The impeachment, Ukraine, Russia and election interference

Donald Trump’s impeachment trial continues in Washington. It is far more political than legal. Just about everyone expects the Republican dominated Senate to acquit Trump,

Regardless of the outcome, Trump is likely to remembered as a president who was impeached, just like it is one of the first things people remember Bill Clinton for (he was also acquitted).

The Democrats may lose this battle but they are trying to win a bigger war, this year’s election. The target of Trump’s Ukraine pressure is Joe Biden, who has a good chance of competing with Trump for the presidency (that is why Trump tried to pressure the new Ukraine to dump on Biden). So the impeachment attempt is likely to be a major influence on a geriatric face off.

There’s bigger issues involved, in particular the Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

Here’s one take on that – allegations that Trump was promoting Russian fake news that it was Ukraine that interfered in the 2016 election.

Note first that the writer of this has Ukraine connections “Kenneth Foard McCallion is a former organized crime and counterintelligence expert with the U.S. Department of Justice, and has been counsel for former Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and numerous other Ukraine pro-democracy leaders and businessmen.”

RealClear Politics – A Key Impeachment Fact: Trump Pushed Russian Disinformation

Article One of the Articles of Impeachment now pending before the Senate is primarily focused on President Trump’s extortionate demand that Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky announce an investigation into the Bidens.

However, it should be kept well in mind by the House managers as they present their case on the Senate floor that Trump has also been impeached for improperly using the powers of his office to pressure Ukraine into investigating, in the words of Article One, “a discredited theory promoted by Russia’s disinformation machine, alleging that Ukraine — rather than Russia — interfered in the 2016 United States Presidential election.”

Russian and right-wing media propaganda, and Trump himself, have wrongly claimed that CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm hired by the Democratic National Committee in 2016 to investigate the massive hack of its server, is “owned by a very rich Ukrainian” and is hiding evidence that could clear Russia of any wrongdoing in regards to the 2016 U.S. election.

U.S. Intelligence agencies agree that this discredited theory, which deftly shifted blame for the cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system away from Russian and squarely onto Ukraine and CrowdStrike, originated as a Russian intelligence talking point before it gained traction in right-wing media outlets and, ultimately, in the White House.

Ukraine could not give into Trump’s demands for an “investigation.” Announcing an investigation of a leading U.S. presidential contender would have been harmful to Zelensky’s reputation, and an investigation by Ukraine into its own government for U.S. election interference would have been crippling to the Zelensky administration. Furthermore, the Ukraine government well knew that once it gave in to Trump’s extortionate demands for announcement of these two bogus investigations, the demands and the extortion would not stop.

Given Ukraine’s extensive experience with predatory Russian practices, the Ukraine government strongly suspected that Putin and his U.S. crony in the White House were capable of neutering and ultimately dismantling Ukraine as an independent pro-Western democracy. Due to the fortuitous public disclosure of the whistleblower complaint and the ensuing impeachment investigation, Ukraine was not forced to subject itself to this destabilizing humiliation.

Make no mistake, the Russians will not hesitate to manipulate the 2020 U.S. election in the same way they did in 2016. They know U.S. election machinery in key swing states is vulnerable, and that many electronic voting machine systems in these states are fully hackable.

The Democratic leadership is understandably hesitant to call Trump’s abuse of power what it is: TREASON. However, the House has at least given its managers the tools to explain to the American people during the impeachment trial that Trump was not just crassly seeking to further his own political interests at the expense of U.S. national security interests, but that he was also trying to do Russia’s bidding while, at the same time, selling out the United States and one of its staunchest allies. The House managers must not ignore this crucial fact.

(Parts of this are edited).

While the impeachment is likely to fizzle out, the issues surrounding it may swirl around the US election all year.

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10 Comments

  1. Q: how many Republicans does it take to change a lightbulb?

    A: non. Trump just tells them it’s fixed and the rest of them sit in the dark and applaud.

    Reply
  2. Dinner between Trump, Parnas, and Fruman — April 30, 2018.

    Parnas and Fruman had bought access to Trump donor events with large campaign donations.

    And it was Parnas who was interested in getting Trump to fire Ambassador Yovanovitch.

    Trump was happy to order there and then: “Get rid of her! … Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it.”

    Said to people who were in no position to fire Yovanovitch… said to people that Trump has consistently denied knowing… and caught on tape.

    https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/recording-appears-capture-trump-private-dinner-ukraine-ambassador/story?id=68506437

    Reply
    • This tape matters less because it reveals Trump cruelly firing Yovanovitch than because it shows that Trump knew as early as April 2018 how little time Ukraine would last against Russia without American aid.

      Reply
  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  25th January 2020

    I think you are wrong about Clinton. I think they firstly remember him for seducing his intern in the Oval Office, secondly for being a pretty good economic manager and thirdly for his personal charm. Really, his impeachment doesn’t rate except for those grinding their own political axe.

    With Trump no-one will remember even what he was impeached for. Other things will be far more significant.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  25th January 2020

      Thats because Clinton had already been re-elected 1996 the articles came just before 1998 2 yr elections and the ‘lame duck’ House voted for it just before Xmas and the changeover on Jan 2.
      Gingrich miscalculated as they lost 5 seats- “The results went against what House Speaker Newt Gingrich predicted, who, before the election, had been reassured by private polling that Clinton’s scandal would result in Republican gains of up to thirty House seats.”
      How political was that !
      There was no lasting effects on Clintons personal popularity.

      Trump is different , hes never been really popular and is facing re-election this year. If he is defeated, people will say its because of impeachment ( he isnt going to be convicted). In reality the swing voters have long grown tired of him ( it wont take much for the few states to swing back especially if its the affable , male , white , blue collar ‘leaning’ Biden.)

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  25th January 2020

        If Trump is defeated Republicans will say it is because of the media and Democrats will say it is because he is evil. Neither will say it is because of the impeachment allegations.

        Reply
  4. Zedd

     /  25th January 2020

    the Dems may lose this battle.. but as you say, the war is ‘election 2020’

    I sense the same sentiment here in Aotearoa/NZ..
    did anyone see the SB tv-ad. ‘do you like CARS.. well you better stick with Natl.’ wot-a-load of ‘MAGA-esq B-shite’
    totally extremist views; vote for us/(Natl) OR face HELL on earth; the ‘loony left’ OR maybe ‘leaning left’ OR even ‘slightly leaning left’ or: well just ‘get on your knees’ sounds very ‘MrT’.. simon :/

    Reply

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