House Republicans defended President Trump’s decision to temporarily withhold security aid from Ukraine and accused Democrats of running an “abusive” impeachment investigation in a report released Monday.
Democrats are pursuing articles of impeachment against Trump based on allegations he tried to bribe Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Trump’s political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Republicans argue in a 110-page report, however, that Trump has done nothing wrong and did not try to obstruct what they describe as unfair and partisan House impeachment proceedings.
“House Democrats have been trying to undo the results of President Trump’s historic election since before he was sworn in,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Monday. “Today’s report clearly shows how weak the Democrats’ case for impeachment is and that they have failed to find a single, legitimate reason to impeach the president.”
Republicans made the case that Trump had every reason to question Ukraine’s ability to end pervasive government corruption before handing over $391 million in security aid.
“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,” Republicans wrote Monday.
The GOP issued the report before House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff was expected to send his own report on impeachment to the House Judiciary Committee, which will hold a public hearing on Wednesday.
Republicans have been highly critical of the impeachment investigation, which no GOP lawmaker voted to support. In the report, they denounced the proceedings as “an orchestrated campaign to upend our political system.”
The GOP report argues against the impeachment articles Democrats are formulating, including obstruction of Congress and abuse of power.
The president “did not engage in a cover-up” of his interactions with Zelensky, Republicans wrote, noting that the president released a partial transcript of the July 25 call with Zelensky, as well as a redacted version of a complaint by an anonymous whistleblower.
“To the extent Democrats allege that President Trump sought to cover up his July 25 telephone conversation with President Zelensky, the facts do not support such a charge,” House GOP lawmakers wrote.
Republicans in the report make the case that Trump has broad power to conduct foreign policy and did nothing illegal by appointing a trio of top aides to oversee Ukraine policy.
The GOP said none of the evidence presented by witness testimony demonstrated Trump had established “a shadow foreign policy apparatus” by appointing Ambassadors Kurt Volker and Gordon Sondland, as well as Energy Secretary Rick Perry, to spearhead Ukraine-United States relations, which the GOP chalked up to “non-traditional diplomacy,” completely within the president’s authority.
The report also supports Trump’s interest in getting Ukraine to investigate whether Biden, while vice president, sought to oust a Ukrainian prosecutor who was targeting a gas company that employed Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
Republicans said there are also “legitimate questions” about Democrats working with Ukrainian government officials in 2016 to undermine Trump’s campaign, which Democrats have denounced.
“Democrats reflexively oppose any discussion about whether senior Ukrainian government officials worked to oppose President Trump’s candidacy and support former Secretary Clinton during the 2016 election,” the GOP wrote in the report. “Calling these allegations ‘debunked’ and ‘conspiracy theories,’ Democrats ignore irrefutable evidence that is inconvenient for their political narrative. The facts, however, show outstanding questions about Ukrainian influence in the 2016 presidential election—questions that the Democrats’ witnesses said would be appropriate for Ukraine to examine.”
The report condemns the House impeachment process and points to the ways it breaks with precedent established during the impeachment proceedings against Presidents Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon, including withholding evidence from the GOP and not allowing Republicans to call witnesses during most of the proceedings.
Democrats, Republicans point out, have declared Trump’s executive privilege claims on witnesses and documents sought by Democrats to be evidence that he is obstructing Congress.
“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,” Republicans wrote.
Schiff is expected to issue an impeachment report on behalf of Democratic lawmakers as early as Monday.
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