Donald Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow thought he had Ari Melber corned on Monday when he pushed him to name a single federal statute the president violated in his Ukraine scheme, but the MSNBC host was ready.
“Where does it violate a law?” Sekulow asked Melber. “Where does this rise to the level of a high crime or misdemeanor?”
The MSNBC host quickly put on screen the law Trump violated when he tried to extort Ukraine into handing over dirt on former vice president Joe Biden.
“It is unlawful to solicit or receive any foreign help which includes things of value. So if you want a statute, I’ve got it up on the screen,” Melber said.
— PoliticusUSA (@politicususa) October 7, 2019
The exchange between Melber and Trump’s lawyer:
SEKULOW: Where does it violate a law? Where does this rise to the level of a high crime or misdemeanor? And then I know you’ll say we’re gonna get to the whistle-blower but —
MELBER: We are going to get to the whistle-blower because we’re not there yet.
SEKULOW: Go ahead. All right.
MELBER: You’re asking about whether there is a statutory violation. As you know, what the founders did was write in the idea that you could have high crimes and misdemeanors. You want to point to statutes, that’s not required. But — hold on, and I’ll let you respond, sir. It is unlawful to solicit or receive any foreign help which includes things of value. So if you want a statute, I’ve got it up on the screen. That’s not even required. The other thing I want to ask you —
SEKULOW: Do you really — Ari, in all honesty — okay, go ahead. Your show.
MELBER: I want to ask you and I’ll give you time. If Donald Trump didn’t do anything wrong in this Ukraine plot, why did he deny it and keep shifting the defense?
Trump’s team knows he broke the law
It’s important to remember that Congress isn’t even required to identify a statute violated by the president in order to move forward on impeachment. But in the case of Trump, they certainly have one.
As Ari Melber reminded the president’s lawyer on Monday, it is against the law to solicit election help from foreign powers, as Trump did with Ukraine. That’s particularly true when the president is holding up military aid until that foreign power agrees to meet a certain demand.
Of course, Trump and his defenders know that what the president did was a violation of the law. That’s why they spent days denying he did it before the White House “transcript” and damning whistle-blower complaint shredded that defense to a million pieces.
No amount of verbal jujutsu from Trump’s sleazy lawyers and Fox News defenders will change the very simple fact that the Ukraine extortion scheme was a violation of the law to which the president has repeatedly confessed.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.