The Corner

White House

‘Foreign Interference’ and the Trump Impeachment

The phrase “foreign interference in our election” is doing a lot of work in the Democratic case for impeachment. The charge, of course, is that Trump wanted the Ukrainians to meddle in our elections, the way the Russians did in 2016. As a practical matter, though, there’s not much to this. At the end of the day, what Trump was pushing for was an announcement of an investigation of Burisma, which would have done what exactly? It wouldn’t have materially harmed Joe Biden any more than Hunter Biden’s association with Burisma already has. It would have provided a talking point against Hunter, i.e., “he got a huge payday from an energy firm under investigation.” But how much more advantage would this have provided over the already entirely true talking point, “he got a huge payday from an energy firm that has been under investigation”?

Obviously, Trump was so interested in this matter only because Joe Biden wants to run against him — an improper motive — but he also almost certainly sincerely believed that there was something worth investigating in Burisma. Squeezing the Ukrainian government over a White House meeting by withholding defense aid wasn’t how this should have been handled, but if Trump had actually succeeded in getting the Ukrainians to do what he wanted, it would have been much more us meddling in Ukrainian politics — and law enforcement — than the Ukrainians meddling in ours.

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