Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) attempted to defend his and other Democrats’ claims that the facts in the impeachment debate were “undisputed” by challenging Republicans in the House Judiciary Committee to dispute his facts.
It ended badly.
Swalwell’s list of undisputed “facts” included the following:
- “I want to hear someone dispute the fact that Rudy Giuliani was Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.” – This is the only “undisputed” fact; it is also irrelevant. The only people who seem to have disregarded that fact are Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and fellow Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, who snooped on Giuliani’s phone calls with the White House, ignoring the sanctity of the attorney-client privilege.
- “I want to hear someone dispute the fact that when Rudy was hired, the anti-corruption ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, was fired.” The fact that one event preceded another does not prove cause and effect. Trump may have lost confidence in Yovanovitch because of information from Giuliani, but as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Trump in their infamous July 25th phone call, she irritated the Ukrainians as well. Yovanovitch’s “anti-corruption” credentials are undermined by her admission that she did nothing about Burisma, despite being briefed about it prior to her confirmation. In any case, as she herself recognized, presidents have the absolute right to fire ambassadors; it is not an impeachable offense to do so.
- “I want to hear someone dispute the fact that Donald Trump told Vice President [Mike Pence] to not go to President Zelensky’s inauguration.” We do not know if or why Trump told Pence not to go; Pence aide Jennifer Williams testified that she heard Trump had made the decision, but had no firsthand knowledge.
- “I want to hear someone dispute the fact that President Trump ignored the talking points about anti-corruption in his April 21 and July 25 calls with President Zelensky.” The president did address corruption in the latter call. Asking Zelensky to look into how and why Biden was able to force the firing of a prosecutor with jurisdiction over investigations into Burisma, where the vice president’s son, Hunter, was a board member, is certainly related to corruption. Here Swalwell is simply pretending to read Trump’s mind.
- “I want to hear someone dispute the facts that President Trump invoked his political rival’s name four times on that July 25 call.” Technically, it was only three, and all in the same context of Burisma.
- “I want to hear someone dispute the facts that the president’s chief of staff said, we are withholding the military aid because the Ukrainians need to investigate 2016.” Mulvaney walked that back, saying: “Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election. The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server.” He said the reasons for withholding aid were related to corruption and to irritation that other nations in Europe were not contributing enough to Ukraine’s defense — persistent concerns for Trump.
- “I want someone to dispute the facts that Ambassador Sondland said quid pro quo absolutely on investigations.” He did not say “absolutely.” He said he believed there was a “quid pro quo” for a meeting, a claim contradicted by Ambassador Kurt Volker. He also said he only presumed that there had been a “quid pro quo” for aid. He also said that President Trump told him explicitly, first-hand: “No quid pro quo.”
Swalwell went on to misquote George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley, the only legal expert witness Republicans were allowed to call. He claimed that Turley said the Ukraine call was “anything but perfect.”
What Swalwell omitted, of course, was the context of that statement, in which Turley warned Democrats not to impeach the president. Turley’s full statement was:
[T]his is wrong. It’s not wrong because President Trump is right. His call is anything but perfect. It’s not wrong because the House has no legitimate reason to investigate the Ukrainian controversy. It’s not wrong because we’re in an election year. There is no good time for an impeachment.
No — it’s wrong because this is not how you impeach an American president.
Earlier, Swalwell attempted to accuse Trump of “bribery” — a claim swiftly shot down by Republicans, who noted that Democrats had not accused Trump of bribery in the articles of impeachment.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.