Day one is in the books. Impeachment-fest 2019 started off with the testimonies of Bill Taylor and George Kent, both bureaucratic apparatchiks who seemingly feel they are entitled to form U.S. foreign policy over elected officials.
I provided some live updates during the impeachment hearings (see Impeachment Updates: Devin Nunes Comes Hard In His Opening Statement, Adam Schiff Makes a Ridiculous Claim), so if you are looking for video clips and instant reaction, check there first.
In this post, I want to give a more general overview of today and what we learned, and honestly, I could just stop writing right now and hit publish because we really learned nothing at all. Adam Schiff opened matters by lying about what was on the Trump-Zelensky phone call, Devin Nunes hit back with a fiery opening statement, and then we spent the rest of the day hearing Taylor and Kent show themselves to be incredibly arrogant, deluded public servants more concerned with their own self-interests involving Ukraine than carrying out the President’s policies.
The major “bombshell” of the day was written on by my colleague streiff earlier. It involved a tale from Taylor that one of his staffers had overheard a phone call at a restaurant in which Gordon Sondland supposedly said Trump cared most about the investigations into the Bidens. Is that an actual quote from Trump? Was it a characterization? An assumption? We don’t know, because this entire thing is big game of telephone.
Taylor was told by some staffer who overheard a phone call, in which he thought he heard the president say something, but said staffer wasn't on the call and couldn't have known the full substance or relevant context?
— Sohrab Ahmari (@SohrabAhmari) November 13, 2019
Both “witnesses” today managed to share nothing but 3rd and 4th hand hearsay, as neither has any direct knowledge of what may or may not have taken place.
If you want an idea of how stupid things got, Democrat Mike Quigley gave this bonkers explanation of why hearsay is actually “much better” than direct evidence.
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) November 13, 2019
The problem here is fairly simple. Adam Schiff is attempting to parade through a bunch of witnesses that didn’t actually witness anything. Taylor waxed poetic about how he thinks foreign policy should be carried out, but what value are his presumptions and opinions in deciding whether to remove the President? Kent offered absolutely nothing of note except more whining that things weren’t going the way he approved of as an unelected bureaucrat.
Neither was able to provide one ounce of direct evidence of any wrongdoing. In fact, Taylor once again stated that the Ukrainians had no idea that aid was on hold until August 29th, meaning there could have been no quid pro quo on the call. One sly Republican also managed to get Kent to admit that Burisma should be investigated.
In the end, though, what exactly was even the point of today?
The practical answer is that there was no point. The political answer is that Democrats want to muddy the waters and try to drown Trump in a sea of bad press. If you have enough people all say the same thing regardless of the provable facts, and then you have every major news outlet in the country proclaim it to all be dispositive, that’s probably going to have some effect on the electorate.
The problem for Democrats is that this doesn’t end here. This will go to the Senate and Mitch McConnell is going to drop the hammer. All these witnesses who’ve been protected by Schiff from answering questions won’t be protected anymore. People like Alexander Vindman won’t get to have their lawyers play chairman while trashing Republican members. The reckoning is coming and by the spring, none of this will matter.
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