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Zelensky’s Capitulation and Trump’s Open Appeals for Foreign Help on Biden Dirt

Photograph Source: The White House – Public Domain

“It looks like Zelensky has capitulated” reports MSNBC’ Matt Bradley in Kiev, to President Trump’s demand that he “play ball” and investigate Joe and Hunter Biden. The investigation of Burisma Holdings has been reopened at U.S. mafiosa-like prodding.

In other words, Trump’s threat to withhold aid pending an agreement to investigate a political foe worked. Even if the impeachment process proceeds smoothly and Trump is increasingly discredited, Biden may suffer too as Zelensky’s hand-picked prosecutor looks for dirt to curry favor. Ideally, this Ukrainegate scandal could produce both Trump’s impeachment and Biden’s defeat in the Democratic primaries.

But what is the real issue here? The propriety of an elected U.S. official asking foreigners for potentially damaging information about political rivals. It is understood that Trump can do “oppo research” using U.S. sources. But there are vague laws prohibiting candidates from soliciting or accepting any kind of foreign assistance. (This did not prohibit George W. Bush from hiring a Canadian speechwriter.) There is moreover an unofficial article of the creed in the national U.S. religion that holds Russia to be an “adversary” and so any aid from that quarter is toxic.

Trump has taken endless flack for importuning the Russians (in July 2016) to hand over Hillary’s emails, “if you have them.” When DNC emails were in fact released (by Wikileaks, dubiously attributed by U.S. intelligence to Russian hackers) the Democratic-dominated media focused not on their content (which was damning to the DNC, exposing its sabotage of the Sanders campaign) but on their supposed provenance.

Never mind that the leaks showed that the U.S. is not a functioning democracy but that capital determines nominations, that Bernie never had a chance, that the Bernie kids were being used shamefully to elect a warmongering thug. The only thing the Democrats and their media cared about was alleged Russian interference to reveal ugly truths.

Thus what should have been a scandalous news story about Democratic corruption became a story of outrage about “Russian undermining of U.S. democracy.” As though in the real world there were such a thing.

How dare the Russians expose my dirty laundry! Debbie Wassermann-Schultz must have felt as she had to tender her resignation to the party (also July 2016) after Wikileaks exposed her as the conniving opportunist she is. Having arranged through duplicity Trump’s accession to power, Democrats now seek to topple him on the same charge they have pursued against him since the election: collusion with foreigners to affect U.S. elections.

It’s just that this time, it’s Ukrainians (not Russians) colluding. And while the Mueller probe found no evidence that Trump reached out to Russians seeking aid, beyond the public appeal for Clinton’s emails, he has clearly appealed overtly to Zelensky for “oppo research.” And while Trump denies requesting Russian help in 2016, and calls the open appeal a joke, he has frankly told the press that the Ukrainians “if they’re honest” they will “investigate the Bidens.”

He sees nothing wrong with this. The Democratic establishment finds it utterly and obviously wrong and evil. When the Republicans side with Trump, they explode in exasperation. Surely one thing we Americans can agree on is not to take information from abroad on rival candidates! But no. The nation in its current fractured form does not necessarily agree.

Trump is openly questioning this doctrine. Why not get dirt from China, Australia, Ukraine, Norway? Why not just boldly boast: “Yes, I intimidated the new Ukrainian president, who knows that since the Feb. 2014 coup his government is completely dependent on U.S. and U.S.-shaped EU support. Yes, I told him to play ball to get the arms we promised and expose the Bidens’ corruption in Ukraine to prove goodwill to the U.S. and myself. What’s wrong with that?”

His base responds. Bravo! What a man! Showing these corrupt allies who’s boss. Exposing the corruption of the Bidens—somebody had to do it! If the Ukrainian president caved in, forced to show the world how evil Obama’s sidekick was, praise God!

One should not suppose that even maximum exposure of Trump’s antinomian behavior will alienate him from his base. So Joe Biden (according to MSNBC) “has been forced to defend his reputation against specious charges.” Thus the mainstream news media will insist on the charges’ speciousness (even if some real dirt is in fact unearthed, which I think likely). When the dirt appears, Democrats will cry foul and move to suppress evidence.

The world will see the systematic corruption and filth that is U.S. capitalist imperialism, period. Good. May we all make good use of the information.

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Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

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