It’s interesting that the President’s team is still claiming that there was no quid pro quo because that’s what the President told Ambassador Sondland on their September 9 phone call. Just to review the time-line:
- July 25, Trump makes his famous “perfect” phone call to Zelensky where he asks for the Ukrainians to “do us a favor.”
- August 12, the whistleblower complaint is filed.
- September 9, Trump tells Ambassador Sondland in the phone call that he wants “no quid pro quo” from Ukraine.
- September 11, military aid to Ukraine is finally released.
So by the time of the Trump had the phone call with Sondland, the whistleblower complaint was almost a month old, and Trump clearly knew that the allegations were out there and that the allegations were that he had asked Ukraine for a quid pro quo.
Trump’s argument is like as if a known local tough guy had engaged in an armed robbery, the tough guy is tipped off that the police are coming, and when the police do arrive on his doorstep he blurts out “there was no armed robbery!” And the police turn around and go home because, you know, they guy had told them that there was no armed robbery, and why shouldn’t they believe him.
If this is the type of argument that the President’s legal team is going to use to prove that the President is innocent, then we’re all in big trouble.
While we’re at looking at his legal team, Factcheck.org found that Trump’s legal team made (in keeping with their commander-in-chief) a number of false statements, including by:
- claiming that Republicans were barred from the closed-door depositions conducted by the House Intelligence Committee, whereas Republican members of three different committees were all allowed to be in the room;
- claiming that the President was denied the right to cross-examine witnesses, to access evidence and to have counsel present at hearings that took place before the Judiciary Committee, whereas the President simply declined;
- claiming that the Mueller report found that Trump committed “no obstruction,” whereas the Mueller team found that there were “multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence” and which amounted to obstruction of justice if the President could be indicted in federal court.
In addition, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joined in the lie-fest by claiming that his resolution outlining the impeachment trial procedures “tracks closely” with the rules for Bill Clinton’s impeachment. It is true that the Clinton trial did hold off on the question of whether to have witnesses (such as Monica Lewinsky) testify, but only because they wanted to be sure that the testimony itself (involving semen, the blue dress and blow jobs) would not be inappropriate before a national audience.