Two striking similarities occured this past week-end: Brazil’s former and beloved President Lula da Silva, was released from prison thanks to a judicial ruling concerning felons awaiting the outcome of an appeal, while the American judicial system has been busy mediating the coming impeachment of President Trump.
As one of the three branches of government intended to ‘check and balance’ each other, the US Constitution gave the judiciary a more public role than in most countries, and high level Trump officials are taking advantage of this. Summoned to testify publicly to Congress in the impeachment hearings against the president, they are requesting that the courts determine whether they are duty-bound to do so.
This recourse makes it all the more likely that the impeachment proceedings will drag out until the 2020 election. Among the political ‘stars’ involved are Secretary of State Pompeo, still in office, and former National Security Advisor John Bolton, recently fired, as well as the White House Chief of Staff Mike Mulvaney, who doubles as Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which — upon the President’s order — withheld the money that Congress had voted to give Ukraine for its fight against Russian-speaking separatists. Mulvaney made headlines when he announced that quid pro quo’s constitute normal diplomatic behavior. Although he was recognizing a basic fact of public life, of which most Americans are probably aware, the media has joyfully excoriated him for it.
Even more significant than the ins and outs of the latest episode in the Trump presidency is the leading role that Trump officials have reserved for the judiciary, whose ‘Supreme’ instance has the final word on disputed legislation — or other political issues. The American court system consists of three levels — district courts (where original trials are held), ‘circuit’ courts which constitute the first level of appeal, encompassing multiple state jurisdictions, and the Supreme Court, the final level of appeal for the entire federal system and the sole venue for political adjudications. One of the advantages of pursuing litigation all the way to the top of the system is precisely the time the process requires, playing a major role in the political calculation of the plaintiff.
Among the high level American political figures expected to appear in televised hearings starting on Wednesday, November 13th are the Ambassador to the European Union, (a hotel magnate who got the job by contributing a million dollars to Trump’s election campaign); the former Mayor of New York (and one-time ‘white crimes’ prosecutor) Rudy Giuliani, accused of running his own investigation into the activities of Obama’s Vice-President, Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in Ukraine, to bolster Trump’s chances of re-election. (Hunter accepted a $50,000 a month job on the board of a gas company, Burisma, supposedly after his father threatened to fire a prosecutor charged with investigating fraud.)
Sadly, the American public appears indifferent to the fact that the Trump impeachment inquiry occupies 90% of the news, barely mentioning, for example, the forced resignation of Latin America’s only indigenous — and socialist — leader, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, whose Quechua people were primed to protest his election to a third term. Whenever a national leader achieves significant progress toward independence from Washington, a hydra infiltrates the population, convincing it to ‘rise up’ against a ‘dictator’. Ironically, the latest US news suggests that an elected US President can also behave like a dictator — or at least an aspiring one.
But what is most troubling about the hearings is that they are built on a historical fabrication. There is not the slightest mention of the fact, amply recognized by the star player, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, that starting in late 2013, the United States had already spent 5 billion dollars to foment what was billed as a spontaneous popular ‘revolution’, resulting in the February 2014 overthrow of the elected Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich thanks to a militia identifying itself as the proud descendants of the World War II ‘Banderistas’ who fought against the Soviet Union on the side of Nazi Germany hoping to achieve Ukraine’s independence. Without the presence of these beefy, chain-wielding participants, the February, 2014 so-called ‘Revolution of Dignity’ would not have put a neo-fascist government in Kiev. As a result, the Russian-speaking inhabitants of the eastern Ukraine region of Donbas, would not have had to declare their opposition to the new regime, creating the Peoples Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, and appealing to Russia for support. (In the US version of history, Russia ‘invaded’ Ukraine as part of its effort to recreate the Soviet ‘empire.)
The assistance that has been provided by Russia for almost six years, has enabled the Donbas republics to hold their own against the Ukraine army. Had the Russians ‘invaded’ their neighbor, as the US claims, they would have taken Kiev in a matter of days, and re-installed the previous, Russia-friendly government. Similarly, the US media accuses Moscow of ‘taking over Crimea’ when in fact its Russian-speaking majority voted in a referendum to rejoin the mother country, their peninsula having been won from the Ottoman Empire by Empress Catherine the Great, who created Russia’s only warm-water naval base in Sebastopol.
In its ignorance, the American public has just been subject to the height of hypocrisy, as the procedures that have historically structured congressional testimony are used to falsify history.
Deena Stryker is a US-born international expert, author and journalist that lived in Eastern and Western Europe and has been writing about the big picture for 50 years. Over the years she penned a number of books, including Russia’s Americans. Her essays can also be found at Otherjones. Especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.