President Trump’s brazen abuse of authority may well result in impeachment, if not removal.
The president was caught red-handed attempting to leverage US foreign policy for political gain by using military assistance as a bargaining chip to induce the Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on his primary political opponent. And then, he doubled down by using a televised press conference to solicit China to do the same.
The situation appears to deteriorating quickly for the president and his minions.
It’s bad enough that Attorney General Bill Barr traveled to Italy on a mission to prove that the supposed illegitimacy of the Mueller investigation. It’s bad enough that Barr’s Justice Department attempted to bury the whistleblower complaint. It’s bad enough that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on the call between Trump and the Ukrainian president. We now learn that there’s are multiple whistleblowers with first-hand knowledge of the president’s misdeeds.
Whatever the facts, the president, his political loyalists and his media echo chamber at Fox News are cultivating a parallel narrative that projects Trump’s corruption on his Democratic opponents.
To watch Fox News commentator Sean Hannity on Oct. 4, you might get the impression Trump was having a pretty good week.
“We have big, breaking news tonight,” Hannity said. “Multiple fronts. Democrats. The media mobs. Ukrainian impeachment fantasy. It is as we predicted. It is now blowing up in their faces, just like the ‘Trump-Russia collusion’ blew up in their faces.”
And yet cracks are beginning to emerge in the conservative bulwark.
No less a figure than Tucker Carlson, a fellow Fox News personality who has a history of feeding Trump white-nationalist talking points, wrote in an editorial for Daily Caller on Oct. 3: “Donald Trump should not have been on the phone with a foreign head of state encouraging another country to investigate his political opponent, Joe Biden. Some Republicans are trying, but there’s no way to spin this as a good idea.” He went on to say, “Our leaders’ official actions should not be about politics. Those two things need to remain separate.”
The editorial can only be interpreted as a tactical retreat — a signal to Senate Republicans to stop defending the president, while still arguing that impeachment is not needed.
Hannity, meanwhile, continues to amplify the inverse narrative, laying “the corruption, the hypocrisy, the deceit” at the feet of the Democratic Party.
“They are the one guilty of real collusion and corruption with Ukraine,” he said. “You have Joe Biden leveraging your tax dollars in an obvious quid pro quo, in a shakedown to fire a Ukrainian prosecutor. Why would a vice president of the United States ever want to do that?”
The Trump conspiracy machine has it that Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, who was appointed to the board of directors of a Ukrainian gas company in 2014, is the real story of corruption.
Fueling the baseless idea that Joe Biden intervened to get a Ukrainian prosecutor fired so that he could protect his son, the former vice president told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations in January 2018 that he told former Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko: “I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said ‘You’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in,’ I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.”
As Buzzfeed reported recently, the prosecutor in question during Biden’s 2015 visit to Ukraine was widely criticized for not tackling corruption. A Ukrainian prosecutor known for fighting corruption quit the office of the Ukrainian prosecutor general in public protest, calling it “a hotbed of corruption.” And Victoria Nuland, then the US assistant secretary of state, said the office needed to be “reinvented as an institution that serves the citizens of Ukraine, rather than ripping them off.” Also significant: The prosecutor pushed out in 2015 was not investigating Hunter Biden or the gas company on whose board he served.
(Since Trump’s election, a dossier on Hunter Biden was developed under a newer prosecutor, in an apparent effort to curry favor with the US president. That prosecutor, Yurih Lutsenko — who has also been widely criticized for failing to address corruption — was also fired. Now in London, Lutsenko told the New York Times there was never any basis for a case against Hunter Biden.)
In the parallel universe inhabited by the MAGA tribe and Fox News, recent congressional testimony by Kurt Volker, Trump’s special envoy to Ukraine, may as well not exist. Volker testified, “I have known former vice president Joe Biden for 24 years, and the suggestion that he would be influenced in his duties as vice president by money for his son simply has no credibility.”
And yet to listen to Hannity, you would believe that the curtains were crashing down around the Democratic Party, the “Deep State” and their supposed lamestream media enablers.
“The Democrats and the mobs’ baseless claims are unraveling this hour,” Hannity said breathlessly. “And breaking tonight we do have new details surrounding the Democrats’ first star witness in their sham of a so-called impeachment inquiry.”
The witness was Kurt Volker.
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