Victor Davis Hanson Accuses Dems of Trying to Impeach Trump for ‘Thought Crimes,’ Because Ukraine Aid Was Delayed But Not Canceled
National Review columnist Victor David Hanson accused House Democrats of trying to impeach President Donald Trump for “thought crimes” because military aid to Ukraine was delayed by the White Hose — for nearly two months — but was not ultimately canceled.
Speaking with Fox News’ Ed Henry, Hanson reprised his argument from his most recent column, where he argued that the president’s opponents are basing their case against him on things he might have talked about but never actually did.
“It’s not against the law, at least it wasn’t under the U.S. Constitution, to think something,” Hanson told Henry. “If I want to think about speeding at 80 miles per hour and I talk about thinking about it but I actually don’t, I’m not guilty of anything other than harboring a bad thoughts.”
He went to analogize Trump’s conduct with Ukraine to that example.
“Trump may or may not, we don’t really know, the evidence suggests he didn’t, think about delaying aid and that aid was delayed. But it wasn’t cut off. Maybe he thought about cutting it off,” Hanson said. “That’s not a crime. There was a context about it and he didn’t force the firing of anybody in Ukraine, and he didn’t interfere in the sense that the Ukrainians stared an investigation at his prompt.”
This latter claim by Hanson is belied by reports that Ukraine was, in fact, set to announce an investigation at Trump’s behest on CNN on Sept. 13th, but that move was abruptly abandoned after the aid was released.
Henry likewise pushed back on Hansons’ first point, noting that, just this week, impeachment testimony revealed two Trump administration Office of Management and Budget officials had questioned the legality of the White House withholding the aid, even temporarily, and that they ultimately resigned in protest over the move.
“It wasn’t just a thought,” Henry pressed. “It may have only been days are a couple of weeks, but the aid was held up.”
“It’s not against the law to hold up aid,” Hanson replied, without acknowledging that he was no longer talking about what Trump thought, but actually did. “Every president, every administration has the right to examine, cross-examine, think, double-think about the aid for a couple of reasons. Maybe they thought it was corrupt. People have suggested that Ukraine couldn’t be trusted until they had verification the new president was reliable. Maybe they thought Donald Trump was too sensitive about giving aid to anybody. All of these are legitimate reasons to delay or to interrupt aid, but the bottom line is he didin’t cut it in the end.”
In fact, presidents cannot legally withhold Congressionally-approved foreign aid for just any reason, such as they are “too sensitive” about the issue.
Hanson also did not address the chronology of the aid’s delay and release, which Trump critics have claimed reveals the president’s guilt. According to the New York Times, Trump had learned of the whistleblower’s complaint about his actions regarding Ukraine by September 9th, two days before the date that the White House finally allowed the $391 million in aid to be freed up. Also, by early September, a bipartisan group of Senators had begun to formally ask questions of the Trump administration about the withheld aid, noting that if it wasn’t released by the end of the fiscal year on September 30th, the money would be nullified.
“If you’re going to convict people of thought crimes for considering cutting it, what would you do if you said, ‘Well, [President] Barack Obama never gave them legal aid and a lot of people died because of that?'” Hanson said, making a false comparison between unrelated situations. “We’re not impeaching Barack Obama for that. That’s his prerogative as a president to say, you know what, ‘I’m not going to give any legal aid to the Ukrainians. Heck with them, hell with them, I don’t care about giving them lethal aid.’ No Republicans said ‘Oh my God, we’re going to impeach the president, he didn’t give him lethal aid.'”
In fact, the Obama White House advocated an official policy of not providing lethal aid, one that Congress also agreed with. As a result, there was never a circumstance where Obama could improperly leverage Congressionally-appropriated aid to Ukraine for personal, political reasons, which is exactly what House Democrats have argued Trump did.
Watch the video above, via Fox News.
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