“Win” may be Donald Trump’s favorite word. He likes to win. Win. Win. Winnity win. So much win.
But is it really a win if you don’t get to revel in it? Okay, sure, so Donald Trump already had a celebration in which every network inexplicably stayed with him while he basked in the glow of his hand-selected crew, an event at which he discussed how being shot had made Steve Scalise better-looking, pondered the idea that a wife might show concern about her husband, and wandered away into 1960s baseball. Only … it wasn’t enough. Not nearly enough.
The real win for Trump can only come by spelling out just how he tricked everyone, how he got away with it, how he proved that he’s the smartest guy in the room. So that’s exactly what Trump did on Thursday when he explained how he sent Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine. To extort it. For Trump’s personal political gain.
Trump’s moment of not-at-all-guilty reveling happened, of all places, on a podcast hosted by Geraldo Rivera. (Warning: Do not listen if you’re capable of listening.)
In this interview/private confessional space, Rivera asked Trump if it was “strange” to send Rudy Giuliani off to Ukraine, considering that Giuliani is his personal lawyer and not a public official. Before Trump could respond, Rivera followed this up by asking Trump if he was “sorry” about sending Giuliani, apparently forgetting that he was in conversation with a man who publicly stated that he’s never had to ask for forgiveness about anything.
Of course Trump responded by denying he had any doubt about sending Giuliani. As “the best mayor” and “the best prosecutor” and “a great crime fighter,” Giuliani was the perfect person to send to Ukraine for Trump’s purposes. And those purposes were? To go to Ukraine and dig up political dirt on his opponents.
In the past, Trump has denied sending Giuliani to Ukraine, or directing him to do anything there. Which never made any sense, considering that Trump mentioned Giuliani directly in his phone call to the Ukrainian president and instructed both the State Department and members of his Cabinet to “Get with Rudy” to understand what Trump wanted from Ukraine.
But he had to do it, says Trump. Faced with the certain knowledge that Joe Biden had been up to corrupt stuff, Trump had only bad choices. "Here's my choice,” said Trump. “Either I deal with the Comeys of the world, or I deal with Rudy."
That is, Trump could have either tried to determine the truth of the situation by asking the people in the FBI and the State Department who already had the answer, or he could have sent Giuliani to Ukraine to drink thick coffee and chat with the people so corrupt they’d been run out of a notoriously corrupt government; with the assistance of attorneys and guides provided by an exiled oligarch hiding from an extradition order for crimes against the United States.
The trouble with going the FBI route is that Trump already knew what it would say: that Joe Biden asked for the removal of a corrupt prosecutor because that was standing U.S. policy, backed up by requests from the U.K., the International Monetary Fund, and a list of Republican senators. There is no crime to investigate. In fact, given a second round of confessional time, the nation might learn that Trump already went to the FBI before sending his personal attorney.
Because there’s nothing wrong with having a personal attorney who tells government officials what to do. “Other presidents had them,” said Trump. “FDR had a lawyer who was practically, you know, he was totally involved with government. Eisenhower had a lawyer. They all had lawyers." There may be a difference between having a lawyer and launching that lawyer on missions of extortion and slander, but Trump doesn’t see it. What’s a Roy Cohn for in the first place?
Published with permission of Daily Kos