In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law. The update -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. Impeachment is becoming likely.
At Lawfare, Margaret Taylor and Benjamin Wittes sum up what we have learned from the impeachment inquiry depositions:
First, the transcripts show how Rudy Giuliani pursued objectives in Ukraine for the benefit of his business partners, as well as the political interests of his client, President Trump. These activities lead to the president being fed bad information over a long period of time and they ultimately result in the meritless dismissal of Yovanovitch, as well as to a concerted attack on Deputy Secretary of State George Kent.
Second, against the backdrop of the election of a new president in Ukraine, the transcripts show the development of an irregular channel for achieving Trump’s objectives in that country—a channel that was not always playing by the usual rules of diplomacy or bureaucratic lines of communication. The transcripts show the members of both the regular and irregular channel trying to figure out what was really going on and how to navigate the unprecedented situation of Giuliani’s influence on Trump, in order to help the new Ukrainian president solidify a relationship with the United States—a relationship that is crucial for Ukraine’s continued existence as a fully independent sovereign country.
Third, in this broader context, the transcripts tell a specific story of the development of conditionality regarding a White House meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. What began as a mere hostility on the part of Trump toward Ukraine and an unsubstantiated conviction that the Ukrainians had interfered in the 2016 election, came to involve demands to investigate that theory. And it came as well to involve demands that the Ukrainians investigate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and his connection to the Ukrainian national gas company, Burisma, on whose board the younger Biden sat. Those demands, over the course of the summer, came to be linked to the desire of the new Ukrainian government for a White House meeting between Zelensky and Trump.
Finally, the transcripts tell a related story of how the provision of military assistance to Ukraine similarly came to be conditioned on U.S. demands—because what Ukraine ultimately needs is U.S. support in an ongoing military conflict with a more powerful neighbor that is occupying its territory. The narrative is ultimately one of how an irregular actor’s behavior—circumventing the normal policy process and feeding bad information and conspiracy theories to a president—led to that president demanding political smears of an embattled, struggling democracy as a condition of U.S. support.