Jim Jordan Accuses Trump of Lying to Mueller in Latest Defense against Impeachment

Among the efforts Republicans employed to excuse the President’s inexcusable behavior in yesterday’s impeachment hearing, they tried to lay out reasons why Trump could legitimately think Ukraine was out to get him. Among the things Steve Castor laid out includes an op-ed Ukraine’s then Ambassador to the US Valeriy Chaly placed in the Hill in early August 2016, laying out how outrageous it was that Trump had recently suggested he would entertain recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

“Can you see how the simple fact of writing an op-ed, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the US might create a perception that there are elements of the Ukrainian establishment were advocating against then-candidate Trump,” GOP counsel Steve Castor asked about an op-ed in which Ukraine’s Ambassador defended the territorial integrity of his country and invoked resolutions where the US had committed to do so too. “That’s a tremendously sensitive issue in Ukraine,” Marie Yovanovitch explained, as if it weren’t evident.

In spite of how obvious that explanation for the op-ed is, Jim Jordan nevertheless returned to this attack, claiming that the op-ed was an example of an Ambassador trying to influence a host country election and suggesting Yovanovitch was negligent in not telling Ukraine to stop defending its territorial integrity. (Jordan also lobbed the Nellie Ohr attack that even Devin Nunes seems to have recognized constituted an attack on an experienced organized crime researcher being paid by GOP billionaire Paul Singer.)

Republicans are not outraged by John Solomon’s hit job in the Hill targeting an Ambassador who has served presidents of both parties, they’re not outraged that Mike Flynn was writing an op-ed to be placed in the Hill that was paid for by the Turkish state even while getting Top Secret briefings with Trump as candidate.

They are, however, outraged that a Hill op-ed by Ukraine’s Ambassador to the US points out that America has made past commitments to protect Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

But there’s something still crazier about this line of defense.

Chaly’s op-ed could only be viewed as an attack on Trump if he did, in fact, advocate recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Otherwise, the op-ed would simply be a matter of policy, as Yovanovitch patiently explained to Castor.

And it turns out that Trump has represented, in an answer submitted under oath to Robert Mueller, that he had no policy stance on Crimea. Mueller asked whether the very comments that the Chaly op-ed addressed represented an intention to recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

On July 27, 2016, in response to a question about whether you would recognize Crimea as Russian territory and lift sanctions on Russia, you said: “We’ ll be looking at that. Yeah, we’ll be looking.” Did you intend to communicate by that statement or at any other time during the campaign a willingness to lift sanctions and/or recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea if you were elected?

1. What consideration did you give to lifting sanctions and/or recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea if you were elected? Describe who you spoke with about this topic, when, the substance of the discussion(s).

And while this answer was the most unresponsive among a slew of unresponsive answers, Trump nevertheless stated, under oath, that his statement did not amount to a policy position.

My statement did not communicate any position.

Republicans can’t have this both ways. The only way this op-ed could be an attack on Trump is if Trump really was supporting annexation of Crimea. He may well have been — except he has stated, under oath, that he was not.

Treating this op-ed as an attack on Trump, then, is also an accusation that Trump lied in his sworn answers to Mueller.

Why is Jim Jordan defending President Trump against impeachment by accusing him of lying under oath?

46 replies
  1. pseudonymous in nc says:

    The “higher criticism” reading of this would be that “we’ll be looking” was just his standard bullshit response to something he doesn’t have a fucking clue about or doesn’t give a fuck about, but that the Ukrainians didn’t know that yet and quite reasonably lost their shit. But as your earlier post makes clear, that dodge on the broader sanctions question was telling.

    The problem that people like Jordan face is that the president lies about everything and the only sure-fire way to defend that kind of liar is to say that he is an untouchable god-king. Although Jordan seems to be good at that.

  2. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Thank you for your insight into the corrupt Republican Party. Why is anyone defending Trump against impeachment? At last, have they no shame?
    Can there be that much laundered Russian money in the GOP? How could the Russians have purchased the entire Republican Party?

    • Greg Hunter says:

      I do not think it is a stretch to believe that old angry white GOP interests do not align perfectly with the interests of Vlad’s Russia. The evidence points to abandoning Europe to the squeeze of the ME refugee issues and bashing islam. Old white Brexiteers, the GOP and the Russians are a matched made in heaven and they take that heaven crap literally.

      We are in a real bind in my opinion, especially if the economy goes south. PS oldoilfield hand, Vlad knows the importance of controlling energy and our alliance with Russia could squeeze that paradigm rather well. Vlad spoke the other day at the BRIC conference about this fact. It is a very interesting talk as most of those leaders are fascist (Modi, Bolosonaro) or communist. It’s on youtube under the Vesti channel.

    • Vern says:

      I’m increasingly convinced the MAGAts have kompromat (not necessarily Russian) on them. Think weaponized Nat Enquirer stuff.

      In Lindsay Graham’s case, there’s a story about a “live boy” in there somewhere.

      • Rwylie2001 says:

        I always heard the RNC was hacked at the same time the DNC was hacked but would that have produced “kompromat”? Sorry I don’t have a citation!

    • dude says:

      I have been waiting for Barr to loudly clear his throat during the impeachment proceedings. I have the same feeling as you. Something is up. I don’t think it is necessarily along the lines of the NYT article, but something. He has gone too far and exerted too much effort to admit in public he is empty-handed.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Seems to me that when an American president says he does “not have a position” on Russia’s forced annexation of the Crimea, he IS stating policy. He is saying he’s open to persuasion, that he might accept one state’s forced annexation of another’s territory through aggressive war.

    With lamentable exceptions, opposing that has been a foundation of the post-war world order. Trump is upending that foundation. He is doing it to please Vladimir Putin and apparently for personal gain. Looks like an impeachable offense to me.

    • Mooser says:

      That’s our Trump foreign policy. Every nation on earth can have the privilege of being ‘squeezed’ between Trump and Putin.

    • Rugger9 says:

      However, only a few people are aware of the Mueller report and Individual-1’s answer about Crimea. That’s why Gym Jordan can get away with this defense until the MSM points that out. I’m not holding my breath, though, since that would require MSM reporters to actually read the Mueller report.

  4. jaango says:

    I do not find it unusual that foreign nationals, in this instance, Ukraine, would attempt to ‘influence’ our nation’s public policy via our news media outlets, and carried forward and perhaps, in consultation with our embassy and inclusive of our embassy staffers, is a ‘normalized’ behavior relative to national security and defense.

    However, when private citizens such as Giuilliani and assorted mindsets, attempt to commercialize their relationships and accomplished in a contructive manner, and thusly, submitting the appropriate corporate documents to both the embassy, as well as to the primary financial government organization of the host country. And with a follow-up for establishing a financial relationship with a privately-owned bank in this host country, is critical. And failing to so, in this primary process, is not in keeping with our “national policy”. Consequently, Trump, and his attorney, were attempting to cirumvent our existing national policy out of self-aggrandizement.

    And I have refrained from writing over these many years and in this instance–Ukraine accordingly on and in the House chamber’s “inquiry” for my substantially large readership. Thus, this is my first post on Ukraine, anywhere on the Internet.

    And I come at this subject matter, given my almost ten years of my overall 20-year career in economic develpment or experience relative to my ‘commercialization’ behavior within our Latin America Region. Therefore, any deviation of this ‘process’ as I have explained above, is detrimental to our ongoing economic/financial/political endeavor. And why is this important?

    As a commercialization ‘grunt’ for notifying the Embassy, notifiying the host country’s financial office, as well as delivering the approciate doumentation to the privately-owned bank, means that opening the currency/money account is possible. Now, my experience is that any “dollar” account at a Mexican-owned bank in Mexico’s capitol is possible, despite that Mexico’s public policy consists of the primary requirement that all dollar-accounts can only be established at the border area, in my experience, in Nogales, Mexio, and which is the Border Area. Thus opening a dollar account in the Capitol is viewed as a “welcoming” behavior from the standpoint of Mexico’s inherent national security and defense posture.

    And yet, Common Sense dictates that within all three elements, your commercialization documents will be eventually delivered to the appropriate intelligence gathering agencies. And for here in the United States, all three elemental agencies will deliver your documents, and in my case, to the CIA, and further, deposited into one of the five computers located in the basement of the CIA. And shortly after I would close my bank accounts, I would contact my former bank relationship, and find for myself, that my recently dollar account would receive an attempt at money laundering via unknown criminal elements.

    Now, I have never discussed or written of my business experiences, but I do so in this instance, since Trump, and the client’s attorney, this being Guilliani, did not follow any existing protocols for the commercialization experience, and thusly, our nation’s publiic policy, has been waylaid by the White House, and with the cooperation at the highest levels of the State Department as well as within our intelligence-gathering agencies.

    Consequently, a brutal disregard and tantamount to an existing disgust for our national public policies and where this public policy is conveniently discarded via no public announcement of a change in our public policy.

    And need I say more?

  5. dwfreeman says:

    It’s probably closer to the truth to say, he never did give a damn about Ukraine except as it relates paranthetically to Putin’s geo-political interests and how those reflect on Trump’s re-election options.

    He doesn’t care about foreign policy or US influence in the world except to the extent it impacts his private interests, whether those are business-related or otherwise. That is clear from the conversation snippet rolled out in testimony as a way of demonstrating Trump as a charming Chamber type willing to accept a new foreign leader in the global community of US interests.

    The conversation flow as read into the record by the Intel Committee’s ranking member also shows the disparity in authority between Trump and Zelensky, sort of like an organizational don speaking to a newly-made member in his political orbit in which mutual visit invitations are exchanged to the WH and Kiev.

    And this makes the contrast even in a truncated record of the July 25 call all the more stark, not from tone and texture, so much as message in more sinister detail.

    And, of course, in this case Trump has sought to make use of yet another last-minute record disclosure as sort of a negligible attempt at transparency to demonstrate what a friendly phone manner he truly has, especially with contentions soon arising from a different private call to EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland over an unsecure cell that will document an entirely different phone manner — angry, loud and boorish.

    Marcy also makes another point by going to the Mueller Report record to dissect Trump’s defense. And that is Trump’s written responses to the special counsel questions don’t even give his defenders the leeway to actually defend him. Not that he’s innocent, per se, but that in boxing himself in on prior behavior to move more efficiently politically going forward, the GOP like the rest of us are left wondering what should we believe. Well, not that he will deliver the truth about his behavior, but his actual intentions in seeking foreign election assistance.

    To me, Trump, in setting forward the Ukraine episode with Rudy running interference was about defending impeachment from Mueller Report findings, not this extortion case — of his own creation. But now both cases are coming together to haunt him, because in reality the MR has been on standby for eventual prosecution since the July 25 call brought a whistleblower to Trump’s doorstep.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I’m more interested in Amb. Sondland than the Ukrainian ambassador. His OpEd was routine public diplomacy. Sondland, OTOH, is an embarrassment to real diplomats, like Amb. Yovanovitch.

    He used a cellphone to call the president – who is himself fond of using insecure telecoms (to prevent his government but not the rest of the world from knowing what he says). He was sitting in a public restaurant – in Kyiv. His phone was set loud enough that a dining companion – presumably tables of them – could listen in. They were talking about President Zelensky being willing to do whatever the American president wanted him to do.

    To call that bad OpSec is… an understatement. It’s hard to imagine Trump doing that if the subject were giving Cy Vance copies of his tax returns. It’s as if Trump wanted all of Ukraine to know Zelensky was his bitch, the way he, in turn, is Putin’s. Whose interests would that serve?

    • P J Evans says:

      I don’t know that it was Sondland’s phone that was loud. I had the impression, because Holmes couldn’t hear the switchboard people, that it was Trmp who was loud.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        On my phone, it only matters how high I’ve set my earphone or speaker, not how loud the voice is on the other end.

      • J R in WV says:

        My bet is that Sondland had his cell phone volume set to MAX so that everyone would know he was talking to the President of the US, The High and Mighty Donald Trump, Sun King and God of Republican Politics right there in the restaurant in front of everyone.

        The only problem with that posting of bragging rights was that everyone heard the actual content of the call, which turned into evidence. In an Impeachment Action~!!~

        • timbo says:

          Typically, if one is in a loud environment like city streets and popular cafes, etc, you have to turn the volume all the way up just to be able to hear the person on the other line. Then, when in a quieter setting, it’s quite easy for others nearby to hear the voice on the other end. But what would be really, truly crazy would be if Sondland had put it on speakerphone so he could keep sawing at his Ukrainian steak during the meal…

    • harpie says:

      It’s as if Trump wanted all of Ukraine to know Zelensky was his bitch, the way he, in turn, is Putin’s. Whose interests would that serve?

      Yup. Trump didn’t want to be in alone in the “public box”.

    • pollyredtop says:

      I agree. Also interesting (but not surprising) is what Sondland said to to Ambassador Yovanovitch when she called him asking for advice during the height of the smear campaign against her. His response “Go big or go home. Do something nice for the president, praise him publicly on Twitter.” Loyalty breeds….. ?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Proof that Mr. Sondland knows as little about government, and the diplomatic service as does Mr. Trump. His attitude might sell more hotel rooms to big spenders, it doesn’t do much to run a government.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Apparently Sondland was also using a non-standard messaging app (WhatsApp) for Ukraine discussions according to the WashPost, which will make his visit this week to the committee very interesting (h/t Artie Shaw). That is, if Sondland shows up.

  7. Glacier says:

    There is much to learn from cheney and nixon actions, as they relate to trump (barr) abuses. Apologies in advance for a wall of text, but just trying to open a few doors:

    (Senate – November 08, 2007)

    ” … But, President Bush said he
    had authority to disregard the statute because he had constitutional

    As a matter of constitutional doctrine, you can’t amend the
    Constitution with a statute. To amend the Constitution, you have to
    have a constitutional amendment. An amendment must pass the Congress by
    a two-thirds vote and be ratified by three-fourths of the States.

    So the President took the position that his constitutional power
    superseded the statute, and he rejected it and ignored it. I have grave
    doubts about the propriety of what the President did. We didn’t find
    out about it until it was disclosed in the newspapers in mid-December
    of 2005 when we were in the midst in this Chamber of debating the
    PATRIOT Act.”

    That is why I was so disappointed by Judge Mukasey’s answers
    suggesting that he sees little occasion to check the President’s power.
    I was disturbed by his insistence that, with regard to warrantless
    wiretapping and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the
    President has inherent authority outside of the statute and could
    authorize and immunize conduct contrary to the law. I fail to see a
    valid distinction justifying his assertion that the President could
    have the power of an executive override in the surveillance context,
    but not in the torture context, and I worry about where his reasoning
    could lead us.


    Also see: “Unilateralism in secret is sometimes necessary at the height of a crisis, and Cheneyism was effective in the short run. But it is disastrous over the medium and long term. The president cannot accomplish much over time without the assistance of his bureaucracy and the other institutions of government. And he cannot garner that assistance through mere commands. He must instead convince these institutions that his policies are good and lawful ones that they should support”


    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      You are citing a 2011 opinion by Jack Goldsmith: “How Dick Cheney Reined in Presidential Power.” The title is pure gaslighting. Goldsmith is one of the few people who could say it without having his tongue swallow him whole.

      Goldsmith’s premise is that master bureaucrat Dick Cheney failed to implement his unconstitutional theory of the unitary executive. He failed not for lack of trying, but because of pushback from the DC bureaucracy. One of its senior members was… Jack Goldsmith, who did much to aid and abet Mr. Cheney’s efforts.

      Mr. Goldsmith’s premise would be news to Valerie Plame and to the bureaucracy that suffered eight years of BushCheney. It would be news to the thousands of workers still suffering owing to Eugene Scalia’s garroting of workplace safety rules. (As of September 30, 2019, he has returned as Trump’s Sec’y of Labor.)

      Goldsmith’s view is a variation on trickle down economics: Government ought to empower the wealthy because, in pursuing their selfish interests, they will inadvertently benefit the middle and working classes, rather like a rounding error in complex division.

      That the DC bureaucracy survived BushCheney is a testament to its fortitude (e.g., Ms. Yovanovitch) and to the few rules left that restrain executive whim. It was not much rewarded under Mr. Obama. And it suffers today, under the even more cruel hand of Donald Trump. Jack Goldsmith’s argument was and is false.

      • Glacier says:

        Re: ” the unitary executive”

        Cheney’s Constitutional abuses helped lay the groundwork for trump to believe, as chosen one, he can murder anyone and not be accountable. Nonetheless, cheney and all those who believe there to be magic powers in Article ll, rely on cherry picking unsubstantiated tidbits from Federalist Papers to create a mutated spider web of deceit, which relies on insane structure. I’ve posted here before about the supremacy of Article l and thus the inferiority of Article ll executive powers — but, both Articles are somewhat derived from long debates and reasoning put forth in Federalist Papers, e.g.:

        They [the assembly] should look forward to a time, and that not a distant one, when a corruption in this, as in the country from which we derive our origin, will have seized the heads of government, and be spread by them through the body of the people; when they will purchase the voices of the people, and make them pay the price. Human nature is the same on every side of the Atlantic, and will be alike influenced by the same causes. The time to guard against corruption and tyranny, is before they shall have gotten hold of us. It is better to keep the wolf out of the fold, than to trust to drawing his teeth and talons after he shall have entered.

  8. Flounder says:

    I read Trump’s response more as “I’m not answering the question” than “I’m not advocating annexation if Crimea”.

  9. harpie says:

    Megan Mineiro is at the Capitol where OMB official Mark Sandy is testifying. [There’s a great photo of the stairs at the beginning of the thread.]

    6:13 AM – 16 Nov 2019

    Good morning from the basement of the US Capitol where top OMB official Mark Sandy is expected to break rank from the White House and testify behind closed doors on the holdup of nearly $400M in aid to Ukraine. […]

  10. Areader2019 says:

    “ …how outrageous it was that Trump had recently suggested he would entertain recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea.”

    I think this really boils down the whole impeachment discussion to one core question: Whose side are you on?

    The framers talked at length about the dangers of foreign interference in our democracy. And we are now living it real time. Trump is enacting policy that benefits Putin. The GOP has become the Government of Putin. I come back to this exchange again and again, where Trump told a Russian agent that he would play ball:


    July, 2105

    Butina: My question will be about foreign politics. If you will be elected as president, what will be your foreign politics especially in the relationships with my country? And do you want to continue the politics of sanctions that are damaging of both economy [sic]? Or you have any other ideas?

    Trump: …. I know Putin, and I’ll tell you what, we get along with Putin… I believe I would get along very nicely with Putin, OK? And I mean, where we have the strength. I don’t think you’d need the sanctions. I think we would get along very, very well. (Mother Jones)

  11. Savage Librarian says:

    Marcy says:
    “Treating this op-ed as an attack on Trump, then, is also an accusation that Trump lied in his sworn answers to Mueller.
    Why is Jim Jordan defending President Trump against impeachment by accusing him of lying under oath?”

    Touché! In reference to how diplomacy and military measures correlate, Amb. Yovanovitch mentioned at the hearing that diplomats are the pointy tip of the spear. Their work and presence promotes democracy and could mean the need for more drastic measures might be reduced or eliminated.

    EW is the same, the pointy tip of the spear. The MSM and GOP would serve the Constitution so much better if they took heed and paid better attention. Is that too much for residents and voters to ask?

  12. Yogarhythms says:

    Thank you again for all your research reporting. “GOP counsel Steve Castor asked about an op-ed in which Ukraine’s Ambassador defended the territorial integrity of his country and invoked resolutions where the US had committed to do so too.“ It’s huge says gym J the hurt smacked down on then candidate Trump by Ukraine Ambassador to US’s op-ed. Audacious bodacious gym J clutched pearls screaming 2016 election interference by Ukraine was killing Trump campaign and yet mysteriously he won. You can’t buy a better defense. Party loyalty is free.

  13. Mitch Neher says:

    EW asks: “Why is Jim Jordan defending President Trump against impeachment by accusing him of lying under oath?”

    Because . . . “The system is rigged. The [Republican] Senate will never convict [Trump]. Crooked Joe; lock him up!”

  14. holdingsteady says:

    When Ambassador Yovanovitch shut down the idea that the Ukrainian ambassador Chaly was out of line to write the oped about Ukrainian border security (she talked about how inflammatory to Ukrainian people trumps statements were, I think?) it hadn’t even occurred to me to look it up.

    Your post today has inspired me to click your link and read Chaly’s oped , very helpful to connect the dots and understand what’s going on, so Thank you! There is so much here right in front of our eyes yet without analysis such as you provide, it remains opaque. In other words, thanks for shining the light and bringing understanding!

    I’m fascinated to watch these hearings; while enlightening on their own we need your distillation of what’s going on.

    What a false narrative Jordan and friends are creating, horrible!

  15. Tom says:

    You would think that any normal person sitting in the GOP ranks at yesterday’s hearing would have concluded as soon as Trump sent out that hostile tweet to Ambassador Yovanovitch: “This guy either wants to be impeached or is too stupid to be President.” I know they all tremble in fear of Trump’s tweets and the risks of being primaried but how can they continue to defend a man who actively sabotages his own party’s efforts to help him. If a substantial number of GOPers announced together that they were no longer going to make fools of themselves by shielding the President at all costs, I think the effect of Trump’s angry tweets in response would be diluted as the number of his die-hard defenders dwindled. I guess the operative word here is “normal”.

  16. Pankaj Gupta says:

    Only a fool would suggest that an op-ed by Ukraine officials which mentions concerns about their territorial integrity would be a meddling into the US elections.

    I doubt Trump is capable of giving honest testimony.

    • P J Evans says:

      His lawyers used to do questioning of him, working in pairs, so they could both testify to what he said.

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Nice tell of what today’s Republican Party has become that the Harvard-educated representative they chose to push their talking points, in the shadow of Gym Jordan, presented them with verve and accuracy (to the script) – which immediately led to a massive infusion of attention and cash to her likely Democratic opponent in 2020.

    • Savage Librarian says:

      It’s interesting that they didn’t even realize that Elise Stefanik should have represented the more compassionate side of the GOP in order to project themselves as somewhat empathetic.
      Instead, she released the Kraken by presenting a female version of Psycho Jordan.

  18. Scott says:

    If the GOP defence of Trump sounds confusing it’s only because they need to say something while marking time until the guaranteed Senate acquittal.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. This is your fourth user name. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  19. Vicks says:

    I can’t help but to compare this administration to those who participate in organized religious that put complete trust in their god and those who claim to be leading their “followers” in his image.
    In both cases there is zero tolerance for curiosity, and all actions and decisions are given cover because doing anything else but blind following results in demonization.
    Literally as in going to hell in the religious example; via twitter (and primitive chanting if you make the big time) in Trump’s case.

  20. Jenny says:

    Thank you Marcy. Every time I see Jordan he is angry, looking for a fight. I have come to think of him as “Mr. Take Down.” Rather surprised the Ohio State story about referee telling Jordan about doctor’s sexual abuse isn’t getting more press. More to be exposed …

  21. RWood says:

    A little OT, but I feel its relevant.

    I was in medicine for much of my career and I’m not buying the excuse the WH offered for trumps trip to Walter Reed. First, the WH has all the necessary equipment and people to conduct a thorough medical checkup of the President. Second, we never do them piecemeal. We don’t do half and then you come back later for the second half.

    My theory. Trump is having chest pain, most likely brought on by stress. I say this as his visit was reported to last three hours, which is the time it takes to do the three troponin tests that are used to rule out a heart attack. They took him there as they needed both an OR and a CathLab standing by in case they were needed. Things that are not found in the basement of the WH.

    Again, just my theory, but it should not be hard to find someone to either confirm it of rule it out. HIPPA be damned.

    The hearings are getting to him. We can expect more unhinged tweets and lashing out in the days to come. His malignant narcissism demands that he do so.

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