President Donald Trump has weathered one scandal after another, from close allies (or formerly close allies) going to federal prison to allegations that he had extramarital affairs with an adult film star and a Playboy model and paid them hush money to keep quiet. But it was the Ukraine scandal that finally set off an impeachment inquiry, and conservative Washington Post opinion writer Jennifer Rubin asserts in her October 3 column that Trump is now in “full panic” mode.
Rubin, one of Trump’s most persistent critics on the right, cites the president’s “unhinged and angry afternoon news conference” with Finnish President Sauli Väinämö Niinistö on Wednesday as an example of how badly Trump is panicking. And Trump has reason to panic, Rubin stresses — as he has no credible explanation for his now-infamous July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which found Trump trying to pressure Zelensky into digging up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
“We now have a rough transcript of the call in which he repeatedly seeks to enlist the Ukrainian president’s help in finding nonexistent dirt on Biden,” Rubin writes. “That’s the sole purpose of the call. He wanted a ‘favor’: help in smearing a political opponent.”
Rubin adds, “We have Trump’s words doing what no president can be permitted to do: namely, invite foreign interference in our election. If we never found out anything else…. the rough transcript itself would be a sufficient basis for impeachment.”
Trump’s sycophants, according to Rubin, are showing their desperation by wildly trying to explain his conversation with Zelensky — and those false explanations aren’t holding up.
Rubin writes, “Trump and his embarrassing spinners can concoct whatever irrelevant and false excuses they want. The whistleblower’s account was ‘false,’ Trump claims, yet it matched the rough transcript. (House Intelligence Committee Chairman) Schiff ‘wrote’ the whistleblower complaint, Trump asserted — except Schiff apparently didn’t and doesn’t know his or her identity. The list goes on.”
So far, the general public hasn’t seen a full transcript of Trump’s conversation with Zelensky: the version that was publicly released was a rough transcript or partial transcript based on what notetakers wrote down on July 25. Some Trump critics have been asserting that if a full transcript of the conversation or a recording is made public, it could make things even worse for the president. But the rough transcript alone, Rubin emphasizes, is damning enough to merit impeachment.
“The potency of the rough transcript is why simplicity is the friend of Democrats,” Rubin writes. “The first article of impeachment is devoid of any complication: President Trump tried to entice a foreign power to provide opposition research that Trump believed would help him get reelected. That is it…. It is no wonder Trump is in a full panic. For the first time in his presidency, only his actions matter.”