What About the Ukraine: Thoughts About the Whistleblower
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
The events of the past ten days have dramatically changed the Washington landscape. As the House of Representatives proceeds with various impeachment maneuvers, the White House appears to be caught in state of chaos. While President Trump has always seen his Administration as driven by a decision-maker of one, the level of intense political discomfort that has now encapsulated the White House staff is unprecedented. No one in the White House is confident about what to do because they have no idea what the President wants or will do next. Like numerous other decisions which this Administration has faced before, the crisis is unravelling and out of control. This time it is a foreign policy/national security situation in Ukraine wrapped up in presidential domestic political gamesmanship. This time the President’s conduct is precipitating an even more likely impeachment than did the Mueller report.
The whistleblower and his letter are beginning to look like the opening salvo of what will be a flood of exposures about Trump’s violations and misdeeds. The whistleblower obviously has credibility and was prepared to take the heat which is only beginning to be placed on his head, but as was in the case in the Ervin Watergate Committee Investigation, once one person steps forward the dikes will burst. The whistleblower’s sources, or at least some of them, may now feel comfortable to step forward. If such a roll-out were to occur, the President will not be able to lie his way through such an onslaught.
No doubt underlying much of the Ukraine-gate probe sits Russia and Trump and his relationship with Vladimir Putin and Trump. Russia clearly has much to gain if Ukraine’s ability to obtain additional military assistance is withheld or at least disrupted, but what does Donald Trump receive in return from Putin; or is it merely another effort to cozy up to the Russians as repayment for previous sins?
Undoubtedly the Trump dirty tricks campaign operation has been working diligently to unearth personal dirt and soft spots about Biden or Warren which can be exploited during the campaign. The Hunter Biden/Joe Biden Ukraine game, however, has only rhetoric and no legs.
A Classic Consigliere
Rudy Giuliani is Donald Trump’s incarnation of Roy Cohn. As the latest Ukraine episode makes clear, Giuliani is very much Trump’s consigliere. Michael Cohen was Trump’s dumpier version who acted as the real estate magnate’s hatchet man. Unlike Cohen, Giuliani is an experienced politician who has been through the wars. He is a smart, unscrupulous lawyer who brags about his skills. The former New York Mayor works for his current client for $1 a year as he travels about in the lofty atmosphere of presidential politics and diplomacy. The problem is Giuliani is not a Washington trained lawyer like Roy Cohn even if he was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Like Cohn he is thug, but like Michael Cohen he eventually will take a big fall for protecting his client. Trump will not go down alone.
Congress and/or the Courts will challenge many of Giuliani’s actions on behalf of the President. Trump and Giuliani bond over their similar disregard for any law or legal precedent which stands in their way. Trump will eventually be caught on some charge and New York’s Mayor is going to go down first as Trump’s sacrificial lamb with the same brazen fierceness as did Michael Cohen. Giuliani, too, will not beat the system.
So far with the exception of Senator Mitt Romney and Representative Mike Turner there have been very few voices in the GOP who have strayed off the reservation and have ceased to toe the party line. Should the impeachment process truly heat up and public outrage spread, Republicans will run for the hills and will abandon the President. Many Republicans—despite all their perceived loyalty—recognize that Trump will be a weight that they will have to bear for years. What still remains to be seen is how the Trump faithful will eventually respond.