It has been only 48 hours since the story broke that President Donald Trump requested in a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that Zelensky investigate a political opponent of Trump’s. In that brief period of time, a majority of members of the House of Representatives have come out publicly in support for impeaching the president of the United States. Why has support for impeachment taken off literally overnight?
It began and it will end with the flawed character of the president. A president who is a pathological liar, who doesn’t differentiate between right and what is wrong. A president who is out of his element as a former New York shyster real estate player turned reality television host, who consequently cannot discern the difference between reality and hokum. He has no idea of what’s in our Constitution and acts on impulse instead of facts or political philosophy. He has assembled the most corrupt administration in American history while he searches for ways to personally profit financially off his office.
Supported by cowardly Republican enablers in the Senate, he feels emboldened to continue his chaotic ways that will serve his political purposes while trashing the rule of law and destroying our democracy. To paraphrase a former governor of Texas in describing another president, “Poor Donald can’t help himself, he was born with an evil foot in his mouth.” (RELATED: Trump Transcript Shows Him Trying To Stop Corruption, Nothing Else)
The political logjam broke when seven new Democratic members of Congress signed an op-ed calling for the impeachment of the president. These freshmen members, in office for 21 months and who come from swing districts, have more courage than Republican senators who have served for 20-30 years but who sit like bumps on a log and do nothing. Before being elected last year these House members held national security positions in our government. They see our democracy at risk.
What is different about the Ukrainian scandal? I believe it is something most Americans can understand. They don’t have to rely on a flawed president and his minions to tell them what they should think. In the past, Trump directed his followers not to believe what they see and hear but only believe what he tells them. He is finding this is no longer operative. Truth now is understood with a large dose of common sense and what most Americans have learned at their parents’ knee — right from wrong.
The transcript memo that was released on Wednesday by the White House spells out the conversation between Trump and Zelensky. The Ukrainian president, who took office only in April, desperately needed millions in military assistance that had been approved by Congress but held up by Trump over a cooked-up explanation regarding Ukrainian corruption. The money was appropriated because Ukraine must defend itself from Russia, which has invaded its territory. Alas, another Trump-Russia connection.
But Trump does not want to discuss the assistance. He directed the conversation to a request for Ukraine to help investigate his political opponent. He wanted his crackpot lawyer Rudy Giuliani and our nation’s top law enforcement official, Attorney General William Barr, to assist Ukrainian authorities in the nefarious investigation. (RELATED: Did Trump’s Ukraine Call Violate Campaign Finance Law? Not By A Long Shot)
More importantly, the memo described the elements of criminal extortion. Under federal law, it is “extortion” for a government official acting “under color of official right” to make a request for something that would benefit the official personally. The very making of the request while acting in an official capacity, is itself, the making of a threat to use official power and is extortionate and an abuse of official power. There is no requirement that the receiver of the threat produce the intended extortionate payoff. There is no need for a quid pro quo.
It appears Donald Trump has learned much from his extensive dealings with Russian oligarchs and members of the American mafia whom he encountered in his New York real estate dealings. Too bad he didn’t instead spend his time reading American history and the Constitution. If he had, perhaps he would have developed an appreciation for our nation, its people, their aspirations and our democracy with its rule of law.
Tom Coleman represented Missouri as a Republican in the United States House from 1976-1993. He has taught as an adjunct professor at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and at American University in Washington, D.C.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.