Saturday morning, wondering if all that we’ve seen and read over the past 36 hours is how the Trump story begins to end. A few thoughts on the unfolding Ukrainegate, for your weekend consideration…
1. The One-Man Show at the White House: No advisors he trusts or heeds other than those on-screen folks at ‘Fox & Friends.’ The word ‘hubris’ comes to mind this morning – how extreme pride and arrogance can lead to downfall of the main character. All very Greek classical. Very American, too, in our current day.
2. Impeachment: It’s important now that everybody have the same correct understanding of what “impeachment” means and what it doesn’t. It does not mean removal of an official from his elected office; it may lead to that but first it is an inquiry into what the facts are. It will be divisive, yes, even disruptive, but these past few days have surfaced some shocking details. The questions now, as Senator Howard H. Baker of Tennessee famously asked in the Senate Watergate Committee, are ‘What did the President know, and when did he know it?’
3. What This President Knew: Don’t have to look too far. Mr. Trump himself seems to have cleared up much of that answer before the weekend in the information he sent to Congress. (This time, the smoking gun came to the Hill by White House courier.) But not the whole story, obviously. An impeachment inquiry will need to dig much deeper: Who said what to whom? What was the context?
4. Everybody Needs To Do His Own Job Now: This is not a chess game. Don’t assume what the next guy will do with what you must do. That’s been one maddening aspect to all this so far: From Speaker to county chairman, the constant comments about how impeachment is a fool’s errand, because the Republican Senate will never convict the Republican president. That doesn’t matter now; Republican senators will be called on to do their duty, in due course, but House members have their duty to discharge now. (All will be judged by voters in due course.) What matters now is a factual understanding about what happened with Trump and the Ukraine president. The House needn’t do the Senate’s job. Do your own job. Do it fully and well. Please.
5. The Bottom Line: If our president has tried to extort (look it up) a foreign leader for his own low re-election purposes, then an historically grave breach of duty has occurred. The very idea of it feels like treason to me.
This is no longer about partisan politics. No longer about Republicans one-upping the Democrats. Nor is this about who gets re-elected in Congress. This is about the national interest and faithfulness to basic duty. This is about honesty and character - or the lack of it. This is about boundaries, guard-rails, and the foundational fabric of our country.
Do you want to know what happened in this sordid mess, or do you not?