Flipping off Congress--and every one of us in the process--Donald Trump is committing misprision right in plain sight.
He affirmed as much on Monday when he admitted discussing Joe Biden with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky as allegations of conspiring with a foreign government and withholding millions in federal aid in an attempt to fabricate incriminating evidence against former Vice President mount.
Trump said to reporters:
“The conversation I had [with Zelensky] was largely congratulatory, with largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place and largely the fact that we don’t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine.”
It appears Trump’s audacity has finally reached its limit.
On Tuesday, Democrats opened a formal impeachment inquiry.
In a letter to House Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated earlier this week:
“If the administration persists in blocking this whistle-blower from disclosing to Congress a serious possible breach of constitutional duties by the president, they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation.”
Then on Tuesday afternoon, Pelosi declared:
“The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the constitution. The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”
Former CIA and Department of Defense (DOD) Chief Of Staff Jeremy Bash delineated three felonies Trump committed when attempting to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden.
“One is extortion by the president, using a threat of withholding aid to obtain something of value. The second crime is conspiracy to engage in extortion between the president and Rudy Giuliani. And third crime is conspiracy to violate election law, given there may be three underlying crimes, I think we’re beyond the issue of the whistleblower. The whistleblower issue was about surfacing this, bringing it to the attention of congress so congress could investigate.”
Last week, a story broke about a whistleblower who filed a complaint on August 12 with Inspector General (IG) Michael Atkinson after Trump supposedly promised a foreign leader--believed to be Zelensky--something the whistleblower determined "urgent concern."
Under federal law, the inspector general must investigate within two weeks any urgent concern an intelligence community employee reports in order to determine if the report “appears credible.” If so, the IG must then report it to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), currently, Acting Director Joseph Maguire.
According to a letter the Inspector General House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff released, after investigating the claim, the IG deemed the claim credible and forwarded it to Maguire, who, by law, is supposed to “forward such transmittal to the congressional intelligence committees within seven calendar days of such receipt."
But that’s where the plot thickens.
Maguire refused to share the complaint with Congress.
After consulting with the Justice Dept. (DOJ), the complaint was downgraded.
In a letter to Schiff, General Counsel Jason Klitenic wrote:
"The complaint forwarded to the [inspector general] does not meet the definition of 'urgent concern. This complaint...concerned conduct by someone outside the Intelligence Community and did not relate to any 'intelligence activity' under the DNI's supervision."
Schiff responded to reporters:
"That whole purpose is being frustrated here because the director of national intelligence has made the unprecedented decision not to share the complaint with Congress. We were informed of this fact after the seven-day period, in which the director has to review it and submit it to Congress, had expired. No complaint was provided and the inspector general felt it necessary to inform the Congress that that complaint was being withheld. In the absence of the actions—and I want to thank the inspector general—in the absence of his actions in coming to our Committee, we might have never known there was a whistleblower complaint alleging an urgent concern."
Ukrainian Interior Ministry official Anton Gerashchenko told the Daily Beast:
“Clearly, Trump is now looking for kompromat to discredit his opponent Biden, to take revenge for his friend Paul Manafort, who is serving seven years in prison.”
Donald Trump is now the first president to have a whistleblower complaint lodged against him.
Once again--just as in 2016--Trump appears to be conspiring with a foreign government to discredit a political opponent.
And as in 2016, foreign social media trolls are at it again.
Some of those tolls are Ukranian.
The page regularly features pro-Trump memes linked to the Internet Research Agency, the Russian entity behind bogus Facebook pages that benefited Trump during the 2016 election cycle.
We’ve been waiting for Democrats to stand up to this sorry excuse for a president’s offensive behavior since he took office in January 2017, and definitely since the Mueller report laid out a roadmap for impeachment.
It’s about time Pelosi and the other reluctant House Democrats stopped bringing a rolled-up newspaper to a gunfight.
As Nancy Pelosi told the Democratic caucus on Tuesday:
“This is a national security issue. And we cannot let him think that this is a casual thing.”
She vowed to move “expeditiously.”
Donald Trump will be the third president in history to be impeached.
He may also be the first to be removed from office since the Senate unanimously passed Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) resolution demanding the Trump administration hand over the whistleblower’s complaint to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees.
Here we go.
Image credit: en.wikipedia.org