The trail of evidence grows by the day of President Donald Trump's unfitness for office. He would advance the interests of America's enemy, Russia, to advance his political agenda while running roughshod over U.S. law and betraying a beleaguered ally, Ukraine. He would abuse his presidential powers in front of shocked and horrified senior White House officials, preside over a cover-up, then unleash attacks on the whistleblower who exposed his wrongdoing.
Dumbfounded Republican leaders on Capitol Hill have tried to conjure a defense of Trump while doing their best to redirect the nation's attention. But the notable silence of key leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, about the whistleblower's allegations speaks volumes about the seriousness of Trump's legal jeopardy.
Trump, speaking in New York Thursday, raised the specter of retaliation against the whistleblower as a spy or traitor. In his mad scramble to defend himself when no one else can, Trump risks giving Democrats even stronger evidence of his abuses and criminality.
According to excerpts released Thursday of the whistleblower's complaint, White House officials who witnessed the president's phone conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky were fully aware of Trump's abuse of power when he sought the Ukrainian's help digging up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. The whistleblower's complaint says White House officials recognized that Trump had crossed a legal line and attempted to elevate the call's secret classification to prevent any record of it from being released.
This constitutes evidence of crimes and an attempted cover-up. Anyone who was around during Watergate would recognize these as the ingredients to President Richard Nixon's downfall. In Trump's case, the strong implication of his July 25 phone call with Zelensky was that Trump would lift his suspension of $391 million in security aid to Ukraine if Zelensky would help Trump's 2020 presidential campaign.
"Concerning that conversation, I want to say to the president: This is not OK. That conversation is not OK. And I think it's disappointing to the American public when they read the transcript," said Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, who is normally a Trump supporter.
Trump has made no secret of his support for Russian President Vladimir Putin — even after Putin meddled in the 2016 U.S. elections, sponsored a separatist uprising in Ukraine, deployed Russian troops to seize Crimea in 2014, and supplied the missiles that shot down a Malaysian jumbo jet over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 aboard. Trump helped Russia further by suspending military aid to Ukraine, then suggested it would be restored if Zelensky dug up dirt on the Bidens.
By all indications, Trump has threatened a whistleblower, befriended and defended America's enemy, undermined the security of an ally, and badly abused his powers to advance his 2020 election bid. We'd also like to say to the president: This is not OK.
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