Trump's 'shakedown scheme' against Ukraine requires impeachment and removal: Foreign policy expert
President Donald Trump (MSNBC)

President Donald Trump has abused the public trust, according to a foreign policy expert, and must be impeached and removed from office.

Americans can no longer trust the president after a whistleblower complaint revealed that he tried to extract a "favor" from the Ukrainian government in exchange for congressionally approved military aid, argued Harvard University professor Stephen Walt in a column for Foreign Policy.

"Whether you are a Democrat, a Republican, or an independent, you cannot trust Donald Trump to place the interests of the nation ahead of his own, or to conduct a foreign policy that would faithfully advance the national interest," argued Walt, an international relations professor. "In the realist world in which we live, a world where even the mighty United States sometimes faces genuine dangers, that is not a risk any of us should be forced to run. That is why Trump should be impeached and eventually removed from the presidency."

Walt concedes that presidents deserve confidentiality in their private communications with foreign leaders, but he said that trust depends on a minimal level of integrity -- which he argues Trump clearly does not demonstrate.

"Foreign governments seeking to curry favor with the president have spent millions of dollars at Trump properties since his inauguration, while his sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. burn up more money on Secret Service protection while they fly around doing Trump Organization business," Walt wrote.

Foreign leaders -- as demonstrated by the summary of Trump's call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky -- understand this, and spend money at Trump-owned properties or agree to go along with his illegal schemes.

"The conversation makes clear that Trump wasn’t interested (or even all that well informed) about Ukraine’s internal politics, its conflict with Russia, its prospects for economic development, or any of the normal things a U.S. president might address," Walt wrote. "What Trump wanted—and what his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, had been pursuing for some time — was some dirt he could use in case he faced Joe Biden in the 2020 election, even though the Ukrainian government had already determined that no such dirt existed."

"To put it bluntly," Walt wrote, "he wanted a foreign government to help him get re-elected."

Trump's scheme, and his behavior toward a U.S. ally like Ukraine, clearly violates the Constitution's standard for impeachment, the professor argued.

"Reasonable people can disagree about what U.S. policy toward Ukraine should be, but what it shouldn’t be is a shakedown scheme in which a sitting U.S. president tries to get a foreign power to invent a scandal that might help that president’s reelection chances," Walt wrote. "Any president who would do that (and whose appointees would go along with it) has forfeited any claim to public trust."