It was two weeks ago when Donald Trump turned to Twitter to offer some strategic advise to his GOP allies on Capitol Hill. “Rupublicans [sic], go with Substance and close it out!” the president declared with his own unique brand of spelling and capitalization.
By “close it out,” Trump seemed to suggest that he and his allies had already won the procedural argument over impeachment; all Republicans – or “Rupublicans” – had to do to finish this off was build on this imagined success and knock down the substantive elements of the scandal, too.
With this in mind, Axios and NBC News ran separate reports on a staff memo, circulated among House Republicans on the relevant investigative committees, with four points GOP members are supposed to emphasize as part of the effort to “go with substance.”
* The July 25 call summary – the best evidence of the conversation – shows no conditionality or evidence of pressure, the memo claims.
* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and President Trump have both said there was no pressure on the call, it says.
* The Ukrainian government was not aware of a hold on U.S. security assistance at the time of the July 25 call.
* Trump met with Zelenskiy and U.S. security assistance flowed to Ukraine in September 2019 – both of which occurred without Ukraine investigating Trump’s political rivals, the memo says.
The first point is wrong, rejected by many Republicans, and oblivious to the fact that the scandal is about more than just Trump’s July 25 phone meeting with Zelensky. The second point has never made any sense. The third point has been debunked, as has the fourth.
But other than that, it’s a great list of talking points.
I probably shouldn’t be surprised, but I thought it was at least possible, given how many weeks Republicans have had to work on this, that the party would’ve come up with a more compelling list.