House Impeachment Inquiry Thread

Thread to discuss the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry. Public hearings started today.

References and Resources

The Just Security website has page with links to transcripts of public testimony. See below.

45 thoughts on “House Impeachment Inquiry Thread

  1. Some House Republicans were attempting to undermine today’s witnesses because they didn’t have firsthand knowledge of what Trump or some others in the administration said. Michael McFaul, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia makes a good point–present facts that refute or weaken the hearsay testimony.

    Additionally, if hearsay testimony is so problematic–and this impeachment inquiry is without substance–the Republicans should urge that firsthand witnesses testify–tell the Trump to allow them to testify. And if Trump is so innocent–if the call to President Zelensky was “perfect”–he should have no problem allowing people from the administration to testify, instead of preventing them.

    The claims aren’t refuted. Trump not allowing to people to testify points to the claims being accurate.

  2. GOP Defense of Trump

    The following sub-thread contains the GOP talking points, their framing of Trump’s interactions with Ukraine. It also provides some rebuttal. I hope to add comments later.

    11/17/2019

    1. Investigating the narrative that Trump was motivated by a concern about Ukrainian corruption

      12/7/2019

      Former federal prosecutors:

    2. Some Republicans attempted to undermine recent witnesses by saying they provided only hearsay evidence–a claim that could be compelling, but should be determined by examining the specifics and context of each testimony). But for now, let’s focus on the ostensible complaint that the witnesses are problematic because they did not have firsthand knowledge. I agree with Senator Schumer below:

    3. Referring to witnesses as “Schiff’s witnesses” is a clever but specious way of discrediting them

    4. “Hey, President Zelensky and the Ukrainians have publicly said they didn’t feel pressured.”

      This could mean that, indeed, they don’t feel pressured by Trump. On the other hand, if they did feel pressured, it seems reasonable that they wouldn’t want to say so publicly and actually say the opposite. Senator Chris Murphy explains below:

    5. On Ukrainians meddling in the 2020 Election

      Really good thread from former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul:

      A Ukrainian MP exposing corruption IN HIS OWN COUNTRY is not meddling in the U.S. 2016 presidential election. This argument is absurd.

      Maybe it was a bad idea for Trump to hire Manafort in the first place? I would like to hear one Republican admit this obvious fact. (Oh, by the way, Manafort is now in jail).

      It is also not meddling in our election for an ambassador to defend the sovereignty of his country in an oped. That also is a ridiculous argument. By that metric any criticism of Obama policy in 2016 by foreign governments — and there was a lot — was meddling.

      Dr. Fiona Hill, in her closed door testimony, also mentioned that if Republicans considered Ukraine to interfere (Ukrainian ambassador writing an op-ed criticizing Trump) then one would have to say many other nations interfered as well. The implication is that this is a non-serious standard. See McFaul’s tweet above.

      Also,

    6. I liked this thread, which lays out some of the GOP arguments, defending Trump:

  3. There’s a lot of things that should have ended Trump’s presidency, but he’s like a Hollywood villain, like Michael Myers, who you think should be dead, but isn’t. The following, if true (and the chances seem low it’s not), is one of the moments in the movie where you’re thinking, “OK, this should do it.”

    I haven’t read the testimony from David Holmes, yet, but this thread breaks down some key points:

    Another breakdown of Holmes’s testimony from Jake Tapper:

    One thing that came to mind: If we could see other phone transcripts–like to Putin–I think they would contain evidence that might even convince some Republicans to impeach and remove Trump.

    Also, my understanding is that Trump has continued to use an insecure phone in office. Based on this testimony, I imagine the amount of kompromat other nations and hackers have on Trump and others is enormous.

  4. Testimony of Lt. Col. Vindman and Jennifer Williams

    edit

    1. Official White House twitter account. Vindman testifying now.

      By Trump and his White House doing this, it lends notion that they’re trying to intimidate witnesses.

  5. Gordon Sondland, U.S. Ambassador to the EU, testifies today

    1. Remember this tweet:

  6. On holding up foreign aid

    I thought this was a good thread on this issue.

  7. Testimony of Laura Cooper and David Hale

    Laura Cooper is Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. (I’m not sure what that title means.)
    David Hale’s position is undersecretary of state for political affairs.

    Both testified today in an open hearing after Gordon Sondland.

    Based on what I understand this suggests that the Urkrainians knew that defense money was being held up at least by July 25, and it even suggests that this was brought up in the call.

  8. Testimony of Dr. Fiona Hill and David Hale

    Dr. Fiona Hill
    David Hale

    1. One Senate Republican rejecting Dr. Hill’s plea.

      Kennedy sounds like Trump, going against the consensus of U.S. Intelligence Community, when the latter cast doubt on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

      Not sure who this person is (claims to be a CNN reporter), but I’ve heard another person say the following, too:

      12/9/2019

      Here’s another Republican Senator:

  9. Trump’s own words implicate him

    More from that exchange, Trump speaking:

    They should investigate the Bidens, because how does a company that’s newly formed — and all these companies, if you look at —

    And, by the way, likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens, because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with — with Ukraine.

    So, I would say that President Zelensky — if it were me, I would recommend that they start an investigation into the Bidens. Because nobody has any doubt that they weren’t crooked. That was a crooked deal — 100 percent. He had no knowledge of energy; didn’t know the first thing about it. All of a sudden, he is getting $50,000 a month, plus a lot of other things. Nobody has any doubt.

  10. Summary of all the public testimonies so far

    I like this thread, by Ambassador McFaul (former U.S. Ambassador to Russia) summarizing all the public testimonies so far:

  11. Marie Yovanovich

    I didn’t read the following article, but if the headlines are accurate, this really stinks.

  12. I believe the people behind the account made the documentary, Active Measures, which I’ve heard good things about, but haven’t seen.

  13. House Intelligence Committee wrapped finished public testimonies last week (although they could call more witnesses later). Hearing from the House Judiciary committee starts this week. I believe the first hearing will be a discussion on what acts should be considered impeachable. The House Judiciary Committee invited the Trump WH to participate, but they declined.

    Here’s a quick explainer on impeachment that’s worth watching:

  14. Inquiry has moved over to the Judiciary Committee earlier this week.

    Here’s a tweet I saw about witness list GOP calling:

    Basically, the GOP is not really investigating whether Trump did anything impeachable, but they’re promoting the narrative that Joe Biden was involved in corruption in Ukraine and that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election–the latter of which has been dismissed by U.S. intelligence. It strongly suggests that Republicans do not have any exculpatory evidence or testimony. That is, the information from testimony as well as public statements made by Trump and White House officials, point to significant wrong-doing–i.e., abuse of power.

  15. Some statements to remember

    Why?

    1. If Trump thought Giuliani was or did anything illegal, unethical, or anything that he thought was wrong or inappropriate, he would have fired Giuliani–not anticipating his return with information. Moreover enough red flags exist regarding what Giuliani is doing. Trump not firing him is at least tacit approval in my opinion;

    2. One way Trump may try to avoid responsibility is to say Giuliani acted independently and Trump didn’t know about any wrongdoing. But here it seems like Giuliani is in good graces with Trump, doing things that Trump approves of. If he didn’t, he would fired him, as I mentioned earlier. The claim of ignorance or that Trump did not direct him will not be credible.

    1. 1. Seems of a piece with using a personal lawyer to politically damage Biden–through pressuring Ukrainian government to make a public announcement of an investigation on the Bidens or to provide information to damage Biden (and/or absolve Russia of interfering in the election).

      2. If the quote above is accurate, it will be impossible to credibly claim that Trump didn’t know or approve of what Giuliani was doing.

    1. This was well-said from a group I’ve never heard of before–Mormon Women for Ethical Government:

      Also, from former Senator, Jeff Flake:

  16. Man, if Trump administration hasn’t complied with any subpoenas, how is that not damning? If there were exculpatory evidence, they should surely comply with those subpoenas, right? Therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude that either there is no exculpatory evidence or there is far more damning evidence.

  17. Not a good sign for the Senate trial

    1. I didn’t know the details behind the Senate taking a new oath when conducting a impeachment trial. The following article discusses this:

      According to Article I, section 3, clause 6 of the Constitution, senators, when sitting on a trial of impeachment, “shall be on Oath or Affirmation.” When they are elected to the Senate, all senators swear a general Oath to uphold the Constitution.

      But the Oath taken in an impeachment trial is different. It is a juror’s oath and a judge’s oath—not a legislator’s oath. Rule XXV of the Senate Rules in Impeachment Trials provides the text: “I solemnly swear (or affirm) that in all things appertaining to the trial of ____, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God.”

      Later,

      But it is vital to remember that the Constitution asks them to remember that they are not sitting as senators, but now as judges and jurors.

      So much so that for this brief period the senators are all equal. For the course of the trial the roles of Majority and Minority Leader, President Pro Tem, Committee Chairs, Whips, and so forth no longer exist. For the duration of the trial the Senate is a literally new institution with new rules, new norms, and new responsibilities.

      Again, the excerpt from McConnell seems to suggest he’s not acting in a responsible way.

    2. A message from Lindsay Graham from the past to Lindsay Graham and congressional Republicans in the present:

  18. House Judiciary Committee Votes on Articles of Impeachment

    I believe the entire House of Representative have to vote on these articles now.

  19. Trump tweets

    Edit

    1. Trump’s reaction to being impeached

      Rep. Dingell responds:

      This is so low. It reminds me of what Trump did to Mrs. Kahn, when he questioned why she didn’t speak. (I think he was insinuating that Islam didn’t allow her to speak publicly.) This lead to a response from Mrs. Khan. (This is not the clip I had in mind, but it’s close enough.)

  20. “The threat is ongoing.”

    That’s the point Rep. Schiff makes below, and after reading Trump’s letter to Speaker Pelosi, I’m more convinced this is the case. When I read what Trump says, I struggle to accept what I’m reading. It’s hard to accept a rational, psychologically healthy person would say such things–it’s overwhelming. But here’s one takeaway: He seems genuinely convinced that he did nothing wrong, and because of that he will actively seek other nations to provide information that will damage his opponent, regardless if that information is reliable or true. I believe he will do much worse–like not take steps to protect election equipment; he will say the election is rigged with no evidence; he may not concede if he loses. Like Rep. Schiff, I believe this is one compelling reason he should be impeached and removed now–and not wait until the election.

    1. That they think the letter puts Trump in a positive light is something. And to add two Christmas cards is bizarre. (I believe Murphy is a senator from Connecticut.)

    1. I thought this was pretty good.

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