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‘This is simply indefensible’: Two former GOP lawmakers clash over Ukraine testimony

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On Wednesday’s edition of CNN’s “New Day,” former GOP Reps. Charlie Dent (R-PA) and Sean Duffy (R-WI) argued vehemently about the significance of the testimony from Ukraine envoy William Taylor against President Donald Trump.

“The dam is barely holding on. Because look, very persuasive,” said Dent. “I don’t know how any Republican member can look at this thing or any member of Congress cannot be alarmed by this. The quid pro quo was stark. And the president is insisting on using, you know, official resources to dig up dirt on his opponent. This is simply indefensible.”

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“Charlie and I weren’t in the room yesterday for the hearing. And neither were you or your viewers,” replied Duffy. “We had more Democrats rush to cameras and with their perspective give us their take on what happened … I think in America we should open this process up, let every American see Bill Taylor.”

“I know Republicans talking about process,” said anchor John Berman. “This opening statement isn’t about process. This is his testimony. So to the testimony itself that we’re seeing right here, what is your response? Because Congressman Dent just called it stark. Is it not stark?”

“But John, we’re having an impeachment trial right now,” protested Duffy.

“No, we’re not. That’s not at all true,” said Berman. “You have an impeachment inquiry. An impeachment trial as you know from your knowledge of the Constitution happens in the Senate. Which is an inquiry which is comparable to a grand jury investigation which as you know isn’t an opening proceeding. And as you also know, Republicans had equal time in the questioning yesterday. I’m not even asking you about the questioning. I’m asking you about the opening statement which you’re not addressing. Please address the opening statement.”

“The Ukrainians have to know that Donald Trump is taking something away from them to be a quid pro quo,” said Duffy. “A perfect example of a quid pro quo is Joe Biden who said, if you don’t fire this prosecutor, I’m going to take away a billion dollars. That’s one thing for another thing. Donald Trump doesn’t have that because the Ukrainians never knew anything was taken away.”

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“The Ukrainians were being told — the president of Ukraine was being told to make a public statement on CNN,” shot back Dent. “This is wrong. I mean, you cannot use your official resources to put — official resources of the government to investigate your political opponent. Even without the quid pro quo. I mean, I was a chairman of the Ethics Committee. If a member of Congress had done anything like this, they would have been investigated. End of story.”

“Charlie, the Ukrainians have said they didn’t know the money was taken away, resources were taken away. They said they didn’t know,” said Duffy. “Therefore you can’t have a quid pro quo.”

“Congressman Duffy, let me make perfectly clear, the Ukrainians did know according to Ambassador Taylor, that the meeting was conditioned on the statements. And as part of the testimony yesterday that Bill Taylor gave, his testimony, which, again, you’re not really addressing here, he talks about these investigations. Ambassador Sondland, Taylor says, says everything is dependent on investigations. Wanted Zelensky in a public box by making a public statement about ordering such investigations … the senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine thought there was a quid pro quo. Do you have any reason to doubt his experienced analysis here?”

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The exchange continued back and forth, with Duffy adamantly refusing to accept the premise of the question. Finally, he pivoted.

“The president was elected the president. And he has the right to implement foreign policy,” said Duffy. “You have a lot of people who work in the State Department who have political opinions as well and personal opinions on what we should advance in Ukraine. We may disagree with the president. Donald Trump won and he gets to execute the foreign policy that he feels is right. That’s what he’s doing.”

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“Is investigating a political opponent, is that foreign policy?” shot back Berman.

“I think investigating corruption is absolutely—”

“That’s not what I asked. That’s not what I asked. That’s not what I asked,” said Berman. Is asking a foreign country to investigate a political opponent, yes or no, is that foreign policy?”

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“I haven’t seen that,” said Duffy. “I’ve seen Donald Trump investigate corruption where Joe Biden was holding up money to have a prosecutor fired who’s investigating his son in the Ukraine. That’s wrong.” (This has been repeatedly debunked — the prosecutor was not investigating Biden’s son.)

“I do recommend people to go read Bill Taylor’s opening statement and then go back and read the rough transcript from President Trump’s call to President Zelensky where he asks President Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden,” said Berman.

Watch below:


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