The impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump began this morning with the opening statements from Rep. Adam Schiff and the reading out of two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The president himself was not here to see it but must have caught the tail end of the statements from his motorcade in Davos, Switzerland, where he is attending the World Economic Forum.
Predictably, Trump’s response was to take to Twitter and fire off an all-caps message demanding that they “read the transcripts,” which refer to the transcripts of his “perfect phone call” with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 21, 2020
It’s curious that this has become his rallying cry, since reading the transcript kicked off the impeachment case in the first place.
The “perfect phone call” was made to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to ask him to “do us a favor.” That favor was for the Ukrainian government to work with the U.S. Attorney General in order to open sham investigations into the conspiracy theory that a Ukrainian company was involved in the 2016 election interference probe and into Hunter Biden over his position on the board at a major natural gas company.
If you read the transcript that the White House itself posted on its website, it very clearly shows the President asking Zelenksy to “look into” Joe Biden and to do “whatever you can do” with his Attorney General, William Barr, because “a lot of people want to find out” what happened with “Joe Biden’s son.”
In the course of the past few months, we have learned that the White House deliberately and illegally withheld millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine in order to cajole them into cooperation. It appears that the President dispatched his ally Rudy Giuliani and his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, to Ukraine in order to set up the sham investigations, the results of which would be used to bolster Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.
Following the October arrest of Parnas and the president’s subsequent disavowal of him, Parnas has released a trove of documents that appear to indicate they had arranged an earlier quid pro quo with Ukrainian ex-prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko, who would publicly criticize Joe Biden on the condition that a U.S. ambassador critical of his record, Maria Yovanovich, was removed from her position.
Yovanovich was recalled from Ukraine in May 2019 after a smear campaign orchestrated by Parnas, the right-wing media machine, and participation from the president’s son Don Jr. The recall effort was spearheaded by Texas Republican Pete Sessions, who just so happened to have received a seven-figure re-election ad buy from the Trump Super PAC which Parnas had illegally given money too.
Other documents appear to indicate that a Republican congressional candidate close to the Trumps, Robert Hyde, had been surveilling Yovanovich and may even have threatened her.
So he can tell us to reread the transcript as many times as he likes, but each reading will only serve to reinforce the notion that the President is extremely guilty and he knows it.