Speaking to host Ari Melber, the legal expert argued that Trump’s actions amount to extortion and bribery, suggesting that Trump pressured Ukraine not only to harm the presumed Democratic front-runner, former Vice President Joe Biden, but also to protect himself from allegations of collusion with the Kremlin.
“[Trump] was taking hundreds of millions of dollars voted by Congress and withholding them from the Ukraine in an act of sheer extortion and soliciting what amounted to a bribe because he wanted Ukraine’s help, help against Joe Biden for 2020 and help in clearing him of colluding with Russia in 2016,” according to Tribe.
As Raw Story notes, the controversial call between Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, took place on July 25, almost immediately after then-special counsel Robert Mueller testified before Congress about Russian election meddling and potential obstruction of justice by the president.
Trump’s actions, according to Tribe, clearly demonstrate that he is not only “abusing the power of his office,” but “essentially betraying his oath in the country.”
According to the legal expert, the president’s behavior shows that he believes he is above the law, and that he is convinced no one can control or investigate him.
“He’s called the impeachment a lynching, a phony proceeding,” Tribe noted. “He’s basically said nobody can investigate him,” he added, opining that Trump’s belief that he is above the law is also “manifested” in “orders to his subordinates.”
According to an anonymous intelligence community whistleblower, Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine in order to pressure the country’s authorities to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter.
The transcript of Trump’s call with Zelensky corroborates the whistleblower’s claims, according to Democrats in the House of Representatives, who have launched a formal impeachment inquiry in response to the president’s actions.
TONIGHT: @AriMelber takes a look at where the impeachment inquiry is going and what’s next for the president. Watch "Impeachment: White House in Crisis," tonight at 9 PM ET on @MSNBC pic.twitter.com/o6I8UKEj8H— TheBeat w/Ari Melber (@TheBeatWithAri) November 10, 2019
According to other legal experts, the transcript is enough of a smoking gun in and of itself. Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks, for instance, said in a recent interview that there are multiple smoking guns in the impeachment case against Trump, with the Ukraine call and the withholding of military aid being offenses in plain sight.
Trump claims to have done nothing wrong, and the vast majority of Republicans in Congress apparently agree. Since the beginning of the investigation, GOP lawmakers have been fiercely defending the president, and alleging that the impeachment investigation is the latest attempt by the Democratic Party to remove Trump from office.