I have been blogging about Donald J. Trump for over four years now. In all that time I don’t recall discussing the crimes he has committed. A poll from last Spring showed that two-thirds of the people surveyed believed that Donald Trump had committed crimes before taking office, and nearly half of them think he has committed crimes since he became President. We cannot ignore this issue any longer. We need to talk about Trump’s crimes.
Does anybody know of any crimes Trump has committed?
Okay, finally! Jonathan Chait in the back row – whaddaya got?
Donald Trump is being impeached for using his office to pressure foreign countries to investigate his political rivals. It is not clear Trump understands that, because he simply continues committing this offense in broad daylight.
In remarks to reporters today, Trump was asked what he wants Ukraine to do about the Bidens. He replied, “If they were honest about it, they would start a major investigation into the Bidens.” While elaborating on his answer, he added that he would also suggest China launch an investigation of the Biden family.
Of course, the idea that any American citizens should be subject to the Chinese justice system is absurd. The only possible way Trump could desire such an investigation would be if he believes China would fix the outcome in order to win his favor. For that matter, Joe Biden’s actions in Ukraine under the Obama administration had gained bipartisan support at the time, as CNN finds, so there is simply no legitimate basis for an investigation of him. Trump wants a cooked investigation with a predetermined outcome to help him politically.
In one of his two private conversations with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump explicitly suggested his counterpart investigate Biden. “There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great,” he says. “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it …”
(Incidentally, the Washington Post assembles numerous clues — ranging from odd markings, unusual use of ellipses, and a word count that fails to match up to the call’s allotted time, all of which strongly suggest the official White House “transcript” is heavily abridged. Still, even the publicly released text shows Trump explicitly asking Zelensky to investigate Biden.)
In public, Trump has framed his demand slightly less directly. When asked if he told Ukraine to investigate Biden, he responded by invoking “corruption.”
The “corruption” code is utterly transparent. Now he is dispensing with even that bare fig leaf and openly committing impeachable offenses on the White House lawn, and expanding the list to a second country while he’s at it. He even throws in a threat that China would be under “scrutiny” in the absence of such an investigation, as if nepotistic business deals would be a scandal or illegal in China:
Mmmkay, uh, Jonathan? You haven’t alleged any crimes here. No, pressuring foreign governments is not a crime. That’s called “diplomacy.” And there is a basis to investigate. If Don Trump Jr. was making $50K a month to sit on the board of Directors of Burisma, you know damn well you would be screaming for an investigation. And by the way, when Americans go to other countries, they make themselves subject to the laws of those countries.
Okay, who’s next? Chris Hayes, right in front.
Oops, my bad. Rachel Maddow, right here in front. Sorry about that, but I can’t tell you two apart. One of you should wear a dress so we can tell the difference. What? No, sweetie, that wasn’t sexist. Make him wear the dress, I don’t give a fuck. Do you have something on Trump?
Trump cheated on his taxes? Well, that how they got Capone. So what is your evidence? You don’t have any evidence because Trump won’t release his tax returns? He doesn’t have to release his tax returns. No, his refusal to release them does not prove he is guilty of anything. You got anything else, sweetie?
Okay, okay, take a chill pill. You’re right, I should not have called you sweetie. I apologize and promise I won’t ever do it again. Now, do you got anything else, bitch? I didn’t think so. Next? Don Lemon, go for it.
I’m gonna stop you right there. Trump is not a racist. No, that’s just your opinion, but even if it was true, it’s not illegal to be a racist. Well maybe it should be but it’s not. If we made racism illegal it would be a crime to hate white people too. No, no, no, Trump did not say that Nazis were good people. Read the fucking transcript. The UNEDITED transcript.
Okay, Jim Acosta, it’s your turn.
I’m sorry that your butt hurts, Jim, but it is not a crime to call you fake news. Defamation is a civil tort, but keep in mind that truth is a defense to libel and slander claims.
Meghan, you’re up.
Well, I’m sure you loved your daddy and think he was a really great guy, but there are millions of Americans who think he was a scumbag. I’m one of them, and I voted for him. How many of the people you work with can truthfully say that? How many of them were talking trash about your daddy in 2008? Hmmm?
Siddown Rosie, I didn’t invite you.
I got one last thing before I kick you all out. If you want to accuse Trump of a crime, you need to identify the statute or code you think he violated, and show EVIDENCE to show how he violated it. No hearsay, no speculation, no rumors. Build a case and present it. But until you have a case you need to STFU. Now GTFO and GFYS.