The political world was set on fire after it was revealed that Donald Trump extorted a foreign power – Ukraine – into giving him dirt on one of his political opponents.
But as more folks inside the administration talk, it increasingly looks like the scandal doesn’t just involve the president. Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are also at the center of this growing pile of criminal behavior.
As PoliticusUSA’s Jason Easley noted, it was reported on Monday that Trump – at what looks to be the request of Barr – put pressure on the Australian prime minister to help undermine the Mueller report.
This all comes in the midst of the other stunning revelation that Pompeo was a participant in Trump’s infamous phone call with the president of Ukraine – a week after he suggested that he knew nothing about the call.
In the case of Ukraine, Trump was using the power of his office to withhold military aid in exchange for damaging information about the Biden family. With respect to Australia, he was working against the American intelligence community in order to discredit the Mueller report and boost his own political standing at home.
As MSNBC’s Chris Hayes said on Monday, “[B]asically what’s happening here is the President putting the full force of the United States, in its foreign policy, and the resources of the Dept of Justice, towards validating a bunch of RT/Infowars nonsense.”
Former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau put it more bluntly, saying, “The America First crowd is jeopardizing our national security by pressuring foreign governments to help them discredit our intelligence officials and rig our elections.”
This isn’t just about Ukraine, and it doesn’t only involve Trump
Trump’s behavior with respect to Ukraine is criminal enough to warrant impeachment and removal from office. But as this dam continues to break, we are learning that the Ukraine bombshell was just the beginning.
This isn’t just about Ukraine and this doesn’t only involve Donald Trump.
Instead, this appears to be a massive international scheme, stretching from the White House to the Department of Justice to the State Department, to go after this president’s political foes, the U.S. intelligence community and American democracy.
As Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Will Bunch said on Monday, “I thought I’d pretty much lost the capacity to be shocked by anything Team Trump does but I have to say I’m flabbergasted by Barr, Pompeo and the highest U.S. officials taking part in a vast international conspiracy to go after Trump’s enemies.”
It’s only a matter of time before more information surfaces about Trump’s discussions with other foreign powers, Russia in particular. But a pattern of behavior is emerging, and any future discussions that come to light are likely to show similarly lawless behavior on the part of the president of the United States.
For those who have been on the right side of history with respect to Donald Trump, it’s been a rough few years. But getting to watch it all fall apart in real-time has been a beautiful thing.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.