Ted Cruz Rips Impeachment Case to Shreds: Obama Actually Did What Trump Was Impeached For
On Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) ripped up the House Democrats' impeachment case against President Donald Trump, showing how former President Barack Obama's administration committed both of the acts Democrats impeached Trump for — and did far worse.
Cruz argued that acquitting Trump "comports with both the facts and the law."
"These impeachment proceedings began in the House of Representatives in a thoroughly partisan affair, driven by House Democrats without allowing the president to participate in cross-examining witnesses and calling defense witnesses," the senator recalled. "The Senate has done much better. We had an obligation under the constitution to conduct a fair trial and that is what the Senate has done."
He mentioned that the House heard from 18 different witnesses, that the Senate showed 193 video clips of witness testimony, and that Senators asked 180 separate questions to House managers or the White House defense team. Despite all this, "the House managers failed to prove their case."
Cruz argued that the Democrats failed to demonstrate how Trump's actions rise to the level of "high crimes and misdemeanors," and he claimed that the articles of impeachment "don't allege any crime whatsoever."
"What was this all about? If you examine the substance, there were two things that the House Managers alleged the president did wrong. One, they alleged that the president wrongfully delayed aid to Ukraine, and two, they alleged that the president wrongfully asked for an investigation into a political rival," the senator explained.
"There is a deep irony in the argument of the House managers," he added. "Both of those objectives are consistent with law, are permissible and legal, and both of those objectives have been done, by any measure substantially worse, by the preceding administration, by the Obama administration."
Cruz declared his firm support for Ukraine, mentioning his trip to Kyiv's Maidan Square to support anti-Russian protesters in 2014. He recalled having called on Obama to give aid to Ukraine and going to the House of Representatives to hear a speech from Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
"It is true that the Trump administration temporarily delayed aid to Ukraine. That is their right to do so," the senator argued. He noted that many administrations hold up foreign aid. "Here's the irony, Madame President, if you support aid to Ukraine as I do, military aid to Ukraine as they stand up to Russia, there is no dispute whatsoever that for the entirety of his presidency, President Obama refused to give lethal military aid, defensive aid, to Ukraine."
At the speech in Washington, D.C., Poroshenko called out the Obama administration for sending blankets and MREs. "And President Poroshenko rightly said, 'You can’t fight a Russian tank with a blanket.'"
"So if the House managers are right that there's something improper about delaying military aid, the Obama administration did so for the entirety of the administration. And what did President Trump do? He did something Obama never did, he provided lethal defensive military aid, Javelin missiles that can take out Russian tanks," Cruz added.
He then turned to the second case for impeachment, "directing an investigation into your political rival."
"The House managers built their case on the proposition that seeking an investigation into Burisma — the corrupt Ukrainian natural gas company — and Joe Biden and Hunter Biden, seeking any investigation into whether there was corruption there, was in the words of the House managers, 'baseless, a sham, and utterly without merit,'" the senator recalled. "That proposition is objectively absurd."
Cruz noted that "there was very substantial evidence of corruption," starting with Burisma itself. "Burisma is a company that was built on corruption. The oligarch who started Burisma, Mr. Zlochevsky, was the sitting energy minister in Ukraine, and he amassed his billions by, as the sitting energy minister, giving gas licenses to his own company that he was heading. That's where Burisma made their money, it was a company built on corruption from day one."
The senator briefly laid out the timeline: then-Vice President Joe Biden was named the Obama administration point person on Ukraine in early 2014; Devon Archer, an associate of Biden and his son Hunter, joined the board of Burisma on April 24, 2014; on April 28, Britain's security fraud bureau froze millions of Zlochevksy's assets; on May 12, Hunter Biden was named to the board and paid $1 million per year. The House managers could not say what Hunter Biden did for that $1 million per year.
"Joe Biden is seen on video, not just admitting, but bragging that he told the president of Ukraine he would personally block a billion dollars in foreign aid loan guarantees unless Ukraine fired the prosecutor that was investigating Burisma, the company paying his son $1 million a year," Cruz said. He noted Biden's quip, "Well, son of a bit--, they fired him!"
"Now that, on its face, raises significant issues of potential corruption. We don't know for sure if there was in fact corruption, but when President Trump asked that it be investigated," he had that authority, Cruz argued.
"And, of course, if the House managers are right that it is somehow illegitimate, it is somehow inappropriate, it is, in fact, impeachable, to seek the investigation of your political rival, we know for a fact that the Obama administration not only sought the investigation but aggressively led an investigation marred by abuse of power going after then-candidate Trump, including wiretaps... including fraudulently obtained court warrants from the FISA court," the senator concluded.
Not only was Trump fully justified in seeking the investigation and holding up the aid, but the Obama administration engaged in far worse abuses on both issues.
Tyler O'Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.