The following editorial appeared in the Times Herald-Record (Middletown, New York), a fellow GateHouse Media publication. Guest editorials do not necessarily reflect the views of Messenger Post Media.

 

By now, the playbook is familiar: 1. Some unnamed person or persons familiar with the details of an incident inform members of the news media that Donald Trump has said or done something that is inappropriate, perhaps illegal, for the president of the United States to do and that the details are being kept secret by the White House. 2. Having vetted their sources, the media report the news. 3. The White House a) denies the report; b) orders those responsible for informing Congress of the information to keep quiet; c) both. 4. Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer who is often involved in the incident, goes on TV and denies it happened, before acknowledging that, yes, it did happen. 4. As more media sources report new details of the incident, Trump takes to Twitter to say nothing happened, then, in response to reporters’ questions, says a) Yeah, it happened; b) But not the way they say; c) Maybe I’ll let you see the report; d) Maybe I won’t; e) It would be foolish of me to do or say something improper with so many other people privy to my conversations; f) Anyway, even if I did say or do something illegal, you can’t do anything about it because I’m the president and you’re not. So there. Smirk.

Contempt of Congress, the U.S. Constitution and the American people are on full display in the White House efforts to bury a whistleblower’s report on a telephone conversation in July between Trump and the new president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. According to reports in the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, an experienced intelligence official was concerned enough by the details of that conversation to file a report with the department’s independent inspector general. That official found the report serious enough to forward to the director of national intelligence.

Specifically, the official reportedly said Trump said he would release U.S. military aid to Ukraine (which he had cut off without telling Ukrainian officials) if that country would try to dig up some dirt on Hunter Biden, son of Joe Biden. Hunter Biden has business dealings in Ukraine and the former vice president, of course, is one of Trump’s more prominent likely opponents in the 2020 presidential campaign.

Thus far, the inspector general’s report has been withheld from Congress for several weeks, despite the fact that the law clearly states that such reports "shall" be delivered to Congress within a week. Trump’s acting director of intelligence, Joseph Maguire has been sitting on it. (Trump has discovered the beauty of having "acting" bosses in top government positions. They do whatever you tell them to do because they have no job security.)

Shaking down the leader of a foreign country for possible political gain is serious business. Possibly impeachable business. Flaunting it says all one needs to know about this administration.

Several officials and former employees have refused to testify to Congress on other matters on orders from Trump. Enough. Congress needs to hear details from Maguire on the Ukrainian call and it needs to start holding people in contempt, literally as well as figuratively.