It’s eerie how Team Trump’s main defense — hey, the aid was finally delivered to Ukraine and no Biden investigation happened so no harm, no foul — reprises Tim Eyman’s shoplifting defense: hey, I returned the chair to Office Depot so no harm, no foul. By this logic, attempted murder should not be a crime.
In fact, Trump did do plenty of harm to Biden’s prospects simply by associating “Biden” and “investigation” in an endless string of news reports and congressional sound-offs — just as James Comey, perhaps less wittingly did to Hillary Clinton by tagging her with a reopened investigation (which came to nothing) in the last weeks of the 2016 campaign. That, Gordon Sondland strongly suggested in both his closed-door and public testimony, was the point all along: not so much to conduct a trumped-up investigation of the Bidens as to announce that investigation on CNN.
It was gratifying over the past two weeks to see some major media, including Guardian and NY Times writers, start to consider that distinction and note the announcement Trump sought. A week ago, NPR’s television critic, Eric Deggans, acutely analyzed the importance of such an announcement: “For Trump, if it’s not on TV, it’s not real.” But it’s disheartening to see how many in media, including NPR reporters and newsreaders, continue to refer simply to the “investigations” Trump wanted.