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1998 Treaty between the U.S., Ukraine shows Trump phone call on Biden investigation was perfectly legal

The 1998 Legal Assistance Treaty between the United States and Ukraine outlines specific guidelines for mutual aid in criminal matters and provides key insights into the relationship between the two countries as it relates to the current Trump impeachment saga unfolding before the American people. In essence, the document stipulates how the two countries ought to work with each other for criminal investigation purposes. There are several key provisions that directly correspond with the investigation of Joe Biden’s son Hunter, Trump’s request to re-open the investigation, or at least discover why the investigation was halted, and whether his request was illegal or not. The focus on this document is not an attempt to determine whether Hunter Biden’s relationship with the Ukrainian gas company Burisma holdings was a corrupt one. It is obvious to anyone with a pulse that Joe Biden’s influence on the company helped his son gain a position with the board of directors. He admitted to it publicly in front of media outlets across the world. Overall, the document focuses on how the countries should work with each other as it relates to individual criminality and we will examine whether President Trump followed these protocols.

The 1998 Legal Assistance Treaty is a mutual agreement for the United States and Ukraine to work with each other on a voluntary basis. On the whole, it is an agreement to always work with each other on criminal investigations in each country. Here is the overall summary of the treaty:

ARTICLE 1 SCOPE OF ASSISTANCE

1. The Contracting States shall provide mutual assistance, in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty, in connection with the investigation, prosecution, and prevention of offenses, and in proceedings related to criminal matters.

2. Assistance shall include: (a) taking the testimony or statements of persons; (b) providing documents, records, and other items; (c) locating or identifying persons or items; (d) serving documents; (e) transferring persons in custody for testimony or other purposes; (f) executing searches and seizures; (g) assisting in proceedings related to immobilization and forfeiture of assets, restitution, and collection of fines; and (h) any other form of assistance not prohibited by the laws of the Requested State.

3. Assistance shall be provided without regard to whether the conduct that is the subject of the investigation, prosecution, or proceeding in the Requesting State would constitute an offense under the laws of the Requested State.

4. This Treaty is intended solely for mutual legal assistance between the Contracting States. The provisions of this Treaty shall not give rise to a right on the part of any private person to obtain, suppress, or exclude any evidence, or to impede the execution of a request.

So, the two countries have agreed to provide all necessary discovery for any criminal investigation of any person whatsoever regardless of the laws in the state from which the information is being requested. In article 17 of the treaty the document continues to state:

1. If the Central Authority of one Contracting State becomes aware of proceeds or instrumentalities of offenses that are located in the other State and may be forfeitable or otherwise subject to seizure under the laws of that State, it may so inform the Central Authority of the other State. If the State receiving such information has jurisdiction in this regard, it may present this information to its authorities for a determination whether any action is appropriate. These authorities shall issue their decision in accordance with the laws of their country. The Central Authority of the State that received the information shall inform the Central Authority of the State that provided the information of the action taken. 

Here is where President Trump made his mistake if you could call it one. The treaty also mandates that each country should authorize a “central authority figure” to open an investigation. In the case of the United States, this is the Attorney General. President Trump likely had an ally in his phone call to Ukrainian President-elect Volodimyr Zelenskiy. In essence, he initiated the investigation with his call and should have followed up immediately by directing AG Barr to conduct a formal investigation into the dealings of Joe and Hunter Biden.

Ultimately, this treaty provides some key insights as to whether Trump’s phone call to Ukraine was out of the ordinary. In reality, there are no criminal investigations exempt from the outside influence of politics. As President, Donald Trump has the authority to order investigations into matters that could be deemed detrimental to the wellbeing of the people of the United States. The treaty specifically mentions the necessity of ordaining an objective individual to conduct any investigations which would be the Attorney General of the United States. If President Trump were serious about requesting that Ukraine reopen the investigation into the Bidens, he would include his AG William Barr. Barr’s stated denial of being included in the investigation (while also stating no laws were broken in the phone call) forces one to question whether Barr may be purposefully hurting President Trump while he is about to be impeached. After all, Barr did work as a CIA analyst early on in his career.

Overall, the treaty proves that Trump was NOT doing anything out of the ordinary when it comes to the agreed-upon foreign policy between the United States and Ukraine. Was it handled perfectly? No. Unfortunately, this has been the case for many of Trump’s dealings. He has surrounded himself equally with questionable characters and loyal ones. Folks like John Bolton have consistently aimed to subvert his agenda, while others like Rand Paul have always remained by his side. It is possible that President Trump may have known all along that impeachment was inevitable. He may have seen his enemies’ cards before they were dealt, and this entire Ukraine call may be an easter egg to thwart their agenda. Biden’s corruption is there for all to see, and this may be the ultimate “Trump card” to secure re-election in 2020. Hopefully, the President has handled things more carefully behind the scenes.

Sources:

Treaty information provided by The Conservatarian.

https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/12978-Ukraine-Law-Enforcement-MLAT-7.22.1998.pdf

https://www.politifact.com/facebook-fact-checks/statements/2019/oct/10/facebook-posts/pelosi-romney-and-kerry-dont-have-sons-working-com/

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