Jim Geraghty asks us to picture what will happen if the American people decide it’s okay for an American president to urge foreign leaders to investigate his political opponents, as it appears Donald Trump encouraged Ukrainian leaders to do with Joe Biden and his son:
Someday, there will be another Democratic president. . . .This future Democratic president could urge Iraq or Afghanistan to investigate Dan Crenshaw’s units to see if they violated any rules of engagement.
This future Democratic president could urge Germany to investigate whether Nikki Haley and the South Carolina state government ever did anything unethical or cut any corners in their agreements to bring BMW production plants to the Palmetto State.
This future Democratic president could urge any of the countries that Mike Pence visited as governor on trade missions — China, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Israel, Canada — to claim that some sort of “shadowy backroom deal” was proposed.
And of course, a future Democratic president could tell just about any foreign government where there is a Trump property — two dozen countries around the world — to announce an investigation to see if there was anything unethical or shady about any Trump organization dealings, just to have more allegations to throw at Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka, etc. if they ever express political ambitions
Geraghty has a point.
One response is that future Democratic presidents might well do some or all of these things regardless of how Republicans view President Trump’s talks with the president of Ukraine. But this response isn’t satisfactory.
Geraghty’s point is that if, in defending Trump’s behavior, we persuade Americans that it was okay, there may be no recourse against a Democratic president who behaves similarly.
In any event, pressing a foreign government to investigate a president’s domestic political opponents is self-evidently wrong, as I see it.
Making American aid to another nation, especially an ally under military attack, contingent on that nation investigating a president’s domestic political opponents is worse. But so far, the evidence does not establish that Trump did this.