During the impeachment proceedings, congressional Republicans—especially ranking member Devin Nunes—have repeatedly advanced the conspiracy that the real collusion in 2016 was between the Democrats and Ukraine. This theory matches a conspiracy that President Donald Trump appeared to be referencing during his now-infamous call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25.
Evidence is continuing to pile up that President Donald Trump directed the extortion campaign from start to finish. Both testimony and reporting have confirmed over and over that Trump personally orchestrated not only the decision to withhold aid from the Ukrainian government but also the effort to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to publicly announce investigations into Trump’s political opponents.
Another week of testimony and news developments has shown that President Donald Trump’s presidency is a criminal enterprise at heart. In Wednesday’s first public impeachment hearing, Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent detailed Trump’s efforts to extort Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for help in the 2020 election. Meanwhile, Roger Stone’s conviction on seven counts for obstructing the Russia investigation more directly tied the president to collusion in the 2016 election—and suggests Trump may have lied to special counsel Robert Mueller.
Debunking Trump’s Defenses: The July 25 Call Wasn’t ‘Perfect’—It Was Part of a Months-Long Extortion Scheme
President Donald Trump and his defenders are treating the White House’s summary of his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as the only relevant piece of evidence. During the first public impeachment hearing, the Trump campaign released a statement saying that the lack of an explicit quid pro quo in the July 25 call proves that Trump did not extort Ukraine. This mischaracterizes both the content of the call and the broader context of the ongoing extortion scheme.
With no way to defend him on the substance, President Donald Trump’s defenders have instead argued that Trump did nothing wrong and that therefore, there are no grounds for an impeachment inquiry. A memo from House Republicans noted, “U.S. security assistance flowed to Ukraine … without Ukraine investigating President Trump’s political rivals.” This absurd argument holds that, since Trump ultimately released the military aid he initially withheld from Ukraine, there was no extortion. This just isn’t true.
The cascade of closed-door testimony transcripts from senior Trump administration officials confirm that President Donald Trump shook down Ukraine’s president. Trump demanded a public announcement of an investigation of his political opponents in exchange for a White House meeting and military assistance that Ukraine desperately needed.
When President Donald Trump first released the transcript of his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, many were confused about Trump’s apparent belief that Ukraine had the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) “servers” as well as his references to CrowdStrike, the California-based cybersecurity firm that concluded the attack on the DNC came from Russia. Where did these conspiracy theories come from? According to documents released over the weekend, exactly where you’d expect: Russia.
President Donald Trump’s impeachment defenses continue to break down. After another week of testimony from top administration officials, the president’s alleged criminal behavior is becoming clearer than ever—and a historic vote in the House means the public will soon be learning all about it.