Why are we still talking about impeachment? Have we learned anything new—gasp-worthy information that could generate bipartisan agreement that a quid pro quo occurred? No, we haven’t.
Last month, Ukraine’s foreign minister, Vadym Prystaiko, confirmed that there was no linkage between the military aid from the United States and any investigations or White House meetings. “Ambassador Sondland did not tell us, and did not tell me exactly, about the relation between the [military] assistance and the investigations,” Prystaiko said. “I have never seen a direct link between investigations and security assistance. Yes, investigations were mentioned, you know, in a presidential conversation. But there was no clear connection between these events.”
None of the Democrats’ impeachment witnesses have strengthened the case for impeachment either. All testified under oath of having no direct knowledge of a quid pro quo, and that they were relying on hearsay evidence. This was so devastating to the Democrats’ case that one Democrat congressman actually attempted to argue that “Hearsay can be much better evidence than direct.”
Ambassador Sondland admitted under oath that despite his direct contact with the president, “President Trump never told me directly that the aid was conditioned on the meetings,” and that Trump specifically said to him, “I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. I want Zelensky to do the right thing… to do what he ran on.”
When the transcript of the infamous call wasn’t sinister enough, Adam Schiff actually read a false version of the call to Congress, which was very telling. As Democrats’ reliance on the transcript proved not to be convincing enough, they started arguing that it’s not a transcript at all, but an edited memorandum that didn’t portray the call completely or accurately. That conspiracy theory was destroyed by two of Adam Schiff’s own witnesses, Jennifer Williams and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who called the transcript “substantively correct,” and “very accurate” respectively.
In fact, the two most important people at the center of this debate, President Trump and President Zelenksy, both say there was no quid pro quo. Trump made this repeatedly clear based on Sondland’s testimony, and Zelenksy made this clear (for the second time) in separate interviews published Monday. “I did not speak with U.S. President Trump in those terms: You give me this, I give you that,” he said.
Meanwhile, none of the Democrats’ witnesses who were asked could argue that there was a clear appearance of a conflict of interest with Hunter Biden’s joining the board of Burisma. When asked by GOP counsel Steve Castor whether he agreed that Hunter Biden’s position on the board raised questions, there was an incredibly awkward silence that followed because Ambassador Taylor knew that admitting that there were legitimate questions about it undermined a huge part of the Democrats’ argument.
It’s hard to imagine that Democrats aren’t aware that they’ve painted themselves into a corner the same way they had banked on the Mueller report finding evidence of collusion. Impeachment should be dead by now, but Democrats have to move forward in order to tell their base “we tried,” rather than cut their losses now. This is obviously the scenario Nancy Pelosi tried to avoid months ago. We’re stuck going through this process not for America’s sake, but for the sake of the Democrat base.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis