Nancy Pelosi just announced that a formal impeachment investigation is on.  The House is going to send information to the House Judiciary Committee to pull together Articles of Impeachment.  The Senate just voted unanimously to require the executive branch to get them the whistleblower complaint.  These developments are moving fast.  Let’s understand what is going on.

Both Judge Napolitano and Shep Smith on Fox News tried to help Fox viewers understand what is happening with Trump, the Ukrainian president, and the whistleblower.  

Shep Smith tells us that the real problem, isn’t Biden at all. It’s Trump ― and specifically, what Trump said during his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Smith laid it out:

The real issue here is the phone call (and there may be other actions in addition known to the whistleblower). The claim that the president pressured a foreign leader to investigate a political rival and the failure to pass the whistleblower complaint to Congress. Now, among the Democrats, the pressure to impeach this president is building.

According to The Washington Post, Trump ordered acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to delay nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine ahead of his phone call to Zelensky.

 Judge Napolitano says, accurately, that this is the “most serious charge Trump has faced yet” going beyond what Mueller found in his report.   

Let’s face it, the Mueller Report was too confusing for most Americans to grasp.  What Trump has done here is not confusing.  

The day after Mueller testified in the House, Trump could see that he was going to skate on his misdeeds from the 2106 election.  He would not be immediately subjected to indictments for over 10 acts of obstruction because of the OLC opinion against indicting a sitting president. In addition, Mueller found no conspiracy with the Russians and the Trump campaign, no “handshake” that he could identify that would nail down a conspiracy agreement.

That helped Trump feel emboldened and that he could get away with the same kinds of acts in the run up to 2020.  He then moved to pressure the newly elected president of Ukraine, Zelensky, to re-open a closed investigation that had found no wrongdoing on the part of Biden’s son, Hunter, to try to smear Joe Biden.  Hunter had been serving on the board of a Ukrainian gas company at the same time his father, Joe, had been tasked with trying to help Ukraine clean up its corrupt government. 

Based on everything we know so far, Hunter Biden did nothing wrong despite what Trump is insinuating.  There was an investigation done in Ukraine and it was closed without findings of wrongdoing by Hunter Biden.  Joe Biden also did nothing wrong despite what Trump is insinuating.  Joe Biden was one of many many people who were calling for a Ukrainian prosecutor to be removed because that prosecutor was known to be corrupt.  Trump is trying to make something out of that as well.  That is more insinuation without factual support of any kind. 

As part of Trump’s shakedown of Zelensky, Trump withheld some 390 million dollars of aid that Congress had appropriated for Ukraine to help that country stand up against Russian aggression.  Ukraine was desperately in need of that money.  Trump withheld it.  We also know that Trump TOLD Mick Mulvaney to hold back that aid and to lie about why it was being held back.  We also know that Trump instructed Mulvaney to tell everyone who asked why the money was not being given to Ukraine that it was “an interagency problem” that was slowing down the money to Ukraine.  That was a lie.  Trump himself ordered the withholding of those funds. 

Meanwhile, Trump was engaged in conversations with the newly elected Ukrainian president to shake him down.  Extortion is “obtaining something of value through threats or coercion.”  Trump wanted Zelensky to re-open the closed investigation, hoping he could get something to smear his anticipated 2020 rival, Joe Biden, with (something of value to Trump personally) and he was withholding congressional money for Ukraine to get what he wanted (that’s coercion).  Even if there was nothing to be found in a re-opened investigation, Trump could use the fact of a re-opened investigation the way he used Hillary Clinton’s missing emails, to insinuate wrongdoing on the part of his rival over and over again in the 2020 election as he had done with Clinton in the run up to 2016. 

Some Republicans and Trump himself are claiming there was no “quid pro quo”.  Trump did not say in the phone conversation with Zelensky something like- “Open up the investigation again if you want to get your aid money.”  Of course he did not say that.  He is not THAT stupid.  But that does not mean there was no quid pro quo.

We know that Trump understands mob boss tactics.  He has used that playbook many times.  We learned about how he did that when Michael Cohen testified before going to jail. Trump knows not to say anything explicit that could be used against him in his conversations over the phone where people are listening in.  He insinuates and uses innuendo.  So when Trump tells us that that conversation was “beautiful” and there was no quid pro quo, he is saying he kept that conversation “clean” and that he did not threaten Zelensky directly in that conversation. 

That does not mean there was no coercion or strong arming.  There was.  The much needed aid to Ukraine was being mysteriously held up while Trump had allegedly either eight conversations or instances within one conversation in which Trump pushed Zelensky to work with Rudy Guiliani, his PERSONAL FIXER LAWYER. That confluence of events was not coincidental.  That is the way mob bosses exert pressure.  The clear message was: re-open that investigation for me, help me find dirt on Hunter Biden or Joe Biden if you want to get your money. 

Everyone who has ever read a spy story can understand what Trump was up to here.  And, unlike the activities of his campaign prior to 2016, this time it is Trump himself on the phone with Zelensky and Trump himself ordering the money to be slow walked and Trump himself telling Mulvaney the lies to be told to people who were wondering why the money was being delayed.  

Trump now claims he spoke with Zelensky about cleaning up corruption in Ukraine.  When has Trump ever been concerned about corruption in a foreign country before?  

The whistleblower complaint needs to come out in its entirety so that the House can conduct its oversight.  The fact that the whistleblower complaint is being kept ILLEGALLY from Congress by AG Barr, Trump’s other lawyer fixer, is evidence of guilt in itself.  An innocent person would want that whistleblower complaint to come out so that he could clear his name.  Trump and Barr and others are trying to hide the truth from us.   

Seven freshmen House members elected in 2018 from districts Trump won in 2016 wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Washington Post that was the precipitant for opening up a formal impeachment inquiry by Nancy Pelosi today.

Here are some excerpts from their op-ed:

“Our lives have been defined by national service. We are not career politicians. We are veterans of the military and of the nation’s defense and intelligence agencies. Our service is rooted in the defense of our country on the front lines of national security.”

The group acknowledges the facts as we know them so far and then writes:

“This flagrant disregard for the law cannot stand. To uphold and defend our Constitution, Congress must determine whether the president was indeed willing to use his power and withhold security assistance funds to persuade a foreign country to assist him in an upcoming election.”

“If these allegations are true, we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense. We do not arrive at this conclusion lightly, and we call on our colleagues in Congress to consider the use of all congressional authorities available to us, including the power of “inherent contempt” and impeachment hearings, to address these new allegations, find the truth and protect our national security.”

Nancy Pelosi no longer has to protect freshmen members of the House anymore because the Democratic caucus is on board with impeachment including those members who are risking their political future because they were elected in districts that voted for Trump in 2016.  Pelosi was finally able to announce this formal impeachment inquiry by the House into President Trump.  That is the right thing to do.  There is an  urgent need for the House to understand what the whistleblower is trying to tell them.  What is the national security threat is that Trump has created? They need to know.  The impeachment inquiry will help them get expedited information with the assistance of the courts.

Note also that the Senate voted unanimously to insist that the whistleblower complaint be turned over to Congress.  Not just the transcript of the phone conversation which we all know will not contain incriminatory evidence.  In addition, the whistleblower him or herself has asked to testify before the House Intelligence committee and that is being worked out with his or her attorney.  This is all moving very quickly now that the House has called for impeachment. 

Donald Trump has brought this on himself by engaging in the same kinds of activities that got him into trouble and resulted in the Mueller Report.  He should have learned something from that.  He didn’t.  He thought he was above the law.  He is not.