Home/Daniel Larison/A Flagrant Abuse of Power

A Flagrant Abuse of Power

Rod Dreher comments on the summary of the conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky released by the White House:

What I mean is this: whether or not Trump offered a quid pro quo to the Ukrainian president over the Biden investigation, it is becoming clear that he subverted the normal national security and foreign policy process for the sake of personal advantage, by making his personal lawyer a de facto US envoy.

If Trump gets away with this, it sets a terrible precedent. It is corrupt, anti-democratic, and dangerous for America.

There is no question that Trump has committed a serious abuse of power here, and it seems very clear that he abused his power solely for his own perceived political benefit. The White House’s version of the conversation by itself is fairly damning, but the context in which that conversation took place is even more so. Trump had ordered a hold on military assistance to Ukraine a few days earlier. The Ukrainian government would have understood that the decision to withhold the assistance was linked to the president’s desire to start a Biden investigation. Brad Simpson commented on this earlier today:

When Trump says, “I would like you to do us a favor though,” he is linking the favor to continued U.S. military assistance to Ukraine. I don’t agree with the policy of providing that assistance on the merits, but withholding it and then using it as a bargaining chip in an attempt to get a foreign government to engage in dirty tricks against a political rival is outrageous. It raises obvious questions about other foreign policy decisions that the president has made and whether he has engaged in similar behavior in dealings with other governments.

Impeachment is the constitutional remedy for such abuses of power. These are exactly the kinds of self-serving abuses that impeachment was designed to check. Abuse of power need not be a crime to be deserving of impeachment, and there is already enough evidence of abuse to warrant finding out just how far the rot goes. Under the circumstances, an impeachment inquiry is entirely appropriate, and that inquiry may bring evidence of more abuses to light. The House should take its time and discover the full extent of the corruption in this administration, and then it should do its constitutional duty.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

leave a comment

Latest Articles