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Juan Williams: 'asking a foriegn government to investigate a political rival is Illegal'
Trump's phone call to the Ukrainian president transcript didn't seem like much, right? It was "hey, can you look into this for me" kind of thing. Seems totally normal and not a big deal. The one part that we're forgetting is that when Trump asks them to look into Biden's son's situation, that Joe Biden is considered a political rival in the upcoming election. Apparently it's actually against the constitution to ask foreign leaders for any type of assistance against political rivals.
Now there's two things about this. 1) we don't know the full context of the call because the transcript was somewhat redacted. And 2) when is a presidential candidate considered an actual rival? At this point, Biden does not seem to have a stronghold on the Democratic nominee, so is he actually a rival yet? We are not at the point of the election, so right now Trump's main rivals are anyone running for president on the Republican side. Joe Biden's rivals right now are the Democrats, which means Biden is more of a rival to Elizabeth Warren and bums like Cory Booker.
So yes, asking foreign leaders to investigate political rivals is not acceptable for a president to do, but because of the timing of the call - can they legitimately call Biden a rival at this point? I would think that answer is no and I think Trump knows that, which is why he made the call now and not later during an actual election.
Trump likes to call people out, but I think he's smart enough to make sure he doesn't do anything on purpose that would actually get him impeached.
I don't think this phone call stands much grounds on impeachment, and I think the White House knew that well in advance.
Even Politico posted this:
If it's not a gross abuse of the power of the presidency—in the language of the Constitution, a "high crime or misdemeanor"—to push a foreign leader to pursue a criminal investigation of one of your principal political opponents, it's hard to say what would constitute an impeachable offense.
The defense that Trump and a few of his supporters have advanced today, that there was no pressure or "quid pro quo," is unconvincing. First, there's no constitutional requirement of a quid pro quo; urging a foreign leader to investigate your political opponent would be an abuse of the position of the presidency even without any threat or pressure. Second, it seems pretty obvious that Trump was pressuring Zelensky—partly because of what Trump said, and partly because of the surrounding context of the phone call. Of course, we don't know the full context of the call, and that's important. Filling in that context will be one of the goals of the impeachment inquiry the speaker of the House announced yesterday, and it is part of the point of letting Congress hear the whistleblower's full story.