However, within that story there are a few paragraphs that graphically illustrate why Ukraine is a bit of a third rail in US politics these days--a bi-partisan third rail, but one that Trump insisted on grasping. The dirty secret is that both Democrats and Republicans have enriched themselves in the corruption rife environment of Ukraine:
Ukraine is widely considered one of the more corrupt places on Earth, where paying the children and spouses of powerful people is routine. Indeed, it is quite common in this country, too — and I’ve criticized that practice for more than 30 years in Republican and Democratic administrations alike.
Yet Ukraine was a virtual gold rush for Washington’s elite. Paul Manafort made millions working for Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s corrupt former president. Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig and his law firm tapped into Yanukovych, too. Tony Podesta, Democratic powerbroker and brother of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman, were implicated in Ukraine dealings.
Hunter Biden’s quest for Ukrainian gold took him to one of Yanukovych’s most controversial and corrupt associates, Mykola Zlochevsky, who leveraged his post as minister of ecology and natural resources to build a fortune. Before fleeing Ukraine, Zlochevsky paid Hunter Biden and several other Americans to be directors of his energy company, Burisma Holdings. Hunter Biden had no experience in the field — but he did have a notable connection to the vice president, who publicly has bragged about making clear to the Ukrainians that he alone controlled U.S. aid to the country.
You can be sure that there are many more Americans of both parties who joined the Ukrainian gold rush. And when you understand that you'll understand why Washington hates and fears Donald Trump.
And Matthew Continetti weighs in on the same theme--We Are All Ukrainians: How wealth and cronyism transformed American democracy--and best of all he works that theme directly into Impeachment Theater:
In a sense it is fitting that a former province of the Soviet Union beset by corruption, cronyism, and war has become the crux of Democratic efforts to impeach Donald Trump. This beleaguered country is not only a crossroads between West and East, Europe and Eurasia, NATO and Russia. It is also a field from which America's bipartisan elite has reaped considerable bounties in contracts and directorships, in consulting and lobbying. What has been happening in Ukraine for decades is emblematic of the self-dealing and self-seeking that has exhausted voting publics and inspired populists across the world. Unexpectedly, Trump's relation to Ukraine threatens the viability of the movements it helped create.
... It takes the willing suspension of disbelief to argue that politics had nothing to do with the appointment of the son of the vice president to the well-compensated board of an oil and gas giant two months after he was kicked out of the U.S. Navy for cocaine abuse.
And it requires unblinking partisanship to deny that both Republicans and Democrats, from Paul Manafort to Greg Craig, from BGR Group to the defunct Podesta Group, have profited from connections to Ukraine's various governments and officials. "If you want me to leave the U.S. on Monday 6/16 and return on Friday 6/20," Democrat Tad Devine wrote Republican Rick Gates in reference to a Ukraine job in 2014, "that would be 5 days at $10G/day for $50,000.00. You would need to make the travel arrangements, and transfer the $50G before the trip." That's top dollar for someone who once consulted a socialist.
For decades, the economies that emerged from the wreckage of the Soviet Empire have been playgrounds for American political professionals to deploy their tricks of the trade, their skills at campaign management and public relations, in lucrative arrangements. Perhaps we should have expected these politicos might return home with pieces of post-Soviet political culture in their carry-ons: love of intrigue, of information operations conducted in digital and social media, of conspiracy theories, of national populism and of socialism, of high-dollar payouts made against the backdrop of gray-zone conflict between authoritarian and democratic states. The vocabulary of American politics has appropriated Russian terminology: maskirovka and kompromat, nomenklatura and czar.
This influence is manifest in the conduct of impeachment so far. Anonymous whistleblowers from within the intelligence services trigger investigations of the president. The speaker of the House announces an impeachment inquiry but does not call the roll. The quasi-official status of the investigation allows the Democratic majority to minimize Republican involvement. Hearings are secret. Selective leaks to media drive the impeachment narrative and consolidate partisan support for the president's removal. To speak of narratives rather than evidence is to acknowledge our postmodern condition, where interpretations are more powerful than facts.