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House Republicans defend Trump’s actions on Ukraine in dismissing impeachment probe

By MIKE DEBONIS | The Washington Post | Published: December 3, 2019

WASHINGTON — House Republicans said Monday that President Donald Trump acted out of “genuine” concern about corruption in Ukraine and wariness about foreign aid in their defense of the president’s actions and as a preemptive rebuttal to Democratic allegations that Trump abused his power — grounds for expected articles of impeachment.

In a 123-page draft report, GOP investigators assert that Democrats failed to make the case that Trump committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors by withholding military aid and a highly sought-after White House meeting to compel Ukraine to launch investigations into his political opponents.

Nor, the Republicans say, do Democrats have a basis for impeachment in Trump’s decision to spurn House document requests and witness subpoenas pertaining to Trump’s Ukraine dealings.

Instead, the draft GOP report contends, the impeachment effort is “an orchestrated campaign to upend our political system” — one “based on the accusations and assumptions of unelected bureaucrats who disagreed with President Donald Trump’s policy initiatives and processes.”

“The evidence presented does not prove any of these Democrat allegations, and none of the Democrats’ witnesses testified to having evidence of bribery, extortion, or any high crime or misdemeanor,” the report reads.

The draft GOP report was circulated Monday afternoon, just hours before House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., plans to make copies of his own report — one expected to reach the opposite conclusion — available for inspection to members of the Intelligence Committee. The panel is scheduled to vote Tuesday evening to approve the Democratic report, making way for its public release.

The Republican report will serve as an initial blueprint for the GOP defense of Trump as the impeachment question heads toward House Judiciary Committee proceedings, a likely House floor vote and a subsequent Senate trial on Trump’s removal.

Among the GOP findings meant to rebut the Democratic charges are:

• That Trump “has a deep-seated, genuine, and reasonable skepticism of Ukraine due to its history of pervasive corruption” as well as a “long-held skepticism of U.S. foreign assistance.”

• That there is “indisputable evidence that senior Ukrainian government officials opposed President Trump’s candidacy in the 2016 election,” giving Trump special reason to be wary of Ukraine.

• That the evidence gathered by Democrats “does not support” their core claim that Trump withheld a White House meeting or hundreds of millions of dollars in security aid to pressure Ukraine to conduct investigations that would politically benefit Trump.

• And that Trump’s decision to resist House subpoenas on sweeping grounds of executive privilege “is a legitimate response to an unfair, abusive, and partisan process.”

Schiff, in a statement, dismissed the GOP assessment.

“The minority’s rebuttal document, intended for an audience of one, ignores voluminous evidence that the president used the power of his office to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rival by withholding military aid and a White House meeting the President of Ukraine desperately sought. In so doing, the President undermined our national security and the integrity of our elections,” Schiff said.

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