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House Democrats Don't Want to Know the Truth

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

In April 2014, then-President Barack Obama signed a law authorizing loan guarantees for Ukraine.

That same month, then-Vice President Joe Biden went to Ukraine and made these points: The Obama administration was going to guarantee $1 billion in loans to Ukraine, and the United States was going to help Ukraine develop its energy industry.

"Just last week the United States government signed a bill proposed by our administration for a $1 billion loan guarantee agreement with Ukraine," Biden said in Kyiv.

"With the right investments and the right choices," Biden said, "Ukraine can reduce its energy dependence and increase its energy security. We will stand with you to help in every way we can for you to accomplish that goal."

In April 2014, Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, put the vice president's son Hunter Biden on its board.

In December 2015, while Biden was urging Ukraine to rid itself of corruption, The New York Times ran an editorial -- headlined "Joe Biden Lectures Ukraine" -- that took issue with Biden's son working for Burisma.

Biden had just given a speech to the Ukrainian parliament.

"Mr. Biden's ardent talk of the need to put an end to Ukraine's ubiquitous corruption and the power of its oligarchs was met with stony silence," said The Times.

"Sadly," The Times opined, "the credibility of Mr. Biden's message may be undermined by the association of his son with a Ukrainian natural-gas company, Burisma Holdings, which is owned by a former government official suspected of corrupt practices."

"A spokesman for the son, Hunter Biden, argues that he joined the board of Burisma to strengthen its corporate governance," said The Times. "That may be so. But Burisma's owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, has been under investigation in Britain and in Ukraine. It should be plain to Hunter Biden that any connection with a Ukrainian oligarch damages his father's efforts to help Ukraine. This is not a board he should be sitting on."

But sit he did.

Now the issue is not whether the son of the vice president should take a job with a Ukrainian energy company at about the same time the vice president is promoting U.S. aid to Ukraine and urging the country to develop its energy industry.

The issue is whether President Donald Trump should be impeached for allegedly delaying the release of U.S. military aid to Ukraine as a means of leveraging Ukraine into publicly announcing it would investigate Biden.

Even if you were to accept the unprecedented premise proffered by House Democratic leaders that Trump's alleged actions toward Ukraine are an impeachable offense -- even though they are not a criminal offense -- House Democrats have not come close to proving those actions happened as alleged.

Nor are they trying to prove it.

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, was the prosecution's star witness in the House Intelligence Committee's impeachment hearings. One exchange with Republican Rep. Michael Turner of Ohio obliterated any usefulness his testimony might have had for impeachment advocates.

"No one on this planet told you that President Trump was tying aid to investigations. Yes or no?" Turner asked.

"Yes," said Sondland.

"So you really have no testimony that ties President Trump to a scheme to withhold aid from Ukraine in exchange for these investigations?" asked Turner.

"Other than my own presumption," said Sondland.

"Which is nothing," said Turner.


If the House Democrats were intent on getting firsthand testimony of what Trump was trying to do with the Ukraine, they would pursue testimony from White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, former national security adviser John Bolton and Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

But they are not.

Professor Jonathan Turley of The George Washington University Law School last week presented the House Judiciary Committee with a powerful argument against impeachment.

He does not support Trump but thinks what the House is doing is wrong.

"First, this is a case without a clear criminal act and would be the first such case in history if the House proceeds without further evidence," he said in written testimony.

"As I have stressed, it is possible to establish a case for impeachment based on a non-criminal allegation of abuse of power," Turley testified. "The problem is that this is an exceptionally narrow impeachment resting on the thinnest possible evidentiary record."

"In the current case, the record is facially insufficient," Turley said. "The problem is not simply that the record does not contain direct evidence of the president stating a quid pro quo, as Chairman Schiff suggested. The problem is that the House has not bothered to subpoena the key witnesses who would have such direct knowledge. This alone sets a dangerous precedent."

The House, said Turley, "is moving forward based on conjecture, assuming what the evidence would show if there existed the time or inclination to establish it. The military aid was released after a delay that the witnesses described as 'not uncommon' for this or prior Administrations."

"The House testimony is replete with references to witnesses like John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani and Mick Mulvaney who clearly hold material information," Turley said. "To impeach a president on such a record would be to expose every future president to the same type of inchoate impeachment."

History will not impeach Trump but those who impeach him.

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor in chief of 

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