Ok, I plead guilty to watching the impeachment inquiry testimony for hours at a time. I listen to both Republicans and Democrats members of the Intel Committee. It is like a courtroom drama, except there is no neutral judge to disallow certain testimony, the defense is not allowed to call their own witnesses, and the jurors on impeachment are obviously biased. Democrats get to decide on the rules. The partisan nature of impeachment is part of our system. The general charge is that Trump violated the constitution by conditioning the military aid to the Ukraine on an announcement of two investigations, one involving Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 elections and the second on the Bidens, to help Trump win in 2020.
Several tactics have been used to defend the president. The first is to attack the witnesses as partisan, just out to embarrass Trump which has been a terrible disaster. Trump started this attack in very disrespectful attacks on Ambassador Yovanovitch, who was subjected to a smear campaign in the State Department, and officials there knew about it. Rep Jim Jordan is easily identified in the hearings as he does not wear a suit jacket. His job is the witness attack dog and he sought to discredit Lt. Col. Vindman, who received excellent reviews from his superiors. All witnesses strongly supported Trump’s policies of providing lethal military aid to the Ukraine. So, really every time he questions a witness, they seem partisan, but in the direction of Trump rather than Obama’s policies. It continually backfired.
The second line of defense is to focus on the ultimate outcome, which is Ukraine got the aid without having to announce an investigation. But as every lawyer knows, bribery does not require the completion of the bribe in exchange for something of value. The third line of defense is to consider holds on assistance a fairly routine occurrence. Again, this fails because the reasons for the hold were for political dirt to for the 2020 election. There is no other analogous case. Finally, Jordan has forcefully put forward that none of the witnesses have proved that a specific demand for “Biden dirt” came from an email or conversation with Trump. Schiff was quick to point out that proof of bribery does not require this and corrupt officials are not likely to put into writing that they are interested in bribing the government of a foreign government.
So, as the testimony goes on, you can mark down the number of times we have (1) Character attack, witness bias (2) They got the money anyway (3) Holds are common place and (4) Evidence lacking tying Trump to a bribe. I might also add a number 5 defense, in that Trump’s aid to Ukraine was much better than Obama’s, which has failed because witnesses, if asked, are agreeing with this, and it tends to weaken the character attack defense. I might add a number 6 defense in which to point out inconsistencies from prior testimony. It is a kind of “are you lying now or were you lying in your first deposition” or “how is it that you claim this, as other witnesses/documents show the direct opposite?” . I call this a bit of the war of words.
Democrats have their tactics too, as they are trying to show how all the testimony fits together, and at times they oversimplify things.
Throughout all of this, I still wish the impeachment inquiry was finished with as I feel it will end with the Senate acquitting Trump, and he will be using the word “hoax” – as in impeachment hoax and Russian investigation hoax about a million times from now until election day. Still the evidence is strong – see CNN summary.
CNN Opinion: Trump and bribery claim: Does the shoe fit?