The Untold Story Of The Trump-Ukraine ‘Scandal’: The Routine Corruption Of US Foreign Policy

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Above Photo: Left to right: Kerry, post-coup president Petro Poroshenko, Pyatt and Nuland, June 2014. (State Dept.)

The impeachment offensive against Donald Trump is another symptom of a partisan disease that ignores an even greater malignancy

The most crucial aspects of the Trump-Ukraine “scandal,” which has led to impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, are not being told, even by Republicans.

Trump was very likely motivated by politics if he indeed withheld military aid to Ukraine in exchange for Kiev launching an investigation into Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden, though the transcript of the call released by the White House between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelinsky does not make certain such a quid-pro-quo.

But what’s not being talked about in the mainstream is the context of this story, which shows that, politics aside, Biden should indeed be investigated in both Ukraine and in the United States.

We know from the leaked, early 2014 telephone conversation between Victoria Nuland, then assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and Geoffrey Pyatt, then U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, that then Vice President Biden played a role in “midwifing” the U.S.-backed overthrow of an elected Ukrainian government soon after that conversation.

That’s the biggest crime in this story that isn’t being told. The illegal overthrow of a sovereign government.

As booty from the coup, the sitting vice president’s son, Hunter Biden, soon got a seat on the board of Ukraine’s biggest gas producer, Burisma Holdings. This can only be seen as a transparently neocolonial maneuver to take over a country and install one’s own people. But Biden’s son wasn’t the only one.

A family friend of then Secretary of State John Kerry also joined Burisma’s board. U.S. agricultural giant Monsanto got a Ukrainian contract soon after the overthrow.  And the first, post-coup Ukrainian finance minister was an American citizen, a former State Department official, who was given Ukrainian citizenship the day before she took up the post.

After a Ukrainian prosecutor began looking into possible corruption at Burisma, Biden openly admitted at a conference last year that as vice president he withheld a $1 billion credit line to Ukraine until the government fired the prosecutor. As Biden says himself, it took only six hours for it to happen.

Exactly what Biden boasted of doing is what the Democrats are now accusing Trump of doing, and it isn’t clear if Trump got what he wanted as Biden did. 

Threats, Bribes and Blackmail

That leads to another major part of this story not being told: the routine way the U.S. government conducts foreign policy: with bribes, threats and blackmail.

Trump may have withheld military aid to seek a probe into Biden, but it is hypocritically being framed by Democrats as an abuse of power out of the ordinary. But it is very much ordinary.

Examples abound. The threat of withholding foreign aid was wielded against nations on the UN Security Council in 1991 when the U.S. sought authorization for the First Gulf War. Yemen had the temerity to vote against. A member of the U.S. delegation told Yemen’s ambassador: “That’s the most expensive vote you ever cast.” The U.S. then cut $70 million in foreign aid to the Middle East’s poorest nation, and Saudi Arabia repatriated about a million Yemeni workers.

Katharine Gun

The same thing happened before the Second Gulf War in 2003, as revealed by whistleblower Katharine Gun (who will appear Friday night on CN Live!). Gun leaked an NSA memo that showed the U.S. sought help from its British counterpart in signals intelligence to spy on the missions of Security Council members to get “leverage” over them to influence their vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq.

In 2001 the U.S. threatened the end of military and foreign aid if nations did not conclude bilateral agreements granting immunity to U.S. troops before the International Criminal Court.

More recently, the U.S. used its muscle against Ecuador, including dangling a $10 billion IMF loan, in exchange for the expulsion of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from its London embassy.

This is how the U.S. conducts “diplomacy.”

As former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali wrote:

“Coming from a developing country, I was trained extensively in international law and diplomacy and mistakenly assumed that the great powers, especially the United States, also trained their representatives in diplomacy and accepted the value of it. But the Roman Empire had no need for diplomacy. Nor does the United States. Diplomacy is perceived by an imperial power as a waste of time and prestige and a sign of weakness.”

This fundamental corruption of U.S. foreign policy, which includes overthrowing elected governments, is matched only by the corruption of a political system that exalts partisan political power above all else. Exposing this deep-seated and longstanding corruption should take precedence over scoring partisan scalps, whether Biden’s or Trump’s.

  • voza0db

    Putting on the same level the actions of the Biden Family and the phone call of mutTrump to Ukraine president is simply wrong!

    The important aspect of this circus is that the behavior of the modern dumb monetary slave will go on unchanged…

    KEEP VOTING FOR SCOUNDRELS AND TERRORISTS but do stop complaining about corruption and never ending terrorist wars.

  • Alexa Fleming

    Thank you Joe Lauria for telling it like it is!

  • Greeley Miklashek

    Apples and oranges! None of these power moves by previous American pols and diplomats included recruiting foreign agents to influence American elections. Nice try, but no banana. Go Bernie, Nancy, Greta, and the SQUAD! You might want to read up on your “truth in journalism” text or get help for the brain damage, or both.

  • mwildfire

    Greeley, this post is seriously offensive. Why don’t you take a nice vacation?

  • PeterPaget

    I think Greeley is right. And BTW, I like the use of “mut” in reference the guy at the WH. What mut was doing by trying to get a foreign government to help him win an election for himself has no logical or factual connection to America efforts, rightly or wrongly, to carry out its own foreign policies with governments of other countries.

  • mwildfire

    Right that the actions of Trump for which he is being impeached can’t be compared to other similar actions on the part of other presidents and Biden, or right to question the mental health of anyone s/he disagrees with?

  • PeterPaget

    Right on the fact Greeley is using the facts relevant to what the Mut was trying to do to make his comment as to the current problem with the Mut and ignoring the trap of comparisons to dissimilar situations to try to justify the Mut’s impeachable conduct. I do not see him questioning the Mut’s mental health, but if he is or does I think it is proper to do since Mut has some much power to do evil or wrong things if he is mentally handicapped. Don’t you think that is correct with national security at stake and the 25th Amendment provides for such a possibility?

  • D Turgeon

    So let me get this straight: it’s fine when American pols and diplomats recruit foreign agents to influence elections in foreign countries, even to the extent of replacing entire foreign governments by coup d’état, but it’s not fine when American pols and diplomats do the same to try to influence American elections?
    Sorry, but your logic reeks of hypocrisy.

  • kevinzeese

    That’s right they are both wrong. Trump and Biden should both retire from politics, but the rot is deeper than Trump and Biden. See our longer analysis

  • D Turgeon

    Man, the level of corruption in this world, and especially the U.S., is just astounding. I’m beginning to think that man-made global warming may be doing the planet a long-term favour, if you catch my drift.

  • Greeley Miklashek

    Enjoy your victimhood! You’re about to get plenty to work with. Go Bernie, Nancy, Greta, and the SQUAD. No professional victims allowed or needed.

  • D Turgeon

    What the h___ are you talking about, son? I think you should take mw’s suggestion and take a nice, relaxing vacation; it would do you a world of good!

  • mwildfire

    You apparently aren’t reading the comments closely. It wasn’t Greeley who called Trump mut–and incidentally, I don’t get that. Trump has been called a lot of things but I don’t get what this one means. Is it mutt misspelled? And why would Trump’s ancestry be relevant? More to the point, Greeley was not questioning the mental health of Trump but of the author of this piece, for pointing out that Biden’s actions–and those of plenty or powerful US politicians before him–are also scurrilous and corrupt. I guess Greeley is one of those who thinks all Democrats are innocent and only Trump can be vilified.

  • mwildfire

    To change the subject, referring to your last lines, I think Trump is a classic narcissist (some say sociopath but those are closely related and the burning desire for attention and adulation is what distinguishes the narcissist) and apparently quite stupid, possibly experiencing cognitive decline, and yes this is a threat to our country (I don’t know about “national security” which usually seems to mean the ability of the elite to keep the rest of us under control). But I think impeachment is very risky for the reasons Chris Hedges lays out in his most recent piece, and at this point we might be better off removing him from office via the 2020 election (although I concede that he may stir his base up to violence if he gets trumped (pun intended) in the election, too, with claims of vote fraud. And while it’s realistic to see him replaced by a Democrat, the ones Greeley cheers are probably not real contenders BECAUSE they have integrity and would really change things. See the Caitlin Johnstone video post, What Electability Really Means.

  • chetdude

    USAmerican “foreign policies with governments of other countries” result in endless wars, a million dead people, massive levels of domestic and global inequality and potentially Planet Death for large air-breathing mammals for short-term corporate profits.

    Why the f*ck should be support that in ANY WAY?

  • chetdude

    Mom Nature bats last…

  • chetdude

    “None of these power moves by previous American pols and diplomats
    included recruiting foreign agents to influence American elections”


    They’re more like Standard Operating Procedure for the enablers of dead-end Global Capitalism…and its Planet threatening byproducts — overpopulation, over-pollution, over-exploitation and AGW…

  • D Turgeon

    And there’s no umpire to call a strike or ball.

  • PeterPaget

    This is the way I look at it from the perspective of being 81, laboring in Alaska in the salmon industry for 6 Summers to put myself through university and law school and practicing law for about 40 years. No silver spoons. Pure and simple, Mut trump has shown himself to be unworthy of being President of the United States of America as well as having acted in ways that appear to be violations of law and in violation of the Constitution and has acted to injure our national security. (Not your definition, but one that is defined by putting the physical and military security of Americans and the US Constitution at risk.) There is no benefit of putting off the day of reckoning to the next election. From this lawyer’s POV, that is like giving criminal conduct a pass because it is too troublesome to bring charges or convince oneself that before bringing charges the prosecution must have a 100% dead certain case that there will be a conviction. Sure that would be nice, but unrealistic and meanwhile Mut will get away with more violations and negatively impact the character, laws and administration of government and justice in more abusive and dangerous ways. How many lives and careers has the Mut compromised or ruined so far since he was selected to be the rciminal GOP’s candidate? How many bad laws and policies has the Mut put in place or tried to that have had or could have seriously harmful effects on the American public? We do not need anymore of that!

  • mwildfire

    I think you’re missing the point. The question is not whether Trump is fit to be president–it was obvious he was not, well before the election. The overall question is whether impeachment is a wise move strategically, with Hedges laying out convincing arguments against it. Note the theory that Trump deliberately instigated the Democrats into impeaching, on the theory that it would adequately cause reaction in his base to ensure his reelection (while actual removal by impeachment isn’t going to happen as of course the Senate will vote No.) And the last post in response to me doesn’t answer a couple of separate, minor points within this comment thread: why “mut”? Does this relate to some piece of popular culture I’ve missed because I don’t watch TV? And, are you endorsing a commenter who in disagreeing with a post, refers to its author’s “brain damage”?

  • PeterPaget

    mwildfire it seems you are picking a fight. Actually I think Hedges is not a “honest broker” as he seems to be pushing an agenda. Mut should be removed sooner than later.

  • kevinzeese

    I know that Hedges is no fan of Trump, so I a not sure what agenda you think he has.

    If you want to get rid of Trump, the issue with impeachment is whether it helps in that effort or will backfire and help Trump. We know the Demcoratic House will impeach, but we also know the Republican Senate, where a 2/3 vote is required for impeachment conviction, will acquit. So, Trump will point to a partisan impeachment by the Dems in an election year and claim that the Senate proved he was innocent. This will anger and energize the Trump base. It will show the Democratic elites seekking to remove Trump without an election. This could help Trump.

    Right now, Trump is at 42% in the polls and losing to all the major Demcoratic candidates by large margins in head-to-head contests. Why not just defeat him in an election?

    If the Dems use impeachment wisely, they could hurt Trump but that requires building up support for impeachment to over 65%. It is at about 45% now. If the Dems can garner a national consensus in support of impeachment than Trump’s polls will drop into the 30s and Republicans may see him as a sinking ship they should abandon. But, are the Dems capable of building that kind of support for impeachment? Is the telephone call with Zelensky and seeking to investigate Biden the kind of issue that will get super-majority support in the public? The answers to those questions are not clear.

    Trump looks like he is on the way to losing the 2020 election, the Dems could change that with a botched impeachment.