Democrats avoided mentioning the very inconvenient facts that would blow their case apart. These measured and steady recounting of facts stood in stark contrast to the melodrama of the prosecution.
By comparison to the long and droning testimony from the Prosecution of the House managers, the defense was short and sweet, not even requiring the full time allotted today.
There are six main points that the defence team wants Senators — and the rest of us — to come away with, which they listed as:
6 Key Facts:
1) Transcript shows no link between investigations and security assistance or a presidential meeting
2) Ukrainians Repeatedly have said there was no quid pro quo and they felt no pressure
3) Ukraine did not know security assistance was paused until more than a month after the call
4) NONE of the Democrats’ witnesses say President Trump inked investigations to security assistance or a meeting
5) Ukraine announced no investigations and still received security assistance and a presidential meeting
6) President Trump Strengthened US support for Ukraine
As we go through these details, keep in mind that none of these exculpatory points were referenced or even acknowledged by the Democrats. In many cases they were deliberately skipped over.
Note: The facts that we are examining today are the Democrats’ facts — facts that were entirely pre-cleared in a basement bunker –facts that were left out in the 21 hours of testimony. They shared only a SELECTIVE portion of the record. And they have a very heavy burden of proof.
And even THOSE facts are not as conclusive as they would have us believe. Even before Nancy Pelosi knew the content of the phone call, she announced they would be proceeding with Impeachment.
Ultimately, there are two key reasons that Trump would typically hold back aid to any foreign nation. We have seen him hold back aid in other places. Burden-sharing or concerns about corruption.
The phone call in question specifically references BOTH of these concerns.
When Trump mentioned Germany, that was a reference to the financial burden-sharing of Ukraine’s security. Trump has been very vocal about such burdens resting disproportionally upon the shoulders of US taxpayers when other powers can share that burden.
Trump has TWO Issues that go to the core of sending foreign aid overseas.
1) Burden Sharing and 2) corruption
Corruption in Ukraine is a known issue, and dealing with BOTH issues are entirely in line with US national and security interests.
Here are a few key snapshots from arguments raised in his defense:
— Military defense (Javelin anti-tank missiles) and the foreign aid that had been suspended are NOT connected.
In the phone call, Zelenskyy thanks Trump for the anti-tank missiles, and intends to buy more. These are NOT part of the paused security assistance. These are different programs entirely, even Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and Tim Morrison testified to the fact that these were unrelated.
House managers, at no time mentioned that these Javalin statements were unrelated.
‘Do US a favor’ was not connected to the javelin sales, and even if it were it could not therefore be connected to the paused security assistance. Even more to the point, it was not a personal favor (me) but a diplomatic favor nation-to-nation (US).
— Perfect call? However much bureaucrats dislike this fact, elected officials MAKE foreign policy and staff merely advise and enact it.
Lt General Kellogg “I heard nothing wrong or improper on the call. I had and have no concerns” — Nov 19, 2019
Witnesses. One witness ‘troubled’ by the call was silent for 2 months and did not raise those concerns until AFTER Pelosi launched her inquiry. And Timothy Morrison was concerned about ‘leaks’, but not the call itself, which he testified as not ‘doing anything improper’.
Meanwhile, Ukraine officials thought the ‘call went fine, the call went well’. And even Zelensky himself claimed ‘nobody pushed me’. A Time Magazine story corroborates that view in interviews they had with Ukraine officials in early December.
— Mind Reading: Schiff’s team claims to know what is ‘really’ on the mind of the parties involved.
Their theory requires publicly calling Zalensky a liar, which itself undercuts Ukraine in the national stage.
— No ‘quo’ in the quid pro quo.
Within hours of the Politico article reporting about the hold, they contacted the US about the hold. Which would indicate that this is when they really found out about it. This contradicts the House managers’ claim.
Absolutely FATAL to the case is the Ukrainians’ lack of knowledge of the hold.
Never once did Democrats raise the problem that Ambassador Sondland mentioned his views were assumptions, presumptions and speculations. “I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky to do the right thing.”
—Why would Trump possibly doubt his advisors?
MUELLER Report — ‘This for That’ Mueller report exonerated the President from allegations of Russian collusion, despite Schiff persisting with that allegation.
FISA court ruling about problems. President had reason to question the info he was provided
— Senators making similar requests of Ukraine
Referenced the letter by 3 senators demanding Ukraine cooperate with Mueller Report which some read as implying a connection with the withholding of future aid.
— Did Trump Defy Congress with just cause?
Dems claim ‘Blanket defiance’, and that ‘Trump’s objections are not generally rooted in the law and are not legal arguments’. Except that is not true.
eg: October 18 letter: ‘Although the Committee’s subpoena transmittal letter states that the subpoena has issued” [p]ursuant to the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry, “The House has not authorized your committees to conduct any such inquiry or to subpoena information in furtherance of it”
The subpoenas were invalid requests because they had not been authorized by the House to wield such authority.
Dems claim: Blanket refusal and ‘no negotiation’. But…
There was an Oct 8 letter sent to Pelosi — if committees wish to return to regular order… we stand ready… and respect the separation of powers…’
[They never did return to ‘regular order’.]
The complaint that Trump ‘Never asserted executive privilege’ is true but misleading. The rationale did not depend on that assertion of exec privilege. They were undergirded by a different legal rationale
Three examples: the subpoenas were not authorized to be given by a proper House vote; or they were issued to senior Presidential advisors who are immune to Congressional demands due to Separation of powers; OR, they were instructed to testify without the presence of White House legal counsel.
Does the House vote matter? Absolutely. One of several quotes to that effect:
Feb 6, 1974 — Such a resolution has ALWAYS been passed by the House… It is a necessary step if we are to meet our obligations Rep. Rodino, Chairman of House Judiciary Committee (speaking of a vote assigning the power to investigate impeachment)
Even Nixon, there were no subpoenas given until AFTER the vote. Before that, only publicly-available records were examined.
‘Committee must be authorized by the full House.’
— Was Trump given Due Process?
Due process to President was denied in first 2 rounds of hearings, but the third round, Dems claim, he had opportunity. But did he, really?
This ‘third round’ was the Dec 4th Hearing scheduled with only some law professors, (the President was not told which ones). The President declined to attend this day of hearings (he was meeting with NATO). But they did write Nadler a letter after he asked what rights he would want to exercise. President’s counsel wanted some more information so they could properly answer that question. They wanted to know:
-would fact witnesses be called, including ones named by Nunes
-would judiciary committee and President be allowed to cross-examine fact witnesses
-would republicans (effectively, the Defense) be authorized to call any witnesses of their OWN choosing
NADLER did not respond to that letter. And Pelosi concluded the process on the morning of Dec 5th. The committee had ZERO intention of hearing from any other witnesses. For 71 of those 78 days, the president was locked out. And no reply was given him concerning the rights he wished to exercise as the accused.
Cross-examination is the ‘greatest legal engine for the discovery of truth’. And he was not given any opportunity to provide any.
That’s NOT what due process looks like.
Worse yet, potentially exculpatory Testimony about political motives of the Whistleblower that was discussed by the official to whom the Whistleblower reported are still sequestered in the SCIFF. What we DO know is that the whistleblower has been described as politically motivated, and some publicly-available reports connect him t Biden.
All of this, and there was still an hour to spare that they left unused.