Two major “deceptions” lie at the heart of the House Democrats’ impeachment brief, contends Byron York in an analysis for the Washington Examiner.
Democrats say Trump must be “immediately” removed “to safeguard the 2020 U.S. election,” contending he was the knowing beneficiary of Russian help in the 2016 election and plans to do it again.
But in making their argument, argues York, Democrats make two critical mischaracterizations about Trump, Republicans and 2016.
“One is flat-out wrong, while the other is misleading,” he writes.
The deception that is flat-out wrong, says York, is the Democrats’ assertion that Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate “a debunked conspiracy theory that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 presidential election to aid President Trump, but instead that Ukraine interfered in that election to aid President Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.”
The misleading mischaracterization in the Democratic brief is the assertion that, in 2016, Trump “welcomed Russia’s election interference.”
York contends that neither mischaracterization in the Democratic brief is a mistake.
“Democratic prosecutors know full well what actually happened,” he said. “But the mischaracterizations are necessary to build the case against the president, to show that he had corrupt motives in the Ukraine matter.”
In a 110-page response, President Trump’s legal team called the House’s impeachment case “flimsy” and a “dangerous perversion of the Constitution.”
The charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress do not amount to impeachable offenses, the White House team contends.
Ukraine and Russia
Regarding Russia, York points out that the White House is not saying that Russia did not interfere. The first congressional probe, by the House Intelligence Committee under then-chairman Devin Nunes, concluded as much. The theory posited by the White House, he says, is that “in addition to Russian interference, some people in Ukraine, including some government officials, also tried to influence the U.S. election.”
Among the evidence cited by supporters of the president:
- Ukraine’s interior minister, former prime minister and ambassador to the U.S. condemned Trump during the campaign via social media.
- Ukrainian Parliament member attacked Paul Manafort, including publicizing a “black ledger” that contained an unverified allegation about Manafort being paid in cash for work in Ukraine.
- Anti-Trump figures in Ukraine connected to Fusion GPS, the American opposition research firm behind the debunked Steele dossier.
- The Democratic National Committee employee who sought dirt on Trump from anti-Trump elements in Ukraine, Alexandra Chalupa.
“None of that is definitive, but it is also not debunked,” York writes. “And it is not a denial of Russian interference but a recognition that in addition to that interference, some in Ukraine also tried to influence the election.”
Leaks widely welcomed
The brief quotes special counsel Robert Mueller’s report that the Trump campaign welcomed Russian help because it “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.”
While Trump did welcome leaks about the Clinton campaign, it was because the media were enthusiastically embracing and repeating Russian-based leaks about the Clinton campaign, York argues.
York noted some of the headlines:
- “CNN Cuts Ties to Analyst as Emails Show She Tipped Off Clinton Allies” (11/1/16)
- “Leaks Lay Bare a Longtime Clinton Adviser’s Unflinching Straight Talk” (10/29/16)
- “Chelsea Clinton’s Frustrations and Devotion Shown in Hacked Emails” (10/28/16)
- “Donations to Foundation Vexed Hillary Clinton’s Aides, Emails Show” (10/26/16)
- Trump “wasn’t welcoming something that everyone else was condemning.”
“He was welcoming something that everyone else was welcoming, too,” York says. “And now, in retrospect, that is a terrible offense, part of the foundation for removing the president from office?”