First will start with the best line/comeback of Wednesday’s hearing. No, it wasn’t from Gym Jordan.
MSNBC had a surprise panelist today, George Conway, husband of Trump’s White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway.
The biggest takeaways:
- The July 26 call: Taylor told Congress today about a July 26 phone call — a conversation that happened one day after Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s leader. Taylor testifying that his staff was told of the call, in which President Trump said he cared more about the “investigations of Biden” than Ukraine.
- Giuliani’s “irregular” diplomacy: Taylor explained that Rudy Giuliani’s efforts led to an “irregular” policy channel was “running contrary to the goals of longstanding US policy.” Kent’s testimony also expressed alarm at Giuliani’s efforts — which he described last month as a “campaign of lies” — that led to the ouster of US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and then the push for investigations.
- Not “never Trumpers”: Kent and Taylor were directly asked about President Trump’s repeated claim that they are “never Trumpers.” They said they were not.
- Hurting diplomats’ credibility: Kent and Taylor said it’s harder for US officials overseas to do their jobs when American leaders ask foreign powers to investigate their political rivals. “Our credibility is based on a respect for the United States, and if we damage that respect, then it hurts our credibility and makes it more difficult for us to do our jobs,” Taylor said.
- About firsthand knowledge: Republican repeatedly went after the witnesses for not hearing from President Trump himself that he wanted Ukraine to launch investigations into his political rivals in exchange for releasing US aid. But remember: the White House has sought to prevent those closer to Trump from appearing.
A State Department staffer overheard President Trump asking a top diplomat about “investigations” he wanted Ukraine to pursue that he believed might help him in the 2020 election, another senior diplomat told Congress.
That staffer is expected to tell his story directly to House investigators at a closed-door deposition on Friday.
The new subplot about the overheard phone conversation was one of a small number of new details to emerge from Democrats’ first open hearing in their impeachment inquiry into President Trump on Wednesday.NPR:
Before the hearing began, Trump fired up the propaganda machine to remind Cult 45 just how evil those evil Democrats truly are:
At the White House, Mr. Trump sought to project an air of confidence in the face of an existential threat to his presidency. Before a working meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Mr. Trump told reporters of the impeachment hearing: “It’s a witch hunt. It’s a hoax. I’m too busy to watch it.”
Join us Friday for Part 2 of this week’s impeachment inquiry hearings.