When Donald Trump wins, he manages to lose.
The day after he was amazingly nominated as the Republican candidate for president, he repeated his hallucinations about Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s father appearing in a photo with Lee Harvey Oswald, JFK’s assassin. On the day he was inaugurated president, he had his press secretary insist to reporters he had the biggest inaugural crowd ever. Not close, even when protestors were counted and narcissism outpaced math.
Then, after two years of a pretentious, partisan, deceptive, phony, finally dismissed investigation of his allegedly colluding with Russia to win the 2016 election, he got on the phone with the president of Ukraine to make it sound to some that he was colluding on the 2020 election. Summoning her holy tone of voice, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that impeachment inquiries would soon be underway. Trump had committed a crime, some were mistakenly saying, though in a sense he had. He was once more being himself.
He told the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, he would like a corruption investigation of Joe Biden as vice president threatening to keep a billion dollars in U.S. aid from the country if this guy did not fire a prosecutor. The prosecutor had gone after a Ukrainian company employing Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, who was making $50,000 a month and seemed to know nothing about what he was doing. Goodies, however, could flow from his last name, the company’s owner may have figured. And if Trump could trot out a well-proven father-son connivance, or even just Joe looking out for family money, this could very well aid his 2020 campaign against Joe to the tune of four more years.
But the Constitution says you’ve got to have a crime to have an impeachment, and what Trump did is not a crime unless there was a quid pro quo, a threat of something bad if action was not forthcoming or a promise of something good if it was. A copy of the conversation shows no such thing, although Trump did delay deliverance of military aid, including Javelin missiles capable of taking out Russian tanks and transgressing the aversion to weaponry in the Obama days. Trump gave a couple of questionable reasons for the delay that did come to a quick end.
An investigation of this matter might be warranted. But not impeachment inquiries and the kind of Democratic, teeth-baring ferocity that erases reasonable, responsible governmental efforts to fix serious problems. The Mueller years were scandalous and disruptive and should not be repeated. But what we are already seeing, for instance, is abuse of a whistleblower law in which the whistleblower is mainly transmitting gossip. A purpose of the law was to keep bureaucrats from illegally taking classified information to the media, and yet this kind of leaking seems already to be telling us much of what we know. And, look, it also hurts when no one gets it that executive privilege is worth respect.
Privacy on the phone and elsewhere is crucial for a president do what he has to do. And it’s interesting to note that, when President Bill Clinton signed the law, he said presidents would still have the last say when such debate arose.
Naturally enough, Democratic presidential candidates are cheering all of this on because, no matter what, these proceedings may further dirty the Trump name to the point they can feel better about their extreme, absurd, totalitarian, unaffordable programs having a chance to ruin America. They see the ruination possibilities differently, of course, but this is a crazy time brought on in part by Trump’s craziness, even though he has actually done a great deal for the economy and the human good. Even in areas where he is scary, such as the national debt, the Democrats are worse.
If he escapes impeachment and wins re-election, he may still find a way to lose, but the American people could still be much better off.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service.