As an American, I'm appalled by the mounting evidence that President Trump abused the power of his office by withholding Congressionally approved military aid from the Ukraine in an effort to help his 2020 electoral chances by getting dirt on a potential domestic political rival, former Vice-President Joe Biden.
While Trump is ultimately the architect of his downfall, if it comes as a result of this impeachment process, the scaffolding will have been erected by the powerful testimony of four witnesses, three of them immigrants, career civil servants and the fourth, a first-generation American, and a political appointee.
In their testimonies, each one made explicit reference to their family background and to the consequent duty of coming forward as a matter of gratitude to the country which had given them shelter and freedom from oppression as well as meritocratic opportunity.
While Trump is ultimately the architect of his downfall, if it comes as a result of this impeachment process, the scaffolding will have been erected by the powerful testimony of four witnesses.
Of the four, Ambassador Gordon Sondland's statement was perhaps the most powerful, corroborating as it did the testimony of prior witnesses whose position was less central.
Sundland, a wealthy hotelier, contributed $1 million to Trump's inauguration and was rewarded with the ambassadorship to the EU.
From that perch, Sondland was ordered to work with the president's lawyer, Rudy Guliani, who was engaged in trying to pressure the Ukranian government to accept responsibility for electoral interference in the 2016 US election — a debunked conspiracy theory — and dig up dirt on Joe Biden.
Sondland explicitly said that there was a quid pro quo (military aid to Ukraine) and that every Ukraine-related action he took was ordered by the President, orchestrated by Rudy Giuliani, and sanctioned by a number of other top officials, including Vice-President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a career soldier and Ukraine expert on the National Security staff, was privy to a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump pushed Zelensky to investigate the Biden family in exchange for the military aid that Congress had earmarked to help in Ukraine's military engagement with Russia.
Vindman saw this as a threat to US national security, potentially weakening an ally in the interests of Trump's own political future, and reported it to the top lawyer of the National Security Council, where the matter languished.
Apparently the now famous whistleblower acted similarly before making his official complaint which, when it came to light, resulted in release of the withheld aid. Former Ambassador to the Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, described how her own dedication to the formal US relationship to Ukraine was distorted in a smear campaign by Guliani, leading to her firing.
But the devastating final testimony was that of former National Security Council senior Russian expert, Dr Fiona Hill. Hill corroborated the other witnesses and then admonished the Republican defenders of the President for their promotion of debunked conspiracy theories about the Ukraine's role in 2016.
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She stated this was part of a disinformation campaign orchestrated by Russia to divide Americans from each other and from the European allies, which she noted, clearly advances Russian interests above those of the US.
The Democratic House will very likely draw up articles of impeachment. The fate of the Republic will then be decided by the President's trial in the Republican controlled Senate.
Aaron Burr, the third Vice-President of the US (1801-05), is all but forgotten today. In his time he was famous for many reasons. As presiding officer of the Senate he oversaw the trial of the only Supreme Court Justice to be impeached, Justice Salmon Chase, who was acquitted and continued to serve until his death in 1811. Burr also killed Alexander Hamilton in an illegal duel for which he was never charged.
When Burr left the Senate his farewell remarks included this one, which may be prescient: " If the Constitution is to perish, its dying agonies will be seen on this floor."
That bleak admonishment may well be tested within the next few months.
Jay Kuten is an American-trained forensic psychiatrist who emigrated to New Zealand for the fly fishing. He spent 40 years comforting the afflicted and intends to spend the rest afflicting the comfortable.