Impure Politics

In criminal law, there are times when a crime has clearly been committed, but it’s not clear whether the perpetrator had criminal intent.

The impeachment effort against Donald Trump is the opposite situation: a case where there is no high crime or misdemeanor, but the president’s intentions are said by his enemies to be so plainly criminal that he simply must be impeached and removed.

On July 25, President Trump called Ukraine’s recently elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to congratulate him on his victory. During the call, Trump asked Zelensky about Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in connection with a cybersecurity firm called CrowdStrike, which had investigated the hack of the Democratic National Committee’s computers. Trump said, according to the official transcript:

I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike... I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The server, they say Ukraine has it. [Ellipses in the original release.]

CrowdStrike is a California-based company, but in 2017 President Trump told the Associated Press, “I heard it’s owned by a very rich Ukrainian; that’s what I heard.” Did a DNC server...

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