Character Assassination takes Center Stage in Trump’s War against Civility

//The depths of the depravity that has the full stamp of approval of Johnny Isakson, David Perdue, and Barry Loudermilk.//

A whistleblower’s revelations that President Trump, in an overtly criminal act, had attempted to bribe the President of Ukraine into launching a phony investigation into alleged corruption by Joe Biden by threatening to withhold U.S. military aid set off a chain of events that led to the opening of an impeachment inquiry by the House of Representatives.  The first step has been sworn written statements to the Intelligence Committee by a plethora of career and politically appointed officials. The testimony has revealed beyond he shadow of a doubt the truth of the bribery scheme outlined by the whistleblower.  (See Ukrainian Imbroglio Drags Republicans Deeper into Their Cesspool of Savagery  for IndieDems review of the facts in the case.)

But the testimony has revealed something even uglier about how Trump and his henchmen like Rudolf Giuliani carry out their acts of pure criminality and simple malfeasance: they make naked, vicious use of character assassination against innocent people. The targeting of career diplomat and Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch for such attacks presents a stunningly vivid example.

It was Yovanovitch’s  testimony to the committee that revealed the depths of the warped, twisted, and depraved mentality of Trump and his lackeys like Rudolf Giuliani. When Yovanovitch refused to go along with the bribery scandal, Trump initiated a campaign of character assassination to destroy her career. He succeeded in having her removed as ambassador, and, in the process, inflicted grievous emotional suffering on her.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, who oversaw Ukraine policy, gave even more devastating testimony on the Ukrainian affair and Trump’s character assassination of Ambassador Yovanovitch. Corroborating testimony of all the other officials, Kent left no doubt that Trump was attempting to bribe the Ukrainians into interfering in U.S. elections to serve his own political interests.

Kent in his written statement declared that Trump demanded that Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, announce investigations into the 2016 U.S. election, Trump’s former rival Hillary Clinton and former vice president Joe Biden, in exchange for an Oval Office meeting.

Trump “wanted nothing less than President Zelensky to go to a microphone and say investigations, Biden and Clinton,” Kent told House impeachment investigators.

Kent also lambasted Giuliani for waging what he described as a “campaign of lies” aimed at Yovanovitch in an effort to force her removal as ambassador because he and Trump saw her as an obstacle to their bribery scheme. Kent said that throughout March 2019, Giuliani trafficked in “slander” designed to get Yovanovitch, fired.

In her sworn statement, Yovanovitch said that in late 2018, her staff began to pick up cryptic warnings from Ukrainian officials that Giuliani was in talks with Ukraine’s then-prosecutor general, Yuri Lutsenko, and they had plans to hurt her through false allegations. She faced a smear campaign that appeared orchestrated by Giuliani and Lutsenko that included accusations she was undermining Trump’s agenda with Ukraine and had given a “do-not-prosecute” list aimed at protecting corrupt officials.

Trump’s politically appointed Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland–one of Trump’s henchmen that he selected to implement his Ukrainian policy–implicitly confirmed she was the target of Trump’s wrath by telling her “You need to go big or go home…You need to, you know, tweet out there that you support the president” and that claims that she was disloyal to Trump were lies. She should use Twitter, he said, to improve her standing with the president before it was too late.

Yovanovitch turned down this proposal that not only would be ethically wrong, but would violate United States laws against career government employees involvement in politics.

Trump himself confirmed the existence of the threat by saying in his July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president that Yovanovitch was “bad news” and someone who was “going to go through some things.” Yovanovitch said she was “shocked” and “apprehensive” when she learned about Trump’s remarks.

The smear campaign surfaced openly when consular staffers at the embassy blocked the application for a U.S. visa by a Ukrainian because of the individual’s known corrupt activities, According to Yovanovitch, Giuliani soon was calling the White House to claim that Yovanovitch was denying entry to a Ukrainian who could provide Trump “information about corruption at the embassy,” including the Ambassador’s own alleged corruption. All of this, without one shred of credible to back up the allegations against Yovanovitch.

In April 2019, Yovanovitch said, she was told that, while she had done nothing wrong, Trump had “lost confidence” in her and that her position as ambassador was untenable. She was abruptly told in late April to come back to Washington from Ukraine “on the next plane.” She expressed the honest feelings of an innocent person done a horrendous wrong by America’s Republican leaders:

I was…incredulous that the U.S. government chose to remove an Ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.

Michael McKinley, a senior and highly respected career diplomat who was serving as a senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, became disturbed by the bullying of Yovanovitch. McKinley also said he didn’t like the way diplomats had been roped into political ends by President Trump. McKinley testified that he urged Pompeo to issue a public statement in support of the ambassador. Pompeo’s refusal brought to a head McKinley’s discontent with the way Trump and Pompeo were misusing the State Department, and he resigned.

What normal American would ever have thought that the United States of America would once have as president someone for whom lying is a way of life? For whom the character assassination of decent and honorable human beings is considered normal? A president who has proven he has not a shred of honor, integrity, or morality? A president who puts Joseph McCarthy to shame in having no shame?

That is the president we have—brought to us by the likes of Johnny Isakson, David Perdue, Barry Loudermilk, and Brian Kemp.

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