National Review columnist Victor Davis Hanson lambasted Democrats for pursuing impeachment of President Donald Trump over “thought crimes.”
The Hoover Institution senior fellow and author of “The Case for Trump” argued in a recent opinion piece published by Fox News that “alleged bad thoughts are not crimes” and spoke to Ed Henry on “The Story” Friday about his column and the case by Democrats against the president over delayed military aid to Ukraine.
(Video: YouTube/Fox News)
Hanson maintained that the president has done nothing illegal, noting that it is not against the law to “think something.”
“If I want to think about speeding 80 miles an hour and I talk about thinking about it but I actually don’t, I’m not guilty of anything other than harboring a bad thought,” Hanson said.
“So Trump may or may not, we don’t really know, the evidence suggests he didn’t think about delaying aid and that aid was delayed, but it wasn’t cut off. Maybe he thought about cutting it off. But that’s not a crime,” Hanson added.
“There was a context about it and he didn’t force the firing of anybody in Ukraine, and he didn’t interfere in the sense that the Ukrainians started an investigation at his prompt,” he told Henry. “So he didn’t really do anything, just like he didn’t collude with the Russians.”
Henry attempted to push back on Hanson’s remark, noting that two Trump administration Office of Management and Budget officials, who ultimately resigned, had questioned if it was legal to even temporarily hold up the aid, according to impeachment testimony.
“It wasn’t just a thought,” Henry said. “It may have only been days or a couple of weeks, but the aid was held up.”
But Hanson countered that the president has a right to do so.
“It’s not against the law to hold up aid,” he replied.
“Every president, every administration has the right to examine, cross-examine, think, double-think about the aid for a lot of reasons,” he explained. “Maybe they thought it was corrupt. People have suggested that Ukraine couldn’t be trusted until they had verification the new president was reliable. Maybe they thought Donald Trump was too sensitive about giving aid to anybody. All of these are legitimate reasons to delay or to interrupt aid, but the bottom line is he didn’t cut it.”
Hanson went on to note the problem with convicting someone on their thoughts.
“If you’re going to convict people of thought crimes for considering cutting it, what would you do if you said, ‘Well, [former President] Barack Obama never gave them legal aid and a lot of people died because of that?’” Hanson said.
“We’re not impeaching Barack Obama for that,” he added. “That’s his prerogative as a president to say, ‘you know what, I’m not going to give any legal aid to the Ukrainians. Heck with them, hell with them, I don’t care about giving them lethal aid.’ No Republicans said, ‘Oh my God, we’re going to impeach the president, he didn’t give him lethal aid.’”
In his op-ed, Hanson noted the “disconnect” in how the Trump and Obama administrations were treated.
“Trump is accused of thinking about cutting off aid as a lever to force Ukrainian investigations. Yet the prior administration never extended significant military aid and threatened to cancel non-military aid over a bothersome prosecutor,” he wrote, referring to former Vice President Joe Biden’s “intervention in Ukrainian politics on behalf of his son.”
Hanson argued that, even if Ukraine had decided to launch an investigation of Biden, his decision to run for president in 2020 “does not exempt him from government scrutiny of his suspect behavior with regard to Ukraine when he was vice president.”
“Any benefit to Trump of showcasing Biden’s bad behavior came not from thinking about pressuring Ukraine, but from Biden’s own braggadocio,” he wrote, referring to Biden’s bragging about strong-arming the Ukrainians over the release of military aid. “Joe Biden, not Donald Trump, smeared Joe Biden’s reputation.”
“Trump has been accused of thought crimes, not actual crimes,” Hanson concluded in his piece. “Trump can be indiscreet, even crude, in his speech. But alleged bad thoughts are not crimes — at least not outside George Orwell’s dystopian novel ‘1984.’”
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