Trump barters the lives of vulnerable people for his own political profit - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Trump barters the lives of vulnerable people for his own political profit

BALTIMORE – In the pristine hearing rooms of the U.S. Congress, where they do their fighting with empty, bloated words, the most awful element of Donald Trump’s upcoming impeachment is barely noticed.

He has the blood of innocent people all over his manicured hands.

The Democrats want everyone to see that Trump is a shakedown artist, which is bad enough, while the Republicans want everyone to look the other way. They were happy to impeach Bill Clinton for lying about extramarital sex, but playing around with a murderous war is somehow considered defensible.

This president tried to barter in human lives. Can we please keep that in mind? Until an unnamed whistleblower stepped forward and forced his hand, Trump wanted to withhold $391 million in military aid to desperate, embattled Ukraine in exchange for dirt on Joe Biden.

At its miserable heart, this impeachment business isn’t about politics or money or violations of the U.S. Constitution, as vital as they are.

This is about Trump holding up promised help for an American ally defending itself against an American adversary’s pitiless aggression. Thousands have already died there in more than five years of fighting, and thousands more have had their lives ruined.

Never mind impeachment. For holding back emergency money intended to protect vulnerable people’s lives, Trump should be charged with accessory to murder.

You want to know what the fighting’s like over there? Here’s Andrew E. Kramer, writing Oct. 24 in the New York Times:

“Fought in muddy trenches cut through hundreds of miles of farmland, the war in Ukraine has killed 13,000 people, put a large part of the country under Russia’s control and dragged on for five years almost forgotten by the outside world – until it became a backdrop to the impeachment inquiry of President Trump…

“Russia has wielded the military advantage, able to slip tanks, antiaircraft weapons and soldiers into Ukraine at will. Ukraine has fought back with repeated appeals for aid, diplomatic pressure, Western sanctions against Russia – and with an army that is holding on by its fingernails.”

Against Russia’s heavy weapons, the undermanned Ukrainian soldiers stuff straw into empty uniforms to make dummies, Kramer reported from a front-line position. As a scare tactic, they put logs on their shoulders to make it look as if they’re carrying American antitank missiles. They prop empty helmets onto front-line sandbags, which are perforated with multiple holes from snipers.

“The war is fought in trenches,” Kramer reported, “like World War I.”

Somehow, though, this isn’t the stuff that rouses congressional passions. No, no, they want to talk about unfair “procedures,” about bloodless rules of order. The closest they come to any killing is when they engage in character assassination.

The Republicans have aimed their verbal guns at two men who know a lot about war. There was Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, wounded in Afghanistan, who told the truth to Congress about Trump’s attempted deal. For this, the president’s flunkies suggested Vindman is a spy.

And there’s William Taylor, who served 18 months in Vietnam back when Trump was nursing his bone spurs. Taylor won the Bronze Star and the Air Medal with a V for Valor for heroism. Trump said Taylor was a “Never Trumper.” And you know what he calls those people – “human scum.”

For daring to tell the truth, those two men were wounded verbally and left all alone.  Didn’t the military used to talk about never leaving a wounded buddy behind on the battlefield? Where’s that support now, soldiers?

In the midst of all this, the war in Ukraine approaches six years and the killing goes on. And an utterly uncaring Donald Trump wanted to barter the lives of these vulnerable people for his own political profit.

That’s not just an impeachable offense. It’s a war crime.

About the author

Michael Olesker

Michael Olesker, columnist for the News American, Baltimore Sun, and Baltimore Examiner has spent a quarter of a century writing about the city he loves.He is the author of five previous books, including Michael Olesker's Baltimore: If You Live Here, You're Home, Journeys to the Heart of Baltimore, and The Colts' Baltimore: A City and Its Love Affair in the 1950s, all published by Johns Hopkins Press. Contact the author.

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