In a six-week investigation, Democrats unearthed evidence and testimony that showed Trump, in concert with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, leaned on Ukraine’s leaders to investigate Biden and other Democrats.
Amid this pressure campaign, Trump repeatedly declined to schedule a White House meeting for Ukraine’s newly elected president Volodymyr Zelensky, and a $400 million package of military aid for Ukraine was put on hold. Democrats said the meeting and the military aid appeared to be used as a way to pressure Zelensky to publicly commit to Trump’s desired probes.
But Republicans say the evidence is unconvincing and instead shows Trump had “genuine” concerns about corruption in Ukraine. The report seeks to legitimize Trump’s long-held skepticism of the country amid claims that some of its government officials sought to damage Trump’s electoral prospects in 2016.
The document also seeks to justify Trump’s push for an investigation into Biden’s son Hunter over his role on the board of a Ukrainian energy company — even though the former vice president is a potential political rival.
“The evidence shows that President Trump holds a deep-seated, genuine, and reasonable skepticism of Ukraine due to its history of pervasive corruption,” the Republicans wrote in their report. “The president has also been vocal about his skepticism of U.S. foreign aid and the need for European allies to shoulder more of the financial burden for regional defense.”
“All of these factors bear on the president’s state of mind and help to explain the President’s actions toward Ukraine and President Zelensky,” the report adds.
Republicans argued in the report that Democrats have not unearthed evidence that Trump committed bribery or extortion when he withheld a White House meeting from Zelensky in addition to military assistance meant to defend against Russian aggression. Throughout the public hearings, Republicans noted that none of the witnesses said they heard directly from Trump that the aid was conditioned on the investigations.
The GOP report also seeks to push back against Democrats’ argument that Trump and his administration have obstructed the impeachment inquiry by not providing key documents and ordering senior officials not to testify.
The report states that those actions represented “a legitimate response to an unfair, abusive, and partisan process, and [do] not constitute obstruction of a legitimate impeachment inquiry.”
House Democrats, though, are likely to draft an article of impeachment focused on the Trump administration’s attempts to stonewall the impeachment inquiry, in addition to other investigations Democrats have pursued.