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We long ago established that Donald Trump is a bad guy. We’ve multiple times said, “This is it. They’ve got to get rid of him.” So what’s so new and awful that the president of the United States must now be impeached?

Maybe a lot; maybe not so much.

The Department of Justice has already determined that Trump, in soliciting a favor from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — asking him to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and his son Hunter — didn’t break any campaign finance laws. As far as we know — thus far.

Kathleen Parker mug

kathleen parker

A rough transcript of the conversation between the two world leaders confirms the asking of a favor, but a full version — and any clearer quid pro quo inference — hasn’t been made available.

Trump had suspended nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine before his call and, according to the whistleblower complaint, Zelensky was at some point told that a meeting with Trump depended on his willingness to “play ball.”

This approach seems inherently corrupt, as American norms go. But does it break any laws? Trump skates so close to the edges of illegality in nearly everything he does that it’s almost impossible to believe he’s still skating.

But would Trump at his most clueless pursue such a reckless course of action without checking the legal boundaries? Surely, after two years of investigation into potential collusion between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Kremlin, he would steer clear of a potentially criminal maneuver.

Or, is corruption so widespread in the White House, as suggested by the whistleblower, that the president felt he could do whatever he wanted? After all, former special counsel Robert Mueller was unable to find sufficient evidence of a conspiracy with Russia.

Apparently, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has decided there’s enough there-there to pursue an impeachment inquiry, even knowing that the Senate likely won’t confer its imprimatur. There simply aren’t enough votes in the Republican-controlled Senate to see an impeachment through, as was similarly the case following the then-Republican-controlled House impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998.

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To most minds, Trump’s alleged appeal to a foreign government for political help in the 2020 election is far more egregious than Clinton’s lies under oath about “sexual relations” with an intern.

It’s obviously wrong on its face to solicit foreign interference in an American election, but that’s not precisely what Trump did with Zelensky. Rather, during the July 25 call, he asked Zelensky to investigate whether Biden tried to intercede on behalf of his son, Hunter Biden, during a Ukrainian corruption investigation of a gas company that included the younger Biden on its board of directors.

The answer seems to be “no.” According to multiple reports, the investigation into the gas company had been dormant before then-Vice President Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion from Ukraine if the country’s prosecutor general didn’t resign.

But, Trump, the master of messaging, has managed to connect Joe Biden’s name to Ukrainian corruption, even if there’s no evidence to support it. Biden has dismissed the allegations as a “smear,” which seems accurate.

For his part, Zelensky told Trump in July that he would appoint a prosecutor general to look into the Biden matter. But at a joint press conference in New York Wednesday, the Ukraine president said Trump had not “pushed” him to do anything.

While Middle America mutters economy-economy-economy, Washington and the media will busy themselves the next several weeks with the impeachment drama. This is not to dismiss the importance of Trump’s dubious overtures to Ukraine nor his endlessly offensive, corruption-smelling conduct. Everything he does and says carries the whiff of wrongdoing. But legality and ethics are separate entities, a distinction well understood by the wicked and the shrewd.

It would seem for now that we’re in the early phase of a political match-up between Biden and Trump in which the message — not the good — usually wins. Trump knows this in ways Democrats don’t, which is always his advantage.

As the late GOP chairman and ruthless political operative Lee Atwater once told a political science student: Unless you can sell your message in two minutes at a truck stop, it was either wrong or wouldn’t work.

For now, the Democratic Party message is still in the bottle.

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Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker can be reached at kathleenparker@washpost.com.

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(25) comments

crank

Every day in these opinion columns, there’s more drama and hysteria from our tribe of partisan trib-libs than from all of the vapid, preening fame seekers who compete for attention on that stupid dating show the missus claims she doesn’t watch. “The most exciting rose ceremony ever!”



Tune in tomorrow to listen to more insipid whining from those crybabies who STILL cannot get over losing the presidential election. Talk of impeaching Trump began even before he was elected. At this point, impeachment could be great for Republicans. Either Trump is impeached and acquitted and the Democrats are shown to be what they are or Pence takes office and runs as the incumbent who will very likely beat any of the Democrat crockpots running. Win...win...

martian2

gee crank, give us some proof of that talk of impeaching Trump before he took office. I doubt you can. Yes win win is all that counts for the mindless Trump sheep. Party before country. Who you gonna root for if a civil war breaks out, which Trump warned about. Are you for the scorched earth policy of your fuhrer, or would following constitution in a peaceful manner be ok with you. Oh the suspense is just starting crank, hold on to your hat. The winds of change are blowing.

crank

Gee martian, perhaps you should pay better attention. I linked the proof here already. You go fetch it.

oldhomey

I would remind anybody reading anything by crank to avoid connecting to his proffered links. He has admitted many, many times that he tries to use software to identify those who connect to his links, identifying their computers and computer accounts, even the actual identities and embarrassing facts about those people. I know he claims to have done that to me, and I also know that he lied completely about it, discovering nothing about me, my computer or my computer accounts. But why give the chance to him? If he has evidence about anything, he can cut and paste it and not insist people tap into his proffered links.

DMoney

You have like a Third Reich fetish or something. You probably have swastikas adorning your home. Seriously, at this point, give it up. It's getting disturbing.

oldhomey

Thank you, D. It is good to know somebody from your camp finds crank to be as odious as the rest of us do. Perhaps he will listen to you, a fellow blindly rabid Trump supporter.

DMoney

Obviously I was referring to Martian, who includes a reference to Nazis in every post he makes, regardless of how inappropriate and disgusting that is. As for crank, he is an intelligent conservative who makes very good points. I don't know about this "internet spying" business, and I don't know why someone of such intellect would need to go there, but whatever. All of us have done/said stupid things on here. We're miserable and flawed creatures.

crank

This is oldhomey’s shtick... He is feeble attempts to attribute thoughts, motives and words to others is so ham-handed and as you stated, “obvious”, that it doesn’t merit a response. When he posts as martian2, oldhomey exhibits this Third Reich fetish and the rest of his stupid, childish inclinations perhaps to give voice to them while maintaining deniability, i.e. “That’s martian, not me! Martian is not nearly as smart as I am.” #amenmartian [rolleyes] What a sad little troll he is.

oldhomey

I see crank is back to running under the shade of D's commentaries for protection. If he wants to insist that martian and I are one and the same person, he should at least offer some proof of the allegation. C'mon, crank. Put up or shut up.

DMoney

Frankly I couldn't care less who posts under multiple names. For all you know I post as Cassandra2 just for kicks. Irrelevant. What's relevant is the message and Crank delivers it in a clear and precise manner. For every comment posted here, there are hundreds who read them with no comment. That's the audience, not ourselves.

oldhomey

You are absolutely right, D. crank in very clear language repeatedly puts up links to websites in his posts, a practice that he has admitted to many, many times so that he can employ software he uses to try to discover the actual identities of people he disagrees with, their computer i.p. addresses, their various computer accounts and other information. He has, as you say, been quite explicit about this on numerous occasions. He has, as you know, also lied about what he has claimed to have found out, and when cornered about that, he has admitted that he did not have anything to back up his allegations. I guess you, too, would agree that anybody who uses subterfuge like this, however, is distinctly lacking in basic ethical standards.



Does it matter that anybody on here would have more than one account and more than one screen name? Absolutely not. crank has lied under the name of crank and, in the past, also under the name HolmenPackerFan. What difference does it make? A lie is a lie under any name, and we all understand that. I personally only have one account and one screen name, oldhomey. I like to think I am better being honest than crank is. In fact, I know I am, but that is not a difficult bar to reach, given his repeatedly admitting to his underhanded efforts to uncover the identities of others. But, given your support of a person like Donald Trump, though I can't for a moment agree with you, I understand how you will also hold crank's hand in support of his nastiness. It is, of course, a reflection on your own priorities, and you don't look too good doing it, either for Trump or for crank.

crank

You're right...A lie is a lie, oldhomey. While you dwell on trolling your 'enemies list', you should stop and consider whether readers of your comments regard your conduct as being precisely the same as the things you claim about other users here. #enemieslist You are what you repeatedly do, oldhomey/martian....cura te ipsum!

oldhomey

crank, I can't worry too much about what others think when I tiresomely point out your monumentally bad behavior and lack of ethics on these boards. I just find you continually coming back here, putting up links that you hope others will tap into, and I warn them off of you. You have admitted countless times that you do this to identify people you disagree with on these boards by using software that you possess. When you try to duck it, I put up some of the very posts that you have made admitting to this. If that bothers you, I understand. It is meant to bother you. If it bothers others, I can't help it, I think you need to be exposed continuously for what you say you are doing.

crank

And yours, old troll? Why do you use multiple accounts here, falsely accuse others of this and then lie about it? You seem to have a blindspot when it comes to your own behavior and lack of ethics, oldhomey/martian2.

Cura te ipsum... (heal thyself)

Cassandra2

"For all you know I post as Cassandra2 just for kicks." Unlikely, D-Bag. Your toxic masculinity would never allow you to take on a feminine avatar.

oldhomey

crank, you have been m.i.a. for awhile, but now that you are back, you make about as much sense as new2. Are the two of you on some sort of medication that leaves you staggeringly confused and incapable of expressing your thoughts?


crank

Why, oldhomey? Is that your excuse for the way you carry on here? Your meds? They keep you up at night?



M.I.A? Clearly you’re engaged in some sort of imaginary war with those on your enemies list, still trolling using the puppet army... sad little troll.

oldhomey

Well, now that you mention it, crank, I am feeling a little sad. The state of the nation and the world since Trump came into power us nothing to be joyful about. I know it is silly for anybody to put the weight of a world they cannot control on their own shoulders, and I am not conceited in that way. I am just sad worrying about what is in store for my children and grandchildren. That is why I publicly object to the conduct of Donald Trump and the lies of people like you who try to defend him. I suppose it is all to no avail, but at least I feel like I made some effort in exposing frauds like you. That is why I "carry on" here.

crank

Have I actually defended Trump? Really? Or, do you simply assume any conservative who dares to disagree with you is defending Donald Trump?



If you recall accurately, you know that my comments about the last election where you Democrat idiots anointed perhaps the only person capable of losing the election to Donald Trump.... That’s on you pathetic little whiners and hardly constitutes praise, admiration or defense of Trump. You do love to imagine things though. I can also tell you, if the DNC’s plan for winning the White House in 2020 is more of the same sort of rhetoric citing racism, misogyny, homophobia, etc among conservatives, you might get the man re-elected. Again, that will be on you liberals. The election is yours to lose! (again)

oldhomey

Well let me put it this way, crank: You have never actually defended Trump in the same manner that Trump never actually offered a quid pro quo in the Ukraine scandal. Both of you are SUCH silver-tongued, believable snake oil salesmen. Both of you are the paragons of honesty and ethical behavior. You should each have an award hung around your necks, something with a long list of numbers, commemorating you in mug shots.

Rick Czeczok

Their message is, hate the president and do whatever we can to make him fail. What a great way to bring the country together. That is the face of socialism. Is that something you think to yourself "I gotta get me some of that"? That is were the country is heading with the democrats, the party comes first, no matter what it destroys.

Cassandra2

Comrade Zerocock's message is deny any and all facts, no matter how damning. That is the face of fascism and he greedily says "I gotta get me some of that". That is where the country is heading with republicans, their party comes first, no matter what it destroys.


PhysicsIsFun

With Trump there is a lot to hate.

oldhomey

I guess I am in the dark here. If Miss Parker really believes the Democrats (and the American public) should give Trump yet another free pass on this latest outrageous maneuver, when and where will we eventually put up the "Stop" sign as he continually ravages the norms, ethics, traditions, laws and institutions that we must maintain if we are to maintain a free and open democracy? Even if Trump weathers the impeachment hearings, gets off Scott free with the blessings of Moscow Mitch McConnell's Senate and is re-elected, there is a ground base established and re-affirmed of what the country should and must be that, once people suffer the inevitable damage Trump is wreaking long term on us, we can recognize and return to.

Cassandra2

Trump, along with the backers of the Unitary Executive Theory, think that there is NOTHING the President can do that it is illegal. It is the "L'etat c'est moi" notion of governance.

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