September 27, 2019

DELGADO | Trump, Biden and Ukraine: The Whistleblower Complaint and the Fate of the 2020 Election

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Foreign powers implicate President Trump once again in the investigation of his domestic political adversaries. This time, all talk of Russian collusion is taking a backseat to the new situation with Ukraine.

The Washington Post released information which alluded to a whistleblower in the intelligence community. The whistleblower, a C.I.A officer, according to the New York Times, raised concerns over communication between President Trump and the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy. The report has not been deemed urgent by the Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, which makes many left-leaning writers suspect a cover-up.

I believe that President Trump requested foreign interference against his most dynamic Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, in an attempt to destabilize his position in this upcoming election cycle.

The Story

On July 25, President Trump reached out to Zelensky to investigate allegations that could damage Biden and his son, Hunter, who is on the board for the Ukranian energy company Burisma Group. On eight separate occasions during their phone call, President Trump requested that Zelensky send any findings to Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Trump also insisted that Zelensky speaks to Attorney General Willaim Barr to launch an inquiry on the prior Vice President. President Trump’s team has claimed that Biden, in his former role as U.S. Vice President, threatened to withhold $1 billion in loans from Ukraine in order to get rid of the then-prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, who was investigating Burisma Group and its owner for money laundering and potential abuses of power. Shokin was ousted in March 2016, and President Trump has apparently sat on this information since then, waiting to see if Biden would become a potential rival.

Over the past summer, the U.S. withheld $250 million in security and military assistance, which the Ukrainian government desperately needed. This is an important point, as it appears that the Trump administration has engaged in the exact behavior that it is accusing Biden of. After the whistleblower business was publicized, the funds were released to Ukraine.

History of Trump Allegations

In July 2016, President Trump called on powers such as China, Russia and other major hacker organizations to leak Hillary Clinton’s personal email account. This was not the first indication of one of President Trump’s most dangerous positions. President Trump seems to believe that anyone who disagrees with him is guilty of some imagined crime.

On May 1, 1989, Trump aided the media craze around the Central Park Five jogger rape case, which falsely convicted five male teenagers of color for sentences ranging from five to 15 years, by requesting the return of the death penalty for them. After the convictions were vacated and the real perpetrator came forward in 2002, Trump continued to deny their innocence. On Oct. 7, 2016, he restated his position on the guilt of the Central Park 5 in spite of irrefutable DNA evidence to the contrary.

In 2008, Donald Trump unsuccessfully sued Deutsche Bank for $3 billion after their attempts to collect $40 million which he had personally guaranteed to the company. In February 2011, Trump helped launch the “birther movement,” a national campaign by some far-right proponents to discredit Obama’s educational history, to question his religious affiliation, to deny his State of Hawaii birth certificate and to accuse him of being involved in the untimely death of a Hawaiian state official.

In July, President Trump accused the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) of stealing billions of dollars that could have aided Baltimore’s residents. Trump’s proposed investigation of Cummings has not been carried out yet, as it does not have any basis on existing information. The most recent known activities of Rep. Cummings had been confronting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan over the horrible conditions of the holding facilities at the U.S.-Mexico border, and beginning investigations into White House aides over potential mishandling of official information.

What do all of these allegations say about Trump? They’re generally meaningless and are only used for self-gain.

 From Zero to Impeachment

President Trump is attempting to undermine Biden, one of the Democratic frontrunners. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been pressured by many Democrats to impeach President Trump, which would be the ultimate consequence for his unruly meddling. I am in favor of impeachment, but am skeptical of the process and its ability to produce the desired outcome. The House of Representatives has a Democratic majority whose passionate members are largely willing to indict President Trump. However, the Senate has a Republican majority, and a significant portion of Democrats who are determined to appear moderate to continue to receive votes and satisfy corporate interests, which will most likely acquit President Trump. Pelosi also has sought to protect vulnerable Democrats in GOP-leaning districts who could face voter backlash over impeachment, which has caused her to resist the urge for impeachment. However, as of Sept. 25, Pelosi has called for an inquiry of impeachment, stating that “[the president] is not above the law” and that “[he] needs to be held accountable.”

Many Americans wanted Trump gone before his tenure as U.S. president had started. Even before he had a chance to do anything overtly unconstitutional, President Trump’s long record of detrimental behavior made him unworthy of his office. This new issue with Ukraine will likely be covered up by a strategic reshuffling of cabinet members, firings and re-hirings in the intelligence community and new outrageous tweets by President Trump. The best move is to put our focus on replacing President Trump in 2020, as opposed to trying to fight someone who has been doing whatever he wants for years with few real consequences.

Canaan Delgado is a junior in the College of Engineering. He can be reached at demassa-delgado@cornellsun.com. No Church in the Wild appears every other Tuesday this semester.