House Republicans circulate memo outlining Trump defenses ahead of public impeachment testimony

House Republicans circulate memo outlining Trump defenses ahead of public impeachment testimony
United States Institute of Peace

Pro-Trump Republicans, in recent weeks, have offered a variety of talking points in opposition to the impeachment inquiry that President Donald Trump is facing in the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives. And GOP staff of three Democrat-led House panels involved in the inquiry, CNN reports, are circulating a memo outlining some key talking points in defense of the president.

CNN reporters Phil Mattingly and Veronica Stracqualursi describe the memo as “the most centralized and detailed effort to lay out the Republican counterargument to impeachment that has been crafted.” And the memo, which CNN has obtained a copy of, consists of four main talking points.

One is that Trump’s July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “shows no conditionality or evidence of pressure.”

House Democrats have been arguing that on July 25, Trump tried to pressure Zelensky into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden — and that urging a foreign leader to investigate a political rival is an impeachable offense.

Another Trump defense outlined in the memo is that Trump and Zelensky “have both said there was no pressure on the call.” And a third defense is that “the Ukrainian government was not aware of the hold on U.S. assistance” when the leaders spoke on July 25.

Trump critics have been asserting that he made investigating the Bidens a condition of receiving military aid.

The fourth talking point is that a hold on assistance to Ukraine was lifted on September 11.

The memo reads, “these four key points undercut the Democrat impeachment narrative that President Trump leveraged U.S. security assistance and a presidential meeting to force Ukraine to investigate the president’s political rivals.”

This memo comes just as the impeachment inquiry is getting ready to present its first public testimony. So far, all of the witnesses who have testified have done so in closed-doors hearings.

The three witnesses scheduled to testify publicly this week are diplomat William Taylor, who handled Ukraine-related matters for the Trump Administration; George Kent, an official for the U.S. State Department; and Marie Yovanovitch, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Taylor and Kent are both scheduled to testify this Wednesday, November 13, while Yovanovitch’s testimony is set for this Friday, November 15. All three of them have already testified in closed-door hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry.

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