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Ukraine Call, Impeachment Call, and Underlying Issues

Steve Gruber

You know, a lot of breaking news overnight, and no one better to answer some of these questions than maybe yourself – Bobby Charles. Breaking news from The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, claiming there was a quid pro quo between President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s new President Solinsky, saying the President withheld 400 million dollars in aid and pushed the Ukrainians to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of the Vice President – former Vice President – Joe Biden; running for president – and now there’s a big surge for impeachment. There’s a meeting coming up at four o’clock today; Nancy Pelosi convening the Democrat caucus to discuss impeachment. What do you make of all of this as we get up to speed?

Robert Charles

Well, you know, I think the first thing for people to remember is that it’s very easy to get spun-up and I’ll just say the Democrats in the House, not just Pelosi, but a lot of her left wing – which seems to be growing – it gets spun up very easily. They obviously wanted to find some basis upon which to de-legitimize this president and the several that they’ve started with, beginning back with the Russia collusion piece, did not work. They all proved to be untrue. I haven’t seen any transcript and I do know those stories are out, and I’d read some of it. I will say that it’s an odd turn of event, but then what in politics today isn’t an odd turn of events.

It’s strange. It’s as if Joe Biden set a bear trap for himself and then stepped in it. It’s an odd twist, because, you know, what you’re saying is – and I, again, as I understand it – I haven’t seen any transcript of that call. Presidents have calls all the time with foreign leaders, as do other senior cabinet members, and it just seems odd to me because, what’s underneath all this is some absolutely rock-solid facts that would appear to put Joe Biden right in the cross-hairs of a potential legal action, not just in…

Gruber

Well, sure, what we have is, we’ve got Joe Biden bragging in January 2018 – we just played the tape here, a moment ago – bragging about getting a prosecutor fired in Ukraine because he withheld a billion dollar in loan guarantees and said Barack Obama is on board with me with this, and I’m leaving in six hours and either that prosecutor is fired or you don’t get the billion dollars. And the prosecutor was investigating Hunter Biden.

Charles

Yeah, and the question that has – from that set of facts early on – that has really crossed my mind is whether or not they’re – forget whether there’s a violation under Ukrainian law by the son of the Vice President at that time. Is there a violation of US law at that time by the Vice President, and as you just described it, an admission against interest by him, because – you know, again I haven’t gone back to look at 18 USC. That, you know, the equivalent of something that might be part of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, but if you’re in a foreign country, physically in that country working to, it seems to me, extract your son from a legal jeopardy, then something pretty serious is happening there.

Gruber

You would think, yeah. And using your office and your influence and saying it’s a billion dollars in loan guarantees and if you don’t do this that is a quid pro quo. I mean it’s by definition, is it not?

Charles

Yeah, it would seem to me. And you know the flip side of that, you know, so, I’m sure the Democrats would say well if Joe Biden were violating US law in some way then the President’s actions are similar and I really just don’t think so. I look at it – again we don’t know everything – but I look at it and I say, no. You had a clear conflict of interest with Joe Biden because this is his son he’s talking about.

Gruber

Correct.

Charles

If any American of note were violating foreign law, I think there’s something to be said for knowing what the facts are. And I, again…

Gruber

Well, here’s one of the facts we do know, Bobby, and I want to read you a couple of things and continue this. The complaint and on this alleged whistleblower, whose identity Inspector General required not to disclose, apparently did not have direct knowledge of the telephone call itself. The complaint was made on the basis of information that came from elsewhere, so I’m guessing transcripts maybe. And furthermore, under the law, Title 50 US Code Section 3033, it doesn’t appear that the Inspector General has the authority to investigate the president at all. [He] has the authority to investigate the intelligence community, but how damaging would it be – in precedent-setting, would it be – in your estimation, from your experience, to have phone calls between the President of the United States and any foreign leader being put out for public consumption all the time? You wouldn’t be able to get anything done, would you?

Charles

Well, that’s right and I suppose, if you think about it for a minute, that’s part of the goal here. I think a lot of people on the hill – and I particularly fault the House Oversight Committee – have just been on a fishing expedition to try to find anything and everything they can to undermine this president. So, this is not the first call that we’ve seen leaked. The Flynn call, it suggests, you know, if you go back in time one of the things that really struck me is, to get access to that call – right back at the very beginning of this administration – had to require the unmasking of Americans, which is a very rare process.

Gruber

Correct. Or at least you’d like to think so.

Charles

The more they look into that the more he indicated that maybe some 300 Americans – conversations with 300 Americans – might have been unmasked. To me the problem you have is not… An Inspector General does not exist to go after the President of the United States and an Inspector General releasing just willy-nilly, gaining access to and then releasing conversations the President has with either his advisors…

Gruber

Right. Why would any foreign leader want to talk to the President? Why would anybody from any foreign leader want to talk to the President at that point? Bobby Charles here, former Assistant Secretary of State for President George W. Bush. Also worked for Ronald Reagan and in the Bush 41 White House, and I might remind you, Bobby, I believe it was the very first phone call this President had I think it may have been with the President of Australia if memory serves back in January 2017, the very first phone call he had with any foreign leader was leaked and they tried to find fault with it. Remember that?

Charles

I do, and I think this is the part that bothers me, as much as anything, is that if we begin to de-legitimize our institutions and, not to expand the conversation too quickly, but you know, right now you have Boris…

Gruber

Yeltsin.

Charles

Johnson, over in Great Britain…

Gruber

Oh, Boris Johnson.

Charles

…had the Supreme Court undermine one of his decisions. You know, if you undermine the presidency initially, and then you undermine Cavanaugh, because you try to undermine the Supreme Court because you don’t want Roe vs. Wade to end up being issued or you… Bottom line is, if you undermine the institutions of democratic countries, you’re undermining their opacity for us and rule of law and confidence in our system. And I do believe that from the outset there was a group of people who wanted to undermine this president. It’s very – I mean his entire legitimacy. So, I think it’s with those glasses on you know – not rose-colored glasses, but a little more realism – that we have to look at anything like an impeachment, here.

Gruber

Well, that’s happening at four o’clock today. We’ve only got about a minute left here, less than that. Today, four o’clock, Nancy Pelosi is calling together all Democrats to discuss impeachment at four o’clock. I’ll give you 30 seconds for the last word and your takeaway on it.

Charles

I think it’s a terrible error. It’s an error for them, it’s an error for – it’s an error in practice. And at the end of the day, I don’t think an impeachment article about a phone call, where he’s seeking information, makes much sense. So, we’ll see what happens, but I think it’s a terrible political decision and not a good legal decision either.

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Lynn

IM DISGUSTED with the political corruption of Dems in this Congress. Why, oh why isn’t the Senate Judiciary Committee calling Hunter Biden and Joe Biden in for testimony and investigating Ukraine and China pay to play? Why oh why isn’t the Senate Foreign Relations Committee investigating the corruption of the Obama federal agencies criminal activities and why are law-abiding Americans who elected their president NOT, STILL NOT TO DATE, seeing prosecutions by the appropriate legal authorities for Clinton’s email, Benghazi, Epostein’s questionable death in Federal custody… WHY!!!!!!

Steve

To Richard, I’m not a republican party supporter. The Repubs have no courage. What I am is a Trump supporter. My current bumper sticker says :
” Impeach Congress. Trump – 2020 “

Steve

CNN , the conscience of the US (guffaw) , reports tonight that 47% of the country wants to impeach and Honest Jim Acosta reports that republican support
for Trump is falling apart. If so, what difference does it make ? The Pubs haven’t done anything to help our president anyway. He knows how to run the
country without either party as impossible as that sounds. Sad, but true.
When the dems bore us to dealth with yet another meaningless presidential debate on Oct 15, will the discussion be impeachment only or the issues ?
To the dems , the issues are a secondary topic.

RICHARD

Let me start by saying, a lot of people of tired of Republicans falling back on past issues to support this President. Its either Obama, Clinton and now Biden that is the cause of the problems. BULL CRAP…. If that is all you have to defend this man, then there is seriously something wrong in your judgement. We are suppose to protect our democracy and our constitution from people like Donald Trump. You need to stop just looking at your party affiliation and look at what is best for this country. Everything this man does is wrong. It is not just a phone call, its proof this man is trying to influence our election AGAIN!!! Please take time to get out of the party mindset regardless if your are Democrat or Republican and look at the entire picture. Protect your country and what it stands for, I repeat,,,,, what our… Read more »