Whistleblower Gate just blew up right into Trump’s soft spot: Bribery.
A president cannot bribe or accept bribes. He cannot order others to do so on his behalf.
Yes, that’s right. In addition to the constitutional standard that lists bribery as a cause for impeachment, President Trump’s Ukraine whistleblower problem just got a lot worse.
Former Director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub pointed out that a President isn’t covered by many ethics laws, but he or she is covered by the anti-bribery statute.
The President isn't covered by many ethics laws, but he's covered by 18 U.S.C. § 201, the anti-bribery statute. I say this for no reason in particular.
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) September 20, 2019
CNN said on Thursday that both the White House and Justice Department were involved in trying to kill the whistleblower complaint about the President and a foreign leader, identified in two reports as Ukraine.
The bribe doesn’t need to be paid for it to be a crime.
The statute Shaub referenced is covered in Columbia Law , which points out that the statute criminalizes offering or promising a bribe as well as demanding or seeking a bribe, so the government can often charge a violation *even when a bribe is not actually paid.*
Also, that statute “applies to all federal public officials, including any ‘officer or employee or person acting for or on behalf of the United States’ or any department, agency, or branch of the federal government in ‘any official function.’ The statutory definition of federal public officials includes employees and agents of the District of Columbia and jurors. The federal bribery statute also applies to any person who has been nominated or appointed to be a public official.”
This leads us down yet another corruption alley, the Trump State Department, which is covered in the above statute as well. Ned Price pointed this out:
As Ukraine comes into focus, the nugget buried in this story–that Trump State Department officials helped broker a back-channel meeting between Giuliani and a senior Ukrainian official to discuss political dirt–could become even more important. https://t.co/tdhZiKCCYc
— Ned Price (@nedprice) September 20, 2019
And, in true Trumpian form, it continues.
Legal expert Joyce Vance referenced (B)(3) as something that we should have been looking at more in other contexts:
This makes me think we may also not have looked at the (b)(3) provision enough in other contexts
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) September 20, 2019
That section appears to deal with directly or indirectly corruptly giving or promising anything of value with the intent of influencing testimony under oath or before court or any committee in both Houses of Congress. A big old YIKES should be coming from the West Wing on that one.
Additionally, A.G. Bill Barr is at it again, behaving as if his job is to protect Trump instead of upholding our laws.
The White House and A.G. William Barr are involved in wrongly advising acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire not to give Congress a copy of the complaint.
Democrat Mike Quigley accused Barr of a cover-up to protect Trump, telling reporters, “Mr. Barr and the Department of Justice’s job in their mind is to protect the president. And it doesn’t matter if that violates the laws.”
The WHY: Trump is attempting to use a foreign power to cheat in another election.
As Trump is falsely claiming he had nothing to do with Russia’s attack on our elections, he is reportedly directing his people to bribe Ukraine to interfere in 2020. Trump’s lawyer Rudy Guiliani admitted on CNN Thursday night that he had directed Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden – and then he denied it, in typical Russian ‘say two different things and scream fake news when held accountable for either’ fashion.
The Trump attack centers on Joe Biden because Trump/Russia is so afraid of Joe Biden that they are trying to whip up a story that Joe Biden is corrupt, like Trump, and thus Trump’s corruption is not an issue.
#Russia's state TV names Joe Biden as "Trump's most dangerous rival," host Dmitry Kiselyov says Trump should keep digging in Ukraine for "the sweetest" kompromat of all: "proving that Ukraine—not Russia—interfered in the U.S. elections." pic.twitter.com/EJiXiwZiZZ
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) September 15, 2019
Friday morning, Trump claimed he didn’t recall any of the conversation at issue, but it was beautiful and great.
Trump claims he doesn't remember the conversation that triggered the whistleblower complaint, but then goes on to call the conversation "beautiful and great." pic.twitter.com/cqYfkNkdXO
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) September 20, 2019
The bottom line is if the conversation were so “beautiful and great” (Trump often reminds one of a corrupt Tony the Tiger), the Trump administration would release the transcript and would stop blocking the whistleblower’s complaint from even being heard by the proper Congressional authorities.
Trump’s pressuring of Ukraine was already known. The president has now admitted it, thanks to the whistleblower complaint, and sent a bribery bomb straight at his administration.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.