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Commentary: ‘Ukrainegate’ and impeachment

Commentary by Ryan Hamann |
December 24, 2019
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Milwaukee, WI - Near the end of August, a whistleblower released a document uncovering a private conversation between U.S. president Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The fact that the two of them were talking is not newsworthy; what was revealed and is of some import, however, was the specific content of their exchange.

The whistleblower’s report lays out how Trump attempted to strongarm Zelensky and the Ukrainian government into reopening an investigation into Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. The younger Biden was involved in a number of questionable business practices while a member of the executive board of a Ukrainian energy company called Burisma. Trump tried to get Zelensky to do his bidding by withholding significant military aid that the United States has been giving to Ukraine since the 2014 coup d’état. Because of this, the mainstream media has taken to referring to the whole situation, including the ensuing private investigation, as “Ukrainegate.”

The investigation by Congressional Democrats began in early October and lasted for nearly the entire month. After spending all of November on further deliberation, two formal articles of impeachment were advanced by the House Judiciary Committee. The charges include abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. On December 19, the House of Representatives voted along party lines to impeach Trump.

What many people in the U.S. don’t understand about the process is that even though the House has taken this action, the articles of impeachment need to be passed by the Senate as well before Trump can actually be removed from office. This is an important detail, given that the Senate is controlled by Trump’s Republican Party. Additionally, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has thus far not turned over the articles of impeachment to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), citing the unlikelihood of a fair vote.

The manner in which this has been handled, and the issue which pushed the Democrats in Congress to take this action, reveals something about the impeachment process. Let’s be clear: Donald Trump is an evil man who deserves to lose his position as president of the United States.

Apparently sexual assault, open support of domestic white supremacist terrorists, concentration camps and family separation, and war-mongering (among many other things) don’t qualify as reasons to impeach President Trump, at least not to the Democratic leadership in Washington. Instead, it’s withholding military assistance to a country that many consider to have been overtaken by fascism, a result of the aforementioned U.S. interference in 2014. These weapons and other materials of war have been handed over to neo-Nazis in the Azov Battalion and other fascist elements within the Ukrainian armed forces. In turn, they’ve been used against other Ukrainians in their civil conflict and against oppressed groups in Ukraine, such as the Roma people. Implicit and explicit bipartisan support for the rise of reaction in Ukraine is the real ‘Ukrainegate,’ not this backroom politicking that has resulted in Trump skewering himself.

But let’s get back to the why of it all. The simple answer to this overarching question is that the Democratic Party doesn’t actually care about the things that Trump has done that materially impact working class and oppressed people in this country. In fact, they have actively aided him in much of it, including the provision of greater funding for his anti-immigrant agenda and for the expansion of the U.S. war machine. The Democrat leadership in DC can’t pursue impeachment on any of these grounds because they have willingly participated in the advancement some of the worst elements of Trump’s anti-people project.

In just the last week or so, 180 House Democrats came together with a nearly unified Republican caucus to pass a $738 billion military budget that includes Trump’s long-sought ‘Space Force,’ freedom to continue the established practice of endless war, and measures that deepen U.S. involvement in the humanitarian disaster in Yemen. The Afghanistan Papers, a series of documents detailing the lies U.S. intelligence concocted to justify the 18-year-long-and-counting war against that country, were released with minimal coverage. The Indian government is waging the kind of genocidal campaign against Muslims that the U.S. government wrongfully accuses China of perpetrating in its own country. Mass upheavals against injustice continue to roil from Chile to Iraq. But these issues get only fleeting coverage, if any at all, in the mainstream media.

All of this points to the need for the development of authentic movements of people in order to not only defeat Trump but to defeat the monstrous system that he stands for. The upcoming Democratic National Convention being hosted in Milwaukee represents an opportunity for the existing movements to unite. Under the umbrella of the growing Coalition to March on the DNC, the popular movements can demonstrate the people’s will and our resolve to bring the fight to our true enemies: the rich and powerful who make up the ruling class of this country.

All those who wish to advance a people’s agenda in order to defeat Trump and the forces that gave rise to him are invited to participate in this effort, which will culminate in a mass rally and demonstration in Milwaukee on July 13, 2020, the first day of the convention. As a brilliant leader once said: it is the people and the people alone who are the motive force of history.

Ryan Hamann is an organizer of the July 13 march on the DNC.

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