Scot Lehigh is one of the Boston Globe’s most sanctimonious opinion writers. He has a moderately Liberal position on most topics but often pretends to be an objective guy who very reasonably reaches his conclusion that the Liberal position is correct and the Conservative position is untenable. His sermons are often very tiresome, but occasionally they deserve a response.
This piece has a subhead, “Try thinking objectively as you contemplate this historic moment.” Yet Lehigh fails the test he asks of his readers. His piece does not objectively lay out the impeachment case, and after he repeats all the Democrats’ talking points, he wonders how anyone could not look at these facts and objectively conclude that Trump should be impeached.
The reason, Scot, is because the facts as you present them are not agreed upon by both sides. You are repeating the Democrats’ arguments and not mentioning the Republicans’.
I won’t bother to dissect this unconvincing straw-man argument, but will just give one example of its falsehoods.
Lehigh states that the GAO determined that withholding the aid was illegal:
Add to the equation a ruling by the General Accounting Office that in freezing the congressionally authorized foreign aid, the administration had violated the law.
Lehigh pretends that once the GAO speaks, like EF Hutton used to say, people should just listen. But the GAO is not the legal interpreter of the law, and it works for Congress, which Lehigh probably knows is a partisan institution. The public has learned that in fact many of our non-partisan government officials are in fact deeply partisan and act that way when given the opportunity.
I just read a Liberal account of why holding up the Ukraine aid was a bad idea, and there appear to be two parts to why this was potentially illegal. First, the President was supposed to spend the money appropriated by Congress before the authorization expired, in this case, September 30, 2019. (The money was unfrozen around September 10th). And second, there was a legal requirement to notify Congress of the delay.
Political appointees were clearly wrestling with the aid holdup and trying to keep their actions legal. They sought guidance from the OMB and the Justice Department. But here is what this link said about the aid holdup: “These orders provoked alarm, Sandy testified, because each additional delay heightened the risk that the funds would not be spent before end of the fiscal year, a circumstance that would violate the law.” (See https://publicintegrity.org/national-security/trump-administration-officials-worried-ukraine-aid-halt-violated-spending-law/).
The website, while is clearly against President Trump, admits that foreign aid has often been held up before, and cites these examples: “‘It is not unusual for U.S. foreign assistance to become delayed,’ said a House Republican staff report released on Dec. 2. The provision of aid to Lebanon was delayed in the fall of this year, for example, after the president there resigned, their report noted. Aid to Afghanistan was delayed in September due to corruption concerns. During the summer, aid to Central America was reprogrammed to compel governments there to curtail the flow of their migrants to the United States. And in 2017, aid to Egypt was frozen over human rights concerns.”
And in a lengthy New York Times piece about the aid, it says that the Office of Management and Budget attorney had approved a brief hold on the aid. “On that same day, Mr. Sandy, having received the go-ahead from the budget office’s lawyers, took the first official step to legally impose what they called a ‘brief pause,’ inserting a footnote into the budget document that prohibited the Pentagon from spending any of the aid until Aug. 5.” (See https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/29/us/politics/trump-ukraine-military-aid.html).
There is no question that the holdup was a unique situation, with government officials struggling to obey the President’s directive while being mindful of the laws and regulations related to Congressional appropriations. But after the seven-week delay in funding, the aid was released. While the GAO is entitled to its opinion, it is not the decider (it is not a court) and the legality of the hold was in dispute.
So Lehigh’s statement is obviously very partisan and extremely misleading. He is not an objective, impartial observer although he wants his readers to take his summary as fact and reach the conclusion that Lehigh wishes.
But it was a nice try.
Allen Nitschelm is publisher of PublicEditorMA.com. He critiques the Boston Globe, mostly focusing on the bias in their news reporting. News articles are graded for bias, and the website has a listing of the average bias ratings for all reporters reviewed. See our website for more information and the four categories of articles we publish.
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