Ukrogate: Will Trump share Nixon's fate?

Author : Georgiy Kuhaleyshvili

Source : 112 Ukraine

Democrats suspect Trump of abuse of power and pressure on his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, referring to information from an anonymous informant who spoke with officials from the Presidential Administration
23:32, 13 November 2019

The New York Times

For almost two months, Ukraine occupied the front pages of American press. In September, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi of the Democratic Party, announced the start of the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. The first hearings on this issue in Congress should be held on November 13.

Democrats suspect Trump of abuse of power and pressure on his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, referring to information from an anonymous informant who spoke with officials from the Presidential Administration.

In July, during a telephone conversation, Trump asked Zelensky to resume an investigation into the activities of Hunter Biden, the son of former US Vice President and one of the Democratic candidates Joe Biden. Former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin suspected Biden Jr. of corruption when he worked at the Burisma Holdings oil and gas company.

However, under pressure from Vice President Biden, ex-President Petro Poroshenko removed Shokin from his post, and the case was closed. According to Gordon Sondland, US ambassador to the EU, the prospect of providing $ 400 million in military assistance to Kyiv depended on Zelensky’s consent to announce an investigation into Burisma Holdings and Biden.

As an argument for the removal of Trump from power, the Democrats are trying to use the facts of private intervention in US foreign policy, which is contrary to law. Based on the testimony of a number of civil servants, including Kurt Volker, former Special Representative for Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Gordon Sondland - U.S. Ambassador to the EU, Rudolf Giuliani, lawyer and former Mayor of New York has a significant impact on Trump's position on Ukraine.

Giuliani convinced Trump that Ukraine is a corrupt country and there is no point in investing money there. Trump believes that Yovanovitch and Presidential Administration tried to influence the results of the presidential election in 2016 in the interests of the Democratic Party, and the hacked servers of the National Committee of the Democratic Party were allegedly located in Ukraine.

Trump did not discuss issues related to Ukraine with Volker and Sondland, but asked diplomats to talk about this with Giuliani, who is not a civil servant and is far from foreign policy and international relations. Until the end of this year, it is planned to vote on the impeachment of Trump in the House of Representatives, and in the beginning of 2020 - in the Senate. However, things are far from a fact that Democrats will succeed.

Watergate Legacy

The Democratic Party expects to repeat the success of the Watergate Scandal of 1972-1974, but with Trump. In February 1974, the House of Representatives began an impeachment process against Republican President Richard Nixon, who was suspected of trying to install wiretaps at the Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate Washington complex during the 1972 election campaign.

Five people who installed special equipment were detained. Initially, Nixon denied any involvement in this incident, refused to communicate with the prosecutor. However, he voluntarily resigned after the Senate had records from the Oval Office where he discussed with his chief of staff Harry Holdman how to use the CIA and the FBI to thwart the investigation.

Even if Democrats fail to remove Trump from power, at least they are interested in destroying his reputation. As in the case of Nixon, they want to influence through the loyal media, such as CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times, to exaggerated by negativity around the Ukrainian scandal.

The investigation is in the political interest of the Democratic Party. Indeed, this whole sensation about the impeachment of Trump reminds the investigation of the special prosecutor Robert Mueller about Russia's interference in the US presidential election in 2016, in which the Democrats were interested.

Since Mueller was unable to find a connection between Trump's election headquarters and the Kremlin, the Democrats needed another reason to discredit the Republicans. In this regard, Trump's clumsiness and carelessness played into his hands. In violation of all procedures, he decided to agree in his own way with the President of Ukraine on the search for compromising evidence against his rival Biden and connected his bosom friend Giuliani to issues of interstate relations.

Related: Giuliani's associate said he discussed Ukraine with Trump at donor dinner

It is difficult for opposition candidates Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders to oppose Trump. No matter how the American establishment pours mud on Trump, he enjoys the trust of qualified American workers because during its reign new jobs were created, business activity in the energy sector increased, and the economy grew.

Trump is supported by the devout Evangelical Protestants of the American South, whom he conquered by reasoning about the importance of traditional family values. Until recently, Trump's activities as president were supported by 86% of Republicans.

By initiating an impeachment procedure against Trump, the Democrats provoked a split in American society (49% for impeachment, and 47% against). The president’s support among Republican supporters decreased to 77-79% (Trump’s presidency is not supported by 91% of Democrats).

Democrats are looking for an alternative to Biden, whose reputation has been tarnished by the scandal surrounding Ukraine, and to democratic socialists like Warren, Harris, Sanders, whose ideas are too reactionary. There was information that one of the sponsors of the Democratic Party, a businessman, the former mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg is considering the opportunity to run for president of the United States.

According to a Morning Consult / Politico poll, 43% of Democrats and Republicans would vote for Bloomberg, while 37% would vote for Trump if the elections were held in November this year. Although today the Bloomberg support resource among the Democrats is small. He is in sixth place among the Democratic candidates, and he still has to fight for the victory in the primaries.

Republican Position

There is no unequivocal attitude towards Trump in the Republican Party. If you look at the political crisis in the United States through the eyes of the Republican neoconservatives, then Trump and Giuliani are the black sheep of the Republican Party.

Trump's isolationism, the desire to reduce America’s interference in the affairs of other states, the restrained attitude towards the use of military force diverge from the foreign policy line that prevailed during the reign of presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

The neoconservatives advocate the use of military force and economic power as a tool for spreading democracy and American influence in third countries and aim to achieve US global leadership.

Trump's slogan “Make America Great Again” has not justified itself in foreign policy. The decline in military presence in northeastern Syria and the reluctance to support local Kurds led to the filling of the vacuum by Russia and Turkey. Sanctions against Venezuela, Iran did not force the leadership of these countries to reckon with the interests of the United States, and Trump did not have enough decisiveness to strike.

Trump was unable to convince North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to abandon nuclear weapons and missile tests. Under Trump, US relations with NATO's European partners, China deteriorated. Trump could not force Russia into peace in eastern Ukraine, and the new sanctions did not make Russian President Vladimir Putin more accommodating. Trump's half-hearted measures, indecision and political illiteracy did not contribute to strengthening US global leadership.

During the 2016 election campaign, many reputable Republicans, like the late Senator John McCain, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former U.S. President George W. Bush, were against Trump's nomination for presidency.

Trump and Giuliani are not honored by the fact that they changed parties like gloves. Giuliani was a member of the Democratic Party until 1975. Trump fled from one political force to another: in 1987-1999 he was a member of the Republican Party, then in 2001 he joined the Democratic Party, and in 2009 he returned to the ranks of the Republicans.

The Republican Party should bring into the game a qualified neoconservative with an iron political will, able to curb attempts by Russia, China, Iran and Turkey to upset the existing balance of power in the world and destabilize the situation in the field of international security.

However, the neocons have long ceased to dominate the Republican Party. The so-called “Tea Party Movement” plays a key role: economic conservatives who advocate tax cuts, a reduction in public debt, and budget deficits by cutting government spending, which Trump is trying to achieve.

With all the weaknesses of Trump, they are not looking for a replacement for him and will pull him for a second term, rather than creating the conditions for the victory of opponents. Even such a tough critic of Trump’s policies, like former presidential adviser on national security, neoconservative John Bolton, refused to testify against the former boss.

Related: What Trump is hiding from the impeachment hearings

Democrats will not be able to find support for the impeachment of Trump in the US Senate, and all this turmoil is needed to bring a democratic socialist to power. In order to remove the president from power through the impeachment procedure, two-thirds of the members of both houses of the US Congress are required. Democrats occupy 53% of the seats in the House of Representatives (233 out of 435 seats), 45% - in the Senate (45 out of 100). They cannot do this without the support of the Republicans.

Republican Senator John F. Kennedy has expressed doubt that his party members and Democrats will find agreement on this issue. Republican Congressman demanded Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, bring Hunter Biden and an anonymous informant to the hearing. Republican Senator Rand Paul also wants to see Biden Jr.

Republicans want to see the validity of Democrats' arguments for impeachment of Trump. Republican Senator Lamar Alexander believes that if the leader of the Republican majority, Mitch McConnell, and the leader of the democratic minority, Chuck Schumer, agree, then most senators will support them, but it will not be easy.

Compared to the Watergate Scandal, which put an end to Nixon’s presidency, Democrat arguments for impeaching Trump may seem weak. According to a survey by Vox, PerryUndem, Ipsos, 65% of Republican Party supporters believe that Trump’s actions towards Ukraine are a completely normal political maneuver.

Moreover, Zelensky himself denies that the American president put pressure on him. Well, Congressman Democrat Steve Cohen’s argument that Trump has trampled on “American values” may seem naive, given the fact that, in order to maintain power, Republicans turn a blind eye to Trump’s serious mistakes and still have not initiated the impeachment process themselves.

Consequences for Ukraine

Ukraine does not benefit from the political crisis burning in the USA. Washington will not get closer to Kyiv if Trump is elected for a second term. Through the efforts of Giuliani, Trump no longer has confidence in Ukraine as a trustworthy partner.

It is difficult to disagree with Giuliani about the problem of corruption in Ukraine. According to the Transparency International Corruption Susceptibility Index, Ukraine is even ahead of Albania and Northern Macedonia, occupying 120th place. The authority of the new Ukrainian government is undermined by periodic scandals involving MPs from the party "Servant of the people."

If Democrats come to power in the USA, then they will also not have confidence in Zelensky. The Ukrainian president’s agreement to assist Trump in investigating Biden’s activities in Ukraine is seen as supporting Democrat rivals in the 2020 presidential election.

Zelensky repeated the mistake of Poroshenko, who supported the candidacy of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Ukrainian authorities should have made it clear to Trump that the activities of the Burisma Holdings company are a matter of Ukrainian justice, even if the son of the former US vice president worked there, and there is no reason to interfere in the internal affairs of our country.

However, no one did this, which ultimately led to the dragging of Ukraine into the squabbles of the Republican and Democratic parties of the United States.

Related: Trump plans to fire White House Chief of Staff over statement on Ukraine, - media


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