The impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump entered a new phase on Wednesday morning, when the first public testimony was presented. The two witnesses presented were Ambassador William B. Taylor (who had been in charge of Ukraine-related matters under the Trump Administration) and U.S. State Department diplomat George P. Kent (deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs). And while House Republicans aggressively defended Trump during Taylor and Kent’s testimony, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and other Democrats used Taylor and Kent’s testimony to show why Trump deserves impeachment.
Here are some of the wildest moments from the first public hearing in the Trump impeachment inquiry.
1. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) doubled down on bogus Crowdstrike conspiracy theory
Rep. Devin Nunes has not been shy about promoting the conspiracy theory known as Crowdstrike, which claims that interference in the 2016 presidential election came not from the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin, but from the Ukrainian government. And Nunes continued to promote that discredited theory when questioning Taylor. Nunes, more than once, mentioned “Ukrainian election meddling.” But when Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman asked Kent if there was any credible evidence that Ukraine’s government interfered in the 2016 election, Kent responded, “To my knowledge, there’s no factual basis.”
2. Taylor’s testimony demonstrated that a quid pro quo did, in fact, occur
One of House Democrats’ arguments in favor of impeachment is that when Trump spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, there was a “quid pro quo”: an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden in exchange for military aid. Trump supporters have denied that there was any type of “quid pro quo” on July 25, but Taylor testified that military aid to Ukraine had been frozen and that aid was “conditioned on the investigations.”
3. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) demanded that Schiff tell him the whistleblower’s identity
During his pro-Trump grandstanding on Wednesday morning, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio complained that it was unfair that House Republicans do not known the identity of the Ukraine whistleblower who made a complaint about Trump’s July 25 conversation with Zelensky. Schiff, Jordan asserted, has an unfair advantage because he knows who the whistleblower is and House Republicans don’t. But Schiff set Jordan straight, telling the far-right Republican congressman, “that is a false statement. I do not know the identity of the whistleblower.”
4. Nunes insisted that Democrats manufactured Ukraine scandal following ‘Russian hoax’
During the hearing, Nunes not only railed against the impeachment hearing but also, the Russia investigation led by former special C\counsel Robert Mueller. Nunes claimed that after Democrats failed with the “Russia hoax,” they needed a new “hoax” — and Ukraine became that “hoax.” As part of the “impeachment sham,” Nunes asserted, Democrats falsely claimed that Trump “committed a terrible crime” on July 25. Nunes insisted that Trump never asked Zelensky to investigate the Bidens, but Taylor’s testimony did show that Trump and his allies were seeking “investigations” and that Trump mentioned “Crowdstrike” when speaking to Zelensky.
5. Schiff stresses that the identity of the whistleblower must be protected
Schiff was not swayed at all by Jordan’s assertions that House Republicans deserve to know who the whistleblower is. The House Intelligence chairman remained firm, asserting, “We will not permit the outing of the whistleblower.”
Jared Kushner’s ties to Saudis could be fair game if Trump keeps going after Hunter Biden: Dem lawmaker
On MSNBC's "AM Joy," Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) laid out the case for impeaching President Donald Trump — and warned of the consequences for Trump's own family at the hands of future presidents if he is allowed to get away with it.
"He abused his power by trying to trade government resources for a political favor, to knock out a political rival in Joe Biden, the guy that he thought would emerge as nominee for 2020," said Castro. "We can't set a precedent where Congress says it's okay for a president to do that, because if we do that then a few things will happen. Number one, it opens the door for Donald Trump to do it again or a future president to do it again. To ask a country to interfere in our elections and knock out a political rival by digging up dirt."
Melania Trump scorched by columnist for standing by president’s Thunberg bullying: ‘Indefensible’
In a piece for the Washington Post, columnist Karen Tumulty called out first lady Melania Trump for her statement defending her husband's bullying of 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg in a fit of jealousy after she was selected Time Magazine's Person of the Year.
Responding to a statement from the White House that stated, “BeBest is the First Lady’s initiative, and she will continue to use it to do all she can to help children. It is no secret that the President and First Lady often communicate differently — as most married couples do. Their son is not an activist who travels the globe giving speeches. He is a 13-year-old who wants and deserves privacy,” Tumulty wasn't having it.
BUSTED: Devin Nunes is hiding how he’s paying for all his frivolous lawsuits — which could land him in more trouble
On Saturday, the Fresno Bee dived into a lingering question: How does Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) pay for all the lawsuits he is filing against journalists, satirists, and political critics?
"Nunes, R-Tulare, has filed lawsuits against Twitter, anonymous social media users known as Devin Nunes' Cow and Devin Nunes' Mom, a Republican political strategist, media companies, journalists, progressive watchdog groups, a political research firm that worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and a retired farmer in Nunes’ own district," noted the Bee.
These lawsuits were mainly filed in Virginia — a state with very loose laws against so-called "SLAPP suits," or meritless lawsuits intended to drown people in legal expenses in retaliation for expressing political opinions. Nunes was assisted in these suits by Steven Biss, a Virginia attorney, and yet except for the suit against the retired farmer, there is no clear record in Nunes' FEC reports of how he paid for the suits.