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It’s called misdirection.

President Donald Trump and his supporters are seeking to derail the impeachment inquiry unfolding in the U.S. House of Representatives by distracting the public’s attention from his dealings with Ukraine.

It’s a common strategy of the culpable: When accused, counter with accusations. It’s a way of life for Trump and his supporters. Don’t investigate us, their mantra goes, investigate Obama, investigate the Clintons, investigate the Democrats ...

The misdirection campaign in this case has several major thrusts, including counter accusations pertaining to:

• Hunter Biden, son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, and his activity on the board of Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings.

• The fictional account of Ukraine’s subterfuge in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

• The process and rules set by the Democratic majority for the impeachment inquiry.

The challenge for independent-thinking members (if there are any) of Congress, as they mull how to vote in an impeachment, is to stay focused on the only important question at hand: Did Trump withhold $400 million in American aid to Ukraine in order to extract an official statement that the Ukrainians would investigate Joe Biden for his links to Burisma.

If Trump did so, he should be impeached for leveraging taxpayer money and compromising America’s foreign interests for personal political gain.

The Trump misdirection campaign is harmful not only in the sense that it interferes with a congressional investigation, but also because it propagates falsehoods that further expose the United States to foreign influence.

Fiona Hill, formerly the National Security Council’s top expert on Russia, spoke of this danger Thursday in her testimony when she castigated Republicans for spreading a fictional narrative, sparked by Russia and embraced by Trump, that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 U.S. elections.

“These fictions are harmful even if they are deployed for purely domestic political purposes,” Hill said. “President Putin and the Russian security services operate like a super PAC. They deploy millions of dollars to weaponize ... false narratives. When we are consumed by partisan rancor, we cannot combat these external forces as they seek to divide us against each another, degrade our institutions and destroy the faith of the American people in our democracy.”

Trump’s mastery of false narratives, partisan rancor, degradation of institutions and destruction of faith in democracy fueled his rise to president and sustain him in office to this day.

Don’t be fooled by the master of misdirection. This impeachment inquiry is about one thing only.

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