The Difference Between What Donald Trump Did and What Joe Biden Did

Ever since a whistleblower came forward with the allegation of a quid pro quo between Donald Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Trump’s supporters have scrambled. According to the whistleblower’s account, Trump pressured Zelenskiy to investigate his political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden, as a condition for releasing needed military aid funds that had already been allocated to Ukraine. 

At first, Trump’s supporters quickly denied that there was a quid pro quo. Then, when it became apparent that denial was a lie, they tried to rationalize Trump’s actions with the idea that quid pro quo situations happen “all the time” between the U.S. and foreign governments. Now that the whistleblower’s story has been widely corroborated by a number of credible witnesses who found Trump’s actions “troubling,” Trump’s supporters are desperately trying to divert attention away from possible wrongdoing by equating Trump’s actions with those of Joe Biden when Biden had worked to help remove a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor.

On the November 10, 2019 broadcast of NBC’s Meet the Press, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), echoed the current GOP talking points when he said, “I think, really, what’s going to happen is people are going to say, ‘Oh, they’re impeaching President Trump for exactly the same thing that Joe Biden did.’

“He threatened the aid, if they didn’t fire someone. And supposedly, the president did, if they didn’t investigate someone. So it sounds exactly like what Joe Biden did. And if they weren’t going to impeach Joe Biden, they look like, you know, hypocrites, in a way, for going only after President Trump and having not a word to say about what Joe Biden did…It’s exactly the same scenario.”

But it isn’t.

Rand Paul was referring to the idea that (then vice president) Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, was a paid board member of the Ukrainian gas company, Burisma, during the time that then Vice President Joe Biden was working to have a Ukrainian prosecutor removed in order to, as Paul, and other Trump supporters put it, stop the prosecutor from investigating Hunter Biden’s company. This is, at best, a stretching of certain facts. 

Later in the show, Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), said, “…That has nothing to do, absolutely nothing to do with the actions of the United States president in extorting Ukraine in a way that damaged our national security.”

Joe Biden was not trying to fire a Ukrainian prosecutor to keep him from investigating his son’s company. He was trying to follow through, with the support of U.S. allies, on removing a prosecutor who was failing to investigate Ukrainian corruption, and who many agreed was himself corrupt. Contrary to damaging national security, Biden’s efforts were to strengthen security for Ukraine, as well as its allies. 

At the same time that some of Trump’s supporters have conceded that there may have been a quid pro quo, they’re also quick to try to say that Trump’s first interest was to fight corruption in Ukraine. With a president who, according to the Washington Post, has made more than 14,500 false or misleading claims during his presidency as of October 14, 2019, this is hard to imagine. What’s more, at the time Trump had decided to conditionally withhold military aid from Ukraine, the U.S. Departments of Defense and State had both certified that Ukraine had made great progress in decreasing corruption, and recommended the U.S. proceed with the aid to Ukraine. 

In resorting to “what-aboutism” as a defense against the whistleblower’s complaint and all of the testimony that backs it up, Trump’s supporters appear to be aware that they have little else to present as an argument. 

Full Himes: ‘We’ve Got To Get Off This Quid Pro Quo Thing’ | Meet The Press | NBC News [2019-11-10]

Biden defends son’s dealings in Ukraine while attacking Trump | Fox News

Despite Second Whistleblower, Republicans Remain Silent

As Donald Trump continues to try to undercut the credibility of the whistleblower who has been the catalyst of an impeachment inquiry against Trump, a second whistleblower has come forward. This second whistleblower reportedly has first-hand information that corroborates the initial whistleblower’s complaint.

Both whistleblowers’ complaints center on a phone call Donald Trump had with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy on July 25, during which Trump pressed Zelenskiy to conduct an investigation into political opponent Joe Biden, and Biden’s son, Hunter.

The goal of the subsequent impeachment inquiry is to investigate “the extent to which President Trump jeopardized national security by pressing Ukraine to interfere with our 2020 election and by withholding military assistance provided by Congress to help Ukraine counter Russian aggression, as well as any efforts to cover up these matters,” according to a letter signed by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), Oversight Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) and Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.).

It is known that, shortly before his call with Zelenskiy, Trump told Mick Mulvaney, his acting chief of staff, to hold back almost $400 million in military aid for Ukraine.

Though the transcript of the call, as well as a set of text exchanges between several U.S. diplomats support the veracity of the whistleblowers’ complaints, Donald Trump (as well as most GOP lawmakers on his behalf, at this point) denies any wrongdoing.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted, ”The first so-called second hand information ‘Whistleblower’ got my phone conversation almost completely wrong, so now word is they are going to the bench and another ‘Whistleblower’ is coming in from the Deep State, also with second hand info… Meet with Shifty. Keep them coming!”

(“Shifty” refers to House representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif), who is House Intelligence Committee Chairman.)

Trump has been accused of not only of jeopardizing U.S. national security, but also of undermining the integrity of U.S. elections, violating campaign finance laws by soliciting foreign help, and obstruction of justice (by resisting congressional subpoenas).

Despite the fact that legal scholars, government officials, and many Republicans believe Trump has committed impeachable offenses, all Republican lawmakers but a handful, to date, have either remained silent or continued to excuse Trump. Those who have spoken out against Trump include Utah Senator Mitt Romney, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, and Texas Rep. Will Hurd are the exception.

Even Vice President Mike Pence, who in the past has held himself up as an emblem of integrity, is willing to overlook Trump’s lack of integrity, and even defend it: “I think the American people have a right to know if the vice president of the United States (referring to Biden) or his family profited from this position as vice president in the last administration.”

In a Washington Post op-ed, Max Boot writes, “Most Republicans… have too much self-respect to openly defend Trump — and too little courage to openly condemn him. So, for the most part, they fall silent. Or they assail Trump’s accusers rather than Trump.”

Trump continues along his usual M.O.: Commit wrongdoing; lie about having committed the wrongdoing; get caught in the lie and insist that the lie is the truth; get challenged some more about the lie, and publicly undercut the challengers. Finally, own up to the wrongdoing but insist that in this case, it wasn’t wrongdoing, then brazenly do it again.

Last week, Trump stood on the South Lawn of the White House and openly invited not only Ukraine, but also China, to investigate the Bidens. It seems Trump was correct when he said, in 2016, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Or, it seems, the souls of Republican lawmakers.

With two whistleblowers (and possibly more), a transcript of Trump’s phone call with Zelenskiy, and a stack of damning texts, where are the Republican lawmakers who claim to be such patriots?

Second whistleblower comes forward to support impeachment inquiry
CBS Evening News | 2019-10-06]

NYT reports there is a second whistleblower with ‘more direct information’ | Fox News [2019-10-5]