Warne: What we owe our nation

Putin enjoys impeachment rancor

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency attempted to frame the Kremlin by bombing a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet over Ukraine’s Eastern provinces in 2014, and the White House is actually controlled by an alien race bent on the elimination of Jews. That is, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the string puller in our latest political drama.

That is how Putin governs. He tightly controls information to keep his population subdued. Today, there is a new conspiracy theory he has led Trump to believe and now he wants to sell it to you, too.

These are the facts you need to know and likely don’t:

As the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s, the former Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine found itself with one-third of the former U.S.S.R.’s nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them as far as the U.S. mainland. Ukraine agreed to denuclearize in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994. The Russian Federation, U.K, and the U.S. agreed to protect its national sovereignty in exchange for denuclearizing.

In 2014, Russia withdrew from the Budapest Memorandum. For the first time since World War II, Russian troops invaded and annexed a territory belonging to another European country: Ukraine. The sanctions imposed against Russia by the Obama administration immediately thereafter and President Obama’s economic policy of moving the U.S. toward being a net energy exporter ruined the Russian economy. I lived in Moscow at the time. Seemingly overnight, the cost of living doubled.

Putin’s narrative attempted to shift blame for his government’s misconduct onto beleaguered Ukraine.

“There was international interference in the 2016 election in favor of the Trump candidacy,” the Kremlin began stating, “but it was the Ukrainians and not the Russians who were responsible.” After all, if true, Trump would have a defensible reason to lift the Obama-era sanctions against Russia as good will to Putin. Likewise, it gave Trump a reason to pardon his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who was sentenced to federal prison for crimes related to his work in Ukraine earlier this year.

That is where we are today. Congress negotiated the appropriation of $250 million, in fulfillment of U.S. obligations under the Budapest Memorandum, with the White House during April 2019. On July 19, Trump ordered his chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to freeze it for the July 25 call at issue. On that call, when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy mentioned the need for military aid, Trump stated he needed “a favor, though.” The favor was to order Ukraine’s chief prosecutor to investigate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden (and search for the DNC’s server(s) in Ukraine).

On Aug. 23, Trump signed into law funding for the military through Sept. 30, 2020, and formally appropriated $250 million for Ukraine. Trump continued to withhold the aid until Sept. 11, the day after California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff made it known publicly that a whistleblower complaint was being withheld.

Trump’s defense for the delay of the aid? “Corruption,” ostensibly.

When Congress released text messages between key diplomats to Europe and Ukraine, I was underwhelmed. While dubious, they did mention the need to “get to the bottom of what happened in 2016” as cause for withholding the aid, which was consistent with Trump’s defense.

That changed the next day, Oct. 5, when Trump clarified that “investigating corruption” was code for investigating Hunter Biden, exclusively. Trump had admitted to a federal crime — bribing, whether successful, a foreign official for election assistance. (See the Corrupt Foreign Practices Act.)

There are three bases for impeachment: Treason, high crimes and misdemeanors, and … bribery. The Founding Fathers understood fully that a free and fair democracy cannot exist in a society that tolerates bribery. Those of us who draw upon their convictions as ours cannot walk away from that principle. Nor can we allow our president to walk away from our obligations in the world, such as with the Budapest Memorandum.

Every American, not just us East Texans, have a moral duty to write to our representatives, Republican and Democratic alike, and tell them that we absolve them of political fault for making decisions on impeachment that are best for the preservation of our laws and Constitution and not for the preservation of one political party or another. I have. Have you?

— Joel Warne, a Tyler resident, lived in Russia during 2014. Email JoelJWarne@icloud.com

Today's Bible verse

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

— Colossians 3:13

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