One aspect of a Trump presidency that I, and many others, predicted in 2016 is that it would be exhausting. We knew this because Donald Trump, as a media figure, and as a political candidate, is an exhausting experience. He says things that demand a response.
And the media’s response has to be more than just “that’s BS,” so they go fact-check and count his lies and spill barrels of ink and broadcast hundreds of hours of talking heads explaining all of the above.
It’s all exhausting, and even those who spend their careers getting paid to do this are tiring of it (though it’s lucrative for many).
First, we were waiting for the Russia report. It came, and nothing really came of it except the endless waiting, baiting of Democrats, and the attendant media circus.
Now, we’re waiting for the transcript of a phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky of Ukraine. This phone call would be unremarkable except the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Guiliani, made a trip to Spain where he reportedly met with Ukrainian officials to ask that they investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, for what Giuliani called a “major scandal.”
In the most sideways, double-talking interview that overtops even himself, Giuliani, who can double-talk and malaprop to make Yogi Berra blush, first denied asking the Ukrainians to look into Joe Biden, then reversed himself with “of course I did.” And then he said he didn’t again.
CUOMO: — Biden said to the Ukraine. Did you to ask the Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden?
GIULIANI: No. Actually, I didn’t. I asked the Ukraine to investigate the allegations that there was interference in the election of 2016, by the Ukrainians, for the benefit of Hillary Clinton, for which there already is a court finding —
CUOMO: You never asked anything about Hunter Biden? You never asked anything about Joe Biden —
GIULIANI: The only thing I asked about Joe Biden —
CUOMO: — and his role with the prosecutor?
GIULIANI: — is to get to the bottom of how it was that Lutsenko who was appointed —
GIULIANI: — dismissed the case against AntAC.
CUOMO: So, you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden?
GIULIANI: Of course, I did.
CUOMO: You just said you didn’t.
GIULIANI: No. I didn’t ask them to look into Joe Biden. I asked them to look into the allegations that related to my client, which tangentially involved Joe Biden in a massive bribery scheme.Washington Post, 9/2/19
Now Giuliani says, waving his cell phone for the camera, that he never talked to a Ukrainian official until the State Department called him and asked him to do it.
It’s exhausting, like arguing with a precocious child trying to constantly negotiate and deflect the core question of “did you clean your room?”
Sometimes you just want to facepalm, or take a nap.
When the transcript of Trump’s call with Zelensky is released, it will likely be similar to the original Wall Street Journal report that claimed Trump never made an overt quid pro quo offer to Zelensky on investigating Biden. So Trump will claim “Witch Hunt.”
But there will be enough “there” there to investigate further, especially since there’s a whistleblower report that has been investigated by the Inspector General. Therefore Democrats will claim “abuse” and “impeachable.”
There is of course a scenario where the transcript release plays to Trump’s advantage, even if its contents are still problematic. If the transcript is substantially different from the Wall Street Journal report — even if it includes some mention of Biden — it will give multiple Republicans room to once again decry (with justification!) anonymous leaks and “fake news.” But it’s still the case that any presidential request for Ukraine to investigate Biden is improper. If Trump indeed made such a request, the remaining facts will tell us much about the severity of his abuse of power, not whether the abuse exists.“How To Read the Trump–Ukraine Transcript Tomorrow,” David French, National Review 9/24/19
Both sides are scrambling to get out in front of the story. The Democrats are pushing ahead with impeachment drums deep in the House. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, led by Mitch McConnell, pushed through a resolution of the “sense of the Senate” wanting to see the whistleblower report, which the White House has agreed to furnish.
Now we wait some more.
Meanwhile, Trump trolls on Twitter, discrediting the whistleblower before the report is even released (props to Tristan Justice at The Federalist).
I have little doubt that Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. I have little doubt that he walked within a horse’s tail hair of the “line” where it could be proven he asked for a quid pro quo. I don’t doubt that Rudy Guiliani, an experienced lawyer and political operative, knew exactly what he could or could not say or do in the meeting in Spain (unless he’s suffering from dementia, which means Trump is guilty of elder abuse).
In the end, we will all know that the intent was there, and that yes, the Biden family benefitted from the firing of Ukraine’s chief prosecutor during the Obama administration while Joe Biden was Vice President.
Trump is counting on that fact sticking, even through the media narrative that will focus on Trump’s own political motives.
There’s going to be plenty on both sides to preserve their narratives, but not enough to push the story either way.
Trump is hoping Democrats impeach him. It would be a gift to him.
And the rest of us, like me, would be exhausted by it. There’s no end to this search for smoking guns, lies, doublespeak, and the perpetual motion machine of talking heads explaining it.
I, for one, am very, very tired of it.
I’m just tired.