Yeah, it feels a bit silly to be writing this down — it’s neither something where I feel like I have something meaningful to add to the conversation, nor is it a cathartic exercise for something that’s irritating me. But it feels appropriate to say a few words anyway.
Here’s my bottom line:
I think it’s more likely than not that Trump thought that there were corrupt Hunter Biden dealings which he would unearth by prodding the Ukrainians.
But I am not persuaded that Trump’s actions met a standard of impeachable conduct, or were measurably worse than other sorts of “abuse of power” of other elected or appointed government officials over time.
After all, Obama’s FBI was investigating Trump with the so-called “dossier.” His IRS withheld tax recognition of Tea Party groups. I don’t think that involving foreign governments crosses some sort of red line, and there’s no indicator that Trump intended to corruptly frame the younger Biden of corruption, or engage in other sorts of direct actions against political opponents.
What’s more, there are many elements of the Democrats’ case which are simply so weak as to weaken this core point.
Who cares that Trump thought that Ukraine was involved in server leaks rather than (just) Russia? That he stands accused of believing in conspiracy theories is not an impeachable misdeed. Revisiting the Mueller investigation is equally irrelevant.
And — yes, my husband is listening to the hearings as we speak — it is simply not a matter of our national security for Ukraine to receive that withheld military aid. After all, under Obama, the US limited aid to Ukraine to “humanitarian aid” (I remember complaints that Ukrainians could hardly use blankets to defend themselves). If Obama could decide that military aid was not appropriate, how could it have now become a matter of vital national security for it to be implemented?
Does it meet the lower threshold of “national interest”? Sure. But that is something that has a much greater degree of discretion to it. You and I can disagree about a great many things that one or the other of us might deem to be in the “national interest.” Are tariffs “in the national interest” or is free trade “in the national interest”? Is it “in the national interest” to provide visas to as many potential visitors as might reasonably qualify, or is it “in the national interest” to vet potential arrivals thoroughly, and deny entrance if there appears to be a risk? There are so many issues where there are partisan or other disagreements about what is in the national interest — and there are likewise many actions that presidents take that they might declare to be “in the national interest” but are as much about gaining support from their political base. When Trump announced that he would “build the wall,” when Obama declared that he was giving legal status to illegal immigrants brought to the US as children, were these “in the national interest” or “gaining support from the base”?
And the fact that, as Democrats repeat, 15,000 Ukrainians have died in the war, does not mean that it is a matter of US national security. After all, we (that is, the US government) took no action as ISIS gained strength and killed considerable numbers of Syrians and Iraqis, enslaved Yazidis and Christians, and so forth; only after reports grew worse and worse did the US send troops.
Now, again, it’s more likely than not that Trump misused his power in this instance, but the repetition of “national security” does not persuade me of the extent of Trump’s misdeeds, but instead makes me more skeptical.
So look: I know anti-Trump readers won’t believe me when I say I don’t like the man and I would be happy for him to turn out to have done something, well, impeachable. Nikki Haley 2020!, etc. But, geez, guys, not this.