Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) conjured a bizarre image during Thursday’s debate in the House Judiciary Committee hearing on articles of impeachment: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s daughter duct-taped in President Donald Trump’s basement.
Johnson, together with Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and other Democrats on the committee, tried to push back against Zelensky’s public claims that he felt no pressure from Trump to conduct investigations.
Zelensky and those around him have repeatedly stated that they never felt any pressure, and that there was never any “quid pro quo,” or any effort to tie U.S. security assistance to investigations into 2016 election interference or former Vice President Joe Biden.
For example, in a press conference while meeting with Trump in September at the United Nations, Zelensky said that he felt no pressure and that his phone call on July 25th with Trump had been a “good call.”
In response, Democrats argued that Zelensky was, in effect, lying under duress.
A big chair for President Trump, little chair for President Zelensky. Big, six-foot-four President Trump, five-foot-elecven Mr. Zelensky, President Zelensky. And they’re standing there, President Trump is holding court. And he says, “Oh, by the way, no pressure.” And you saw President Zelensky shaking his head as if his daughter was downstairs in the basement, duct-taped. [Laughter] I mean, there’s an imbalance of power in that relationship. It always has been. And there’s no way that the nation of Ukraine can stand up to the power, the power of the United States of America. And President Trump used that unequal bargaining position. He leveraged his power in that relationship, not for the benefit of the United States of America, but for his own benefit.
Zelensky’s daughter, Oleksandra, is 15 years old.
Most recently, Ukrainian foreign minister Andriy Yermak told Time magazine that there had been no link between aid and investigations, destroying a key element of Democrats’ case against Trump.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.