Instigator / Pro
Points: 13

The July 25 Trump-Zelensky Phone Call is Clear Cut Collusion

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After 2 votes the winner is ...
oromagi
Debate details
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Politics
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Three days
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One week
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Contender / Con
Points: 8
Description
RESOLUTION: The July 25 Trump-Zelensky Phone Call is Clear Cut Collusion
The JULY 25 TRUMP-ZELENSKY PHONE CALL was a short phone call between the POTUS and Volodymyr Zelensky ostensibly to congratulate the new President of Ukraine on his assumption of office. The White House transcript of that phone call can be read here:
https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/25/politics/donald-trump-ukraine-transcript-call/index.html
CLEAR CUT [adjective] is "straightforward, obvious, simple, or basic."
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/clear_cut
COLLUSION [noun] is secret agreement for an illegal purpose; conspiracy.
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/collusion
BURDEN of PROOF is shared
PRO must establish that Trump made a secret and illegal offer.
CON must establish that Trump did not make a secret and illegal offer.
PRO is requesting sincere and friendly engagement on this subject.
No trolls or kritiks, please.
- RULES --
1. Forfeit=auto loss
2. Sources may be merely linked in debate as long as citations are listed in comments
3. No new args in R3
4. For all relevant terms, individuals should use commonplace understandings that fit within the rational context of this resolution and debate
Round 1
Published:
Thx, OoDart for accepting this debate

RESOLUTION: The July 25 Trump-Zelensky Phone Call is Clear Cut Collusion

I. The Law


(a) Prohibition
It shall be unlawful for-
(1) a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make-
(A) a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election;
(B) a contribution or donation to a committee of a political party; or
(C) an expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication
b. Contributions and donations by foreign nationals in connection with elections. A foreign national shall not, directly or indirectly, make a contribution or a donation of money or other thing of value, or expressly or impliedly promise to make a contribution or a donation, in connection with any Federal, State, or local election.
C.  Federal Elections Committee Chair Ellen Weintraub reinforced as recently as yesterday that:

The Act defines a contribution to include “any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office.” “Anything of value” includes all “in-kind contributions,” such as “the provision of any goods or services without charge or at a charge that is less than the usual and normal charge for such goods or services.”  The Act also defines “contribution ”to include the “payment by any person of compensation for the personal services of another person which are rendered to a political committee without charge for any purpose.”
and

Courts have consistently upheld the provisions of the Act prohibiting foreign national contributions on the ground that the government has a clear, compelling interest in limiting the influence of foreign nationals over the activities and processes that are integral to democratic self-government, which include making political contributions and express advocacy expenditures. See Bluman v. FEC, 800 F. Supp. 2d 281, 288-89 (D.D.C.2011), aff’d 565 U.S. 1104 (2012) (“It is fundamental to the definition of our national political community that foreign citizens do not have a constitutional right to participate in, and thus may be excluded from, activities of democratic self-government. It follows, therefore, that the United States has a compelling interest for purposes of First Amendment analysis in limiting the participation of foreign citizens in activities of American democratic self-government, and in thereby preventing foreign influence over the U.S. political process.”); United States v. Singh, 924 F.3d 1030, 1040-44 (9th Cir. 2019)
II.  The Illegal Purpose

A.  On July 25, President of the United States Donald Trump violated the above law during a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.  According to the White House transcript Trump asked:

THE PRESIDENT: The other thing, There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me.
and Zelensky replied:

President Zelenskyy: I wanted to tell you about the prosecutor. First of all, I understand and I'm knowledgeable about the situation. Since we have won the absolute majority in our Parliament, the next prosecutor general will be 100% my person, my candidate, who will be approved, by the parliament and will start as a new prosecutor in September. He or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue.
B.  The sitting president and 2020 presidential candidate solicited an investigation into his leading campaign opponent from a foreign head of state.  That head of state promised to provide the investigation.   In fact, Ukraine began the promised investigation yesterday.
  • Both Ukrainian and White House documents confirm that the illegal agreement took place.
  • The President of the United States (much later) confirmed his solicitation of investigation and Zelensky's agreement.
C.  We should note that the agreement was forged under extortionate duress.

  • After the USSR's dissolution, Ukraine held about one third of the Soviet nuclear arsenal, the 3rd largest in the world at the time. In exchange surrendering its nuclear weapons, Ukraine received security assurances from the Budapest Memorandum.
The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used.
  • In compliance with our treaties and in response to the Russia Federations illegal invasion of the Crimea and the Donbas region, Congress mandated $400 million dollars in military aid for 2019.  In spite of Trump administration promises to Congress to comply with this mandate, Trump quietly ordered that this aid be put on hold at least a week before the July 25 call.  The President has not yet offered a legal explanation for his failure to comply. Once Zelensky agreed to perform Trump's personal favor, the money was released.
  • For Trump the quid was opposition research on Vice President Biden, the quo was $400 million.  Although some of Trump's lawyers in the Justice Dept. and elsewhere have already argued that the investigation was not a "thing of value,"  Trump's own withholding place the value at $400 million.
III. The Conspiracy


In the days following the phone call, I learned from multiple U.S. officials that senior White House officials had intervened to "lock down" all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced — as is customary — by the White House Situation Room. This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.

  • White House officials told me that they were "directed" by White House lawyers to remove the electronic transcript from the computer system in which such transcripts are typically stored for coordination, finalization, and distribution to Cabinet-level officials.
  • Instead, the transcript was loaded into a separate electronic system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature. One White House official described this act as an abuse of this electronic system because the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective.
  • The Inspector General of the Intelligence Community Michael Atkinson substantiated the whistleblower's findings and found the complaint to be credible, of urgent concern, and forwarded the complaint to acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire.  Although Maguire was required by law to forward any credible and urgent complaint to Congress within 7 days, the DNI held on to the complaint for more than a month until the House Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Maguire.
  • Although admitting to the exchange now, as recently as August, Trump was denying any quid pro quo:
Sen. Ron Johnson said that Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, had described to him a quid pro quo involving a commitment by Kyiv to probe matters related to U.S. elections and the status of nearly $400 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine that the president had ordered to be held up in July.
Alarmed by that information, Mr. Johnson, who supports aid to Ukraine and is the chairman of a Senate subcommittee with jurisdiction over the region, said he raised the issue with Mr. Trump the next day, Aug. 31, in a phone call, days before the senator was to meet with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. In the call, Mr. Trump flatly rejected the notion that he directed aides to make military aid to Ukraine contingent on a new probe by Kyiv, Mr. Johnson said.
“He said, ‘Expletive deleted—No way. I would never do that. Who told you that?”
IV.  CLEAR CUT COLUSION

A.  A Sep 25 article in the legal journal "Lawfare" concludes:

The president in this document is asking his counterpart to deliver the goods on a possible electoral opponent. And he is doing it himself. There is no plausible deniability. If this is not collusion in precisely the sense that collusion’s absence was purportedly so exculpatory in the Russia context, it’s hard to imagine what collusion would look like. And unlike the conduct described in Volume I of the Mueller report, the president is no longer a private citizen. Now, he is actually corruptly wielding the powers of his office in order to achieve this abusive end. This represents a dramatic escalation in severity.
B.  Peter Baker of the New York Times opines:

The last time he was accused of collaborating with a foreign power to influence an election, he denied it and traveled the country practically chanting, “No collusion!” This time, he is saying, in effect, so what if I did?  President Trump’s appeal to a foreign power for dirt on former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is an astonishing breach of the norms governing the American presidency.

Published:
Thanks, oromagi, for making this debate.

As the Burden of Proof (BoP) is shared, you are showing that Trump made a secret and illegal offer, whereas I am showing he did not. Essentially, you have to prove three things:
1) Trump made an offer
2) This offer was illegal
3) This offer was secret
I only need to show that any one of these three things is false.

I. The Law
Regarding the law, I completely agree with what you said. For the sake of saving space in my argument box, I will not copy and paste it. Your source, The United States Code, is a reputable source.

II. The Legality of The July 25 Trump-Zelensky Call and Surrounding Actions

A. U.S. President Donald Trump participated in a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25.

B. We cannot be completely certain what was actually said in the phone call. As we can see on AP News the transcript released was not a verbatim transcript. There were inaudible portions. Furthermore, a translator was used which leaves room for error. 

C. Assuming the transcript is correct, it is still true that no illegal actions took place. Allegedly, Trump said the following:
The other thing, There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me.
and Zelensky replied with the following:
I wanted to tell you about the prosecutor. First of all, I understand and I'm knowledgeable about the situation. Since we have won the absolute majority in our Parliament, the next prosecutor general will be 100% my person, my candidate, who will be approved, by the parliament and will start as a new prosecutor in September. He or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue.
Nowhere in this conversation was it suggested that this is because of the 2020 election. Nowhere is it even implied that this is intended to give Trump a winning edge in the election. This appears to be both presidents' pursuit of justice.

D. There is nothing illegal about Ukraine's investigation on Biden taking place. In fact, according to the same article that you linked:
The prosecutor general, Ruslan Ryaboshapka, who took office in August, said he intended to review 15 cases in all, including high-profile investigations of wealthy Ukrainians, among them the owner of the natural gas company Burisma Holdings, where Mr. Biden’s son Hunter served on the board until earlier this year.
It is clear that Ukraine's investigation is not solely focused on Biden and is clearly focused on their own interests, even if it could potentially raise questions about Presidential Candidate Joseph Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

III. Lack of Conspiracy and Secrecy
A. Trump has been moving phone calls to a classified server frequently to avoid information leaks, not to hide any illegal actions.
The White House had begun restricting access to information after initial leaks of Mr. Trump’s calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia. But the conversation with Mr. Lavrov and Sergey I. Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the United States, prompted tighter restrictions.
B. There was no quid pro quo. In another article by the New York Times, this is shown in the following:
Mr. Trump did not discuss the delay in the military assistance on the July 25 call with Mr. Zelensky, according to people familiar with the conversation. A Ukrainian official said Mr. Zelensky’s government did not learn of the delay until about one month after the call.
If Zelensky and Ukraine were unaware that any assistance was withheld, it cannot be considered leverage, a threat, or part of an illegal deal.

C. Since the transcript was declassified by order of the President, it cannot be considered secret.

IV. The Point
There was clearly no secret and illegal offer.

Round 2
Published:

RESOLUTION: The July 25 Trump-Zelensky Phone Call is Clear Cut Collusion

CON has made no objection to PRO's DEFINITIONS or BURDENS of PROOF.

I. The Law

Likewise, CON has acknowledged Federal election law regarding contributions by foreign nationals.

II.  The Illegal Purpose

A.  PRO & CON agree the phone call transpired.

B.  CON argues that uncertainty about the phone call's contents might save Trump from culpability but that's not true. 

THE PRESIDENT: ....There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution.... so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me. 

or he didn't say it. 

  • If Trump said it, then he requested the a foreign power make a contribution to the Trump 2020 presidential campaign- a contribution in the form of valuable opposition candidate research.  Whether Ukraine's investigation might prove honest or might manufacture news to Joe Biden's discredit is entirely beside the point of law. There are no circumstances where it is legal for a candidate to make that ask about another candidate or campaign.  Just the ask, "can you look into it" is pure felony, clear and evident.
  • If Trump did not say can you look into Biden but inserted that misinformation into an official NSC SCG memorandum then Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence because that document and in fact all documents, recordings, notes, and memos regarding the July 25 call are under Congressional subpoena in the pursuit of impeachment inquiry. 
  • If the memo is false in any important aspect but the dozen or so NSC policy staff and Situation Room Duty Officers and the American translators and the Chief of Staff's office and the  Secretary of State and Vice President Pence's National Security adviser and the NSC directors for Europe and Ukraine have, all of these capable listeners who have sworn an oath that they may undertake no purpose of evasion in their duty to the US,  failed twelve weeks after receiving the transcription to report said falsehood.... well, than collusion is proven by crime and conspiracy of an only slighter different character.
Perhaps we don't know every word spoken verbatim, at least not yet.  But there are no words left that might be spoken or unspoken that exculpate the president of collusion.  His own words and actions are self-convicting in every circumstance.

C.  CON argues:

  • "Nowhere in this conversation was it suggested that this is because of the 2020 election."

    • The law does not require the perpetrator to state which election the perpetrator intends to subvert- so long as the act is "in connection with a Federal, State, or local election."  Trump is the leading Republican candidate, Biden is the leading Democratic candidate.  The connection is quite evident. We don't need to wait for Trump to say out loud why he is committing the crime.
"Nowhere is it even implied that this is intended to give Trump a winning edge in the election."
    • The perpetrator's intent is not exculpatory.  The law is violated whatever the perpetrator's intent by violation.

"This appears to be both presidents' pursuit of justice."

  • A man cannot pursue what he does not comprehend.  PRO is aware of no evidence suggesting Trump comprehends the concept of justice.

    • Zelensky's purpose is clear but irrelevant to Trump's culpability. 

    • Even if Trump's only purpose and intent was to investigate potential crimes of Joe and Hunter Biden,

      • The president has no sovereign right to investigate criminal acts in the Ukraine.

      • The president has not directed his own Justice Dept. to investigate the Bidens.  The correct channels for requesting an international investigation are through the FBI who then works through Interpol.  The president consciously ignored the correct criminal procedures, contaminating any potential case.

"But you know, the saddest thing is, because I am the President of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I’m not supposed to be involved with the FBI. I’m not supposed to be doing the kind of things I would love to be doing and I am very frustrated by it. I look at what’s happening with the Justice Department, why aren’t they going after Hillary Clinton with her emails and with her dossier, and the kind of money… I don’t know, is it possible that they paid $12.4 million for the dossier…which is total phony, fake, fraud and how is it used? It’s very discouraging to me. I’ll be honest, I’m very unhappy with it, that the Justice Department isn’t going…maybe they are but you know as President, and I think you understand this, as a President you’re not supposed to be involved in that process."   [2]
                                    
                       Trump has been here before- he clearly knows that he is in violation of the law.

D.  CON argues that Ukraine investigation is legal.

  • Irrelevant to thesis.  Trump's crimes are in no way mitigated by the legitimacy of the illegal contribution outside of US jurisdiction.  Even if bribery is legal in another country, it is still illegal for a US official to request a bribe.
III. The Conspiracy

A.  CON argues:

Trump has been moving phone calls to a classified server frequently to avoid information leaks, not to hide any illegal actions.

  • PRO challenges CON to prove that Trump's classified server does not conceal criminal evidence.

    • PRO can't because Trump's vault is by definition a secret vault- a secret vault where the transcript was kept hidden from Jul 26 and Sep 25- 60 days.
    • The Trump-Zelensky phone call discussed no state secrets of any kind and merited no top secret classification.  The fact that Trump declassified the document without the need to redact sensitive information is sufficient evidence of this.  Therefore, the deliberate over-classification of the document demonstrates criminal cover-up- use of the Nation's security apparatus to conceal evidence of a crime.  The fact that dozens participated in the concealment of the crime demonstrates conspiracy. The first whistleblower complaint states:
"In the days following the phone call, I learned from multiple U.S. officials that senior White House officials had intervened to “lock down” all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced-as is customary-by the White House Situation Room. This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call. 

  • White House officials told me that they were “directed” by White House lawyers to remove the electronic transcript from the computer system in which such transcripts are typically stored for coordination, finalization, and distribution to Cabinet-level officials.

  • Instead, the transcript was loaded into a separate electronic system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature. One White House official described this act as an abuse of this electronic system because the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective." 

  • Inspector General of the Intelligence Community Michael Atkinson found the complaint to be credible.
  • PRO finds not one official denial of any whistle-blower specific.  Nobody denies that the president said "investigate Biden". Nobody denies that his legal team collected everybody's copy of the transcript and hid it in a secret server.  Nobody is denying collusion.
B.  CON argues:

If Zelensky and Ukraine were unaware that any assistance was withheld, it cannot be considered leverage

Let's remember that the money was Ukraine's 2019 aid package, approved by Congress on February 16.  Zelensky may have been unaware of Trump's most recent hold initiated July 18 or the multiple, contradictory excuses Trump ordered for the hold but there is no possibility that Zelensky had failed to notice that the hundreds of millions of dollars that Congress handed Trump in February had not yet arrived in July or that arms ordered last year had still not been shipped.  Nor was Zelensky confused about who controlled the QUID. When you strip away the niceties and nonsense- the deal is fairly straightforward:

Zelensky: ...ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes
Trump: ....would like you to do us a favor though.... There's a lot of talk about Biden... find out about that
Zelensky: ....we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case [1]

Tonight the Washington Post is reporting:

"At least four national security officials were so alarmed by the Trump administration’s attempts to pressure Ukraine for political purposes that they raised concerns with a White House lawyer both before and immediately after President Trump’s July 25 call with that country’s president" 

The president's opportunities for some kind of plausible deniability seem to be running out fairly quickly.

CON counters are refuted.  Laws were broken. Documents were hidden.  Secrets were kept. Lies were told. The July 25 Trump-Zelensky Phone Call is Clear Cut Collusion.

I look forward to CON's response in R2.




Published:
Thank you for your response.

On to the debate:

I first want to point out a few flaws in your arguments before continuing onto my arguments.
First of all, under your section “II.  The Illegal Purpose” you claimed the following:
If Trump said it, then he requested the a foreign power make a contribution to the Trump 2020 presidential campaign.
There is one big problem with this statement. You said he requested a foreign power to “make a contribution to the Trump 2020 presidential campaign.”
The Problem: There is no evidence backing this up. The Trump 2020 presidential campaign was never mentioned, nor was any election ever mentioned.

You also claimed:
If Trump did not say can you look into Biden but inserted that misinformation into an official NSC SCG memorandum then Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence...
This is not true, as the document clearly states in itself that it is "not a verbatim transcript."

Furthermore, you said:
If the memo is false ... collusion is proven by crime and conspiracy of an only slighter different character.
Again, untrue. It is clearly shown that they did their best to provide a transcript, but it is not necessarily word-for-word.

Under the same section, you claimed the following:
A man cannot be pursue what he does not comprehend.  PRO is aware of no evidence suggesting Trump comprehends the concept of justice.
The concept of justice is common knowledge. To make a claim that Trump has no such comprehension, you must back that up with evidence. Ungrounded accusations have no purpose.

We can now move on to a mixture of my arguments and rebuttals to yours.


You have challenged me under your section "III. The Conspiracy" in saying:
PRO challenges CON to prove that Trump's classified server does not conceal criminal evidence.
I do not have to do such a thing. The legality of all of Trump's actions have nothing to do with the legality of one specific action of his: the July 25 phone call with Zelensky.

You went on to say:

Therefore, the deliberate over-classification of the document demonstrates criminal cover-up

You also claimed:

There is no possibility that Zelensky had failed to notice that the hundreds of millions of dollars that Congress handed Trump in February had not yet arrived in July or that arms ordered last year had still not been shipped.  Nor was Zelensky confused about who controlled the QUID.
The big problem here is that is exactly what happened: There was no quid. The assistance was never mentioned and had NOTHING to do with the call. I have backed this up with evidence in my R1 argument, and you simply stated your opinion - this holds no ground.

Some More Information:
New evidence suggests the whistleblower may be politically biased. We read the following:

The 2020 Democratic candidate with whom the CIA whistleblower had a "professional tie" is Joe Biden, according to intelligence officers and former White House officials.
I look forward to your response.

Round 3
Published:
Thx, OoDart!

WB=whistle-blower

RESOLUTION: The July 25 Trump-Zelensky Phone Call is Clear Cut Collusion

II.  The Illegal Purpose

A.  PRO & CON agree the phone call transpired.

B.  CON implies that a foreign contribution can't be a political campaign contribution unless a campaign was mentioned, notes that neither Trump nor Zelensky mentioned the 2020 campaign and concludes the phone call is not evidence of a foreign contribution.  CON's P1 implication fails because:

  • Donald Trump is a candidate running for office. Anything given to a candidate beyond personal income, certain bank loans, and small gifts counts as a campaign contribution: no party is required to state the purpose of the "thing of value" much less state explicitly that the "thing of value" is campaign related.
  • The laws governing illegal campaign contributions would not be worth much if conspirators could avoid prosecution by simply omitting any mention of the campaign.
  • We know that the contribution is campaign related because the thing of value is opposition research against Trump's leading opponent.
    • There were other politically connected Americans sitting on the Board of Directors of Burisma Holdings at the same time as Hunter Biden including Biden's law partner Devon Archer and former US Ambassador Cofer Black , George W. Bush's Coordinator for Counter-terrorism and .  Black, a pro-Trump Republican has performed the same function for Bursima and received the same salary.  Yet Trump makes no mention of these American figures doing the same thing as Hunter Biden.
      • Since Archer & Black have the same jobs at Burisma and are therefore committing the same hypothesized yet unstated crime, why did Trump not request an investigation into all 3 Americans?
      • If the ask was not political, why did Trump only mention his campaign rival's name multiple times during the request?
    • VOTERS should apply this test:  If Hunter Biden were not Joe Biden's son, just another well-connected investment banker on Burisma's board like Archer & Black, would Trump have made that investigation one of his two "favors" requested during his phone call to Ukraine?
  • Trump targeted Hunter Biden (and just Biden) because trashing Hunter Biden is campaign gold.  By agreeing to investigate Hunter in exchange for the release of hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign aid, Zelensky provided Trump with opposition research worth millions to Trump's campaign.
C.  In R2, PRO stated that either the transcript is true and Trump is guilty of soliciting a foreign campaign donation, or the transcript is false and Trump is guilty of submitting false evidence to Congress. 
  • CON responds with a classic Trumpian evasion- because the document does not claim to be verbatim, it can't be construed as evidence against Trump and also Trump can't be held accountable for the accuracy of the transcript.  We should note here that the reason the White House stopped recording conversations and started the transcript memo system was because Richard Nixon taped so many criminal acts.  But there is no reason why the American people as represented by Congress should accept a lawyer's dodge as a substitute for the truth from our President when he speaks of acts committed on our behalf and in our name.  
  • Trump asking Zelensky to investigate Biden is crime. 
    • WBs,
    • witnesses by the dozen,
    • the transcript, and
    • the President himself all agree that Trump did that crime. 
  • The transcript serves as official testimony by the President against the President.
  • The transcript's contents are not contradicted by anybody. . 
    • The fact that not every word may have been precisely captured or recollected is not exculpatory. A witness may remember that the murderer was wearing a hot pink tutu when in fact the dress was salmon- that does not make the witness's testimony less damning.
D. CON asks for evidence that Trump does not comprehend the meaning of justice.

  • Justice is "the ideal of fairness, impartiality, etc., especially with regard to the punishment of wrongdoing."
  • 3 examples from many should illustrate:
    • After the Central Park Five were exonerated by DNA evidence, the true rapist's confession,and a $41 million dollar apology by the NYC police for forcing confessions from the black youths, Trump, who's 1989 full page ads in NY papers demanding the death penalty ("they should be forced to suffer") are acknowledged to have helped sway the false verdict, refused to acknowledge their innocence or regret his demands for the public execution of innocent kids.  John McCain withdrew his endorsement for Trump the next day citing Trump's "outrageous statements."
    • On January 23, 2016, at a campaign rally in Iowa, Donald Trump said,I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters,” folding his fingers into the shape of a gun.
    • This week, Trump withdrew the tinyUS peacekeeping force protecting our Kurdish allies of 30 years during our wars in Iraq and against ISIS.  The Turkish Armed Forces have now invaded northeastern Syria with the express mission of "demographic correction," an obvious euphemism for the genocide of our friends there.  Although the benefits of the invasion for the autocracies of Turkey, Syria, and particularly Russia are evident, Trump has not defined an American benefit from invasion and even pretends to oppose the invasion he initiated.  Public executions of elected Kurdish officials are underway and already hundreds of ISIS detainees are now free..
  • PRO affirms without fear of credible contradiction that Donald Trump does not comprehend the meaning of justice.
III. The Conspiracy

A.  In R1, PRO quoted the WB's description of the transcript's "lock down," the collection of all the copies usually distributed to senior staff and the concealment of the remaining copy in a system reserved for NSC secrets. 
  • CON asserted that the classified server does not conceal any illegal activity but CON is not privy to the server's contents and so cannot support the assertion.  We have the WB's statement which suggest that illegal activity is there concealed and the Intelligence community's own Inspector General has certified this accusation as credible.  If CON wants VOTERS to accept that Trump's secret vault veils no skeletons then the burden of proving the server's contents is definitely on CON.  PRO prefers to wait and see.
  • CON countered that Trump was using the classified server to avoid information leaks but this is itself an abuse of the classification system.
B. CON offers 

  • Sometimes it is a crime.  In fact, the same executive order that conversation.com cites as empowering executive classification, Executive Order 12356, limits the president's power to classify in a number of ways including:

Sec. 1.6 (a)   In no case shall information be classified in order to conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error; to prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency; to restrain competition; or to prevent or delay the release of information that does not require protection in the interest of national security.
  • The president may not use the classification system for the purpose of preventing embarrassing leaks.
  • The president should expect to enjoy less privacy privilege than any ordinary American while on the job. 
  • Obviously, there are certain secrets in the realms of espionage of military planning that the State must conceal but the president has no right to hide his protocol blunders and ignorance of policy from public judgement. 
  • CON is defending the concealment of information (the phone call's contents) available to Ukrainian citizens. 
    • VOTERS should consider whether an American president is justified in concealing any data from US citizens that is available to foreign citizens.
      • PRO contends that any such imbalance places US citizens at a disadvantage, contrary to the president's job.
C.  CON repeats that the quid pro quo was insufficiently explicit.
  • The crime that makes it collusion is the solicitation: investigate Biden. 
    • Collusion does not require proof of quid pro quo.
  • Nevertheless, quid pro quo is evident.  Wikipedia defines quid pro quo as an exchange "in which one transfer is contingent upon the other; a favour for a favour.
Z: ...ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes
T: ....would like you to do us a favor though.... There's a lot of talk about Biden... find out about that
Z: ....we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case

  • Now VOTERS must decide: do these word count as a favor for a favor?
D. CON insinuates that the  WB has a professional tie to Biden.
IV.  CLEAR CUT COLLUSION

A.  If VOTERS agree that PRO has established clear cut collusion, then VOTERS should award PRO points for argument.

  • US law forbids "soliciting, accepting, or receiving information in connection with an election from a foreign national."
  • All witnesses to the July 25 call agree that Trump solicited an investigation in connection to the 2020 election.
  • All evidence agrees that Trump concealed evidence of that crime by over-classification.
  • Most witnesses conspired to maintain that secret by failing to report Trump's crime to relevant authorities.

B.  PRO requests award of conduct to CON for sportsmanlike agreement to remake this debate after PRO misposted R2.

Thanks to CON for an excellent debate.
Thanks to VOTERS for their kind consideration.
VOTE CON!
Published:
First of all, thanks oromagi for a wonderful debate. I expected you to be a quality opponent when I saw you had 40 wins and 0 losses. You have not disappointed me.
 
On to the conclusion.
 
First, I would like to bring up a few points you made.
 
You said the following:
“Donald Trump is a candidate running for office. Anything given to a candidate beyond personal income, certain bank loans, and small gifts counts as a campaign contribution.”
This is untrue. This is comparable to saying, “If you give Bill Gates money, you are supporting Microsoft.” If Bill Gates simply puts that money in his bank and never uses it for Microsoft, the money is never used to support Microsoft. In the same way, giving something to Trump is not inherently for the election. 
 
You also claimed:
We know that the contribution is campaign related because the thing of value is opposition research against Trump's leading opponent.
This, of course, is false. If you are pursuing justice and your opponent does something illegal, it does not matter that he is your opponent. What is important is that he did something illegal, and it needs to be dealt with.

You called upon the voters to use the following test:
 If Hunter Biden were not Joe Biden's son, just another well-connected investment banker on Burisma's board like Archer & Black, would Trump have made that investigation one of his two "favors" requested during his phone call to Ukraine?
I discourage this because the only person who knows this is Donald Trump himself. I cannot read his mind, you cannot read his mind, and the voters cannot read his mind. Any answer to this question is purely speculation.

In regards to the legality of Trump's classification, Pro offers:
The president may not use the classification system for the purpose of preventing embarrassing leaks.
That's true. But what is the point of saying this? Trump was clearly classifying information regarding the investigation of Mr. Biden so that Mr. Biden would be unaware of the investigation and not continue to cover things up. This is in the best interest of that nation's security.

As I have been typing this, I've realized that the classification of the document is irrelevant. This debate is not about whether it was legal for him to classify the document, but whether the July 25 Trump-Zelensky phone call was Clear Cut Collusion.

Let's take a look at what really matters: the phone call and both the pro's and con's arguments throughout the debate.

R1:
Pro explains that Trump asked Zelensky to look into Biden. Zelensky says he'll do it and the investigation did begin later on.
Pro claims this is a secret, illegal offer by Trump to Zelensky.

Con points out the transcript is not verbatim and has the potential to be incorrect.
Con says if the transcript is correct, then it is still legal because this is Trump looking into potentially illegal acts and not interfering with the 2020 election, without quid pro quo and therefore not illegal.
Con points out this offer was not secret as it has been declassified by order of the President.

R2:
Pro's claims in R2 boil down to the idea that Trump has only his self-interest in mind and does not even comprehend justice, but does not back up his claim.
Pro claims the quid of the quid pro quo is there. Pro claims Zelensky knew the money had not yet arrived.

Con points out pro's failure to back up his claim the Trump does not comprehend justice.
Con reminds pro that there are sources showing Zelensky was unaware of any lack of assistance by the U.S.A.
Con provides information suggesting the Whistleblower may have a political bias.

R3:
Pro claims that anything given to Trump is automatically a campaign donation, even if it has nothing to do with the campaign.
Pro asks voters to apply a hypothetical with no logical answer to their votes.
Pro attempts to back up his previous claim that Trump does not comprehend justice. He gives only 3 examples of Trump doing arguably unjust things. This does not mean he does not understand justice. This just means he does not always care about justice, but this does not affect the legality of his July 25 phone call with Zelensky. Furthermore, one of his examples were only half-true. Trump is not completely ignoring Syria, and still has the U.S.A. in his best interest.

Con provides this post.

At the end of Pro's R3 argument, Pro asks that the conduct point be rewarded to Con. This is due to an honest mistake Pro made - not misconduct. Voters could make the case that Con had better conduct, but there is no evidence suggesting Pro had poor conduct. 

I ask that voters do not give me the conduct point. According to DART's Rules and Code of Conduct, in order to award a conduct point, a voter must:
  • Provide specific references to instances of poor conduct which occurred in the debate
  • Demonstrate how this poor conduct was either excessive, unfair, or in violation of mutually agreed upon rules of conduct pertaining to the text of the debate
  • Compare each debater's conduct from the debate

My opponent has also said "VOTE CON!" in the end of their R3 argument. Frankly, I assume this to be a mistake, but you could argue that pro conceded the debate.

Again, oromagi. Thank you so much for the debate. It was a good one.

Over to the voters!
Added:
--> @oromagi
It was indeed a great debate. I look forward to potentially disagreeing with you again.
Contender
#37
Added:
--> @Ragnar, @Ramshutu, @crossed, @OoDart, @SirAnonymous
OoDart-
Thanks again for the debate. Based on the votes dq'd & not dq'd, I'm lucky more people did not vote. The rule around here seems to be the tougher the contest the fewer the votes. Full forfeits attract the most voters because they're quick & easy. I note that the first 3 debates entered into the Hall of Fame last week only attracted a total of 7 votes. I look forward to future debates w/ you.
Ram, Ragnar, SirAnonymous, crossed- thanks for taking the time to vote
Instigator
#36
Added:
--> @OoDart
Three were cast... But yeah, it sucks. The shortage of voters is part of why I am taking a long break from debating.
#35
Added:
One week of voting... only one vote. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Contender
#34
Added:
Ramshutu, thanks for removing my vote. Next time, I'll look before I leap. I think I also voted on a different debate before I read the rules, but I can't remember which one. I do remember that it was a debate in which all the rounds were forfeited, though.
#33
Added:
--> @SirAnonymous
Welcome to the site, thanks for taking a look at the code of conduct relating to voting! Unfortunate I do have to remove this vote, though the requirements are hopefully fairly easy to meet. Feel free to ask any questions about the voting rules, I’ll be happy to answer!
#32
Added:
--> @SirAnonymous
RFD:
Concerning whether or not Trump broke the law, I think both sides presented fairly equal arguments, and I do not consider myself enough of a legal expert to make a judgment on this. However, I can make a judgment on definitions. The definition that Pro provided and Con accepted was as follows:
COLLUSION [noun] is secret agreement for an illegal purpose; conspiracy.
Con argued that Zelensky did not know that the monetary assistance had been canceled, and Pro never attempted to refute it. Since Zelensky did not know the assistance had been canceled, it was clearly impossible for him to make an "agreement for an illegal purpose." Regardless of Trump's intentions, Zelensky was incapable of being leveraged or agreeing to an illegal deal because he did not know there was a deal. All he knew was that Trump asked him to investigate Biden. Therefore, Zelensky did not make an agreement for illegal purpose; to the best of his knowledge, he was merely granting a request. Since Zelensky did not make such an agreement with Trump, it inevitably follows that Trump did not make one with Zelensky. Therefore, the phone call was not clear-cut conclusion.
Later in the debate, Con provided a contradictory definition of collusion:
"Essentially, you have to prove three things:
1) Trump made an offer
2) This offer was illegal
3) This offer was secret
I only need to show that any one of these three things is false."
I think that both sides offered nearly equal arguments regarding this definition. Combining the two definitions, I think the debate was almost completely equal, but I give a slight edge to Con in regards to the first definition.
This is not did say that what Trump did was legal (or illegal). I cannot reach a conclusion on that matter. If that had been the topic, I would have voted for a tie. But since the debate was about whether or not the phone call was collusion and not whether or not Trump's actions were illegal, I must give the arguments points to Con.
#31
Added:
--> @SirAnonymous
*******************************************************************
>Reported Vote: SirAnonymous// Mod action: [Removed]
>Points Awarded: 3 points to con for arguments.
>Reason for Decision: see above
Reason for Mod Action> This vote is not eligible to vote. In order to vote, an account must: (1) Read the site’s COC AND have completed 2 non-troll/non-FF debate OR have 100 forum posts.
*******************************************************************
#30
Added:
--> @OoDart
I will handle it. Thanks
#29
Added:
--> @Virtuoso
As much as I like the most recent vote for me, the user is not eligible to vote...
Contender
#28
Added:
I just read the rules of the site and found that users are supposed to complete 2 debates before voting. I assumed that the website would automatically reject my vote if I was ineligible for voting, so I thought that the fact that the site accepted my vote was proof that I was eligible. I apologize for voting without first finding out whether or not I was eligible and request that my vote be removed. I would also like to humbly suggest that the restriction should be programmed into the site to prevent future new users from making the same mistake.
#27
Added:
--> @crossed
Oh I missed that on the conduct point, I apologize.
However, the vote was insufficient for a multitude of reasons. Removing the section would not correct the other remaining issues I listed other than the issues with external content and conduct.
#26
Added:
I have been afk for around 5 day's sorry.
So if i remove this it would be good
"Given my knowledge on the topic. Zelensky said in an interview that he did not even know the money was held up. So pro argument is false. and con was right to call out the no source for this.
"Over the course of the day, Zelenskiy told shifts of journalists he had not been blackmailed by Trump in their phone call on 25 July and did not know US military aid had been delayed at the time."
See con was right. Pro did not source it because it was untrue
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/10/ukraine-president-volodymyr-zelenskiy-press-conference-donald-trump "
#25
Added:
--> @Ramshutu
I did specifi the conduct point
look at the copy of my vote you posted
"Reason:
Better spelling and grammar tie. Con forgave pro mistakes
Better conduct to Con. Because pro requested it.
More convincing argument to con
All con had to do and i quote"
#24
Added:
--> @Ragnar
So if i remove the link And saying it supports con. Then it would be good.
#23
#2
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
I’m going to follow cons description here, as it’s the simplest, most concise and doesn’t appear to be challenged.
Was there an “offer”?
Con argues there is uncertainty about what was said. Whilst pro pointed out several reasons why what was said should be accepted: that if it wasn’t said then an official memo had been doctored, or people would have challenged the content. My issue here is that con appears to be implicitly arguing that as the transcript is not verbatim it may not show anything closely resembling what it said: in my view con has not shown good reason to believe the transcript is not materially different.
In terms of quid pro quo - con argues there was nothing given or offered; yet pro points out the close relationship to the javelin missiles; and the withholding of military aid - which it is unreasonable to presume the ukranian president didn’t know about. Even then as pro points out - solicitation does not itself require quid pro quo.
Was this “secret” - or covered up.
Pro, imo concedes this point with this line : “Trump has been moving phone calls to a classified server frequently to avoid information leaks, not to hide any illegal actions”
Pro concedes that Trump classified the memo (and other), with the express intent of avoiding its wider distribution that may allow its contents to become public. By definition - this was thus a secret call.
Was it illegal.
This is the trickier portion. The idea pro forwards is that the investigation into the political opponent is a “thing of value”. That the investigation would have helped Trump, would have otherwise cost lots of money for his campaign to have achieved - if it could have been achieved at all - and thus the request constituted an attempt to illicit an illegal in kind donation.
Con doesn’t appear to contest this legal definition - and I think this was a mistake on his part. I feel this was the ripest if the three bullets points to attack.
Given that, cons objection seems mostly related to how direct and explicit the request was; with a side bar relating to whether the act had an alternate valid executive purpose.
For the valid alternative purpose - con argues that it wasn’t an investigation in to Bidens specifically as much as a generalized investigation.
Pro pointing out that the approach was very much not the appropriate mechanism for doing that, and that Trump was fixated solely with his rival and not other key players, undermines this point.
In terms of how direct and explicit the request was: cons argument seems to be that it can’t be a campaign finance violation if they don’t explicitly mention the campaign - this does not seem compelling to me tbh. Pros response that it merely needs to be in connection with the election is sufficient imo, especially given that it appears apparent and evidently linked.
As a result of this: I think pro established that there was a request - con conceded it was secret - and it was illegal. Though this latter part was the weakest.
As pro established his requirements - arguments go to pro.
#1
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Very good job from both sides.
Forward:
I’ve tried to avoid this news story (watched one clip from the Daily Show), so the analysis was almost all new to me. I am still quite confused as to what Hunter Biden has to do with Ukraine, or why Trump is calling in favors from foreign nationals (worse, goddamned heads of state) against a private US citizen.
Anyway, too much of this debate is two sides agreeing with each other, so I am going to break things down into the BoP suggested by con, and my key takeaways on that...
1. Trump made an offer
Pro goes to great lengths on this. Con argues that the offer was not explicit enough, and that Zelensky did not know the full terms of what Trump was offering... Still sounds to me like the intent from Trump was to make an offer.
2. This offer was illegal
Got to say it... If I steal something of value (or have someone else do it), but don’t go through with using it, I’ve still placed myself in possession of the illicit goods.
A key part of this area was Trump’s own words acknowledging that he knew he’s supposed to stay out of it. This isn’t Mr. Burns poisoning one of Homer’s doughnuts level guilt, but there’s a strong parallel there.
This area was strengthened by pro’s question of the other related men in the criminal case, which implies that the offer was not purely in pursuit of justice. That we can’t read Trump’s mind to confirm he’s guilty, doesn’t change how suspect his actions are on this matter.
3. This offer was secret
Between Trump choosing to have it classified as a secret, lying about it publicly, and the very need for the existence of the WB, there was not much room for contest on this area. A badly kept secret is still a secret. Claiming you’re just trying to prevent anyone finding out, is by definition trying to keep something a secret.
I believe the remaining content of said server is outside the scope of this debate.
---
Arguments:
See above review of key points. I will add that I see no reason to doubt the transcript which Trump wanted to keep secret; I agSee above review of key points. I will add that I see no reason to doubt the transcript which Trump wanted to keep secret; I agree that there may be missing word here or there, or one word where another should be due to translation errors (more likely from Zelensky, as Trump is an English speaker), but the gist of it can be trusted. On Trump’s literacy (if he knows the meaning of justice), it was very entertaining, but a little off topic (I will say that it’s debate worthy onto itself).
Conduct:
Pro conceded this to con, and con asked to not be awarded it. I am going to side against con on this, his above and beyond level of sportsmanship merits an exception to conduct being a penalty.