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Reviewing the minority report from HPSCI.

How does GOP respond to Sondland's July 26th call from Kyev, in which Trump was overheard asking, "So [Zelensky is] going to do the investigation?"

It's not bad because "it was not clear" Trump meant an investigation into the Bidens.
And what is the evidence that Trump's call with Zelensky was not improper?

GOP says since neither the US nor Ukraine read-outs stated that the call had been "substantively concerning," it could not have been problematic. (This is nonsensical. The read-out would never say that.)
GOP also says "NSC leadership did not see the call as illegal or improper."

I wonder how NSA Bolton feels about a list of NSC leadership that doesn't include him.
Note, however, that the GOP is relying on VP's NSA Kellogg for nothing on the call being "wrong or improper" and that he "had and have no concerns."

Kellogg didn't testify to that under oath. The GOP is pulling it from a press release he issued. whitehouse.gov/briefings-stat…
Williams testified the call was "inappropriate." Vindman testified it was "wrong." And though Morrison claimed he didn't think the call was "improper or illegal," he also later said he reported these matters to NSC lawyers due to his concerns that this process might not be legal.
Throughout this process, Trump has repeatedly called the whistleblower's report "wrong," without specifying what about it exactly was incorrect. So I was pretty excited to see House GOP finally give an explanation there.

Turns out it's just gobbledygook, though.
GOP complains the WB stated that Trump sought to pressure Ukraine to take action to help POTUS in 2020 election, but that the call summary does not mention this.

However, the WB complaint is clear they were speaking about acts beyond the 7/25 call, including acts by Giuliani.
GOP also complains the WB was wrong because they alleged that Trump "pressured" Zelensky to investigate the Bidens.

This is a "mischaracterization," according to the GOP, because Trump made the request "only in passing."
The GOP also claims the WB falsely reported Trump wanted Zelensky to "turn over" the Crowdstrike server.

In the past month, Trump has on at least three occasions made public announcements about his desire for a (non-existent) wealthy Ukrainian to turn over the server to him.
GOP also claims the WB wrongly reported that, in the July 25th call, Trump had suggested Zelensky might want to keep Lutsenko.

Why was this wrong? Well GOP says it's because it's "not clear" if Trump meant Lutsenko or Shokin.

(Volker was wrong, btw. It was absolutely Lutsenko.)
At long last, buried at the end of the GOP's list, we finally get to something the WB was actually wrong about: that State Dept. official Brechbuhl was on the 7/25 call.

And the WB does seem to have been wrong about this. Brechbuhl denies it.

It's also not relevant to anything.
Next section: "The evidence does not establish that Trump withheld a meeting with Zelensky to pressure Ukraine to investigate the President’s political rival [to] benefit[] him in the 2020 election."

Note: the undisputed evidence did in fact establish that.
The GOP's evidence that refutes the witnesses who say there was a QPQ:

1. Ukraine has a long history of corruption.
2. Trump had a preexisting dislike of Ukraine.
3. Ukraine attacked Trump during 2016 election.

... this is supposed to prove Trump *wouldn't* blackmail Ukraine?
4. U.S. officials "were split" on whether Zelensky was a good guy.

I don't... wait, what? How is this possibly relevant to anything? What does the GOP think this proves?

You know what, never mind, moving on from this nonsense.
5. "Trump extended an invitation to the White House to
Zelensky on 3 occasions without conditions."

Yes, and then despite massive, sustained, universal pressure from Exec Branch officials who were encouraging him to go ahead with it, Trump ~mysteriously~ refused to schedule it.
6. "Despite difficulty scheduling a face-to-face presidential meeting,
Ukrainian officials interacted often with US officials between May
and Sept 2019."

... yes, and were repeatedly told by senior US officials they wouldn't get the meeting unless they announced investigations.
7. "The evidence does not establish a linkage between a White House meeting and Ukrainian investigations into President Trump’s political rival."

At least for this one, the GOP does mention, kinda sorta, that Sondland testified that hell yes there was a QPQ. But their quotes
are misleading, and their summary omits the actual evidence. Sondland testified that Giuliani was telling everybody – Americans and Ukrainians alike – that Zelensky wasn't getting his meeting until Trump got his investigations.
Most the rest of this section of the GOP report is dedicated to proving that, despite testimony of Hill and Vindman, the July 10th meeting was super pleasant, and everyone was okay with Sondland asking about the investigations.

The GOP's proof? Peopled smiled in pictures after.
8. "The evidence does not establish that Trump directed Pence not to attend Zelensky's inauguration to pressure Ukraine to investigate Trump's political rival."

GOP is right on this one. The evidence was short of conclusive, since those who could answer it didn't testify.
But the Russians, apparently, would disagree. Williams testified that the decision for Pence not to attend came on May 13th... and that same day, Russian state media reported Trump had personally directed Pence not to attend.

How the heck did they even know Pence wasn't going?
9. "Trump and Zelensky met during the UNGA in September 2019 without any Ukrainian action to investigate Trump’s political rival."

The UN ain't at all a substitute for the Oval Office. The bilat was an appeasement that was intended to smooth the way to the actual WH meeting.
Continuing this thread:

GOP summed up their section on the WH meeting QPQ with this. There's no attempt grapple with the fact the Ukrainians *were told* the WH meeting was contingent on investigations – to GOP, it's an irrelevant fact to the question of whether a QPQ existed.
As a legal brief, it would be a stunning failure. There's no attempt to downplay bad facts, or spin them, or cast in a different light. Instead, the existence of those bad facts is not acknowledged. In the GOP's world, facts like this text exchange don't exist.
The next part I(C), addresses the QPQ for the security assistance. Much of it rehashes the previous section: Trump hates all foreign assistance, Trump wants to make Europe pay for Ukraine aid, Trump always hated Ukraine anyway. Screwing over Ukraine was just "America First."
In fact, the GOP argues, Trump still provides more support for Ukraine than Obama did.

Well, which is it, GOP? Did Trump leave Ukraine hanging because he despises them, or does Trump have such a deep commitment to Ukraine that his decision to halt assistance was mere accident?
Section 5: "Although security assistance to Ukraine was paused in July 2019, several witnesses testified that US security assistance was not linked to any Ukrainian action on investigations."

This is not true. Several witnesses testified that *they didn't know* if it was linked.
And once again, testimony about the existence of the link is simply ignored. GOP doesn't address this evidence; their report just pretends it never happened.
6. "Trump rejected any linkage between U.S. security assistance and
Ukrainian action on investigations."

Laughable. The GOP's argument is, "In two private conversations, Trump denied committing a crime, but if Trump had committed a crime, he had no reason not to admit it."
And then the GOP embraces Sondland's testimony about the September 9th phone call – but in a very quick, almost glancing way. They don't linger on the "no quid pro quo" at all.
The minority report also notes how on Aug. 31st, Sen Johnson had already warned Trump not to link investigations with security. (Johnson called because Sondland told him such a link existed.)

So *of course* Trump knew he couldn't outright state that these things were linked.
The minority's discussion of Mulvaney's press conference, in which he expressly and repeatedly confirmed that a quid pro quo existed for the security assistance in exchange for the 2016 election, shows that words don't mean anything anymore:
7. "Senior U.S. officials never substantively discussed the delay in security assistance with Ukrainian officials before the July 25 call."

Sure, this seems to be true. The Ukrainians seem to have first brought it up a few hours after the phone call.
8. "The Ukrainian government denied any awareness of a linkage between U.S.
security assistance and investigations."

Sondland testified that he told Zelensky's advisor Yermak about the link. The GOP cites *a different Ukrainian official* who says Sondland didn't tell him that.
9. 'The Ukrainians WANTED to issue an anti-corruption statement'

There is no evidence of this. GOP also argues Amb. Taylor was wrong about Sondland saying 'businessmen like Trump ask for something before signing a check.'

But Sondland changed his testimony. He doesn't deny it.
After acknowledging that Sondland did in fact "imply that Trump personally sought a conditionality on the security assistance," GOP argues Sondland just made shit up and barely talked to Trump anyway.

But once again, the GOP doesn't acknowledge Sondland changed his testimony.
Side note: after checking the GOP's cites, it highlighted an interesting contradiction for me.

Dr. Hill recalls Sondland coming to the WH to meet with Mulvaney on "a regular basis." But Sondland, in his testimony, denied *ever* having a planned meeting with Mulvaney at all.
In his public testimony, Sondland acknowledges "one" meeting with Mulvaney, not on Ukraine, but he doesn't budge on his story about barely ever talking to him. But he doesn't back off from his earlier testimony about Mulvaney not responding to his texts and calls.
10. "Zelensky never raised a linkage between security assistance and
investigations in his meetings with senior US gov't officials."

In the GOP's fantasy, Zelensky should've said: "Excuse me, Mr. Senator? Yes your president is currently attempting to bribe me, can you plz help."
11. "In early September 2019, President Zelensky’s government implemented several anti-corruption reform measures."

And it didn't get them their WH meeting or the release of the security assistance, now did it?
12. "The security assistance was ultimately disbursed to Ukraine in September 2019 without any Ukrainian action to investigate Trump’s political rival."

Yes, but it did occur after Zelenskly told Sondland he'd go in front of a microphone on CNN and announce the investigations.
Part D: "The evidence does not establish that Trump set up a shadow foreign policy apparatus to pressure Ukraine to investigate Trump's political rival for the purpose of benefiting him in the 2020 election."

All right, let's see how the GOP is defending the Giuliani mess.
1. POTUS has broad authority to conduct foreign policy.
2. POTUS thinks the U.S. government's national security and foreign policy agencies are a bunch of deep state operatives trying to take him down as part of an illegal coup, and he can't trust any of them.
I wish I was kidding about #2, but I'm not. The GOP literally argues that Trump rightfully delegated U.S. foreign policy to his private, unpaid attorney, because of what Peter Strzok and Lisa Page texted to one another and because the FBI got a FISA warrant on Carter Page.
3. Trump could fire Yovanovitch if he wanted. (Yes, so why the elaborate smear campaign that has contributed to 4 people so far being indicted?)
4. Volker/Sondland/Perry were all senior gov't officers with official interests in Ukraine policy. (Yes, they should've known better.)
5. "Referencing Ukrainian corruption, President Trump told Ambassador Volker,
Ambassador Sondland, and Secretary Perry to talk to Mayor Giuliani."

I need to point out how bonkers it is that this section is a DEFENSE of President Trump.
6. "At the Ukrainian govt's request, Volker connected them w/ Giuliani."

Again, the GOP's *defense* is "POTUS hated Ukraine because his personal lawyer fed him lies, poison, and conspiracy theories about it, so in order to not be destroyed Ukraine needed Giuliani to like them."
7. "The Ukrainian government understood that Giuliani was not speaking on behalf of Trump."

What. The. Fuck. Then who was he speaking on behalf of??

If Giuliani wasn't speaking for Trump as his attorney, and not speaking for Trump as a de facto government agent, what was he?
8 and 9: 'Some didn't like what Volker, Perry, Sondland, and Giuliani were doing, but it didn't break the law or harm national security.'

Both Sondland and Volker testified that their involvement with Giuliani was damaging to US nat sec interests, but Trump gave them no choice.
GOP argues there was no "shadow foreign policy," but I'll just refer to Morrison. There were 2 processes, he said.

The 1st is the "proper process." This process does not give POTUS options that are illegal.

And the 2nd is the "other process." It's run by Giuliani and Sondland.
And now we get to Section E: "President Trump is not wrong to raise questions about Hunter Biden’s role with Burisma or Ukrainian government officials’ efforts to influence the 2016 campaign."

JFC, then what was the point of the previous 77 pages that denied that ever happened??
In sections A-D, the minority report goes to exhaustive but nonsensical lengths to explain why the evidence doesn't show Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rival... and then we get to Section E and it's, "Hell yeah he did that shit and it was dope."
"With President Trump’s deep-seated and genuine concern about corruption in Ukraine..."
1. US foreign policy is very concerned about pressuring Ukraine to investigate corruption.
2. There are "legitimate concerns" about the Bidens being corrupt in Ukraine.
3. There are "legitimate questions" about the extent to which Ukraine conspired against Trump in 2016.

For point 2, as evidence of the Bidens' corruption, GOP argues that:

1. Shokin was a corrupt prosecutor, but was fired in less than a year under the Obama admin.
2. Lutsenko was also a super corrupt prosecutor, and yet under the Trump admin he wasn't fired for years.
"Lutsenko was a corrupt prosecutor but he wasn't fired!" says the GOP.

Apparently forgetting that Trump called this corrupt prosecutor a "very good prosecutor," and that Trump's personal attorney met regularly with him, and asked that prosecutor for $500K to be his attorney too.
In section E(3), the GOP full-on embraces the false Russian narrative Dr. Hill warned them about. Their "indisputable evidence" in support of this conspiracy theory is the same "evidence" that Dr. Hill systematically dismantled in her testimony.
Point 1: "In August 2016, [the] then-Ukrainian Ambassador wrote an op-ed in The Hill criticizing Trump’s policies toward Ukraine."

It was an op-ed expressing concern about Trump's embrace of Russia's right to invade Ukraine and seize their territory. thehill.com/blogs/pundits-…
This is what the GOP considers "interference" in a US election: an op-ed by a foreign gov't official noting concern about a candidate's confusing position: "Many in Ukraine are unsure what to think, since Trump's comments stand in sharp contrast to the Republican party platform."
Point 2: The Financial Times article, "Ukraine’s leaders campaign against ‘pro-Putin’ Trump."

Yes, it is true: some Ukrainian politicians were alarmed by a Republican presidential candidate who indicated that he was fine with Russia invading and annexing their country.
The evidence of Ukrainian interference includes a former Ukrainian finance minister tweeting at John McCain: "Please assure us you disagree with statement on Crimea/Ukraine. Trump's lies not position of free world, inc Rep party."

This is interference in a US election, per GOP.
The only, and I mean ONLY, action that any Ukrainian official took that could conceivably have been interference in the election was the publication of evidence from an ongoing Ukrainian investigation into corruption by Ukrainian leaders.
As it turns out, one of the recipients of the laundered and misappropriated Ukrainian government funds was a U.S. political consultant to the former Ukrainian president... who also happened to be Trump's campaign manager at the time. As a consequence, that manager resigned.
There is no evidence that this ongoing investigation into Ukrainian corruption was in any way instituted because of Trump. It did become newsworthy because his campaign manager happened to be a part of the corruption.

But let's break down what the GOP is claiming here.
The GOP says Ukrainian govt interfered in US election by releasing info from an ongoing corruption investigation that could impact the US election...

and this proves that Trump asking Ukraine to investigate a 2020 rival was in no way an attempt to interfere in the 2020 election.
Point 3: "Other senior Ukr officials called Trump a 'clown,' a 'dangerous misfit,' and 'dangerous,' and alleged that candidate Trump 'challenged the very values of the free world.'"

As Dr. Hill pointed out, lots of countries said similar things. But Trump only hates Ukraine.
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