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President Donald Trump’s legal defense team laid out an aggressive six-point case dismantling the Democrats’ impeachment case on Saturday that was simply built around highlighting the facts of what happened surrounding Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Trump’s defense team only used two of the 24 hours that they were allotted during their first of three days that they have to argue in front of the Senate that Trump should be acquitted from the Democrats’ partisan impeachment charges.
Laying out Trump’s six-point defense was deputy White House counsel Michael Purpura, who said the following:
- “The transcript shows that the president did not condition either security assistance or a meeting on anything. The paused security assistance funds aren’t even mentioned on the call.”
- “President Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said that there was no quid pro quo and no pressure on them to review anything.”
- “President Zelensky and high-ranking Ukrainian officials did not even know, did not even know, the security assistance was paused until the end of August, over a month after the July 25 call.”
- “Not a single witness testified that the President himself said that there was any connection between any investigations and security assistance, a presidential meeting, or anything else.”
- “The security assistance flowed on September 11 and a presidential meeting took place on September 25 without the Ukrainian government announcing any investigations.”
- “The Democrats blind drive to impeach the president does not and cannot change the fact, as attested to by the Democrats own witnesses, that President Trump has been a better friend and stronger supporter of Ukraine than his predecessor.”
“Those are the facts,” Purpura said. “Each one of these six facts standing alone is enough to sink the Democrats’ case. Combined they establish what we’ve known since the beginning, the president did absolutely nothing wrong.”
Purpura later highlighted that Ambassador Kurt Volker, the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine, who was not on the call but who met with Zelensky the day after the call, testified that in no way, shape, or form in either the readouts from the United States or Ukraine did [Zelensky] receive any indication that Trump was pursuing a quid pro quo.
Purpura cut back to Volker’s testimony in front of the House Intelligence Committee last year where he confirmed under oath that there was no quid pro quo, no bribery, and Ukraine was not even aware that there was a temporary hold on U.S. financial assistance.
After playing the clip, Purpura said: “[Democrats] didn’t tell you about this testimony from Ambassador Volker. Why not? President Zelensky himself has confirmed on at least three separate occasions that his July 25 call with President Trump was a good phone call and normal and that nobody pushed me. When President Zelenksy’s advisor Andriy Yermak was asked if he had ever felt there was a connection between the US military aid in the request for investigations, he was adamant that we never had that feeling and we did not have the feeling that this aid was connected to any one specific issue.”
Purpura continued to hammer on the fact that all top Ukrainian officials indicated that there was no quid pro quo and later added that it was insulting to Ukraine that Democrats were essentially stating that Ukraine was not telling the truth about the situation.
Purpura also hit House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who is one of the Democrats’ impeachment managers, for fabricating quotes from Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Zelenksy by playing a video clip showing Schiff fabricating the quotes during a televised congressional hearing.
After playing the clip, Purpura said: “That’s fake, that’s not the real call, that’s not the evidence here, that’s not the transcript that Mr. Cipollone just referenced and we can shrug it off and say we were making light, or a joke, but that was in a hearing in the United States House of Representatives discussing the removal of the President of the United States from office. There are very few things, if any, that can be as grave and as serious, let’s stick with the evidence let’s talk about the facts and the evidence in this case.”
Michael Purpura knocks Schiff for making up false transcript in impeachment hearing pic.twitter.com/TdRDjbTbUi
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) January 25, 2020
Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow noted that Democrats’ entire case was built on the notion that they were able to read “everybody’s thoughts, they can read everybody’s intention, even when the principal speakers, the witnesses themselves, insist that those interpretations are wrong.”
Sekulow spent a significant portion of time going after leftist Democrat Rep. Jason Crow (CO) for his dishonesty this week while presenting the Democrats’ case in front of the Senate.
“Manager Crow said this, ‘what’s most interesting to me about this is that president Trump was only interested in Ukraine aid.’ His words, nobody else, ‘the U.S. provides aids to dozens of countries around the world, lots of partners and allies, he didn’t ask about any of them asked he didn’t ask about any of them just Ukraine,’” Sekulow said as he highlighted Crow’s remarks. “Here’s what actually happened: President Trump has placed holds on aid a number of times, we can just take basic due diligence to figure this out.”
Sekulow gave the following examples of instances where the Trump administration has placed holds on foreign assistance:
- In September 2019 the administration announced that it was withholding over $100 million in aid to Afghanistan over concerns about government corruption.
- In August 2019 President Trump announced that the administration and Seoul were in talks to substantially increase South Korea’s share burden-sharing of the expenses of U.S. military aid support for South Korea.
- In June, President Trump cut or paused over $550 million in foreign aid to El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala because those countries were not fairly sharing the burdens of preventing mass migration to the United States.
- In June, the administration temporarily paused $105 million dollars in aid to Lebanon, the administration lifted that hold in December with one official explaining that the administration continually reviews and thoroughly evaluates the effectiveness of all United States foreign assistance to ensure that funds go towards activities that further U.S. foreign policy and also further our national security interests, like any administration would.
- In September 2018, the administration canceled the $300 million in military aid to Pakistan because it was not meeting its counter terrorism obligations, you didn’t hear about any of that from my Democratic colleagues, the House managers.
Sekulow further noted that two of the Democrats’ witnesses said during their impeachment investigation that the Trump administration has withheld aid from numerous countries across the world for a wide variety of reasons.
“Manager Crow told you that the president’s Ukraine policy was not strong against Russia, noting that we help our partner fight Russia over there so we don’t have to fight Russia here, our friends on the frontlines in trenches and with sneakers and this was following the Russians invasion of Ukraine in 2014, the United States has stood by Ukraine, those are your words,” Sekulow continued. “While it’s true that the United States has stood by Ukraine since the invasion of 2014, only one president since then took a very concrete step, some of you supported it, and that step included actually providing Ukraine with lethal weapons including javelin missiles. That’s what President Trump did.”
“Here’s what Ambassador Taylor said that you didn’t hear in the 23 hours, you didn’t hear this, ‘javelin missiles are serious weapons, they will kill Russian tanks,’” Sekulow continued. “Ambassador Yovanovitch agreed stating, that Ukraine policy under President Trump actually got stronger, stronger than it was under President Obama.”
White House counsel Pat Cipollone noted that Trump’s defense team was going to go in-depth next week in examining evidence that Democrats intentionally did not present to the American public during there three days in front of the Senate.
“They’ve come here today and they’ve basically said, ‘Let’s cancel an election over a meeting with the Ukraine,’” Cipollone said. “It would be a completely irresponsible abuse of power to do what they’re asking you to do: to stop an election, to interfere in an election and to remove the president of the United States from the ballot.”
“They’re asking you to remove @realDonaldTrump from the ballot in an election that’s occurring in approximately nine months.” – Pat Cipollone
Americans don't want Democrats to invalidate the will of the people!pic.twitter.com/F2SIRlwdg3
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) January 25, 2020