House Democrats released a batch of Trump administration text messages late Thursday that they believe proves without a shadow of a doubt that President Donald Trump used a quid pro quo offer to try to force Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden.
“This is not normal or acceptable. It is unethical, unpatriotic, and wrong. American presidents should never press foreign powers to target their domestic political rivals. Engaging in these stunning abuses in broad daylight does not absolve President Trump of his wrongdoings—or his grave offenses against the Constitution,” top Democrats said in a joint statement.
But the evidence suggests that, as usual, this is all just political theatre.
Today @HouseForeign, @HouseIntel & @OversightDems received testimony from Amb Volker as part of the House impeachment inquiry. Following the interview, Chairs @RepEliotEngel, @RepAdamSchiff & @RepCummings updated members.
Read the full letter ⤵️https://t.co/kTzWIcBMCN
— House Foreign Affairs Committee (@HouseForeign) October 4, 2019
According to Democrats and their media allies, one message in question purportedly shows that prior to Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky, U.S. Special Envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker told one of Zelensky’s aides that a future meeting in Washington between Zelensky and Trump was contingent on the Ukrainian president agreeing to investigate Biden’s alleged corruption.
Messages such as these prove that Trump administration officials “tried to strike a deal on behalf of President Donald Trump for Ukraine’s leader to investigate discredited allegations of wrongdoing by Joe Biden and his son in return for improving relations with the U.S.,” Bloomberg reported.
“Good lunch – thanks. Heard from White House – assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington. Good luck! See you tomorrow- kurt,” the actual text message from Volker reads.
The message didn’t reference Biden once — it referenced credible allegations that certain corrupt Ukrainian officials meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In fact, none of the text messages released Thursday mentioned Biden or his son Hunter by name. Not one.
Read the texts for yourself below:
Another allegedly concerning text message sent two weeks after the phone call shows Zelensky’s aide Andrey Yermak promising that the Ukrainian president would formally announce an investigation into 2016 election meddling and the corruption-linked firm Burisma only after a future meeting was confirmed.
“Once we have a date we will call for a press briefing, announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for the reboot of US-UKRAINE relationship, including among other things Burisma and election meddling in investigations,” he wrote.
The Washington Post has suggested that the Trump administration’s interest in Burisma was rooted in the president’s desire to make Biden suffer politically.
“Again, an investigation into Burisma is, in essence, an investigation into Hunter Biden’s work and an effort to position Joe Biden as having acted unethically. Yermak is promising to uphold his end of the quid pro quo, once a date is set,” the Post reported Thursday.
That’s speculation based on the unproven conspiracy theory that the president has been pushing Zelensky to investigate Biden to hurt his chances in the 2020 election. In reality, he’s been pushing for an investigation into Biden as per the requirements of his job as president.
Both Democrats and their media allies believe that the smoking gun is a text message sent in early September by Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.
The message concerns the president’s decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine.
“I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Taylor wrote to Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.
Is that not proof of a quid pro quo?
These texts are completely bonkers, prima facie evidence of all that we have feared about Trump. But the complete unwillingness of any elected member of the @GOP to acknowledge is a more fundamental problem. https://t.co/hI7UynRasP
— Sean Casten (@SeanCasten) October 4, 2019
Not what you want to read for a good night’s sleep: “Top American diplomat in Ukraine repeatedly raised concerns about White House’s decision to withhold $391 million in aid from Ukraine, describing it as a “crazy” plan to withhold assistance “for help with a political campaign”
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) October 4, 2019
In newly disclosed texts shared with Congress and obtained by ABC News, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine at the time writes to a group of other American diplomats: “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”https://t.co/TrivTLgbXZ
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 3, 2019
Bill Taylor (running the US embassy in Ukraine):
“As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) October 4, 2019
In one text exchange dated Sept. 9, the career diplomat says, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” https://t.co/QbOoC0YwZF
— NPR (@NPR) October 4, 2019
It’s going to be hard for the @GOP to employ the no quid-pro-quo defense against texts like “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
— Democratic Coalition (@TheDemCoalition) October 4, 2019
Devastating timeline for @realDonaldTrump
Mid-July: Trump halts aid to Ukraine
July 25: Right after Ukranian leader asks about aid, @POTUS asks for “favor though”.
Sept 9: Top US Diplomat- “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” https://t.co/xGkSW0ZRVg
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) October 4, 2019
Actually, it’s not …
Missing from all of the tweets above was Sondland’s telling reply.
“Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions,” he wrote. “The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign.”
The statement appears to debunk the Democrats’ entire narrative, as it offers stark proof that the president has been telling the truth about his desire to root out corruption, not affect the 2020 election.
So does what Volker himself reportedly said while testifying to Congress on Thursday.
“The facts we learned today from Ambassador Volker undercut the salacious narrative that @RepAdamSchiff is using to sell his impeachment ambitions,” House Oversight Committee ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan tweeted in a statement after the hearing.
The facts we learned today from Ambassador Volker undercut the salacious narrative that @RepAdamSchiff is using to sell his impeachment ambitions.
We hope the American people get to read the transcript of today’s testimony and see the truth.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) October 4, 2019
Jordan was equally unimpressed by the allegedly smoking gun text messages:
This unilateral and cherry-picked release by the Democrats is a desperate attempt to further their failing impeachment narrative and skew the story.
This information cannot possibly be understood without Volker’s explanations from today’s testimony. https://t.co/1WFsazEtEa
— Oversight Committee Republicans (@GOPoversight) October 4, 2019
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