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Setting the table for the impeachment hearings: The relevant facts

 
Attorney Scott Pilutik wrestles with the news of the day, from a lawyerly perspective…

I’m unfortunately unable to comment on impeachment hearings in real-time today but nearly all the relevant facts are already known:

Trump, both personally and by his agent Giuliani, repeatedly attempted to extort Ukraine to deliver a public statement that it was investigating Joe Biden and his son Hunter, by withholding congressionally-allocated foreign aid.

Numerous White House officials, though not all, abetted this abuse of power by either furthering it, concealing records, appearing to perjure themselves, and/or failing to respond to subpoenas. Trump himself has obstructed justice by instructing subordinates to refuse to respond to subpoenas, intimidating witnesses, retaliating against witnesses, and so on.

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Though the president retains broad latitude to shape foreign policy, he cannot without abusing his office leverage his office for personal favors, which he’s repeatedly done without contrition.

UPDATE: Unable to watch so I’m not sure how everything is playing out, optically speaking, but factually speaking, Bill Taylor broke news by updating his own previous testimony to account for something he’d learned from one of his aides after that aide read Gordon Sondland’s testimony.

That aide heard Sondland on the phone with Trump, and noted that for Trump, of the two requested investigations, the Biden investigation was more important. Specifically, it was the announcement of the Biden investigation that was vital; and that foreign aid would not be released until that happened.

This is so key. Trump never wanted an investigation, he wanted the ANNOUNCEMENT of one. That this was repeatedly stressed by Trump undermines the expected GOP defense that Trump was interested in Ukraine investigating “corruption” generally.

Note too that Sondland never testified about the call between himself and Trump that Taylor references his aide overhearing. Sounds like it may be time for Sondland to update his testimony again to avoid a perjury referral.

My sense from Twitter is that the GOP counsel is going full Chewbacca defense.

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