In 2016, Donald Trump infamously bragged, “I could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” In impeaching Trump on the basis of withholding military aid from Ukraine, Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats believe they have caught Trump in the middle of just such a violation. In announcing the impeachment, Pelosi told reporters that Trump behaves like an “oppressive monarch,” and warned that “if we allow a president to be above the law, we do so surely at the peril of our republic.”
Well spoken. And if Trump actually did murder someone outside Trump Tower in Manhattan, we would be 100% behind the Democrats. Surely, the president must be impeached, tried, and locked away. Indeed, no president can be above the law.
The problem here is…what law did Trump break?
Let’s hear from the Democrats’ star witness, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman: “There was an opinion, legal opinion, rendered that the hold was legal.”
Yes. Yes there was. In asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “do us a favor” by investigating allegations of corruption involving Crowdstrike and Burisma, President Trump was acting in accordance with the Treaty with Ukraine on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, a pact that has been in place since 1998. Under the terms of this international agreement, the U.S. and Ukraine agree to “provide mutual assistance in connection with the investigation, prosecution, and prevention of offenses, and in proceedings related to criminal matters.”
It was this treaty that Joe Biden used to force Ukraine to fire a prosecutor he believed to be corrupt. It was also this treaty that Senate Democrats referenced earlier this year when they warned Ukraine not to stonewall investigators working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Somehow, it is only now, when the subject of the inquiry is Donald Trump, that this harmless request for cooperation becomes something sinister and impeachable.
But no matter how much Democrats scream at us that what Trump did was wrong, they cannot retroactively make it a crime. It wasn’t. Not a high one and not a misdemeanor. Their claims to the contrary are without merit, and they expose this sham as the political stunt-show that it is.