When it comes to the scandal over his alleged pressure campaign against Ukraine, Donald Trump is “guilty as charged,” conservative commentator Jonah Goldberg wrote on Wednesday. Goldberg is a longtime writer and contributing editor for the National Review, the political magazine founded in 1955 by conservative icon William F. Buckley.
The current impeachment proceedings against the U.S. president were triggered by a whistleblower complaint that detailed a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky.
In that call, according to a partial transcript released and posted online by the White House, Trump appears to pressure Zelensky into opening investigations of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. He also wants Ukraine to investigate a supposed Democratic National Committee computer server that the president claims is in the possession of a wealthy Ukranian citizen.
But Goldberg in, his National Review column claims that, despite how Trump “did it,” he may avoid impeachment if he were to “admit it, apologize, and let voters make their own judgment.”
Goldberg also says that an open confession and apology by Trump may be the Republican Party’s only hope to avoid a “disaster” for Senate Republicans in the 2020 election.
Trump’s refusal to admit wrongdoing in the Ukraine scandal “imperils GOP senators who are already reluctant to defend him on the merits,” Goldberg writes.
Though the White House released the transcript of the Zelensky call on September 25, Goldberg reached his conclusion that Trump is guilty after a series of impeachment witnesses testified to Congress that the president did, in fact, hold back military aid to Ukraine. In exchange, the witnesses have testified that Trump wanted Zelensky to investigate Biden and the DNC server.
That testimony included the deposition last week by Bill Taylor, the top United States diplomat in Ukraine. In his testimony — which produced “gasps in the room,” according to an NBC News report — Taylor described a video conference in which an Office of Management and Budget official explicitly stated that the order to link military aid to Trump’s demands for political help at home came directly “from the president to the chief of staff to OMB.”
Taylor also said that Trump would be happy if Zelensky simply made a public announcement that Ukraine was investigating Biden, “meaning Trump cared more about political gain than about an actual investigation,” Goldberg wrote in his National Review essay.
Goldberg said that he disagreed with fellow conservatives who claim that the pressure campaign against Ukraine is not an impeachable offense. But by apologizing, Goldberg wrote, Trump could “forestall” impeachment by allowing Republicans and voters to claim that the country should now “move on” in the light of his apology.