President Donald Trump holds a rally Friday, October 11, 2019, at the Civic Center in Lake Charles, La.

Byron York's column, which appeared in a recent edition of your paper, states that "it's not at all clear that Trump broke any laws in the Ukraine matter." He attempts to bolster his argument by citing the Mueller Report, which states that "no judicial decision has treated the voluntary provision of uncompensated opposition research … as a thing of value that could amount to a contribution under campaign finance law."

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York's fondness for the Mueller Report apparently does not extend to other statements made in the report. Specifically, York fails to mention the sentences immediately preceding the above quote, which read as follows: "A campaign can be assisted not only by the provision of funds but also by the provision of derogatory information about an opponent. Political campaigns frequently conduct and pay for opposition research. A foreign entity that engaged in such research and provided resulting information to a campaign could exert a greater effect on an election, and a greater tendency to ingratiate the donor to the candidate, than a gift of money or tangible things of value." (Mueller Report, page 187)

A first-year law student knows that the lack of judicial decisions addressing a particular issue can be easily explained by the lack of litigation on the subject. An attorney will often find no cases which interpret a particular provision of the law, whether favorable or unfavorable to the attorney's argument simply because there are no cases on point to be found. When such is the case, judges will usually rely mainly upon the reasonableness or unreasonableness of the attorney's argument.

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Both York and Trump know that opposition research, whether performed by someone working for a foreign government or by a campaign aide, costs money. It is as much a "thing of value" as it would be if the president of Ukraine personally handed the cash for the research to Trump. Yet York implies that the lack of relevant judicial decisions somehow weakens the case for impeachment. He should know better.

Pete Williams