The Russia thing didn't really pan out, did it? Nor did the meta-investigation into the not-very-difficult question of whether the person who directs all federal law enforcement activity can direct, ahem, federal law enforcement activity. There was the porno business, but Michael Cohen took the fall before changing his mind and lying to Congress, alienating virtually every living American on both sides in the process. The other lawyer there was an even bigger crook (though he would have made one hell of an amusing presidential candidate). Emoluments? It doesn't work unless Donald Trump becomes Earl of Tower Hamlets. Heck, we couldn't even impeach him for having bad opinions about pro football.

If you are seeing a pattern here, it might be because you, too, have guessed the previously anagogic secret that Democrats are not wild about this Trump guy and really love to talk about impeaching him. What was once a grave and rare undertaking — three times in two and a half centuries, all of them unsuccessful — is now a generic response to any action taken or not taken, alleged or proven or simply imagined, by the president of the United States. It's 92 degrees in Washington, D.C.? #ImpeachTrumpNow.

This is roughly as good as the argument now being made by various presidential candidates and writers at The Atlantic and The New York Times that Trump is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors because it is alleged by a third party who did not hear the conversation or learn of it in the course of his or her work that Trump might have said something on the telephone that could be interpreted as using the legitimate authority of his office to draw attention to, well, Joe Biden's possible use of the legitimate authority of his office to benefit his son, Hunter.

There is no evidence that Trump dangled aid in front of the president of Ukraine in order to secure an investigation of Biden's activities in that country, though on its face it seems likely enough. There is, however, explicit proof that Biden did exactly that in order to secure the firing of a prosecutor who happened to be threatening an investigation of a Ukrainian natural gas company of which Hunter was a director. "I looked at them and said: ‘I'm leaving in six hours," Biden gleefully told the Council on Foreign Relations in a speech last year. "If the prosecutor is not fired, you're not getting the money.' Well, son of a bitch. He got fired." And the government of Ukraine got its billion dollars. Biden and his allies insist that the removal of Viktor Shokin had everything to do with his reputation for corruption and nothing to do with the $50,000 a month Hunter was receiving from Burisma Holdings for his no-doubt vast knowledge of the Eurasian mining sector.

This was not the first or the last time that an upward fall by the vice president's son happened to intersect with his father's diplomatic efforts. After accompanying his old man on Air Force Two during an official visit to China, a $1.5 billion private equity deal fell into Hunter's lap. I'm sure this was entirely because of his extraordinary financial acumen.

Is this guess about a rumor of a rumor really something Democrats want to delve into further during the 2020 presidential election? The answer seems to be yes, even though — or perhaps even because — Ukrainegate or whatever they are calling it has a number of features in common with the Russia non-scandal. The most blinkerlingly obvious one is the fact that in both cases the vague underlying charge of colluding with a foreign power rebounds on Trump's opponents.

Let's not forget that the Mueller investigation ultimately happened because a former foreign intelligence agent of a country whose own parliament debated barring a presidential candidate from entering its borders was paid by a rival presidential candidate to concoct a theory about sinister meetings with random businessmen and professors with "links" or "ties" to Russia. That rival candidate's own husband, himself a former American president, has his own extensive "ties" with Russian interests, including having very publicly meddled in a Russian presidential election with American tax dollars during his tenure in the White House — to say nothing of the millions of dollars donated to his private foundation by individuals and private entities who had business with his wife while she was serving as secretary of state.

We live in a globalized economy ruled by an internationalist class of gazillionaires who all have "ties" with other internationalist gazillionaires who are always making deals and mucking around with NGOs and speaking at "forums" and lobbying each other's governments, usually quasi-officially. Under the definitions of "collusion" and "abuse of authority" currently being bandied about, simply being a member of this class renders one unfit to hold public office.

There might be a real lesson here after all.

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