Press "Enter" to skip to content

Response to Duckworth’s Question in Impeachment Trial: “We Have No Evidence” Trump Engaged in Legitimate Process for Withholding Foreign Aid | U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois

January 30, 2020

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today asked House impeachment managers whether there is any documentary evidence of President Trump gathering information to justify withholding aid to Ukraine. Specifically, Duckworth asked if there was evidence of Trump being briefed by the NSC, DOD or State Department on Ukraine corruption and European cost-sharing or that he requested information on anti-corruption reform measures in Ukraine. The non-partisan U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) appropriations law decision concluding that President Trump violated his constitutional responsibility to faithfully execute the law when he unlawfully withheld Ukraine security assistance funds may be read here. A full video of Duckworth’s question and the House managers’ response is available here.

The Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts, read the following question from Senator Duckworth, “If the hold on aid to Ukraine was meant to be kept secret until the President could gather internal US government information on Ukraine corruption and European cost-sharing, then is there any documentary evidence of this? For example, is there any evidence the President was briefed on those issues by the NSC, DOD or State Department, during the period of the hold during in the summer of 2019, or any evidence that he requested specific information on anti-corruption reform measures in Ukraine? Prior to releasing the aid on September 11, 2019, did the President order any changes to Administration policy to address corruption or burden-sharing with our European Allies?”

After explaining what a legitimate process would look like, House Manager Jason Crow (D-CO-06) answered, “So yes, the answer is: if there was a legitimate policy process put in place there will be a lot of information about burden sharing, about corruption, about any of the other concerns to which we have no evidence. And if burden sharing, to the last point of the question, was a concern, then the person who should have been asked to discuss those concerns with the EU and with our European Partners would’ve been Ambassador Sondland because he is the United States Ambassador to the European Union.

“And not once did President Trump go to Ambassador Sondland and say ‘discuss these issues with the EU and the Europeans saying they need to provide more money’ not once did that happen, and it didn’t happen because it wasn’t the real concern. All of the evidence shows the President withheld taxpayer money, foreign aid, to our partner at war, to coerce them to start a political investigation to benefit his 2020 election campaign. That is what the evidence shows, that’s why we’re still here, and there is one person that can provide additional information on that and that is Ambassador Bolton, and yes, it is still a good time to subpoena Ambassador Bolton.”

A full rushed transcript of the exchange is below:

DUCKWORTH: Mr. Chief Justice.

ROBERTS: The Senator from Illinois.

DUCKWORTH: I send a question to the desk for the House Managers.

ROBERTS: Thank you. The question from Senator Duckworth for the House Managers: “If the hold on aid to Ukraine was meant to be kept secret until the President could gather internal US government information on Ukraine corruption and European cost-sharing, then is there any documentary evidence of this? For example, is there any evidence the President was briefed on those issues by the NSC, DOD or State Department, during the period of the hold during in the summer of 2019, or any evidence that he requested specific information on anti-corruption reform measures in Ukraine? Prior to releasing the aid on September 11, 2019, did the President order any changes to Administration policy to address corruption or burden-sharing with our European Allies?”

CROW: Chief Justice. Thank you, Senator, for that question. Let’s just take a moment and address what the process should have looked like. Because as we’ve already established, and as the President’s counsel has conceded and as we have conceded is this does happen. There is a legitimate policy process for review and for determination on hold – because there is indeed legitimate policy reasons to hold aid. And we’ve never said that corruption is not one of those, or that burden-sharing wouldn’t be one of those. What we’re saying is that there’s no evidence that in what we are talking about today that the President was concerned or engaged in that process.

So what would normally happen is, Congress would come together, as we did, we passed appropriations bills and we made a determination that funding was appropriate for the aid. Which 87 members of the Senate did this past year. The President would then rely on the advice of government experts from the National Security Council, DOD, State Department, and the Office of Management and Budget, regarding that aid – that’s that inter-agency process that we’ve talked so much about. The inter-agency process that we went through earlier last year, and that at the conclusion of that inter-agency process it was determined that it had met all of the conditions for the aid, and all of the agencies determined that it should go forward.

The President would then seek permission form Congress that he intended to–would normally, if there was a reason–the President would go back and seek permission from Congress to hold the aid. Let me repeat that, if there were a reason to hold it, and President Trump has done this in the past, as has President Obama and prior Presidents, would go back to Congress under pre-described processes and make sure that they’re not violating the Impoundment Control Act and seek permission to hold it. That did not happen.

Congress would then weigh in on the request by either approving or denying the President’s request, and then unless Congress specifically approves the President’s request the aid must be made available, of course none of that happened.

In this instance, a hold was put in place. We don’t know exactly when because the President and his agencies and his counsel have prevented us from getting that information but a hold was put in place, no reason was given. And in fact the only one within the United States government who apparently knows why that hold was put in place is the President’s Counsel, who tried to tell us last night why he thinks the hold was put in place but nobody else knows.

So yes, the answer is: if there was a legitimate policy process put in place there will be a lot of information about burden sharing, about corruption, about any of the other concerns to which we have no evidence. And if burden sharing, to the last point of the question, was a concern, then the person who should have been asked to discuss those concerns with the EU and with our European Partners would’ve been Ambassador Sondland because he is the United States Ambassador to the European Union. And not once did President Trump go to Ambassador Sondland and say ‘discuss these issues with the EU and the Europeans saying they need to provide more money’ not once did that happen, and it didn’t happen because it wasn’t the real concern. All of the evidence shows the President withheld taxpayer money, foreign aid, to our partner at war, to coerce them to start a political investigation to benefit his 2020 election campaign. That is what the evidence shows, that’s why were still here, and there is one person that can provide additional information on that and that is Ambassador Bolton, and yes, it is still a good time to subpoena Ambassador Bolton.

-30-

Go to Source
Author:

All Information was gathered from publicly available US Government releases. "§105. Subject matter of copyright: United States Government works Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government, but the United States Government is not precluded from receiving and holding copyrights transferred to it by assignment, bequest, or otherwise. ( Pub. L. 94–553, title I, §101, Oct. 19, 1976, 90 Stat. 2546 .)" http://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=(title:17%20section:105%20edition:prelim)