainian prosecutor was investigating a company in which Hunter Biden was involved, and Joe bragged that he had gotten Ukraine’s government to fire the prosecutor by threatening to cut off $1 billion in loan guarantees. That, folks, is a real scandal, and a real abuse of executive power.
It is entirely appropriate for President Trump to want to know whether Joe Biden really did abuse his office as vice president to that extent, or whether Biden was just being his usual blowhard self. Not only is the scandal highly relevant per se, but it would represent a serious disruption of relations between the U.S. and Ukraine that ought to be of interest to the president. So I don’t think Trump can be faulted for urging Ukraine’s government to reopen the investigation that Joe Biden says he squashed. I think it was the right thing to do.
I don’t agree with Paul that it was improper for Trump to ask Ukraine’s Zelensky to deal with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on the investigation rather than going through the usual diplomatic channels. By this time, Trump is well aware that the usual diplomatic channels are bitterly hostile to him. I don’t blame him for wanting to avoid them under these sensitive circumstances. His caution was borne out, apparently, when a Democratic Party loyalist embedded in the bureaucracy leaked news of Trump’s conversation with Zelensky anonymously, under the absurd guise of being a “whistle blower,” a pose that the press has, of course, enthusiastically adopted.
So, assuming that the facts are as reported, I find no fault with the president. This looks to me like one more instance where the Democratic Party bureaucracy and the Democratic Party press are collaborating to gin up a fake “scandal” to distract attention from the many successes of the Trump administration.
The final absurdity in this story is the press reporting with a straight face Joe Biden’s complaint that Trump’s reported conversation with Zelensky represents an “abuse of power.” Trump’s own comments are apt:
….story about me and a perfectly fine and routine conversation I had with the new President of the Ukraine. Nothing was said that was in any way wrong, but Biden’s demand, on the other hand, was a complete and total disaster. The Fake News knows this but doesn’t want to report!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 21, 2019
PAUL COMMENTS: I suspect that John and I may, for once, disagree more than just a little when it comes to the Ukraine story. However, it’s probably best to wait for additional facts before concluding that we do.
It seems to me, though, that on any set of facts the choice between injecting Rudy Giuliani into this matter and having it handled through normal diplomatic channels is a false one. Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, is anything but bitterly hostile to President Trump. He and those in his innermost circle could have handled the matter without bringing in any Democratic loyalists.
There was no legitimate need to have the matter handled by Trump’s wartime consigliere and the decision to bring Giuliani in suggests to me that Trump was trying to advance his personal interests, not those of the country. Nor did bringing Giuliani in prevent the “whistle” from being “blown.”