WHERE WE ARE
In Part 1 of this series, I argued that AT LEAST three out of the “six key facts” that Trump’s defense team were focusing on in their case for Trump are IRRELEVANT to the main questions at issue, and that a fourth of those “six key facts” was relevant but INSIGNIFICANT because it is based on the statements of politicians who have a strong vested interest in not telling the truth on this question.
In this post I’m going to dispatch with one more of the “six key facts”:
Purpura claimed Ukraine did not know military aid was being withheld at the time of the phone call, so there could effectively be no quid pro quo between the parties. “President Zelensky and high-ranking Ukrainian officials did not even know,” Purpura argued, “the security assistance was paused until the end of August, over a month after the July 25 call.” (from a CNN article)
Most, perhaps all, of the critical commentary on this claim by Purpura focuses on there being EVIDENCE that Zelensky or other Ukrainian officials were aware of the hold at the time of the phone call. In other words, most (or all) critics of this point argue that the claim by Purpura is NOT A FACT:
ANOTHER IRRELEVANT “FACT”
But there is a more important point here that most (or all) critics have failed to notice or state:
The claim by Purpura here is IRRELEVANT to the question at issue, just like three of the other “six key facts” are IRRELEVANT.
Out of the “six key facts” that are the foundation of Trump’s defense, at least FOUR of those “facts” are IRRELEVANT, making this possibly the worst defense ever presented in a Senate Impeachment Trial.
The problem with Purpura’s point is that the hold or pause on the military aid is simply a MECHANISM or PROCEDURE for preventing the money from flowing to Ukraine. Ignorance about HOW the money for Ukraine was moving through a government PROCEDURE or MECHANISM is IRRELEVANT, particularly from the point of view of a high-level Ukrainian official, like the President of Ukraine.
What mattered to Zelensky was that the MONEY HAD NOT YET BEEN TRANSFERRED from the US to Ukraine. Zelensky was probably as ignorant about our government’s PROCEDURES and PROCESSES for handing out money to other governments as Mick Mulvaney and Donald Trump. Zelensky would not be interested about the details of how our federal government carries out distributions of money to other governments. All he cared about was that the US Congress had authorized funds to go to Ukraine for military aid, and that this money had NOT YET BEEN TRANSFERRED to Ukraine.
So, from Zelensky’s point of view, if Trump or an ambassador appointed by Trump (or a lawyer representing Trump) threatened to withhold money that Congress had previously approved to go to Ukraine for military aid, then that threat might be very real, and should be taken seriously, whether a “hold” or “pause” had been placed on the funds or not. What mattered from Zelensky’s point of view was that Trump was threatening to prevent or delay the transfer of funds UNLESS he did a “favor” for Trump, namely announcing an investigation into the Bidens.
IT DOES NOT MATTER from Zelensky’s point of view whether a “hold” or “pause” had been placed on funds that were approved for Ukrainian military aid. What matters from his point of view is that Trump had the power or ability to prevent or delay the transfer of those funds to Ukraine. No knowledge about the DETAILS of HOW this would be accomplished in terms of our government’s MECHANISMS or PROCEDURES was needed or desired.
The only thing that Trump needed in order to PRESSURE Zelensky into announcing investigations against the Bidens was a threat to SOMEHOW OR OTHER prevent or delay the transfer of funds to Ukraine for military aid. Zelensky KNEW that the funds had not yet been transferred, and he KNEW that the President of the US has great power and authority in matters of foreign policy, so he had every reason to believe that such a threat by Trump (or by a representative of Trump) was a real threat, not an idle threat.
Therefore, the claim that Zelensky was unaware of the hold placed on the funds that were intended to go to Ukraine for military aid is IRRELEVANT to whether Trump was in a position to threaten to prevent or delay the transfer of those funds to Ukraine. Trump could offer a quid pro quo and make a deal with Zelensky, exchanging Trump’s approval of the transfer of funds to Ukraine for Zelensky announcing an investigation into the Bidens WITHOUT Zelensky knowing anything about the hold that Trump had placed on those funds.
CONCLUSIONS SO FAR
AT LEAST FOUR out of the “six key facts” at the foundation of Trump’s defense are IRRELEVANT, and one of the remaining two other “facts” is relevant but INSIGNIFICANT, making this probably the worst defense ever presented in a Senate impeachment trial.