At the trial we learned about Stone’s numerous contacts with the campaign:
Rick Gates, who served as Trump’s deputy campaign chairman, testified Tuesday that Stone began discussing Clinton leaks with the campaign in April 2016 and that from May onward Gates understood Stone to be the campaign’s intermediary with WikiLeaks. By July 2016, Gates testified, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort said he was updating Trump and others regularly and directed Gates to keep following up with Stone. After Trump ended one phone call from Stone at the end of that month, Gates testified, the future president said to Gates that “more information would be coming.”
In his written answers, however, Trump claimed he had “no recollection” of conversations with Stone about WikiLeaks nor did he recall knowing Stone had discussed WikiLeaks’s email drops with the campaign. Perhaps Trump’s memory is addled; if not, it appears he lied to Mueller.
Likewise, in the Ukraine matter multiple witnesses gave testimony that suggests that Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland has been telling falsehoods under oath. Some he has remedied, such as his initial statement that he had not communicated to the Ukrainians that military aid was dependent upon their opening an investigation into the Bidens. However, we now know from at least one other witness that Sondland’s denial that he spoke to the president or to the State Department was false. (He spoke to both.) One wonders if he’ll share a similar fate as Stone, the former Trump confidant who this week was found guilty on charges of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and witness tampering.
The Trump lies relating to Ukraine are numerous and serious, although not delivered under oath. CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale has documented 45 Trump lies concerning Ukraine including:
Trump did not ask [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky for anything on the call. (Trump asked Zelensky to look into former Vice President Joe Biden, look into a debunked conspiracy theory about Democratic computer servers, and speak with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr.)Zelensky criticized former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch “out of the blue” on the call. (Trump brought up Yovanovitch first.) . . . .The whistleblower was “sooo wrong.” (The rough transcript and witness testimony have proven the whistleblower to have been highly accurate.) . . .Schiff might have been the whistleblower’s source. (This is nonsense. The whistleblower said in the complaint that information about the call came from “multiple White House officials with direct knowledge of the call.”)
Other Trump lies include his denial that United States military aid was held up, his bizarre accusations that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) was the whistleblower’s source and his unfounded allegations that former vice president Joe Biden “stole” millions of dollars from foreign countries and pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor when Hunter Biden was still under investigation.
House Republicans continually traffic in lies — e.g., Ukraine interfered with our election, Joe Biden’s conduct pressuring removal of a delinquent prosecutor was illegal or corrupt, Trump was concerned about Ukraine’s corruption in general.
On procedure, they’ve lied about the depositions (routinely used in investigations), claiming they violate “due process” or amount to a “Soviet-style” star chamber. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) lied in claiming she was prevented from asking questions. (In fact, she was permitted time during the five-minute questions by members but the ranking Republican, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, was not permitted under rules of which she was familiar to yield some of his time in the 45-minute opening round.) Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) falsely claimed not producing the whistleblower violates Trump’s Sixth Amendment rights.
At times, Republicans deliberately ignore evidence in front of their eyes. They seem to have settled on the theory that Trump never communicated to Zelensky that aid was tied to investigations of Biden, Burisma and Trump’s crackpot Ukraine interference conspiracy. Trump, however, raised these items in the phone call (“I would like you to do us a favor though"), as we know from the rough transcription. (In transcripts of depositions we learn from multiple officials they were alarmed about injecting Trump’s political agenda into U.S. foreign policy.)
Trump also spoke to Sondland about the investigations, according to testimony, and in one instance was overheard by multiple State Department staffers. (Other officials testify that Sondland repeatedly claimed he was acting on Trump’s behalf and directly conditioned aid on the Biden investigation.)
Republicans’ lies are so numerous and obvious that one requires only a minimal amount of fact-checking to see that they lie because they have no truthful factual defenses nor valid constitutional argument. The facts are the facts: Trump conditioned aid to an ally in a war for its sovereignty on production of dirt to smear a political rival. He has refused to allow key witnesses to produce documents or to testify, thereby obstructing Congress. He has sought to intimidate and threaten witnesses including the whistleblower and Marie Yovanovitch, sending out the message you will be targeted and smeared if you provide evidence against him.
As for the Constitution, we know that “bribery,” enumerated as one of the grounds for impeachment in the parlance of the Framers, includes asking for or giving personal favors in exchange for political acts. That is precisely what occurred here. Obstruction and witness intimidation are obviously "high crimes."
House Republicans have become so invested in crackpot theories, bogus procedural complains and constitutional illiteracy that they will never recognize the president’s wrongdoing. They are as incapable of upholding their oath, which requires impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors or bribery, as he is. Both Trump and his House enablers are unfit to serve since personal and political considerations obliterate their ability to detect the truth and thereby to uphold their public obligations. It would be refreshing if House Republicans simply admitted Trump violated his oath but that they are unwilling to abide by theirs and remove him. The candor would be preferable to the non-stop lying.
It remains an open question as to whether Senate Republicans are willing to ignore and distort reality so as to avoid voting to convict a president of their own party. Unfortunately, we find it highly unlikely that more than a few (if that many) would concede that Trump and the right-wing echo chamber that protects him have been spinning a web of lies for nearly three years.