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Jan 25 2020

Hmm… What to say about the debacle.

In the moment I thought most of it a mixture of lies, mischaracterizations, and InfoWars Conspiracy Theories. On reflection I worry that the cherry picked video clips of testimony may provide a fig leaf for some.

Don’t get me wrong. It was all frothing raving madness.

Assessing the Trump team’s 6-point impeachment defense
By Philip Bump, Washington Post
Jan. 25, 2020

President Trump’s legal team in his impeachment trial began its defense on Saturday morning with a slightly more lawyerly version of one of Trump’s favorite tweets: read the transcript.

“They didn’t talk a lot about the transcript of the call,” White House counsel Pat Cipollone told the assembled senators in the Senate chambers at the outset of his remarks, “which I would submit is the best evidence of what happened on the call.”

That line, in itself, is a neat encapsulation of Trump’s case. It focuses on the rough transcript of Trump’s July 25, 2019 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as exculpatory — while also asserting that the central issue is the call itself. It isn’t. The presented evidence shows a broad campaign of pressure of which that call was only one part, a campaign that is harder for Trump’s team to refute.

Cipollone soon transitioned to Michael Purpura, the deputy White House counsel. Purpura began by articulating a six-point defense that his team would offer during its presentation. Those six points, like Cipollone’s claim about the rough transcript: carefully worded, constrained — and often not hard to undercut.

Cipollone soon transitioned to Michael Purpura, the deputy White House counsel. Purpura began by articulating a six-point defense that his team would offer during its presentation. Those six points, like Cipollone’s claim about the rough transcript: carefully worded, constrained — and often not hard to undercut.

Here’s each point as he stated it, and what the available evidence says about the claims.

Now I’m going to stop there and urge you to click though because Philip Bump strongly refutes each of these points, but it’s a bit too long for the page so I’ll simply list them-

  1. “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.”
  2. “President Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said that there was no quid pro quo and no pressure on them to review anything.”
  3. “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 25th call.”
  4. “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.”
  5. The security assistance flowed on Sept. 11, and a presidential meeting took place on Sept. 25 without the Ukrainian government announcing any investigations.
  6. 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.

I would like to assume my body of work makes it clear that I think all these arguments are garbage but let me repeat it.