President Donald Trump’s disgraceful dealings

President Donald J. Trump responds to a question from the news media during a joint press conference with the President of Finland Sauli Niinistö in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on Wednesday. Photo Credit: Chris Kleponis/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shut/Chris Kleponis/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Fearing impeachment, he is trying to distract attention from his Ukraine shakedown.

President Donald J. Trump responds to a question from the news media during a joint press conference with the President of Finland Sauli Niinistö in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on Wednesday.
President Donald J. Trump responds to a question from the news media during a joint press conference with the President of Finland Sauli Niinistö in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on Wednesday. Photo Credit: New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations and the J.D. Salinger Literary Trust; photographed by Robert Kato

Hour by hour, the steady drip of evidence that President Donald Trump is callously misusing his office builds. Trump tried to make military assistance for Ukraine conditional on that government helping him to secure a win in the next election and whitewash the last one.

The detailed information from a whistleblower, State Department officials and, most significantly, from Trump himself, depicts a president who will disregard our laws, defy Congress and undermine our nation’s reputation if it will help him personally.

The House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry stems from a whistleblower complaint alleging that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 phone call to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Ukraine was desperately trying to get Trump to release $390 million in military aid.

The rough transcript of Trump’s Ukraine telephone call, texts between State Department officials, documents, and the words and actions of Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, all confirm that linking the money to an investigation of the Bidens was Trump’s intent.

Trump doubled down on Thursday. Addressing upcoming negotiations over tariffs, Trump said, "I have a lot of options on China, but if they don’t do what we want, we have tremendous power."

And what do “we want” from China?

“China should start an investigation into the Bidens,” Trump said moments later.

But such an investigation, no matter what it unearthed, wouldn’t shrink our trade deficit or bolster our nation’s steel industry. It’s not about the nation, it’s about Trump.

What makes Trump’s manipulation and misdirection so hard to dismiss is the kernel of truth they build on. Our politics are a swamp. Hunter Biden, 49, has taken advantage of his father’s position. He should not have taken a $50,000-a-month post to sit on the board of a Ukrainian energy company run by a Russian oligarch while his father was vice president. But the evidence shows Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin was dismissed because he was doing nothing to address massive corruption. The timing shows his dismissal was not connected to Hunter Biden. 

Hunter Biden should not have founded a fund focused on investing Chinese capital in companies based outside of China while his father was in office, but there is no credible evidence that Joe Biden did anything to further Hunter’s interests there.

The investigation details how Trump directed Vice President Mike Pence to delay a meeting with Zelensky and told the Ukraine leader to work with Attorney General William Barr on the Biden probe. Trump also deployed Giuliani to Ukraine to arrange trading a state visit to Washington in return for a Biden probe.

Giuliani shouldn’t have been deployed to shake down foreign leaders. Barr undermined the integrity of his office by squashing the two attempts by the whistleblower to bring attention to the Trump Ukraine call.

Trump defends his wrongdoing with baseless claims of conspiracy fueled by profane, irrelevant and often untrue attacks against his political opponents. 

We are writing history now, and it’s the president’s disgraceful behavior that is the story. Don’t be distracted by the footnotes. 

The Editorial Board