Diplomats Volker and Sondland make quid and quo look bad (Nov. 5). 

In the midst of his now-released testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, former diplomat Kurt Volker confirmed a key point about the impropriety of aspects of President Trump’s pressure on Ukraine’s government.

column of mine six weeks ago explored this key consideration. In sum, it involves the crucial difference between: 1) asking a foreign government to help garner facts relevant to a specific, current U.S. investigation and 2) asking a foreign government to target a U.S. citizen, under its own laws, even though the American is under no U.S. investigation and not alleged to have committed any specific U.S. crime.

The first is standard operating procedure and entirely proper. The second is clearly inappropriate. Indeed, it is so inappropriate that Volker declined to fulfill the implicit directive to do so….

[The rest of the column, including analysis of Ambassador Sondland’s testimony, go here.]

Ambassador Taylor shows Trump wasn’t really fighting corruption (Nov. 6). The transcript of Ambassador Bill Taylor’s testimony released on Wednesday makes clear a central fallacy of President Trump’s defenders.

Namely, Trump and lawyer Rudy Giuliani never were interested in having Ukraine fight institutional corruption of the sort that would have any bearing on the effectiveness of U.S. aid. Instead, they were interested only in prompting investigations, no matter how spurious, that could help Trump politically.

This isn’t legitimate foreign policy; it’s a misuse of federal power and the federal purse for tawdry personal politics…. [Later in the column:] Later, on page 123 of the transcript, Taylor repeated the point that “individual cases … may not get us to a reformed, less corrupt system.” Unfortunately, he said, the “irregular channel” of diplomacy directed by Trump’s personal lawyer, “under the influence of Giuliani, wanted to focus on one or two specific cases, irrespective of whether it helped solve the corruption problem, fight the corruption problem.”….

[For the full column, please follow this link.]


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