House Republicans delivered a point-by-point rebuttal Monday to Democrats’ impeachment efforts, claiming in their own report that the evidence collected in the inquiry to date does not support the accusations leveled against President Trump — or rise to the level of removal from office.
“The evidence presented does not prove any of these Democrat allegations, and none of the Democrats’ witnesses testified to having evidence of bribery, extortion, or any high crime or misdemeanor,” Republicans said in a 123-page report, timed to be made public ahead of the majority Democrats’ impeachment report.
The dueling narratives are emerging following two weeks of House Intelligence Committee hearings, where witnesses detailed their own knowledge of efforts to pressure Ukraine to launch political probes as U.S. aid was withheld over the summer. The committee is set to vote on Democrats’ final report Tuesday – likely to be another party-line moment – before transmitting that document to the Judiciary Committee, which holds its first public hearing Wednesday.
House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif.; Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; and Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Michael McCaul, R-Texas, penned the minority report, which has been reviewed by Fox News. In it, they broadly defend the president’s actions in the face of accusations he withheld military aid and a White House meeting as leverage to pressure Ukraine to launch a probe involving the Bidens.
“The Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is not the organic outgrowth of serious misconduct; it is an orchestrated campaign to upend our political system,” the Republicans wrote.
They added: “This impeachment inquiry and the manner in which the Democrats are pursuing it sets a dangerous precedent.”
At the center of the impeachment inquiry, which began in September, is Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he asked for an investigation into Joe Biden’s efforts to oust a prosecutor who had been looking into Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings, where son Hunter Biden served on the board. That call prompted a whistleblower complaint, and, in turn, the impeachment inquiry.
The president’s request to Zelensky came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats and witnesses have claimed shows a “quid pro quo” arrangement. Trump has denied any wrongdoing, and Republicans have defended his position.
In their report, Republicans argued the evidence found throughout the impeachment inquiry “does not establish that President Trump pressured Ukraine” to investigate the Bidens “for the purpose of benefiting him in the 2020 election.”
Nunes, Jordan and McCaul argued that a July 25 call summary released by the White House “does not reflect any improper pressure of conditionality to pressure Ukraine to investigate” Joe Biden, noting that “President Zelensky has publicly and repeatedly said he felt no pressure to investigate” the president’s “political rival.”
Republicans specifically claimed that there was no evidence to support the accusation that Trump withheld a meeting with Zelensky to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens for his 2020 re-election benefit. They noted that the president “extended an invitation to the White House to President Zelensky on three occasions without conditions,” and that the two eventually met in the U.S. during the United Nations General Assembly in September “without any Ukrainian action to investigate” the Bidens.
Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, however, described the initial withholding of a Trump meeting as a clear “quid pro quo” in his testimony last month.
Sondland also testified that the linkage to the aid was as obvious as “two plus two equals four” – while acknowledging he never heard either condition from Trump himself.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and fellow Democrats argue the evidence of wrongdoing is overwhelming.