In listening to the Trump impeachment inquiry, it’s become obvious what the Republican’s defense of Trump is going to look like. Their eleven (or so) talking points can be summarized and easily defended.
- That the Impeachment inquiry is just a part of the Democrats attempt to overturn the 2016 election results.
- While there are some Democrats who wanted to impeach Trump from the start of his Presidency — based on the overwhelming evidence that Trump was colluding with the Russians long before he was elected — most Democrats (including the leadership under Nancy Pelosi) waited until Trump forced their hand by trying to extort Ukraine. It was the whistleblower’s allegations that began the inevitable march towards impeachment proceedings.
- That Republicans are not being offered due process in the hearings.
- The procedures being used in the hearing are essentially the same procedures that the Republicans wrote for the investigations into Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s email server. On top of which, the Republicans have been given just as much time as the Democrats to question witnesses. The only thing the Democrats have not allowed is for the Republicans to call witnesses (like Hunter Biden) who clearly have nothing to add to the investigation of President Trump’s behavior.
- That Hunter Biden should be subpoenaed by the Committee.
- The Republicans want to subpoena Hunter Biden because they want to have a separate investigation of his activities — unrelated to the Trump impeachment inquiry — but Hunter Biden’s behavior has already been investigated, and there is no evidence that Hunter Biden engaged in any illegal conduct.
- That the whistle-blower should be subpoenaed by the Committee.
- The Republicans only want to expose the whistleblower so that he can be punished, and to discourage other whistleblowers from coming forward. Everything the whistleblower alleged has already been confirmed in the impeachment inquiry, so — given that the whistleblower did not have first hand knowledge — there is nothing he could contribute to the factual narrative that has not already been discussed. I thought the Republicans wanted to hear from people with first hand information.
- That Trump did not say the magic words “Quid Pro Quo.”
- The Republican seem to think that it’s a problem that President Trump was not heard saying the magic words “quid pro quo” when he clearly required that the Ukrainian’s should announce an investigation into the Bidens publicly, as well as on an American news channel, before the military aid to Ukraine should be released. But people don’t talk that way. When someone extorts money from you, they generally don’t tell you, “I’m extorting you.” When they hold you up with a gun, they don’t have to say “this is an armed robbery” in order for it to qualify as a crime.
- That it’s significant that President Trump told Ambassador Sondland that there was “no quid pro quo.”
- The Republicans seem to think that it’s significant that President Trump told Ambassador Sondland — in answer to his question of what the President wanted from Ukraine — that he wanted “nothing, no quid pro quo!” But the President said that only after the whistleblower had already come forward, and the media had already reported on the allegations of the quid pro quo.
- That President Trump is interested in corruption in Ukraine.
- This is completely laughable, it’s so ridiculous. President Trump is not even interested in corruption in the United States. Trump has repeatedly been quoted as saying that he “does not give a shit” about Ukraine, and it was clear to everyone that the only thing he cared about was getting the Ukrainians to investigate the Bidens.
- That other countries have had a hold placed on their military aid.
- While other countries (such as Lebanon) have had holds placed on their military aid, this has never been to secure their cooperation in an investigation of political opponents of the President. In point of fact, the issues of corruption that Trump was supposedly concerned about had been addressed earlier in the year, when Ukraine had been certified in May by his own State Department to have made enough progress on issues of corruption to satisfy Congressional requirements.
- That the Committee should be investigating Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 election.
- This is a complete red herring. There is no evidence whatsoever that the Ukrainians meddled in the 2016 election. As Fiona Hill pointed out, this is a Russian talking point and a Russian effort to deflect focus away from their own meddling in the 2016 election.
- That Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential election is a hoax.
- The entire first half of the Mueller report is devoted to proving that the Russians meddled in the 2016 Presidential election, and the Republicans have no evidence to counter the findings of the Mueller report on this issues.
- That nothing was found against President Trump during the Mueller investigation.
- This is also completely untrue. In point of fact, Mueller found 10 specific ways in which Trump obstructed justice. He also decided, based on the legal opinion of the Office of Legal Counsel for the Department of Justice, that Trump could not be indicted while he was a sitting President. On the other hand, Mueller’s team was able to secure the indictment and conviction of Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Konstantin Kilimnik, Michael Cohen, George Papadopoulos, Maria Butina, and Roger Stone, as well as the indictment of 13 additional Russian citizens and entities.
It’s also noteworthy that back in 2016 Trump asked the Russians — right on live TV — to investigate Hillary’s email server and (as we now know) the Russians obliged a day later. Now, in 2019, Trump was trying to get another country (Ukraine) to screw with another of his political rivals (Joe Biden) for the 2020 Presidential election.
So clearly, President Trumpelthinskin has not learned a bloody thing from the 2016 election. Or, if he’s learned something, it’s that illegal interference from foreign countries works! It is so obvious by now that this guy thinks he’s completely above the law, and that the law will never catch up with him.
Maybe he’s right, but as Bibi Netanyahu is learning right now, maybe he’s not. The fat lady has not sung yet, if you know what I mean.