In Donald Trump’s conversation with Ukraine’s president Zelensky on July 25, he asked Zelensky to look into corruption in Ukraine. The issue was corruption, not Hunter Biden. If the corruption had involved somebody named Natty Bumpo, and Trump asked Zelensky to look into it, nobody would have had a second thought about it.
Because it involved Hunter Biden, however, all of a sudden it became an instantaneous impeachable offense. But nobody gets a free corruption pass just because your dad is running for public office. If people discovered that running for office was a get-of-jail free card in corruption cases, our nation would be awash in wholly unqualified crooks running for office.
The United States signed an anti-corruption treaty with Ukraine in 1998, meaning Bill Clinton’s signature is on it. Joe Biden voted for it. Let’s remember that according to Article VI, Clause 2 “all treaties...which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land.” (Emphasis mine throughout.) This treaty authorizes the president to look into corruption issues in Ukraine and compels Ukraine to cooperate in those corruption investigations. This provision was included in the treaty because Ukraine has been riddled with corruption for decades.
The heading on the treaty reads, “Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters.” Uh-oh. I see a shadow passing across the faces of Democrats all across the fruited plain.
Here’s how the first part of that treaty begins:
“The Contracting States shall (not “may”) provide mutual assistance, in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty, in connection with the investigation, prosecution, and prevention of offenses, and in proceedings related to criminal matters.”
So both countries pledged mutual assistance to the other in connection with investigations related to criminal matters. Which is exactly what Trump was doing in his July 25 phone call. Suddenly I see frowns on every anti-Trumper’s face.
Here, according to the State Department, is what “Mutual assistance” includes:
“...taking of testimony of statements of persons; providing documents, records, and articles of evidence; serving documents; locating or identifying persons; transferring persons in custody for testimony or other purposes; executing requests for searches and seizures; assisting in proceedings related to restraint, confiscation, forfeiture of assets, restitution, and collection of fines; and any other form of assistance not prohibited by the laws of the requested state.”
As the head of the executive branch - in fact, President Trump IS the executive branch - he is the ONLY official authorized to request foreign assistance in a corruption investigation. This is exactly what Trump did in his Zelensky phone call.
Trump, in line with both his right and his responsibility, asked Zelensky for help with two specific matters. One was to look into the Ukrainian-based Crowd Strike company. The Democrats asked Crowd Strike (instead of the FBI) to investigate their hacked (or most likely phished) server. That’s the server that the DNC, for reasons unknown but suspicious, refused to allow the FBI to examine forensically. Rumor was that the server had been returned to Ukraine. Worth an “investigation,” no?
The second matter was to ask Zelensky what Hunter Biden was doing in Ukraine. For a man who knew nothing about energy, and even less about Ukraine, it was stunning (to say the least) to discover he was getting $83,000 a month for doing, well, what? (Hunter Biden, to my knowledge, has never even been to Ukraine. Burisma board meetings were held in exotic locations well outside the country.) So what quo was Ukraine expecting for their $1 billion a year in quid?
Well, Burisma leveraged Hunter’s name into meetings with Obama’s State Department right at the time Ukraine was launching a deep dive into Burisma, its boss, and its books. They were able to ride his name all the way into getting Joe Biden to boast - on tape no less - to the Council on Foreign Relations that he had gotten the Ukrainian prosecutor looking into Burisma fired. There’s your sleazy quid pro quo, right there. And Joe Biden bragged about it before God and everybody! If anybody ought to be looking at some punishment behind this, it would be Quid Pro Joe.
The treaty also contains the following provision:
- Each Contracting State shall have a Central Authority to make and receive requests pursuant to this Treaty.
- For the United States of America, the Central Authority shall be the Attorney General or a person designated by the Attorney General.
Can you say “Rudy Giuliani?”
Trump would have been derelict in his duty if he had not probed the issue of corruption with Zelensky. The only impeachable offense here would have been if Trump had not done his duty to raise the corruption issue with Zelensky. Trump pursued his constitutional duty to ask for “mutual assistance” in a possible “criminal matter” even though it happened to involve the son of somebody who wanted his job.
So, in sum, Trump did not use U.S. military aid to pressure Ukraine. He never mentioned military aid in his call with Zelensky at all. In fact, Ukraine did not even know that the aid was being withheld until they read about it in the media. And the money was delivered in full without any public announcement on Ukraine’s part and without the launching of an investigation. Some nefarious quid pro quo, eh?
Here’s another salient point: Trump did not need to exert any pressure on Ukraine because the treaty required Ukraine’s cooperation.
The smartest thing for Ms. Pelosi to do would be to call this whole sham, scam, and a hoax off before she and her entire political party become the Don Quixotes of the international community.
The author may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org