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In our #impeachment depositions, some of my GOP colleagues argued that President Trump had good reason to think Ukraine "interfered" against him in our 2016 election, and thus to demand Ukraine investigate this. Let's take a look at the examples they cited. (1)
The first was this oped the Ukrainian ambassador to the US wrote in 2016, which the Republicans said showed that Ukraine was against Trump. But all it does is criticize a statement Trump made suggesting he might recognize Russia's takeover of Crimea. thehill.com/blogs/pundits-… (2)
Here's what Trump had said - a total break with bipartisan US policy. Any Ukrainian official would have felt duty bound to push back (just as any US diplomat would object if, say, a foreign leader promised to recognize Texas as part of Mexico. (3)
Their second example was that in 2016 the current Ukrainian Minister of Interior, Arsen Avakov, called candidate Trump a "clown" on Twitter. Foreign officials shouldn't use that kind of language, but to call this "interference" in our election is silly. (4)
Their third example was that in 2016 a Ukrainian journalist, Serhyi Leschenko, disclosed evidence that Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was getting off-the-book payments from corrupt Ukrainians. (5)
I'm not sure why they think it's bad that a Ukrainian journalist revealed actual evidence of corruption by Manafort that the FBI then used to put him behind bars. Anyway, it's certainly not election interference. (6)
I asked Col. Alex Vindman if any of these examples constituted interference in our elections. He said no, calling them totally different from Russia's covert effort in 2016: "a deeper insidious effort to undermine a country's elections, to falsify elections." (7)
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