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.”