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Republican impeachment defense claims Trump’s Ukraine pressure was apolitical

The New York Times reports:

House Republicans plan to argue that President Trump was acting on “genuine and reasonable” skepticism of Ukraine and “valid” concerns about possible corruption involving Americans, not political self-interest, when he pressed the country for investigations of his Democratic rivals, according to a draft of a report laying out their impeachment defense.

In a 123-page document that echoes the defiant messaging that Mr. Trump has employed in his own defense, the Republicans do not concede a single point of wrongdoing or hint of misbehavior by the president, according to a copy reviewed by The New York Times ahead of its planned release on Tuesday.

The report amounts to a pre-emptive attack by some of Mr. Trump’s most ardent supporters against Democrats’ arguments for impeachment. The Democrats have finalized a written report of their own and are scheduled to vote on Tuesday to transmit it to the House Judiciary Committee, kick-starting the next phase of the impeachment inquiry in the House as it barrels toward a likely vote on articles of impeachment.

In the Republicans’ dissenting views, they argue that after two months of investigation, the evidence “does not support” that Mr. Trump withheld a coveted White House meeting for Ukraine’s president or nearly $400 million in security assistance for the country as leverage for securing the investigations.

The conclusion is at odds with sworn testimony from senior American diplomats, White House officials and other administration officials who recounted how Mr. Trump sought to use American influence over Ukraine to suit his domestic political purposes, repeatedly insisting that President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine announce investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and an unproven claim that Ukraine conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 election.

Rather than take those assertions at face value, the Republicans charge that they came from civil servants who dislike Mr. Trump’s agenda and style and are therefore allowing themselves to be part of a push by Democrats to undo the results of the 2016 election and thwart Mr. Trump’s re-election chances in 2020. [Continue reading…]

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