Speaking with Fox News host Ed Henry, the columnist argued that the president cannot be impeached for allegedly wanting to cut military aid to Ukraine — because he never actually cut it.
“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 bad thoughts,” he asserted.
The columnist added that the evidence, in fact, suggests Trump did not cut military assistance, even though he may have thought about doing so, and that he “didn’t interfere in the sense that the Ukrainians started an investigation at his prompt.”
As Mediaite notes, however, reports claim that the Ukrainian government agreed to launch investigations at Trump’s request, but changed the decision once aid was released.
Pushing back against Hanson’s arguments, Henry argued that Trump wasn’t just thinking about withholding the aid, and that evidence suggests the assistance was briefly held up.
Hanson responded by arguing that it is not illegal to freeze foreign aid, claiming that there is a number of reasons a president would want to re-examine their foreign policy. According to the columnist, the president may have even had legitimate reasons to withhold aid, but “the bottom line is he didn’t cut it in the end.”
As the publication notes, presidents cannot legally freeze foreign aid approved by the United States Congress, and multiple reports suggest that Trump only decided to release the funds after learning about the whistleblower’s complaint.
Defending Trump, Hanson said that Republicans did not attack former President Barack Obama for not providing military assistance to Ukraine, and concluded that House Democrats want to impeach Trump for “thought crimes.”
“If you’re going to convict people of thought crimes for considering cutting it, what would you do if you said, ‘Well, Barack Obama never gave them legal aid and a lot of people died because of that?”
The Obama administration’s official policy was to not provide the Ukrainians with military assistance, according to Mediaite.
According to Democrats in the House of Representatives — and, as the formal complaint filed by an anonymous whistleblower suggests — Trump froze military aid in order to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate his political rivals, including former Vice President Joe Biden.
Testimonies from impeachment witnesses corroborate the whistleblower’s allegations, House Democrats claim. Likewise, it has been alleged that numerous members of the Trump administration — including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — were involved in the Ukraine scheme, as was the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.