The Scandal Has Spiraled Out of Trump’s Control

David Graham, writing in The Atlantic, outlines what we know so far in the Ukraine scandal and how it has ballooned into something that involves nearly all levels of the Trump administration from the vice president to his personal lawyer/fixer to the top U.S. diplomat in the Ukraine to the European Union ambassador to the secretary of state Mike Pompeo to President Xi Jinping of China to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and to who know’s who else we’ll learn about tomorrow.

To my mind the most damaging thing that happened so far was this bit of craziness.

Thursday morning on the White House’s South Lawn, Trump told reporters that China should mount a probe: They should investigate the Bidens, because how does a company that’s newly formed—and all these companies—and by the way, likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.” There is no evidence to back up his charges. The moment was breathtaking, because Trump, under threat of impeachment for asking a foreign country to interfere in the 2020 election, opted to ask a foreign country to interfere in the 2020 election, with cameras rolling.

That afternoon Chuck Todd began his Meet The Press Daily show with this declaration:

I don’t say this lightly, but let’s be frank, a national nightmare is upon us. The basic rules of our democracy are under attack from the president. We begin tonight with a series of admissions by the president that all but assures his impeachment in the House of Representatives. It’s a moment of truth for Republicans and they’ve been largely silent on what we’ve seen from the president. Today, he publicly called on two foreign governments to interfere in the election by investigating his chief 2020 political rival…

He then played the video of Trump calling on China and the Ukrain to investigate Joe Biden.

What you just heard is a public admission of the allegations of the heart of the House’s impeachment inquiry and at the heart of the whistleblower’s complaint. That the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump is using the power of his office to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election while doing it relying on a debunked conspiracy theory or two.

By the way, this is not hearsay, this is not a leak, this is not a whistleblower complaint. It’s not a memorandum of a phone conversation. You heard the president did it on the White House lawn. This moment should arguably be a national emergency. The Founding Fathers would have considered it a national emergency if the president publicly lobbied multiple foreign governments to interfere in the next election.

And yet there has been virtually no condemnation for the president’s party at all for this remark which was remarkable considering the precedent it would set and the lasting damage it would do to our democracy. It is tough to say lightly, but this is the moment that we’re at.

And here we are.

October 4, 2019

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