House Republicans concluded in a report released on Dec. 2 that the case built so far by Democrats running the impeachment inquiry rests entirely on second-hand evidence, assumptions, and speculation.
Republicans released the 123-page report (pdf) as House Intelligence Committee Democrats were finalizing a report of their own which is expected to be presented soon before the House Judiciary Committee. President Donald Trump said he read the Republican report during his flight to the United Kingdom.
The Republicans assess that the Democrats have so far failed to substantiate the allegation at the core of the impeachment inquiry, that Trump sought to boost his reelection chances by pressuring Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a potential political rival. While Democrats assert that the allegation has been proven, no witness from the parade before the impeachment inquiry over the past several weeks offered first-hand evidence of Trump exerting pressure or conditioning any official act on Ukraines compliance with his request.
“The evidence does not support the accusation that President Trump pressured President Zelensky to initiate investigations for the purpose of benefiting the President in the 2020 Election,” the report states.
“The evidence does not support the accusation that President Trump covered up the summary of his phone conversation with President Zelensky. The evidence does not support the accusation that President Trump obstructed the Democrats impeachment inquiry.”
House Republicans have long lambasted the impeachment probe as an attempt by the Democrats to undo the outcome of the 2016 election. The report—prepared by Republican staff for Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas)—reasserts this claim.
“The Democrats impeachment inquiry, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, is merely the outgrowth of their obsession with re-litigating the results of the 2016 presidential election,” the report states. “The evidence does not establish any impeachable offense.”
The Democrats say that impeachment is the only constitutional tool designed to counter corruption by an elected official. Some have suggested that direct evidence is lacking because the Trump administration has refused to comply with subpoenas for documents while some of the key witnesses—including the president, his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and former Energy Secretary Rick Perry—have refused to testify. Schiff wrote on Twitter on Dec. 2 that the stonewalling by the White House amounts to “obstruction of Congress.”
“Evidence of Trumps obstruction of Congress is overwhelming,” Schiff said, without offering evidence. “If we allow it to succeed, it will mean future presidents can simply ignore Congressional subpoenas & oversight, fundamentally altering the balance of power and paving the way for unchecked corruption and malfeasance.”
The Republican report counters the obstruction charge by suggesting that the White House is within its rights to assert executive privilege, especially amid a hyper-partisan impeachment process where the president has not been granted due process to defend himself. Schiff conducted closed-door impeachment hearings for nearly a month before the full House of Representatives authorized the inquiry in a party-line vote.
“President Trumps 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 report states.
In addition to the central allegation about Trump pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden, the Democrats claim that the president withheld aid to Ukraine and dangled the prospect of a White House meeting as leverage to force Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to comply with his request. Both Trump and Zelensky have repeatedly said there was no quid pro quo or pressure.
The report points to witness testimony which suggests that Trump was skeptical about Ukraine due to its history of corruption long before he ordered a hold on security aid. The Republicans also argue that Trump had a valid concern about Hunter Bidens role on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma Holdings, at the time his father, Joe Biden, served as the vice president.
Trump brought up Hunter Biden during the July 25 call with Zelensky which is now at the core of the impeachment inquiry. Trump asked Zelensky to “look into” the firing of Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. In early February 2016, Shokins office seized the assets of Mykola Zlochevksy, the owner of Burisma. At the time, Hunter Biden held a paid position on the board of Burisma for nearly two years. Weeks later, Shokin was forced to submit his resignation. Joe Biden has bragged about forcing Shokins ouster by witRead More – Source