- The Washington Times - Monday, December 9, 2019

The impeachment lawyers for Democrats invoked the Russia probe Monday as they laid out their case for impeaching President Trump.

Democrats are basing their case on their conclusion that President Trump used the promise of a White House meeting and nearly $400 million in military aid to pressure Ukraine to open investigations into his political rival, but also argue there’s a pattern of behavior that traces back to the issues detailed in special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s report from the Russia probe.

“Candidate Trump welcomed the help in 2016, but in 2019, he launched an extensive scheme to use the awesome power of the Presidency to leverage official presidential acts to get that help again,” said Daniel Goldman, counsel for House Intelligence Democrats.

SEE ALSO: Pro-Trump protester ejected from House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearing

Mr. Goldman, in his opening statement, condensed evidence compiled in the intelligence committee’s 300-page report into four key pillars of evidence. They centered on three core allegations: the president’s desire for investigations into alleged Ukraine election interference and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s connection to Burisma; conditionality for a White House meeting and military aid; and the administration tried to cover it up.

Barry Berke, the special counsel for House Judiciary Democrats, brought up two Russia-related episodes as he accused the president of actively recruiting foreign interference in U.S. elections.

He played a clip of then-candidate Mr. Trump saying in a speech that Russia should look for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s roughly 30,000 emails that she deleted from her unauthorized secret server, which Mr. Berke said Russia did when they hacked and leaked DNC emails.

Buttressing a potential obstruction of justice charge, Mr. Berke recounted how the Mueller report alleged that the president ordered then-White House counsel Don McGahn to fire the special counsel.

Mr. McGahn is a key witness in the Mueller investigation for Democrats, but their attempts to bring him in for testimony have been slowly moving through the courts.

Democrats argue that the Russia and Ukraine allegations against Mr. Trump reveal a pattern of misconduct that threatens the upcoming election.

“Unlike in 2016, when he only had a campaign platform from which to extend the invitation to a foreign power, now he has the levers of government in his control to not only request it and invite it but to pressure that country to do it. And that’s exactly what he did,” Mr. Berke said. “Our imagination is the only limit to what President Trump may do next or what a future president may do next to try to abuse his or her power, to try to serve his own personal interest over the nation’s interest.”

The Republicans’ counsel, Steven Castor, pushed back against all of the Democrats’ allegations, accusing them in turn of a pattern of pursuing impeachment until something clicked.

He cited comments from vocal pro-impeachment Democrats such as Reps. Al Green of Texas and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, arguing this was essentially a personal vendetta.

“There is there is simply no clear evidence that President Trump acted with malicious intent in withholding a White House meeting or security assistance,” he said. “There are, and the Republican report articulates them, legitimate explanations for these actions that are not nefarious.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide