Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner made headlines across the country on Wednesday when he announced that he would not support calling new witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial. As we’ve discussed at length in this space, there has never been any real reason to believe that Gardner
would could be dissuaded from covering up for President Trump’s misdeeds. But Gardner isn’t just ignoring any evidence in the Senate trial about President Trump’s extortion attempts with Ukraine; he already KNEW that allegations of corruption against former Vice President Joe Biden were completely without merit.
As Greg Sargent outlines today in a devastating story for The Washington Post, Gardner has known for years that there was nothing even remotely suspicious about Biden’s dealings with Ukraine.
You should really read Sargent’s entire story, but we’ll summarize as best we can. Stay with us here, because this is a significant development.
First, you need to understand one of the primary defense arguments regarding Trump’s withholding of foreign aid to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into Biden. Writes Sargent:
A core claim from Trump’s team has been that Trump had at least some reason to suspect there was something untoward about Joe Biden’s efforts as vice president to oust a Ukrainian prosecutor.
They’ve cited two facts — that Biden threatened to withhold loan guarantees from Ukraine to leverage that ouster and that Biden’s son Hunter sat on the board of Ukrainian company Burisma — which they claim presented a potential conflict of interest. That made Trump’s suspicions reasonable, they say.
Gardner knows this isn’t true, but how do we know that? Because he was present at multiple Senate hearings – in 2015 and 2016 – in which it was openly discussed that Biden was following stated U.S. foreign policy goals in pressuring Ukraine to dismiss prosecutor Viktor Shokin. As Sargent explains:
But, crucially, the public record at the time also shows that the ouster of Shokin, including the use of loan guarantees as leverage, was U.S. policy — and that at least some Republican senators knew all of this as it was happening.
Gardner was in attendance at this Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing on October 8, 2015, in which an assistant secretary of state named Victoria Nuland explained that it was U.S. foreign policy – supported by the International Monetary Fund — to target Shukin as part of an effort to rid the Ukranian prosecutor general’s office of corruption.
Gardner was also present at this Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing on March 14, 2016, at which Nuland updated Senators on efforts to oust Shukin.
This bears repeating: Cory Gardner has known for years that there was no basis for the Trump administration to allege that Joe Biden was involved in any sort of illicit dealings with Ukraine.
Cory Gardner KNOWS that there was no reason for Trump to seek a Ukrainian investigation of Biden, let alone to withhold foreign aid in exchange for such an investigation…which means Gardner KNOWS that Trump’s actions were a blatant abuse of power.
We’ll let Sargent bring this home:
The bottom line is that it was not legitimate for Trump to claim Biden’s effort to oust Shokin was linked to Hunter’s Burisma gig to justify his corrupt demand of Zelensky. To allow Trump to make this legitimate simply by saying there might have been such a link is to concede to him the power to rewrite reality with disinformation, all to justify his extortion of a foreign power to help him cheat his way through the next election.
GOP senators who know better might be prepared to concede that power to him. But we don’t have to.
#CoverUpCory isn’t just a fun hashtag. It’s the truth.