Adam Schiff, Alexander Vindman, Biden, Bill Taylor, Bob Mendendez, Democrats, Donald Trump, Eric Swalwell, Fiona Hill, Following Up, foreign policy, globalists, impeachment, Jeanne Shaheen, Mainstream Media, Marie Yovanovitch, Nancy Pelosi, national security, natural gas, Nordstream 2, Russia, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin
As known by RealityChek regulars, I’ve devoted two posts lately (here and here, and here) to the puzzling matter of President Biden’s policies toward the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline. The reason: For months during the last half of the Trump administration, any number of leading Democrats and globalist U.S. diplomats and other officials had justified the first effort to impeach the former President largely because he allegedly threatened key U.S. national security interests by hinging American military aid to Ukraine to its government’s cooperation in investigating charges against Mr. Biden (then a likely Democratic presidential candidate and therefore political rival) and his family.
Indeed, the first Article of Impeachment expressly stated that Trump “compromised” and “injured” national security for precisely this reason.
Mr. Biden never explicitly accused Trump of comprising American security by weakening ties to a supposedly crucial ally. But he certainly insinuated comission of this “high crime or misdemeanor” by charging that Trump “betrayed this nation.”
So I believed it was worth spotlighting that the Biden administration had for months been moving toward a decision that would both unquestionably endanger Ukraine and enrich Vladimir Putin’s Russia – whose apparent designs on Ukraine have prompted the United States (including the Trump administration) to provide it with various kinds of weapons and other military supplies to begin with. That decision: nixing significant sanctions on companies building the pipeline, which would transport Russian natural gas directly to Europe, in the process bypassing the previous transit route through Ukraine and enabling Russia to avoid the need to pay literally billions of dollars’ worth of tolls to its neighbor. And yesterday, the Biden administration made the move official.
For the record, I don’t consider Ukraine a vital or even important ally of the United States (for reasons explained, e.g., here). But Americans were told consistently during the first Trump impeachment hearings and actual proceedings that it was, making at least ironic a Democratic administration’s pursuit of a policy bound to enrich the country threatening Ukraine – and at Ukraine’s expense.
And at least as interesting, during the period that Mr. Biden has made his Nordstream intention clear, and since the final decision was announced, it’s become clear that most of the Democratic and diplomatic voices that touted Ukraine’s centraility to America’s own safety didn’t believe their own claims either. And ditto for the Mainstream Media news organizations that breathlessly reported and even endorsed them.
How do I know this? Because none of Trump’s main accusers along these lines seems to have had anything to day about Mr. Biden’s unmistakably anti-Ukraine decision. And my charge is easily verifiable. Just Google “Nordstream” and any of the following names: Alexander Vindman, Marie Yovanovitch, Fiona Hill, Bill Taylor, Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell. In various roles, these folks were leading the charge to dump Trump because of his Ukraine record and the related claim that he was a ” Manchurian” candidate and then President who won the presidency by accepting Putin’s help during the campaign in return for doing the Russian dictator’s bidding.
And do you know what these Google searches come up with? Not a peep of protest about Mr. Biden’s Nordstream decision. Incidentally, some of these figures have been commenting some on Ukraine-related issues. Vindman, for example, co-authored a Washington Post op-ed piece in March urging the West as a whole to toughen its stance against Russia’s “blatant violations of human rights and unrestrained repression of opponents both at home and abroad.” He urged Germany “in particular [to] reconsider its business ties to Moscow — specifically the Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline which is nearing completion” and the United States and the United Kingdom to strengthen existing Nordstream sanctions. But nothing about Biden indifference to the matter even though it was already becoming apparent – and certainly nothing since.
Three weeks later, after the President imposed sanctions on Russia for cyberattacks and election meddling, Schiff – the lead House impeachment manager in 2019 – noted that “While appropriate, sanctions alone will not be enough to deter Russia’s misbehavior. We must strengthen our own cyber defenses, take further action to condemn Russia’s human rights abuses, and, working in concert with our Allies and partners in Europe, deter further Russian military aggression.” But he said nothing about Nordstream at all.
At least as important, I can’t find a single instance of a Mainstream Media journalist even seeking the Nordstream views of either figure, or of their other impeachment-period Ukraine-philes.
Some Democrats have condemned the Mr. Biden’s Nordstream decision – notably, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. But although both voted to remove Trump from office in part because his Ukraine actions jeopardized national security (see here and here), neither mentioned taking any punitive measures against Mr. Biden even though in the long run his Nordstream decision could undermine Ukraine’s independence far more than Trump’s brief suspension of the arms aid.
It’s true that the Ukraine national security charge wasn’t the only accusation leveled against Trump in 2019. He was also impeached for violating the law in holding up the military assistance Congress approved for the country. But as pointed out in this post, nothing in the statute in question regards such presidential actions as impeachable. Certainly they’re far from the first course of action. Instead, the law specifically instructs Congressional plaintiffs to bring a lawsuit in a U.S. District Court.
As for the claim that Trump abused the power of the Presidency by launching an official investigation of a political opponent for purely political reasons, the revelations since of Hunter Biden’s activities in Ukraine during his father’s vice presidency show how premature – to put it kindly – that conclusion was.
Aa a result, given the outsized role played by the Ukraine charge’s substance, the indifference shown this year to that country’s fate by Trump’s 2019 prosecutors strengthens the case that the first impeachment pretty thoroughly abused power itself. The one silver lining (and it’s not negligible): At least the Democrats and other Never Trumper globalists aren’t beating the Ukraine war drums for now.