Trump’s unfit to lead the nation: His not-so-presidential behavior during inquiry shows why

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Elle Love
CONTRIBUTOR

Illustration by Mars Nevada/the Gateway, original source image of whistle by Richard Weeler.

In United States history, some presidents have been involved in scandals that are severe enough to be considered impeachable offenses. Yet, the behavior that President Trump is displaying during the impeachment inquiry is inappropriate and appalling.

University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) political science professor Gregory Petrow, Ph.D., said presidents always have a desire to resist the process and view it as “unfair” and “politically-motivated.” He cited President Richard Nixon’s famous quote, “I’m not a crook,” and President Bill Clinton’s infamous line, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

However, Petrow said the clear expectation is that we don’t expect a president to enlist the help of foreign nations to assist the president in taking down another candidate.

“The request in and of itself is inappropriate because it involves a major American presidential candidate, and it is an internal affair for Ukraine,” Petrow said. “However, there was a quid pro quo involved.”

The president of Ukraine wanted to meet with President Trump, and President Trump did not allow the meeting until Ukraine committed the investigation, Petrow said.

“It is also possible that military aid to Ukraine was only released after they promised to investigate,” Petrow said. “But so far, that is unproven.”

Trump displayed intimidation towards the Ukrainian whistleblower, who gave an account of Trump’s call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, by demanding to a reveal his identity in multiple tweets.

“Like every American, I deserved to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called ‘Whistleblower’ represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way…” Trump tweeted.

Yet, Trump seems to be unaware of federal whistleblower protection laws in place that illegalize retaliation against employees reporting violation of misconduct.

UNO journalism and media communications professor Chris Allen, Ph.D., said the whistleblower protection laws go back to the very beginning of the country, the time of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

“There have long been whistleblower laws where the government keeps your name silent,” Allen said.

Allen said although the law guarantees that nobody in government can identify the person, that law doesn’t necessarily apply to newspapers, radio or TV because of the First Amendment.

The New York Times received backlash for the decision to release certain information about the whistleblower in their article, revealing his or her profession as a CIA officer. Times’ Editor Dean Baquet defended the decision, saying that it was up to the readers to make their decision about the credibility of the report with the new information.

“In the case of a whistleblower, it becomes a lot murkier because the newspaper has made no guarantee about it at all, none at all,” Allen said. “Then, it is up to the newspaper or news organizations to decide whether or not to do it.”

Allen said in this particular case, there were already death threats made against the whistleblower.

“I doubt that it is going to give the name of the whistleblower even though they know who it is,” Allen said.

Even though I ethically disagree with the Times’ decision to release information about the whistleblower that could potentially aid the White House in revealing his or her identity, that case was nothing close to the smear campaign of the whistleblower by Fox News.

Allen said journalists at Fox News are not the ones who pushed for the whistleblowers identity to be released, unlike Fox News political commentators.

“They are trying to defend Trump, in my opinion, the worst way they could,” Allen said. “They are pushing to endanger somebody’s life.”

Petrow said Trump turned the impeachment issue into the biggest bullhorn in the nation, the “bully pulpit” where his greatest ability to be heard is amplified by Fox News.

“If he and Fox News repeat over and over again that Mr. Biden is guilty of these charges, then Republicans will believe it, and millions of others, as well,” Petrow said.

Petrow said when presidents are investigated, the ideal standard is to be forthcoming with information and transparency.

President Trump is failing to release documents and suggesting that the members of Congress investigating him are traitors to their nation and should be arrested, Petrow said.

“In this case, this all reflects directly on the character of the current president,” Petrow said. “People should take notes on this.”

Petrow said elected Republican party members have strong incentives to protect Trump while minimizing the impression that he is a threat to the nation because of party identification.

Yet in the time of Nixon’s Watergate Scandal, Americans stopped identifying with the Republican party, costing them 53 seats – 48 in the house and five in the senate – in Congress in the 1974 election.

Petrow said if Trump becomes politically “too toxic” for the party then it is more in the interests of the GOP to criticize him and allow him to be removed from office.

“The political costs of keeping him are greater than the cost of losing him,” Petrow said. “But the costs of losing him are quite steep, and so things have to be really bad politically before that will happen.”

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