September 20, 2020

Adam Schiff backs off bribery charge in impeachment report, cites Trump’s tweets

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) has alleged that President Donald Trump deserves to be impeached for months. But now that he’s gotten the chance, he can’t seem to pinpoint the crime Trump should be charged with.

According to a Tuesday report from Breitbart, the House Intelligence panel’s impeachment report “cites no constitutionally permissible grounds for impeachment against President Donald Trump — other than tweets.”

In fact, despite being 300 pages long, Schiff’s brief doesn’t say much. The congressman and fellow California Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had previously alleged bribery by Trump, according to CBS News, but the report makes no mention of the crime, other than to note that Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani suggested Joe Biden could be guilty of it.

“You’re not getting the money”

For his part, Giuliani has produced a sworn affidavit in which former Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin said that he was forced out of his position in order to protect Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, who was working for an energy firm called Burisma Holdings.

That Biden sought to remove Shokin isn’t in dispute; the former vice president has openly bragged about it. At a 2018 Council on Foreign Relations event, Biden said he threatened to withhold $1 billion in American aid unless Shokin was ousted.

“If the prosecutor’s not fired, you’re not getting the money,” the vice president threatened. “Well, son of a b****, he got fired.”

“How did that go?”

But regardless of these facts, Shiff’s report is dismissive: “The allegations that Vice President Biden inappropriately pressured the Ukrainians to remove Mr. Shokin also are without merit,” it reads.

Indeed, the most damning parts of the report try to construe Trump’s tweets as examples of witness intimidation. One example: a post critical of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian [p]resident spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. [p]resident’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors,” Trump tweeted on Nov. 15.

Democrats also pointed to a tweet Trump shared that reported Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was offered a position in the Ukrainian government on three separate occasions — a fact that Vindman himself admitted to under oath.

The last major allegation was that the president engaged in “obstructing Congress.” But even former Obama official and current law professor Cass Sunstein believes that’s a dubious charge.

“Presidents should cooperate with legitimate investigations, but it is not a high crime or misdemeanor to refuse to cooperate with a congressional investigation into an offense that is not independently impeachable,” Sunstein wrote in 2017. And it’s hard to argue with that logic.

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