Following The Impeachment Inquiry As It Unfolds
You can find a buildout from this hour, featuring a partial transcription, here.
With Meghna Chakrabarti
The whistleblower, the president and the Democrats’ next moves on impeachment. We have all the latest twists and turns.
Philip Rucker, White House bureau chief at the Washington Post. ( @PhilipRucker)
Beverly Gage, professor of history and American Studies, and director of the program in grand strategy at Yale University. Author of the forthcoming “ G-Man: J Edgar Hoover and the American Century.” ( @beverlygage)
From The Reading List
Washington Post: “ Staring down impeachment, Trump sees himself as a victim of historic proportions” — “Donald Trump is not the first American president staring down impeachment to nurse a deep sense of persecution and self-pity. But he is the first to broadcast that mentality to the world.
“In the five days since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) opened an impeachment inquiry following revelations about President Trump’s conduct with his Ukrainian counterpart, Trump has been determined to cast himself as a singular victim in a warped reality — a portrayal that seems part political survival strategy, part virtual therapy session.
“As Trump tells it, he is a hard-working and honorable president whose conduct has been ‘perfect’ but who is being harassed and tormented by ‘Do Nothing Democrat Savages’ and a corrupt intelligence community resolved to perpetuate a hoax, defraud the public and, ultimately, undo the 2016 election.
“‘There has been no President in the history of our Country who has been treated so badly as I have,’ Trump tweeted Wednesday, some 13 hours after Pelosi’s announcement.
“Victimization always has been core to Trump’s identity, both as a politician and as a real estate promoter and reality-television star. It is the emotional glue that yokes Trump to the grievance politics of the right. Many of Trump’s grass-roots followers have said they feel protective of the president in part because they also feel oppressed and ostracized by elites.”
The New Yorker: “ How Watergate Set the Stage for the Trump Impeachment Inquiry” — “On Tuesday, the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, announced that the House of Representatives was opening an impeachment inquiry into President Trump. She accused the President of disregarding the Constitution, and made clear her belief that ‘no one is above the law.’ The impetus for the decision was the news that the Trump Administration was blocking the release of a whistle-blower complaint from a member of the intelligence community. The complaint is reportedly connected to Trump’s efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to reopen a corruption investigation into former Vice-President Joe Biden and, specifically, to at least one phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky. On Monday, the news broke that Trump had ordered his Administration to withhold military aid to Ukraine a week before the call, raising the question of whether he was doing so as a threat to the Ukrainians. Late Tuesday, after the President railed against Democrats on Twitter, the Administration claimed that it would release a transcript of the phone call and a redacted version of the complaint.
“To put the current mess in a historical context, I spoke by phone on Tuesday evening with Beverly Gage, a professor of American history at Yale and the author of a forthcoming biography of J. Edgar Hoover. She has written extensively on issues such as government leaking, Presidential corruption, and Watergate. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed the ways in which Nixon tried to control the bureaucracy, why impeachment is never a comprehensive response to bad Presidential behavior, and how Watergate laid the groundwork for the current scandal.”
New York Times: “ In Trump’s Ukraine Phone Call, Alarmed Aides Saw Trouble” — “No one bothered to put special limits on the number of people allowed to sit in the ‘listening room’ in the White House to monitor the phone call because it was expected to be routine. By the time the call was over 30 minutes later, it quickly became clear that it was anything but.
“Soon after President Trump put the phone down that summer day, the red flags began to go up. Rather than just one head of state offering another pro forma congratulations for recent elections, the call turned into a bid by Mr. Trump to press a Ukrainian leader in need of additional American aid to ‘do us a favor’ and investigate Democrats.
“The alarm among officials who heard the exchange led to an extraordinary effort to keep too many more people from learning about it. In the days to come, according to a whistle-blower complaint released on Thursday, White House officials embarked on a campaign to ‘lock down’ the record of the call, removing it from the usual electronic file and hiding it away in a separate system normally used for classified information.
“But word began to spread anyway, kicking off a succession of events that would eventually reveal details of the call to the public and has now put Mr. Trump at risk of being impeached by a Democrat-led House for abusing his power and betraying his office. The story of the past two months is one of a White House scrambling to keep secrets to protect a president willing to cross lines others would not, only to find the very government he frequently disparages expose him.”
Dorey Scheimer produced this hour for broadcast.
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
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