We now know the truth: President Trump asked the leader of Ukraine to investigate the man who was widely seen as his strongest potential opponent during a phone call in which he noted that “we do a lot for Ukraine.” He threw an invite for a White House visit into the bargain.
Let’s say this as simply and clearly as possible. Trump was using the inducement of American taxpayer dollars to get a foreign power to intervene in our politics on his behalf. That he didn’t specifically mention aid in the readout of one phone call the White House released Wednesday doesn’t change the message he was sending. Trump was subordinating our country’s national security interests to his selfish needs. He was willing to do anything to smear Joe Biden. And he was happy to offer up the services of our own Justice Department to advance the effort.
Trump spoke to Volodymyr Zelensky (“do us a favor,” the president said at one point) as if the newly elected foreign leader were the chairman of a planning board who could grant a variance for a Trump building project or a New York politician who could approve a tax break.
“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution, and a lot of people want to find out about that,” Trump said to Zelensky, according to a rough White House transcript of the call. “So whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great.”
It needs to be said often that there has been no credible charge that the former vice president did anything untoward when his son Hunter worked for a Ukrainian energy company. As The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake wrote Tuesday: “Ukraine’s current prosecutor general told Bloomberg he had no evidence of anything illegal or corrupt by either Joe or Hunter Biden.”
This is the kind of Trump hit job with which we are now depressingly familiar. No matter whom you favor for the Democratic presidential nomination, it’s an outrage that Biden is being hurt by reports of Trump’s own lawlessness.