Robert Kagan has solved for the equilibrium

Consider what it will mean if we decide that what Trump and Giuliani have already acknowledged doing in Ukraine becomes an acceptable practice for all future presidents. Sending the signal that other governments can curry favor with a U.S. president by helping to dig up dirt on his or her political opponents would open our political system and foreign policy to intervention and manipulation on a global scale. Every government in the world wishing to influence U.S. foreign policy will have an incentive to come to a sitting president with information on his or her potential political opponents.

That information might be related to investments or other financial dealings in a particular country, as in Ukraine. Or it might have to do with the behavior of a particular individual while traveling abroad — who he or she sees and what he or she does. Other governments will therefore have an incentive to conduct surveillance of political figures traveling through their countries on the off chance of gleaning some bit of information that could be traded in Washington for some favor. Nor would other governments be limited to what they can see in their own countries. They would have an incentive to dig into the lives of potential opposition politicians in the United States, through monitoring their social media and other Internet presences, their bank accounts and other personal information — as already happened in 2016, and which Trump openly welcomed then, too.

Here is the full piece.  I mostly agree, but wonder if foreign governments haven’t already been doing this for some time, but hoarding the information rather than releasing it to select American politicians (no reason to encourage them further, of course).


Is Trump "digging up dirt" on Biden? Or trying to "learn facts" on Biden that the American people are interested in and will help them make an informed decision about the character and morality of Biden?

Digging up dirt.

Trump's major material risk here is to be impeached in 2021 for not properly reporting to the Federal Election Commission the massive Biden/China/Ukraine Impeachment in-kind campaign contribution.

They're simply super-energizing us deplorables.

Honestly, impeachment will just make Trump's re-election all the more hilarious.

PS Tyler is pathetic.

This is kinda sad. Does anyone believe that Biden and his son did NOT use their office to scam the Ukraine? Does anyone believe that the president does not have a duty and responsibility to find and expose this corruption that could seriously harm our relations with the Ukraine and other Western European countries. Then, why continue the lie??? Yes I know you hate Trump and by any means... BUT don't ypou love our country and the truth??? Seriously, don't you know that Obama, Hillary and Biden were grifters who became millionaires using their elected and appointed positioned to extort money from countries that were our friends? Don't you want to know the truth and see the guilty punished? Why keep pushing the phony meme invented by the criminal leftists in congress intended to continue this coverup of the Obama administrations crimes. You do understand that they truth is going to come out and all who are complicit in pushing the great lies and coverup will be exposed for their dishonesty and complicity, don't you???

Right now half the Democrats in congress are criminals who have for years used their power to extort and intimidate their way to wealth and power, while the other half are dedicated socialists/communist whose goal is to harm the U.S. and follow in the footsteps of their Democrat leaders and extort money and become rich? How can you support and justify this???

How do you tell who is which half?

I'msure you can document this?

The half who entered congress poor and are now multi-millionaires.

For example how does Obama become president in 2008 worth a couple hundred thousand bucks and leave office worth 60 million? Who did he help and who paid him off?

One Guy,

Hunter certainly wanted to make money off it, but there is zero evidence that Joe did so. Indeed, when he had the Ukrainians fire that prosecutor, it was because the guy was not doing enough investigting of corruption, not that he was investigating or about to investigat Hunter.

Like a lot of other fools here, you have been watching too much Hannity. The disconnect with reality on that show is becoming ever more pronounced.

Barkley, I agree that Joe didn't want to profit, but his son did. The corrupt part is that the prosecutor was investigating the son and Joe got him fired for it. The new, anti-corruption President has asked the US to investigate.

I'm sure you'll agree that our anti-corruption President could help reduce corruption by releasing his tax returns, divesting from his business interests, and removing his family members from political appointments.

That's completely different. Only Democrats are corrupt.

Not me, but ^^ is 90% right. There is nothing inherently corrupt about Democrats; it's the lack of scrutiny by the press that attracts corrupt people.

Stop using my handle, troll. I am 100% right.

Good old Barkley, as fatuous and obtuse as ever.

As to the particular case, if Shokin was corrupt or soft on corruption, why did he apply to the Ukrainian Courts to seize Zlochevsky's assets just weeks before he was fired? And if Shokin was replaced with a "better" prosecutor from the standpoint of anti-corruption investigations, what anti-corruption investigations did the successor pursue which Shokin failed to pursue? In particular, what happened to the investigation of Burisma and Zlochevsky which, evidently, Shokin was failing to pursue aggressively enough to satisfy the Obama Administration?

In fact, Burisma's decision to hire Hunter for a "do nothing" job at an extravagant salary had exactly the expected and intended effect. Joe got the prosecutor investigating Burisma fired and his successor, for obvious reasons, dropped the investigation. This is how corruption is done, today, and in the real world. You don't pay the corrupt politician directly, you don't put cash in an envelope, you pay his wife or his kid or his mistress; the money works its way round to the intended beneficiary soon enough.

Thus, in fact, Kagan has not actually solved for any equilibrium or reached any other conclusion of general application, he has just taken a side in a particular case. He (and Tyler and Barkley and others) have decided that they prefer corruption (by people they like for other reasons) to corruption investigations (by people they don't like for other reasons). It is not more complicated, really, that they simply prefer a corrupt Biden to a (not necessarily corrupt) Trump. That is their privilege as citizens, but it is nothing more than that.

It is inevitably true that, at the same time, foreign governments (like any other person or entity) may be a source of corruption and a source of false (or true) information regarding corruption. To categorically refuse to consider evidence because a foreigner was involved in its discovery or production is foolish. Yes, the evidence may be false, this is always the case; let's examine the evidence and see what we can determine regarding its probity.

At the end of the day, this fastidious refusal to accept evidence from foreigners will only remain fashionable for as long as it can be used against Trump. Where were these folks and their delicate xenophobic sensibilities when pro-Hillary Ukrainians were "finding" (or creating) a ledger containing evidence of secret payments to Paul Manafort by the prior government? Where were they when current and former officials of the Russian government (and other ethnic Russians) were feeding damaging information on Trump to Christopher Steele? Where were these concerns when Alexander Downer was reporting on his conversation with a low level Tump aide? If, tomorrow, the government of Burkina Faso finds evidence of serious misconduct by Trump (or any other Republican), will Kagan or Tyler or Barkely (or anyone else) refuse to consider it? To ask the question is to answer it.

Another fever swamp heard from.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Joe Biden’s son making $3 million from a Ukrainian natural gas company. He was hired for his expertise. He is a lawyer you know.

And the Chinese state-owned bank also invested in his investment fund! Yawn. He’s a lawyer who worked for the main Delaware banking company. Everyone needs a lawyer or investment manager.

There are no allegations of wrong doing or illegal activities anywhere. The president is seeking dirt on a political rival.

So for what it's worth, 5:49 PM EST is the hand-off. One anonymous leaves, another arrives.

What expertise? Hunter Biden had no experience in the energy business; no experience with Ukrainian law or EU law; didn't speak Ukrainian or Russian, had no knowledge of Ukrainian history or politics. Despite all this, he was paid at least $50,000 per month.

"but wonder if foreign governments haven’t already been doing this for some time, but hoarding the information rather than releasing it to select American politicians (no reason to encourage them further, of course)"

Or show the compromising material to the American politicians who compromised themselves and then promise not to leak it as long as the American politicians keep playing ball?

Is there any country that is so popular in Washington that it might seem like they are getting some extra benefits from all their investments over the last 30 years in software for things like phone billing?

Oct. 3
Trump Impeachment support: 45%
Trump approval rating: 42%
Trump disapproval rating: 53%

Trump is super-energizing his own impeachment!!

"Trump is super-energizing his own impeachment!!"

Trump: Don't throw me into the briar patch

I think he wants to be impeached.

Hi mouse!

"Trump Impeachment Support : 45%"

Lie! They support an inquiry. Who wouldn't?

The lying us all part of TDS.

Five more years for you to suffer.

Neither, since "digging up dirt" implies that one is looking for information that is factual, but derogatory. What Trump wants is to bully Ukraine into fabricating dirt, not digging it up.

What is your evidence for this?

It’s amazing. Complete fabrication from whole cloth and yet I’m sure that byomtov believes it to be true.

No wonder you're scared, hun.

I see what you did there. Well played Connie!!

If Trump has information about possible crimes committed by the Bidens, the obvious thing to do would be to hand the information to the Attorney General and let the DOJ do its thing. If DOJ sees the need to contact counterparts in foreign governments, there are protocols for that. Americans who commit corruption overseas are liable for prosecution in U.S. courts under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

What is obviously not right to do is to get personally involved when there are such massive conflicts of interest.

On the other hand, your description of helping the American people "make an informed decision about the character and morality of Biden" is, of course, exactly the job of political campaigns. The Trump campaign can spend whatever money it has on opposition research and private investigators, as long as they stay within the bounds of the law. What candidate Trump and his campaign staff may not do is solicit the help of foreign state actors.

"What candidate Trump and his campaign staff may not do is solicit the help of foreign state actors."

That is called xenophobia!

Actually, it is called abuse of power.

Simply requesting an investigation, or pursuing one, especially when the circumstances appear to warrant an investigation, is not an abuse of power. The manufacturing of false evidence, of course, is a different matter and, to the extent that can be shown, it would be an abuse of power by those in positions of power. But in the case of Trump, up to the present there is no evidence at all of any attempt to manufacture false evidence. You are using your personal feelings regarding Trump as a substitute for actual evidence of misconduct.

But go ahead, investigate Trump if you want. If you find evidence that he was attempting to manufacture false evidence against Biden or anyone else, I would like to know about it. I, on the other hand, will investigate Biden for corruption and investigate Hillary and Crowdstrike for attempting to manufacture false evidence against Trump. Now that's a fair deal, isn't it?

Using the power of the presidency to coerce a foreign government to investigate a political rival over a debunked conspiracy theory? Yeah. That’s abuse of power.

Hunter Biden made his millions legitimately. You know how we know? Show me the charges by the FBI or the SEC.

It’s not illegal to work abroad. Even if you have a famous last name.

But there is no actual evidence of coercion and the Ukrainians themselves, among others, deny that they were coerced. And the actual transcript does not indicate that coercion occurred. The coercion element has been assumed (or just fantasized about) because the people making this assumption (or engaging in the fantasy) don't like Trump.

And the "conspiracy theory" has not been debunked, far from it. Biden admits (brags!) that he got Shokin fired, Shokin is known from Court records to be actively investigating Burisma and Zlochevsky until shortly before he was fired (Shokin also claims the Burisma investigation was active until he was fired), after Shokin was fired the investigation of Burisma was immediately halted and was only recently resumed. None of that has been "debunked", as far as I know it hasn't even been disputed. I note that Democrats frequently rely on the assertion that a debunking occurred but they never explain when this happened or who did the debunking. You can't really have a "debunking" unless you have an investigation first. Was there an investigation? When? Who performed it? If there wasn't an investigation, how did we get a debunking?

The SEC would not have any jurisdiction over this matter and, although the FBI might investigate, it is the Department of Justice that files charges. If it turned out that the FBI was now investigating and/or that the Justice Department is about to file charges, would you conclude that Biden must be corrupt? Can you understand why the lack of an investigation during the Obama Administration is not convincing evidence, at least to some, that Biden is innocent?

Your view on this is sensible, but unrealistic. For example, this is clearly not the procedure the Obama administration followed in asking the Ukrainians to investigate Manafort. A lot of this is simply the uncovering the way business is done by everyone. I, for one, am not shocked by this, and I suspect that the house Committees aren't really hoked either.

That's not what happened. The "administration" did not ask "the Ukrainians" anything.

And that is the key difference. Individuals brought evidence to the FBI and procedures were followed.

This is disputed (which is why we need investigations.) See

Okay, I read that. Is important to remember first of all that Russia's invasion of Ukraine was a big deal.

Russian invasion of Ukraine was a significant focus of the Obama Administration.

And then this: "Telizhenko said he couldn’t remember whether Manafort was mentioned during the January 2016 meeting."

Isn't it entirely possible that this meeting was about the invasion, and and Manafort was mixed up in that?

Should we not practice foreign policy when Americans are mixed up in them?

"Should we not practice foreign policy when Americans are mixed up in them?" Of course not. And Ukraine is still a big deal, with Russians occupying a large part of the country. I don't say Solomon's reporting is definitive. But nor do I think you get to invent motivations of the Trump administration by assuming the worst motivations you can think of. All I'm saying is that things can look bad (if you assume malign motives) until you investigate them. And until you finish the investigation (which would be best carried out outside the glare of publicity) you have nothing. Literally nothing.

Trump is great at clearly stating his motivations.

The amazing thing is the movement to ignore them.

To the contrary. I think that that Trump is so inarticulate that his utterances are a pure Rorschach test of the assumptions of the listener.

Trump tells the Russians he is fine with their interference, and you stand here and tell me that?

Great example. Was "if you're listening, send me the emails" a joke or not? Who the heck knows? If the Russians provide true information, is that "interference" or not? Who the heck knows? Do you really find Trump articulate? Hyperbole is his modal verbal statement. (Maybe with a frequency of 1.)

I am talking about the White House meeting with the Russian ambassador.

This is the correct answer, of course. Any investigation can and should be handled by DOJ, FBI, etc.

That said, I have no real doubt this sort of thing happens all the time. Other nations have plenty of incentive to "help out" a sitting POTUS if they can get something out of it. There's nothing new here other than the fact that it was made public.

I have to add that the idea that the public will make an informed decision about anything is hogwash. The public will simply vote their prejudices, and Trump's campaign will gin up whatever smears they need with or without Ukraine's assistance.

The fact that polls have tipped in favor of impeachment, and 50:50 on conviction and removal says that things do change.

And probably more people are tired of this president, ready to see him go.

I don’t know. He doesn’t seem willing to bomb anyone. He might be worth keeping around based on that alone. I wish he would golf more and do everything else less.

His unwillingness to bomb anyone certainly explains why both sides of the political establishment hate him, though it's less clear why the liberals who spent the last decade raving about the Iraq war do as well.

It's only liberals who have a problem with the Iraq war? I guess that figures, conservatives are pretty dumb generally.

It's only liberals who scream about blood for oil then slam Trump for not going into Syria, future site of a pipeline to Europe.

The Demoncats in Congress "approved" the Iraq war and later decided to use the war as cudgel to beat dubya over the head.

They were for the war before they were against it.

Cracks me up how the Republicans think this is some sort of gotcha. "Hey you know that war we ginned up based on total lies, the one we shamed you guys into voting for based on those lies, the one we called you traitors for opposing? Yeah that's actual your fault for voting for it. For our war. The one we started. It's your fault not ours."

LOL bigly

And no EdR, this isn't your boyfriend anonymous. This is common sense.

It may not be physically possible for Trump to golf more.

It would really be a shame if, for example, Hillary Clinton paid a large amount of money to a British intelligence official to write and leak to the press a scurrilous dossier which could then be used as a justification for wiretapping a rival political campaign.

Fortunately, unlike those inferior slavic countries, our own western intelligence agencies are politically neutral, and inherently beyond corruption or seeking to use their power to influence domestic political opinion:


And, of course, the Obama administration openly summoned Ukrainian officials to the White House and demanded that they investigate Manafort while he was heading the Trump campaign.

And Obama famously got caught asking Putin for his forbearance, in order to help Obama get through the 2012 election.

Sorry, Tyler, but this piece doesn't mark you as some deep political analyst. It just shows that you've chosen sides.

Apologies to Tyler -- I thought this was one of his pieces. My comment applies instead to Kagan.

Kagan is clearly partisan here. I agree with Tyler that he has correctly identified a problem, but is probably insufficiently cynical about the extent to which this problem is already entrenched. And of course what Kagan’s piece doesn’t say is: “If we allow foreign corporations to bribe the sons of American politicians with $50,000 a month sinecures, it will result in a system of legal bribery in America and create an elite entrenched oligarch political class beholden to moneyed interests!” Because of course that is the current system as it has always existed.

The conclusion to be drawn here is that Kagan is more comfortable with an oligarch political class beholden to moneyed interests than he is with anyone who attempts to dismantle that oligarchy. Like most other pundits and journalists, it's a shame he can't simply say what he really wants.

That’s the partisan takeaway sure. Here in reality, the president abused his power to make a foreign government investigate a political rival.

And remember. Hunter Biden made his millions legitimately. Where’s the crime? He was paid by a private company and by the state-owned bank of China. Show me the crime please.

It’s not illegal to make money abroad. Even if your dad is famous.

+1 and something you'll notice none of the fainting-couch pundits and their cheerleaders in this comment section have an answer for.

Leftists always project. They want to pretend they're indignant at such an egregious abuse of power, but the actual problem is that the wrong person might find out the wrong things about our rightful superiors.

The truth is that Sleepy Joe's low-level corruption scheme is a sideshow to the fact that Ukraine et al. has the answers about what happened with the "foreign" agents sent to entrap the Trump campaign and justify using American intelligence and law enforcement agencies to spy on a rival candidate's campaign, and later, to sabotage his presidency. Not to mention Crowdstrike and Hilldawg's e-mails, which was part of that ellipsis the propaganda networks left out of their reporting.

That's treason and that's why impeachment before any more of this mess gets uncovered is so imperative.

Can't wait for the impeachment. Pass me the popcorn.

That is a impersonator. I am the real Patriot.

Nonsense. *I'm* the only real Patriot here.

All of you are amateurs. I am the only true Patriot. Ordem e progresso!

No matter what his intent, he's in deep doo doo. Impeachable doo doo.

Yabba Dabba Doo!

No Due Process!
Believe The Lies!
Broadcast The Lies And False Statistics!
Evidence! We Need No Stinking Evidence!

Asking A Foreign Government To Investigate Biden's Numerous Crimes is Not A Crime, high or otherwise.

The facts are very clear but are willfully ignored by the WaPo and the Dems. Joe Biden is in a video bragging about getting the Ukrainian prosecutor fired, as he was looking into Biden's son's involvement with Burisma. Trump is trying to find out what happened, nothing untoward.

The massive corruption of the intelligence agencies and the Obama administration will be revealed even to the blind.

'Joe Biden is in a video bragging about getting the Ukrainian prosecutor fired'

Who cares? He is not in office now, and such a video will - hopefully - ensure that he will never be elected as president, and continue to act in the same fashion as Trump.

'Trump is trying to find out what happened, nothing untoward.'

You have read the released (though non-verbatim) transcript, one assumes. Our president, in his own words, is going considerably beyond finding out what happened to an investigation that no one cares about.

'will be revealed even to the blind'

Well, we are still waiting, even after two years of Republican control of all elected branches of our government. But one can assume we will also get to the bottom of (the other) Hussien's WMDs, which will also be revealed to the blind.

Amazing as this may seem: You grow more stupider every day.

In the video Biden was bragging about stopping the corruption at the urging of his son Hunter who was privy to an inside job offer.

Hunter wanted to make buck, the company, Burisma, want to get clean and sell gas to the EU. The company had already hired a respected American lawyer, ex DOJ prosecutor , expert witness in the field of international corruption.

Hunter pressed dad, dad got the corrupt prosecutor fired, Hunter took the job, in July 1971 the American lawyer cleared the last of the pending charges against the company, including payment of back taxes.

The company needed a legitimate Ukraine and legitimate corporate board to sell gas to EU, they likely to the rational approach.

Hutner can't talk because he technically broke the law. He unduly used his influence with Joe to land a million dollar job. He just used his influence to get the prosecutor fired so the American lawyer can move on with the real charges, which he knew would come back up. It was an illegal anti-corruption drive.

If this is supposed to convince me not to vote for Biden, well, that was a waste of time, since I would never vote for any candidate, whether a Democrat or a Republican.

However, if it convinces more people to not vote for Biden, thus demonstrating that such behavior is unacceptable for an American elected official, keep up the good work.

"It would really be a shame if, for example, Hillary Clinton paid a large amount of money to a British intelligence official to write and leak to the press a scurrilous dossier which could then be used as a justification for wiretapping a rival political campaign."

It would but that is not, in fact, what happened. Christopher Steele, as of 2009, was a former intelligence agent and his report was not the basis for investigating illegal attempts by Russian nationals to involve themselves in a political campaign. That basis was the bar-stool boasting of a 20-something adviser to the Trump campaign who knew of the DNC hack several weeks before it was public knowledge.

And another transcript that will be fascinating to read involves Trump talking to Australia's prime minister about the circumstances concerning the 'bar-stool boasting of a 20-something adviser to the Trump campaign who knew of the DNC hack several weeks before it was public knowledge.'

Our president does not spend all of his time on twitter and watching Fox, after all.

The FISA warrant for Carter Page after he joined the Trump campaign is based on the allegations put forth in the Steele dossier. It's in the actual document, you can read it for yourself.

Oh, this Rod Rosenstein?

These are the guys that we are supposed to expect will impartially and fairly carry out these investigations and warrants. You guys put so much faith in them simply because you know they're stacked full of people who know which stones not to turn over.

This is exactly right. In bizzarro world, a current administration asking for cooperation in the investigation of the previous administration's corruption is somehow an impeachable offense.

No, this has been going on for a while. The Ukraine asked us to investigate the corruption and had to hire a lawyer in the US to get any action on it. The Ukraine initiated this a while ago. Trump is just doing his job.

Well they should. Trump is basically the nations top law enforcer. When the crime is out there in the open he should investigate it. It's his job.

All of you keyboard political warriors are having a good time, but for 95% of the electorate, no one cares. It's just Trump bad vs Trump good. Even the very few who aren't sure aren't paying attention to your dueling narratives and deep dive minutiae about dossiers and prosecutors and phone calls and who said what when. NO ONE CARES.

+1, this is the most obvious take

60% of the American population supports impeachment and conviction. 50% supports prison time for Trump.

The American people are paying attention. They are ready to throw Trump in an 8 by 10 cell and lock up the key. And we are in week 2 of the inquiry.

Remember where you stood, Republicans. History will judge us all.

Yes, it's possible that people who spend all day thinking of such things might have come up with that strategy at some point.

Thanks for the 'insight' WP.

Anyone who thinks these practices haven't been going on forever is delusional...power and politics is the dirtiest game...Biden publicly bragged about getting rid of Ukraine's prosecutor in exchange for a billion dollars...that's not keen political instincts imo

Yes, but like Nixon, Trump got caught. That's the crime.

Gosh, you seem to be missing the point. It isn't about what foreign actors do; it is about our politicians actively recruiting and involving foreign powers into what "should" be (in some sort of "ideal", America is a citadel, world) a purely American process - electing our leaders. Heck, I don't even have a problem with Candidate Trump passively learning whatever dirt he could from any legitimate source. Foreign nations' Intelligence is a gray area in terms of legitimacy, but their Criminal Justice System is not. If Trump actively recruited foreign governments to aid his bid for re-election, he should be impeached, tried and if found guilty of what is in my book a "high misdemeanor" removed from office.

What's the alternative - US presidents take a "What happens in Ukraine, stays in Ukraine" approach to opponents? Infeasible in the globalized world that has been made.

It seems a worse world where the likes of Hunter Biden are untouchable, than one where they surveilled, monitored, constrained and that information shared with the US government.

The issue I would see would be that this gives foreign governments incentives for false information, but foreign states gather true information on US citizens within their own laws? For that to be a problem, what are prominent US citizens? People who should receive some sort of priviliged class receiving imperial dynast like protection of their privacy, wherever they should wander?

At the end of the day, Baden is not yet the D candidate. For Trump to urge his son's investigation, with no quid pro quo, would be no more disproportionate than were the reverse situation to happen (say with Don Jr) privately, a year before Trump became the R nominee, by Obama. Not yet the direct rival, and strongly arguable in the public interest, and fails to meet any DOJ standards for a quantifiable contribution (

Has anyone investigated Ivanka Trump's business dealings with China? She got her first trademarks after a dinner she had with Xi Jinping, then picked up a few more the same week her father vowed to save China's ZTE, even though that company clearly broke the law.

And what is Kushner's special relationship with the Saudis? We should ask these questions now because they will very likely cash in their chips for higher office in the future and like the Clintons and Bushes, form a new political dynasty.

The obvious risk is that in the future foreign governments may work together with dubious outfits like Fusion GPS and the democratic party to create fake dossiers that will allow democrat presidents to spy on their opponents using FISA warrants. I wonder if Trump thought about that risk.

It's OK, I'm sure if that were to happen the media would be quick to investigate and Kagan et al. would pen more editorials tut-tutting over the dangers to the Republic. It would be the consistent and intellectually honest thing to do, after all.

I'm just a stinking foreigner who watches US politics as a blood sport... but surely the republicans can't actually think that this is a precedent that leads to a new kind of contest that they'd actually win at?

You think there's a sig. gap in "Doing dodgy stuff overseas" which would favours Democrats, in terms of "less wrongdoing brought to light"? lulz.

Yeah, I do think there's a difference - what's the conviction rate for republicans vs democrats for corruption in the last 30 years? Why would that be different overseas? (I don't think the difference is due to republicans not trying to convict)

"what's the conviction rate for republicans vs democrats for corruption in the last 30 years? "

From this list on Wikipedia:
Trump Presidency:
Republicans: 2 Democrats: 1
Obama Presidency:
Republicans: 7 Democrats: 5
Bush Jr. Presidency:
Republicans: 11 Democrats: 3
Clinton Presidency:
Republicans: 2 Democrats: 11
Bush Sr. Presidency:
Republicans: 4 Democrats: 2
Reagan Presidency:
Republicans: 8 Democrats: 11

Republicans: 34 Democrats: 33

Given the grip of Republicans over law enforcement, the numbers are revealing.

If everything were equal the ratio would be 10:1.

Why? Law enforcement, at best, investigates crimes and is, at most, 3:2.

The real action lies in with the attorneys who decide if prosecution is feasible and worthwhile.

Of course there Democrats outnumber by 3:1.

So Australian - like Euros, Germans and French foolish in particular - forms his ideas of US politics on ill formed "Good guys" biases? Shocking.

Thanks for the actual data. Not as unbalanced as I had been told.

> Shocking

Extrapolates wildly based on a question? Shocking ;-)

I am not sure I understand the point of this post - is it to suggest that foreign governments shouldn't investigate American politicians wrong doing when they are in their country for fear that this information might be released in future? Surely every right thinking person would want that? I mean if someone is behaving incorrectly overseas and they are running for office, then it is better that this fact be known surely. If politicians object to this, perhaps they should behave ethically overseas as well as at home? Politicians in fact are absolutely right to seek evidence about their opponents wrong doing, this is the entire basis of the adversarial system of politics. A cosy system where people overlook each others mistakes would perhaps be great for the politicians but not so good for the long term health of a nation.

Perhaps the concern is around fake accusations, where foreigners are making stuff up about US politicians on flaky evidence. Of course that should be condemned. But in terms of whether Trump is provoking this to happen more, I would say it already goes on, we saw this with the Kompromat accusations on Trump, where as far as I can see pure gossip was retailed as fact by respectable newspapers. This to me was pretty shocking. It is hard to get this point across to people with TDS, that you can have a high disregard for Trump, and everything that he stands for (as I do), but that still doesn't make it right to peddle unsupported gossip about him. We learnt in Kindergarten that two wrongs don't make a right.

This. There seems to be an unspoken assumption here that "investigation =dirt" which I keep reading stories waiting to see explored, to no avail. Presidents asking for investigations should be required -- EVERYTHING should be investigated, by everyone, always. The only problem with this view is the fear that investigations will create fake dirt to curry favor. That would indeed be a "thing of value" to a campaign. (I heard Susan Rice say that's how the Chinese "might" behave this morning.) But, as always, the motivations of those who provide dirt need to be assessed in order to judge the seriousness of the charge. And claims from a foreign gov't are no different in that regard. And there is (at least up to now) literally not a whiff of evidence that Trump is requested fake dirt; the same goes with Obama and Manafort.

However, the reality everybody is talking about is "non-verbatim transcript=dirt," and the only question is to when the verbatim transcripts will be released for everyone to read what sort of perfect conversations our very stable genius has been having.

Nonsense. The claim has been that the nonverbatim transcript is, on its own, plenty. And there is nothing in that transcript to suggest the manufacture of Trumped-up (!) evidence.

'The claim has been that the nonverbatim transcript is, on its own, plenty.'

Well, plenty enough to start an official impeachment inquiry, and to make it very likely that all Americans will be able to read verbatim transcripts of what our president has been saying to foreign leaders so as to solicit their help in discrediting one or more political opponents.

BTW, I have no problem with the investigation of this, as I don't have any problem with any investigation of anything (It might be better if investigations are carried out outside the glare of publicity, but whatevs.) So the whistleblower's complaint needs to be investigated. Suspicions that Trump actually asked for the manufacture of dirt needs to be investigated. But breathless reporting on investigations before they are complete should be ignored.

You try to draw an equivalence between Trump-Biden and Obama-Manafort but your own source quotes a participant in this meeting between U.S. and Ukrainian officials during Obama's time as saying he cannot recall if Manafort was mentioned.

The problems with a President asking another country to investigate his political opponents are many.

First, Trump appointed the Attorney General, most sitting U.S. Attorneys and the FBI Director, who have jurisdiction over any American citizen accused of corruption. Why doesn't he trust these people to do a fair, impartial investigation and to follow all standard protocols?

Second, Presidents do not normally get involved in the details of individual criminal investigations concerning specific U.S. citizens and there are DOJ guidelines spelling this out -- investigations are left to law enforcement, U.S. Attorneys and grand juries.

Third, even if you disagree with the above, a President getting personally involved in the investigation of his political rival is such an obviously anti-democratic and ethical breach it is hard to know where to start. Again, see above -- what is wrong with entrusting the investigation to professionals who, unlike Trump, have law degrees and years of experience in white collar crime investigations?

Finallly, all kinds of information or investigations may be valuable in the abstract but there are laws and common sense guidelines regulating what you can and cannot do to acquire that information. You can call the police asking them to investigate a crime but you cannot, for instance, threaten to reveal the police chief's alleged affair if he does not investigate nor may you show up in his office offering cash in exchange for an investigation. Likewise, there are guidelines for commencing investigations of political candidates and all Trump needs to do is follow them except he doesn't appear to have the emotional maturity, impulse control or basic moral compass to do so.

Chris, buddy.

Trump told the Russians he was fine with their interference, and that he'd fired Comey to end the investigation.

This is uncontested by the White House.

Chris, U.S. law such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act regulate the conduct of American citizens, even when they are doing business outside of the U.S. Even foreigners with little connection to the U.S. can be prosecuted there for a variety of crimes related to corruption if their ill-gotten gains enter the U.S. banking system or if their victims include U.S. citizens or companies. Imelda Marcos was investigated and prosecuted (but acquitted) in New York City for racketeering, for instance. U.S. law enforcement and career prosecutors are perfectly capable of handling corruption cases involving politicians as any number of former politicians now serving time in federal prison can attest. If they need help from other countries, they can ask through proper channels.

It is still anti-corruption and certainly puts American politicians on notice.

I contrast two other cases. Amecrican presidents cal foreign leaders and demand the same corruption rights as any one else.

Or an American Vice President who tells foreign leaders have to clean up corruption before hiring his son.

The the president who says, anything that works.

I am not sure I can find yings and yangs, I see no tree trunk.

That the obvious is difficult for many commentators to solve for the equilibrium, suggests that the model has not been calibrated for the voter. Hence bad results because the model builder expects a equilibrium but is continuously disappointed by the average voter.

If Biden committed crimes he should probably be prosecuted. Here is the thing though, the investigation and prosecution of such alleged crimes should in no way be influenced by his political enemies. To me that is as obvious as the fact that his judge should not actively be campaigning against him.

Are Biden's crimes less severe if his political enemies are interested in them? Does the fact that political enemies might uncover evidence of his crimes that otherwise would have been buried change the validity of the evidence? One last question, how does your answers to the previous two questions apply to the notion of Democrats impeaching Trump over a second-hand whistleblower account who we are learning today is connected to the DNC and served in the Obama administration?

A conservative places a high value on order and stability. Trump is the opposite of a conservative, for he places a high value on chaos. But chaos is the path to authoritarianism, for it is the excuse the authoritarian uses to impose his will to achieve the order and stability the authoritarian undermined. Trump combines chaos with mistrust: nobody except Trump can be trusted, not the news, not the political opposition, not America's allies, not even Trump's own government. Who are America's allies? The Russians? The North Koreans? The Saudis? In the absence of trust, everyone is a potential enemy: one's neighbor, one's family, one's spouse. Chaos as equilibrium. That's Trump's path.

I usually think he is an oddball who wants to just be werid for attention, but I think Robin's work on blackmail would be a good way to think through this particular problem.

We are all sick and tired of the hypocrasy of our elites. Especially the political elites. Reublicans never abide by the social values they want others to follow. Liberals fly planes to remote locations to yuck it up with other elites but lament income inequality and global warming. etc. etc.

I think more eyes on our fearless leaders would be a good thing. Eventually they will start to act professionally and, god forbide, serve their constituties and not just their own sexual appetites and bank account.

Oh please, this ship sailed long ago. In 1984 Ted Kennedy directly appealed to the Andropov to discredit Reagan. He offered to use his connections to get Andropov time on American television and to convey to him talking points that would be harmful to Reagan. This request was filed at the Kremlin, Andropov died, and was only discovered after Yeltsin opened the archives. When one of the leading candidates is appealing for direct cooperation, methinks they might already have the idea that political dirt is of value and worth keeping.

Nor is that the only time. In 1940 the British systematically interfered in our elections. They orchestrated propaganda for Wilkie so he could secure the nomination (being the most pro-British Republican and ensuring that neither major party nominated an isolationist). They fabricated false photos of Hamilton Fish with the Bund leadership, rumor mongered with abandon, and planted fake stories in the NY Times. All of this was released in 1999.

And on it goes. The Soviets held captured Airmen to aid Kennedy and explicitly stated in their archives that the did not want to let Nixon boast about cooperating with the Soviets to get them back. The Iranians held American prisoners to spite Carter and have less credibly claimed that they worked out a quid pro quo with Reagan for arms. Multiple foreign governments have held American citizens as electoral chips, why on earth would we expect them not to do surveillance?

Of course foreign governments are going to try to influence American elections. Of course they are going to surveil powerful American figures and their associates. Of course they will make political decisions about when and where to prosecute.

It is open season, and it always has been. The solution is much simpler:
Don't do shady crap. Maybe it might be beneficial for someone who is in power to tell their children not to take extremely high paying jobs in foreign countries with dubious rationales. Maybe it would behoove the powerful to cut loose their associates who have shady ties the moment they release there is probable cause for an investigation.

I am seriously, solve for equilibrium. We started this whole mess off a fabricated pornographic video. We spent $35 million on investigating it. Trump was an idiot who dithered between cooperating and canceling the investigation, but I would suggest that even had he picked one option we still would have provided significant distraction.

US elections have not been free of overt or covert foreign influence since 1796 when the French attempted to elect Jefferson. Foreign countries have had no need of Trump to do far worse things than those which worries Mr. Kagan. Yet the Republic has endured because such things have power only insofar as American voters are willing to be influenced.

Yes, but Trump violated the rule of "Don't Get Caught!" That leaves him wide open to impeachment. Even Fox News is calling for his head.

I have believed that Trump should be impeached since at least earlier this year. The constitution is explicitly clear that the House has sole power for impeachment. It sets the bar at "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors".

If a majority of the House believes the president meets this bar, then they have a duty to impeach. I am not the best political headcounter, but it has been my impression that a majority of the House has held this opinion for months. Alright, it is a political process, why are we dithering? Open a hearing, let Trump make his case or blow off the hearings, and then vote.

None of this has anything to do with the silliness of assuming that foreign powers will not try to tamper with our elections. Trump is but a moment, he gets at most another four years, and even with generous assumptions his life expectancy is only around 20 years. Whatever he does or does not do will have very little impact.

Maybe if one doesn't want to investigated, one should not commit crimes? Why does Mr. Biden want to hide from the American people what he did? What he intends? Shouldn't we know what he was up to?

'... our president's utter ignorance of what his oath of office actually entails in terms of his behavior.'

This. Before 2017 Donald never ran an organization whose interests differed from his own. The man acts with a strong sense of fiduciary duty, to himself.

Oh my! Imagine a foreign government wanting to monitor bank accounts in other countries, squeals Kagan. I look forward to Nancy Pelosi immediately introducing legislation for the retroactive repeal of Report of Foreign Bank & Financial Accounts (FBAR) and the Foreign Account & Tax Compliance Act.

Let me get this straight: withholding aid from Ukraine in order to affect Ukraine's legal system for personal gain is so clearly not a crime, so that when somebody withholds aid from Ukraine in order to affects Ukraine's legal system for personal gain, that becomes an impeachable offense. Yes, I got that.

"Thanks, guys." - Elizabeth Warren

Finally, someone bringing up a politician who will actually benefit from what is going on.

Which might just suggest that the Trump supporters really need to catch up to what is going on, instead of wasting time talking about a loser like Biden as a way to somehow defend Trump.

I would guess the only reason the media is willing to cover this in the first place is because Gropin' Joe has been deemed an expendable asset.

It's OK in other words to shine a light on his and his son's corrupt dealings if it gets them closer to impeaching Orange Man, because there is another anointed one to take the mantle of Democratic presidential nominee.

It's probably for the best as in between his various misrememberings and friendly hugs Biden is ripe for throwing away his campaign; better to get him out of the way before he's the only choice the DNC has.

Of course I'd argue that running another menopausal cat lady under the assumption that the deep state will guarantee her election may not be a sound strategy, but then I don't get paid the big bucks to decide such things. And then I hear Hilldawg wants back in the race too.

Fauxcahontas is the flavor of the week, I believe, cf. "menopausal cat lady". I actually don't mind Bernie, because in opposition to the rest of the bunch he legitimately seems dumb enough to believe in what he preaches.

clockwork_prior, please keep up the good work. A+

"instead of wasting time talking about a loser like Biden"

Trump wants Warren as the Dem nominee.

Its the smart bet, humorless lefty librarian-type from Massachusetts who thinks she is Native American. She is a dream Dem nominee.

Foreign governments have and are digging that dirt. It's called espionage and had been going on a really long time.

Trump really seems to be asking that some of that be shared for his benefit. Given he has largely alienated every other foreign leader it is hard to see why they would have the incentive to help him. They already have their own agenda.

As for the general theme, how is this really any different than each of the campaigns hiring private investigators to dig up that same dirt?

Last, as long as it is factual and true, making that information public and that information changing a voter's preference does not really seem like manipulating the results any more than working to keep that information from the voters is manipulating the results.

Many of us believe, but since Trump is bypassing the intelligence services, and directly asking governments for a favor .. he doesn't want the truth.

He wants manufactured evidence.

And in his defense he probably doesn't know the difference. In Trump's World there is just good and bad. Good is what helps him. Bad is what opposes him.

Read his gosh darn Twitter.

Maybe he could just say it's a parody.

I certainly agree with your assessment of "Trump's World".

But even if people think he is directly asking for fabricated evidence it begs the question why any foreign government would want to provide it for his sake. Sure, we can take the withholding military aid as a potential level Trump is attempting to apply to Ukraine but that level may be just as real as any of Trump's other "Trump World" facts.

And, we need to keep in mind, any government that does cooperate then faces the risk of being labeled that type of government. Just look at the lengths both China and Russia currently go to deny what they are clearly doing. (Though here is then one of the above comments was mostly on target -- in international intrigue the only real rule is don't get caught. Plausible deniability is the only law in many ways.

A serious problem ... if those opposition politicians who are the subject of such investigations are corrupt as all f***, that is. Otherwise, what will those foreign governments achieve?

"[I]f foreign governments haven’t already been doing this for some time", they have been leaving twenty dollar bills on the sidewalk.

Every notable person who travels to China or Russia, among other places, gets monitored by their security services. Who doesn't know this?

"no reason to encourage them further"
Encouraging them will discourage people from running for office. How can that be a bad thing?

Wouldn't a motion of censure show future Presidents that the activities are impermissible?

Here's something Sen. Schumer said during the Clinton impeachment proceedings. "“I’d support a motion of censure or a motion to rebuke, as President Ford suggested yesterday, not because it is politically expedient to do but because the president’s actions cry out for punishment and because censure or rebuke, not impeachment, is the right punishment."

a quarter of a century ago, the clear consensus throughout America was that a president is not free to abuse their power to seek evidence of wrongdoing of their political opponents

It would seem this only applies to Republicans. Democrats are free to spend years and millions doing so.

What's more, useful idiots like Robert Kagan are more than happy to lecture on the dangers to our democracy posed by Trump and other Republicans while ignoring any similar activity from Democrats.

You will have a hard time finding anyone on the left who punches left, yet all these "right-leaning" libertarians and #NeverTrump "principled conservatives" have no trouble going to bat for their alleged ideological opponents against people who supposedly share many of their beliefs. Why is that?

Because 'the right' needs to be punched far more than 'the left'

Seems to me a good idea to solicit the help of a foreign government to help investigate corrupt influence peddling by the close relation of a US pol in a foreign country. How else are you going to gather the evidence?

wonder if foreign governments haven’t already been doing this for some time

1) They have been doing through more traditional means such as Australia contacting our CIA about George Papadopoulos drunken claims of Russian assistance.

2) Most Presidents have twenty layers of people to avoid 'coordination' so HRC had nothing to do with Steele Dossier gathering but it was the DNC that hired a company that hired Steele. (Of course what is forgotten is the Steele used before the election and originally gathered during Republican Primary.)

3) Other nations have careful not to help too much because it can backfire the next administration. Saudia Arabia popularity with US voters is low right now and could long term backfire on them in the future. And Trump knows a good target like Ukraine that could bend a little bit to his will.

To address Tyler's question about whether things were really better in the past:

1. Watch out for people who say "these things in the past, which were not crimes, justify things in the present which are criminal."

It is kind of a significant difference. We draft laws to delineate between what is acceptable and what is not.

2. Again, what happens overseas may be "good" or "bad" but the most concrete way to judge it is against US law.

For instance, rather than saying something is "crooked," say that it violates the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

3. On a more personal note, Tyler never should have downgraded Garry Kasparov. He had this all figured out.

No, we need strong norms around corruption. The law isn’t enough.

Every major politician coincidentally having family members fail upwards into receiving millions of dollars in no show work is what has led us to this point.

You have 40% of the country rolling their eyes about impeachment. Because as soon as someone explains to them why Trump’s actions are unacceptable, they can counter with: Hunter Biden!

Biden needs to drop out. Harris definitely needs to drop out. Warren needs to drop out. And full steam ahead with impeachment.

This was not actually a useful comment.

There is nothing wrong with strong norms, but they risk the "blackface trap." They are rough and ready. They are a moving target.

On the other hand, if we don't like Ivanka mixing government and private business in China, or Jared mixing loan requests with diplomatic negotiations in the middle east .. we should write up a law.

We should write a law to say exactly where the line is.

Maybe we could start with a simple anti-nepotism rule, to nip it in the bud.

Or we could require that everybody representing the White House use a serious blind trust arrangement.

Any of those would be clear lines.

That’s completely insufficient. We passed laws regarding lobbying. So now they’re “advisors” or board members. Completely useless. It didn’t address the problem at all. If anything it made it murkier and harder to track. You can’t legislate your way out of this. Every attempt has failed.

You need norms. Harris sleeps her way into a job with Willie Brown? She’s out. Biden clan uses his connections to make millions ? He’s out. Warren uses her fake heritage to go from Rutgers to Harvard ? She’s out.

Legislation can’t save us. It’s failed miserably. There’s no conceivable law that would prevent this.

This probably comes down to the libertarian mindset. If the government is always the problem, laws can never be the answer.

This, despite a long history of defining and refining election law.

Ah, here is another post-Watergate goodie:

The Inspector General Act of 1978 is a United States federal law defining a standard set of Inspector General offices across several specified departments of the U.S. federal government.

In my opinion, in the best case, we have a series of post-Trump laws to further establish legal boundaries.

That’s great but does nothing in regards to corruption. The IG is about federal employees not politicians.

What’s to stop the family members of politicians from raking in millions? Mcconnell’s wife? Biden’s brother? Biden’s son? Trump’s kids? The entire Pelosi clan?

You can’t pass a law banning family members of politicians from using their leverage and connections with said politician and making millions. You can’t even pass a lobbying bill that does anything more than change business cards from Lobbyist to Special Consultant. Fail.

All we have is norms. And the equilibrium is apparently a Congressional approval rate of 10% and DC becoming a cesspool of corruption and money.

There are precedents for "friends and family" laws, with insider trading.

And it does sound like "using their leverage" is the key. People have connections, and that's probably fine. Hiring people who know people is useful, and if that's as far as it goes, not really corrupt.

Oh, and if they are selling influence, there are both lobbying laws and foreign agent laws, correct?

You can’t be this stupid.

Please give the legal language that would prevent the degradation of our democracy. This is why everyone tunes out. They know it’s corruption and people like you will defend it to the death. The son of a VP earns tens of millions even though he’s a crackhead and alcoholic. With a dishonorable discharge which should immediately remove his ability to practice law.

Forget anything else. Give me the reason Hunter Biden earned tens of millions or even kept his law degree.

Give your pitch. The alarm bell is that you’re against norms. Yay for corruption but let’s craft a law that means the people with good lawyers will be okay.

I say no to corruption.

Trump clan uses their connections to make millions? He's out. Amirite?

He should be impeached, convicted and barred from holding office.

Perhaps we should note that we don't have an anti-nepotism rule because we did think out norms were strong enough to prevent this level of family-dealing.

Well, all it takes is one president who just doesn't care.

Your belief in time travel is astounding.

He’s a symptom of the disease not the cause of the illness.

Pfft. Are you trolling now?

I am saying that what we learned from the Trumps is that in the future we should have stronger nepotism rules.

You can’t possibly be this stupid.

What’s the nepotism rule that stops Hunter Biden? I’m all ears.

When I want to know about probity in executive power and foreign policy, I turn to Robert Kagan and all the other Ellis Island-Americans whose Middle Eastern policy prescriptions have worked out so well.

Personally, I'd tell Trump not to worry about eye-bleeding, decrepit, Thirsty Joe. But I'm not bothered by this at all. Trump is not leaving office over it, and is probably getting re-elected in 2020 thanks to an unhinged Democratic Party that's seemingly unable to talk about anything but "privilege" and black hair.

4. And I shouldn't need to add this one. Watch out for people who don't want to talk about US law, and just go off again about liberals and Democrats.

Bonus link, the law:

That would be a reminder tweet from the Federal Election Commissioner.

"...wonder if foreign governments haven’t already been doing this for some time, but hoarding the information rather than releasing it to select American politicians " Really? You wonder if this goes on already?

"You wonder if this goes on already?"

He can't really be that naive.

Pretty obtuse and worthless commentary, but it does tell us how these controversies are framed in the GMU rathskellar.

Hey that's MY word!

As strange as it may seem, I actually do have sympathy for conservatives who are in a bubble, and don't know exactly what happened in the last few days.

Lots of other things might be in dispute, but one thing is straightforward. Donald Trump stood flat-footed on the White House lawn and violated Federal election laws.

What he's really asking of his "base" now is that they reject rule of law explicitly, and say anything "our guy" does is fine.

I guess I'm enough of an optimist, and I have enough faith in American conservatives, that I don't think there is enough "base" to really make that work.

It will all come out in the wash.

In this case that means that some Republican Senators will take Trump aside and explain that resignation and pardon is the only path forward.


I actually even have sympathy for Donald Trump. He really should have taken my advice, offered here in February 2017, to fake a medical emergency and retire due to health reasons.

If he had done that, he would now be happily playing golf, running a media empire, and flirting with Miss Universe interns.

Wow, I haven't seen concern-tolling in a while. Good to know some people still have a taste for the classics.

You're welcome?

But as I say, I think conservatives will come around to understand the law.

Seems like that was troll anonymous.

Before you go all "Vox!!!" note that they are reporting the Chair of the Federal Election Commission.

From the article:"That’s because federal elections law prohibits any person from soliciting, accepting, or receiving anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a US election."

He didn't solicit anything. He's responding to a request from the Ukrainian government.

This is an economics blog.

We are supposed to understand value.

Do you really think "please destroy my enemy" has "no value?"


By the way, this would be a good Bloomberg essay for Tyler. And I'd hope that he'd not buy into the popular delusion that wining everything, the Presidency of the United States, is of "no value."

You paint a pretty picture, anonymous, but sadly your optimism will not be rewarded. Most Republican senators will not vote to impeach, nor urge him to resign, and he never would listen to them if they did.

Also, he will probably be re-elected. I'm afraid you will need to downgrade your faith in the American people at this juncture. Hopefully someday the hyperpartisan fever will break, but not sure how with the internet and whatnot.

Well, either Republicans impeach, or they wear the Trump albatross into the next election.

You are right that it is up to them.

That albatross got elected president and is likely to do so again.

So is more available information about politicians bad or maybe good?

I can see is being bad because it might scare off some good candidates who did bad or embarasing things in the past, but good because it could cut real corruption.

We should divide embarrassing vs illegal. Wearing blackface vs violating election laws.

This has been going on forever. The most we can ask for is that it becomes transparent but I have a feeling that will be limited to candidates the press doesn't like.

We asked for more than that, in 1974, when we passed the Federal Election Campaign Act.

We asked for more than that, in 1977, when we passed the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Interesting timeline of campaign and finance reform

LOL. Do those laws extend to situations where political campaigns hire British spies to generate dossiers out of whole cloth and feed them to the FBI to swear out FISA warrants and spy on candidates deemed hostile by active Executive branch officials (ultimately finding nothing)?

Sorry, I'm not falling out of my chair over Trump and Ukraine.

Nothing Trump does could make you support him less. NOTHING. Same as the rabid left. Hyperpartisans have literally nothing to add to any discussion, because we know what they think about every issue before they even type a word.

He's bought more political and cultural space for conservatism than all the Evan "Log Cabin" McMullens, Bill "Don't You Want To Get New Americans In" Kristols, John "Maverick" McCains, and Jorge Arbustos combined. Enough with the Beautiful Losers.

The proper term for them is liberals in disguise.

Democracy is doomed if the incumbent from any party can use their power against their opponents. So how do we re-normalize things after he's out?
The only people who were really in a position to stop this were the Republican Congressional leadership. The question from a deterrence perspective is whether Pence, McConnell, Graham and Nunes get to continue their careers after willfully enabling this attack on democracy. Part of Biden's appeal was that he seemed like he might be less threatening to centrist Republicans. Things have now gone too far and it's time for someone who will prosecute.

When you strike at a king, you must kill him.

The equilibrium is one down, three more to go.

Isn't Kagan all for regime change? Is he surprised that someone would fight back with equal vigor? You play the game using the CIA and FBI, using surveillance against your political opponents, then are horrified when the tables are turned?

This is a vicious knife fight with no rules except survive. These pontificating rants are an attempt to paint the ugliness of this particular regime change artist, whose legacy can best be described as a catastrophe as someone who actually cares for rules and laws.

He found a sucker.

"Having assisted in unleashing a war in 2003 prosecuted under false pretenses and hundreds of thousands killed and maimed with consequences that reverberate two decades later, I am shocked and appalled at this candid discussion between two plenipotentiaries."

> "I mostly agree, but wonder if foreign governments haven’t already been doing this for some time, but hoarding the information rather than releasing it to select American politicians"

Well said if, as usual, understated.

It is heard to imagine, post-Snowden, that nearly all members of our political class, and that of every other country, are not subject to some sort of blackmail or extortion, whether direct or indirect.

I think it might be naive to assume this was not already the equilibrium.

Probably this is what Epstein was doing - harvesting Kompromat on powerful people for some government or security agency. He had a pedophile island, visited by celebrities and politicians, covered with cameras. Those tapes would certainly be useful in exchange for something.

The problem with the Epstein blackmail theory is that there are a million easier and less risky ways to obtain good blackmail material on marks than owning and operating a private orgy island full of underage sex slaves. Even if you are interested in that specific angle it would be as simple as sending a girl after your target in a bar, letting the sparks fly, then hitting him with the photos and the birth certificate afterwards. Or just get him over the Internet, Chris Hansen-style. You don't have to fly them on a private jet to your island that looks like the boss level of a James Bond novel.

That's not to say that blackmail wasn't involved but it seems like more of a gang initiation ritual than anything else. They recruit you into your circle, you head down to Orgy Island to partake, now you're in it for good or else we'll let the world know about you. You're going to do what we tell you to, etc.

I don't think it's overdoing the conspiracy angle to suggest that the whole thing has some serious secret society vibes to it as well. The fact that Epstein, an otherwise unremarkable person who got paid a lot to manage money (i.e., a job with a high potential to be light on skill and effort with little accountability), rubbed elbows with all sorts of cultural and political elites does not help matters. It would not surprise me at all if he was just the guy they collectively paid to set up and run Orgy Island in the same way you might hire a wedding planner.

Good point that there might be easier ways to blackmail.

It's not clear what was exactly the deal with Epstein, but it does look awfully strange. I was never a conspiracy-minded person, but with Epstein I agree with most people that something very strange and immoral was probably underneath it all. His crimes were too brazen, he evaded justice too easily, he had too many connections, and his death was too convenient.

Back in 2014, before anyone dreamed of Trump becoming president, The Guardian (a strongly left-leaning UK newspaper) was rather critical of Hunter Biden's Ukraine activities. The money quote: "I think Putin's propaganda people can take a long weekend; their work is being done for them."

On September 22, 2019 the Guardian wrote: "There is no evidence of any wrongdoing by Joe Biden or Hunter Biden. The allegations relate to Biden Jr’s time on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, which was owned by a businessman who was being investigated by Ukraine’s top prosecutor. In 2016 the US and a number of other western countries pressured Ukraine to remove the prosecutor. Biden was vice-president at the time." (emphasis mine)

So a previous US administration successfully pressured a previous Ukrainian government to drop an investigation, and that was apparently OK. And now the current US administration is pressuring the current Ukrainian government to reopen the investigation, and it's a huge problem.

Trump is a bully but Biden ought to come clean.

Only one of those two is POTUS, and subject to the rules of his office. The other one is unemployed.

Two weeks ago the unemployed one was favored to win the 2020 presidential election. (I suppose now we can safely stop worrying about any real or supposed scandals on Trump's part that took place before November 8, 2016, seeing as how he was not politically employed before then.)

It helps sometimes if you put the shoe on the other foot. Let's say Don Jr. is involved in some shady Russian deals, that's close enough to what people believe anyway, and since Trump and Putin are buddies he gets them to fire the Russian prosecutors after them. Let's also say that after Trump leaves office the DOJ, among other departments, is so staffed with Trump lackeys that there's little chance any of this gets investigated, and the media, Stockholm syndrome finally taking hold, turns into Trump cheerleaders unwilling to expose his heinous crimes.

So what would you want President Warren to do? Is it proper for her to try to get to the bottom of it by asking Russia to investigate Trump? Or should she just put her faith that it will be exposed in the proper channels despite the fact that the media and bureaucrats are uninterested?

"The Guardian (a strongly left-leaning UK newspaper) was rather critical of Hunter Biden's Ukraine activities."

Sure, but Hunter Biden isn't running for any public office. It is difficult to imagine a set of regulations that would regulate the private sector employment of private citizens who happen to be related to government officials that would be fair and pass any sort of constitutional muster. For those who are concerned about corruption, there are much bigger fish to fry -- see the Robert McDonnell case, for instance, and how narrow the federal bribery statute is in practice. Or see the largely unenforced prohibition on coordination between SuperPACs and political campaigns.

As for Joe Biden's involvement in Ukraine's affairs, is there any evidence that Hunter was under investigation and that Joe knew about it? Is there any evidence Hunter approached his father and asked him to take action to benefit his private interests? Or is there evidence that a number of government officials, Western governments and the IMF were pushing for the exactly the same course of action that Biden actually undertook?

I'm guessing you are too young to remember Nixon, but a quarter of a century ago,

Nixon wasn't "a quarter of a century ago". He was a half-century ago.

An actual "quarter of a century ago", what we had was First Lady Hillary Clinton politically pressuring the FBI to undertake an investigation that ended in a full acquittal of the man investigated (Billy Dale).

Which means everyone who supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 supported the proposition that it is perfectly fine if the President is someone who used a position in the White House to pressure criminal investigators to go after an innocent person for political reasons.

So any older consensus that it was wrong is obviously utterly dead and buried.

One can hope, yes. But pretending there's a consensus on the issue is ridiculous.

The only available consensus in America is that pressuring people to undertake politically-motivated investigations, obstructing justice, and accepting foreign election aid are all fine "if my side does it". Because that's the established position of 48.2% of voters as expressed less than three years ago. If a large fraction of the 46.1% who voted for Trump back it, then that's clearly the consensus position.

This whataboutism is the death of America.

Trump blackmailed a foreign government into investigating a political rival. Hillary used opposition research provided by a private firm. Which is completely different.

And Biden hasn’t been charged with a crime. Making tens of millions abroad isn’t a crime. Even if your employers’ profits are heavily influenced by American foreign policy and your dad works for the government.

It’s not illegal to take fake jobs and earn millions. Aren’t republicans free market supporters? This is the free market in action. And there’s NO CRIME and NO INTERFERENCE.

" president is not free to abuse their power to seek evidence of wrongdoing of their political opponents. "

So very different then. Trump is not violating the law, but doing what is required for his job. You see to think Biden gets a free pass on corruption because he's running for President.

Let's run the true long run equilibrium. Politicians put relatives into foundations and collect money ( "pay for play"), thereby influencing government policy in a way that may not be optimal from the point of view of serving the public. To prevent this, self-serving politicians need to be investigated, and if found guilty, prosecuted. Realistically, and unfortunately, the only likely people to do this is the opposition party. Thus, impeaching Trump moves the needle the wrong way.

Now I can see why Tyler tries to avoid posting about current political events. He generally likes to follow the data and see if we can make more informed decisions. What's clear hear is that most a cherry picking "details" and elevating them to the level of facts. We just end up with a flurry of flying "cherries". It was interesting to see that Tyler intended to make this a conversation about the consequences of policy and incentives.

On that point, I think incentivizing a sitting President to conduct opposition research using the power of the office and the executive officers and their minions is a really bad precedent and clearly illegal to any fair minded juror.

Who seriously believes Trump is seeking to assist Ukraine? They have Russian soldiers in their country and their borders are being re-defined through illegal interventions and Trump cares about 2016 events? Who benefits in that effort? Trump and Russia.

Let's support Ukraine's independence and self-determination with our assistance.

The people now defending Trump need to own up to their idiocy by telling us who they really are. Let's do keep a record going forward of how we all stood at this crucial time in this country's history. What Trump did was a disgrace to the Presidency, behaving like a mafioso manque.. The current economic policy of cutting taxes, increasing spending, and ballooning the deficit doesn't bother me that much, because I've been saying so for 11 years on this blog it can work for a time. What happened to the people who used to argue against me claiming that deficits were never useful? I constantly post my past comments and stand by them. Let us know what you were saying 11 years ago unless you were just some anonymous or silly-named embarrassment who can't own up for some unknown reason, like fear of being shamed. Stand up or shut up.

From now on, I'm only responding to people who post who they are. If you don't post your name I'm going to substitute "head up my ass" for your name and move on to people willing to stand up and be counted.

This is a great approach!

Hi other anonymous. I didn't comment on that, because it's fine. I personally think the truth of a comment can be decoded independently of name, but Donald is certainly entitled to his perspective and policy.

And from what I understand of problems on Twitter, what they discovered was that there are plenty of people ready to defend the strangest stuff under their real name. Milo Yiannopoulos made it work, for a while.

It's not like real names are always honest or pro-social.

Awesome, I'm in the clear.

In the past, it was fine. But I find Trump to be a different matter. I can understand taking a chance on him, but, by now, he's a clear disgrace. Someone did point out, fairly, that if you use the same alias, I can at least look up your past comments. I have never been sure of that because of so many people using the alias pretending to be another person. It's the ability to see what people have said before that is one of the necessary ingredients to analyzing comments. Also, I have tried to never insult anyone who didn't begin by insulting others. Even then, I've done it too much.

So I'm not using my real name here, ever.

It is curious, I completely understood why folks voted for Trump over Clinton, I didn't agree but I could understand the logic. But she's gone now, it's over. Why do you still have to defend Trump so much? He's not the kind of person who should be president, and that's childishly obvious. Why can't Republicans dump him and move on to a better Republican?

When you say "a better Republican", what you really mean is "a designated loser". What you want is for the Republicans to go back to their role as the Washington Generals of the political world. They stand on the debate stage and theorize, they take the high road while the Democrats and the press drag them through the mud, then they lose and tell their donors they'll get 'em next time while the left carries on their agenda.

Everyone the RNC put forth in 2016, sans Trump, was a loser. Robert Kagan and his #NeverTrump cohorts are losers. Romney was, and is, a loser. McCain was a loser. Dubya was a loser except for Al Gore and riding 9/11 to re-election, leave it to him to fail at failing. None of these people, again sans Trump, have any interest in doing anything except paying lip service to the Republican base while conniving with the left to get paid. Look at Dubya's "conservative" "agenda". Or his dad, for that matter. The last conservative was Reagan and the left and the press treated him like they do Trump, precisely because they are off-script and can't be controlled the way "a better Republican" can be controlled.

Reagan was 10 times the man Trump is. 10 times the statesman, 10 times the leader, 10 times the person. The press did not treat Reagan like Trump, because he was nothing like Trump.

The country is neither far left nor far right. It's ok to be a moderate Republican, that gets you closest to what Americans want anyway.

And by the way, to you lot Reagan was a RINO. Amnesty for all! Working with Democrats! Raising taxes!

When the time comes, they'll happily stand him down. But right now, he's better than any Democrat, warts and all. And they will only stand him down for another person with equal conservative credentials and never, ever admit they were wrong.

And I mean this all in a not negative way btw. The kind of liberal-left radicalism gone haywire that would result from allowing the left to think they can remove right wing wins from office via these sort of shenanigans, whatever Trump has done, would be far more damaging to the US than anything Trump could ever do. Even if it were clearly a crime or act of misconduct, which this is not.

Concession and the succession of power to the majority is a huge part of functioning democratic culture, and the left has to have its will broken that it can do anything but concede to the victor and to the broad sludgy mass of public opinion. However long that takes. Minoritarian-elite lawfare cannot be allowed to flourish - it needs to be clear to these people that they will serve the majority, if not in their inner conscience, in their ideas in any office and position of power, and no whip smart clever technical rules lawyering will save them from that fate.

The majority voted for Clinton over Trump, and I suspect he will again not win the popular vote even if he gets re-elected.

They did indeed. But I'm not talking so about the median voter, but about the left - the 13% extreme or so that will try to use any Democratic centrist liberal's election as a springboard to insane policies, often with success.

At this point the "IRS Whistleblower" is a bit in the wind, but to be honest, I'm hoping it is going to be lit.

If only for the Trumpist contortions that "of course a President should manage his own audit!!!"

"Now, who was it that gets the banana, and who gets the bucket of fish?"

That this is all being done under the cover of 'campaign finance' shows how:
1. The other laws apparently don't cover it
2. Speech codes are very flexible and as a result, open to abuse.

ITT: Russian bot swarm

Yes, anyone who has a contrary opinion you don't like is a Russian Troll.

Or maybe some people don't care for liberal or Nevertrmper hypocritical pearl clutching.

Another point that some are missing: Was Biden VP when his son was employed by the Ukraine oligarch's company?

It's also important to me that corrupt payments and quid pro quo employment for my failing upward failson isn't legal just because the appropriate forms are filed.

All of the hand wringing on Ivanka and Jared are justified but almost equivalent once you start looking into Chelsea and failson cokehead Hunter.

And what nat'l security has been endangered? The US anti-tank missiles to Ukraine were slightly delayed?

So, Meghan McCain and Chelsea Clinton are lightweights who got where they are because of their successful daddies.

No mention of another nepotiste, Donald Trump?

Chelsea and Hunter were never paid advisers to their respective parents.

Regulating the private sector business activities of friends and relatives of elected officials seems intrusive and probably unconstitutional. What makes much more sense is to regulate the behavior of elected officials to minimize conflicts of interest.

I think some are missing the point that Chelsea and Hunter did have influential parents that had connections and may have leveraged those connections that probably landed them their well paid jobs via un-spoken quid pro quo of access.

I don't for Trump myself, I certainly don't hare for liberal pearl clutching about Trump, in pure US mythos that Trump started everything wrong with the US and elites.

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