Raymond A. Hult: Republicans twist the facts to make Trump appear innocent

(Jim Lo Scalzo | AP file photo) Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, right, speaks with Steve Castor, Republican staff attorney for the House Oversight Committee, during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, during the first public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents.

During 27 years as a special agent for the FBI, I spent considerable time in court sitting along side assistant United States attorneys during trials in which I was the case agent.

A primary concern during a trial was the defense attorney for the defendant. A defense attorney, well qualified and highly paid, can confuse and twist otherwise compelling evidence upside down. Such a convincing defender can mean the difference of jury finding a guilty defendant innocent. Remember O.J. Simpson?

Those crooks who could afford a a particularly charismatic defense attorney kept me up at night. Although 100% confident a defendant was absolutely guilty, my constant fear was the jury could be swayed by the defender’s ability to fog the issue and shrewdly make evidence appear questionable enough for inexperienced and gullible jurors to accept the mantra of a failure to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The reason I bring this up is I’ve felt similarly while listening to arguments by Republicans defending President Trump. I’m 100% confident the evidence proves he was guilty of two grievous articles charging a totally impeachment-worthy dereliction of duty. Nevertheless, I get that same pit in my stomach listening to them, many who have passed the bar, cloud the facts even though I suspect most know in their hearts they are intentionally distorting the truth.

I’m disappointed it appears Senate Republicans appear determined to abrogate their role as impartial jurors in the upcoming impeachment trial. Instead, they appear determined to take on the role as the president’s personal defense attorneys and like all defense attorneys concern themselves solely with finding their client innocent; embarking on this unconstitutional course even though each will be required to take an oath to seriously consider the facts and reach a fair and impartial judgement.

These Republican defense attorneys for the president provide numerous arguments lacking even a modicum of proven veracity as apparent justifications for prematurely bragging they intend to ignore their constitutional duty to act as impartial jurors. While there are numerous examples I could amass, because of the word limit for submissions, I’ll limit myself to one especially favorite Republican talking point.

They continuously expound their contention the president of Ukraine has publicly denied he felt any pressure from President Trump to withhold military assistance unless he initiated an investigation against primary opponent Biden in the upcoming 2020 election. They attempt to sway potential 2020 voters by arguing this in and of itself is non-refutable proof Article 1 of the impeachment is baseless.

The reality is this particular angry claim is anything but non-refutable. How else could Zalensky respond? He’d already had a desperately required military assistant package withheld for five weeks while his brave Ukrainian soldiers were dying in deadly conflict with Russia. Dare he risk any further similar abandonment by a resident capable of crucially impacting Ukraine’s military survival. He needs to deal with an egotist proven to be vindictive to those who disagree with his bogus claims and most likely feels constrained from openly contesting Trump’s lying protestations until Jan. 20, 2020, and possibly four more years thereafter.

Yes, Zalensky lied, but it was because he obviously felt it necessary to protect further adverse actions by a corrupt president who had already proven his willingness to threaten the welfare of Ukraine unless getting his way. He most likely still feels reluctant to reverse his lie for a higher purpose of not jeopardizing continuing U.S. support in the war against Russia.

Zalensky had not only been forced to agree to initiate an investigation against Biden in order to release the $391 million military assistance package, but he was forced to agree to make the investigation public by agreeing to an interview on CNN with commentator Fareed Zakaria.

When Trump’s illegal scheme was finally uncovered, forcing him to release the funds, Zalensky was able at the last moment to wiggle out of the interview including any subsequent attempt by him to insist on a Biden investigation. Interestingly now, Zelenskly, without outwardly quite daring to contradict Trump’s bogus claim of no pressure, is taking a safer approach of not wanting to further comment about a matter impacting a political election in America.

Raymond A. Hult, Bountiful, is a retired FBI special agent and published author featured by Barns and Nobel/Amazon.

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