The 10 Things Dems Say Prove Trump Acted Corruptly In Ukraine Scheme

President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meet in New York on September 25, 2019 on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
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January 23, 2020 6:39 p.m.
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Sure, the bogus investigations that President Donald Trump wanted Ukraine to launch into Joe Biden and the 2016 election were conspiratorial garbage. But beyond that, House impeachment manager Adam Schiff (D-CA) argued Thursday, there are 10 clear reasons that the push for the investigations was corrupt on its face.

On the Senate floor, Schiff brought up an exhibit listing them in neat sentences:

Here’s how he argued the case:

1. President Trump Cared Only About The Announcement Of Investigations

Several witnesses said, and records show, that Trump’s envoys who were pushing Ukraine for investigations cared more about the announcement of those probes. Schiff pointed to the testimony of EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland that “the only thing I heard from Mr. Giuliani or otherwise was that they had to be announced in some form” — not that they had to actually start or be completed.

Schiff also pointed to a recently revealed note from Giuliani associate Lev Parnas: “Get [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky to announce that the Biden case will be investigated.”

2. President Trump Cared Only About “Big Stuff”: Investigating Biden

Schiff pointed to the testimony of diplomat David Holmes, who overheard a call between Sondland and Trump the day after Trump personally pressured Zelensky to investigate the Bidens. Holmes testified that he overheard Trump ask Sondland if Zelensky was “going to do the investigation?”

In a conversation after the call, Holmes testified that Sondland told him, “the President only cares about ‘big stuff,'” such as “the Biden investigation that Mr. Giuliani was pushing.” Trump subsequently called publicly for a Biden investigation, Schiff noted.

3. President Trump Used His Personal Attorney: This Isn’t “Foreign Policy”

Rudy Giuliani has repeatedly confirmed this point himself, Schiff said. In a letter to the Ukrainian president, Giuliani told Zelensky, “I am private counsel to Donald J. Trump. Just to be precise, I represent him as a private citizen, not as President of the United States.” Giuliani also told The New York Times in May last year that the fruits of his investigative work in Ukraine could be “very, very helpful to my client.”

4. The Bogus Investigations Were Never Part Of Official U.S. Policy

Multiple national security officials either testified that Trump’s push for investigations on the phone with Zelensky wasn’t part of Trump’s prepared talking points for the call — or that they expressed concern after the call about Trump’s push. Trump wasn’t bound to use official talking points, Schiff said, but “if it was U.S. policy, it probably would have been in the talking points and briefing materials.” What’s more, Schiff argued, the push for investigations undermined the existing U.S. policy in the region — one of support for Ukraine in order to push back against Russia, and of support for legitimate anti-corruption efforts within Ukraine.

5. The Bogus Investigations Were Outside Official Channels

After the call record showed that Trump brought up Attorney General Bill Barr during his July call with Zelensnky, the Justice Department quickly distanced itself the Ukraine pressure campaign, Schiff said.

“If these legitimate investigations that were in the national interest, why was Bill Barr’s Justice Department so quick to divorce themselves from it?” he said. “The simple answer is that, as we see so clearly, they were against U.S. official policy and our national security. The Justice Department wanted nothing to do with it. And by asking for these investigations, the President was abusing his power.”

6. Multiple Administration Officials Reported Concerns

Multiple witnesses told investigators they flagged their concerns about Trump’s call with Zelensky to government lawyers, Schiff said. Then-Acting Ukraine Ambassador Bill Taylor flagged his concerns with withholding aid to Ukraine, Schiff said, and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eastern Europe, expressed concerns about the State Department’s response to a document request from congressional impeachment investigators.

7. Ukraine Expressed Concerns: Investigations Political

Ukrainian officials expressed alarm to their American counterparts about being dragged into domestic U.S. politics, Schiff said, citing text messages turned over to Congress by former Ukraine special envoy Kurt Volker. “President Zelenskyy is sensitive about Ukraine being taken seriously, not merely as an instrument in Washington domestic, reelection politics,” Taylor texted Sondland in July, Schiff noted.

The involvement in U.S. politics, Schiff argued, risked not only the perception that Ukraine had positioned itself counter to the Republican or Democratic Party — but also that Ukraine was seen as a pawn in domestic politics at all. Zelensky himself said, after the White House made his call record with Trump public, “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be involved in democratic, open elections — elections of USA.”

8. The White House Attempted To Bury The Call

The White House issued only a “short, incomplete summary” of the July call between Trump and Zelensky, Schiff argued, and it made no mention of Trump’s push for bogus investigations. In addition, NSC official Tim Morrison acknowledged that he requested that access to the memorandum of the Trump-Zelensky call be restricted.

John Eisenberg, the NSC legal advisor, said the call memorandum had been restricted by mistake, Morrison testified. “I’m sure it was a very innocent mistake,” Schiff said. “However, mistake or no mistake, it remained on that system until at least the third week of September 2019.”

9. President Told Us In His Own Statements

Schiff returned to the call Holmes overheard between Trump and Sondland on July 26. “So he’s going to do the investigation?” Trump asked Sondland, according to Holmes. Sondland replied that Zelensky would. Sondland didn’t dispute Holmes’ recollection and further testified, “Actually, I would have been more surprised if President Trump had not mentioned investigations, particularly given what we were hearing from Mr. Giuliani about the President’s concerns.”

On Oct. 3, after the White House had made his call memorandum with Zelensky public, Trump told reporters of Ukraine, “I would think that, if they were it honest about it, they would start a major investigation into the Bidens. It’s a very simple answer.”

10. President Did Not Care About Anti-Corruption Efforts In Ukraine

“There’s no evidence he cared one whit about anticorruption efforts a at all,” Schiff said of Trump. Rather, Trump focused his concerns about “corruption” on the Bidens even after the White House made his call memorandum with Zelensky public. “When Biden’s son walks away with millions of dollars from Ukraine, and he knows nothing, and they’re paying him millions of dollars, that’s corruption,” Trump said, sitting next to Zelensky, the day after the memorandum was made public.

A few days later, Schiff noted, Trump said after referring to Zelensky: “There was a lot of corruption having to do with the 2016 election, against us.” Trump’s purported concerns about corruption in Ukraine, Schiff argued, started despite the election in Ukraine anti-corruption reformer candidate — Zelensky —  but after Joe Biden started his presidential campaign in earnest.

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