Impeachment Talking Points: GOP Preparing To Block Key Witnesses As Trump Lawyers Argue He’s Above the Law

9 mins read
Graphic from Impeachment HQ.

Nothing that’s happened this week changes this simple fact: Former National Security Advisor John Bolton is willing to testify before the Senate that Donald Trump told him directly that he was withholding military aid to pressure Ukraine into interfering in the 2020 election.

  • This damning evidence confirms once again the core impeachment allegation: that Trump broke the law and abused the power of his office for personal political gain.
  • This damning evidence also directly contradicts the White House defense team, who falsely stated that there were no witnesses with firsthand knowledge of Trump linking Ukraine aid to political investigations

But instead of calling for a fair trial that includes relevant documents and firsthand witnesses like Bolton, Senate Republicans are rounding up votes to block these critical witnesses in order to avoid hearing the truth.

And they are making the outrageous, un-American argument pushed by Trump attorney Alan Dershowitz that the president can essentially do anything he wants for his re-election, even if it means abusing the powers of his office for personal political gain. That’s outrageous. No one is above the law in the United States, including the president.

The American people vehemently disagree: 

  • A new national Quinnipiac poll shows that 75 percent of Americans support calling new witnesses like Bolton and Mulvaney.
  • Pew poll shows a majority of Americans—63 percent—say that Trump has definitely or probably done things that are illegal and a whopping 70 percent say Trump definitely or probably acted unethically.
  • FiveThirtyEight poll shows that 54 percent support the Senate removing Trump from office. 

If Republicans in the Senate don’t allow witnesses to testify they know to have incriminating evidence, this trial will be seen by the public as a sham—and Republicans’ acquittal of Donald Trump will be seen as nothing more than a cover-up, especially when we now know they have incriminating evidence.

Despite what Trump’s team is arguing on the Senate floor, no one is above the law—not even the president of the United States.

Responding To The White House Defense

WHITE HOUSE SPIN: Trump’s team is arguing that even if the Bolton allegation is true, that it’s not impeachable. 

  • THE FACTS: This violates the standard set by Republican senators themselves. Even Lindsey Graham has said that if it’s established Trump withheld military aid to push for investigations that it’d be “disturbing.

WHITE HOUSE SPIN: Trump attorney Alan Dershowitz argued that, “If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”

  • THE FACTS: This is an argument that Donald Trump can essentially do anything he wants for his re-election. It says that he’s above the law. That’s un-American, dangerous, and wrong. We don’t have kings in the United States.

Debunking White House Counsel’s Lies And GOP’s Faulty Arguments

FALSE SPIN: You can’t impeach a president if there’s not a crime.

  • THE FACTS: First, this is a moot point because an independent watchdog, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), reviewed the evidence and determined that Donald Trump broke the law when he withheld military aid to Ukraine to pressure them to interfere in the 2020 election. 
  • Second, it’s also been debunked by Senator Lindsey Graham, constitutional lawyer and House GOP witness Jonathan Turley, and current Trump defense team member Alan Dershowitz, all of whom confirmed that a crime does not need to be committed to constitute a high crime.

FALSE SPIN: There is no new evidence.

  • THE FACTS: It’s outrageous for Republican senators to simultaneously claim that there is no new evidence when on Tuesday they voted to block all new evidence.  

FALSE SPIN: House investigators should have gone through the courts to force witnesses like former National Security Advisor John Bolton to testify during the impeachment hearings.

  • THE FACTS: Trump’s Department of Justice is arguing in court right now that the House is not allowed to enforce any subpoenas in the courts. They can’t simultaneously argue that the House should have gone to court months ago when they are also arguing that they don’t have a right to go to court.

FALSE SPIN: President Zelensky and President Trump have both said there was “no pressure” on the call.

  • THE FACTS: While President Zelensky may have been putting on a brave face for the cameras, evidence shows that the Ukrainians knew aid was being withheld and were in an absolute panic. Zelensky recently told TIME Magazine, “If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us.”
  • Evidence, from WhatsApp messages to independent reporting, shows that Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials were well aware of the quid pro quo. Moreover, additional reports show that Zelensky’s staff was prepared to meet Trump’s demand and that Zelensky had even planned a CNN interview on September 13, where he was set to make the public statement announcing investigations into Trump’s political opponents.

FALSE SPIN: Ukrainians didn’t know that the military aid was withheld.

  • THE FACTS: This is absolutely false. The Ukrainians absolutely knew that military aid was being withheld. During her testimony, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper testified that Ukrainian officials were aware of the hold on July 25—the very same day as the Trump-Zelensky call.
  • Separately, a Ukrainian official confirmed that she was aware that the aid was being withheld on July 30.

FALSE SPIN: None of the witnesses were able to link investigations to withholding military aid or a White House meeting.

  • THE FACTS: This is false.
  • On withholding a White House meeting:
    • EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland said “the answer is yes”: there is a quid pro quo. He said “everyone was in the loop,” as confirmed by Giuliani’s associate, Lev Parnas.
    • Former NSC official Fiona Hill testified that Sondland was seeking a White House meeting in exchange for an investigation into the Bidens. Ambassador Bolton called it a “drug deal,” requesting she inform the NSC counsel.
  • On withholding military aid:
    • White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney admitted that aid had been contingent on Ukraine launching political investigations during a press conference on national television and that Trump knew.

FALSE SPIN: Removal is about overturning the results of the 2016 election.

  • THE FACTS: This is absolutely, without question, completely and utterly false. This is about stopping Donald Trump from breaking the law and cheating in the 2020 election by using military aid to pressure Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election.

Originally posted at Impeachment HQ. Re-posted with permission.

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Impeachment HQ is a new rapid response project that serves as a resource to talkers, reporters, and activists on the impeachment proceedings.

The new project is a joint effort from Defend the Republic, a messaging and strategic communications project focused on holding the Trump Administration accountable, and Stand Up America, one of the country’s largest grassroots advocacy organizations and a key group driving grassroots action on impeachment.

The project is led by Zac Petkanas, who was previously the Director of Rapid Response for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, Communications Director to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Senior Adviser to the Democratic National Committee.

The project is also supported by communicators, campaigners, and researchers from both Defend the Republic and Stand Up America—including Ryan Thomas, the Press Secretary for Stand Up America, who leads the communications team.

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