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White House Counsel Presents Defense Of President Trump In Senate Impeachment Hearing. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired January 25, 2020 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PREET BHARARA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: It makes no sense at all, but it's the way that I think not just we were talking before about the constituency of the president and the constituency of the public. There's also the president's base. I think the president's base eats up this idea that Joe Biden and Hunter Biden are corrupt and want a day on trial, and they embrace this idea of those guys being on trial, and that might be effective to preserving the people who already support the president.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Jennifer Rodgers, if they don't have to convince a lot of Republicans to their side, is the audience really the president and his supporters?
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think he is. And I think another thing that we're going to hear is a lot of this I'm the victim narrative that he likes to spin. We heard a lot about that in the opening statements.
It's going to be a lot of there no process here, I didn't get my due process. The secret hearing. So in addition to the Biden, Biden, Biden, I think we're going to get a lot of look at how they've treated me, this is so unfair, it's a witch-hunt. No one has ever been treated as poorly as I have. And that is directed, of course, at the public and at Trump himself because he loves that sort of narrative.
COOPER: It's also the aid went through. Regardless of what happened, the aid went through. There's no there there.
ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think what you're going to hear is, number one, this is about impeachment, and this is about sort of choosing a president outside of an election, the effect on the last election, the potential effect on the next election. You're going to hear that there was no harm, no foul.
There will be a focus on the Bidens to give the public a sense of why Trump was concerned. I think what you're going to hear is that Trump was concerned about corruption in Ukraine, and payments to Hunter Biden were emblematic of that corruption and that's why he was concerned about it.
And as Jennifer said, you are going to hear that the process at the House, the investigation, was infected with partisanship and deprived the president of his ability to defend himself. I think that's going to be the summary of the case.
COOPER: The argument that I've never quite understood, which is that concern about Ukraine, therefore asked Ukraine to announce an investigation. If you're really concerned about corruption, obviously, you would want FBI, you would want the Treasury Department of the U.S., you would want the U.S. authorities to actually do an investigation. I guess the argument has been the deep state, it was such a concern that he couldn't rely on the levers of power that the president has at his disposal.
BHARARA: I think the reason you don't understand the argument is because the argument is incomprehensible. It's silly, it's foolish. It's the kind of argument you make when you actually don't have a good basis. We keep talking about the evidence.
When trial lawyers go into court and they have the law and the facts on their side, they say, among other things, use your common sense. And your common sense tells that the president of the United States has never in any other context ever cared about corruption generally. He cares about himself, he cares about his electoral success, he cares about beating the people who might be in a position to beat him. And that's what happened here.
In all sort of other contexts, one of my favorites is the fact when two sitting Republican congressmen in the United States were charged with crimes by his Justice Department in the weeks leading up to the 2018 election, the president of the United States tweeted specifically and denigrated Jeff Sessions, saying way to go, we have the election coming up -- I'm paraphrasing -- and here you are charging two Republican congressmen with corruption offenses, one of which was an insider trading offense. That to me is part of the evidence that the president cares about politics exclusively, cares about himself exclusively.
COOPER: Let's listen in.
BARRY BLACK, SENATE CHAPLAIN: Let us pray. Eternal God, the way, the truth, and the life unite our senators in their striving to do your will. Lord, you have been our help in ages past. You are our hope for the years to come. We trust the power of your prevailing providence to bring this impeachment trial to the conclusion you desire.
Lord, we acknowledge that your thoughts are not our thoughts, and your ways are not our ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are your thoughts higher than our thoughts, and your ways higher than our ways.
Lord, we love you. Empower our senators, renew their strength, we pray in your dependable name. Amen.
JOHN ROBERTS, SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE: Please join me in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag.
CROWD: I pledge the allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
ROBERTS: Senators, please be seated. If there is no objection, the journal of proceedings of the trial are approved to date. The sergeant at arms will make the proclamation.
MICHAEL STENGER, SENATE SERGEANT AT ARMS: Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye, all persons are commanded to keep silent on pain of imprisonment while the Senate of the United States is sitting for the trials of the Articles of Impeachment exhibited by the House of Representatives against Donald John Trump, president of the United States.
ROBERTS: The majority leader is recognized.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Colleagues, we should expect two to three hours of session today. We'll take a quick break if needed.
ROBERTS: Pursuant to the provisions of Senate Resolution 483, the counsel for the president have 24 hours to make the presentation of their case. The Senate will now hear you. The presiding officer recognizes Mr. Cipollone to begin presentation of the case for the president.
PAT CIPOLLONE, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice. Senators, Leader McConnell, Democratic Leader Schumer, thank you for your time and thank you for your attention. I want to start out just very briefly giving you a short plan for today. We're going to be very respectful of your time, as Leader McConnell said. We anticipate going about two to three hours at most, and to be out of here by 1:00 at the latest.
We're going to focus today on two points. You've heard the House manager speak for nearly 24 hours over three days. We don't anticipate using that much time. We don't believe that they have come anywhere close to meeting their burden for what they're asking you to do. In fact, we believe when you hear the facts -- and that's what we intend to cover today, the facts -- you will find that the president did absolutely nothing wrong.
And what we intend to do today, and we'll have more presentations in greater detail on Monday, but what we intend to do today is go through their record that they established in the House. And we intend to show you some of the evidence they adduced in the House that they decided over their three days and 24 hours that they didn't have enough time or made a decision not to show you. And every time you see one of these pieces of evidence, ask yourself, why didn't I see that in the first three days? They had it. It came out of their process. Why didn't they show that to the Senate?
And I think that's an important question, because as House managers, really, their goal should be to give you all of the facts, because they're asking you to do something very, very, very consequential, and I would submit to you, to use a word that Mr. Schiff used a lot, very, very dangerous.
And that's the second point that I'd ask you to keep in mind today. They're asking you not only to overturn the results of the last election, but as I've said before, they're asking you to remove President Trump in the ballot in an election that's occurring in approximately nine months. They're asking you to tear up all of the ballots across this country on your own initiative, take that decision away from the American people.
And I don't think they spent one minute of their 24 hours talking to you about the consequences of that for our country, not one minute. They didn't tell you what that would mean for our country today, this year, and forever into our future. They're asking you to do something that no Senate has ever done, and they're asking you to do it with no evidence. And that's wrong, and I ask you to keep that in mind. I ask you to keep that in mind.
So what I would do is point out one piece of evidence for you, and then I'm going to turn it over to my colleagues, and they will walk you through their record, and they will show you things that they didn't show you.
They didn't talk a lot about the transcript of the call, which I would submit is the best evidence of what happened on the call. And they said things over and over again that are simply not true. One of them was there's no evidence of President Trump's interest in burden- sharing.
That wasn't the real reason. But they didn't tell you that burden- sharing was discussed in the call, in the transcript of the call. They didn't tell you that. Why? Let me read it to you. Here's the president -- and we will go through the entire transcript. I'm not going to read the whole transcript. We'll make it available -- I'm sure you have it, but we'll make available copies of the transcript so you can have it.
The president said -- and they read this line -- "I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time." But they stopped there. They didn't read the following. "Much more than European countries are doing, and they should be helping you more than they are. Germany does almost nothing for you. All they do is talk.
And I think it's something that you should really ask them about. When I was speaking to Angela Merkel, she talks Ukraine, but she doesn't do anything. A lot of European countries are the same way. So I think it's something you want to look at, but the United States has been very, very good to Ukraine." That's where they picked up again with the quote, but they left out the entire discussion of burden-sharing.
Now, what does President Zelensky say? Does he disagree? No. He agrees. They didn't tell you this. They didn't tell you this. They didn't have time in 24 hours to tell you this. "Yes, you are absolutely right, not only 100 percent but actually 100 percent. And I can tell you the following, I did talk to Angela Merkel, and I did meet with her, and I also met and talked with Macron.
And I told them that they are not doing quite as much as they need to be doing on the issues with the sanctions. They are not enforcing the sanctions. They are not working as much as they should work for Ukraine. It turns out that even though logically the European Union should be our -- should be our biggest partner but technically the United States is a much bigger partner than the European Union.
And I'm very grateful to you for that, because the United States is doing quite a lot for Ukraine, much more than the European Union, especially when we are talking about sanctions against the Russian Federation."
You heard a lot about the importance of confronting Russia, and we're going to talk about that. And you will hear that President Trump has a strong record on confronting Russia. You will hear that President Trump has a strong record of support for Ukraine. You will hear that from the witnesses in their record that they didn't tell you about. So that's one very important example.
They come here to the Senate and they ask you, remove a president, tear up the ballots in all of your states, and they don't bother to read the key evidence of the discussion of burden-sharing that's in the call itself. That's emblematic of their entire presentation.
I'm going to turn the presentation over to my colleague Mike Purpura. He's going to walk you through many more examples of this. And with each example, ask yourself, why am I just hearing about this now, after 24 hours of sitting through arguments? Why? And the reason is, we can talk about the process, we will talk about the law, but today we're going to confront them on the merits of their argument.
Now, they have the burden of proof. And they have not come close to meeting it. In fact, and I want to ask you to think about one issue regarding process, beyond process. If you were really interested in finding out the truth, why would you run a process the way they ran? If you were really confident in your position on the facts, why would you lock everybody out of it from the president's side? Why would you do that?
We will talk about the process arguments, but the process arguments also are compelling evidence on the merits, because it's evidence they themselves don't believe in the facts of their case. And the fact that they came here for 24 hours and hid evidence from you is further evidence that they don't really believe in the facts of their case, that this is, for all their talk about election interference, that they are here to perpetrate the most massive interference in an election in American history.
And we can't allow that to happen. It would violate our Constitution. It would violate our history. It would violate our obligations to the future. And most importantly, it would violate the sacred trust that the American people have placed in you, and have placed in them. The American people decide elections. They have one coming up in nine months.
So we will be very efficient. We will begin our presentation today. We will show you a lot of evidence that they should have showed you. And we will finish efficiently and quickly so we can all go have an election.
Thank you, and I yield to my colleague, Michael Purpura.
MICHAEL PURPURA, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Mr. Chief Justice, members of the Senate, good morning. Again, my name is Michael Purpura. I serve as deputy counsel to the president. It is my honor and privilege to appear here before you today on behalf of President Donald J. Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA) CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: And what is the president's response? Well, it reads like a classic organized crime shakedown. Shorn of its rambling character and in not so many words, this is the essence of what the president communicates. We've been very good to your country, very good. No other country has done as much as we have.
But you know what, I don't see much reciprocity here. I hear what you want. I have a favor I want from you, though, and I'm going to say this only seven times, so you better listen good. I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand, lots of it, on this and on that. I'm going to put you in touch with people, not just any people. I'm going to put you in touch with the attorney general of the United States, my Attorney General Bill Barr.
He's got the whole weight of the American law enforcement behind him, and I'm going to put you in touch with Rudy. You're going to love him, trust me. You know what I'm asking, and so I'm only going to say this a few more times in a few more ways. And by the way, don't call me again. I'll call you when you've done what I asked. This is, in sum, in character, what the president was trying to communicate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PURPURA: That's fake. That's not the real call. That's not the evidence here. That's not the transcript that Mr. Cipollone just referenced. And we can shrug it off and say we were making light, or a joke. But that was in a hearing in the United States House of Representatives discussing the removal of the president of the United States from office.
There are very few things, if any, that can be as grave and as serious. Let's stick with the evidence. Let's talk about the facts and the evidence in this case.
The most important piece of evidence we have in the case and before you is the one that we began with nearly four months ago, the actual transcript of the July 25, 2019, telephone call between President Trump and President Zelensky, the real transcript. If that were the only evidence we had, it would be enough to show that the Democrats' entire theory is completely unfounded.
But the transcript is far from the only evidence demonstrating that the president did nothing wrong. Once you sweep away all of the bluster and innuendo, the selective leaks, the closed-door examinations of the Democrats' hand-picked witnesses, the staged public hearings, what we're left with are six key facts that have not and will not change.
First, the transcript shows that the president did not condition either security assistance or a meeting on anything. The paused security assistance funds aren't even mentioned on the call. Second, President Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said that there was no quid pro quo and no pressure on them to review anything. Third, President Zelensky and high-ranking Ukrainian officials did not even know, did not even know the security system was paused until the end of August, over a month after the July 25 call.
Fourth, not a single witness testified that the president himself said that there was any connection between any investigations and security assistance, a presidential meeting, or anything else. Fifth, the security assistance flowed on September 11th, and a presidential meeting took place on September 25 without the Ukrainian government announcing any investigations.
Finally, the Democrats' blind drive to impeach the president does not and cannot change the fact, as attested to by the Democrats' own witnesses, that President Trump has been a better friend and stronger supporter of Ukraine then his predecessor.
Those are the facts. We plan to address some of them today and some of them next week. Each one of these six facts standing alone is enough to sink the Democrats' case. Combined, they establish what we've known since the beginning -- the president did absolutely nothing wrong. The Democrats' allegation that the president engaged in a quid pro quo is unfounded and contrary to the facts.
The truth is simple, and it's right before our eyes. The president was at all times acting in our national interest and pursuant to his oath of office.
But before I dive in and speak further about the facts, let me mention something that my colleagues will discuss in greater detail. The facts that I'm about to discuss today are the Democrats' facts. This is important because the House managers spoke to you for a very long time, over 21 hours, and repeatedly claimed to you that their case is and their evidence is overwhelming and uncontested.
It's not. I'm going to share a number of facts with you this morning that the House managers didn't share with you during more than 21 hours. I'll ask you, as Mr. Cipollone already mentioned, that when you hear me say something that the House managers didn't present to you, ask yourself, why didn't they tell me that? Is that something I would have liked to have known? Why am I hearing it for the first time from the president's lawyers? It's not because they didn't have enough time, that's for sure.
They only showed you a very selective part of the record, their record. And they, remember this, they have the very heavy burden of proof before you. The president is forced to mount a defense in this chamber against a record that the Democrats developed. The record that we have to go on today is based entirely on House Democratic facts precleared in a basement bunker. Not mostly. Entirely. Yet even those facts absolutely exonerate the president.
Let's start with the transcript. The president did not link security assistance to any investigations on the July 25 call. Let's step back. On July 25, President Trump called President Zelensky. This was their second phone call. Both were congratulatory. On April 21st, President Trump called to congratulate President Zelensky on winning the presidential election. On July 25, the president called because President Zelensky's party had just won a large number of seats in parliament.
On September 24, before Speaker Pelosi had any idea what President Trump and President Zelensky actually said on the July 25 call, she called for an impeachment inquiry into President Trump. In interest of full transparency and to show that he had done nothing wrong, President Trump took the unprecedented, unprecedented step of declassifying the call transcript so that the American people could see for themselves exactly what the two presidents discussed.
So what did President Trump say to President Zelensky on the July 25 call? President Trump raised two issues. I'm going to be speaking about those two issues a fair amount this morning. They're the two issues that go to the core of how President Trump approaches federal aid. When it comes to sending U.S. taxpayer money overseas, the president is focused on burden-sharing and corruption.
First, the president rightly had real concerns about whether European and other countries were contributing their fair share to ensuring Ukraine's security. Secondly, corruption. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has suffered from one of the most environments for corruption in the world. A parade of witnesses testified in the House about the pervasive corruption in Ukraine and how it is in America's foreign policy and national security interests to help Ukraine combat corruption.
Turning the call right off the bat, President Trump mentioned burden- sharing to President Zelensky. President Trump told President Zelensky that Germany does almost nothing for you, and a lot of the European countries are the same way. President Trump specifically mentions speaking to Angela Merkel of Germany whom he said talks Ukraine, but she doesn't do anything. President Zelensky agreed, you are absolutely right. He said that he spoke with the leaders of Germany and France and told them that they are not doing quite as much as they need to be doing. So right at the beginning of the call President Trump was talking about burden-sharing.
President Trump then turned to corruption in the form of foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking a foreign leader to help get to the bottom of all forms of foreign interference in an American presidential election. You'll hear more about that later from one of my colleagues. What else did the president say? The president also warned President
Zelensky that he appeared to be surrounding himself with some of the same people as his predecessor and suggested and a very fair and very good prosecutor was shut down by some very bad people. Again, one of my colleagues will speak more about that.
The content of the July 25 call was in line with the Trump administration's legitimate concerns about corruption and reflected the hope that President Zelensky, who campaigned on a platform of reform, would finally clean up Ukraine.
So what did President Trump and President Zelensky discuss in the July 25 call? Two issues -- burden-sharing, corruption. Just as importantly, what wasn't discussed on the July 25 call? There was no discussion of the paused security assistance on the July 25 call. House Democrats keep pointing to President Zelensky's statement that I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense, but he wasn't talking there about the paused security assistance.
He tells us in the very next sentence exactly what he was talking about -- Javelin missiles. "We are ready," President Zelensky continues, "to continue to cooperate for the next steps. Specifically, we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes." Javelins are the anti-tank missiles only made available to the Ukrainians by President Trump. President Obama refused to give Javelins to the Ukrainians for years.
Javelin sales were not part -- were not part of the security assistance that had been paused at the time of the call. Javelin sales have nothing to do with the paused security assistance. Those are different programs entirely.
But don't take my word for it. Both former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and NSC Senior Director Timothy Morrison confirmed that the Javelin missiles and the security assistance were unrelated.
The House managers didn't tell you about Ambassador Yovanovitch's and Tim Morrison's testimony. Why not? They could have taken two to five minutes out of 21 hours to make sure you understood that the Javelin sales being discussed were not part of the paused security assistance.
This puts the following statement by President Trump in a whole new light, doesn't it? "I would like you to do us a favor, though, because our country has been through a lot, and Ukraine knows a lot about it." As everyone knows by now, President Trump asked President Zelensky to do us a favor. And he made clear that "us" referred to our country and not himself.
More importantly, the president was not connecting, do us a favor to the Javelin sales that President Zelensky mentioned, it makes no sense in the language there, but even if he had been, the Javelin sales were not part of the security assistance that had been temporarily paused. I want to be very clear about this. When the House Democrats claimed
that the Javelin sales discussed in the July 25 call are part of the paused security assistance, it is misleading. They're trying to confuse you and just sort of wrap everything in instead of unpacking it the right way. There was no mention of the paused security assistance on the call and certainly not from President Trump.
As you know, head of state calls are staffed by a number of aides on both sides. Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, a detailee at the National Security Council, raised a concern about the call. And that was just a policy concern. Lieutenant Colonel Vindman admitted that he did not know whether there was a crime or anything of that nature, but he had deep policy concerns, policy concerns. So there you have it.
But the president, the president sets the foreign policy. In a democracy such as ours, the elected leaders make foreign policy while the unelected staff, such as Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, implement the policy. Other witnesses were on the July 25 call and had very different reactions than that of Lieutenant Colonel Vindman.
Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg, national security adviser to the vice president, former acting national security adviser, and a long- serving and highly decorated veteran, attended the call. According to General Kellogg, "I was on the much-reported July 25 call between President Donald Trump and President Zelensky. As an exceedingly proud member of the Trump administration -- of President Trump's administration, and as a 34-year, highly-experienced combat veteran who retired with the rank of lieutenant general in the Army, I heard nothing wrong or improper on the call. I had and have no concerns."
The House managers said that other witnesses were also troubled by the July 25 call, and identified those witnesses as Jennifer Williams and Tim Morrison. Jennifer Williams, who now works for Lieutenant General Kellogg, now claims that she has concerns about the call. You heard that from the House managers. They were very careful in the way they worded that.
What they didn't tell you is that Miss Williams was so troubled at the time of the call that she told exactly zero people of her concern. She told no one for two months following the call, not one person. Miss Williams didn't raise any concerns about the call when it took place, not with Lieutenant General Kellogg, not with counsel, not with anyone. Miss Williams waited to announce her concerns until Speaker Pelosi publicly announced her impeachment inquiry. The House managers didn't tell you that. Why not?
Tim Morrison, who was Lieutenant Colonel Vindman's boss, was also on the call. Mr. Morrison reported the call to the National Security Council lawyers not because he was troubled by anything on the call, but because he was worried about leaks, and in his words, how it would play out in Washington's polarized environment.
I want to be clear, Mr. Morrison testified, I was not concerned anything illegal was discussed. Mr. Morrison further testified that there was nothing improper and nothing illegal about anything that was said on the call. In fact, Mr. Morrison repeatedly testified that he disagreed with Lieutenant Colonel Vindman's assessment that President Trump made demands of President Zelensky, or that he said anything improper at all. Here's Mr. Morrison --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA) CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: In that transcript, does the president not ask Zelensky to look that the Bidens?
TIMOTHY MORRISON, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL OFFICIAL: Mr. Chairman, I can only tell you what I was thinking at the time. That is not what I understood the president to be doing.
REP. MIKE TURNER, (R-OH): Do you believe in your opinion that the president of the United States demanded that President Zelensky undertake these investigations?
MORRISON: No, sir.
REP. BRAD WENSTRUP, (R-OH): And you didn't hear the president make a demand, did you?
MORRISON: No, sir.
REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE, (R-TX) HOUSE INTELLIGENCE AND JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Again, there were no demands from your perspective, Mr. Morrison?
MORRISON: That is correct, sir.
RATCLIFFE: But is it fair to say, as you were listening to the call, you weren't thinking, wow, the president is bribing the president of Ukraine, that never crossed your mind?
MORRISON: It did not, sir.
RATCLIFFE: Or he was extorting the president of Ukraine?
MORRISON: It did not sir.
RATCLIFFE: Or doing anything improper?
MORRISON: Correct, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PURPURA: Significantly, the Ukrainian government never raised concerns about the July 25 call. Just hours after the call, Ambassador William Taylor, head of the U.S. mission in Ukraine, had dinner with the then secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council who seemed to think the call went fine, the call went well. He wasn't disturbed by anything. The House managers didn't tell you that. Why not? Ambassador Kurt Volker, the U.S. special representative for Ukraine, was not on the call, but Ambassador Volker spoke regularly with President Zelensky and other top officials in the Ukraine government, and even met with President Zelensky the day after the call. He testified that in no way, shape, or form in either the read-outs from the United States or Ukraine did he receive any indication whatsoever for anything that resembles a quid pro quo on the July 25 call. Here's Ambassador Volker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELISE STEFANIK, (R-NY) HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: And in fact, the day after the call you met with President Zelensky, this would be July 26th?
KURT VOLKER, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY TO UKRAINE: That's correct.
STEFANIK: In that meeting he made no mention of quid pro quo?
STEFANIK: He made no mention of withholding the aid?
STEFANIK: He made no mention of bribery?
STEFANIK: So the fact is the Ukrainians were not even aware of this hold on aid, is that correct?
VOLKER: That's correct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PURPURA: They didn't tell you about the testimony from Ambassador Volker. Why not?
President Zelensky himself has confirmed on at least three separate occasions that his July 25 call with President Trump was a good phone call and normal and that nobody pushed me. When President Zelensky's adviser Andriy Yermak was asked if he had ever felt there was a connection between the U.S. military aid and the request for investigations, he was adamant that we never had that feeling, and we did not have the feeling that this aid was connected to any one specific issue.
Of course, the best evidence is there was no pressure or quid pro quo is the statements of the Ukrainians themselves. The fact that President Zelensky himself felt no pressure on the call and did not perceive there to be any connection between security assistance and investigations would in any ordinary case in any court be totally fatal to the prosecution. The judge would throw it out, the case would be over. What more do you need to know?
The House team knows that. They know the record inside-out, upside- down, left and right. So what do they do? How do they try to overcome the direct words from President Zelensky and his administration that they felt no pressure?
They tell you that the Ukrainians must have felt pressure regardless of what they've said. They try to overcome the devastating evidence against them by apparently claiming to be mind-readers. They know what's in President Zelensky's mind better than President Zelensky does.
President Zelensky said he felt no pressure. The House managers tell you they know better. And this is really a theme of the House case. I want you to remember this -- every time the Democrats say that President Trump made demands or issued a quid pro quo to President Zelensky on the July 25 call, they are saying President Zelensky and his top advisers are being untruthful. And they acknowledge that's what they're saying. They've said it over the past few days. Tell me how that helps U.S. foreign policy and national security to say that about our friends?
We know there was no quid pro quo on the call. We know that from the transcript. But the call is not the only evidence showing that there was no quid pro quo. There couldn't have possibly been a quid pro quo because the Ukrainians did not even know that the security assistance was on hold until it was reported in the media by "Politico" at the end of August, more than a month after the July 25 call.
Think about this, the Democrats accused the president of leveraging security assistance to supposedly force President Zelensky to announce investigations. But how can that possibly be when the Ukrainians were not even aware that the security assistance was paused? There can't be a threat without the person knowing he's being threatened.
There can't be a quid pro quo without the quo. Ambassador Volker testified that the Ukrainians did not know about the hold until reading about it in "Politico." Ambassador Taylor and Tim Morrison both agreed. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent testified that no Ukrainian official contacted him about the paused security assistance until that first intense week in September. Let's hear from the four of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURT VOLKER, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY TO UKRAINE: I believe the Ukrainians became aware of the hold on August 29th and not before. That date is the first time any of them asked me about the hold by forwarding an article that had been published in "Politico."
WILLIAM TAYLOR, ACTING U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: It was only after August 29th when the "Politico" argument that I got calls from several of the Ukrainian officials.
STEVE CASTOR, REPUBLICAN COUNSEL: You mentioned the August 28th "Politico" article. Was that the first time that you believe the Ukrainians may have had a real sense that the aid was on hold?
TIMOTHY MORRISON, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL OFFICIAL: Yes.
REP. WILL HURD, (R-TX): Mr. Kent, had you had any Ukrainian official contacting you concerned about -- when was the first time a Ukrainian official contacted you concerned about potential withholding of U.S. aid?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was after the article in "Politico" came out in that first intense week of September.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn't until the "Politico" article?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct. I received a text message from one of my Ukrainian counterparts on August 29th forwarding that article, and that's the first they raised it with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PURPURA: The House managers didn't show you this testimony from any of these four witnesses. Why not? Why didn't they give you the context of this testimony?
And think about this as well. If the Ukrainians had been aware of the review on security assistance, they, of course, would have said something. There were numerous high-level diplomatic meetings between senior Ukrainian and U.S. officials during the summer after the review on the security assistance began but before President Zelensky learned of the hold through the "Politico" article.
If the Ukrainians had known about the hold, they would have raised it in one of those meetings, yet the Ukrainians didn't say anything about the hold at a single one of those meetings, not on July 9, not on July 10, not on July 25, not on July 26, not on August 27. At none of those meetings -- none of those meetings -- did the Ukrainians mention the pause on security assistance.
Ambassador Volker testified that he was regularly in touch with the senior highest-level officials in the Ukrainian government, and Ukrainian officials would confide things and would have asked if they had any questions about the aid.
Nobody said a word to Ambassador Volker until the end of August. Then within hours of the "Politico" article being published, Mr. Yermak texted Ambassador Volker with a link to the article and to ask about the report. In other words, as soon as the Ukrainians heard about the hold, they asked about it.
Now, Mr. Schiff said something during the 21 hours, or more than 21 hours, that he and his team spoke that I actually agree with, which is when he talked about common sense. Many of us at the tables and in the room are former prosecutors at the state, federal, or military level. Prosecutors talk a lot about common sense. Common sense comes into play right here. The top Ukrainian official
said nothing, nothing at all to their U.S. counterparts during all of these meetings about the pause on security assistance, but then, boom, as soon as the "Politico" article comes out, suddenly in that first intense week of September, in George Kent's words, security assistance was all they wanted to talk about.
What must we conclude if we're using our common sense? That they didn't know about the pause until the "Politico" article on August 28th. No activity before, article comes out, flurry of activity. That's common sense, and it's absolutely fatal to the House managers' case.
The House managers are aware that the Ukrainians lack of knowledge on the hold is fatal to their case, and so they desperately tried to muddy the water. The managers told you the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper presented two emails, two emails that people on her staff received from people at the State Department regarding conversations with people at the Ukraine embassy that could have been about U.S. security assistance to Ukraine.
What they did not tell you is that Miss Cooper testified that she could not say for certain whether the emails were about the pause on security assistance. She couldn't say one way or the other. She also testified that she didn't want to speculate about the meaning of the words in the emails.
The House managers also didn't tell you Miss Cooper testified that I reviewed my calendar on the only meeting where I can recall a Ukrainian official raising the issue of security assistance with me is on September 5th at the Ukrainian Independence Day celebration. The House managers didn't tell you that.
The House managers also mentioned that one of Ambassador Volker's, one of Ambassador Volker's advisers, Catherine Croft, claimed that the Ukrainian embassy officials learned about the pause earlier than the "Politico" article. But when asked when she heard from the Ukraine embassy officials, Miss Croft admitted that she can't remember those specifics and did not think that she took notes. Miss Croft also did not remember when news of the hold became public.
Remember, though, that Ambassador Volker, her boss, who was in regular contact with President Zelensky and the top Ukrainian aides, was very clear that I believe the Ukrainians became aware of the hold on August 29, and not before.
This is all the House managers have in contrast to the testimony of Volker, Taylor, Morrison, and Kent. The text from Yermak, the words of the high-ranking Ukrainians themselves, and the flurry of activity that began on August 28th. And that's the evidence that they want you to consider as a basis to remove the duly elected president of the United States.
The bottom line is it is not possible for the brief security assistance review to have been used as leverage when President Zelensky and other top Ukrainian officials did not know about it -- that's what you need to know. That's what the House managers didn't tell you. The House managers know how important this issue is.
When we briefly mentioned it a few days ago, they told us we needed to check our facts. We did. We're right. President Zelensky and his top aides did not know about the pause on security assistance at the time of the July 25 call and did not know about it until August 28 when the "Politico" article was published.
We know there was no quid pro quo on the July 25 call. We know the Ukrainians did not know that security assistance had been paused at the time of the call. There was simply no evidence anywhere that President Trump ever linked security assistance to any investigations.
Most of the Democrats' witnesses have never spoken to the president at all, let alone about Ukraine's security assistance. The two people in the House record who asked President Trump about whether there was any linkage between security assistance and investigations were told in no uncertain terms that there's no connection between the two. When ambassador of the European Union Gordon Sondland asked the president in approximately the September 9 timeframe, the president told him, I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo.
Even earlier, on August 31, Senator Ron Johnson asked the president if there was any connection between security assistance and investigations. The president answered no way. I would never do that. Who told you that?
Two witnesses, Ambassador Taylor and Tim Morrison, said they came to believe security assistance was linked to investigations. But both witnesses based this belief entirely on what they heard from Ambassador Sondland before Ambassador Sondland spoke to the president. Neither Taylor nor Morrison ever spoke to the president about the matter.
How did Ambassador Sondland come to believe that there was any connection between security assistance and investigations? Again, the House managers didn't tell you. Why not? In his public testimony, Ambassador Sondland used variations of the words "assume," "presume," "guess," "speculate," and "belief" over 30 times. Here's are some examples.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO EUROPEAN UNION: That was my presumption.
My personal presumption.
That was my belief.
That was my presumption, yes.
I presumed that might have to be done in order to get the aid released.
It was a presumption.
I have been very clear as to when I was presuming, and I was presuming on the aid.
It would be pure guesswork on my part, speculation. I don't know.
That was the problem, Mr. Goldman, no one told me directly that the aid was tied to anything. I was presuming it was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PURPURA: Didn't show you any of this testimony, not once during their 21-hour presentation, 21 hours, more than 21 hours, and they couldn't give you the context to evaluate Ambassador Sondland. All the Democrats have to support the alleged link between security assistance and investigations is Ambassador Sondland's assumptions and presumptions. We remember this exchange --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE TURNER, (R-OH): Is it correct no one on this planet told you Donald Trump was tying this aid to the investigations? Because if your answer is yes, then the chairman is wrong and the headline on CNN is wrong. No one on this planet told you that President Trump was tying aid to investigations, yes or no?
GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO EUROPEAN UNION: Yes.
TURNER: So you really have no testimony today that ties President Trump to a scheme to withhold aid from Ukraine in exchange for these investigations?
SONDLAND: Other than my own presumption.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PURPURA: When he was done presuming, assuming, and guessing, Ambassador Sondland finally decided to ask President Trump directly. What does the president want from Ukraine? Here's the answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO EUROPEAN UNION: President Trump when I asked him the open-ended question, as I testified previously, what do you want from Ukraine? His answer was I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tells Zelensky to do the right thing. That's all I got from President Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PURPURA: The president was unequivocal. Ambassador Sondland stated this was the final word he heard from the president of the United States. And once he learned this, he text-messaged Ambassadors Taylor and Volker. The president has been crystal clear, no quid pro quos of any kind. If you are skeptical of Ambassador Sondland's testimony, it was
corroborated by the statement of one of your colleagues, Senator Johnson. Senator Johnson also had heard from Ambassador Sondland that the security assistance might be linked to the investigations.
So on August 31, Senator Johnson asked the president directly whether there was some kind of arrangement where Ukraine would take some action and the hold would be lifted. Again, President Trump's answer was crystal clear -- no way. I would never do that. Who told you that? As Senator Johnson wrote, I have accurately characterized his reaction as adamant, vehement, and angry. They didn't tell you about Senator Johnson's letter. Why not?
The Democrats' entire quid pro quo theory is based on nothing more than the initial speculation of one person, Ambassador Sondland. That speculation is wrong. Despite the Democrats' hopes, the ambassador's mistaken belief does not become true merely because he repeated it many times, and apparently to many people.
Under Secretary of State David Hale, George Kent and Ambassador Volker all testified that there was no connection whatsoever between security assistance and investigations. Here's Ambassador Volker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): You had a meeting with the president of the United States, and you believed that the policy issues that he raised concerning Ukraine were valid, correct?
KURT VOLKER, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY TO UKRAINE: Yes.
TURNER: Did the president of the United States ever say to you that he was not going to allow aid from the United States to go to Ukraine unless there were investigations into Burisma, the Bidens, or the 2016 elections?
VOLKER: No, he did not.
TURNER: Did the Ukrainians ever tell you that they understood that they would not get a meeting with the president of the United States, a phone call with the president of the United States, military aid, or foreign aid from the United States unless they undertook investigations of Burisma, the Bidens, or the 2016 elections?
VOLKER: No, they did not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PURPURA: The House managers never told you any of this. Why not? Why didn't they show you this testimony? Why didn't they tell you about this testimony? Why didn't they put Ambassador Sondland's testimony in its full and proper context for your consideration? Because none of this fits their narrative, and it wouldn't lead to their predetermined outcome. Thank you for your attention. I yield to Mr. Sekulow.
JAY SEKULOW, OUTSIDE LEGAL COUNSEL FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: Mr. Chief Justice, Majority Leader McConnell, Democratic Leader Schumer, House managers, members of the Senate, let me begin by saying that you cannot simply decide this case in a vacuum. Mr. Schiff said yesterday -- I believe it was his father who said you should put yourself in someone else's shoes.
Let's for a moment put ourselves in the shoes of the president of the United States right now. Before he was sworn into office, he was subjected to an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation called Crossfire Hurricane. The president within six months of his inauguration found a special counsel being appointed to investigate a Russian collusion theory. In their opening statement, several members of the House managers tried to once again relitigate the Mueller case.
Here's the bottom line -- this is part one of the Mueller report. This part alone is 199 pages. The House managers in their presentation a couple of times referenced a this-for-that. Let me tell you something. This cost $32 million. This investigation took 2,800 subpoenas. This investigation had 500 search warrants. This had 230 orders for communication records.
This had 500 witness interviews. All to reach the following conclusion, and I'm going to quote from the Mueller report itself, it could be found on page 173, as relates to this whole matter of collusion and conspiracy, ultimately -- these are the words of Bob Mueller in his report -- this investigation did not establish that the campaign coordinated or conspired with the Russian government and its election interference activities.
Let me say that again -- this, the Mueller report, resulted in this, that for this -- ultimately the investigation did not establish that the campaign coordinated or conspired with the Russian government in its election-related interference activities, this for that.