Rep. Jim Banks: Trump impeachment not justified, hearings show

The Trump impeachment inquiry led by House Democrats has been described as a “show” and a “circus.” That’s true, but it more closely resembles a merry-go-round.

After the conclusion of Thursday’s televised hearing by the House Intelligence Committee, the Democrats are right back where they started – their baseless inquiry has gone round and round in circles without advancing.

Witnesses have given seemingly endless testimony last week and this week, but there is still no evidence of high crimes or misdemeanors by President Trump.

DEMS COULD DRAFT 4 ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT, GOP PLANS FOR FULL SENATE TRIAL, SOURCES SAY

Those of us who were clued in from the beginning weren’t surprised when the witnesses came up short on substance. Only a few of them had firsthand knowledge of the July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that Democrats are using as their excuse to try to overturn the results of the 2016 presidential election.

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Most significantly, only one witness – U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland – had spoken to President Trump about what the president wanted from Ukraine.

Democrats are making much of the fact that Sondland was asked Wednesday whether a quid pro quo took place regarding President Trump’s interest in an investigation of corruption in Ukraine and possible Ukrainian interference in our 2016 election. Sondland responded that “the answer is yes.”

But here’s what Democrats are trying to sweep under the rug: Sondland made a critically important admission. He said his belief that there was a quid pro quo – that Trump was demanding deliverables from Ukraine in return for about $400 million in U.S. military aid and a Trump-Zelensky meeting – was based on nothing more than his own “presumption.” In other words, his opinion.

Yet this opinion is directly contradicted by Sondland’s conversations with the president. According to Sondland, President Trump told him: “I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky – President Zelensky – to do the right thing.”

Trump’s denial of Sondland’s opinion considerably weakens the importance of Sondland’s testimony.

Because there is no real evidence of wrongdoing by President Trump – other than the opinions, presumptions and guesses of witnesses called by Democrats – many of the witnesses used the opportunity of their testimony before a national TV audience to opine that President Trump’s foreign policy is wrongheaded.

But the fact that the president has foreign policy views that subordinates disagree with is obviously not an impeachable offense.

Many people in all sorts of jobs disagree with some decisions made by their bosses. But the subordinates are still expected to implement the decisions of their bosses – or resign. Supervisors don’t get fired for disagreeing with the people they supervise.

William Taylor, now serving as the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, testified that he had concerns over Trump’s decision to conduct foreign policy through “irregular channels” instead of the State Department. But in truth, many past presidents have chosen to conduct foreign policy through people unaffiliated with the State Department.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent testified that “Ukraine is on a path to become a full security partner of the United States within NATO.” But President Trump is firmly opposed to expanding NATO membership.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified that under the Trump administration “the State Department is being hollowed from within.”

And former National Security Council aide Fiona Hill testified Thursday that when she left office earlier this year she was worried about the direction of President Trump’s foreign policy towards Ukraine.

Kent testified that he is the “leading policymaker” regarding Ukraine – but this is wishful thinking. The unelected bureaucrats who have testified at the impeachment hearings do not have supreme authority over United States’ foreign policy. They are outranked by the president of the United States, who was elected by the American people to head our government

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So if the president determines it’s in the best interest of our nation for him to stray from the “interagency consensus” on Ukraine policy, that is his clear right.

As authorized by the Constitution, the president has total control over every facet of U.S. foreign policy.

The American people are smart. They see that Democrats are mounting a political attack on President Trump’s disguised as an impeachment inquiry. The president’s approval ratings in polls have been rising since the start of the impeachment inquiry.

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The landscape in the House is less dynamic. It is right where it was on May 17, 2017 – the day that Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, became the first representative to call for President Trump’s impeachment.

While the partisan Democrats continue to support impeachment of the president on substance-free grounds, Republicans are basing our decision on facts. We stand united against the Democratic effort to oust President Trump.

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