Bring On the Biggest Nothingburger of Them All

There has not in modern American history been such a preposterous excuse for a threat to the presidency as the Ukraine affair.  The “favor” the president sought from President Zelinsky of Ukraine was that he reopen his inquiry into corruption so there would be more support in Washington for aid to Ukraine’s self-defense against Russian territorial intrusion.

About 500 words later in the transcript, President Trump asked that the question of the Bidens’ involvement in Ukraine be scrutinized too, without indicating a desired response, (though he said, correctly, that it looked “horrible”). If, as they claim, the Bidens are innocent of any wrongdoing or impropriety, the Ukrainians presumably will say so and the Bidens should then thank President Trump for eliciting that answer. If the Bidens, or at least Hunter Biden, were taking bribes, the United States, and the Democratic Party first of all, should wish to know that also.

In either case, President Trump was right to raise it with his Ukrainian analogue. To say otherwise is to assert that the Democrats, and the whole country, don’t want to know if the Bidens committed improprieties in Ukraine, and to add that Trump’s question was only inappropriate because Joe Biden may be running against him for president. If Biden had dropped out of the race before the whistle-blower intervened, or had only entered the race after the call with the Ukrainian president, there would have been no problem. The Democrats raced desperately for the recording studios of the Trumpophobic television echo chamber before they could even be precisely sure of why they were falsely screaming there are grounds for “Impeachment!”

The same Democratic candidates had shrieked for the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh ten days before in the brief window between the New York Times publishing its story alleging Kavanaugh committed sexual assault 30 years before and the revelation that the alleged victim herself did not believe such an incident happened. The Times then admitted that the story was unfounded. It is scurrilous group-hypocrisy. Most of the Democratic presidential candidates, including Senators Elizabeth Warren (D.-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (D.-Vt.), accused Trump of conducting a “shakedown” on Zelensky to interfere in the 2020 U.S. election, while simultaneously going into transports of thinly veiled glee at the likely elimination of Biden’s presidential candidacy.

This will open the way for the Democrats to make the final Gadarene charge to “progressive” electoral destruction without the irritating presence of a serious contender espousing relative moderation. Trump, they shouted, should be removed from office for the constitutional “high crime” of asking a completely legitimate question of a foreign leader, who assured the media in New York last week that there was no “push” (pressure) from Trump. This is the Democratic win-double: saddle Trump with six months of relentless propaganda as a crook in the moronically partisan national media, and get rid of Biden, the party’s last faltering connection to reason.

The administration wisely took the lead in releasing the transcript and the whistle-blower report, full cooperation while opening fire on the irregularities that soon surfaced. This Ukraine allegation has all the earmarks of a Democratic hit-job, and the whistleblower’s chances of retaining anonymity for the hearsay-based complaint that was lodged, are, and deserve to be, zero. The idea that a U.S. president can be shaken in his legitimacy by anonymous unsubstantiated charges that, even if true, don’t add up to a real impropriety, is the destruction of constitutional democracy.

Acting National Intelligence director Joseph Maguire took 30 minutes to spike a Washington Post report that he had threatened to resign. Whistleblower claims that the administration had tried to hide the transcript and suggestions that the transcript was inaccurate were blown apart. And Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claims of “a cover-up of a cover-up” were vaporized as soon as she uttered them, like exhaled breath in the frosty air. High security storage of presidential conversations was reasonable after the president’s conversations early in the administration with the prime minister of Australia and the president of Mexico had been extensively leaked by partisan Democratic holdovers in the White House. If these conversations are not assured of security, no foreign leaders will speak with the U.S. president.

Everyone got into the act: Departed Arizona NeverTrump Republican Jeff Flake, who couldn’t face the primaries and was shouted down in a capitol elevator by a gaggle of anti-Kavanaugh demonstrators, said that 30 Republican senators would vote to remove Trump if they could remain anonymous, thus calling his former colleagues both cowards and closet renegades. Given the discredited source, it wasn’t reinforcement for the anti-Trumpers of either party.

Hillary Clinton took her share of public attention by denouncing this president’s moral turpitude, a bit rich coming from the person who commissioned the Steele Dossier, accused Trump of treason with Russia, lied to federal officials, and had 33,000 emails under congressional subpoena bleached off her hard-drive and her cell-phones smashed. Poor old Joe Biden was reduced to publicly lecturing the media not to allow Rudolph Giuliani, one of the president’s lawyers, to appear on television.

We have had the lunatic Democrat members of Congress Maxine Waters (D.-Calif.) and Al Green (D.-Texas) calling for impeachment of Trump since 2016, saying they would get the precise reasons later. As with these Kavanaugh accusations, we have gone beyond “high crimes” to a concept of parliamentary non-confidence to the Robespierre phase of the French Revolution: on anonymous denunciations, people were simply condemned and executed.

This is but another attempted coup d’etat by the Democrats, even before the hour of reckoning sounds for the authors of the Russian collusion outrage. There is no due process; impeachment is an end in itself meant to immobilize the government and gain a pre-electoral advantage. The system is corrupted and the media are deeply complicit in it. But where Richard Nixon—a traditional patriot who had a brilliant term and never has been proved to be guilty (though some of his entourage were guilty of some crimes)—spared the country a Senate trial; and Reagan was forgetful and his national security adviser (John Poindexter) took the bullet on what was a questionable transgression anyway; and Clinton fought and won in the Senate, Trump is putting on the war-paint.

This isn’t an amorphous mass of shady allegations cooked up and promoted by the CIA and FBI as the Russian collusion fraud was. It is essentially one conversation. And instead of a self-emasculated attorney general as we had in Jeff Sessions, there is an uncompromised Justice Department.

The atmosphere was made more urgent by media personalities looking with furrowed brows and saying “This is a stinker,” or “this is a very serious problem,” and self-righteous NeverTrump Senators Ben Sasse (R.-Neb.) and Mitt Romney (R.-Utah) saying they were “troubled.” It is reminiscent of Democratic media commentators trying to make a smoking gun on the eve of the 2000 election out of George W. Bush’s failing a breathalyzer in 1976. (By 2000, he had not had a drop of alcohol for many years.)

Much of the problem is the shocking and disgraceful unprofessionalism and dishonesty of most national political media, but some of it also is the fact that the media love an impeachment crisis. It is constant news and high drama, confected or otherwise.

After three days, the divided Democratic leadership was edging away from pre-announcing an effort to impeach and remove and waffling about “an official impeachment inquiry.” The egregious Democratic House judiciary and intelligence committee chairmen, Jerry Nadler (D.-N.Y.) and Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.), are pawing the ground but they have nothing to work with and nowhere to go. They have tried to follow Saul Alinsky’s playbook by accusing their opponents of what they themselves are doing, but Alinsky’s most assiduous current executant, fellow-Chicagoan David Axelrod, immediately warned his fellow Democrats of the dangers they were  courting.

The Democrats have no believable scandal; they can only impeach him once. This will be the biggest and bitterest nothingburger of all. Bring it on.

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About Conrad Black

Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years, and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world as owner of the British telegraph newspapers, the Fairfax newspapers in Australia, the Jerusalem Post, Chicago Sun-Times and scores of smaller newspapers in the U.S., and most of the daily newspapers in Canada. He is the author of authoritative biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, one-volume histories of the United States and Canada, and most recently of Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other. He is a member of the British House of Lords as Lord Black of Crossharbour.

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