Let’s say you’re walking downtown and you’re approached by someone brandishing a weapon who demands money from you. Inside a store, a shopper sees the robbery attempt and shouts out, “Leave her alone, I’m calling the police!” The shopper’s husband comes barreling out the store door and the perpetrator takes off running.

 

The husband didn’t see the weapon or the demand for money and is reacting to hearsay evidence, but believes his wife’s interpretation to be “urgent and credible” when he bolts after the apparent criminal.

 

Has a crime occurred? Will you expect the law enforcement system to apprehend the culprit? Yes! most of us would heartily agree, even though no money changed hands and no physical injury was sustained. Just because the intended crime was not completed, does not mean a different crime was not committed.

 

On August 12, a federal employee used an official “whistleblower” procedure with protected anonymity to report a suspected crime by the president of the United States in a telephone call on July 25. The whistleblower’s report included both direct knowledge and hearsay information to support the suspicion that a crime had been committed. The report was submitted to the proper Inspector General of the Intelligence Community who deemed it “urgent and credible.”

 

The analogy between the two scenarios is both specific and instructive. First, lawbreaking occurred both times even though the intended crime (robbery in the former and extortion in the latter) was unsuccessful. The attempted robber did not get your money and the presidential extortionist backed down from his demand.

 

Second, the shopper’s husband acted nobly based on hearsay (from his wife) and direct knowledge (observing a person fleeing after being exposed). The federal whistleblower acted patriotically filing a report based on both personal direct and secondhand knowledge.

 

Third, reasonable people expect the law enforcement system at each level to perform complete investigations and any warranted prosecutions.

 

Republican legislators have been proclaiming, “no blood, no foul,” because the president’s attempted extortion of Ukraine was unsuccessful. The president had criminally withheld $390 Million in military aid and dangled it as a bribe in return for a politically motivated “investigation” to favor his reelection. The Ukrainians did eventually receive the aid approved by both houses of Congress.

 

Just because the president quickly released the approved funds when his attempted bribe was exposed doesn’t make it any less a crime.