House Republicans on Monday evening issued a staunch defense of President Trump in his dealings with Ukraine in a report of their conclusions from the initial phases of the impeachment inquiry and accused Democrats of conducting “an orchestrated campaign to upend our political system.”
“The Democrats are trying to impeach a duly elected President based on the accusations and assumptions of unelected bureaucrats who disagreed with President Trump’s policy initiatives and processes,” it said.
The report will be sent to the Judiciary Committee, along with a report from Democrat members of their findings. The Judiciary Committee is set to hold its first hearing in the impeachment inquiry Wednesday.
Republicans argued in their report that Trump did nothing wrong by withholding $391 million in military aid to Ukraine, did not pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, and withheld the aid due to skepticism over Ukraine’s commitment to combat corruption.
The report said:
The evidence shows that President Trump holds a deep-seated, genuine, and reasonable skepticism of Ukraine due to its history of pervasive corruption. Understood in this proper context, the President’s initial hesitation to meet with President Zelensky or to provide U.S. taxpayer-funded security assistance to Ukraine without thoughtful review is entirely prudent.
Some of the other key findings, according to the report, include:
- President Trump has a long-held skepticism of U.S. foreign assistance and believes that Europe should pay its fair share for mutual defense.
- President Trump’s concerns about Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board are valid. The Obama State Department noted concerns about Hunter Biden’s relationship with Burisma in 2015 and 2016.
- There is indisputable evidence that senior Ukrainian government officials opposed President Trump’s candidacy in the 2016 election and did so publicly. It has been publicly reported that a Democratic National Committee operative worked with Ukrainian officials, including the Ukrainian Embassy, to dig up dirt on then-candidate Trump.
- The evidence does not establish that President Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Burisma Holdings, Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, or Ukrainian influence in the 2016 election for the purpose of benefiting him in the 2020 election.
- The evidence does not establish that President Trump withheld a meeting with President Zelensky for the purpose of pressuring Ukraine to investigate Burisma Holdings, Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, or Ukrainian influence in the 2016 election.
- The evidence does not support that President Trump withheld U.S. security assistance to Ukraine for the purpose of pressuring Ukraine to investigate Burisma Holdings, Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, or Ukrainian influence in the 2016 election.
- The evidence does not support that President Trump orchestrated a shadow foreign policy apparatus for the purpose of pressuring Ukraine to investigate Burisma Holdings, Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, or Ukrainian influence in the 2016 election.
- The evidence does not support that President Trump covered up the substance of his telephone conversation with President Zelensky by restricting access to the call summary.
- President Trump’s assertion of longstanding claims of executive privilege is a legitimate response to an unfair, abusive, and partisan process, and does not constitute obstruction of a legitimate impeachment inquiry.
The GOP report also argued — despite Democrats’ claims — that Ukraine did not know the military aid had been withheld until late August — a month after Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Senior Pentagon official Laura Cooper testified that her office had received some emails from the Ukrainian embassy in July, but the GOP report said the senior leadership of Ukraine did not know about the hold on aid until late August, after a Politico article published on August 28.
The report said:
Although this evidence suggests that Ukrainian officials in Washington were vaguely aware of an issue with the security assistance before August 28, the evidence does not show that the senior leadership of Ukrainian government in Kyiv was aware of the pause until late August.
Republicans argued in the report that the aid was released after Zelensky “took decisive action demonstrating his commitment” to combating corruption and without Ukraine taking any action to investigate the Bidens.
“President Trump then released security assistance to Ukraine and met with President Zelensky in September 2019 — all without Ukraine taking any action to investigate President Trump’s political rival,” it says.
Democrats have claimed that Ukraine was aware of the hold on aid by the July 25 phone call, and that Trump only released the aid on September 11 after he knew there was a whistleblower complaint about it to Congress.
The report also argued that Trump did not pressure Zelensky to investigate the Bidens and alleged Ukrainian interference in the elections, but that if Trump had done so, it would not be improper:
There is also nothing wrong with asking serious questions about the presence of Vice President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, on the board of directors of Burisma, a corrupt Ukrainian company, or about Ukraine’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Publicly available — and irrefutable — evidence shows how senior Ukrainian government officials sought to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election in opposition to President Trump’s candidacy, and that some in the Ukrainian embassy in Washington worked with a Democrat operative to achieve that goal.
While Democrats reflexively dismiss these truths as conspiracy theories, the facts are indisputable and bear heavily on the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
Last month, former senior NSC official Fiona Hill cited an op-ed by then-Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Valeriy Chaly in August 2016 critical of then-candidate Trump as one example of Ukrainian interference.
Democrats have argued that Ukrainian interference does not compare to Russian interference in the 2016 election and have accused Republicans of denying that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
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