Wednesday 16 October 2019

Jennifer Rubin: 'Ukraine scandal poses some very hard questions for Republicans'


US President Donald Trump speaks during an event at The Villages retirement community in Florida. Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
US President Donald Trump speaks during an event at The Villages retirement community in Florida. Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Jennifer Rubin

US Senate and House Republicans may be talking a good game in support of Donald Trump and his conspiracy theories and constitutional wrecking ball, but understand the fix most of them recognise they are in.

If they come from any swing state or purple state (a swing state where both Democratic and Republican candidates receive strong support without an overwhelming majority of support for either party) then Trump is going to spend a whole lot of time in their states between now and Election Day 2020, provided Trump remains in office and gets the nomination.

A good number of House districts are gerrymandered and therefore safe for Trump's wackiest boosters, but there are many states and districts that could go either way. They will have the president in their locale and dominating the local news for a very long time.

You do wonder how, say, Senator Susan Collins of Maine is going to feel about Trump in her state. Would she go campaign with him? Would she flee? Is Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina, already facing a formidable challenge, going to run to or away from Trump?

The good news is that voters do not have to wait to find out. Congress is on recess, so lawmakers are back home. Voters should attend events, stop by the lawmakers' offices and engage in direct democracy (just as they did before the Obamacare votes in 2017). They have every right to demand answers to these:

- Why have you have not read the five-page rough transcript as you claim? Isn't this a basic requirement of the job?

- If you have read it, do you think what Trump did was morally wrong? Do you think any president should be able to ask a foreign leader for help getting damaging info on an opponent?

- What about members of Congress? Would you seek or use foreign opposition research? What would you do if presented with such information? What would you do if your opponent sought or used such information?

- The whistleblower law guarantees individuals anonymity and protection against retaliation. Does that apply to the president? Is it wrong to threaten to expose a whistleblower and suggest this is akin to spying (a capital offence)? Is it illegal?

- The unanimous view of our intelligence community is that Russia interfered with our election in 2016. Did it bother you when Trump sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin and against our intelligence community? How do you feel about dispatching the attorney general to find information that in essence would corroborate Putin's view and contradict our intelligence community's findings?

- Should the president or Cabinet officials be allowed to block witnesses with knowledge of alleged criminal and/or impeachable actions from testifying before Congress?

- If you already endorsed Trump, would you reconsider? Why not? If you have not endorsed Trump, would you want to give him four more years knowing about multiple attempts to enlist foreign help in winning elections?

- If seeking foreign help to win an election isn't impeachable, what is?

Voters have a right to direct answers.

Irish Independent

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