President Trump asserted Thursday morning that “normal people” would close the case on his impeachment following a historic day of open testimony from two career diplomats about their concerns about his actions in Ukraine.
Trump’s assessment underscored the clash that emerged after the six-hour hearing, with Democrats saying it provided damning evidence of a president using his office to advance his political interests while Republicans argued it laid bare a desperate attempt to oust Trump from office.
The White House, meanwhile, could release Thursday a transcript from an April call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. That call took place earlier than the July call that is at the center of allegations that the White House tried to withhold military assistance and an Oval Office meeting until Ukraine announced investigations into former vice president Joe Biden and his son, as well as an unfounded theory that Ukrainians interfered in the 2016 presidential election to hurt Trump.
●Impeachment hearings begin with new evidence of phone call implicating Trump in Ukraine controversy.
●Republicans discuss a longer Senate impeachment trial to scramble Democratic primaries.
●On Day One of the impeachment hearings, the Trump Show continues to disrupt Washington.
●Republicans’ conspiracy theories slam into sworn testimony in collision of divergent worlds.
Conway says Democrats trying to ‘interfere’ in 2020 election
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Thursday that the impeachment inquiry amounts to an attempt by Democrats to “interfere” in the 2020 election as she assessed Wednesday’s hearing during a television appearance.
“They can’t get him at the ballot box,” Conway said on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends.” “They’re trying to undo a democratically elected president from three years ago, and they’re trying to interfere — yes, I said it — interfere in the next election, and I think America’s smarter than that.”
Conway argued that the Democratic-led inquiry is a continuation of the investigation into Russian election interference by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and spoke disparagingly about Mueller’s performance at a congressional hearing regarding his findings.
“This entire inquiry is just a continuation of the Russia investigation that went nowhere, the Mueller report, and then the sequel, Muller himself, who was stumbling and bumbling through his testimony,” Conway said. “He was the original star witness of the summer that was supposed to undo the president.”By John WagnerAD
Trump says ‘normal people’ would close the case on impeachment
Trump contended early Thursday morning that testimony offered during the first open hearing of his impeachment inquiry on Wednesday would be sufficient for “normal people” to close the case.
In a morning tweet, Trump cited an exchange between Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) and the two career diplomats — acting ambassador to Ukraine William B. Taylor Jr. and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent — who testified on Wednesday.
During his allotted time for questioning, Ratcliffe pressed the pair on what “impeachable offense” was contained in the rough transcript of Trump’s July call with Zelensky in which he pressed Zelensky to investigate the Bidens.
After a brief pause, Taylor said when it comes to impeachment, “I’m not here to take one side or the other. That’s your determination.”
“That is not what either of us are here to do,” Taylor added. “That is your job.”
In his tweet, Trump characterized the response of the two diplomats to Ratcliffe’s question this way: “Both stared straight ahead with a blank look on their face, remained silent, & were unable to answer the question.”
“That would be the end of a case run by normal people! – but not Shifty!,” Trump asserted, referring to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.).
Throughout the hearing, both Taylor and Kent expressed concerns about Trump using his office to advance his political interests.
Trump also retweeted comments from several GOP allies, including Rep. Mark Meadows (N.C.), who characterized Wednesday’s proceedings as “a MAJOR setback for the unfounded impeachment fantasy.”By John WagnerAD
Key testimony scheduled for Friday
House investigators have no hearings scheduled Thursday, but Friday could be another key day in the probe, with both public and private testimony.
Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled earlier this year by Trump, is scheduled to appear at an open hearing of the House Intelligence Committee.
She said in an Oct. 11 deposition that she was the target of a shadow campaign to orchestrate her removal that involved Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani and Ukrainian officials suspected of fostering corruption, according to a transcript
In her testimony, Yovanovitch said that she remained worried that she would be a target of retaliation by Trump, who referred to her in his July 25 phone call with Zelensky as “bad news” and someone who was “going to go through some things.”
House investigators also expect to hear in a closed-door session Friday from David Holmes, the counselor for political affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv.
He is the embassy staffer referred to Wednesday in testimony by William B. Taylor Jr., acting ambassador to Ukraine. Taylor said the staffer overheard a July phone call in which Trump asked U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland about “the investigations” sought from Ukraine into political rivals.
The revelation of that call potentially implicates Trump more directly in a scheme to center U.S. policy toward Ukraine on political investigations.
Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he had no recollection of the call.By John WagnerAD
White House could release transcript of earlier Zelensky call
The White House could release a transcript Thursday of a call between Trump and Zelensky that took place in April, shortly after Zelensky had been elected president.
That’s a few months before the July call that has been central to the impeachment inquiry in which Trump pressed Zelensky for investigations that could benefit him politically at a time when U.S. military aid was being withheld from Ukraine.
Witnesses in the impeachment probe familiar with the first call have described it as relatively innocuous.
The timetable for releasing the transcript of the call has been pushed back several times, but on Wednesday Trump told reporters it was coming soon.
“I’m going to be releasing — I think on Thursday — a second call, which actually, was the first of the two,” Trump said at a White House news conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.By John WagnerAD
Trump heading to Louisiana for campaign rally
A day after the first open hearing in his impeachment inquiry, Trump is heading to Louisiana for a “Keep America Great” rally.
Trump has used previous rallies to air his grievances about the impeachment process and level attacks on the Democrats leading it.
Trump’s trip to Bossier City, La., is designed to give a boost to Republican Eddie Rispone in the Louisiana governor’s race. He is trying to unseat Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) in a Nov. 16 runoff election.By John WagnerAD
Trump shares assessment of hearings as ‘day of shame’
Trump fired of a spate of late-night tweets and retweets on Wednesday, including one in which he shared that the evangelist Franklin Graham had called the first open hearings in the impeachment inquiry “a day of shame for America.”
“Thank you @FranklinGraham,” Trump wrote in the tweet. “It is a time of ‘shame’ for our Country. The Democrats know what they are doing is wrong!”
Other Trump tweets and retweets included clips from the hearing of moments Republicans considered favorable to them. Another congratulated his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., for sales of his new book.By John WagnerAD
Impeachment: What you need to read
Updated November 13, 2019
Here’s what you need to know to understand the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
What’s happening now: The House held its first public impeachment hearings on Wednesday. George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state, and Ambassador William B. Taylor testified. More hearings are scheduled for this week and next.
This follows closed-door hearings and subpoenaed documents related to the president’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Lawmakers’ inquiry could lead to impeachment, which would mean the U.S. House thinks the president is no longer fit to serve and should be removed from office. Here’s a guide to how impeachment works.
Stay informed: Read the latest reporting and analysis on the impeachment inquiry here.
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Source – Washington Post