The Democrats released their impeachment “findings of fact” today, and like the hearings, they contain more speculation, presumptions, and opinions than actual facts. We go through the Democrats “Key Findings of Fact” piece by piece and dissect the lies and falsehoods.
KEY FINDINGS OF FACT
Based on witness testimony and evidence collected during the impeachment inquiry, the
Intelligence Committee has found that:
“I. Donald J. Trump… solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 U.S. presidential election… for the benefit of his reelection, to harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and to influence our nation’s upcoming presidential election to his advantage.”
This is a classic example of assuming facts not in evidence, which we will see throughout the report.
None of the evidence or testimony presented before the Intelligence Committee proves this assertion. Presidents have historically looked into previous administrations to ensure that crimes were not committed. Barack Obama famously ordered the DOJ to investigate the Bush Administration’s policies at the Detention Center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
To argue that Trump wanted the previous administration’s actions — specifically the actions of the previous Vice President — investigated does not necessitate a political motive. And to assume that such a probe would be political suggests that merely filing FEC candidacy paperwork is enough to protect a former administration official from any legal scrutiny.
“II. In furtherance of this scheme, President Trump…sought to pressure and induce Ukraine’s newly-elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to publicly announce unfounded investigations that would benefit President Trump’s personal political interests and reelection effort…”
Ukrainian President Zelensky, as recently as this week, reiterated that President Trump did not pressure him to do anything.
Here, the language, though, is a little more honest. Democrats write that the investigation “would benefit President Trump’s personal political interests and reelection effort.” That is very different from claiming that Trump did something for a specific political purpose. Everything that a President does influences the next election. Barack Obama ran in 2012 on a campaign slogan that “Bin Laden is Dead and GM is alive.” No one ever suggested that Obama authorized the Bin Laden raid or signed the auto-bailout for political reasons.
Just because something has the possibility to help the President’s political future doesn’t mean that pursuing it would constitute a political act.
“III. … These investigations were intended to harm a potential political opponent of President Trump and benefit the President’s domestic political standing.”
For three straight years, Democrats repeatedly said that if Donald Trump did nothing wrong (regarding Russia), then he would have nothing to fear from Congress and Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigating him. When Robert Mueller testified before Congress that DOJ guidelines do not allow a President of the United States to be indicted, there were even Democrats who suggested that Donald Trump should welcome a criminal indictment as an opportunity to definitively clear his name.
It is amazing to see the complete 180 that Democrats are pulling here. Instead of investigations and indictments serving as a purifying force to settle any doubt in someone’s innocence, the mere suggestion that Joe Biden’s actions should be looked at is classified as an attempt to do “harm.”
“IV. President Trump ordered the suspension of $391 million in vital military assistance urgently needed by Ukraine, a strategic partner, to resist Russian aggression. Because the aid was appropriated by Congress, on a bipartisan basis, and signed into law by the President, its expenditure was required by law.”
This isn’t precisely true. The law gives the President wide discretion to slow-walk or even suspend aid to countries, for a variety of reasons. When Congress approved the Ukrainian aid package, the legislation required the President of the United States to, among other things, certify that Ukraine has made sufficient progress tackling corruption issues before the aid could be disbursed. The President is well within his rights to question whether Ukraine had made that progress given how they had treated Burisma with kid gloves ever since Joe Biden issued his own quid pro quo ultimatum.
“Acting directly and through his subordinates within the U.S. government, the President withheld from Ukraine this military assistance without any legitimate foreign policy, national security, or anticorruption justification.”
As a matter of law, that is really not up for Congress to decide. What we saw from the Schiff hearings was that there were plenty of career officials who disagreed with Trump’s decision, but none provided any concrete proof that the aid was withheld for no legitimate reason.
“The President did so despite the longstanding bipartisan support of Congress, uniform support across federal departments and agencies for the provision to Ukraine of the military assistance, and his obligations under the Impoundment Control Act.”
Again, this is not precisely true. If support for military aid was “bipartisan” and “longstanding,” where were these Democrats when Obama refused to provide lethal aid to the Ukrainians? Republicans were vocal about the need to provide lethal aid, at the time. Even a fraction of the Democrat Caucus joining the GOP on such a resolution would have given it the votes to override a Presidential veto and force President Obama to disburse lethal aid to Ukraine. But such a vote never happened because, despite the facade that Democrats are putting up lately, their love of Ukraine takes a back seat to their own personal political objectives.
“V. … the President withheld official acts of value to Ukraine and conditioned their fulfillment on actions by Ukraine that would benefit his personal political interests:
A. President Trump… conditioned a head of state meeting at the White House, which the President of Ukraine desperately sought to demonstrate continued United States support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression, on Ukraine publicly announcing the investigations that President Trump believed would aid his reelection campaign.”
This is literally incorrect. Democrats’ claim that Donald Trump conditioned “official acts” is factually wrong. The Supreme Court ruled in McDonnell v. United States that merely setting up a meeting, calling another public official, or hosting an event does not constitute an “official act.” The only witness to claim there was a “quid pro quo” used that term to describe the conditions placed on the proposed White House meeting between Trump and Zelensky.
As the Supreme Court has already held, Federal Bribery laws do not apply to conditioned meetings, calls, or hosted events. If that was the case, then every politician would be guilty of bribery by prioritizing meetings with donors.
Here, we have another example of Democrats literally inventing a statute to accuse President Trump.
And the assertion that Trump took action that he “believed would aid his reelection campaign” is not only speculative and unfounded, but shows yet another attempt at wording this claim in the report. Presidents are not precluded from taking actions they believe could potentially help their campaign.
“B. To increase leverage over the President of Ukraine, President Trump, acting through his agents and subordinates, conditioned release of the vital military assistance he had suspended to Ukraine on the President of Ukraine’s public announcement of the investigations that President Trump sought.”
This literally misquotes the only actual fact witness that Democrats called to testify. Amb. Sondland testified that when he asked Trump what he wanted from Ukraine, the President responded, ‘nothing. I want nothing. No quid pro quo.”
Anything to the contrary is pure speculation and hearsay. After confirming that there were strings attached to the proposed White House meeting, Amb. Sondland testified that he “presumed” that the same conditions were applied to the aid package.
The founding fathers must be rolling in their graves at the thought of a an article of impeachment resting on the presumptions within hearsay testimony.
“C. President Trump’s closest subordinates and advisors within the Executive Branch… withheld information about the scheme from the Congress and the American public.”
Just as the Separation of Powers allows Congress to investigate the President, it protects Presidents and their close advisors from having to disclose their conversations to Congress. That is called executive privilege.
Here, Democrats admit that they tried to compel the President’s “closest advisors” to divulge the details of their conversations with him. Democrats could have taken Trump’s advisors to court, but they chose not to. Rather than risk embarrassment in the Judiciary, Democrats would much rather more forward as if they were already vindicated in their positions.
Impeaching a President for exercising exercising such a privilege is pretty desperate.
“VI. In directing and orchestrating this scheme to advance his personal political interests,”
“President Trump did not implement, promote, or advance U.S. anti-corruption policies.”
“In fact, the President sought to pressure and induce the government of Ukraine to announce politically-motivated investigations lacking legitimate predication that the U.S. government otherwise discourages and opposes as a matter of policy in that country and around the world.”
Not only is this speculative, but it also misrepresents what Donald Trump discussed with the Ukrainian President. Trump asked Zelensky to work hand in hand with Attorney General Bill Barr to look into the allegations against Joe Biden because, in Trump’s words, they ‘sounded horrible.’
Joe Biden is on video bragging about conditioning a loan guarantee and demanding that the Ukrainian government fire a prosecutor who also happened to be investigating a company where Joe Biden’s son served on the board. Even if Joe Biden’s actions were legitimate, he should have stepped aside and allowed another government official to run the country’s Ukraine diplomacy. The Vice President, like all Executive Branch officials, has a duty to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
The fact that it was the Obama administration that circulated talking points within the State Dept on how to answer questions about Joe and Hunter Biden shows that, at the very least, there is an appearance of impropriety warranting additional scrutiny.
“In so doing, the President undermined U.S. policy supporting anticorruption reform and the rule of law in Ukraine, and undermined U.S. national security.”
As a matter of fact, the President of the United States decides US policy, not the low and mid level staffers that Democrats dragged in to testify.
Asking the President of Ukraine to look into something that the President says ‘sounds horrible’ is not an attempt to undermine the rule of law in Ukraine. That is an absurd assertion.
And the idea that Donald Trump “undermined U.S. national security” is unsupported in the testimony that the Intelligence Committee heard. The aid was ultimately disbursed without conditions, and before the deadline that was imposed by Congress.
The assertion that a President can “undermine U.S. national security” by slow-walking aid disbursement is ludicrous.
“VII. By withholding vital military assistance and diplomatic support from a strategic foreign partner government engaged in an ongoing military conflict illegally instigated by Russia, President Trump compromised national security to advance his personal political interests.”
The idea that Trump compromised national security is factually incorrect. First of all, the assertion that the United States has a vital national security interest in the war between the Ukraine and Russia is chilling and harkens to the Containment Policy of the Cold War. That is the same argument that led American forces to get involved in French Indochina, which eventually evolved into the Vietnam War.
Additionally, witnesses testified before the Intelligence Committee that aid takes months to reach Ukraine. As a matter of fact, while the administration was debating the most recent Ukrainian aid disbursement, the previous year’s aid package had only just arrived in Ukrainian ports. There is zero evidence to suggest that the slow-walked aid package, which was eventually disbursed, caused any damage to the United States.
“VIII. Faced with the revelation of his actions, President Trump publicly and repeatedly persisted in urging foreign governments, including Ukraine and China, to investigate his political opponent. This continued solicitation of foreign interference in a U.S. election presents a clear and present danger that the President will continue to use the power of his office for his personal political gain.”
Joe Biden literally shuttled Hunter Biden to China aboard Air Force 2. After meeting with Chinese bankers, Hunter then proceeded to raise $1.5 Billion for a private equity venture. Even though Hunter Biden contends that the trip was purely social, he met with officials on that trip who would later be involved in that $1.5 billion cap raise.
“IX. Using the power of the Office of the President, and exercising his authority over the Executive Branch, President Trump ordered and implemented a campaign to conceal his conduct from the public and frustrate and obstruct the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry by:
A. refusing to produce to the impeachment inquiry’s investigating Committees information and records in the possession of the White House, in defiance of a lawful subpoena;
B. directing Executive Branch agencies to defy lawful subpoenas and withhold the production of all documents and records from the investigating Committees;”
If Congress wants to enforce the subpoena, then they need to take the fight to the courts. Without involving the Judiciary, the subpoenas are unenforceable. The fact that Democrats have not filed these court challenges shows they want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to be able to punish the President for refusing to comply with the subpoena without actually having to deal with the legitimate exercises of privilege that the President invoked to defy those subpoenas.
“C. directing current and former Executive Branch officials not to cooperate with the Committees, including in defiance of lawful subpoenas for testimony; and”
Again, the President has every right to expect secrecy from his closest advisors. That is called executive privilege.
“D. intimidating, threatening, and tampering with prospective and actual witnesses in the impeachment inquiry in an effort to prevent, delay, or influence the testimony of those witnesses.”
This last one might seem like a throwaway, but it is just as dangerous of an assertion as the rest of this garbage report. Democrats claim that Donald Trump sought to intimidate former Ambassador Yovanovitch by tweeting out his justification for firing her.
As a matter of fact, though, Trump’s tweet could not be construed as intimidating, because Yovanovitch lacked the ability to receive the message. The tweet was posted while she was testifying. The only reason that she became aware of the tweet was that Adam Schiff read it to her.
The assertion that Trump “intimidated” witnesses and potential witnesses really isn’t based in evidence, and the fact that Democrats would include this in their report shows just how desperate they have become.