Day One Of Impeachment Hearings: Schiff Lies Again, Jim Jordan Goes Ham

Tuesday's public impeachment testimony in front of the House Intelligence Committee revealed that the Democrats' case against Donald Trump has more to do with foreign policy disagreements based largely on hearsay vs. actual evidence of malfeasance. Today marked the first public testimony after weeks of hearings conducted in private.

Speaker Adam Schiff (D-CA) and his fellow Democrats spent much of the day trying to coax damning testimony out of Ambassador Bill Taylor and top State Department official George Kent - only to come up empty handed over whether President Trump conditioned US military aid to Ukraine on an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

What we did learn is that US officials, including Kent, "constantly" pushed Ukraine to reopen a "scuttled investigation" into the owner of a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma Holdings, which was hired then-Vice President Joe Biden's son to sit on their board in 2014.

I did not witness any effort by any U.S. official to shield Burisma from scrutiny. In fact, I and other U.S. officials consistently advocated reinstitution a scuttled investigation of Zlochevsky, Burisma’s founder, as well as holding the corrupt prosecutors who hold the closed the case to account.

..

In early 2015, I raised questions with the deputy prosecutor general about why the investigation of Mr. Zlochevsky had been terminated based on our belief that prosecutors had accepted bribes to close the case. After, I became aware that Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma. Soon after that in a briefing call with the national security staff of the office of the Vice President in February 2015, I raised my concern that Hunter Biden’s status as a board member could create the perception of a conflict of interest.

Schiff also lied about "not knowing the identity of the whistleblower" whose anonymous complaint launched the impeachment effort, despite it being widely reported that the whistleblower - Eric Ciaramella - approached Schiff's staff before filing the complaint.

Ohio Republican Jim Jordan - recently added to the House Intelligence Committee - absolutely tore into the Democrats' narrative every time he was 'tagged' in.

In short:

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Watch:

Clips and hot-takes:

10:45 a.m.

When Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) called out Schiff for coordinating with the whistleblower, Schiff claimed he "does not know" who that is despite his panel having met with him.

10:35 a.m.

In his opening remarks, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) framed the impeachment inquiry as a move to protect the future of the presidency.

"The matter is as simple, and as terrible as that. Our answer to these questions will affect not only the future of this presidency, but the future of the presidency itself, and what kind of conduct or misconduct the American people may come to expect from their Commander-in-Chief," said Schiff.

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Having completed weeks of secretive closed-door testimony, House Democrats are taking their impeachment inquiry public on Wednesday with public testimony from various witnesses who can shed light on President Trump's interactions with Ukraine.

Overseeing the proceedings will be House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), who has made abundantly clear that this is about whether Trump inappropriately pressured Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, and not about whether the Bidens engaged in corruption while Joe was the Obama administration's 'point man' on Ukraine.

Arguing for the GOP will be recent addition to the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-CA), who has a strong grasp of the situation and a reputation for asking tough questions.

Testifying today will be Ambassador Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine who said in closed-door hearings that it was his "clear understanding" that President Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine until the Bidens and other matters were investigated.

Also testifying will be Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent, who claimed that Trump wanted Zelensky to personally announce the investigations.

On Friday, recalled US ambassador Marie Yovanovitch will testify. She claims she was forced out of her position over unsubstantiated allegations that she was critical of Trump and didn't want Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

Amb. Marie Yovanovitch

Schiff has also warned House Republicans not to name a whistleblower widely reported as CIA officer Eric Ciaramella, whose second-hand complaint launched the impeachment proceedings after seeking guidance from Schiff's committee over the summer.

"The Committee has a long, proud, and bipartisan history of protecting whistleblowers — including from efforts to threaten, intimidate, retaliate against, or undermine the confidentiality of whistleblowers," Schiff wrote in a memorandum to his colleagues.

GOP lawmakers included the whistleblower in their list of requested witnesses for the public impeachment hearings, however Schiff denied the request - calling the potential testimony "redundant and unnecessary."

President Trump went on the offensive Wednesday in a series of tweets, citing conservative pundits and decrying members of his own administration as "NEVER TRUMPERS" while telling people to "READ THE TRANSCRIPT!"

Next week, the following individuals will testify (via Axios):

Tuesday:

  • Jennifer Williams: An aide to Vice President Mike Pence, on detail from the State Department. She was on the July call between Trump and Zelensky and said she had concerns with the political nature of the call.
  • Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman: A decorated war veteran and the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert. He was on the July call and says Mulvaney coordinated the plan to push Ukraine for the Biden investigations.
  • Kurt Volker, former Special Envoy to Ukraine: He describes what officials saw as Rudy Giuliani's improper role in U.S. diplomacy.
  • Former National Security Council adviser Tim Morrison: He was also on the July call, and says he was told directly about Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine to open political investigations.

Wednesday:

  • EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland: He revised his initial testimony to say he told a Ukrainian official that the country wouldn't get military aid unless it caved to Trump's demands.
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian Affairs Laura Cooper: She says it was her understanding that Trump himself directed the freeze on aid to Ukraine, and that officials raised concerns after the aid was suspended.
  • Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale: He spoke to what many officials described as Yovanovitch's questionable removal.

Thursday:

  • Former Russia aide Fiona Hill: She reported to former National Security Adviser John Bolton, and says Bolton believed Sondland and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney were cooking up a "drug deal" with Ukraine.

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Axios also notes that House Democrats have shown interest in interviewing Bolton, Mulvaney, former deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman and Acting OMB director Russel Vought.

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