U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland says there was a quid pro quo pushed by the Trump administration, an assertion that damages the defense put foerward by President Trump and his Republican allies, but former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy says the facts simply don’t warrant impeachment.
McCarthy, who served as Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, is the author of “Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency.” He is also a contributing editor and columnist at National Review Online and a Fox News Channel contributor.
On Wednesday, Sondland says President Trump directed him to work with presidential attorney Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine policy. Sondland says Giuliani insisted on Ukraine publicly announcing an investigation into the 2016 elections and the energy company Burisma in exchange for an Oval Office meeting for Ukrainian President Vlodomyr Zelensky.
Burisma is the energy company that paid Hunter Biden huge sums of money to sit on its board of directors during the latter years of the Obama administration while Joe Biden was vice president. Sondland says he never considered that the effort to probe Burisma was really an effort to investigate the Bidens.
Sondland also says he never got an answer as to why $400 million in military aid to Ukraine was held up but he “presumes” it was also in an effort to compel the investigations.
McCarthy says the most significant impact of Wednesday’s testimony is that it proved the Republicans mounted the wrong defense by insisting there was no quid pro quo.
“I think it was a real mistake to fight the idea that there was a quid pro quo since there’s virtually always a quid pro quo in foreign relations. If you’re going to do an effective defense in any kind of an adversarial proceeding, you don’t want to be fighting a pitched battle on something you can’t win.
“I’ve thought it was a mistake all along for the Republicans and the president to base their defense on the idea there was no quid pro quo when there’s a lot of evidence that there was,” said McCarthy.
McCarthy says the best defense from the beginning would have been to explain how the allegations simply do not rise to the level of impeachment. He refers to this controversy as the “Seinfeld” impeachment, because it’s a high crime and misdemeanor about nothing.
He also says the founders did not intend impeachment to be used in a scenario like this.
“They were worried that the powerful presidency they had just created could be co-opted by a foreign power, so the might of the United States was being used for the foreign power rather than the American people.
So what they put bribery in there for was to fill this gap to address the possibility that a president essentially gets purchased by a foreign power, that is the foreign power bribes the president so that the president does the foreign power’s bidding rather than the American people’s bidding. We don’t have anything close to that here,” said McCarthy.
Listen to the full podcast to hear more of McCarthy’s assessment of Sondland’s testimony, his response to the assertion Ukraine only got the military aid after the whistleblower’s complaint surfaced, and where he thinks the likelihood impeachment currently stands.