A meaningless tape recording of Trump

The latest impeachment related story — a non-story in my view — is about a tape recording in which President Trump (according to reports) instructed associates to fire Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. The recording apparently was made at a dinner party in April 2018 by Igor Fruman, one of Rudy Giuliani’s main Ukraine operatives (along with Lev Parnas).

Yovanovitch wasn’t fired until May 2019. Thus, there is less to this story than meets the eye.

Nor did much meet the eye to begin with. According to reports, Trump demanded that Yovanovitch be fired after he heard she was bad mouthing the president in Ukraine. “Get rid of her” and “take her out” apparently was how he put it.

A president can fire an ambassador for any reason or no reason. If the ambassador is bad mouthing the president, that’s an excellent reason.

To be sure, a wise president will want to confirm reports of the bad mouthing before he acts. In this case, Trump didn’t act at the time he first heard such a report. Yovanovitch was removed more than a year later.

Since the tape recording, as reported, does not remotely show improper conduct by Trump, some critics are spinning it in a different direction. Trump has said of Parnas “I don’t know him.” Yet, reportedly they were at the same dinner, and interacted there.

I’ve interacted with public figures at fairly small dinners. If they don’t remember me, and I’m sure most of them don’t, I’m not offended. If they say they don’t “know” me, I’m not going to say they are lying.

I don’t know if Trump is lying about whether he knows Parnas. Maybe it comes down to what the meaning of “know him” is in this context.

If Trump is lying, it won’t be the first or last time. If a president could be impeached for lying, Trump should have been impeached long ago. Obama, under that standard, should have been impeached too — along with many other U.S. presidents.

The drive to impeach President Trump is about to fail. It doesn’t seem to have turned public opinion against the president. Hence the continuing need for stories like the one arising from the April 2018 recording.

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