So what is wrong with the President withholding military aid from a foreign country to get them to do his bidding? What’s even wrong about asking a foreign country to provide dirt on his opponent in 2020? President Donald Trump asks. If the request advances our national interests, no problem. However, if it benefits a political advantage for his 2020 re-election campaign and hurts US national security, those are two problems. Alone just soliciting and accepting help from foreigners that has value to a US campaigner breaks federal election laws. Trump was exonerated by Special Counsel Mueller for collusion with Russian meddling in 2016. Trump has gone from “no collusion to pro collusion”, a phrase coined by others. Using military aid as a club to shake down an ally in need is a national security matter. The evidence was in a memorandum of a July telephone call released by the White House itself and also contained in a whistleblower complaint text released to the public. The House launched a formal impeachment inquiry to verify the complaint and determine if and what articles of impeachment rise to high crimes and misdemeanors worthy of impeachment. A vote by a simple majority of the House would send the impeachment to the Senate for a trial. The scandal was kicked off late last month when the first whistleblower stepped forward with a list of witnesses and memorandum of a telephone call on July 25 between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, and complaining Trump’s use of withholding military aid to Ukraine was for Trump’s own self-serving political benefit to damage a 2020 election opponent, Joe Biden, and it endangered US national security. The link was a phrase by Trump, immediately after Zelensky said he was ready for the aid already appropriated by Congress and frozen by Trump in the prior week. Replied Trump, “I have some favors to ask, though…” including finding dirt on the Bidens and investigating CloudStrike, a US internet security firm. Conspiracy theorists believed CloudStrike had falsely blamed Russia for election meddling in 2016. The culprits the theorists claim were Ukraine and the Democratic National Committee itself. This was an attempt to paint as fake the opinion of every US national intelligence agency and an in-depth investigation by Special Counsel Mueller that had concluded indeed it was Russia. Days later a second whistleblower emerged claiming first-hand knowledge of the July 25 telephone call. Just resigned US envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, provided the investigating House committee emails with fellow US diplomats that verified withholding military aid and offering an invitation for Zelensky to visit the White House were used as sticks and carrots to get a reluctant Zelensky to “play ball”.
Why is this such a big deal for national security? It has to do with Russia. Trump’s eyebrow-raising foreign policies parallel Putin’s foreign policy goals of expansion into former Eastern European USSR satellites. Most European former satellites are members of NATO. One member gets attacked, and all come to its defense. Stopping Russia in Ukraine upfront would prevent another war from spreading to the rest of Europe and involving US blood and treasure. Ukraine is not a NATO member, but its western leaning government is dependent on US aid since Russia took over Crimea and conducted hot warfare to grab Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. 13,000 Ukrainians have already died in the conflict. Trump has called NATO’s mutual defense mission obsolete and in vain threatened to pull out and cut funding. He has also tried to lift sanctions on Russia imposed for their Crimea grab, stealth invasion of eastern Ukraine, and interference in the 2016 campaign. This summer Trump diverted money for improving NATO’s defense to funds to build his wall. This begs the question: on whose side is Trump, anyway? For more, visit www.mufticforumblog.com