SEVERE WX : Heat Advisory View Alerts

Takeaways so far from House public impeachment hearings

In several hours of testimony, punctuated by occasional bickering among lawmakers, some memorable moments emerged.

Posted: Nov 13, 2019 8:10 AM
Updated: Nov 13, 2019 2:59 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Wednesday’s start of public impeachment hearings unfolding in Congress marked the first time that the American public could watch and listen to the witnesses whose testimony is at the center of the Democrats’ investigation.

In several hours of testimony, punctuated by occasional bickering among lawmakers, some memorable moments emerged.

Some key takeaways from the first public witnesses: George Kent and William Taylor.

TRUMP PUSHED FOR BIDEN INVESTIGATION

Hearings like this one can be scripted affairs. But there was an early surprise.

Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, revealed for the first time that his staff members overheard President Donald Trump speaking on the phone to another diplomat about investigations.

Taylor said some of his staff members were at a restaurant with Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, the day after the July 25 call between Trump and Ukraine's newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Sondland used his cellphone to call Trump from the restaurant and the staff members could hear Trump on the phone asking about “the investigations.” Taylor took that to mean investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter and the Burisma Group, the Ukrainian firm that had hired Hunter Biden as a director in 2014, he told lawmakers.

“Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for,” Taylor said in his opening statement.

“I take it the import of that is that he cares more about that than he does about Ukraine?” the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, asked Taylor.

“Yes, sir,” Taylor responded.

Taylor said he only learned about the call last Friday and didn’t know about it when he appeared for a closed-door deposition with House investigators conducting the impeachment inquiry.

___

IS IT BRIBERY OR A QUID PRO QUO?

The impeachment inquiry in many respects is about controlling the narrative. On Wednesday, Democrats seemed to begin to pivot, framing the actions of Trump as possible “bribery” and “extortion” rather than emphasizing a “quid pro quo.”

Schiff introduced the notion of bribery into the debate when he criticized the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, for saying that people concerned about Trump’s requests that Ukraine do political investigations should “get over it,” and that there is political influence in all foreign policy.

If the investigation finds that Trump “sought to condition, coerce, extort, or bribe an ally into conducting investigations to aid his reelection campaign and did so by withholding official acts — a White House meeting or hundreds of millions of dollars of needed military aid — must we simply get over it?’’ Schiff asked.

A Democratic staff lawyer, Daniel Goldman, also talked of possible “extortion and bribery” — a gradual change in wording that could preview Democrats’ approach going forward.

Later, Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, questioned the witnesses about the idea of bribery and noted that merely attempting the act could be considered a crime.

___

SPLIT-SCREEN QUESTIONING

Names familiar during special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, but not particularly relevant to the impeachment inquiry, received attention during questioning from some GOP lawmakers and the lawyer who was representing their interests.

There was a reference by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., to the “Steele dossier” — a compilation of opposition research against candidate Trump compiled by a former British spy during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Also invoked were discredited allegations that Ukraine interfered in the most recent presidential election. Paul Manafort, the president’s former campaign chairman who did lucrative political consulting work in Ukraine, was cited, too.

___

HEARSAY

Republicans dismissed the testimony of the witnesses as mere “hearsay.” Republican said the witnesses didn’t provide firsthand knowledge of suspected back-door dealings on Ukraine and did not speak directly with Trump.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, suggested the Taylor’s understanding was basically a bad game of telephone.

"We’ve got six people having four conversations in one sentence, and this is where you told me you got your clear understanding,” Jordan said.

Taylor and Kent believed their understanding of the issues were sound, gathered from their own knowledge and conversations with trusted staff.

But Democrats had another argument for Republicans: Trump could clear up the ambiguity by allowing those with firsthand knowledge to testify, such as Mulvaney, Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and former national security adviser John Bolton.

Taylor and Kent stood by their understanding of the phone calls, the security aid and the push to get the president of Ukraine to commit to a public statement that he was investigating the issues.

___

LOFTY LANGUAGE

Taylor is a Vietnam War veteran and West Point graduate. Kent is a career foreign service officer whose family has served the country for generations.

Their words laid bare the stakes of the proceedings even as some Republicans sought to minimize them. Their references to serving under presidents of both parties were aimed at preempting Republican attacks on them as political partisans. That didn’t stop Nunes from deriding the witnesses as being part of a smear campaign, “star chamber” from within the civil service.

Taylor capped his opening statement with an ode to how Americans feel in their best moments about their country: "less concerned about what language we speak, what religion if any we practice, where our parents and grandparents came from; more concerned about building a new country."

Kent singled out by first name and even nickname the impeachment witnesses who were born abroad, likening them to 20th century national security policy: Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, both immigrants.

"Masha, Alex, and Fiona were born abroad before their families or they themselves personally chose to immigrate to the United States. They all made the professional choice to serve the United States as public officials, helping shape our national security policy, towards Russia in particular. And we and our national security are the better for it," Kent said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 610839

Reported Deaths: 7749
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1266401800
Ramsey53172911
Dakota47328475
Anoka43323465
Washington27717296
Stearns22703227
St. Louis18297319
Scott17719139
Wright16561153
Olmsted13549103
Sherburne1215696
Carver1075749
Clay829692
Rice8261111
Blue Earth771944
Crow Wing689599
Kandiyohi670885
Chisago627654
Otter Tail591187
Benton586698
Goodhue486174
Douglas479281
Mower478233
Winona464652
Itasca463168
Isanti446667
McLeod435161
Morrison428462
Beltrami410763
Nobles410150
Steele401419
Polk390772
Becker389457
Lyon365554
Carlton356958
Freeborn352134
Pine337823
Nicollet334545
Mille Lacs315456
Brown308840
Le Sueur300127
Cass288633
Todd288633
Meeker266244
Waseca241023
Martin237233
Roseau212421
Wabasha20843
Hubbard198341
Dodge19023
Renville183946
Redwood178541
Houston175916
Cottonwood168224
Wadena165223
Fillmore159710
Faribault157220
Chippewa154138
Pennington153920
Kanabec148028
Sibley147410
Aitkin139437
Watonwan13629
Rock129219
Jackson123112
Pipestone117226
Yellow Medicine115420
Pope11406
Swift107618
Murray107410
Koochiching96819
Stevens92611
Clearwater89317
Marshall88917
Lake84520
Wilkin84013
Lac qui Parle76122
Big Stone6094
Grant5958
Lincoln5863
Mahnomen5669
Norman5509
Kittson49122
Unassigned48793
Red Lake4037
Traverse3835
Lake of the Woods3484
Cook1740

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 374664

Reported Deaths: 6109
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58891646
Linn21448342
Scott20426250
Black Hawk16680319
Woodbury15319230
Johnson1473686
Dubuque13595213
Dallas1144099
Pottawattamie11307177
Story1082848
Warren592092
Clinton564393
Cerro Gordo562297
Webster538996
Sioux519174
Muscatine4920106
Marshall491479
Des Moines478275
Jasper452073
Wapello4366123
Buena Vista431040
Plymouth404982
Lee392658
Marion369177
Jones301257
Henry301037
Bremer292763
Carroll286252
Boone271234
Crawford270841
Benton262755
Washington259851
Dickinson250745
Mahaska232551
Jackson225842
Kossuth219166
Clay217327
Tama213372
Delaware211743
Winneshiek200636
Buchanan196734
Page195422
Cedar192923
Hardin191144
Wright189140
Fayette188243
Hamilton186851
Harrison181973
Clayton173057
Butler167835
Madison167719
Floyd164642
Mills163824
Cherokee161538
Lyon160941
Poweshiek159036
Allamakee155552
Hancock153134
Iowa148324
Winnebago145731
Calhoun143113
Cass140855
Grundy139333
Emmet136741
Jefferson134535
Sac132620
Shelby131838
Louisa130249
Union129535
Appanoose128049
Franklin127823
Mitchell127243
Chickasaw125717
Guthrie124532
Humboldt124526
Palo Alto114924
Montgomery106738
Howard105322
Clarke102424
Monroe100633
Keokuk99932
Ida92735
Adair89632
Davis86825
Pocahontas86822
Monona85931
Greene79111
Osceola79017
Lucas77423
Worth7568
Taylor67112
Decatur6629
Fremont64810
Ringgold56824
Van Buren56718
Wayne56323
Audubon52913
Adams3494
Unassigned90
Rochester
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 91°
Mason City
Clear
89° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 98°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
90° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 105°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
88° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 102°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
88° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 100°
Turning cooler to finish off the workweek
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Aaron's Evening Forecast (7/28/21)

Image

Mask Mandate In Iowa

Image

RPS updates masking requirements

Image

City buses a cool place to be

Image

Rochester School District updates masking requirements

Image

Baby calf born at the Olmsted County Free Fair

Image

It's important you stay cool at the Olmsted County Fair this week

Image

The Olmsted County Free Fair has been happening for 161 years now

Image

Sean's Weather 7/28

Image

Local impact of masking rules

Community Events