Ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes (L), minority counsel Steve Castor (C) and Rep. Jim Jordan listen during a House impeachment hearing last month. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
President Trump committed “no quid pro quo, bribery, extortion, or abuse of power,” Republicans on the House committees investigating the Ukraine controversy have concluded in a 110-page report reviewed by Axios ahead of its formal release.
Why it matters: The report provides the basis for Republicans' rejection of Democrats' anticipated articles of impeachment against the president for the remainder of the House proceedings.
The document is a prebuttal to the Democratic majority's highly anticipated report compiling the evidence against the president and recommendations on how to proceed.
- "We address their arguments head-on," a GOP official working on impeachment told Axios. "We think this report responds to each and every argument Democrats put forward."
- The official described the report as an "evergreen document," but said if House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler sets forth new arguments, "we'll certainly take those into account and respond."
Between the lines: The report covers a lot of the same talking points that House Republicans rolled out in a staff memo before the public hearings.
- They claim there is “nothing inherently wrong” with the Trump administration’s actions toward Ukraine and justify each of them in detail, including Rudy Giuliani’s direct involvement in U.S. diplomacy.
- They say any references to a quid pro quo are conjecture and hearsay — including EU Ambassador and Trump donor Gordon Sondland's testimony.
- They question the origins of the impeachment inquiry and Democrats' motives, and they allege that Democrats have wanted to undo the 2016 election since Trump won.
- They mock Democrats for calling the impeachment inquiry a serious process, and they characterize the speedy nature of the inquiry as proof that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is motivated by politics rather than substance.
- They use Trump's well-known skepticism about U.S. spending on foreign aid as justification for his hesitation to give money to Ukraine.
- They say there was "nothing wrong" with asking questions about Hunter Biden’s role on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian company, or renewing unfounded allegations about who interfered in the 2016 elections.
They also seek to discredit those inside the government who raised alarm bells about what the president, Giuliani and others were doing outside normal foreign policy channels.
- They label the former and current State Department officials and members of the intelligence community “unelected bureaucrats."
- They say the now infamous summary of the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky, which Democrats cite as evidence of a quid pro quo, actually exonerates Trump. It "does not reflect any improper pressure or conditionality to pressure Ukraine to investigate President Trump's political rival."
Behind the scenes: The report, written by Republican staff on the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees, was drafted over the course of the last few weeks — even as witness testimony was ongoing — and finalized late Sunday night, per GOP officials familiar with the report.
- The White House had no level of involvement in the drafting of the document, according to the officials. "They gave us no direction or input," one of the officials said.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a statement responding to the report:
“The Minority’s rebuttal document, intended for an audience of one, ignores voluminous evidence that the president used the power of his office to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rival by withholding military aid and a White House meeting the President of Ukraine desperately sought. In so doing, the President undermined our national security and the integrity of our elections.”
What's next: Democrats have drafted their own report, and all members of the House Intelligence Committee can review a draft in classified spaces tonight.
- Tomorrow at 6 pm ET, the committee will meet behind closed doors to adopt the report and add Republicans' views.
- The report will then be forwarded to the Judiciary Committee.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with a link to the full report.