Democratic House impeachment manager Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said this week during President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial that it was not a problem for Democrats to get foreign opposition research on then-candidate Trump in 2016 because they “purchased” it.
The New York Post noted that Jeffries made the remark in response to a question from Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), “who noted Hillary Clinton’s campaign hired Christopher Steele – a former British spy – to work with contacts abroad and compile the salacious dossier.”
“Justice and distinguished Senators, I thank you for the question,” Jeffries responded. “The analogy is not applicable to the present situation because first to the extent that opposition research obtained, it was opposition research that was purchased.”
Asked whether, under the Dems' impeachment standard, the Clinton campaign's solicitation of the Steele dossier would be considered foreign interference, illegal, or impeachable, @RepJeffries says no — because the Steele dossier "was purchased." pic.twitter.com/SbEKFGNwM4
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) January 30, 2020
“But this speaks to the underlying issue of the avoidance of facts,” Jeffries continued. “The avoidance of the reality of what President Trump did in this particular circumstance. Now, I have tremendous respect for the president’s council, but one of the arguments that we consistently hear on the floor of this Senate, this great institution in America’s democracy, is conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory.”
“We’ve heard about the deep state conspiracy theory. We’ve heard about the Adam Schiff is the root of all evil conspiracy theory,” Jeffries claimed. “We’ve heard about the Burisma conspiracy theory. We’ve heard about the crowd strike conspiracy theory. We’ve heard about the whistleblower conspiracy theory. It’s hard to keep count.”
“This is the Senate, this is America’s most exclusive political club,” Jeffries continued. “This is the world’s greatest deliberative body and all you offer us is conspiracy theories because you can’t address the facts in this case that the president corruptly abused his power to target an American citizen for political and personal gain?”
“He tried to cheat in the election by soliciting foreign interference, that is an impeachable offense,” Jeffries claimed. “That is a crime against the Constitution. That is the reason that we are here.”
Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow fired back, “I guess you could buy a foreign interference. If you purchase it, if you purchase their opposition research, then it’s OK.”
Politico reported that White House Deputy Counsel Patrick Philbin “pointed to a Justice Department opinion declaring that Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate former Vice President Biden was not a “‘thing of value,’ which would amount to an illicit campaign contribution from a foreign national.”
“The Department of Justice concluded that there was no such violation here. So that is not something that is involved in this case,” Philbin said.