Buried in the whistleblower complaint which exposed the Ukraine scandal is this alarming claim: the Trump White House has been abusing a computer system for highly classified intelligence information to cover up transcripts of presidential calls with foreign leaders which are “politically sensitive.” The White House placed in that system the transcript of the July 25 call President Trump had with the Ukrainian president, which severely restricts who can access it. As the whistleblower states:
“According to White House officials I spoke with, this was ‘not the first time’ under this Administration that a Presidential transcript was placed into this codeword-level system solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive — rather than national security sensitive — information.”
This raises a critical question that must be addressed by the impeachment inquiry in the US House of Representatives: what other scandals and abuses of power is the White House covering up?
On Wednesday, the journalist Brian Beutler asked this question in this posting, entitled: “The Ukraine Scandal Just Scratches the Surface.”
As Beutler writes:
To shake Ukraine down, Trump had to set up a shadow foreign policy. Now recall how many other bad-acting countries Trump has established irregular relations with: Turkey, UAE, Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, North Korea. Just to start.
Trump has business interests in Turkey, whose president seemingly now dictates disastrous regional policy decisions to the U.S over the phone. Trump’s son-in-law adviser reportedly likes to trade encrypted messages with the murderous crown prince of Saudi Arabia. His daughter has a growing portfolio of patents from the Chinese government, which may have responded to a separate Trump solicitation with dirt on Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. Russia’s spell over Trump is notorious, and Trump has gone to great lengths to conceal his conversations with Vladimir Putin from his own government.
Take the new humanitarian crisis in Syria as a prime example. The crisis — which has left more than 200 Kurdish civilians dead and hundreds of thousands displaced — started on October 6, the day Trump had a call with Turkey’s president. What was said on that call that led to Trump’s sudden withdrawal of a US military presence in the Kurdish territory of Syria and a green light for Turkey to start attacking the Kurdish people? We deserve to know.
As of now, the House’s impeachment inquiry is limited to President Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and the actions surrounding it. However, we know that he must be held accountable for many more impeachable offenses. Trump’s reckless betrayal of the Syrian Kurds may very well prove to be another instance of favoring his own self-interest over those of the American people, but without a thorough investigation, the motive behind the decision remains unknown. That is why Congress must expand the scope of the impeachment inquiry.