Republicans Cherry-Pick Facts on Impeachment

As the House Judiciary Committee began public hearings on whether to draft and approve articles of impeachment, Republicans presented a set of facts that they claimed cleared President Donald Trump of any wrongdoing.

The Republican National Committee on Dec. 4 selectively highlighted several facts from the investigation, providing an incomplete picture on what the congressional testimony has revealed.

The same day, Rep. Jim Jordan repeated some of those talking points in the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing. “The facts are on the president’s side,” Jordan declared.

Here we review the Republican statements in the context of documents and testimony that House investigators have gathered since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry on Sept. 24.

The Trump-Zelensky July 25 Phone Call

RNC: “As the transcript of the [July 25] call between President Trump and Ukrainian President [Volodymyr] Zelensky, as well as the testimony before the House Intel committee have both revealed, there was no quid pro quo.”

Jordan: “We have the transcript. There was no quid pro quo in the transcript.”  

This is a familiar Republican talking point, repeated by the president and printed on T-shirts of his supporters: “Read the Transcript.”

The fact is, Trump asked Zelensky for “a favor” in the July 25 phone call that could have benefited the president’s reelection in 2020, and witnesses testified that there was an elaborate effort by some within the administration to carry out what Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council aide, called Trump’s “domestic political errand.” 

Trump, according to the White House memo on the call, asked Zelensky to look into CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm hired by the Democratic National Committee after its computer network was hacked by Russian intelligence officers during the 2016 election. (Trump repeatedly has advanced the debunked conspiracy theory that CrowdStrike hacked the DNC and blamed the Russians.) 

Trump also asked Zelensky in the phone call to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. As we’ve written, Trump has distorted the facts when he has claimed that Joe Biden, as vice president, threatened to withhold “billions of dollars to Ukraine” unless it removed the prosecutor general who “was prosecuting” Biden’s son, Hunter, and Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company on whose board Hunter Biden had served. There’s no evidence Hunter Biden was ever being investigated or prosecuted. 

In addition, since the release of the transcript, the House impeachment probe has uncovered evidence that the White House sought Ukraine’s public announcement of the investigations in exchange for three things: a phone call between Zelensky and Trump,

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