President Donald Trump has pushed all the relevant documents into the public domain, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi has studiously avoided a vote to begin an official impeachment proceeding, but it is Trump who is going with a “scorched earth” approach to scandal management, according to a story Friday in the Washington Post.
The president referring to a CIA agent who leaked a classified conversation between Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, as “almost a spy” was “part of a scorched-earth strategy he is directing for the Republican Party at the outset of an impeachment showdown,” wrote Robert Costa and Philip Rucker of the Post under “Trump writes the GOP impeachment playbook: Scorched earth. But will it work?”
Trump asking the Ukrainian president to look into who truly hacked the Democrat National Committee’s computers and a later request to finish its investigation into wrongdoing by then-Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who was kicked out of the Navy for cocaine use then, weeks later, given a $50,000-a-month spot on the board of a Ukrainian energy company despite having no expertise in energy or Ukraine amounted to “explosive” details of a scandal the White House plans to respond to vigorously, the Post wrote.
“Trump has acted impulsively and indignantly as he wages an all-out political war to defend himself from allegations that he abused his power to solicit foreign interference in his 2020 reelection bid,” Rucker and Costa wrote. “And in a testament to how completely he controls the Republican Party, many GOP officeholders and conservative media figures have followed Trump’s cues by joining his attempts either to attack the anonymous whistleblower, discredit the explosive accounts in the complaint or malign the media for covering it.”
Then, serving notice the paper has no plans to look into documents exposed Thursday by investigative reporter John Solomon that suggest Biden, as vice-president, forced Ukraine to dismiss a prosecutor who was investigating his son and the company he was working for, they wrote: “The coming weeks will test whether Trump’s familiar blame-the-accuser-and-counterattack playbook – while floating dark conspiracies to divert attention – will be successful in the face of mounting evidence that he asked Ukraine to dig up dirt on potential 2020 Democratic opponent Joe Biden.”
The readout of the call shows Trump said: “There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.” He is not asking Ukraine to dig up dirt. He is asking it to finish an investigation that the Obama administration stopped earlier.
The piece also tries to make the case, without evidence, that Republican support for the president is waning. The Post wrote that Trump’s “driving news coverage as ever with a blizzard of provocative comments” was “dashing any hopes Republican leaders may have had for a more measured strategy.”
Republicans are letting Trump take the lead on impeachment strategy because of their “calculation … that his political base is required to carry the party through the 2020 elections, even if some lawmakers privately disapprove of his conduct.”
Those “unwilling to parrot the president’s lines Thursday simply strove to stay silent,” the Post wrote. It accused Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., of holding a phone to his ear and constantly talking so the press could not ask him about the Ukraine matter.
In fact, Republicans have become more supportive of Trump as information has been revealed. Sasse, who had warned Republican senators to wait before “circling the wagons” around Trump, no longer had a comment. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who had made critical comments earlier in the week, had “nothing to add” on Thursday.
And Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a Trump supporter, said he “took a long walk” around the House floor, talking to dozens of members, “and I haven’t seen this level of intensity in support for the president since the 2016 campaign.”