Impeachment investigation should focus on more than Ukraine

Impeachment investigation should focus on more than Ukraine
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In his recent phone call to newly elected President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, President Donald TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE spent most of his time urging Zelensky to investigate alleged corruption related to Joe BidenJoe BidenNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors Biden celebrates vaccine approval but warns 'current improvement could reverse' MORE, Trump’s political rival. He then went on in the call to empower Attorney General William BarrBill BarrMajority of Republicans say 2020 election was invalid: poll Biden administration withdraws from Connecticut transgender athlete case Justice Department renews investigation into George Floyd's death: report MORE and personal lawyer Rudi Giuliani to represent him in the investigation of Biden with the Ukrainians.

The issue of millions in U.S. military assistance being held up by Trump’s administration was never discussed in the call. Trump didn’t have to bring it up.

The newly released whistle-blower report is more broadly detailed and more alarming than the phone call transcript — implicating Attorney General Barr in the scheme to smear Biden.


Donald J. Trump as a champion of a legitimate anti-corruption campaign in Ukraine is about as realistic as my son’s Labrador Retriever becoming responsible for food security in the kitchen. If the consequences of the president’s alleged actions weren’t so serious, the image of Trump fighting against corruption in Ukraine is worthy of a “Saturday Night Live” skit.

The level of naivety that Trump and his supporters expect from the American people is breathtaking.

His strategy is to launch a tirade of lies, half-truths and accusations and to use media energy to cast his political opponents as being as sleazy and corrupt as he is. This is a new low standard for American political behavior, but Trump has been getting away with it, at least with his adoring, fact-adverse, political base that terrifies the Republican Party.

Trump’s “perfect phone call” to Zelensky raises extremely serious allegations as to whether a U.S. president engaged in a raw attempt to use taxpayer money to bribe a vulnerable national leader to support Trump’s future personal presidential campaign.

Consider the Ukraine matter in the context of a normal person: A second party controls your money, but he does not release it to you, although you need it badly. That person calls you — but does not discuss your money; instead, he raises — over and over — something that he wants from you. Can there be any doubt about what the caller intended? Of course not.


Ukraine is plagued with corruption as a carry-over from the Soviet days, but it is hardly alone. If Trump is the champion of anti-corruption, he should take on Russia, China and other totalitarian states, which are corrupt to the core. That is not going to happen.

Trump as a standard bearer for global anti-corruption measures would be an international embarrassment to the U.S.

The use of an official position in government for personal gain is corruption. Every senior career professional in the Executive Branch knows that — from years of ethics training. Career professionals must expose their personal finances every year to ethics officials for evaluation of ethics compliance. The president pays no attention to these standards.

Instead of “draining the swamp,” the Trump administration may well be the most corrupt of any in U.S. history. In addition to Trump’s admission of harassing women, paying them off to protect his political campaign, benefitting from foreign officials and lobbyists staying at his hotel properties, hawking the use of those properties as a venue for international meetings, five cabinet secretaries have been run out of office for unethical behavior.

Trump is a master of deflecting, obscuring and hiding the truth about his actions, and he gets Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinWest's 'wokeness' helped Russia to redefine a 'prisoner of conscience' For better or worse: Which way will US-Saudi relations go under Biden? How to rethink Russia sanctions MORE’s help. As the internet is ablaze with Russian trolls attacking Trump’s opponents and defending Trump, the president, with the help of Attorney General Barr, blocks every legitimate attempt to get at Trump’s finances or to allow aides to testify openly before Congress. What is he so desperate to hide?

Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE exposed a massive Russian attack on American democracy in 2016. However, Mueller left a glaring, unexplainable, hole in his report by avoiding critical questions related to Trump’s financial relationship to Russia. I have been writing for months that no investigation of Trump is complete without following the money —  especially the Russian money. Congress must give priority to the investigation into the details of this relationship.

Trump is a threat to American democracy and to the security of this country.

This is not the time for political weakness. Congress should stop the political handwringing and second guessing and aggressively conduct an open impeachment investigation of Trump before the American people — and let the facts and the truth decide the future of both Donald J. Trump and the nation.

James W. Pardew is a former US ambassador to Bulgaria and career Army intelligence officer. He has served as Deputy Assistant Secretary General of NATO and is the author of Peacemakers: American Leadership and the End of Genocide in the Balkans.