Donald Trump And The Ravaging Corruption

"What continues to amaze me is that they found Americans willing to partner with them."

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A fateful convergence of events Friday reflected a culture of corruption and intimidation endemic to the circle of a President who vowed to drain the swamp but instead became its incarnation.

First, a US ambassador told how her reputation was shredded and she was hounded out of her job by President Donald Trump‘s rogue associates after a faultless 30-year career advancing America’s interests.

Incredibly, her testimony was interrupted by a Trump attack tweet that visibly exacerbated her anguish over his bullying tactics, lent credibility to her testimony and could now be folded into articles of impeachment.

The Nixon-era political trickster was found guilty of lying to Congress and witness tampering, apparently motivated by a desire to protect Trump from embarrassment over the Russia scandal.

Donald Trump
Diplomatic aide David Holmes testified that he had heard Trump on a telephone call ask US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland whether the Ukrainians were going to open investigations he had asked for into former Vice President Joe Biden and a conspiracy theory surrounding the 2016 election.

Sondland told Trump on the call in July that Ukranian President Vlodymyr Zelensky was ready to do “anything you ask him to,” according to a transcript of an opening statement delivered by Holmes to a closed-door session of the impeachment investigation.

The revelation significantly raised the stakes for Sondland’s testimony in a televised hearing next week and suggests that Trump was intimately involved in his lawyer Rudy Giuliani‘s scheme to pressure the Ukrainians.

At a time of swirling misinformation, propagandistic pro-Trump news coverage and conspiracy theories, it showed that while facts may be under assault, they can ultimately still emerge in a way that will allow history to render a judgment even if the fractured political climate makes that it impossible in the moment.

The Stone and Yovanovitch dramas did not take place in isolation. They fit into a pattern of questionable behavior clouding Trump’s entire political career. The sheer weight of such evidence confounds his supporters’ claims that the real problem is that Democrats and the media are caught up in some kind of “Never Trump” mania that amounts to a coup.

This, after all, is a President who demanded misplaced personal loyalty from FBI chief James Comey, then fired him and said he did it because of the Russia investigation. Trump also repeatedly berated his first Attorney General Jeff Sessions for honoring an obligation to recuse himself from the Russia probe.

The human toll of the Ukraine scandal

Adam Schiff,Marie Yovanovitch, Donald Trump
Yovanovitch’s only offense may have been that she got in the way of a plan by Giuliani, working at Trump’s direction, to get the Ukrainian government to investigate one of the President’s domestic political opponents — Biden.

Democrats scheduled the former ambassador in their second televised impeachment hearing to suggest the human cost of the President’s Ukraine scheme.

Yovanovitch also found herself the target of a fierce campaign by conservative pundits that including the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr.

“How could our system fail like this?” Yovanovitch asked.

“How is it that foreign corrupt interests could manipulate our government? Which country’s interests are served when the very corrupt behavior we have been criticizing is allowed to prevail?” Yovanovitch said.

Trump’s tweet in which he accused Yovanovitch of making each country that she served in — for instance Somalia — worse, only lent credibility to her account of feeling intimidated by the commander-in-chief’s smears and threats.

“It was idiotic to tweet today about her,” one Trump campaign source told CNN’s Jim Acosta. “She seems legitimately worried.”

The President’s intervention could be a sign that he understood the damage the ambassador’s testimony was doing. But he insisted later that he had every right to go after her.

“You know what? I have the right to speak. I have freedom of speech just as other people do, but they’ve taken away the Republicans rights,” the President said.

Trump rails at ‘double standard’

Trump Impeachment Hearing
Stone became the sixth Trump associate to be convicted — a list that includes former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, the campaign’s ex-deputy chairman Rick Gates, short-lived national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos.

Stone’s conviction stems directly from the Mueller investigation. He was accused of lying about his efforts to contact Wikileaks to get information that could helped Trump during his 2016 election campaign against Hillary Clinton.

Trump reacted furiously to Stone’s conviction, claiming his fate at the hand of a jury of his peers was another example of an establishment plot against him.

The President has exceedingly broad power to pardon offenders, but saving Stone would suggest that people around him are above the law. And it would further color in a portrait of rampant corruption already threatening to dominate his legacy.

The President has exceedingly broad power to pardon offenders, but saving Stone would suggest that people around him are above the law. And it would further color in a portrait of rampant corruption already threatening to dominate his legacy.

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