Libertarian columnist Jacob Sullum of Reason Magazine has tried to keep an open mind about impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump — but he has found himself confounded time and again by the president’s defenders completely misstating or misrepresenting basic facts.
In his latest column, Sullum calls out Republican lawyer Stephen Castor for making a “jaw dropping” argument that Trump never asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political opponents, despite the fact that the White House’s own readout of the now-infamous July 25th call shows he did exactly that.
“The president’s defenders have repeatedly contested well-established facts in a way that makes fair-minded nonpartisans despair of having an impeachment debate based on a shared understanding of reality,” he writes. “You can argue, as Republicans have, that there was nothing improper about that request. But you cannot credibly deny that Trump made it.”
Sullum says this is part of a pattern for Republican defenders of the president. In particular, he points to the House Republicans’ rebuttal of Democrats’ impeachment report from the House Intelligence Committee that argued Trump was merely asking Zelensky to look into Biden out of a sincere desire to root out corruption in Ukraine.
“Trump did not broach that subject in the July 25 call or an earlier conversation with Zelensky, and his interest in discrediting Biden is consistent with the lobbying of his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who by his own account was seeking ‘information [that] will be very, very helpful to my client,'” he writes. “Current and former administration officials have testified that such an announcement was a prerequisite for a White House meeting and the release of congressionally approved military aid that Trump had delayed without explanation.”