President Trump’s standing reached a new low after his latest tweet during the testimony of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch in front of the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee. We witnessed “live” the humiliation and intimidation of a senior American State Department official, whose outstanding record of service was unanimously recognized by both Democrat and Republican members of the Committee.
Though impeachment is both a legal and political process under which it may be difficult to muster the required quorum to remove the President from office, one would hope that the decency of the overwhelming majority of the Senators who will sit as “jury” in the impeachment trial, would, in addition to the formal case that will be made in the articles of impeachment, take into account the superior interests of the country and consider Donald Trump’s lack of mental and moral fitness to discharge his presidential responsibilities.
By his impulsive (and repulsive) tweet he has dramatically enhanced the pertinence of the circumstantial evidence surrounding the accusations of “using the powers of his office for personal political gain”, making the credibility of the Ambassador’s testimony far more germane to the underlying case than it could otherwise have been made to be. This became evident as the partisan republican support for the President was notably toned down after his tweet became public.
No one contests, least of all the Ambassador herself, that the envoys who represent the United States throughout the world, serve at the pleasure of the President who can remove them at will. However, these prerogatives do not allow a President to abuse such powers inflicting in the process serious, unwarranted and irreparable injury to the reputation and/or instilling fear in and causing moral suffering to the “servants” of the nation (and their families).
It was for everybody to see that this was precisely the effect of Donald Trump’s decision to recall Ambassador Yovanovitch from Ukraine which led to disparaging remarks as evidenced by the phone call transcript of July 25th and the President’s tweets contradicting the impeccable record of 33 years of public service to the country. One can therefor suspect that the purpose of the latest President’s tweet was meant not only to intimidate the witness but also to put pressure on any other person called to testify.
The President having never met the Ambassador, his opinion must have been formed on information supplied by parties interested in her removal who obviously did not include the State Department, her hierarchy having asked her shortly before her dismissal to extend her tenure for a year until 2020. According to her testimony, the Ambassador had been told that the Secretary of State was “unable” to prevent her recall; no justification was ever given, neither was there a reason for its abrupt implementation, 3 days prior to the inauguration of the President of Ukraine where a new team of officials represented the USA. This makes the discretionary (and lawful) action by the President suspect.
The battleground over impeachment is bound to move now to capturing further support of public opinion. The President having scored an own goal, Trump supporters will probably split between those who will continue to follow their leader blindly and those who cannot stand the public destruction of the honorability of a fellow citizen by the person supposed to be President of all law abiding Americans.
Those who overlook the paramount importance of upholding the highest moral values or judge as being “trivial” the accusations levelled against their President, should be reminded of the adulation conferred on Hitler in the 1930’s for building motorways, restoring employment and national pride after military defeat, while the population remained deaf to the aims he had himself publicly outlined in “Mein Kampf” leading the country to disaster.
Seen from Europe we can but be anxious over the political developments in the USA which – if they are unfortunately part of a worldwide trend for which we all share responsibility – are particularly worrisome when the trust in a historic partner (or more precisely in the person exercising the awesome powers of its presidency) on whom we have become overly dependent through our own weakness, is suddenly being challenged.
I am a strong believer in the strength of the American democracy and of the independence of the executive, legal and judicial powers which ensures that its values are being upheld. The latest presidential tweet is a wakeup call to all decent citizens that a red line has been crossed and that the time has come to remove Donald Trump from the White House. It will take the leadership of only a few prominent politicians among the Republicans to see the collapse of the “house of cards” President Trump has painfully tried keep together. Having been personally disavowed in this lamentable Ukrainian affair, Secretary Pompeo’s resignation (and testimony?) would probably be sufficient!