LET’S ADD AN ARTICLE
The Democrats are on the record that President Donald J. Trump’s articles of impeachment will be narrowly focused, concentrating on just a few of his many crimes and misdemeanors: abuse of power, obstruction of justice, and obstruction of Congress. That’s all?
Maybe they are right in their reasoning. The American public—conditioned in this digital age to receive information in fleeting visual bits—can’t handle too many charges; you’ve got to keep it simple so they can understand. (We are told the Mueller Report was too long for them to read, with too many big words; besides, they didn’t make a TV flick of it.)
I still demur. I think at least one more article of impeachment begs to be added: witness tampering, a crime punishable by up to 20 years. Our blustering bully of a president flaunts that crime before our eyes and ears almost daily. Most recently he lashed out at the anonymous whistleblower who exposed his unconstitutional extortion of the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for dirt on Joe Biden, his presumed political rival.
“He must be brought forward to testify,” thundered our would-be emperor, the “he” being the rightly fearful whistleblower. “Written answers are not enough.” Really? Where does Trump get off using the imperial “must?” He’s the target of the impeachment inquiry, not its chief prosecutor. He has no control over what Congress “must” do. It’s what is meant by a separation of powers, the system of checks and balances that is enshrined in our Constitution. Though I’ve heard he won’t or can’t read more than a page at a time, he might at least have one of his literate subordinates read it to him over, say, a month of Big Mac lunches.
One more thing about the whistleblower’s “written answers” being not enough. Wouldn’t the president admit that the same applies to him? We all remember, during the Mueller probe, that he stalled the investigation for almost a year before submitting his own written answers that were so vague as to be useless. Why didn’t he appear personally to answer Mr. Mueller’s questions, as he repeatedly claimed he wanted to do? We all know what is now common knowledge: because his attorneys knew anyone who had told more than 12,000 lies in office (Washington Post figures, through August 5, 2019) would incriminate himself before you could say “no collusion.”
President Trump saved his most lethal venom for those “spies” who had “ratted” on him by informing the whistleblower of what Trump had said on his extortionary phone call of July 25 to Ukrainian President Zelensky. In a private rant to U.S. UN staffers, Trump said, “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle a little differently than we do now.” (Gotcha boss. Like hang them!)
Trump’s chilling words just might explain why the whistleblower is so reluctant to reveal himself or herself, and why Republicans in the administration continue their clamor that he or she do so. (Ever notice how few whistleblowers blow their whistles in a police state?)
More chilling words from Trump were aimed at former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, a career diplomat of sterling reputation who got the gate when she refused to go along with his extortion scheme. She was ordered back from Kyiv to the U.S. in a day without explanation. Turns out Trump’s freelance hand grenade, Rudi Giuliani, put in some bad words about her with the boss. “The woman was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news. So I just wanted you to know that,” Trump explained (presumably to a grammar school audience). “She’s going to go through some things.”
Haven’t we heard that kind of talk in movies about the mob? Kinda makes you reconsider a career in the Foreign Service, doesn’t it?
Of course witness tampering, witness intimidation, isn’t a recent practice in the Trump Administration. We all remember Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer now in prison, who, among other things, paid off a porn star and Playboy bunny for services rendered with campaign funds for his client. When Cohen turned on his capo dei capi and blabbed to Congress about the evils his boss had done, Trump more than once told the world that Cohen’s family had ties to the mob. No one really called him on it.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen enough Godfather and Good Fellas movies to last me two lifetimes; and I certainly don’t want to live in this real-life sequel we share. So how many more crimes do we let this gangster get away with before someone takes the nuclear football away from him?