The Ugliest Truth About Trump and Ukraine
John Kelly sold his soul and reputation to join the Trump administration as chief of staff, and therefore deserves every bit of the predictable spittle that the Tweeter-in-Chief is now spewing at him for daring to half-admit that his sell-out was regrettable. Nevertheless, he has now, indirectly, revealed the ugliest truth about Trump’s Ukraine policy — the truth I have been shouting for months.
Kelly gave a speech at Drew University in New Jersey, in which he defended the honor of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council official who testified against Trump at the impeachment hearings, saying that Vindman “did exactly what we teach them to do from cradle to grave. He went and told his boss what he just heard.”
More specifically, “We teach them, ‘Don’t follow an illegal order. And if you’re ever given one, you’ll raise it to whoever gives it to you that this is an illegal order, and then tell your boss.'”
And what was the perceived illegality to which Vindman was responding? Kelly’s reported explanation of the context draws us directly to the hidden heart of the issue — hidden, that is, by all the Democrats’ and Republicans’ arguments about a quid pro quo related to Joe Biden’s son.
“Through the Obama administration up until that phone call, the policy of the U.S. was militarily to support Ukraine in their defensive fight against … the Russians,” Kelly reportedly said. “And so, when the president said that continued support would be based on X, that [policy] essentially changed. And that’s what that guy [Vindman] was most interested in.” [Emphasis added.]
Voilà, my friendly fellow denizens of Limbo. From the outset of all this quid pro quo nonsense, I have been saying consistently that the Biden fixation is a convenient diversion from the real issue here, the issue that no one on center stage, and certainly no one in the Trump cult (i.e., Republican Party) wants to let out of the bag: The true scandal here is about Trump — yet again, as always — serving Russian interests.
Here is how I explained the matter back in November:
Trump stands with Vladimir Putin against every ally, foreign and domestic, serving and overtly defending Putin’s interests in every context imaginable, from Syria to the G20 to Ukraine. And as for that last case, I believe the Democrats are barking up the wrong tree in pursuing this idea of a quid pro quo linking military aid to a Ukrainian investigation of Joe Biden’s son. The Democrats are missing the point. Trump was not demanding any quid pro quo, although his language and tone may at times have carried that implication; and he was not really all that concerned about Joe Biden as an electoral opponent.
Rather, he was doing what he always does, and what he has been doing consistently throughout his presidency: He was trying to avoid acting in any way that might look like a rebuff to Putin, and therefore anger him, such as by giving military support to Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself against Russia. Trump has been resisting and dragging his heels against the civilized world’s, and even his own party’s, judgments and policy choices with regard to Putin since day one. In every instance, he tries to quash any effort to reduce Putin’s influence or thwart his ambitions. Short of that, he takes pains to position himself in a personal light that is in no way disagreeable to Putin, and to distance himself from all American government resistance to Putin’s global thuggery and expansionist projects. His views on Crimea, for example, and Ukrainian interests in general, have been crystal clear and frequently stated all along. He does not understand why the U.S. should be positioning itself as a friend of puny little Ukraine, when Russia is bigger, stronger, and more important, and Trump always wants to be on the winning side of history.
As with everything else about this pseudo-president, Trump has the plausible defense that he is not really a Russian asset, he just plays one on TV. As for his millions of groupies, however, I no longer see what defense they have.
Well, yes I do: “Kelly and Vindman and Mattis and Tillerson and Bolton and Mueller and Romney and everyone else on Earth who has ever disapproved of anything Trump has ever done, or criticized Trump in any way, are traitors, hacks, the Deep State, swamp creatures, anti-American scumbags, socialists, Obama plants, cuckservatives, NeverTrump losers, haters, idiots, usurpers, dictators, leftists, liars, leaders of a coup, advocates of violent overthrow” — and anything else they or their dear leader can come up with before flushing.
On the other hand, Richard Nixon’s fixer, National Enquirer story-planter for Trump, swinging orgiast and card-carrying sex-club member, and convicted witness-tamperer Roger Stone? A patriot and innocent victim of Deep State persecution, of course. Trump should pardon the guy.
Just a normal day in the abyss.