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(THREAD) BREAKING: A top Trump ally revealed Trump's impeachment defense today—and it's not what many expected. I break it down here using Ukraine-scandal reporting and my experience as a defense lawyer. I hope you'll read this and RETWEET—as America needs to know what's coming.
1/ First, a note about how to conceptualize crafting a defense in an unwinnable criminal investigation—as media tends to only value the analysis of former prosecutors and longtime prosecutors who have become the sort of high-priced defense attorneys who can choose their clients.
2/ I was a public defender for years—which means I didn't choose my cases. As every "high-volume criminal defense attorney" knows, the difference between our ability to spot a defense and the ability of former prosecutors or case-selective defense attorneys to do so is—well—vast.
3/ Right now America is being told by legal analysts on TV—almost all of whom are well-intentioned but, by virtue of being former prosecutors or high-priced defense lawyers, never worked as high-volume defense lawyers who can't pick their cases—that Trump has *no* defense. False.
4/ Trump has a *very* viable defense, and a large enough defense team that it was inevitable that *someone* on that team would discover it. Today, an interview by Fox News Channel with one of Trump's top surrogates, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), revealed what Trump's defense will be.
5/ The defense Kennedy revealed is the defense any public defender I've worked with would've eventually come up with in a case like this, so I'm hoping *some* media outlet may soon discuss it. I'll first summarize the defense, then unpack—and conclusively rebut—all aspects of it.
6/ The defense: For Trump to be authorized to withhold aid from Ukraine, he doesn't need to be *correct* in his belief Ukraine aided Clinton, just show (1) there is *some* evidence of that; (2) it was never investigated; and (3) he consistently has been worried about this issue.
7/ He'll also argue (4): he doesn't have to personally have raised a specific issue involving Ukraine's alleged involvement in the 2016 election with Ukrainian officials in order to be able to say it motivated him; his agents can do so or he can have done so in prior statements.
8/ This is a defense Democrats and media don't appear to expect, but it's the one that's coming. And it'll have maximum impact on America—as it involves witnesses most Americans haven't heard of—if it isn't *conclusively debunked in the media* before it arrives. Thus this thread.
9/ To understand how the defense works, you must understand first the info Trump is hoping Democrats and media *don't* reveal to Americans pre-trial. Many desperate defenses—the sort that arise in unwinnable cases that no one wanted to go to trial on—involve such "missing" info.
10/ Here's a list of things Trump does *not* want you to know as he prepares a "surprise" defense for America:

1. Trump's presidential candidacy was *openly endorsed* by *numerous* world leaders during the 2016 presidential election. Trump *eagerly* received such endorsements.

1 (cont.). Trump's presidential candidacy was *publicly and formally* endorsed by the presidents of Hungary and the Czech Republic. It was endorsed *implicitly*—via public statements—by the presidents of Russia, North Korea, and Egypt. But that's not all—not by a long shot.

1 (cont.). Trump's candidacy was also endorsed by *numerous* high-level politicians from conservative political parties all around the world, including France, the Netherlands, Israel and many other nations. Trump deemed all these endorsements to be *wonderful* and *legal*.

1 (cont.). The reason this matters is that Trump's defense *hinges* on the idea that *any* public statement of support for Clinton by a Ukrainian official *immediately* legitimized him considering Ukraine to be a "corrupt" nation his administration would have to investigate.

1 (cont.). So Trump's defense will focus on statements by Ukrainian officials like Ukrainian ambassador Valeriy Chaly and Ukrainian parliamentarian Serhiy Leshchenko. Trump wants you to *falsely* believe he considers foreign endorsements of political candidates "corruption."
15/ Side note: no foreign nation has *ever* had better reason to see its politicians come out in favor of a US politician's rival than Ukraine had in seeing a few of its politicians (a very, very few) express support for Clinton over Trump. And it's *Trump's fault* this happened.
16/ Ukraine is a *European nation*. It's the *largest European nation entirely in Europe* and the *seventh-largest European nation* by population. It is America's *indispensable* buffer zone between Russian military aggression and the West. It *will* end up in NATO *and* the EU.
17/ Ukraine is AT WAR with Russia because Russia INVADED EUROPE.

To repeat: Russia INVADED EUROPE to MAKE WAR on one of America's most indispensable EUROPEAN ALLIES, a country that WILL soon gain admittance to NATO AND the European Union.

The Russian invasion was a WAR CRIME.
18/ America has *never before* had a president who would fail to support a European ally invaded by an enemy of the United States.

Yet Trump not only opposed lethal defense aid to Ukraine during the 2016 campaign, but said Russia should face *no punishment* for invading Ukraine.
19/ And Trump announced—as Ukrainians were *fighting and dying* in a war with Russia—that Russia should probably be allowed to *keep* the part of Ukraine it had already invaded and stolen: an area of land making up more than 7% of *all of Ukraine*. And Trump acted on this belief.
20/ Not only did Trump support Putin's claim to 7% of Ukraine and its right to invade Europe without consequence, his team worked secretly with Kremlin agents/pro-Kremlin Ukrainians to craft a "peace deal" in the Ukraine-Russia war that was *full Ukrainian capitulation to Putin*.
21/ In view of this, it's *amazing* that *every Ukrainian politician* didn't come out publicly in support of Clinton—which Trump wouldn't have been able to complain about, as *he* was receiving foreign endorsements left and right. Instead, only a *few* Ukrainian politicians did.
22/ The second point Trump will emphasize:

2. Trump will say that not only did Ukrainians (in tiny numbers) publicly attack him and support Clinton's candidacy—frankly, it was more them rightfully attacking his *Ukraine policy* than endorsing Clinton—he'll say they *helped* her.

2 (cont.). Specifically, Trump will call left-wing/semi-reluctant U.S. witnesses like Alexandra Chalupa and willing/"faux whistleblower" Ukrainian witnesses like Andrii Telizhenko to claim that in 2016 the Ukrainian embassy was passing information to the DNC through Chalupa.

2 (cont.). One reason any high-volume criminal defense attorney would choose the defense Trump is going to go with is because there are *many accurate pieces of information* within it and anything "false" is merely something left out (as opposed to a lie actively delivered).

2 (cont.). For instance, Chalupa *was* a well-paid DNC consultant who was, in 2016, secretly passing information from Ukrainian nationals at the Ukrainian embassy to officials at the DNC. But—well, there are a *lot* of buts here that Trump's defense will of course leave out.

2 (cont.). Chalupa's work was focused on Manafort—not Trump—and she'd been investigating him pro bono since before Trump announced his run. The DNC never asked her to get info and never used in its materials any info she got them. But there's more wrong with Trump's defense.

2 (cont.). It's unclear that *any* info the Ukrainian embassy gave to Chalupa it wasn't *also* giving to reporters and/or making available in other ways. And Chalupa's aim was to get Congressional hearings on Manafort, not Trump. But there's more wrong with Trump's defense.

2 (cont.). Chalupa stopped working for the DNC in June 2016, *before Trump was the Republican nominee*. During the general election, her focus was on getting info about Manafort to the press, not the DNC. But there's even more wrong with Trump's "Chalupa defense" than this.

2 (cont.). Manafort's activities in Ukraine, *per Trump*, had *nothing to do with him*—so why would he care if Chalupa uncovered them? (And BTW, Manafort *did*, as Chalupa claimed, turn out to be a criminal.) And Trump fired Manafort and moved on—so what's the big deal here?
30/ Side note: the big deal is what I've been discussing for nearly two years: the January '18 NBC report that reveals Trump has told friends that Manafort could bring him down—meaning there was criminal conduct involved in Trump's relationship with Manafort that he wants hidden.
31/ So to the extent Trump is "angry" he "lost" Manafort as campaign chief—except he didn't, as he kept secretly speaking to him for 9 to 18 months, per major-media reports—is because it led to Manafort being convicted and Trump needing to eventually pardon him to keep him happy.
32/ So Trump will have difficulty explaining why an attack on Manafort's *pre-campaign Ukraine activities* is an attack on *Trump*, as the answer to this—a question I and others are feverishly working on now—is likely that Trump knows more than he says about Manafort's activites.
33/ Indeed, it'd be better to say Ukraine and Chalupa *aided* Trump is *excising* from him a criminal actor with a shady past that could only explode in his face as more info about Russian attacks on America became known. Thank god they got their info to Trump by August of 2016!
34/ But more than all this, isn't Ukraine entitled to investigate (domestically) an American who committed crimes in Ukraine? And can't they do that on any schedule they like? On what basis can Trump claim the proper functioning of Ukrainian law enforcement is targeted at *him*?
35/ And beyond this—the real kicker—*Don Jr. did far worse things in bringing information from the Kremlin to Trump's campaign*, as did *more than a dozen Trump aides*, and Trump...

...*said there was nothing wrong with it*. So he can't pretend he finds such actions corrupt now!
36/ This brings us to the *third* part of Trump's defense, because every good "desperate" defense has multiple fallback positions:

3. Trump will say that *even if* Ukrainians could endorse Clinton, and *even if* they could send info to the DNC, they can't *manufacture* evidence.

3 (cont.). That's right: part of Trump's defense will involve claims (previously ferried by Nunes, Giuliani, Kennedy, and others) that the "black ledger" that proved Manafort was a criminal was... wait for it... *forged by the Ukrainians to help Clinton win the White House*!

3 (cont.). Trump's theory is that if he can show (spoiler: he *can't*!) that either the Poroshenko administration or NABU (Ukraine's independent anti-corruption unit) released *forged* evidence to target Manafort, that was, implicitly, an attempt to aid Clinton and hurt him.

3 (cont.). The issues in this second-to-last fallback position in Trump's defense are...many. First, Manafort has already been successfully prosecuted/imprisoned. Second, there's no credible evidence of forgery. Third, Russia did far worse to help Trump *and he welcomed it*.

3 (cont.). Trump learned Russia was waging cyberwar on America and stealing US docs and Trump *publicly and privately sought access those docs* and *told ABC him doing so was OK*. How could it be—had it happened, which it *didn't*—"corrupt" if Ukraine did something similar?
41/ Trump's defense will raise *old grievances* against Ukraine that he'll say were sufficient in number, seriousness, and proof that he *always* thought Ukraine needed investigating, was *justifiably upset*, and therefore *withheld aid* in a valiant attempt to force a new probe.
42/ Which brings us to the *fifth* element—and final fallback position—of Trump's defense.

5. Trump *actually* only spoke about the "Crowdstrike" and "Burisma" conspiracy theories with Zelensky—and this could be a problem for his defense that he has only a few options to solve.

5 (cont.). Any complaints Trump had about Chalupa or the "black ledger" were ferried by surrogates—not Trump—so he'd need to call witnesses who'd say he *privately* was angry about (and *publicly* referring to) Chalupa and the "black ledger" when he complained about Ukraine.

5 (cont.). Alternatively, Trump could—this'd be the *real* Hail Mary—try to claim the "Crowdstrike" (Ukraine hacked the DNC server, not Russia) and "Burisma" (Biden bribed Poroshenko to protect Hunter) conspiracy theories are true...though there's no evidence of that at all.
45/ Today on FNC, Trump surrogate John Kennedy accidentally—or out of stupidity, as @SenJohnKennedy is *very* stupid—revealed that Trump and his defense team are *conflating* the *Chalupa* evidence and the *Crowdstrike* evidence to pretend the former *is* the latter. (It's not!)
@SenJohnKennedy 46/ This is the "bait-and-switch" in Trump's impeachment defense: use something stupid, true, but non-illegal (*particularly in Trump's view*)—Ukraine, Chalupa and the DNC being in contact in 2016—and pretend it's something nonsensical but *illegal* like the "Crowdstrike" theory.
@SenJohnKennedy 47/ Trump's defense suggests he's told his defense team and surrogates he'll *not let go* of the "Crowdstrike" and "Burisma" theories—perhaps because these *are* what actually animated his hatred of Ukraine. So his team is trying to fold "real" evidence into those phony theories.
@SenJohnKennedy 48/ If you're read this far, you'll know that America is *totally unprepared* for this to be Trump's defense—media isn't discussing it; most Americans have never heard of these witnesses; Trump hasn't discussed Chalupa or the "black ledger" much, if at all—and that *helps* Trump.
@SenJohnKennedy 49/ There's also no evidence Democrats like @AdamSchiff—smart as they are (and Schiff is, truly, the lawyer most lawyers want to be)—realize the *circus* Trump is planning to turn his trial into by running a "Crowdstrike"/"Burisma" defense that uses *things that really happened*.
@SenJohnKennedy @AdamSchiff 50/ I hope Dems and media will see this thread. It's based on research, experience and a willingness to say—not all Democrats will—that stupid things were done in 2016 that *will* return to haunt Democrats, even if they shouldn't. So please RT the first tweet in this thread. /end
@SenJohnKennedy @AdamSchiff MEDIA/ The clip below contains Kennedy's deceitful conflation of the Chalupa evidence (which Trump cannot possibly claim to have been motivated by in "ordering the code red" [movie reference] on Ukraine) and the fantastical "Crowdstrike" conspiracy theory.
@SenJohnKennedy @AdamSchiff NOTE/ As an impeachment trial *isn't* a criminal trial and *doesn't* require proof beyond a reasonable doubt—because the punishment for conviction is noncriminal—Teri is right to a) note legal issues with Trump's defense, *and* b) that they may not matter.
@SenJohnKennedy @AdamSchiff NOTE2/ In other words Trump *should* have to show he went through an appropriate process to withhold aid but *won't have to*—all his GOP jurors will require is he show he had *any* valid evidence to support him withholding aid for *any* reason. That's how insanely low the bar is.
@SenJohnKennedy @AdamSchiff NOTE3/ Below is a summary of all four conspiracy theories the GOP will push on America at Trump's impeachment trial—despite knowing all four were born out of Russian disinformation. Any GOP senator who votes for acquittal will be voting for a Kremlin plot.
@SenJohnKennedy @AdamSchiff NOTE4/ So, could Democrats undercut Trump's likely impeachment defense by bringing Obstruction of Justice (Mueller) and Contempt of Congress (Ukraine) Articles of Impeachment? It's true that Trump has no defense to these, but the GOP has telegraphed it would just ignore them.
@SenJohnKennedy @AdamSchiff NOTE5/ Though there's no legal/constitutional basis whatsoever for making this distinction, Republicans have indicated that for political rhetorical purposes their position is that a president can commit obstruction of justice if he has been "wrongfully" accused of another crime.
@SenJohnKennedy @AdamSchiff NOTE6/ To be clear, I strongly believe that the Democrats should bring Articles of Impeachment on both Obstruction of Justice and Contempt of Congress, as I don't believe you withhold justified Articles for purely political purposes. I'm simply saying they're unlikely to succeed.
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