OK, so I want to be clear about this.

What President Donald Trump did with regard to the president of the Ukraine was wrong. Using your status as president to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent is inappropriate. Using U.S. foreign aid as a carrot to convince the foreign leader is inappropriate, too.

Cleary, that’s what President Trump did. Better legal minds than mine will figure out if any laws were broken or if this rises to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors” the U.S. Constitution cites as grounds for impeachment.

But one thing is sure. Democrats will say it does and Republicans will say it doesn’t.

Democrats say the president violated his oath of office by failing to uphold the Constitution. Republicans say that while it was wrong for the president to do that stuff, it certainly doesn’t rise to the left of impeachment. It’s just Trump being his ham-handed self.

Basically, it’s politics. And it’s hopeless.

My sense of it is that after all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, an impeachment vote in the U.S. House and a trial in the U.S. Senate, President Donald Trump will still be President Donald Trump. And if he gets re-elected in 2020, Democrats will find some other reason to impeach him, like maybe a shady deal in his income tax returns from a dozen years ago.

(In October, a federal judge dismissed President Trump’s suit to block the release of his personal and corporate tax returns to the Manhattan district attorney. The DA is probing the Trump Organization and served a subpoena asking for eight years of tax returns. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit granted a temporary stay of decision, so Trump got a reprieve – for now.)

If those tax returns are public, look out. What are the odds that eight years of Donald Trump’s New York real estate deals were squeaky clean with regard to taxes? I’ll tell you the odds.


So if this whole Ukraine phone call thing doesn’t work out. Stay tuned.

I always try to find something positive to take away from any given situation. Like, if I rope hook my tee ball into the wrong fairway on a busy Sunday afternoon, I don’t get riled. I just tell myself, “Well at least you didn’t hit somebody in the head over there.”

My hope for a positive in this situation is that the behavior of public officials at all levels will now be scrutinized as doggedly as Trump’s.

Because up to now, we’ve done a pretty poor job of holding people to account for their misdeeds.

Seriously, let’s start with Adam Schiff. He’s the California Democrat who chairs the House intelligence committee that’s dogging Trump right now.

Remember when he got pranked by a couple of Russian comedians?

Posing as Ukrainian politicians, they got Schiff on the phone. Think about that. What would be the odds that you or I could get Schiff on the phone? Why would he take a call from a couple of comedians?

Well, it’s because they told his staff that they had a bunch of dirt on Donald Trump, that’s why.

They told an elaborate tale of how Russian President Vladimir Putin had nude blackmail photos of Trump and a Russian reality TV star.

Schiff was all in.

He took notes. He asked how to spell the names of the players involved. After the call, he had his staff arrange a way to pick up the compromising materials.

Here’s an email exchange between a Schiff staff member and the “Ukrainian politician.”

Staffer: I understand Mr. Schiff had a productive call with Mr. Parubiy and that Mr. Parubiy would like to make some materials available to Mr. Schiff through your embassy. Please let me know how best to arrange pickup of those materials from your Embassy here in Washington, D.C.

Ukrainian pol: Thank you! Today, we will contact with our embassy in Washington, D.C., and our representative will visit it in the end of this week to give them all our materials. Then our ambassador Chaliy personally will give that to the congressman. Also, Mr. Schiff told he will provide information from our conversation to office of FBI in Kiev (embassy of the U.S. in Ukraine) through you and they will call us. Today, we will send you unclassified documents for the congressman. Please forward him that.

Staffer: Thanks, Sergey. All that sounds great. Please let me know when the materials are ready to be picked up from the embassy here in Washington and in the meantime we will wait for the unclassified documents you can provide.

Of course, when the pranksters posted audio of the call on YouTube and released the emails, the venerable Congressman’s spokesman said Schiff knew all along the phone call was a prank.


Apparently, working with Ukrainian politicians to dig up dirt on political opponents isn’t so bad after all. I’m not saying this is apples to apples, but there is a fair amount of tawdry equivalency, isn’t there?

But let’s just think about some issues over the past couple of decades.

Remember when George W. Bush was president? How about all that warrantless wiretapping. How about all those “signing statements” where Bush said the executive branch didn’t have to follow the laws passed by Congress?

How about Dick Cheney’s secretive Energy Task Force? How about Halliburton?

How about the massive intelligence failure that led to the Iraq war? How about Enron, Bush’s biggest corporate supporter?

Fast forward to President Barack Obama.

There’s Hillary Clinton’s bogus state department email server. There’s Fast and Furious. (That’s where the Obama Justice Department lost track of thousands of guns it allowed to pass into the hands of smugglers in hopes of tracing them to Mexican drug cartels. A federal border agency was killed by one of those guns.)

How about weaponizing the IRS to target conservative groups ahead of an election or weaponizing the FBI to target Associated Press and Fox News reporter James Rosen?

Concerning Rosen, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post wrote: "The Rosen affair is as flagrant an assault on civil liberties as anything done by George W. Bush’s administration, and it uses technology to silence critics in a way Richard Nixon could only have dreamed of. To treat a reporter as a criminal for doing his job — seeking out information the government doesn’t want made public — deprives Americans of the First Amendment freedom on which all other constitutional rights are based."

I could go on and on – and on.

But in all of this mayhem, all these “violations of their oaths of office to uphold the Constitution,” nobody got impeached. I guess Atty. Gen. Eric Holder got censured by the House for refusing to turn over documents with regard to Fast and Furious. That’s the governmental equivalent of a slap on the wrist. But beyond that, it’s just all good. All those government types just got a little bit embarrassed and then moved merrily along.

By all means, hold Trump to account.

And from now on, all the rest of them, too.