One lonely voice at CNN, where the majority of hosts and reporters spent all of Wednesday repeating left-wing talking points to a T, admitted that the Democrats’ first impeachment hearing wasn’t as successful as the rest of his colleagues thought.
“The one criticism of these two witnesses, which I think is very much legitimate — it’s not really a criticism, it’s a factual statement — is that neither of them had direct contact with the president,” CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin conceded during a discussion with network host Jake Tapper. “That’s a problem if you’re going to impeach the president,” he added.
The claims against President Donald Trump trotted out at Wednesday’s hearing by the Democrats’ first two witnesses — William Taylor, the top diplomat to Ukraine, and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs — were based on second-hand, third- and fourth-hand accounts of what happened.
Accounts, more specifically, that seem to belie what can be seen with one’s own eyes by reading the transcript of Trump’s July 25th phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky:
Don’t rely on second, third, and fourth-hand accounts. Read the transcript for yourself. https://t.co/wfHIQ0aO76
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 13, 2019
It was a point that was reiterated to Taylor by House Oversight Committee member Jim Jordan, who took issue with the diplomat’s claim that he has a “clear understanding” of the corruption that the president allegedly partook in.
To prove otherwise, Jordan read from an addendum that Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, added to his original closed-door testimony last month.
“Ambassador Taylor recalls that Mr. Morrison told Ambassador Taylor that I told Mr. Morrison that I had conveyed this message to Mr. Yermak on September 1, 2019, in connection with Vice President Pence’s visit to Warsaw and a meeting with President Zelensky,” that addendum reads.
“We got six people having four conversations in one sentence, and you just told me this is where you got your clear understanding,” the Republican congressman said incredulously after reading the addendum aloud.
When he then asked Taylor if he was on the call between Trump and Zelensky, the diplomat admitted that no, he wasn’t.
“This is what I can’t believe, and you’re [the Democrats’] star witness. You’re their first witness. You’re the guy based on this and I mean, I’ve seen church prayer chains that are easier to understand than this,” the congressman responded in frustration.
.@Jim_Jordan: You didn’t listen in on President Trump & Zelensky’s call?
Taylor: I did not.
Jordan: You’ve never talked with Chief of Staff Mulvaney?
Taylor: I never did.
Jordan: You’ve never met the President?
Taylor: That’s correct.
Jordan: And you’re their star witness. pic.twitter.com/ebZ6jsEjeB
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) November 13, 2019
Dovetailing back to Toobin, his remarks later that evening were issued during a longer statement he made in response to one of the allegedly notable developments at Wednesday’s hearing.
“There was one important new development today, which was Ambassador Taylor testified that one of his aides was present when Ambassador Sondland, who was a key figure in all of this, had a conversation with the president on July 26, the day after his now infamous phone call with the president of Ukraine,” he said.
As proof of this, Taylor cited second-hand information from his aide.
“[T]his person who will … give a deposition on Friday, said he overheard the president talking about investigations, and then Sondland said to this group, this dinner table in Kiev, that the president cares more about investigations of Biden, of the 2016 campaign, than he does about anything else relating to Ukraine,” Toobin continued.
“That’s important,” he added with certainty.
Is it, though?
Listen to his full commentary below:
Democrats have since scheduled the unnamed aide to deliver a deposition privately behind closed doors on Saturday. It’s unclear why he’s not being asked to speak publicly.
It’s also not clear whether his or her testimony will prove anything, given as there’s no record of Sondland admitting to ever saying such a thing, including during his closed-door testimony to Congress last month.
If anything, during the hearing the ambassador reportedly disputed claims made by Taylor during the diplomat’s own original closed-door testimony. That being said, Sondland’s scheduled to testify before Congress publicly next week, so the situation on the ground could conceivably change.
However, former independent counsel Ken Starr, whose investigation into former President Bill Clinton led to the then-president’s impeachment in 1999, appears to be doubtful that anything will indeed change.
“[T]he Republicans not only are rock solid, so that means if this trend continues, there is no hope for impeachment, for the conviction of the House — I mean, in the Senate,” he said Wednesday afternoon to FNC host Dana Perino.
“And here to me was something that was very telling: No crime was proven today,” he added. “There were a lot of terms used, extortion and bribery, but no crime. This is unlike Nixon and unlike Clinton.”
Ken Starr: “no hope for impeachment” and “no crime was proven today” pic.twitter.com/xfVORRGbRJ
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) November 13, 2019
It’s a point he first argued in September, when he bluntly said that, based on the available evidence, the Democrats’ impeachment efforts were “utterly doomed to fail.”
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