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Tipsheet

GOP Rep Challenges NPR Host to Pick Part of Transcript That Incriminates Trump

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Republican Indiana Congressman Jim Banks could not follow NPR radio host Michel Martin's line of reasoning on Wednesday. By Martin's account, it sounded as if President Trump was guilty of obstruction of justice after his phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky. In their conversation, Trump asked Zelensky about Joe Biden's relationship to Ukraine, in light of his son, Hunter, having sat on the board of a corrupt Ukrainian gas company. Some critics interpreted the phone call to suggest Trump was guilty of quid pro quo, because it sounded like he was threatening to withhold military aid from Ukraine if Zelensky didn't agree to look into the Biden matter.

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Once released, however, the phone transcript debunked that claim. 

Or did it? NPR's Martin wasn't so sure.

MARTIN: You don't see anything problematic with the underlying facts - the fact that, according to the unclassified transcript released by the White House, immediately after the Ukrainian president talks about buying more Javelin missiles, the president is asking Zelenskiy to do him a favor, though - his words - and then he turns the conversation to investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. You have no problem with that.

BANKS: Yeah, that is not an accurate description of the transcript. I've read the transcript. I've read the whistleblower account. And in neither one of those documents is there something that appears to be high crimes and misdemeanors, which is what the Founding Fathers created the impeachment process to account for to begin with. It should only be used in extraordinary circumstances to impeach a president for high crimes and misdemeanors. I have yet to hear an account by any Democrat on Capitol Hill of where the high crimes and misdemeanors are found in the whistleblower account or the transcript.

MARTIN: OK. That would be an interpretation of those facts, though. Just let me be very clear. I'm just reading from the transcript. I have it in front of me, and my rendering of it is entirely accurate. What we're talking about here is what the interpretation should be of that and isn't that what the inquiry is for?

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Banks finally asked her for some clarification. 

"Well, I would love to hear you read the part of the transcript that would indict the president on high crimes and misdemeanors," he declared. "It's not there."

She moved on to ask about the role of Congress in the investigation. 

Banks, like many Republicans, sees the Ukraine news cycle as a nothingburger. But Democrats are using it as the official launch of their impeachment inquiry against Trump. 

They’re obsessed, Banks suggested. Not with the truth, but with removing Trump from office. They are sniffing out every impeachment angle they can find, from the House Intelligence Committee to...the Financial Services panel? 

"What in the world does the Financial Services Committee have to do with impeachment?" Banks wondered.

The House GOP just shared a new video to demonstrate how impeachment was on Democrats' minds long before Ukraine.

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