Asking China to Investigate the Bidens is Worse Than Trump’s Asking the Ukraine


Vikram Bath

Vikram Bath is the pseudonym of a former business school professor living in the United States with his wife, daughter, and dog. (Dog pictured.) His current interests include amateur philosophy of science, business, and economics. Tweet at him at @vikrambath1.

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132 Responses

  1. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    “Nevertheless, a stunning (to me) number of people do not see this as a quid pro quo.”

    Those same people, will, without pause, find the Quid Pro Quo of a foreign government donating money to the Clinton Foundation (or any other foundation associated with a Democratic Politician*), even though such donations have no emails or phone call transcripts supporting the notion.

    On a tangential note, Sanders and Warren have got to be feeling hurt that Trump isn’t asking foreign governments to investigate them. Clearly we can see who Trump is threatened by.

    *Likewise how any business dealing of a foreign government with any of Trumps business has no QPQ.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      Clearly we can see who Trump is threatened by.

      This just means Trump is stupider than Jacob Wohl – for all his comic ineptitude, at least Wohl can see who the Dem nominee will be.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Trump sees Biden as the biggest threat becaues Biden is the kind of guy Trump understands and relates to. Biden is an old school mans man type. Garrulous, in your face and a a generic boomer man. Warren is a woman so he inherently respects her less. Bernie is a weird left winger academic. Trump didn’t grow up with them in the NYC real estate world so bernie is incomprehensible outsider. Trump fears what he knows and doesn’t understand why warren or bernie might be tough for him.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      Well Sanders is probably on the way out due to his recent medical troubles. I don’t care what he or his supporters say. A 78 year old getting stents raises concerns.Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter says:

      “Nevertheless, a stunning (to me) number of people do not see this as a quid pro quo.”

      With the conversation right in front of me, I can see what Trump wants, but not what he is offering.

      So what am I missing?Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        China- big trade negotiations are coming up in the next couple weeks. He can offer favorable terms. It has already been reported he told the Chinese he wouldn’t make any fuss about Hong Kong. So not being a beacon of freedom for people yearning for yada yada yada is helpful to the Chinese gov.

        He has given favorable treatment to the Chinese at times when, purely coincidentally…his real estate company was going into business with the ChiGov in a large development in asia ( i ithink it was indonesia). And Ivanka got sweet deals on IP for her business, so i’m guessing they got something in return.Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter says:

          Yep. This is exactly why the Trump empire breaks the system.

          We can’t tell from what’s going on whether it’s business as usual for everyone involved (everyone has been nice to the Chinese at some point) (*) or whether it’s sweetheart deals(**).

          (*) Roll two dice 100 times then have the media report only your rolls of “12”. It will look pretty shady.

          (**) Given that it’s the Trumps and the Chinese there’s a good chance all the rolls were “12”.Report

          • Avatar greginak says:

            Yeah your right here. He is sporked everything by mixing his personal with his higher duty. Yup he F’d it. Shame there was no radical transparency with firm moral foundation of being above reproach or completely divesting himself or, since that would be no fun, just not have a global developer with interests, hidden and open, in various countries as prez. You are correct there. High five.

            And the QPQ coming up is about US gov trade negotiations, not his, and he hasn’t exactly been speaking up for the protesters in HK much now has he. So maybe he will give the chinese favorable concessions over US interests so he can get sham evidence from a sort of unpleasant dictatorship.Report

            • Avatar Dark Matter says:

              He is sporked everything by mixing his personal with his higher duty. Shame there was no radical transparency with firm moral foundation of being above reproach or completely divesting himself…

              If you’re interested in ethics, then you need to let it be an advantage for people like Romney and not a disadvantage. Trump is the guy who is comfortable living in shit storms.Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter says:

      find the Quid Pro Quo of a foreign government donating money to the Clinton Foundation (or any other foundation associated with a Democratic Politician*), even though such donations have no emails or phone call transcripts supporting the notion.

      Keep in mind HRC sold pardons without reaching the level of Quid Pro Quo.

      What seems to be happening is “relationship building” or “buying access”. I will constantly throw money at the Clintons and make me their “friend”. They will look for ways to use their position to do “favors” for me. It’s not a transaction if we don’t make it specific.

      A lot of (non)transactions seem to fall into this category. They hit the radar as an abuse of power and a corruption of the system, but we haven’t found a good way to make it illegal (and maybe we can’t).

      The end result is still unseemly amounts of money ending up in the hands of a politicians’ favorite charity/relative and the occasional unseemly “favor” done for the entities which do this. IMHO it’s very appropriate to shine a light on that sort of thing just to reduce how often it happens.Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        John Kerry’s step-son was a partner of Hunter Biden and broke with him over the Ukrainian Burisma deal, unwilling to take part in something that looked so obviously corrupt. The New York Post put it this way:

        Heinz parted ways with both men after raising concerns about corruption in Ukraine and questions about appearance.

        “The lack of judgment in this matter was a major catalyst for Mr. Heinz ending his business relationships with Mr. Archer and Mr. Biden,” Heinz spokesman Chris Bastardi told the newspaper.

        A person with family money, like Chris Heinz of the Heinz ketchup family, has room to value their reputation and honor above some shady contract with a bunch of cut throat oligarchs.

        Meanwhile, I saw this:

        Breaking: The whistleblower is a registered Democrat and CIA analyst who was detailed before the 2016 election to the Obama White House, where he worked on the NSC’s Ukraine desk & met w anti-Trump Ukrainian officials before being sent packing by the Trump NSC & becoming disgruntled.

        If he was meeting with the “anti-Trump” Ukrainian officials, he was probably neck deep in attempts to rig the 2016 election, and is likely in the same bed with them in terms of legal exposure. He has possibly stayed in contact with them, and with others associated with the NSC and CIA, and his information may have came from the Ukrainians who’d had the corrupt deals, or from Russian intelligence.

        Updated to add:

        BREAKING: The Democrat whistleblower who complained about Trump digging up dirt in Ukraine was himself helping dig up dirt in Ukraine against Trump (and Manafort) while working in the Obama White House during 2016 campaign.

        Well isn’t that not surprising at all.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        Bill Clinton’s pardoning of Marc Rich absolutely should be considered a quid pro quo. I regard this as obvious as wellReport

        • Avatar Dark Matter says:

          Bill Clinton’s pardoning of Marc Rich absolutely should be considered a quid pro quo. I regard this as obvious as well

          Ethically? Sure. People as far to the Left as Jimmy Carter have said there was clearly a connection between the money and the pardon.

          Legally? No. The gov spent time and money looking into this and concluded there was no illegality. Presumably that translates into English as “not provable in court because telepathy isn’t a thing”.

          This example, with both the resources spent investigating it and it’s clarity, showcase the limitations of the law and how high level elites get around it. This is not to say that all high level elites behave this way, much less all the time. The Clintons, like Trump, imho are truly exceptional in that regard.

          And then, having had what can be done showcased, we enter this world were random noise can be interpreted as data, and maybe it is. Bill’s charity accepts large amounts of money from corrupt companies or countries, the gov does (doesn’t do) something to/for them, were they connected? We clearly can’t depend on the ethics of the people involved because they have none. The Trump equiv is insane, his empire is everywhere, it’s always buying land and renting stuff, if it didn’t predate his political power by decades it’d look like a money laundering organization.Report

  2. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    Honestly, I would appreciate it if some of the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates would start talking about this very thing. They could talk, for instance, about asking the Philippines to investigate the Trump Organization’s dealings there, and they could do it a week before we do our annual meeting over US Military bases there. And so on.Report

  3. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    I’m starting to wonder if McConnell is mainlining antacids yet, or if he figures he can weather whatever storm Trump stirs up?Report

    • He can weather it, because if it ever gets bad enough folks on the right really do turn on Trump, he gets to be the hero for ridding them of him.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Exactly. The only tricky scenario McConnell would face is maintaining GOP control of the Senate if polling for marginal incumbents tips on the Trump impeachment issue. Personally, I think he’d prioritize the Senate over Trump if it came down to it.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          “Personally, I think he’d prioritize the Senate over Trump if it came down to it.”

          Concur. He’ll toss Trump under the bus in a New York Second if it lets him maintain control of the Senate.Report

    • Avatar George Turner says:

      Democrats are putting McConnell in the catbird’s seat. McConnell gets to make up the rules for any trial in the Senate. He can spend all of 2019 and 2020 conducting a deep investigation into Democrat corruption, issuing subpoenas for, well, everything.

      He doesn’t at all have to behave as Republicans did during the Clinton impeachment trial, where they let the House provide evidence and basically run the show. But he does have precedent. Nancy was so convinced that impeachment was inevitable that in 2018 she rewrote the House’s rules of impeachment so that Republicans can’t play a role, other than having their votes counted at the end of it.

      So I’m buying stock in popcorn companies.

      The reason to ask China some tough questions is that obviously someone over there gave $1.5 billion in Chinese assets to a person with drug and alcohol issues who had close ties to a US politician. That’s not a very wise thing to do, and I’m sure Xi and the Chinese public will want to know who made that decision, and why. We’d like to know, too. Was it in return for shipping a bunch of our factories over there, or for looking the other way as they claimed the South China Sea? Or was it in return for staying mum about the roundup of millions of Chinese Muslims? Maybe it was so we’d look the other way at rampant Chinese collusion, spying, bribery, and influence operations. The Democrats kept saying “Russia! Russia! Russia!” but the real bad actor is China.

      The thing about corruption is that most politicians live in glass houses, so Chinese won’t call out US corruption, and Republicans and Democrats usually won’t call out each other’s questionable dealings unless they get splashed all over the front pages. Well, Trump has no qualms about it. He’s been investigated by a small army of government attorneys who subpoenaed just about everything in this world and the next. He’s been wiretapped, subject to leaks, and had spies planted in his campaign.

      Now it’s Trump’s turn to put politicians under the microscope and let the wheel’s of justice grind finely. He campaign on draining the swamp, and as that happens, a whole lot of skeletons and rusted out cars are going to rise out of the mud. As someone who loves forensics and hidden secrets, this will be a whole lot of fun!Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

        George, I would appreciate it if you would address Vikram’s main point. I’d like to know how you would feel about it if a Democratic President – let’s say President Sanders for the sake of argument – started with this stuff?

        What if the delegation from Singapore were scheduled to visit Washington for trade talks and a week before that President Sanders said, “I have a lot of options with Singapore. If they don’t do what we want, we have tremendous power” and then thirty seconds later said, “I think they should investigate the Trump Organization’s dealings in that country, especially Eric Trump’s business”

        Would that be ok with you? It wouldn’t be ok with me, but maybe I’m out of step with where America is at.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

          No he wouldn’t because George only cares about supporting right-wing causes that activate his full fever brain. Impunity for Republicans, damnation for the libs. Everyone should know this by now. Why people still give him charitable and full faith and credit readings is beyond me?Report

        • Avatar George Turner says:

          Been there in 2016. Got the T-shirt. ^_^

          Not only were foreign governments asked for dirt on Trump, the intelligence apparatus of the United States was directed at destroying him. They colluded with Russian intelligence agents. They wiretapped Trump Tower. They planted spies in his campaign. They framed campaign officials. They lied to courts. They fabricated evidence. They leaked classified intelligence and unredacted documents. The violated rules of Federal procedure. They rigged investigations. They sabotaged his Presidency. They discussed conducting a coup under the 25th Amendment. They assigned pro-Hillary prosecutors to investigate him for two years. About the only thing they didn’t do is try to assassinate him, at least that we know of.

          It’s just made him stronger than they could ever imagine. 🙂

          They sowed the winds, and now they can reap the whirlwinds.

          But unlike Trump, where after two years of one of the most intensive investigations in history that concluded that not only didn’t Trump collude with the Russians, nobody knowingly did (except perhaps for the investigators writing the report), there was definitely lots of funny business in 2016 (as I mentioned above) that needs to be investigated. Trump is having it investigated, and let the chips fall where they may.Report

          • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

            For the record, that sure felt like a “whatabout” to me. Clinton is a dead issue. She’s not running for anything. She never will. Yep, you stopped her. I’m not interested in debating her.

            We need you on this. The country needs you. There’s nothing to debate about what Trump said, you can watch the video yourself. All that’s left is to say where you stand on it.Report

            • Avatar George Turner says:

              That wasn’t all Hillary, since she had been replaced as Secretary of State by John Kerry. The FBI and CIA, along with other federal agencies and departments that were neck deep in rigging the 2016 election, weren’t getting their marching orders from the DNC, they were getting them from the top of the Obama Administration.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                It’s no coincidence that the trust of government here is approaching what it was in soviet russia.

                The problem with systems of useful idiots, is you end up with corrupt idiot systems.Report

          • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

            By the way, I would support the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into whatever Hillary Clinton did. Except, you know, they already did that, and declined to prosecute.

            I would support an investigation and a prosecution carried out in this country, under our legal system as well. If they’ve done crimes, let’s hear about it.

            The thing is, let’s gather evidence and let people defend themselves in court. Like we allowed Paul Manafort to do. And Roger Stone.Report

            • Avatar JoeSal says:

              I think your assuming there is a vast amount of trust in a (leftist) legal system, and the courts that just doesn’t exist.

              I wouldn’t even trust this supreme court to defend anything rightward.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        McConnell gets to make up the rules for any trial in the Senate.

        He doesn’t. The Senate has a set of standing rules and procedures for how an impeachment trial is to be conducted. McConnell lacks the supermajority needed to change those rules using normal means, and almost certainly lacks the simple majority to change them via the nuclear option. Once the trial starts, control is largely in the hands of the Chief Justice. The Senate can overrule his decisions on procedure, but must do so by roll call vote every single time. Same thought as for rule changes — McConnell won’t have 51 votes to overrule the CJ.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      McConnell is playing this cool as a cucumber, as usual. All he’s committed to is having a vote in the Senate (“we have to take it up”) while leaving his options open depending on which way the political winds are blowing at that time. Meanwhile, judges – the only thing McConnell cares about at this point – will continue being confirmed.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      While support for Impeachment is overall higher than it has been (or at least an inquiry), Trump’s support among the GOP base/own the lib set (see George and Jaybird below) is still at plus 90 percent. That number needs to go way down before anyone but a retiring or former Republican makes any noises about this.

      Still the smarter Republicans (if they exist) and have not fallen to ownthelibsitis should realize that this ius a disaster. I might be assuming facts not evidence, like the existence of smarter Republicans.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    All Trump has to do is inspire his opponents to treat this like a dialectic.

    You can get your “Impeach Trump” (where the ‘u’ is a hammer and sickle) hat here. Let people at Trader Joe’s know where you stand! Make new friends when they come up to you and tell you “I like your hat!” (Maybe you’ll even get laid!)

    (Full disclosure: Ordinary Times is part of the Amazon Affiliate program and we get a small percentage of all products purchased through links created on this site.)Report

    • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

      The thing that’s very strange is how the “related products” feature mostly pro-Trump gear, though there are a few anti-Trump items there, too.

      I mean, I thought Amazon did their product recommendations via “people who bought this also bought…” but clearly not in this instance.Report

  5. Avatar greginak says:

    Well at least we answered the question we all knew the answer to. What would happen if Trump committed the corruption equivalent of shooting someone on 5th ave.Report

  6. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Do you realize that Democrats hate Glenn Greenwald and think he basically exists to troll Democrats by being a “Fox News leftist”? Also why the Noam Chomsky example? Since when as a Democratic administration done anything like that?Report

    • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

      I think Vikram was picking names most calculated to irritate conservatives, not to indicate likely choices.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        This, but also it’s not like all have Trump’s picks have mapped exactly with what he ultimately wanted. Bolton, for example. Anyway, the point isn’t to start with the right set of names but instead try people out and replace them when any of them isn’t acting in a way that delivers maximum benefit to you and maximum punishment on your perceived enemiesReport

  7. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    I keep coming back to the Trumpist base.

    They are at the point of literally embracing corruption, even to the point of having foreign nations interfere in our elections.
    Its the Amari/ French dispute on steroids, where in the conflict between liberal democracy and white supremacy, they decide that it is democracy that has to be jettisoned.

    We like to imagine that our liberty and freedoms are guaranteed somehow by our Constitution and market economy, but they really aren’t.

    America could become a totalitarian one party state without changing a word of the Constitution or anything about our economic system, merely by enough people wishing it to be so.

    And right now, there’s a scary number of people who wish it were so.Report

  8. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    From CNN:
    “During a phone call with Xi on June 18, Trump raised Biden’s political prospects as well as those of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who by then had started rising in the polls, according to two people familiar with the discussion. In that call, Trump also told Xi he would remain quiet on Hong Kong protests as trade talks progressed.”

    That last sentence would have been a scandal in any prior administration. Today it’s how America rolls.Report

    • Avatar George Turner says:

      I think the corruption probe will probably focus on the dismissed ambassador and the goings on at the US embassy, which famously sent Ukraine’s government a list of people and entities who were not to be investigated, including George Soros’s foundation.Report

      • Avatar Philip H says:

        You want to give us a non Info Wars citation for that assertion?Report

        • Avatar George Turner says:

          That was from Ukrainian prosecutors, who say they’re reopening a bunch of investigations, including investigations into Burisma. We were telling them who could and couldn’t be prosecuted, and our embassy was bragging about it. Heck, one of the people here cited a speech by the US ambassador who was talking about how much we were pushing their prosecutors office to “reform”. Soros’s e-mail to the US State Department also focused on the importance of changing the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor Joe Biden got fired led many of those reforms, but refused to drop his investigation into Burisma (the opposite of what Burisma’s DC-based PR firm told the world).

          In a country where everyone was incredibly corrupt, including many of their presidents, the person who controls the corruption investigations is king. Thus all the outside interest in controlling that office.

          As an aside, Adam Schiff has pretty deep ties to Ukrainian arms manufacturers, and Nancy Pelosi’s son Paul Jr, who co-founded an energy company that was indicted for fraud by the SEC, was in Ukraine as recently as 2017.Report

  9. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    If Jacob Wohl really went to Odessa, who the hell paid for it after all his previous fuck-ups:

  10. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    There isn’t anywhere else to put this, so I’m going to rant against Trump’s xenophobia and immigration policy here. On October 15, 2019, immigrants applying for permanent status will have to file an I-944. This form bears the very Orwellian title Declaration of Self Sufficiency. Its purpose is to expand the definition of public charge to eliminate practically everybody who isn’t wealthy and white. For over a hundred years, ever since the 19th century, federal law defined public charge as somebody where half or more of their income came from government assistance. Now it’s going to be defined as anybody who ever received public assistance in any form for whatever period. The form is 19 pages long and will take hours for people to fill out. Its demands are nearly impossible. It asks for credit reports, etc.

    Trump and all the members of administration are thieving bigs. They have been enriching themselves at the expense of the public. They stuff themselves with public money and steal from the poor to give to the wealthy. Yet the Evangelicals, those true and devote followers of Christ, eat this stuff up because of their cocaine level addiction to white supremacy in the name of Protestant Aryan Christ. In a just universe they would be boiled in a pot filled with their own excrement as molten gold and silver are poured on their flesh and down their throat. Yet, they are going to cause harm to countries millions and get away with it.Report

  11. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    Just to be clear, there doesn’t need to be any quid pro quo for this to be a full scale assault on American democracy.

    A world where President’s, governors, and mayors can weaponize the judicial system to investigate political opponents is not a republic anymore.

    And also once again, the Republican Party owns this, unless they say otherwise.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

      I will play devil’s advocate and argue the quid pro quo does matter.

      Trump asked Russia for Clinton’s emails during the campaign. We can argue about him getting fewer votes than Clinton, but he won the election, sort of validating in a way that the public was OK with it. We don’t know, however, that they are OK with putting a hold on military assistance to an ally as a condition. The quid pro quo forms a clear dividing line between his pre-election behavior and postReport

      • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

        What Trump is doing is using the power of his office for personal gain.

        In saying “The President of the United States wants you to investigate his opponent in exchange for nothing” the shocking abuse of power is the first phrase, the second is a minor detail.Report

        • Avatar George Turner says:

          But haven’t 100% of Democrats demanded that their political opponents be investigated for every conceivable action? Is there anything Trump has ever produced that they haven’t tried to subpoena? Is there anyone in his campaign or in his administration who hasn’t been targeted?

          Where is the rule that Democrats can investigate Republicans for anything, forever and all time, and even frame them, but no Republicans are ever allowed to investigate a Democrat for framing a Republican or other egregious abuses?Report

          • Avatar Philip H says:

            Email servers
            Pizza gate

            We can dance all day dude.Report

            • Avatar George Turner says:

              And Hillary committed how many felonies regarding her e-mail servers? Just the existence of her e-mail servers was a felony, as was erasing the information on them once their existence was discovered and put under Congressional subpoena.Report

              • Avatar Philip H says:

                And Condaleeza Rice had the same type of servers as did Colin Powell . . . . neither of whom was investigated by Congress. And the House could have made referrals for those felonies if they believed there was evidence – its not like Republican Chairs of the House Judiciary Committee were Clinton’s friends. But they didn’t make criminal referrals, because there was nothing to refer.

                And again – Hillary is no longer a politician or secretary of state or anything else political. Mr. Trump is currently President. That means his conduct matters here and now.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                The FBI and IG looked into it extensively. Powell received two e-mails that were later considered to be classified or confidential, and stands by his decision to use an early model Blackberry in lieu of phoning someone. Condi’s aides received 10 total e-mails to their own private accounts (probably on AOL or Yahoo).

                Clinton was running a completely off-the-books operation, with tens of thousands of missing e-mails, scrubbed servers, and computers and phones that she had smashed with hammers.

                Fortunately, the DoJ investigation into her e-mail situation is still ongoing, which might be the only thing that will stop her from becoming the 2020 nominee.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Being an unprincipled and completely selfish bastard is common to pre- and post-election. In fact, to every day of his miserable life.Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter says:

      Just to be clear, there doesn’t need to be any quid pro quo for this to be a full scale assault on American democracy.

      And that is the sound of goal posts being moved.

      Very likely it’s not going to be the last time, I’ve already heard from Team Blue “and we know that’s not the only thing he’s done”, with emoluments being thrown in there. We may get back to Stormy and Russia.Report

      • Avatar Philip H says:

        Technically it doesn’t matter since impeachment is apolitical action not a legal one. Thankfully the President has managed to clearly outline two quid pro quo incidents now regarding investigations of a political opponent.Report

  12. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I admit: I had been wondering if Purity Requirements meant that we abandon Real Politik.

    If it took Trump to do that…. well, it’s about time, don’t you think? (Maybe we should wait for Kissinger to die first, out of respect.)Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Huh??? It dont’ get any more realpolitik then screwing over freeish countries or protesters for our own wants or for personal political gain like trump is doing.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Indeed! Seriously, that’s only one of the myriad reasons we need to get rid of it!

        Are there any among us that thinks that Real Politik needs to stay? (Are there any among us who think that maybe that Real Politik had a place at one time?)Report

        • Avatar JoeSal says:

          Why is global anarchy important?Report

            • Avatar JoeSal says:

              Compared to global non-anarchy.

              (This has been one of those weird days where i can’t tell if we are talking past each other, or talking in a way that is a little too straight to see the curvature.)

              (Can we get Kimmi back, she was a hell of a lot better mad hatter than i can muster)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I may be inebriated so I’m gonna need you to explain to me the importance of “Real Politik”.

                Which, I assume, would be “non-anarchy”.

                If not, just assume “Jaybird’s Drunk” and give the rant you were inclined to give.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                Real Politik has a premise outside of moral discernment.

                Global anarchy allows nation states to make decisions grounded in morality and a recognized reasons of national sovereignty.

                How else would the US end up in bed with such a crazy murderous chick like China without checking morality at the door in the name of some screwed up socialist notion.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

      Trump’s actions have nothing whatsoever to do with Real Politik.

      The moral compromises of Real Politik were defended on the grounds that they were in the best interests of the nation.

      No one anywhere is even suggesting that asking foreign nations to investigate the President’s political rival is a moral compromise in the best interests of the nation.

      Trump is using the power of his office for his own gain, nothing else.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Golly, I figured *SOMEBODY* would defend moral compromises, I just didn’t figure it’d be Chip.

        Ah, well. Trump Delenda Est.Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine says:

          Now, now… the Moral defenses of RealPolitik (vs. the Historical Criticism) are similar to those for Just War:

          * The damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
          * All other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
          * There must be serious prospects of success;
          * The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated (the power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition).

          (from wikipedia)

          Prudence, wisdom and statecraft are required to adjudicate among the above considerations as they apply to any particular situation in any particular location.

          Which, incidentally, is why it looks different depending on time, place and means… such that it can *appear* inconsistent in application; even when it is not inconsistent from a Moral perspective. So it is possible to have consistent moral condemnation of other states and yet actions constrained by the principles above (and others… those are but a thumbnail).

          The real inconsistency is having Universal deontological Morals for Statecraft, but inconsistent means for applying them such that you are constantly granting exceptions to your Rules rather than planning actions according to your means and expected outcomes.

          Trump is neither a Realist nor a Neo-Con/Lib… he’s, unsurprisingly, a (cautious) Opportunist; cautious in the sense that he wants a greater degree of certainty of success to act than a typical Neo-Con, and cautious in that he fears failure even more than he looks for success (in Foreign Policy). To date, anyhow… I’ve no idea how he will react in a crisis foreign or domestic.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            In my youth, I saw Real Politik as a moral abomination.

            As I get older, I find myself seeing that, yeah, sometimes you have to make hard compromises because, let’s face it, despite being omnibenevolent, we are not omnipotent.

            Anyway, I imagine that we are going to find out that there have been a *LOT* of deals made in the past (even the recent past) by a *LOT* of Presidents. Even the ones we thought were omnibenevolent.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

              We already know that Nixon conspired with the North Vietnamese to stall the Paris Peace talks to sink LBJ’s re-election;

              And Reagan conspired with the Iranians to delay release of the hostages to hurt Carter’s chances.

              But see, these are not Real Politik; These are scandals, that if known at the time would have been impeachable offenses.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                We should really do a better job of impeaching elected officials.

                It should happen all the freaking time.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                Imagine if corruption/scandals could be defined as a violation in reciprocity, and be punishable.

                That’s a little bit of what’s being discussed in some circles. The issue I see is building a social construct to punish, and expect the thing to work like it is supposed to.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                I want to second this. And I feel I should point out that George H. W. Bush was deeply involved in the Iranian hostage thing. I.e., we tend to think of Bush I as scandal-free, but that’s because he had his scandal _years earlier_.

                I want to further point out that ‘impeachable scandals’, at this point, seem to firmly position themselves on the Republican side, despite the fact the only impeachment in modern history has been on the other side.

                Although I guess I own George W. props for…well, I guess technically he lied us into war, didn’t he? That probably should be impeachable too…not lying to the public, but systematic deliberate attempts to mislead Congress? That probably should be impeachable? I dunno. That, at least, is a political question. So let’s say not.

                But using foreign connections and promises made on the United Stated to get elected…is not a political question. It’s something that _obviously_ is not allowed…well, apparently, it is now.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                Reagan conspired with the Iranians to delay release of the hostages to hurt Carter’s chances.

                That is a several times debunked/investigated conspiracy theory. The more professional the investigation the more they found the various claims couldn’t be true.


              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Would you think less of Reagan if it were proved true?

                Or is behavior like that the Republican Party line now?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                Would you think less of Reagan if it were proved true?


                I would very much have liked to have Romney as President than Trump. Having said that, running for it automagically draws all sorts of nasty allegations, and Trump can survive that while Romney couldn’t.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                You see why this is why I view Republicans as abandoning any commitment to liberal democracy?

                In that, you acknowledge that what Trump is doing is wrong and harmful to the Republic, but in a transactional sense, you accept this as preferable to Democratic Party holding power.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                you acknowledge that what Trump is doing is wrong and harmful to the Republic

                True. And I continue to say that President Pence has a great ring to it.

                you accept this as preferable to Democratic Party holding power.

                I’m pretty sure Pence isn’t a Democrat.

                Team Red isn’t going to touch Pence short of him committing open murder. He’s Trump’s replacement and he himself can’t be replaced without Team Blue stopping it which would be Nancy being Trump’s replacement.

                Think about just how corruptive you think Trump’s actions are.

                Now consider that I think HRC has been doing this kind of shit for decades… and not only has Team Blue lived with it but they have mostly refused to even admit that there’s a problem.

                If that kind of selfish tribalism exists for Team Blue then I’m sure it’s there for Team Red, so I think what we’re doing here is wasting everyone’s time. You’ve got your one bullet, you’re going to spend it on impeaching Trump for daring to suggest a corrupt Democrat getting money from a corrupt company should be investigated.

                I don’t think that is going to convince independent people that Team Blue is on the side of angels and should be trusted with power. I certainly don’t think it’s going to convince Trump’s supporters, who you need.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                If you think President Pence is a good idea, does that mean you support impeachment?

                Notice what you are saying about America.
                That we are a nation where open corruption and bribery is the norm.

                Where every organ of the state from the intelligence agencies to the Justice department exists to serve the interests of the Party.

                In your telling of it, this is and has been the norm in America for a while now, and Trump is merely the Republican version.

                Really? This is really, truly how you see it?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                If you think President Pence is a good idea, does that mean you support impeachment?

                In theory? Yes. However I’m not sure we’re there and I’m not sure we can be there. I don’t think we can, or should, impeach him for simply being Trump and doing something for which the Dems would give a pass to one of their own.

                “Because Trump” reasoning spoils everything (which is why he encourages it). Think about a trial of a guilty man where the judge and jury turn out to be bribed. In theory he never should have been made President at all, however before we elites decide the peasants couldn’t possibly have intended “that”, the system is designed to allow it for good reason.

                In your telling of it, this is and has been the norm in America for a while now, and Trump is merely the Republican version.

                HRC is not now, nor ever was, the entire Democrat establishment much less “the norm in America”. She’s a point at which the system fails to work completely, and it’s appropriate to point to those failures. Like Trump she hits the radar as totally amoral and gaming the system.

                But that’s not to say the system isn’t getting better, nor that the system didn’t mostly work. Think about any political crime done anywhere in the world over the last century. My assumption is either of them would sleep soundly after doing that and the reason they didn’t do something like that is the system doesn’t let them.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                So if Trump isn’t impeached, would you be accepting of President Warren doing the same things?

                Like if she actually did welcome the Iranians hacking Trumps campaign, and strategically leaked information?

                Or could I dismiss your objection as merely “because Warren”?

                Should Democratic mayors order their police forces to investigate any Republican businessmen and see what they can turn up?

                See that’s the thing, is that now the Republicans have declared for themselves the freedom to jettison the rule of law and norms of liberal democracy, now that they are inconvenient.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                Should Democratic mayors order their police forces to investigate any Republican businessmen and see what they can turn up?

                If your “this is worthy of impeachment” standard is ording investigations on innocent people for political self-benefits, then I suggest you go re-read “travelgate”. We spent the resources to detail exactly who did what, the timeline paints HRC doing exactly that.

                So if Trump isn’t impeached, would you be accepting of President Warren doing the same things?

                If Warren does that I’ll add “ethically heinous” to her list of flaws, but I very much doubt the Dems would allow her impeachment regardless of what we do about Trump.

                For example, would you have been fine with impeaching HRC the moment she took office considering her history of doing things like this? Am I supposed to think the Dems would have been fine doing that?

                I’m fine treating Trump as the same kind of person as HRC, and expect the same kind of behavior from him. If I thought that impeaching her would have been a pointless waste of time because Team Blue would never allow it for what we know she’s done, then I don’t see why I’m supposed to think better of Team Red.

                Or could I dismiss your objection as merely “because Warren”?

                If I’d tried to set up impeachment before she got elected and attempted to do so over things I have a history of finding acceptable when my side did it? Of course you could dismiss those objections.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                It’s like your entire defense of Trump amounts to “But Hillary!”

                The question in front of the American people is, what are the standards that we are willing to accept?

                I am saying that inviting hostile foreign dictatorships to investigate your American political rivals is worthy of impeachment.

                Republicans seem to have great difficulty agreeing with that proposition.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                The question in front of the American people is, what are the standards that we are willing to accept?

                Team Blue already answered that one years ago.

                I am saying that inviting hostile foreign dictatorships to investigate your American political rivals is worthy of impeachment.

                This specific issue came up during the election when Trump invited a hostile foreign dictatorship to investigate his political rival’s emails.

                Trying to impeach him on this is, imho, not a strong play. It’s like Clinton’s impeachment, yes, he did stuff that he could be impeached over; No, it won’t matter as long as he’s popular with his base.

                Now clearly Team Blue is going to go for it, and if you can convince Trump’s base that it’s all about ethics and not about “because Trump” then we’ll get President Pence and be better for it in a lot of ways. However, having spent several decades showing that you don’t give a damn about ethics when HRC is doing it, imho I don’t think this is going to work.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                The democrats’ leading indicator doesn’t seem to be particularly hopeful:

                “We’ve had to endure a lot in the last two years,” (AOC) said, “I’m not here to police your reactions to it because we all need to go through our process. Feel what you need to feel. But I am going to move on because, frankly, I think the whole thing is boring, he should have been impeached a long time ago, and like, I’m over it,” she added punctuating her comments with enough levity to elicit chuckles from the room.

                Which is weird.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                Which is weird.

                There is a limited amount of news bandwidth. She doesn’t want herself to be crowded out from an OJ style trial of Trump.

                And in terms of strategy for Team Blue, I’d say the problem isn’t that AOC would be crowded out but Warren/Sanders/Biden would be crowded out (the last less so because the news would be filled with his son).Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                So you’re just confirming my earlier statement that the Trump base accepts that open corruption is the norm and they just want it to work in their favor.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “So you’re just confirming my earlier statement that the Trump base accepts that open corruption is the norm and they just want it to work in their favor.”

                So you’re agreeing with us when we say that Clinton had a long history of corruption and wouldn’t have been any better on that score than Trump.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Suppose I did.

                Would that cause you to support impeachment?

                Would you demand an end to the corruption from all 2020 candidates?

                Would you refuse to support any candidate who refused to oppose the corrupt President?

                Because from what I can see, “but Clinton!” seems to be the all purpose excuse for anything Republicans do.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                In the iterated prisoner’s game, pointing out that, sure, you might have defected too but that doesn’t make it okay for the other person to defect is not exactly the appeal to the principle of “always collaborate” that you seem to think it is.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Is Warren corrupt? Is Harris? Is Buttigieg?

                What excuse are you going to use this time?

                What will be the 2020 version of “but her emails!” that provides a convenient excuse to support Trump and deny responsibility?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Harris is. As for Warren, there are a handful of reasons to trust her judgment/honesty. Buttigieg would make a fine VP, I suppose.

                “What excuse are you going to use this time?”

                I’m probably going to use some variant of “I’m going to vote for the candidate I want to be President” and write in Amash or something.

                And I’m sure that I’ll deal with my Democratic friends explaining to me that this is support of Trump and this election, being the most important of our lifetime, is too important for mastubatory voting in between similar lectures from how this is support of (whomever) from my Republican friends (but the speech is more or less identical to the Dem one after that).Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                What excuse are you going to use this time? What will be the 2020 version of “but her emails!” that provides a convenient excuse to support Trump and deny responsibility?

                If “ethics” was your top priority in 2016 then you should have voted for Trump (or at least a 3rd party candidate), because he didn’t have the vast history of political corruption that HRC does. However for 2020 afaict all of the Dems in the field easily beat Trump on that score for 2020.

                In 2020 I’m going to vote on the candidate who seems to either do good things for the economy (or who will do the least amount of damage). It’s a coinflip whether the Dems’ nominee will have promised so much economic destruction that I’ll have no choice but vote Trump… which would be an accomplishment considering his trade wars and immigration policies.

                Oh, and corruption is also a hit against the economy, how big a hit depends on the scale.

                However ask yourself whether Romney (or any taint free GOP candidate) vs HRC would have been enough to swing your vote in 2016 before you proclaim you care about this issue.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                I need a copy of that New Yorker cartoon of people sitting around a campfire with the ruins of the city in the background, and the narrator saying, “But man, it was totally worth it for the tax cuts!”Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                I need a copy of that New Yorker cartoon of people sitting around a campfire with the ruins of the city in the background, and the narrator saying, “But man, it was totally worth it for the tax cuts!”

                Venezuela’s problems are the reality of AOC and Bernie’s politics. We prove that again, and again, and again, but those policies somehow remain popular.

                Bad economic policy makes Trump’s “corruption” look small in terms of evil inflicted on the world. Warren’s tax on wealth makes even Trump’s trade war look sane.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                If your “this is worthy of impeachment” standard is ording investigations on innocent people for political self-benefits, then I suggest you go re-read “travelgate”. We spent the resources to detail exactly who did what, the timeline paints HRC doing exactly that.

                LOL. Travelgate was an scandal, but the scandal part was the corrupt replacement.

                The ‘ordering investigations on innocent people for political self-benefits’ claim is nonsense, mostly because the White House was fairly careful and didn’t order investigations of anyone…they asked the FBI to look into ‘possible improprieties’ in the White House travel office.

                But it was not for ‘political self-benefit’. The firings were already going to happen, and didn’t need FBI justification. The Clinton Administration asked for investigations because they had heard a lot of very bad things about the travel office.

                Which were true! The Travel Office was a complete mess and, objectively, all of the people there should have been fired! The auditing firm hired to audit them _couldn’t do an audit_ because the records were so bad. The person who got indicted had deposited checks, written to the government by media companies to cover their travel with the White House, into his own checking account! (Which apparently wasn’t actually theft, just _astonishingly_ bad management.)

                Now, hiring those specific replacement was a scandal. I’ll admit that straight up. That was corruption.

                But getting rid of those people was _not_. Asking the FBI to look into it…maybe. I’m not convinced of that, I think the Executive has a right to ask the FBI to look at _itself_ for improprieties. That’s not the same as demanding investigations of others.

                But even if you don’t think it’s acceptable, what happened, on a scale or 1 to 10, was about a 1 on the ‘meddling with justice’ scale. And Trump’s about a 10, possibly 11, literally holding chants, in public, demanding the arrest and conviction of (coincidentally) Hillary Clinton.

                The Clinton Administration never asked for the investigation of a specific person. They never asked for an indictment, or an arrest, or, worst of all, for a specific _outcome_ of a trial. They pointed at the White House Travel Office and said ‘Yeah, we’ve heard a lot of bad things, look into it’ and then stepped back.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                When the argument being made is-

                “I was going to criticize Trump’s corruption, but then I remembered something Hillary did in 1992, and so I now support Donald Trump in 2020”-

                Then I doubt neatly constructed logic is the applicable tool here.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                This is the Clinton friendly spin but it ignores the timeline.

                The Clinton campaign had their own personal travel company filled with friends and relatives. The total number of clients this company had was one. Finding jobs for this group was a thing before the Clintons stepped foot in the WH, ergo getting rid of the existing WH travel office was on the list of things to do.

                So no, it wasn’t “we need to destroy the existing travel office, oh look this group of insiders is handy”. That’s the situation that was supposed to be set up by having the FBI arrest people. She had the authority to fire the office but wanted to do so for cause, so the obvious thing to do was play the “show me the man and I’ll find you the crime”.

                The Clinton Administration asked for investigations because they had heard a lot of very bad things about the travel office.

                Heard what? Heard from whom? As far as I can tell those claims come from Clinton operatives at the direction of HRC, but the number of crimes found was zero and the amount of missing money was also zero. The central guy spent his life savings in court proving he was innocent. So what exactly was the problem which supposedly resulted in this and how is it that HRC “discovered” it before the Travel Office had ever been used?

                The obvious conclusion is the travel office’s records being a mess had nothing to do with their firings, and wasn’t even discovered until multiple moves into this game. The investigation proved HRC lied about her involvement every step of the way to the point of perjury charges being seriously considered. She specifically lied about who wanted those people fired and when. She was the big moving force pushing every step of this.

                Given that she had the authority to fire these people, even for no reason, it is very weird to think she’d lie to investigators to hide her involvement unless the situation was way less friendly than you laid out.

                Trump’s about a 10, possibly 11, literally holding chants, in public, demanding the arrest of (coincidentally) Hillary Clinton.

                This is like saying Obama asked his followers to arm up and prep for gun battles with members of the GOP. The flowery rhetoric doesn’t come close to matching the actions and shouldn’t be taken literally, it’s clearly designed to inflame crowds, not judges.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                Here’s your claim, as far as I can tell: The Clintons cleared the travel office to make way for their own people, and decided to have the FBI look into the travel office for no reason, and the fact it was a complete mess was an utter coincidence.

                No. That’s silly. This was the Clintons knowing quite accurately something was wrong with the travel office, and using it for their corrupt advantage. Taking the risk of asking the FBI to look into it and discovering nothing wrong makes no sense…especially since they got cold feet _after_ they’d already asked the FBI, and asked the FBI to hold off anyway while they did an audit. They _really_ wanted to make sure the FBI wasn’t going to find everything okay if the investigation went forward. The idea they just guessed is crazy.

                But I’m not going to argue that. You can continue to think the Clintons are just astonishingly good guessers.

                The point I am taking issue with is the claim was there was ‘ordering investigations on innocent people for political self-benefits’. Because that’s not what happened. No one ordered investigation of people.

                The Clnton administration asked for an investigation of the travel office itself (Not the people in it.) by the FBI. The FBI did so, and discovered…a lot of irregulaties. And they continued slowly investigating, and years later they came across someone who had done something _indistinishable from fraud_ and basically had to indict him.

                You seem to think this had something to do with putting their own people in, something pushed by the Clintons, but the FBI indicted him December 7, 1994, almost two years after all this happened, well after it was even hypothetically possible for those people to be put in, long after the Clinton administration had ridden out the scandal. And, again, this wasn’t some made-up crime…he did something that was probably technically illegal, just…not with any malicious intent or profit.

                Likewise, Hillary did have a much larger role than she admitted…in the _firings_ and attempted replacements. She had nothing at all to do with the FBI investigation as they continued to slowly go through a decade of crappy record-keeping.

                And, again, I will point out how surreal it is to argue that the executive branch (The Administration) doesn’t have the right to order the executive branch (The FBI) to inspect the records of the executive branch (The Travel Office). That honestly seems _really stupid_ as an idea.

                I’m all for the executive being unable to order investigation of random people, or even government employees, but saying ‘Uh, we’re hearing a lot of talk about financial irregularities in _ourself_, can you look at that?’ is…not the same thing. Honestly this entire part of the scandal seems to be they asked the FBI to look into it instead of an IG or something.

                Which is kinda absurd, considering this is a textbook example of the Clintons being corrupt. It’s just…not an example of them abusing the power of the executive to investigate innocent people.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                The Clintons cleared the travel office to make way for their own people, and decided to have the FBI look into the travel office for no reason, and the fact it was a complete mess was an utter coincidence.


                This was the Clintons knowing quite accurately something was wrong with the travel office, and using it for their corrupt advantage.

                One of the basic facts is HRC lied to the point of perjury on the subject of who was firing the office and why. If she’s not attempting to get her friends and family jobs (and they’re all going to lose them if she doesn’t, her campaign is their only customer), then what’s going on?

                I mean picture it. She knows the travel office is a mess and believes they’re thieves. What is so horrible about telling that truth that she needs to risk perjury, disbarment and embarrassing her husband’s presidency? She can’t say she asked them to be fired because it’s a mess and they’re thieves?

                She’s afraid of looking strong? She can’t tell the truth even when it’s clearly to her advantage? She’s really stupid?

                None of that sounds even slightly reasonable.

                In order for this to make sense, the demand that the office be fired had to come before there was a good reason why. She needed to lie about it because her friends needing jobs was the entire reason. And btw “the office was a mess” actually means “the office kept poor records”, and not “stealing money or they couldn’t do their jobs”. The office would have been fine from the point of view of anyone working with the office as opposed to examining the books.

                Multiple serious accounting errors is only obvious if the office is “missing” money which they weren’t.

                The Clinton administration asked for an investigation of the travel office itself (Not the people in it.) by the FBI.

                Meaning that because HRC didn’t personally know the names of the people she was ordering the FBI to find a crime for, it’s ok? One of the things mentioned is the FBI was very reluctant to do this, does that sound like there was obvious probable cause?

                the FBI indicted him December 7, 1994, almost two years after all this happened

                When you play “show me the man and I’ll find you the crime” it’s expected indictments happen at some point in the future. At that point the issue becomes whether or not the WH was putting pressure on the legal system to charge him because it would solve their travel gate issues.

                they came across someone who had done something _indistinishable from fraud_ and basically had to indict him.

                “indistinguishable” would only be the case if they were missing money. Here they weren’t. So the argument is he’s stealing… nothing… so they had to indict him? Seriously? A bad accountant who steals nothing and costs his employer nothing should be fired, not sent to prison. A judge agreed. However he spent his life savings because the gov was serious about putting him in prison.

                So why were they serious about putting him in prison or finding him guilty of something, anything, that would justify HRC’s behavior? Given that there doesn’t seem to have been disagreement on what happened, I find it weird that law enforcement thinks this is worth their time unless the motivation wasn’t really justice.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      Trump is to politics what 2008 was to white-collar employment: there’s a genuine crisis, but the largest part of what’s happening is people in charge making the structural changes they’d wanted for a long time and blaming the negative effects on The Current Situation.Report

  13. Avatar Damon says:

    When I first heard all of this my response was “hell, that shit gets done EVERY DAY ON EVERY LEVEL”. “Mr prime minister, we want to put short range nukes in Germany..what’s it gonna take?” Hey, dictator..we want to put a black site in your country to “interrogate” terrorists. We bring the guys to squeeze them so we have deniability. What’s it gonna take?” Hey Guatemala, keep some of them migrates out of the us…here’s a billing dollars for “aide”. We won’t worry if a few hundred million goes missing, wink wink. How is this substantially different?Report

    • Avatar DavidTC says:

      Because those sort of deals benefit the country…or, at least, are supposed to. Those specific examples probably don’t, in truth, but the US government off-the-books deals with foreign government is just something that all government do. Not every interaction or agreement is public.

      The difference is Trump has decided to do those deals not to get the US something, but to help his presidential campaign.

      If Trump has made a backroom deal not to press China on Hong Kong if China supported a specific position on Iran, well…various people wouldn’t like that, and it would perhaps be a bit shocking and slightly scandalous when it came out, but it wouldn’t be anywhere near the level of impeachable.

      Asking them to investigate HBiden in exchange for that would be unacceptable even if China wasn’t a country with a near-farcical justice system that the US government shouldn’t want Americans anywhere near. The President of the United States cannot use the power and resources of the United States to get foreign countries (Or anyone!) to help his reelection. Especially not via legal investigation, aka, corrupting the justice system of other countries, even if those countries have actual justice systems.

      Of course, China doesn’t, so asking them to investigate HBiden isn’t even asking for an actual investigation, like he could have hypothetically had with the Ukraine. It’s basically asking them to imprison him, because Chinese justice is a joke. Or at least require him to stay away from China and anywhere that might extradite him to China.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        The US does get something…it gets an investigation of corruption that we should have done but might not be within our laws. Why the hell is the son of the vp getting a sweetheart deal of a job he’s not qualified for? Why is the vp pressing for a end to the investigation? Could this corruption have an influence in our country? Worth an investigation.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC says:

          Tf the US government wanted an investigation of Hunter Biden, it should have _asked_ for it, via the channels that exist to do that.

          A lot of people seem to be missing the fact there actually _is_ a way for the US to ask for foreign governments to open investigations. A total totally above-board and open way. Of course there is. We do it all the time.

          The US…literally has not done that WRT Hunter Biden. That is because there’s no actual grounds to investigate him. Like, literally, there’s nothing they could ask the Ukraine to investigate him for. At all. No possible crime. They can’t file any sort of ‘We believe this person has violated your laws, please look into it’ request, because Hunter Biden _has not_.

          Even if the ‘influence peddling’ worked, it means any hypothetical wrongdoing would have to be __Joe Biden’s_, and it would have taken place here in the US. Not in the Ukraine, not by Hunter Biden. It is perfectly legal for Hunter Biden to accept all sorts of gifts. It is not legal for Joe Biden to be swayed by that.(1)

          Which means, if the Trump admin asked asked for an investigate of Hunter Biden through official channels…it would get immediately rejected by the Ukraine. On the record.

          What they tried to do was extort the Ukraine government to open an investigation anyway, or at least publicly announce one and then sorta screw around until after the election.

          1. And at that point, you should be asking yourself: Why hasn’t the DoJ opened an investigation into Joe Biden then? And the answer is: The DoJ is well aware they have absolutely no case.Report

          • Avatar Damon says:

            They why was Biden so intent on getting the head of Ukraine to replace the prosecutor investigating the company that his son was working for? For 50k a month pay and for which he was completely unqualified for?Report

            • Avatar DavidTC says:

              Because a) the prosecutor was not actually investigating the company (And especially not Hunter Biden), but rather the behavior of the owner from when the owner held public office, well before Hunter Biden joined the company, except that b) the prosecutor was not investigating the owner to start with, but rather was corrupt and trolling for bribes, which c) the prosecutor had finished doing by that point anyway, so d) the entire international community, including the EU and the IMF wanted him replaced with one who would, plus that was the official stance of the Obama administration, so Biden was actually just ‘implementing US policy’ and not ‘intent’ on anything.

              This really isn’t a complicated story for people who bother to get the _slightest_ amount of facts. The idea that it could have been corruption on the part of Joe Biden is wrong in _several different_ ways.Report

            • Avatar DavidTC says:

              Oh, and can I point out how absurd a response that is from you? I point out that ‘If the Trump administration wanted to actually do the thing it is claiming it wants, it has entirely legal and above-board ways to do it, which it has not bothered to do even at this point‘, and you, instead of addressing this, decide to repeat the original allegations.

              No, sorry, my point already disproved yours. And it still does. Even without any further information from me. To restate the facts:

              1) If the Trump administration wanted an actual investigation into Hunter Biden, they could ask for one entirely legally via the normal communication between the DoJ and whatever it’s called in the Ukraine.

              2) They have not asked for that.

              Conclusion: They do not want an actual investigation opened.

              My next claim is: The reason the Trump administration does not want to do that is, is because there is literally no reason for Ukraine to open an investigation, so that would not work. They don’t even have a crime to assert he’s committed.

              Do _you_ have a competing explanation? A different justification for the Trump administration not using the very obvious and entirely legal method, and instead using extortion and sending private lawyers and all sorts of nonsense, for months?

              If not, my point is proven, that the Trump administration must feel that an actual real investigation into Hunter Biden would go _very poorly_ for them, disproving their imaginary claims of corruption immediately. So instead they’re running around trying to get the Ukraine to announce more investigations of things somewhat near Hunter Biden to slander him more.

              And, I repeat: I think Hunter Biden is ‘guilty’ of trading on his name to get a do-nothing job, and that Burisma hoped that would somehow influence the Obama administration. I also am fairly certain both of those things are not illegal.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                “Do _you_ have a competing explanation?”

                I’m not really paying attention to this issue that much. Frankly I assume this type of thing happens all the time, as I said above. Deals, both gov’t and personal, get made…but I also don’t think this rises to the level of impeachment. Your mileage may vary.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                …but I also don’t think this rises to the level of impeachment.

                Perhaps, if I may, suggest that your* bar for impeachment is far too high.

                Remember, it’s for high crimes and misdemeanors, the bar doesn’t have to be very high at all.

                *It’s not just you, way too many people have the bar set too high, because it’s not about the person, or the crime, but about the party. Even though successfully removing Trump from office leaves the GOP in power (Pence is a die hard Republican, after all), the GOP is afraid that they’ll forever be seen as “The Party that had a POTUS impeached”, instead of “The Party that acted to remove an dangerous aberration.”Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                the GOP is afraid that they’ll forever be seen as “The Party that had a POTUS impeached”, instead of “The Party that acted to remove an dangerous aberration.”

                No. These guys don’t have a time horizon which looks past the next election. If they could look further they’d wonder if Trump has hit bottom yet (no), and whether they’d be better off with Pence (yes).

                The problem is Trump is popular with the base, and this hits the radar as a misdemeanor. They could impeach him over this, they don’t have too. The calculation is always “will this help me get elected”, “will this result in me being primaried”.

                So we need to convince Trump’s anti-elite base that it’s an impeachable offense to accuse a Dem elite of corruption when his son has a well-paid-but-worthless job with a corrupt oil company that the Dem elite personally deals with on occasion. The median household income per year for this typical voter is less than what that oil company pays Hunter per month.

                I don’t think Trump is going to look like a “dangerous aberration” to our hypothetical typical voter.

                To be clear I wouldn’t mind being proven wrong and we could then move on to President Pence. For that matter I wouldn’t even mind Trump making a public deal where in exchange for him resigning Pence pardons him. That might be a real deal sweetener considering what he’s probably been up to for the last 40 years and especially the last 40 months.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Man, when President Warren demands that China dig up the dirt on Ivanka Trump, the Republican anti-elite base are going to be thrilled!Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                Really? By that argument the Senate should have removed Clinton for the crime of work place harassment.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                It’s a stronger argument to point out he was disbarred.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                Oh, and one other thing…if Biden’s kid was on the up and up..there’s no need to quash the investigation. IF the prosecutor is looking for bribes…just pay it. HIs hands are clean…they company paid it. Why the need for the vp to lean on ukraine to quash it?Report

  14. Avatar Aaron David says:

    Every day is a new lesson in civics. Today we learn why the threshold for impeachment is so high.

    We truly live in the best timeline!Report

  15. Avatar Chip Daniels says:


    Microsoft says Iranian hacking group targeted a 2020 US presidential candidate

    “Iran, if you’re listening, maybe you can release Donald Trump’s emails.”

    Because, I guess that’s how we play the game now.Report

    • Avatar Marchmain says:

      Do you think they aren’t trying? Do you think they wouldn’t release the hacked emails [or texts or whatever] if they did? And, at this point, they have no idea if they would be helping Joe or Liz or Bernie or Marianne… but they’d do it no matter who would benefit owing to their particular dislike of Trump.

      Would they make it known to Joe or Liz or Bernie or Marianne that they did so? Absolutely. Would we expect JLBorM to act horrified? Certainly. Would they report it? I expect so. Would it stop the leak? No… would JLBorM chortle all the way to the presidency (discreetly, of course)? You betcha. Would they open multi-lateral Nuclear talks with Iran as President? Of course, after a proper period of faux penalty box time.

      That’s the professionalism we expect, no, demand, from our Political class.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

        Similar to my comment to Dark Matter…really?

        You really assume all American politicians are hopelessly corrupt, and would eagerly place their own interests ahead of the American people?

        This is what I was referring to when I said our Republic can fall simply by our wishing it to be so.Report

  16. Avatar Marchmaine says:

    My counter-intuitive thought for the weekend comes via Rubio/Romney/Amash and Brooks/Arnade and the impeachment. What fascinates me is that three years after Trump, the Republican Party and its main Presidential Probables still can’t pivot to the new political alignment of their party (for simplicity sake, lets call it fiscally liberal, labor friendly, socially conservative, with a non-imperial foreign policy). Which means that no-one can assuage “the base” that removing the incompetent Trump will be beneficial to the Party and therefore they have to back Trump during impeachment because without Trump they can’t get the nominal number of votes necessary to be a non-Democrat in their elected office.

    They simultaneously still believe that *after* Trump the Republican base will turn to them and their unchanged political preferences *and* that they are powerless to effect any sort of after Trump scenario.

    And Pence? Think about it… if there was one Republican politician who would be willing to move into the mythical Upper Left political quadrant… there’d be an after-Trump scenario that would enable the Republican Party to ditch Trump.

    I wondered if maybe Trump was the realignment we feel coming… I’m leaning more towards Trump being the failed realignment… the so called Disjointed Presidency that presages the Realignment. There’s opportunity out there for 2024 (their could have been oppty for 2020)… but it won’t be Rubio, Romney or Amash (or any of the current Dem leading contenders).Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

      The Republican base isn’t animated by ideas.

      They aren’t “fiscally liberal, labor friendly, socially conservative, with a non-imperialist foreign policy”.

      But they aren’t “fiscally conservative, labor hostile, socially liberal, with an imperialist foreign policy” either.

      They are animated by grievance; ethnic grievance, male grievance, cultural grievance. Their first question is “does this policy hurt our enemies?” and the answer flows from that.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine says:

        And that’s what makes you such a fun, dynamic, commenter whom I enjoy reading.

        However, it is a terrible misread that I hope does not influence Democratic political strategy.

        Then again, I’m a terrible sounding board since I hope the Democrats lose in a landslide, just not to Trump.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      Serious question… Can you point to Republicans anywhere getting elected on those four points? In my state, up to the state legislature level, and possibly one of the US Representatives, I can point to elected Democrats that match that profile, but no Republicans that I can think of.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine says:

        Serious answer… that’s expected behavior as this is/was fertile ground for the Democrats… Realignment stalks both parties as the Democrats increasingly retreat from that quadrant as a trend, not as a requirement.

        Also national and local politics can and do run at different rates. But then, that’s also the basis of what makes it counter-intuitive… the Republican Party in its infrastructure – including its Politicians – is out of alignment with its base… but in so far as the Democratic party is abandoning this quadrant, voters aren’t following the local Democratic party out, they are instead identifiying with the National Republican message in – even if that means the garden variety local Republican is still a Romney/Rubio Chamber of Commerce thing.

        It isn’t stable or sustainable. And to reiterate, that’s what realignment looks like… those folks winning as democrats will only remain democrats as long as the democratic party will have them, or they don’t see better opportunities as [New Party] or some [New Party] guy/gal doesn’t coopt their voters with a message that aligns better nationally and locally simultaneously. And those winning as Republicans will only continue to do so as long as they don’t reveal themselves to be (too) out of step with the National party… hence the deer in the headlights position of Republicans.

        Nothing is inevitable in politics, not even demographics… what the other side(s) do will always change the dynamic.

        My larger point is why the Republican Party is completely Gear-Locked and unable to manoeuvre.Report