Since the release of the astonishing transcript of the call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky, Democrats have, as one would expect, zeroed in on the multiple legal problems Trump created for himself.

Former vice president Joe Biden released a statement, which included this:

The 2,000-word summation of a 30-minute phone call released by the White House makes clear that days after the President ordered the delay of Congressionally-appropriated military assistance to Ukraine, he implored the President of Ukraine to work with his personal attorney to manufacture a smear against a domestic political opponent, using a malicious conspiracy theory that has been universally debunked by every independent outlet that has looked at it.

He added, “We also learned that he planned to involve the United States Department of Justice in this scheme — a direct attack on the core independence of that department, an independence essential to the rule of law.”

Other news reports suggest the Justice Department signed off on the call, finding no illegality. That makes Attorney General William P. Barr a key witness, and if he participated, a potential target of impeachment. In a tweet, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) reminds us that she asked Barr, testifying under oath, whether he had been instructed to investigate anyone. He hedged and hemmed and hawed. She now calls for him to return to testify under oath.

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The Justice Department is trying to deny Barr has any role in this fiasco. (“An initial Justice Department statement on Barr’s role issued at the same moment the call notes were made public seemed only to rule out the attorney general being asked to work with Ukraine on such a probe, but a subsequent clarification broadened the denial to cover any presidential request to Barr to launch an inquiry into Biden.”) Even if this is true, the Justice Department found there was nothing wrong with Trump’s conduct. Are we to believe Barr didn’t know about that either? Constitutional scholar Larry Tribe tells me, “It’s inconceivable that Barr didn’t know, and the decision to treat the president’s manifestly criminal conversation with Ukraine’s leader, a mix of bribery and extortion, as not worthy of a referral for further investigation seems to me inexplicable unless one assumes either corrupt motives or gross stupidity or both.”

Barr is not the only member of the administration who is in legal and career peril. Most importantly, it is essential to determine what Vice President Pence knew of Trump’s efforts, whether he advised against this kind of conduct and whether he was involved in the pressure campaign to find dirt on Biden. When we move into the realm of impeachment, it is obviously necessary to determine if the vice president, in case of removal or resignation, is fit to take over. Congress should move swiftly to subpoena him and obtain all documents relating to this travesty.

Indeed, anyone who facilitated the aid for dirt campaign should be identified and compelled to step down. Whether it was acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney who inserted himself into the aid process by arranging a holdup of funds to Ukraine or Defense or State officials who carried out these directives or had knowledge of Rudolph W. Giuliani’s private secretary of state operation, they must be identified and their conduct evaluated.

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It is noteworthy that we now learn that, according to The Post, acting director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire "threatened to resign over concerns that the White House might attempt to force him to stonewall Congress when he testifies Thursday about an explosive whistleblower complaint about the president, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the matter.” This suggests two things: First, the White House was engaged in an attempt to obstruct Congress’s investigation, and, second, it is possible for officials to resist illegal or immoral orders.

As we learn the full extent of this assault on our electoral system, we will see just how far the culpability extends. Their decision to stay in the administration and serve an unfit and reckless president might have lifelong consequences for a whole bunch of people.

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