It was inevitable. With a president like Donald Trump who knows no ethical boundaries, it was inevitable that we sooner or later would be looking at quid-pro-quo election interference 2.0.
In 2016 it was dirt on Hillary from "Russia, if you're listening —"
In 2019 for 2020, the plot has thickened with Trump and Trumpites looking for dirt with which to smear Joe Biden — this time from Ukraine.
Last month, a whistle-blower in the intelligence community filed a complaint about the president of the United States making inappropriate promises to a foreign leader. The whistle-blower, who has not been identified, alerted the inspector general of the intelligence community, Michael Atkinson, to multiple actions by Trump, including a promise made during a phone call.
The complaint so alarmed the inspector general that he labeled it a matter of "urgent concern" and alerted the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire.
But Maguire isn't following the law, which says he "shall" deliver an inspector general's report about an "urgent concern" to Congress within a week of receiving it. Instead, Maguire is behaving like so many job-scared Trump temp workers — he's twisting the law to suit the White House. He's calling the information "privileged" — meaning it won't be disclosed.
That, in turn, prompted IG Atkinson to alert the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, and on Thursday Atkinson appeared before a closed meeting of that committee.
Meanwhile, reporting from The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Associated Press has been unraveling a sordid chain of events.
According to the Post, two-and-a-half weeks before the whistle-blower complaint was filed, Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a political newcomer who was elected in a landslide in May.
The New York Times, reporting on a Ukranian government summary of the call, notes that in late July, Trump told Zelensky that Ukraine could improve its reputation and its "interaction" with the United States by investigating corruption.
Piecing things together, it seems what might have been in play was aid to Ukraine in exchange for information on Biden's son Hunter, who worked for a Ukrainian gas company.
The Associated Press writes that House Democrats already had been examining whether Trump and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, had sought to manipulate the Ukrainian government into helping Trump's re-election campaign. Giuliani had traveled to Ukraine to pressure the government into probing the activities of the younger Biden.
In a rambling interview Thursday on CNN, Giuliani was asked whether he had asked Ukraine to look into Biden. Giuliani initially said, "No, actually I didn't," but seconds later he said, "Of course I did." Then he told CNN that Trump was unaware of his actions. "I did what I did on my own," Giuliani said. "I told him about it afterward."
Now House Democrats have demanded a full transcript and a list of participants on the Trump/Ukrainian call.
And Maguire, the temp DNI, is scheduled to appear before Schiff's House Intelligence Committee next week in an open meeting.
Any bets on whether Maguire will actually show up? We shouldn't hold our breath — not if the Trump administration continues to act as we have come to expect.
Meanwhile, we have Trump's ever-present spin.
The president told reporters Friday that the complaint was made by a "partisan whistle-blower." He chided reporters for asking about it and said it was "just another political hack job."
But then he said he did not know the identity of the person.
Well, then, how does he know it's partisan? It's reasonable to assume that if this whistle-blower was close enough to Trump to hear not one, but a pattern of events that concerned him or her, that person was invited to be around by the president himself.
Add to this that IG Atkinson was appointed by Trump.
Trump also claimed Friday that anything he talked about with foreign leaders is "always appropriate."
Then why should this not be disclosed to Congress and let it play out as it should by law?
Trump has tweeted, "Is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially 'heavily populated' call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!"
Is Donald Trump dumb enough to think Americans have forgotten that he has refused to have note-takers in his meetings with Vladimir Putin and other world leaders? Does he think we've not read how he has collected and torn up the notes of interpreters? Has he forgotten the titter over how he revealed Israeli classified intelligence to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in the Oval Office when Russian press was allowed in but American press was not? In fact, we found out what happened from Russia coverage of the event.
If Democrats have any backbone at all, they will open impeachment proceedings Monday morning and subpoena everyone and everything involved in this newest, sordid attack on our democracy.