Candidacy as a Corruption Shield


A column by Marc Thiessen in the New York Post and a related post by Glenn Reynolds on Instapundit raise an interesting implication.  Here’s Thiessen:

There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking foreign heads of state or intelligence officials to cooperate with an official Justice Department investigation.

As George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley explains, “It is not uncommon for an attorney general, or even a president, to ask foreign leaders to assist with ongoing investigations. Such calls can shortcut bureaucratic red tape, particularly if the evidence is held, as in this case, by national security or justice officials.”

Taking opponents of President Trump at their word, then, what is the complaint?  Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that Joe Biden, whose family is the subject of the investigation, is running for president.  This presents the impression of the current president attempting to dig up dirt on an opponent.

Note one thing, here:  President Trump didn’t put this in the news; a “whistleblower” did, in order to damage him.  The Bidens’ curious activities in the Ukraine may never have become an issue unless there turned out to be evidence of actual corruption on their part.

Put all that aside, though, for the sake of a deeper, nonpartisan question.  Should we be wary of a standard by which it is more difficult to investigate people because they’re running for offices of public trust?  If President Trump had asked the president of the Ukraine for help investigating some corporate interest — an oil tycoon, for instance — it’s hard to imagine very much outcry, especially from the side of the aisle that periodically cites the International Criminal Court as a legitimate authority over Americans.

Of course, this is all academic, to some extent, because we know we’re observing a one-way standard.  Because they’ve done it already, we know that a left-wing president or candidate favored by the news media could work closely with foreign governments to dig up dirt on their opposition and, as Thiessen notes, it would hardly rate as news coverage.  One side’s impeachable offense is the other side’s “just the way it’s done.”

  • Joe Smith

    While I’m not a big fan of Trump – he was a better choice than the alternative in 2016 and most of the possible alternatives in 2020 – I was under the impression the complaint is more the “quid pro quo” aspect of the “request.”

    Of course, the scary part for any potential President is while there is a fine line between quid pro quo and “strong arming” for personal gain, don’t we want our foreign policy leaders to leverage positions of strength to advance national interests?

    So we cringe when it’s “arms for hostages” but hopefully we are not naive enough to think it’s always a bit of give and take when our national leaders engage other foreign leaders? Sure we don’t it want it to be for personal gain or favors as opposed to what it is in the best interest of the nation, but how much of our diplomacy should be opened up to hearsay from people who heard something from someone who may or may not have original source perspective?

  • The Misfit

    Trump this. The most transparently corrupt administration ever. Trump children out there in the world like invasive weeds. Trump cabinet no more than an extension of the Trump family business. Or for that matter, Epstein/ Clinton/ Republican network Does Trump get points for his self serving exposure of this immoral alliance or do voters start to look at how far the deep state money hustlers have taken us.

    • LRJ3

      Is it the peace we’re enjoying under Trump that bothers you, or would you say you’re more opposed to the prosperity? LOL.