Color me shocked that Adam Schiff would release guidelines on what topics witnesses must speak to before they are considered relevant enough to call and then break them in the span of a day.
My colleague Streiff shared the details of those “rules” yesterday. Here’s a copy of them so we can compare to the first three witnesses Schiff himself is calling.
Here’s the thing. We already have the testimonies of the first three people Schiff wants to call so we know if they can even speak to those things. I wrote about who those people are yesterday and why it gives the game away in a piece two days ago. They are Marie Yovanovitch, William Taylor and George Kent.
The problem? Not a single one of these “witnesses” had any direct line to Donald Trump at all. None of them received any order from the President to do anything, by their own admission. Further, nothing in their previous testimony pointed to them having any secondary knowledge of an improper quid pro quo involving Joe Biden.
What these witnesses do provide is political fodder. Take Bill Taylor. Despite admitting the only evidence he had for his impressions was an article in The New York Times, he testified that he felt an improper quid pro quo was taking place. In reality, he had nothing to support that except his own gut feeling and he admits that plainly.
Notice the requirements of the first two guidelines laid out. A witness must possibly have knowledge of 1) Trump’s motive on political matters and 2) whether there was any directive from Trump down the chain.
Now, if the three names above were new witnesses, you could make the case that we simply don’t know if they can answer those questions or not, so they must be called to find out. The problem is that they have already testified and admitted they have no direct knowledge of an improper quid pro quo. In fact, two of them have never even met Donald Trump at all, much less spoken to him about this issue so as to elicit some kind of motive.
Via past testimony, we know that Bill Taylor got his information from The New York Times and admitted assumptions formed the basis of his thinking. He has no direct knowledge of anything at all and was at least three degrees removed from any decision making.
As to Marie Yovanovitch, she wasn’t even around at the time, having been recalled as Ambassador to Ukraine. She has no knowledge of any of these dealings and said that plainly in her testimony. Her only relevancy is to try to paint her previous ouster as a political move, but that hardly speaks to any of the guidelines Schiff laid out.
Finally, you have George Kent. If you don’t know his name, there’s a reason for that. Nothing of note came from his testimony except his claims he was cut out of the process. Hardly scandalous or revealing of anything.
Rep. Mark Meadows pointed out the absurdity of all this yesterday.
Setting aside the absurdity of these restrictions—note that the Democrats won't even be able to stay within their own parameters.
The first two witnesses they're calling have never even talked to POTUS. They have zero firsthand knowledge. How can they speak to his motive? https://t.co/sptDSPqCYb
— Mark Meadows (@MarkMeadows) November 7, 2019
If Democrats actually had a case here, instead of breaking their own rules, they’d be calling witnesses that could possibly have direct knowledge. Someone like Kurt Volker, who had direct communication with the President and has already testified under oath there was no quid pro quo, much less one that is improper (because all foreign policy is a quid pro quo if we go broad enough).
But doing that wouldn’t let Schiff slow walk his narrative. He’s going to call people that can’t speak to anything directly but who can provide a bunch of politically helpful soundbites. How many times have you seen a headline on Bill Taylor claiming he “confirmed a quid pro quo?” Now, how many of those headlines and subsequent articles point out that Taylor admits to having no first, second, or even thirdhand knowledge and made his assumptions based on news articles?
This entire thing is a sham. Schiff wants to limit witnesses to only his hand-selected group of aggrieved bureaucrats that will help push his talking points. And he’s willing to break his own rules to do it.
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