Impeachment hearings have shown evidence that US President Donald Trump solicited election interference from Ukraine for personal gain, says a new report by the House Democrats. Republicans say that no such evidence was given.
House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-California) published a 300-page report on Tuesday, as part of the official impeachment inquiry authorized in October despite bipartisan opposition. The report claims that both the secret depositions and the public hearings held over the past month have shown evidence that Trump “solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, to benefit his reelection” by conditioning US aid to Kiev on “politically-motivated investigations” into Trump’s domestic political opponent Joe Biden.
“In doing so, the President placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the US presidential election process, and endangered US national security,” the Schiff report asserts.
Even though the Schiff report claims to represent the views of both Republicans and Democrats on the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees, on Monday the GOP members of the Intelligence committee published their own minority report, dissenting from his assertions.
None of the evidence presented proves the Democrats’ allegations, nor have any witnesses testified to “bribery, extortion, or any high crime or misdemeanor,” says the 123-page Republican document.
“The Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is not the organic outgrowth of serious misconduct; it is an orchestrated campaign to upend our political system,” the minority report says, adding that the House majority is “trying to impeach a duly elected president based on the accusations and assumptions of unelected bureaucrats who disagreed with President Trump’s policy initiatives and processes.”
Schiff’s report is literally titled “Trump-Ukraine,” echoing the “Trump-Russia” narrative the Democrats previously staked their impeachment hopes on, until special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe crashed and burned earlier this year.
There was talk of launching the impeachment over possible “obstruction” of the Mueller investigation, but nothing came of it until Schiff launched the Ukraine probe. Democrats are now accusing Trump of both misconduct when it came to Ukraine, and obstruction for daring to defend himself from their investigation.
While the mainstream press has embraced Schiff’s report with the same zeal as they’ve promoted ‘Russiagate,’ many skeptics on both sides of the political spectrum remain unconvinced.
Progressive journalist Aaron Mate, for example, pointed out that while Schiff’s report contains multiple mentions of Ambassador Gordon Sondland, not once does it reflect his testimony that he “presumed” the aid to Ukraine was conditioned on investigations.
House Democrats’ impeachment report mentions Sondland 71 times. It mentions the word “presume” — i.e. Sondland’s testimony that he “presumed” military funding for Ukraine was tied to investigations, but had no evidence for it & didn’t even speak to Trump about it — zero times.
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) December 3, 2019
Omitting that key piece of information doesn’t seem to help Schiff’s argument that witnesses have somehow proven Trump’s corrupt intent, on which the entire case hinges.
Will Chamberlain, lawyer and publisher of the conservative journal Human Events, went a step further and argued that Schiff’s report actually exonerates Trump. By noting that the president’s view of Ukraine as corrupt was based on discussions with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, the report actually gives evidence that Trump’s actions were based on policy concerns – which would make them perfectly in line with his authority as president, Chamberlain argued on Twitter.
Donald Trump, in his capacity as President, came to view Ukraine as corrupt.
He then – on behalf of the American people – pressured it to prove its anti-corruption bona fides by launching two investigations.
This is based on Adam Schiff’s own words! pic.twitter.com/ONa4cm5CFV
— Will Chamberlain (@willchamberlain) December 3, 2019
“You can’t just assume intent, you have to prove it,” Chamberlain said in a periscope after the report was published, calling the result “absolutely game over” – for the Democrats, that is.
Not that any of this matters for the further course of the impeachment inquiry. The publication of Schiff’s report was a mere formality, as House Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler (D-New York) had scheduled the first of his own impeachment hearings for Wednesday.
With the belief in Trump’s guilt or innocence falling mostly along partisan lines, it is highly likely that the Democrats’ majority in the House will vote to impeach Trump – and just as likely the Republican-majority Senate will not vote to convict and actually remove him from office.
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