Trump Punks the Press on Biden and Ukraine

Here’s a quick history quiz: Regarding which investigation did former FBI attorney Lisa Page write the following text message: “[X] might be our next president. The last thing you need is us going in there loaded for bear”?

Was it, (a) a text warning an FBI agent to be careful about investigating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to hide evidence she used her position to take special care of people who gave cash to her family foundation; or (b) a text warning an FBI agent to be careful about investigating Vice President Joe Biden for using his influence to end investigation into his son’s work in Ukraine?

If you guessed (b), you’re wrong but you can be forgiven for getting the two scenarios confused. We are in the midst of yet another upside-down scandal in which the mainstream media are attempting to chill a legitimate inquiry into potentially corrupt behavior. Even the ironically named liberal fact-bending website Politifact admits,

Hunter Biden [Joe Biden’s son] was serving as “a director to Ukraine’s largest private gas producer,” his father “threatened to withhold $1 BILLION in U.S. aid to Ukraine if they didn’t fire a prosecutor looking into” the gas company.

[P]ieces of this assertion are right—Hunter Biden was a director of the company, and Joe Biden did leverage U.S. aid to fire a prosecutor. But it overreaches by assuming that Joe Biden acted to protect the company his son was affiliated with.

Did Joe Biden really threaten to withhold aid from Ukraine unless it fired the prosecutor investigating his son? Consider Biden’s own words:

If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.

As John Solomon noted at The Hill: “Interviews with a half-dozen senior Ukrainian officials confirm Biden’s account, though they claim the pressure was applied over several months in late 2015 and early 2016, not just six hours of one dramatic day. Whatever the case, Poroshenko and Ukraine’s parliament obliged by ending Shokin’s tenure as prosecutor.”

Another Media Boomerang

Well, don’t believe your lying eyes and ears. The real story, according to CNN is “nuanced,” a euphemism for “correct but should be ignored for partisan reasons.” CNN claims that the investigation into Hunter Biden had already been “shelved” when the vice president pressured Ukraine to fire the prosecutor. It further claimed, “western governments, including the Obama administration, wanted the prosecutor removed due to concerns about corruption in his own office.”

So just to review, the Obama Administration tolerated its secretary of state running an influence-peddling operation out of the State Department. Using her official position, she devoted fully half of her meetings to donors to her private foundation seeking official action from the state department. This same administration suddenly made some vague and unspecified “corruption” in a Ukrainian prosecutor’s office a diplomatic priority above and beyond cleaning up Hillary Clinton’s pay-to-play scheme at Foggy Bottom.

So, you might ask, how is this a story about something Trump did wrong? The reason this is all a scandal about Donald Trump is that a “whistleblower” has now accused Trump of soliciting information about whether Biden might have intended to protect his son by demanding the investigating prosecutor be fired.

I have news for you, mainstream media: you’re being punked. Trump has tricked you into covering Biden’s corruption by intentionally allowing a breathless deep-state leaker overhear him. Consider these recent words of Joe Biden himself: “Not one single credible outlet has given any credibility to his assertions. Not one single one.”

Not anymore, Joe. Trump dangled an opportunity to “get Trump” to the media and now they can’t stop explaining the Biden-Ukraine scandal to their readers and viewers. Like so many other boomerangs aimed at Trump, this one will end up making fools of the media.

A Way to Real Reform?

But there’s another reason the Biden-Ukraine scandal helps Trump. The new “whistleblower” imbroglio may be the best way to inspire bipartisan support for reform to prevent 2016-style interference in our political process as perpetrated by the Justice Department and the intelligence community. Either it’s illegal to use government surveillance and counterintelligence investigations against the incumbent party’s political opponents (in which case the perpetrators in 2016 should be severely punished) or it’s legal and those same tools are now at the disposal of the president to use against his opponents.

Third, the coverage forces the media into covering the Biden-Ukraine scandal with a double standard when compared to a strikingly similar scenario involving Trump’s 2016 campaign manager. You simply can’t cover the Biden/Ukraine scandal without mentioning the story involving Manafort. Trump’s inquiry to Ukraine closely mirrors the investigation launched and leaked by the Obama Administration against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his shady Ukrainian dealings. That can’t be a coincidence.

Trump is baiting the Left into covering a perfect “shoe on the other foot” scandal involving shenanigans with the same country that brought down his former campaign manager. The Left’s outrage is therefore particularly amusing.

But one additional point, this whistleblower isn’t a whistleblower. He’s an unelected bureaucrat usurping the constitutional authority of the president’s core function on foreign relations.

This latest leak, which appears to involve the inappropriate disclosure of a call between the presidents of Ukraine and the United States, follows leaks of conversations involving the Mexican president, the Australian prime minister, and the Russian ambassador (multiple times). One leak of the president’s conversation with the Russian ambassador is especially galling because it was done to criticize the president for revealing classified information to the Russians (about a potential plot by ISIS to bomb commercial flights). To score political points, the bureaucrat outed the source as, “a Middle Eastern ally that closely guards its own secrets.”

For the benefit of the sanctimonious bureaucrats who claim a “higher loyalty” to their own sensibilities rather than to the Constitution they took an oath to uphold and defend, it’s worth reviewing how the Constitution designates the elected president as the conduit by which the voters exercise control over their government’s actions with respect to other countries.

“Breaking Norms”

The intelligence community and the diplomatic corps repeatedly have undermined the president’s authority to conduct candid and confidential conversations with foreign leaders. Consider this opinion piece, written by Atlantic writer and dedicated Trump critic David Frum, in which he writes, “Leaking the transcript of a presidential call to a foreign leader is unprecedented, shocking, and dangerous. It is vitally important that a president be able to speak confidentially—and perhaps even more important that foreign leaders understand that they can reply in confidence.”

“In response to the danger posed by Trump,” Frum continues, “other American power holders will be tempted to jettison their historic role too, and use any tool at hand—no matter how doubtfully legitimate—to stop him. Those alternative power holders may even ultimately win. But in winning, they may discover themselves in the same tragic position as that Vietnam-era army officer who supposedly said: ‘We had to destroy the village in order to save it.’”

Trump, we are told, is breaking “norms” by failing to leave foreign policy to the career diplomats and intelligence officials who have done such a fantastic job. You know, the same people who brought us multi-trillion-dollar endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, entangled the United States in an abominable bombing campaign in Yemen, ignored the massacre of thousands of Christians in countries like Niger, cultivated “alliances” with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan while meddling in the elections of Israel and Russia.

So the president has tricked the media into making three vital points. First, they are now forced to cover a story in which Joe Biden appears to have abused his authority as vice president to protect his son. Second, the intelligence community and the diplomatic corps are once again proving that they can’t be trusted to participate in telephone calls with the president. Finally, the media have a double standard regarding investigations into political candidates.

Yep, the president has punked the media. You know, like a “real stable genius” might do.

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About Adam Mill

Adam Mill is a pen name. He is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness and works in Kansas City, Missouri as an attorney specializing in labor and employment and public administration law. He graduated from the University of Kansas and has been admitted to practice in Kansas and Missouri. Mill has contributed to The Federalist, American Greatness, and The Daily Caller.

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