We’re a free republic or we’re not

The Wall Street Journal on Trump and Ukraine:

President Trump in a July phone call repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden ’s son, according to people familiar with the matter, urging Volodymyr Zelensky about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani on a probe that could hamper Mr. Trump’s potential 2020 opponent.

“He told him that he should work with [Mr. Giuliani] on Biden, and that people in Washington wanted to know” if his lawyer’s assertions that Mr. Biden acted improperly as vice president were true, one of the people said. Mr. Giuliani has suggested Mr. Biden’s pressure on Ukraine to fight corruption had to do with an investigation of a gas company for which his son was a director. A Ukrainian official this year said he had no evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Biden or his son Hunter Biden.

Mr. Giuliani in June and August met with top Ukrainian officials about the prospect of an investigation, he said in an interview. After the July call between the two presidents, the Ukrainian government said Mr. Trump had congratulated Mr. Zelensky on his recent election and expressed hope that his government would push ahead with investigations and corruption probes that had stymied relations between the two countries.

Mr. Trump on Friday defended his July call with Mr. Zelensky as “totally appropriate” but declined to say whether he had asked the Ukrainian leader to investigate Mr. Biden. At the same time, he reiterated his call for an investigation into Mr. Biden’s effort as vice president to oust Ukraine’s prosecutor general. “Somebody ought to look into that,” he told reporters.

In recent months, Mr. Giuliani has mounted an extensive effort to pressure Ukraine to do so. He said he met with an official from the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office in June in Paris, and met with Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Mr. Zelensky, in Madrid in August. Mr. Giuliani said in an interview this month that Mr. Yermak assured him the Ukrainian government would “get to the bottom” of the Biden matter.

The August meeting came weeks before the Trump administration began reviewing the status of $250 million in foreign aid to Ukraine, which the administration released earlier this month. Mr. Giuliani said he wasn’t aware of the issue with the funds to Ukraine at the time of the meeting.

Walter Shaub puts it this way:

It’s not complicated. If the executive really did abuse his power to push a foreign government to knock out his political rival before the next election, that’s either too much for you or nothing ever will be. Don’t need a statutory citation. We’re a free republic or we’re not.

It’s the “if the executive really did” part that’s not entirely nailed down.

Cory Booker:

This story is stunning and should be shaking Washington right now—Donald Trump’s moral vandalism disqualifies him from being president. As I’ve said before, it’s time for impeachment proceedings.

Joyce Vance:

Trump didn’t ask Ukraine’s President to work with our government – he asked him to work with Trump’s personal lawyer to investigate the front runner to be Trump’s opponent in the 2020 election.

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