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The Impeachment of President Donald J. Trump

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#2217

a pompous attitude/superiority complex/misogynist. bent towards this reporter/full of bile-BS-lies and a bully.

Period FULL STOP


#2218

I like this counter measure coming from the Democrats - delivering 28,578 pages of trial evidence accumulated for the Impeachment trial just before the trial began this morning. So for every claim T’s lawyers were making to deny the Dems their arguments for all the substantive issues which the Dems brought up, there will be back up evidence to show otherwise.

The House managers dropped off a 28,578-page record of the trial evidence to the Senate.

Their argument finished, the House managers made one last stab on Saturday morning to underscore the power of their impeachment case by marching from the House to the Senate with boxes filled with 28,578 pages of transcripts and other evidence collected during their inquiry.

Shortly after 9:45 a.m., the impeachment managers, led by Mr. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, emerged from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and walked to the Senate as their aides wheeled four carts of white bankers boxes stuffed with binders of documents behind them.

The record delivered today presents a mountain of evidence showing the president has committed the impeachable offenses that the House has charged — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — and he should be removed from office,” the managers said in a statement. “The factual and legal record laid out by the House managers has yet to be substantively rebutted by President Trump or his lawyers, who have instead sought to hide behind novel and frivolous legal theories


#2219

Full video with T, Parnas, Fruman, Donald Jr.,(seen) around the dinner table for 20 at Trump International. T picking the brains of the Parnas and Fruman team on their views on Russia’s ability to go to war with Ukraine, to their opinion on Marie Yovanovitch, ex-Ambassador of Ukraine.

Joseph Bondy, an attorney for Lev Parnas, told NewsHour that Parnas, an associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, was at the dinner with the president and several others when Trump said he wanted Yovanovitch out.

About 42 minutes into the hour-long video, Parnas appears to say, “The biggest problem there, I think where we need to start, is we gotta get rid of the ambassador. She’s still left over from the Clinton administration.”

Trump then appears to say, “Where? The ambassador to Ukraine?”

Parnas replies, “Yes. She’s basically walking around telling everybody ‘Wait, he’s gonna get impeached, just wait.’”

A few seconds later, Trump appears to say, “Get rid of her! Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it.”

Bondy said Parnas attended the dinner along with Igor Fruman, another of Giuliani’s business associates. Both Parnas and Fruman have been indicted on federal charges, including violating campaign finance laws.

Saturday, Bondy said he released the video because he saw it as critical to the public’s understanding. “Given its importance to the national interest, we decided to release this recording in a manner intended to ensure equal public access, and in an effort to provide clarity to the American people and the Senate as to the need to conduct a fair trial, with witnesses and evidence,” he said.


(David Bythewood) #2220

Watching Rick Wilson make Don Lemon crack up entirely over his U-Crane comment is the best thing I’ve seen all day.

The GOP is hammering on the non-release of closed door testimony from intelligence community IG Michael Atkinson in articles like this one. Adam Schiff knows the GOP will use it to try to out the whistleblower, as they have with less-knowledgeable witnesses.


#2221

Schiff ‘has not paid the price’ for impeachment, Trump says in what appears to be veiled threat

President Trump escalated his attacks on Rep. Adam B. Schiff on Sunday, issuing what appears to be a veiled threat against the California Democrat one day before Trump’s team is expected to deliver the crux of its defense in the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history.

“Shifty Adam Schiff is a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man,” Trump tweeted Sunday morning. “He has not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!”

Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is the lead impeachment manager in the Senate trial.

Schiff responded in an interview on NBC News’s “Meet the Press,” saying he believes Trump’s remarks were intended as a threat.


On impeachment, by a 50-44 percent margin, voters think the Senate should vote to convict Trump and remove him from office. Most Democrats say remove (81 percent) and most Republicans disagree (84 percent). Among independents, more say Trump should be removed by a 19-point margin (53-34 percent).


(David Bythewood) #2222

A fresh rocket attack has struck the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. This report says it was a direct hit, but others are saying only the grounds were damaged and there are no casualties. Waiting to hear more.




The Senate Trial
General Impeachment News January 2020
#2223

Trump Tied Ukraine Aid to Inquiries He Sought, Bolton Book Says

President Trump told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens, according to an unpublished manuscript by the former adviser, John R. Bolton.

The president’s statement as described by Mr. Bolton could undercut a key element of his impeachment defense: that the holdup in aid was separate from Mr. Trump’s requests that Ukraine announce investigations into his perceived enemies, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, who had worked for a Ukrainian energy firm while his father was in office.

Mr. Bolton’s explosive account of the matter at the center of Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial, the third in American history, was included in drafts of a manuscript he has circulated in recent weeks to close associates. He also sent a draft to the White House for a standard review process for some current and former administration officials who write books.

Multiple people described Mr. Bolton’s account of the Ukraine affair.

The book presents an outline of what Mr. Bolton might testify to if he is called as a witness in the Senate impeachment trial, the people said. The White House could use the pre-publication review process, which has no set time frame, to delay or even kill the book’s publication or omit key passages.

Over dozens of pages, Mr. Bolton described how the Ukraine affair unfolded over several months until he departed the White House in September. He described not only the president’s private disparagement of Ukraine but also new details about senior cabinet officials who have publicly tried to sidestep involvement.

For example, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged privately that there was no basis to claims by the president’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani that the ambassador to Ukraine was corrupt and believed Mr. Giuliani may have been acting on behalf of other clients, Mr. Bolton wrote.

Holy Guacamole. :flushed: The House should have subpoenaed John Bolton like yesterday.


#2224

Yes, Secretary Pompeo, Americans Should Care About Ukraine

Former Ambassador to Ukraine, William B. Taylor explains why Ukraine is so vital to US foreign policy.

As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo prepares to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv later this week, he has reportedly asked, “Do Americans care about Ukraine?”

Here’s why the answer should be yes: Ukraine is defending itself and the West against Russian attack. No matter the outcome of the debate about the propriety of a phone call between the two presidents, the relationship between the United States and Ukraine is key to our national security. Americans should care about Ukraine.

Russia is fighting a hybrid war against Ukraine, Europe and the United States. This war has many components: armed military aggression, energy supply, cyberattacks, disinformation and election interference. On each of these battlegrounds, Ukraine is the front line.

For the last seven months, I represented the United States in Ukraine and regularly visited the front line of the military conflict. After its occupation of Crimea, Russia sent its army, security forces, undercover agents, weapons, funding and political instruction into Ukraine’s southeastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, a region known as the Donbas. The 280-mile line of contact between Russian-led forces and Ukrainian forces has stabilized but has not gone quiet.

To the contrary, the front line in the Donbas region marks the only shooting war in Europe. Every week Russian-led forces kill Ukrainian soldiers — and take casualties in return. During the 12 hours of my last visit, in November, a Ukrainian soldier was killed and another wounded. Since the Russians invaded in 2014, 14,000 Ukrainians have died in this war.

There’s more but this is the gist of it.

To support Ukraine means to support a young democracy, fighting to regain sovereignty over its internationally recognized borders. It is to support a nation that has broken from its troubled past to embrace European and Western values and that seeks to join European and North Atlantic institutions, to defeat post-Soviet corruption, and to give its citizens the chance to prosper in a normal country.

To support Ukraine is to support a rules-based international order that avoided war among major powers in Europe for seven decades. It is to support democracy over autocracy. It is to support freedom over unfreedom. Most Americans do.


(David Bythewood) #2225

Parnas releases full video of dinner where Trump ordered Yovanovitch’s ouster

Democrats call for Bolton to testify in Trump impeachment trial after new report on aid to Ukraine


#2226

And there’s the smoking gun. If (and we still need to wait for final confirmation) this manuscript really says what the New York Times asserts, and if the manuscript is proved genuine, then it exposes everything Trump has been claiming as a lie – an outright lie. And it shames every Republican Congressperson who has defended Trump during his impeachment.


#2227

Just 3 weeks ago Trump claimed Bolton had no relevant testimony. Here’s the lie in a banner headline from his very own propaganda network:

Trump says Bolton would ‘know nothing’ about Zelensky call if he were to testify in Senate impeachment trialFox News, Jan. 7, 2020

President Trump waved off the possibility that his former national security advisor John Bolton’s testimony in the upcoming Senate impeachment trial would be of any consequence saying Bolton “would know nothing about what we’re talking about,” in regards to Trump’s phone call with the president of Ukraine back in July.

“He would know nothing about what we’re talking about because if you know, the Ukrainian government came out with a very strong statement, no pressure, no anything, and that’s from the boss, that’s from the president of Ukraine,” Trump said during a press conference following a bilateral meeting with the prime minister of Greece on Tuesday. “The foreign minister came out with a statement that was equally as strong.”

And here’s some other reporting on the lie if you can’t bear clicking on a Fox News link – can’t fault you there – I just posted it to show how deeply immersed Trump’s base is in the quagmire of his lies.

Axios reported on Trump’s statement at the time, but had the journalistic integrity to point out that many witnesses have testified that Bolton must have relevant testimony – and this was even before today’s bombshell report that Bolton, himself, has written that Trump was at the center of the scheme.

From January 7:

President Trump said Tuesday that former national security adviser John Bolton “would know nothing about what we’re talking about” if he testified in the Senate impeachment trial, adding that it will be “up to the lawyers” and the Senate to decide whether he appears.

Reality check: A number of witnesses told the House impeachment inquiry that Bolton was present in several meetings and conversations related to President Trump’s decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine. Axios also reported in November that current and former administration officials believe Bolton was the most prolific note-taker at the top level of the White House.

  • Former National Security Council official Tim Morrison told impeachment investigators Bolton met privately with the president in August to convince him to release nearly $400 million in frozen military aid to Ukraine.
  • Former White House official Fiona Hill recounted an episode during which Bolton told her, “I am not part of whatever drug deal [EU Ambassador Gordon] Sondland and [acting chief of staff Mick] Mulvaney are cooking up,” and asked her to relay that message to White House lawyers.
  • Bolton’s lawyer confirmed in November he was a “part of many relevant meetings and conversations” that would be significant to the impeachment inquiry.

The state of play: Bolton said on Monday that he would testify in Trump’s impeachment trial if the Senate subpoenaed him. However, that would require four GOP senators to vote with Democrats to call him as a witness, and it’s unclear whether enough moderate Republicans would be willing to break ranks.

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday he plans to move forward on approving rules for the trial without negotiating with Democrats.
  • McConnell has expressed no interest in subpoenaing Bolton, but Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will still likely bring votes on witnesses after each side makes its opening arguments.

Of note: Trump tweeted in November about Bolton and his dealings with Ukraine, stating, “John Bolton is a patriot and may know that I held back the money from Ukraine because it is considered a corrupt country, & I wanted to know why nearby European countries weren’t putting up money also.”

UPDATE: I located the news conference where Trump delivered this lie (meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kriakos Mitsotakisin in the Oval Office on January 7, 2020).

Here’s the clip, queued up. It’s difficult to hear the reporter ask his question, but the transcript records it as, “Will you be okay if John Bolton testifies? He indicated yesterday that he would if he is subpoenaed.”

Then you can hear the President clearly state that Bolton would know nothing (a 5-second C-Span intro will play before the clip starts):


#2228

:eyes: Bolton’s book is called “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir“?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0847FZRBF/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=The+Room+Where+it+Happened+bolton&qid=1580096266&sr=8-1


#2229

Excellent timeline for next week by the Guardian

Big question: Will the Republicans have their sham trial wrapped up in time for Trump to crow about it in his State of the Union address on Feb. 4? Or will a dark cloud be hanging over his speech as the trial drags on and the evidence against him mounts?

The impeachment trial of Donald Trump resumes on Monday with the president’s defence team’s main presentations in the US Senate. Here’s what’s coming up:

Monday: Donald Trump has no plans to appear at his own impeachment trial. His defence team will begin their main arguments today, after a short curtain-raiser at the weekend. Ken Starr, who prosecuted at his impeachment trial (in which Clinton was acquitted), is now a presidential defender and could begin his presentation as early as today.

Tuesday: The Trump defence team has more time today to complete its presentations, if it chooses to take all the time allocated to it.

Wednesday: Trump’s team has the right to raise objections against specific elements of the impeachment case and could use today to do it, perhaps followed by the start of Senators’ questions.

Thursday: Senators can ask questions for a total of 16 hours spread over two days, submitted in writing only, to the presiding judge, supreme court chief justice John Roberts. This will be followed by a debate that could kick off today or more likely tomorrow, on whether to bring fresh witnesses and documents to the trial.

Friday: The debate on witnesses could begin or continue today, followed by the crucial vote on that topic.

Saturday: If the Senate votes to hear new witnesses and evidence then the trial will go on for much longer. If, more likely, Democrats lose that vote, expect closing deliberations and a final, monumental, vote on whether to remove Donald Trump from office or acquit him of the charges some time Monday (the date of the Iowa caucuses) or Tuesday (when Trump has expressed the hope to be in the clear in time for his State of the Union address that night).

There are only 6 working days until Trump’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday, Feb. 4 (7 days if you add Saturday). As recently as yesterday, that looked like plenty of time for Republican Senators to railroad through a win for the President. But now that the nation knows Bolton has crucial evidence to deliver under oath, it’s going to be much harder for Republicans to vote against witness testimony. So now we have a no-win situation for Trump and his supporters in the Senate because this can only play out in three possible ways:

  1. Republicans block witness testimony and slam through a “do-not-remove-from-office” verdict by a week from Monday (Feb. 3) so Trump can give his speech free and clear the next day. That may help Trump, but will be devastating for Senators who face tough re-election campaigns. With 72% of Americans (and 69% of Republicans!) saying witnesses should testify AND with the new bombshell revelation that Bolton has a crucial story to tell, Republican Senators who shut down witness testimony may pay the price of losing their Senate seat to a Democratic rival – since voters in their home states may revolt against their draconian measures.

OR

  1. Republican Senators, under duress to at least pretend they’re conducting a fair trial, allow witnesses to testify. That testimony will be a disaster for Trump, exposing his lies while revealing his guilt, and it will inflict the additional wound of overshadowing his State of the Union speech.

OR

  1. Number 2 plays out, but Trump delays his speech to the nation which will only serve to make him look weak and desperate.

Did Nancy plan this all along? I like to believe she did. Brilliant!


#2230

Thanks @Keaton_James for laying out the probable scenarios. The assumption for many has been that the vote/impeachment proceedings under the R Senate is ‘rigged,’ and that #1 Aquittal still has the leading edge.

I want to believe #2 that through public pressure, and more revelations concerning what Bolton’s testimony could say contradicting T’s position that T did only think about Ukraine’s corruptness and other countries need to join in in helping them defend themselves…And I want to believe that vulnerable R Senators may cave to public pressure…And I do think that calling Witnesses and calling in evidence is FAIR…

But saving face, saving power…and deliberating behind their leader is the only role the R’s will take. I do NOT want to believe this…BUT we’ve seen that hunkered down deliberative en masse support for T.

I want CJ John Roberts to take a stand too…

Let’s hope shifting public opinion, some moral rectitude/reflection may get in the way of option #1.


#2231

At least Senator Romney is willing to let known his inclinations towards listening to witnesses.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney ® said Saturday that it is “very likely” he will be in favor of calling witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial against President Trump.

However, the GOP lawmaker said he will hold off on making his final decision until after Democratic impeachment managers and the president’s defense lawyers conclude their opening arguments.

I think it’s very likely I’ll be in favor of witnesses, but I haven’t made a decision finally yet and I won’t until the testimony is completed,” the Utah Republican said Saturday after the first day of the Trump team’s opening arguments, CNN reported.


#2232

Bolton’s revelations now coming out are going to become more of a political football which T and McConnell hope to manipulate starting right now.

T claims Dems never called on Bolton (no subpoena) but the Dems were stymied by getting to Bolton, as his former deputy, Charles M. Kupperman subpoena* was sent back to the courts. Note: Bolton and Kupperman shared same lawyer so Dems would have been also been sent back through the courts if Bolton was given a subpoena.

The truth of it is that the manuscript was sent to NSC to be vetted within the last month…so it has only been in their hands. NSC is a direct report to the WH. The WH was fully aware of the kinds of claims that Bolton would be making, but naturally have kept it under wraps.

Axios is also reporting that NYT’s also had seen the manuscript so they knew bombshells would be coming.

It is the Repunlican Senators (and public) who must decide to call T’s bluff and ask for witnesses. And per Maggie Haberman, NYT they feel blindsided.

President Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton alleges in his forthcoming book that the president explicitly told him “he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens,” the New York Times first reported.

Why this matters: The revelations present a dramatic 11th hour turn in Trump’s Senate impeachment trial. They directly contradict Trump’s claim that he never tied the hold-up of Ukrainian aid to his demands for investigations into his political opponent Joe Biden. Trump strongly denied Bolton’s claims early Monday.

  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has already seized on the story, tweeting: “John Bolton has the evidence. It’s up to four Senate Republicans to ensure that John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney, and the others with direct knowledge of President Trump’s actions testify in the Senate trial.”
  • The seven House impeachment managers echoed those sentiments, saying in a joint statement: “There is no defensible reason to wait until his book is published, when the information he has to offer is critical to the most important decision senators must now make — whether to convict the president of impeachable offenses.”

What’s new: Sarah Tinsley, an adviser to Bolton, told me: “The ambassador’s manuscript was transmitted to the White House for pre-publication review by the NSC. The ambassador has not passed the draft manuscript to anyone else. Period. It was sent over there, to the NSC, several weeks ago.

  • Tinsley would not comment on the Times’ report of the contents of the book that’s slated for release on March 17.
  • Bolton’s attorney Charles Cooper said in a statement he submitted a manuscript on behalf of his client on Dec. 30 to the National Security Council’s Records Management Division for standard prepublication security review for classified information, along with a cover letter.

"[W]e submitted the manuscript notwithstanding our firm belief that the manuscript contained no information that could reasonably be considered classified and on the assurance that the ‘process of reviewing submitted materials is restricted to those career government officials and employees regularly charged with responsibility for such reviews’ and that the 'contents of Ambassador Bolton’s manuscript will not be reviewed or otherwise disclosed to any persons not regularly involved in that process.

“It is clear, regrettably, from The New York Times article published today that the prepublication review process has been corrupted and that information has been disclosed by persons other than those properly involved in reviewing the manuscript.”
— Cooper’s statement to Axios

Behind the scenes: The New York Times learned about the contents of the Bolton manuscript before the White House press shop, per a source with direct knowledge.

Mr. Bolton had previously said he would abide by the ruling of a federal judge in a separate lawsuit by his former deputy, Charles M. Kupperman, over whether to appear as requested in the House impeachment inquiry or comply with a White House directive to stay silent. But House Democrats withdrew their subpoena for Mr. Kupperman, arguing that they did not have time to await the outcome of a potentially yearslong lawsuit before moving to impeach Mr. Trump.

The judge ruled late last month that the issue was moot, which Mr. Bolton said left him no choice but to make his own decision.


(David Bythewood) #2233

The fact the NYT knew of this before the WH further highlights how on the outs with this WH Bolton is.

Republicans fear “floodgates” if Bolton testifies

National Security Council says no other White House staffers saw Bolton manuscript


#2234

Here’s Lawrence Tribe, Constitutional lawyer and revered scholar in these matters weighing in on how Chief Justice Roberts could help influence whether witnesses and documents do get called and viewed, if there is a stalemate within the Impeachment trial (as we are expecting.)

Yet Republican members of the Senate have signaled that they intend to uphold Mr. Trump’s unprecedented decision to block all of this material.

But turns out they don’t get to make that choice — Chief Justice John Roberts does. This isn’t a matter of Democrats needing four “moderate” Republicans to vote for subpoenas and witnesses, as the Trump lawyers have been claiming. Rather, the impeachment rules, like all trial systems, put a large thumb on the scale of issuing subpoenas and place that power within the authority of the judge, in this case the chief justice.

Most critically, it would take a two-thirds vote — not a majority — of the Senate to overrule that. This week, Democrats can and should ask the chief justice to issue subpoenas on his authority so that key witnesses of relevance like John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney appear in the Senate, and the Senate should subpoena all relevant documents as well.

The Senate rules for impeachment date back to 1868 and have been in effect since that time. They specifically provide for the subpoenas of witnesses, going so far in Rule XXIV as to outline the specific language a subpoena must use — the “form of subpoena to be issued on the application of the managers of the impeachment, or of the party impeached, or of his counsel.”

As you can see, there is no “Senate vote” requirement whatsoever in the subpoena rule. A manager can seek it on his own.

The rules further empower the chief justice to enforce the subpoena rule. Rule V says: “The presiding officer shall have power to make and issue, by himself or by the Secretary of the Senate, all orders , mandates, writs, and precepts authorized by these rules, or by the Senate, and to make and enforce such other regulations and orders in the premises as the Senate may authorize or provide.” The presiding officer, under our Constitution, is the chief justice. As such, the chief justice, as presiding officer, has the “power to make and issue, by himself,” subpoenas.

President Trump’s allies have tried to distort a separate rule (also still in effect), hoping that it could be stretched to say that a majority of senators can override the chief justice’s decision. Rule VII reads, in the relevant part: “the presiding officer on the trial may rule on all questions of evidence including, but not limited to, questions of relevancy, materiality, and redundancy of evidence and incidental questions, which ruling shall stand as the judgment of the Senate, unless some Member of the Senate shall ask that a formal vote be taken thereon, in which case it shall be submitted to the Senate for decision without debate.” So President Trump’s allies are hoping that last clause authorizes a majority of Senators to overrule the chief justice on matters including subpoena issuance.

@MissJava - Can you place this one back into the Impeachment area please? Reached my limit Thank you… :smile:


📝 Must Read Op-Ed and Profiles
#2235

Watch: Senate Impeachment Trial, Day 7

The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump continues with opening arguments from the President’s defense team. Other legislative work is possible.

Listen


#2237

Trump’s Defense: A Simple Fact Check Reveals It Is Based on Lies

Since the link is to a live feed (at about 3:10pm ET, 2020-01-27) it may not take you to the relevant section, so I’ve reproduced the text in full.

The Trump legal team is going all in on just 6 points of defense. The team introduced the 6 points on Saturday and then repeated them again today. I’m actually glad they’re being very specific about this because now we have a clearly defined battlefield. When we demolish those 6 points, we will have destroyed Trump’s case. We need to memorize those points and hammer at them over and over.

It’s immediately apparent how weak this 6-point defense plan is. Most of the points defy the test of common sense, but I’m setting that aside here and just focusing on fact checking. Are these points based on the truth or lies? Here they are as reiterated by Sekulow today:

Trump’s legal team is centering its case around these 6 arguments

From CNN staff


Senate TV

President Trump’s legal team is centering its case against impeachment around six key facts they say “have not and will not change.”

Deputy White House counsel Mike Purpura introduced them on Saturday and the President’s attorney Jay Sekulow repeated them on Monday.

  1. “The transcript shows that the President did not condition either security assistance or a meeting on anything. The paused security assistance funds aren’t even mentioned on the call,” Sekulow said.

  2. “President Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials repeatedly said there was no quid pro quo and no pressure on them to review anything.”

  3. “President Zelensky and high-ranking Ukrainian officials did not even know the security assistance was paused until the end of August, over a month after the July 25 call.”

  4. “Not a single witness testified that the President himself said that that there was any connection between any investigation and security assistance, a presidential meeting or anything else.”

  5. “The security assistance flowed on September 11 and a presidential meeting took place on September 25th without the Ukrainian government, without Ukrainian government announcing any investigations.

  6. “In the blind drive to impeach the president, President Trump, in reality, strategically has been the best friend and supporter of Ukraine certainly in our recent history. These are the facts.”

CNN’s fact-check team went through each of these claims on Saturday. You can read the full break down here .

And here’s CNN’s in-depth fact checking. I’ve added my own assessments which I’ve labeled so it will be clear they are my words, not CNN’s.

President Donald Trump’s legal team kicked off their opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial Saturday morning. In defending the President, Deputy White House Counsel Mike Purpura said the case is based on “six key facts that have not and will not change.”

Here’s a break-down of these six “facts” and other claims made by Trump’s legal team Saturday.

1. The transcript doesn’t show a quid pro quo

Purpura said “the transcript shows that the President did not condition either security assistance or a meeting on anything. The paused security assistance funds aren’t even mentioned on the call.”

Facts First: While no specific conditions for a quid pro quo were mentioned on the call, the exchange Trump had with Zelenksy raised eyebrows among some officials who listened to the phone conversation – because the US was withholding military aid from Ukraine at the time.

In the memo of the call, Trump discusses US aid to Ukraine and how the relationship between the two countries was “not reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine.” He then says he would like Zelensky “to do us a favor though.” Trump goes on to discusses a conspiracy theory related to the 2016 election and later, a potential Ukrainian investigation into the Bidens.

The Trump administration has argued that the military aid was entirely separate and being held because of concerns about corruption in Ukraine. Purpura’s point holds, as the transcript does not specifically outline an exchange of one for another, but Democrats argue a quid pro quo was implicit given Ukraine’s dependence on the US.

@Keaton_James Point 1 is an outright lie. The transcript does show a quid pro quo. Trump uses “mob speak” to clearly convey his extortion threat. The Business Insider lays it out:

  • “We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps, specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes,” Zelensky went on to say.

  • Trump immediately replied, “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.”

  • He then went on to push Zelensky to open an inquiry into the debunked conspiracy theory on the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe before urging his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate the Bidens.

Barbara McQuade, law professor at the University of Michigan Law School and former US attorney, said in a recent Washington Post op-ed what’s revealed in the White House summary on the call is “precisely a quid pro quo, or ‘this for that,’ and it alone is sufficient to form the basis of a charge of bribery, one of the specified grounds for impeachment in the Constitution.”

Returning to the CNN article…

2. Zelensky and Ukrainian officials say there was no pressure

Purpura said “President Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said there was no quid pro quo or no pressure on them to review anything.”

Facts First: Ukraine’s president and foreign minister have made comments that bolster Trump’s argument that he did not pressure Ukraine to investigate his opponents in order to receive US military aid .

President Zelensky in particular has said, on several occasions, that he felt no pressure from Trump to investigate the Bidens or the 2016 election. In a joint press conference with Trump in late September, after the memo of the phone call was released by the White House, Zelensky first said “nobody pushed me” while Trump was also saying “there was no pressure.”

During an interview with Time magazine, Zelensky was asked to “clarify this issue of quid pro quo.” “Look, I never talked to the President from the position of a quid pro quo. That’s not my thing,” Zelensky said.

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Vadym Prystaiko, has also said Trump’s July phone call with Zelensky was “friendly” and that “I think there was no pressure.”

Republicans have used these comments to support their argument that the President didn’t pressure Zelensky into doing anything he didn’t want to do. However, Democrats have claimed Zelensky’s assertions may indicate the opposite.

House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler described Zelensky’s situation as "he has a gun to his head. The gun is the fact that the President of the United States, upon whom he depends for military aid, for help in many different ways, has shown himself willing to withhold that aid based on what he says, based on what he’s willing to play along with the President for his own personal political goals."

Zelensky and his team also discussed the pressure they were already feeling to publicly launch investigations that would benefit Trump, according to a source familiar with discussions at the meeting which occurred two weeks after Zelensky and Trump spoke for the first time in April.

@Keaton_James Point 2 has no merit since victims of extortion are strongly motivated to deny they are being extorted. Mobster: “Nice little grocery store you have here. Too bad if it should burn to the ground. Do us a favor and pay us $100 every month and I’m sure that won’t happen. Oh, and by the way if you mention this conversation to the police, your house may also burn down.”

As Nadler said, Zelensky basically has a gun to his head. Just as in the mob example above, Zelensky desperately needs Trump’s “protection” (in the form of aid) to save his country (in this case from Russian attacks). If Zelensky rats on Trump he knows that he is putting all future aid at risk. What would Zelensky gain from admitting that Trump is extorting him? Nothing. What could he lose? Everything. So we really cannot give any credence to his statement that he didn’t feel under pressure.

I addition, there are other sources maintaining that Ukrainians did feel pressure. AP report from November:

In early May, staff at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, including then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, were briefed on a meeting Zelensky held in which he sought advice on how to navigate the difficult position he was in, according to two people with knowledge of the briefings.

He was concerned that Trump and associates were pressing him to take action that could affect the 2020 U.S. presidential race, the people said. They spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic and political sensitivity of the issue.

The briefings show that U.S. officials knew early that Zelensky was feeling pressure to investigate Biden, even though the Ukrainian leader later denied it in a joint news conference with Trump in September. The officials said in their notes circulated internally at the State Department that Zelenskiy tried to mask the real purpose of the May 7 meeting–which was to talk about political problems with the White House–by saying it was about energy, the two people said.

Returning to the CNN article…

3. Ukraine did not know about the hold on military aid

Purpura claimed Ukraine did not know military aid was being withheld at the time of the phone call, so there could effectively be no quid pro quo between the parties. “President Zelensky and high-ranking Ukrainian officials did not even know,” Purpura argued, “the security assistance was paused until the end of August, over a month after the July 25 call.”

Facts First: It’s unclear when exactly top Ukrainian government officials knew that nearly $400 million in military and security aid was being withheld. But there is evidence that some of them suspected there was an issue with the funding as early as July 25, the same day as President Trump’s phone call with Zelensky.

According to testimony from Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, some members of her staff told her that they had received queries about the aid from Ukrainian officials on July 25.

Cooper did not, however, know if the Ukrainian officials were aware of a hold on the aid or were just checking in.

The New York Times reported that, according to Olena Zerkal, an ex-top official in Kiev, members of the Ukrainian government knew the aid was being held up at some point in late July, but Zerkal could not recall the exact date.

As Purpura noted, the withholding of military aid was not brought up in meetings between Ukraine and US officials. It wasn’t until Politico reported in late August that Trump was withholding military aid to Ukraine that top Zelensky adviser, Andrey Yermak, texted Kurt Volker, Trump’s special envoy for Ukraine, with a link to the article and a message “we need to talk.”

This could be due to the unusual process of how the aid was withheld.

The Office of Management and Budget has declined to turn over documents to investigators related to the withholding of the aid.

@Keaton_James Point 3 must be thrown out because it can never be proven. It is possible to know what someone does know (e.g., we told them, we see a text where they discuss the subject, etc.). However, it is absolutely impossible to know what someone doesn’t know. Maybe we can show that Person A or Person B did not tell them, but Person C could have – or for that matter any one of billions of other people on earth could have told them. Unless we know every document Zelensky read and every conversation he had, we cannot be sure that he didn’t know the aid was being held up.

Here’s just one of many examples of how Zelensky could have found out. On June 4, 2019, 6 weeks before the call, Zelensky sat next to Jared Kushner at a dinner in Brussels. It would only take Kushner a few seconds to confidentially relate this information to Zelensky. I’m not saying Kushner did relate it, but the fact that he could have (and the fact that many, many other people also could have informed Zelensky), destroys point 3 of Trump’s defense.

I wish Democrats would show this photo on the Senate floor when rebutting point 3.


Zelensky and Kushner, Brussels – June 4, 2019

Returning to the CNN article…

4. No witness testified the President acknowledged [he would not release the aid to Ukraine until they announced an investigation of the Bidens]

The fourth key fact Purpura claimed was that “not a single witness testified that the President himself said that there was any connection between any investigations and security assistance, a presidential meeting or anything else.”

Facts First: It’s true witnesses did not testify the President said anything about a quid pro quo, but other administration officials have testified to the existence of one.

Gordon Sondland, the Trump-appointed US Ambassador to the European Union, made things even more explicit during his public testimony in November before the House Intelligence Committee.

“I know that members of this committee frequently frame these complicated issues in the form of a simple question,” Sondland said. “Was there a quid pro quo? As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and the White House meeting, the answer is yes.”

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney confirmed the existence of a quid pro quo but hours later denied he had admitted such a thing.

@Keaton_James Point 4 is an outright lie. The Bolton revelations have completely blown it out of the water. And “Bolton’s bombshell” on Sunday comes on top of the other facts that have already debunked this point – as CNN described a day earlier on Saturday (above).

Intriguing question: In the face of Bolton’s Bombshell, will Trump’s defense team actually drop this point altogether? After all, it’s now downright embarrassing to keep trotting it out when it has so thoroughly been shown to be a lie. And, far more importantly, this just provides Democrats with powerful ammunition to demand that Bolton testify, along with other witnesses that he has implicated. The simple and irrefutable argument from Democrats is now: “Hey, Republicans, if you’re going to claim that no witness ever tied Trump to the extortion scheme, then you must allow Bolton to testify because he is contradicting your claim – otherwise, you must drop the claim.”

Returning to the CNN article…

5. Ukraine never announced an investigation into Biden or the 2016 election

Aiming to make the case that Trump did not engage in a quid pro quo because the Ukrainians got what they wanted without ever announcing an investigation into the 2016 election or the Bidens, Purpura argued “a presidential meeting took place on September 25 without the Ukrainian government announcing any investigations.”

Facts First: This is misleading. While an announcement of investigations never took place, it was planned and discussed between representatives of both the US and Ukraine. The plan was only halted after the withheld aid was released.

In November, the New York Times reported that Ukrainian President Zelensky had planned to announce an investigation into Trump’s political rivals during a September interview on CNN. The Ukrainians canceled the interview and announcement once Trump released the promised security aid on September 12.

During the July 25 call, Trump also suggested his personal attorney, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, be a point of contact, given that Giuliani had previously lobbied Ukraine to investigate Biden’s call in 2016 to remove the country’s top prosecutor.

During the conversation, Zelensky appeared to agree with the President’s request. Zelensky said, “The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case.”

@Keaton_James Point 5 has no merit. Of course the investigation was never announced – that’s because Trump’s extortion scheme was exposed before it could be carried out. Once Trump was caught in the act he had no choice but to cancel his extortion demand – had he followed through with it, it would have compounded the evidence against him. He’s like a bank robber who throws the bags of stolen loot over the wall when cornered by the police. “What robbery? I don’t have any stolen money.” Same as: “What extortion? I don’t have any extorted investigation announcement.”

And just as important: Extortion is still a crime even if the criminal doing the extorting never got what he was demanding.

Returning to the CNN article…

6. Trump’s track record on support for Ukraine

Purpura argued that Trump has "been a better friend and stronger supporter of Ukraine then his predecessor" while Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow noted that Trump, not Obama, took the “concrete step” of “actually providing Ukraine with lethal weapons, including javelin missiles.”

Facts First: This is true, the Trump administration did provide lethal aide to Ukraine while the Obama administration did not. President Barack Obama was criticized for his refusal to provide lethal assistance to Ukraine – though it did provide more than $100 million in security assistance, as well as defense and military equipment.

By March 2015, the US had committed more than $120 million in security assistance for Ukraine and had pledged an additional $75 million worth of equipment including UAVs, counter-mortar radars, night vision devices and medical supplies and armored Humvees according to the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

While it never provided lethal aid, some of the items that the Obama administration did provide were seen as critical to Ukraine’s military. Part of the $250 million assistance package that the Trump administration announced (then froze and later unfroze) included many of the same items that were provided under Obama, including medical equipment, night vision gear and counter-artillery radar.

The Trump administration, however, did approve the provision of arms to Ukraine, including sniper rifles, rocket launchers and Javelin anti-tank missiles, something long sought by Kiev.

@Keaton_James Point 6 is a lie. I realize CNN doesn’t actually call this a lie, but I believe they are way off the mark here. First, whether or not you’ve been a “friend” to someone is an entirely subjective judgement: you, your “friend,” and other witnesses will likely have very different opinions on the matter. Obama, unlike Trump, never extorted Ukraine. Are you a friend to someone if you’re extorting them? I don’t think so.

Plus: Trump’s defenders have wildly exaggerated his support for Ukraine. Once and for all, everyone should understand that the Javelin missiles Trump sent were basically just for show – they came with restrictions that prevented Ukraine from actually using them to stop Russian aggression. @Windthin posted on this.

And finally there’s this: From the WaPo, Nov. 20:

The president “doesn’t give a s— about Ukraine,” E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland told colleagues in Kyiv after getting off a July 26 phone call with Trump, according to closed-door testimony given to Congress last week by diplomat David Holmes. Sondland added that the president only cared about politically motivated investigations, like having Zelensky launch a probe into former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, according to ­Holmes.

Four former administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations, shared Sondland’s view and said Trump’s main contention was that Ukrainians had “tried to take me down,” in the words of one former senior administration official.