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Here’s why White House lawyers didn’t want to discuss the specifics of what Trump asked Ukraine to do

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Writing for the Washington Post on Tuesday, Aaron Blake pointed out a key fact about President Donald Trump’s demands of Ukraine that White House defense attorneys seemed unwilling to bring up in the Senate impeachment trial.

“President Trump’s defense team on Tuesday ended an extended opening argument in which it laid out that Trump had legitimate reasons to ask Ukraine for specific investigations. But it spent almost no time vouching for the actual investigations he wanted,” wrote Blake.

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“To the extent Trump’s team tried to argue the investigations were legitimate, it focused mostly on the idea that Hunter Biden’s employment at a Ukrainian gas company was problematic,” wrote Blake, but “Trump’s legal team spent literally zero time talking about the one involving CrowdStrike and a server that was supposedly in Ukraine. Trump’s team didn’t utter the word ‘CrowdStrike’ once in three days, in fact, nor did it even mention a ‘server’ in Ukraine. It instead more broadly defended the idea that Ukraine might have interfered in the 2016 election.”

CrowdStrike — a cybersecurity firm that played a key role in uncovering Russia’s fingerprint in the hacks of Democratic emails in 2016 — is not a Ukrainian company, nor does it have a “server.” But Russian propaganda has tried to paint it as the real mastermind of the hack, something that Trump fell for and tried to pursue in his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

And that, wrote Blake, would pose a huge problem for the White House team if they acknowledged it.

“Part of the Trump team’s difficulty in defending him is that they had to establish that the investigations he was pursuing were legitimate. Otherwise, it looks much more like he was just out to tar the Bidens and pursue personal pet political causes, rather than actually rooting about ‘corruption,'” wrote Blake. “But rather than defend Trump’s actual theories, his own defense team steered well clear of them and pretended he was alleging somewhat-similar-but-less-conspiratorial ideas. With hours left on the clock in which they could have expanded their defense, they devoted precious little time to what Trump actually alleged. And the fact that they weren’t willing to completely vouch for the boss speaks volumes.”

You can read more here.

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