Opinion | Susan Knopf: The perfect impeachable conversation
For the Record
We should all do as the British did during World War II, “Stay calm and carry on.”
The president is trying to whip us up into a frenzy and cause a lack of confidence in a process that is more than 200 years old and has served us well.
Ambassador Nicholas Burns — former undersecretary of state, former ambassador to NATO, and a professor at the The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University — told Kate Bolduan at CNN the president is “lying to the public” and “unfit” for office. Burns cites the president’s remarks on the White House South Lawn, Thursday morning. Burns says in those remarks that President Donald Trump asks China to “intervene, interfere in our election.” Burns, who says he supports Joe Biden for president, says he served five presidents and none would have engaged in the conduct and speech of this president.
In those remarks on the White House lawn, Trump spoke of trade talks with China, scheduled to resume next week. Then he asked China to investigate Biden. This is the same quid pro quo we found in the summary of the president’s July 25 conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The president conflates national interests and personal political interests. The president repeatedly links selling weapons to Ukraine, trade talks with China, with those countries investigating his political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe told CNN, “I have never … seen a president … weigh in directly on an investigative matter.” McCabe speculated these conversations, which link personal political interests with global political negotiations, touch a number of “legal intricacies,” including bribery and possibly violations of election statutes.
The president doesn’t seem to care that his conduct is outside the realm of acceptable legal behavior. This same strategy blunted the force of the Mueller report, and it appears he thinks it will work again. If he keeps doing the same wrong thing in front of cameras, acting like it’s normal, he will numb the nation’s collective clear-headed sense of right and wrong. Analysts have been debating this strategy, and they have mixed conclusions. It appears more analysts lean toward the idea that the evidence is so clear, so irrefutable and obvious that Trump, with all his spin and lies, will not escape the hammer of justice this time.
Former Gov. Mike Pence — in an Oct. 4, 2016, taped television interview rebroadcast by CNN — said, “You all need to know … this is basic stuff … foreign governments may not participate in the American political process.”
Vice President Pence, ever the good lieutenant defending the president’s words and actions, in a televised interview, said of Biden, “When you hold the second highest office in the land, it comes with unique responsibilities, not just to be above impropriety, but to be above the appearance of impropriety.”
Could be prophetic words, as some say Pence may be implicated in Trump’s impropriety.
For the record, Biden was instructed to go to Ukraine, and everything he reportedly did was at the behest of the United States government and its allies. No investigation, either domestic nor in Ukraine nor elsewhere, has revealed any nefarious dealings.
Like Trump, I’m very curious what Hunter Biden did that was worth $50,000 per month to a Ukrainian gas company. But Trump needs to use proper channels and not lump his undisciplined curiosity with trade deals and weapon sales to foreign governments. Such discipline is the definition of propriety, something Trump consistently demonstrates he lacks.
This week, Trump called the legitimate impeachment process a “coup.” He called Rep. Adam Schiff, “Shifty Schiff” and accused him of writing the whistleblower complaint. The attorney for the whistleblower said that’s “absolutely false.” Trump implied the whistleblower is a spy and inferred spies should be executed.
Rep. Max Rose, D-NY, who represents Staten Island, a Trump district, told CNN, “The only person the president has to blame is himself … the president used the apparatus of the state to advance his personal interest. … Nobody is above the law.” Rose also said, “This is a sad, sad day for America. What’s wrong is Republicans who … dismiss these allegations because it’s a member of their own party.”
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said Wednesday in a press conference, “Mr. President, you have here a great democracy, keep it going.”
And so we shall.
Susan Knopf’s column “For The Record” publishes Fridays in the Summit Daily News. Knopf has worn many hats in her career, including working as an award-winning journalist and certified ski instructor. She moved to Silverthorne in 2013 after vacationing in Summit County since the 1970s. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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