At Real Clear Politics, Peter J. Wallison explains just why the House case for impeachment is a clear loser. He writes (abridged):
It’s over. Although there is still more to hear from White House lawyers this week, their short presentation on Saturday made clear that the House impeachment case is a loser.
The House managers’ argument is simple. It alleges that President Trump withheld military assistance from Ukraine in order to force that country’s new president to investigate — among other things — why and how former Vice President Biden’s son became a director of a corrupt Ukrainian energy company.
A subsidiary argument is that Trump also refused to provide, for the same reason, a White House meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky. In withholding the assistance and the meeting, the House managers argue, Trump used the power of the U.S. government for his own political purposes — a corrupt act that they claim warrants his impeachment.
The president’s lawyers, however, in their short two-hour summary of what they will say this week in more detail, fatally undermined this case. They began with the famous July 25 transcript that recorded a conversation that day between the two leaders. In the transcript, as the lawyers pointed out, neither Trump nor Zelensky made any reference to the military equipment for Ukraine that Trump was allegedly using to pressure his counterpart.
Even more important, there is nothing in the transcript that suggests Zelensky was aware — at least on July 25 — that anything was being withheld from Ukraine. Obviously, Trump could not be pressuring Zelensky by holding back military assistance if the latter was not aware of it. This is a fatal flaw in the House managers’ argument.
What’s left for Senate Democrats is an attempt to get 51 votes for additional witnesses. But it’s a fool’s errand.
Peter J. Wallison a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
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