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Val Demings makes case for impeachment documents

Demings makes argument for diplomats’ texts, email, cables, notes

Orlando’s U.S. Rep. Val Demings was tapped Tuesday to make the Democrats’ argument to seek documents to support their impeachment case against President Donald Trump in the U.S. Senate trial.

In a 47-minute argument she made on the impeachment trial’s first day, Demings made a plea for four specific sets of documents that had been referenced in the U.S. House of Representatives impeachment investigation hearings, but never provided by Trump’s administration.

Demings, one of seven House managers making the impeachment case for the Democrats, told the 100 Senators [particularly trying to make the case to the 53 Republican Senators expected to block any requests for documents] that the impeachment trial should see text messages and WhatsApp messages; emails; diplomatic cables; and personal notes involving several witnesses at the House impeachment hearings, and discussed by them in those hearings.

In each of those cases, the House Intelligence Committee subpoenaed the documents. And in all of the cases the U.S. State Department refused to turn them over, under Trump’s orders, Demings said.

She then turned to her career as an Orlando Police Officer, including as a detective and as an internal affairs investigator, to say that no one hides documents if they could support a claim of innocence.

“President Trump did not take these extreme steps to hide evidence of his innocence, or to protect the institution of the presidency,” Demings said. “As a career law enforcement officer I have never seen anyone take such extreme steps to hide evidence allegedly proving his innocence. And I do not find that here today.

“The president is engaged in this coverup because he is guilty, and he knows it,” Demings continued. “And he knows the evidence he is concealing will only further demonstrate his culpability.”

Demings presentation went on like that, never pulling punches, frequently referring to Trump’s actions in Ukraine with his lawyer Rudy Giuliani as a “scheme” and corrupt, and the justification that he wanted investigation of corruption in Ukraine a cover story and a sham.

Specifically, Demings said the Senate needs to see series of text messages from Kurt Volker, Trump’s special envoy to Ukraine, and others; notebooks compiled by Ambassador William Taylor and turned over to the State Department; diplomatic cables sent from Taylor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; and email from Volker, Taylor, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and others who described their email at the House hearings but could not access them to provide copies to the committee.

In each case, Demings described when and how the various documents came into play in the investigatory hearings, and why they appeared to provide critical evidence.

“We’re not talking about a burdensome number of documents,” Demings told the Senate. “We’re talking about a specific, discrete set of materials held by the State Department. Documents that the State Department has  already collected and held in response to our subpoena but has never produced.

“We know these materials exist. We know they are relevant. And we know the President is desperately trying to conceal them,” Demings said.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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