Gaski: The Ukraine Catch-22
By J. F. Gaski, Ph.D.
In the present Ukraine matter, the mainstream media propaganda machine is missing something basic. The error is exposed by the uniform and diversionary way the Trump-Ukraine accusation is framed: President Trump, they say, asked the Ukrainian government to investigate Democrat politician Joe Biden for the purpose of getting “dirt” on the rival candidate. Because of this apparent internationalization of political intrigue, the conduct by Trump qualifies as a possibly criminal and impeachable offense — that is, obtaining foreign campaign assistance of value. So goes the simplistic narrative.
Time out. The underlying error in the popular view is the familiar illogic of presumption of motives. Trump’s critics forcibly impose only one motive on the notorious telephone discussion between Trump and the Ukrainian president — i.e., help in domestic politics. Rightfully, the case should be closed already against the critics because such presumption is inadmissible in serious discourse.
The explanation is that to assume one of an infinite number of potential motives is face-invalid and unreasonable. All one must do to falsify such a pseudo-argument is identify a single plausible alternative motivation, and a big one is readily at hand: As the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, Donald Trump has a constitutional obligation to investigate illegal behavior, especially when committed at the highest level of our government. Hence, a more than plausible alternative to the subjective and partisan attack device is conspicuously present, truly an elephant in the room — that somehow remains inscrutable to the chattering class. Lawful obligation trumps unwarranted and inadmissible assumption, as it were.
And what evidence of illegality is there to justify the constitutional basis for Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate Joe Biden? Merely objective evidence, both direct and circumstantial, that Biden has been running an international influence-peddling (China) and extortion (Ukraine) operation. Biden boasted of sacking the Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating his son’s company, but with the alternative and exculpatory rival motive of legitimate Western concern about government corruption in Ukraine already being refuted publicly by Ukrainians themselves in this case. Then there is the $1.5-billion Chinese payment to the unqualified Hunter Biden’s rookie equity fund, ostensibly buying access to the office of U.S. vice president just as the elder Biden was assuming the China portfolio for the Obama administration.
Thank you, President Trump, for finally trying to advance the ball against high-level government corruption that typically goes unreported, uninvestigated, unprosecuted and unpunished — when perpetrated by Democrats.
But the logical extension of the Democrat position on Trump/Ukraine “collusion” becomes even more bizarre. If constitutional investigation or even phone interchange incorporating pursuit of foreign evidence by an American president is disallowed if it happens to implicate an opposition politician, then all opposition pols are therefore inviolable and above the law — because they are interpretable as victims of presidential campaign misconduct via involving a foreign entity in domestic politics, as creatively construed.
In other words, no matter what crime a partisan opponent has committed or is suspected of, the justice arm of government dares not investigate because, once it does, it is guilty of the illegal campaign behavior of targeting an opponent. This is catch-22 territory, thus an absurdity that, in turn, renders the Democratic complaint preposterous. QED.
A further weakness of the accusation is the “political opponent” dimension per se, again referencing Joe Biden. Sorry, but Biden is not Donald Trump’s political opponent, and may never be, because he is not the presidential nominee of a political party. Nor has the 2020 presidential campaign formally begun. By the Democratic critic standard, President Trump cannot seek information on illegal behavior by any Democrat in the U.S. who meets the constitutional qualifications for the presidency — e.g., 35 years of age — because all are potential political opponents.
How convenient that the Democrat position in the latest faux scandal reduces to this: All Dems are above the law.
John F. Gaski, Ph.D., an adjunct scholar of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, is an associate professor at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame. His area of specialization is social and political power and conflict. A version of this essay first appeared Oct. 11 in the American Thinker.