Trump Urging Ukrainian Probe of Biden Breaks No Laws
A Clinton-era U.S.-Ukraine treaty requires the two countries to provide mutual legal assistance.
A treaty from 2000 between Ukraine and the United States requires the two countries to cooperate on law enforcement matters, a factor that may help to explain why President Donald Trump felt comfortable questioning the involvement of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in Ukrainian affairs, during a telephone conversation two months ago with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The American and Ukrainian governments, it turns out, are legally required by treaty to render mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.
The treaty, signed at Kiev on July 22, 1998, provides in Article 1 that “[t]he Contracting States shall provide mutual assistance, in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty, in connection with the investigation, prosecution, and prevention of offenses, and in proceedings related to criminal matters.” As every schoolchild used to know before teachers’ unions, New Age thinking, and identity politics dumbed down the educational system, under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, properly ratified treaties are the supreme law of the land.
The document states that each “Contracting State shall have a Central Authority to make and receive requests pursuant to this Treaty.” For the U.S., it is “the Attorney General or a person designated by the Attorney General.” For Ukraine, it is “the Ministry of Justice and the Office of the Prosecutor General.”
During the presidency of Bill Clinton, the U.S. Senate approved the treaty on Oct. 18, 2000, on a division vote. This means that senators rose from their seats to vote and how each of them voted was not recorded. It is, therefore, unclear, how then-Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware voted.
All of this matters because after months of hand-wringing, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) bowed to the frothing-at-the-mouth leftists of the House Democrat conference Sept. 24 by announcing impeachment proceedings would get underway against the duly elected 45th president of the United States. Democrats cited the Trump-Zelensky conversation as the smoking gun that justifies removing Trump from office. Department of Justice lawyers who reviewed the transcript of the telephone call issued a legal opinion stating that they could not identify any violation of U.S. campaign finance laws during the conversation.
Democrats claim that Trump tried to enlist the Ukrainian government to help him in the 2020 election, when in reality, it is the Democrats who have been aggressively reaching out to Ukraine for assistance in fighting Trump.
It was the Democratic National Committee that asked the Ukrainian government for help in sabotaging Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.
The Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C., acknowledged DNC contractor Alexandra Chalupa asked the Ukrainian government for dirt on Trump and for information about his one-time campaign manager Paul Manafort’s ties to Russia, John Solomon previously reported in The Hill newspaper.
A Ukrainian court determined that Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau, which worked closely with the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, and parliamentarian Serhiy Leshchenko, improperly inserted themselves into the U.S. election by releasing the Manafort-related documents.
According to a Jan. 11, 2017 Politico article, “[t]he Ukrainian efforts had an impact in the [U.S. 2016 presidential] race, helping to force Manafort’s resignation [as campaign manager] and advancing the narrative that Trump’s campaign was deeply connected to Ukraine’s foe to the east, Russia.”
Andrii Telizhenko, a former political officer in the Ukrainian Embassy, told Solomon he met with Chalupa, whom he knew was “someone working for the DNC and trying to get Clinton elected.”
“She said the DNC wanted to collect evidence that Trump, his organization and Manafort were Russian assets, working to hurt the U.S. and working with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin against the U.S. interests,” he told Solomon. “She indicated if we could find the evidence they would introduce it in Congress in September and try to build a case that Trump should be removed from the ballot, from the election.”
It was also Senate Democrats Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Dick Durbin of Illinois, and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who asked Ukrainian authorities last year to investigate President Trump on pain of losing U.S. foreign aid.
But without even reading the transcript of the July 25 discussion between Trump and Zelensky, Democrats this week went all-in on the wholly unsubstantiated claim that Trump threatened to withhold a military aid package from Ukraine to pressure that country’s government to investigate the Bidens.
Trump made no threats whatsoever during the call. He told Zelensky that he “heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair.” He said former federal prosecutor and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr would call him. Barr, it so happens, is conducting an investigation that deals with the 2016 U.S. election and Ukraine’s connection to it.
It stands to reason that if Barr can make a request to the Ukrainians pursuant to the treaty, then surely Trump is allowed to introduce Barr to Zelensky, who in turn could get his country’s officials involved.
Trump also said, “The other thing, 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. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it – it sounds horrible to me.”
In fact Joe Biden was captured on video at a Council on Foreign Relations discussion on Jan. 23, 2018, bragging about how when he was in office in March 2016 he strong-armed the Ukrainians into firing a top prosecutor by threatening to withhold foreign aid.
“I said, nah, I’m not going to—or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars,” the former vice president said.
“They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said—I said, call him. I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”
Before that, while he served as Barack Obama’s vice president, in 2015 and 2016 Joe Biden urged the government of Ukraine to increase its anti-corruption efforts while his utterly unqualified cokehead grifter of a son, Hunter, was working for Kiev-based Burisma Holdings, which is owned by Mykola Zlochevsky. When he was a Ukrainian government official in charge of issuing natural-gas extraction licenses, many of those licenses were granted to concerns controlled by Burisma. This led to investigations in Ukraine over possible money laundering and government corruption. Zlochevsky and Burisma deny wrongdoing and have not been charged with breaking the law.
Around the same time, the younger Biden, with no obvious background in natural gas or Ukrainian affairs, reportedly earned up to $50,000 a month in his five years with Burisma, becoming a member of its board. Another American, Devon Archer, a personal friend of then-Secretary of State John Kerry, also somehow found his way onto the Burisma board.
So did Cofer Black, a former senior CIA official who was a special advisor on presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, Thomas Lifson reports at American Thinker.
Romney, the holier-than-thou, pearl-clutching RINO senator from Utah, is one of Trump’s most ardent foes in Congress. Years before the 2012 campaign, Black was succeeded in his job as director of the National Counterterrorism Center by John Brennan, the Communist Party USA-voting director of the CIA under President Obama whose fingerprints are all over the at-least three-year-old Deep State plot to take down President Trump.
Makes you go hmmmm, doesn’t it?
But returning to the transcribed presidential conversation, is there anything nefarious or illicit about Trump asking Zelensky to “look into it,” the “it” being what Biden did?
Apart from the political optics, it appears not.
As president, Trump, is the chief law enforcement official of the United States, and his comments to Zelensky about the Bidens do not appear to violate the Constitution, any statute, or the provisions of the U.S.-Ukraine mutual legal assistance treaty.
Democrats seem to know their case against Trump is paper thin at best. They can’t help exaggerating, and in some cases lying outright, about the contents of the transcript.
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) lied to Americans Sept. 26 when he read out a fictional summary of the transcript during a committee hearing that featured testimony from acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire.
Schiff said the transcript shows Zelensky “says his country wants to acquire more weapons from us to defend itself. And what is the president’s response? Well, it reads like a classic organized crime shakedown. Shorn of its rambling character, and in not so many words this is the essence of what the president communicates: ‘we’ve been very good to your country, very good, no other country has done as much as we have.’”
“‘But you know what?” Schiff continued, pretending to be quoting Trump, “I don’t see much reciprocity here.”
“I want you make up dirt on my political opponent –understand?— lots of it, on this and on that,” Schiff said, again pretending to be quoting Trump.
“This is in sum and character what the president was trying to communicate with the president of Ukraine. It would be funny if it wasn’t such a graphic betrayal of the president’s oath of office.”
There was a swift backlash.
In the afternoon President Trump told reporters: “I just watched a little bit of this on television. It’s a disgrace to our country. It’s another witch hunt. Here we go again. It’s Adam Schiff and his crew making up stories and sitting there like pious whatever you want to call them. It’s just a – really, it’s a disgrace.”
According to the Epoch Times, Trump said, “it’s a terrible thing for our country. They can’t do any work. They’re frozen – the Democrats. They’re going to lose the election; they know it. That’s why they’re doing it. And it should never be allowed, what’s happened to this president.”
Trump continued, saying, “I have to put up with Adam Schiff on an absolutely perfect phone call with the new president of Ukraine. That was a perfect call. But Adam Schiff doesn’t talk about Joe Biden and his son walking away with millions of dollars from Ukraine, and then millions of dollars from China.”
“He doesn’t talk about Joe Biden firing a prosecutor, and if that prosecutor is not fired, he’s not going to give him money from the United States of America. They don’t talk about that.”
During the hearing, Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), said, “While the chairman was speaking, I had someone text me, ‘Is he just making this up?’”
“And yes, yes, he was. Because sometimes fiction is better than the actual words or the text. But luckily, the American public are smart and they have the transcript. They’ve read the conversation, they know when someone’s just making it up.”
Schiff backpedaled later in the hearing after his dramatic, dishonest interpretation of the president’s words, claiming what he read aloud was intended to be a “parody” of the conversation in the transcript.
“My colleague is right … it’s not okay,” Schiff said, responding to Turner’s remarks.
“But also my summary of the president’s call was meant to be, at least part, in parody. The fact that that’s not clear is a separate problem in and of itself.”
Expect many more such Schiff-style “parodies” from the Democrats throughout what promises to be a nasty, drawn-out, and totally unjustified impeachment inquiry.
Regardless of what happens to President Trump, the Democrats have inflicted great harm on the institution of the presidency.
“Impeachment is just one part of the war against Trump that has been waged relentlessly since the day he was elected and even before,” New Neo, presumably a pseudonym, observes at Legal Insurrection.
“This latest issue regarding Trump’s conversation with Zelensky is notable for many things, but one of them is the evidence it gives of the relentless surveillance of Trump by moles in government willing to report every single thing he does that might be capitalized on by the anti-Trump forces. Trump can trust no one, and no foreign head of state who talks to him can trust that their communication will not be broadcast to the world.”
But Democrats don’t care about what happens to America and its institutions. They just want to win, no matter the cost.