Deputy White House Counsel Mark Purpura told the Senate during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Monday afternoon that Trump had directly invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to visit the White House three times.
That evidence, Purpura said, contradicted House Democrat impeachment managers’ claims — based on the “presumption” of Ambassador Gordon Sondland, and against the testimony of Ambassador Kurt Volker — that a White House meeting was conditioned on investigations that President Trump had asked Ukraine to undertake.
At no time did Trump mention any preconditions for a meeting.
In addition, Purpura said, Zelensky suggested that they meet in Poland in September, when they would both be there anyway. Purpura also quoted one of Democrats’ key witnesses, Dr. Fiona Hill, testifying that it was not necessary that a meeting occur at the White House itself, but merely a White House-level meeting.
That, he said, undercut the Democrats’ argument that there was something special or necessary about a meeting on the grounds of the White House itself.
He noted that Trump only missed the meeting in Poland because of Hurricane Dorian, and that the two met at the earliest date available after that, when they were both at the United Nations General Assembly on Sep. 25.
The withheld aid had already flowed to Ukraine by then, and there had never been any announcement of investigations, he pointed out.
Purpura also skewered Democrats’ claim that Vice President Mike Pence had been ordered not to attend Zelensky’s inauguration. He noted that Democrats’ own witnesses testified that there had been scheduling difficulties, that Pence had been in Canada to discuss the USMCA trade agreement, and that the U.S. sent what Volker testified had been a high-level delegation, the largest delegation of any country.
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.