When the first notice of the unnamed whistle-blower’s complaint about—well, something involving the President and the Ukraine surfaced on the New York Times front page, in an article that was so devoid of facts, details and corroboration that its only excuse for publication was to titillate Trump-Haters, I wrote,
“This is what the Times considers front page news now. Instantly, “resistance” members and Democrats will leap to the conclusion that whatever it is, it’s impeachable. Those who are thoroughly sick of the successive coup attempts will assume that this is one more concocted sliming by the Deep State, so we can have a “Russiagate” style investigation that will hamstring President Trump’s second term… For my part, I’ll wait for actual facts, thanks. I don’t trust “the intelligence community” not to manufacture ways to undermine the Presidency, not after Comey, McCabe, the FISA fiasco, the FBI lovebirds texts, and Mueller’s statements, among other smoking guns. I don’t trust the Times reporting, I don’t trust President Trump not to do or say something that crosses ethical or legal lines, and I certainly don’t trust Congressional Democrats to determine what are serious transgressions by this President and what are typical maneuvers that have only become ominous because he isn’t Barack Obama.”
Well, I’ve been waiting. As predicted, Democratic impeachment-mongers and Presidential hopefuls are screaming to the skies, and the mainstream media has been flogging the as-yet non-story, another species of fake news, as if it were the Second Coming. Yet here is how the New York Times itself explained the alleged scandal:
What did Mr. Trump do?
In a July 25 phone call, Mr. Trump is said to have pressed the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate Mr. Biden’s younger son, Hunter, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. Mr. Trump has seized on an unsubstantiated theory that Mr. Biden was trying to protect the company from prosecution when he called for the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor in 2016. Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers, has pushed the Ukrainian government to investigate the matter.
Is “said to have”? By whom? This is not news reporting, it’s gossip. The Biden theory is unsubstantiated? The theory the Times has published multiple stories about regarding the President’s interactions with the Ukraine is far less substantiated.
Why is this coming up now?
Because of an intelligence community whistle-blower who filed a complaint last month about the president’s actions. An inspector general deemed the complaint “credible” and “urgent” and forwarded it to the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, who has refused to share it with Congress….
Amazingly, it has now been revealed that the “whistle-blower” did not have direct knowledge of the communications between President Trump and the foreign leader in question. An official who has been briefed on the matter, however, told CNN that the whistleblower “didn’t have direct knowledge of the communications.” The official said that the concerns and subsequent complaint came in part from the whistleblower “learning information that was not obtained during the course of their work.” That’s hearsay by definition, and means that the report has no probative or evidentiary value whatsoever until it is independently verified. Until then, it is also not news.
What did the whistle-blower claim?
The full extent of the whistle-blower’s complaint, as well as the whistle-blower’s identity, is not publicly known. Reporting by The New York Times and others has established that the complaint involves Mr. Trump’s interactions with Ukraine and a phone call with a foreign leader — possibly, but not necessarily, Mr. Zelensky. It is not clear if it includes other matters.
This is really what the Times itself says. A “whistleblower” from the intelligence community made a complaint about something he was told by an an unnamed party about a private phone call with a yet to be identified official.
Here’s my favorite, though:
Did Mr. Trump use American foreign policy to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival?
This is the big question. The White House this summer blocked a package of military assistance to Ukraine. The aid was intended to help the country defend itself from Russian territorial aggression, including a military conflict in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014. The delay of the aid was first publicly disclosed about a month after the July phone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky. Mr. Trump is not known to have openly linked the aid — which has since been released — to his demands for political investigations, but many Democrats believe that may be the case.
“Many Democrats” believe that the President colluded with the Russians and stole the election, despite a three year investigation that found no evidence that this was the case. Many Democrats believe that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a fellow teen when he was a private school student, despite nothing more than the politically-motivated testimony of the alleged victim reciting a “discovered memory.” Many Democrats believe that the world will end if we don’t turn over our economy and liberties to an all-wise government that will use its power to end climate change, that the Second Amendment should be repealed, and that babies should be aborted in the 9th month if their mothers want them to be.
Many Democrats “believe” what it is politically expedient to believe, and facts be damned.
Did Mr. Biden do something wrong?
There is no evidence that Mr. Biden intentionally tried to help his son when he pushed for the dismissal of the Ukrainian prosecutor…On Saturday, Mr. Biden said he had never spoken with his son about any overseas work. Mr. Biden played a lead role in the Obama administration’s diplomacy with Kiev, but Obama administration officials worried that his son’s work for the energy company, Burisma Holdings, could create at least the perception of a conflict of interest.
Gee, ya think? This is the essence of the appearance of impropriety. Meanwhile, Biden’s claim that he never spoke to his son about the possible conflict his business dealings in the Ukraine created for the Obama Administration is dubious, to be nice about it. Yet the mainstream media didn’t seem to be even slightly curious about this, fulminating instead about the alleged Trump phone call to someone about something that was complained about by a whistleblower based on what somebody told him.
This is, of course, why joe can keep saying that there were no scandals in the Obama administration.
The description of non-story by conservative pundit Roger Kimball seems fair, if harsh. If you disagree, please explain why:’
Another week, another pseudo-scandal fomented by anonymous anti-Trump actors in the “intelligence community” and fanned into attention-grabbing headlines by an impatient, irresponsible press…
We do know that President Trump spoke to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25. Speaking for myself, I hope that he did bring up Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. Andrew McCarthy brings his usual no-nonsense common sense to the issue. “If,” McCarthy writes, Biden “used his political influence to squeeze a foreign power for his son’s benefit, that should be explored. Of course,” he continues, “Trump should not use the powers of his office solely for the purpose of obtaining campaign ammunition to deploy against a potential foe.” May I add, “Duh”? But here’s the thing:
All presidents who seek reelection wield their power in ways designed to improve their chances. If Trump went too far in that regard, we could look with disfavor on that while realizing that he would not be the first president to have done so. And if, alternatively, the president had a good reason for making a reciprocal commitment to Ukraine, that commitment would not become improper just because, collaterally, it happened to help Trump or harm Biden politically…Stepping back for a moment from that snarling imbroglio, I do wonder whether the latest “Trump abused his powers, let’s impeach him!” gambit is not rather an impressive deployment of a rhetorical-political gambit known as the “preemptive tu quoque I-tagged-you-first” strategy. The media and anti-Trump commentariat is jumping up and down in unison saying, “Trump is leaning on a foreign power in order to gain a political advantage.” But what is that charge cover for? A chap called Robert Barnes, writing on Twitter, reminds us of a pertinent fact. “The same Democrats who used all the powers of the Presidency to spy on an opposing campaign, and continue to use every power of the House to invade the privacy of the President, are deeply offended that Trump would want corruption investigated involving a former Vice President?” That’s what Latinists called a nonne question, one that expects the answer “Yes.”
Finally, over at CNN, “Fredo” was stunned when usually-reliable Trump-basher Phil Mudd, a former government intelligence officer regular CNN contributor on intelligence matters, told the younger Cuomo,
“Can you explain to me, A, why it’s the intelligence community’s responsibility to listen to the president of the United States speaking to a foreign leader, and B, why the U.S. intelligence community under the rules provided by the Democrats in Congress are responsible to report to the Congress what the President of the United States says? Last I checked, Chris, when I served, we’re responsible for chasing the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, and terrorists. We’re not responsible for reporting to the Congress what the president says. He can say what he wants, Chris!…The President can say what he wants; it’s not the responsibility of the intel guys to go police the President and go snitch on him to the Congress! Ridiculous!…I am ticked off! This is completely inappropriate! And the Congress should not be asking the intel guys to snitch on the president! NO!”
That’s one anti-Trump pundit with some integrity. And the rest? Oh, I’m sure they are honorable, ethical analysts who have just been confused by their well-meaning patriotic passions and confirmation bias, and not ruthless, irresponsible people who hate the elected President more than they care about the Constitution, the stability of the nation, or the future of the United States.
No, really. That’s got to be it.