No matter how the Democrats try to spin it, the first day of public hearings did not go well for them. From Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) powerful opening statement, to the brutal cross-examinations of Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH), John Ratcliffe (R-TX) and other Republicans, the weakness, the partisan nature and yes, even the frivolity of their case against the President was exposed. The ultimate indicator that the day had been a bust for Democrats was the absence of a press conference from their fearless leader, Nancy Pelosi. Where was Madame Speaker after the hearing?
Pelosi issued a brief statement to CNN. She said, “What has come forth has further, of course, given us the truth of what happened at the time.” She told CNN she was “consumed with other legislative matters — prescription drugs, Dreamers, appropriations and the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement today,” but that she had “caught a few minutes” of the beginning of the hearing.
Now, impeachment is a relatively rare and deadly serious action for Congress to take. Generally, one wouldn’t expect the Speaker of the House to be consumed with other matters on the first day of public hearings. Pelosi knows it did not go well. And it will likely get worse.
One of the more interesting remarks from a Democrat was made by former Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. (D-TN), who spoke to Fox’s Brett Baier the evening before the hearings began. I had a sense Ford was paving the way for the Party to bail on the hearings if they were not going well. You don’t initiate impeachment hearings as some sort of trial balloon. ‘Oh, we’ll see how impeachment goes. We can always pull the plug if it doesn’t go well.’ It is a drastic measure that is taken when a President has done something truly egregious or dangerous. Anyway, Ford said:
By Wednesday evening, I think we’re going to have a very strong sense. I think what Senator Kennedy said, he wants to measure the credibility of these witnesses. He wants to measure the tone of these witnesses. He wants to get a sense of hearing their words and hearing them talk, see them cross-examined.
I think by Wednesday evening and perhaps Friday afternoon after the ambassador comes forward, we’re going to have a much better sense of Nancy Pelosi who I think has been the most mature of all the politicians in D.C. around this issue because I don’t that she really wanted to do this.
But if she does not feel that the Democrats can have a sound vote, a bipartisan vote, and maybe even the chance to remove the president, I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t pull this in the next several days. If this first week does not go well.
One of the most noteworthy reactions to the testimony came from CNN’s Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Surprisingly, he admitted that neither witness had any direct contact with the President.
Speaking with Jake Tapper, he said, “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.”
“Ever,” said Tapper.
“Ever. And, that’s a problem if you’re going to impeach the president,” Toobin added. I would agree. When you’re trying to remove a sitting president, you’ve got to offer a little beef.
Even the Washington Post had trouble spinning the events of the day. One of their headlines following the debacle read, “Republicans tried to make him impeachment’s ‘star witness.’ Bill Taylor became an Internet meme instead.” Indeed, he did. There were times I almost felt sorry for him. Taylor’s exchange with Jordan was especially rattling for him.
“I don’t consider myself a star witness for anything,” Taylor told Jordan.
“They do,” replied Jordan.
To which the “unflappable” Taylor responded, “I think I was clear that I’m not here to take any particular side or the other.” He could have fooled us.
In reality, he was Adam Schiff’s lead witness and greatest hope to legitimize his bogus case against Trump.
Especially amusing was Jordan’s reading of the first paragraph of U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland’s addendum statement. “Ambassador Taylor recalls that Mr.Morrison told Ambassador Taylor that I told Mr. Morrison that I 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 Zelinsky.” Jordan then says, “We’ve got six people having four conversations in one sentence and you just told me this is where you got your clear understanding…Now, this is his clarification.”
Former U.S. Attorney Joe DiGenova appeared on Lou Dobb’s show last night to weigh in on the hearing. He said:
The hearing itself, for the Democrats, was a cadaver. This was another Robert Mueller type hearing. There was no John Dean. No Ollie North. There were no sparks. They were boring witnesses. They were uninformed witnesses. They were witnesses with no first hand knowledge. This was an embarrassment for the Democrats. They went away from this hearing with their tails between their legs.
They went on to discuss the witnesses themselves. Both agreed that Taylor was partisan, but that George Kent was something else. They discussed investigative journalist John Solomon’s report that in April 2016 (which I posted about here), Kent had pressured Ukrainian prosecutors to back off their investigation of Anti-Corruption Action Centre (AntAC), a non-profit which is jointly funded by liberal megadonor George Soros’ charity and the State Department.
DiGenova gave a fascinating take on Soros’ influence on U.S. foreign service personnel and even FBI agents serving abroad. And as John Solomon suggested in his reporting, Soros had the ear of former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland.
Well, there’s no doubt that George Soros controls a very large part of the career foreign service part of the State Department. He also controls the activities of FBI agents overseas who work for NGOs, work with NGOs. That was very evident in Ukraine and Kent was part of that. He was a very big protector of Soros. His testimony today showed this kind of stern, sort of discomfort with not being included in certain discussions. But the truth is George Soros had a daily opportunity, through Victoria Nuland, what to do in Ukraine. And he ran it, Soros ran it, he corrupted FBI officials, he corrupted foreign service officers, and the bottom line is this. George Soros wants to run Ukraine and he’s doing everything he can to use every lever of the United States government to make that happen. For business interest, not for good government interest.
If the first public hearing had been a success for the Democrats, House Speaker Pelosi would have given a press briefing to tout the gains of the day. She would have told us she was praying for the President at this sad time for America. Instead, enraged and defeated, she remained out of sight likely contemplating the way forward.
All in all, it was not a good day for the Democrats.