Following is an opinion based Maine Examiner editorial, not to be confused with a Maine Examiner news article.
Anyone who told you they knew exactly how this week’s impeachment hearings were going to go before they even started was lying to you. After hearing from three witnesses over two full days of testimony, things are becoming clearer, and the situation is not looking good for top Democrats. The situation has taken an especially bad turn Rep. Adam Schiff and former VP Joe Biden.
None of the witnesses
who have testified publicly before the House Intelligence Committee have laid
out anything approaching an impeachable offense.
On Wednesday, the two witnesses, Ambassador Bill Taylor and senior State Department staffer George Kent (whose bow tie was nearly the most remarkable thing about his appearance) presented hearsay and told the committee more about what they “heard” than what they knew.
For Ambassador Taylor, one of those things he told the committee he heard involved, as Rep. Jim Jordan put it, “six people having four conversations in one sentence, and you just told me this is where you got your ‘clear understanding’ that the president had linked security assistance to investigations.”
For many who played the childhood game of ‘telephone’, that revelation made the hearsay Ambassador Taylor offered about as trustworthy as a smiling Bill Cosby with a cocktail in his hand.
Worse than the week the three witnesses had after being thrust into the public spotlight to recount hearsay, read the mind of a President they have never met, or speculate on things they admittedly could not know, was the week Adam Schiff and former Vice President Joe Biden had.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the architect and ringleader of the impeachment inquiry, failed to produce a shred of evidence of an impeachable offense by President Trump all week. If Schiff is not already the personification of the fabled boy-who-cried-wolf after his litany of false claims on Russian Collusion, a failure to produce such evidence in the current hearings on Ukraine will crystallize him as such.
in conducting the hearings has also drawn deserving criticism.
On Friday Schiff gaveled down Rep. Elise Stefanik near the opening of the hearing, despite the fact she would have a chance to speak eventually, regardless of his desire to silence her. Schiff’s treatment of Stefanik was an unbecoming tactic that would have immediately seen Schiff labeled as sexist in the media if he were a Republican.
Republican requests for Schiff to release transcripts from four other witnesses were refused, with Schiff continuing his strategy of selectively releasing them, often leaking pieces of the transcripts that perpetuate his preferred narrative to the media. That left Republicans both during and after the hearing calling for the transcripts to be released to the public and insisting Schiff is refusing to allow the American people transparency on the full situation.
Republicans say Schiff’s refusal to release the transcripts prevents them from referencing relevant testimony in their questioning of current witnesses. Instead of providing a solid explanation for why he is refusing to release those transcripts, Schiff simply refuses or won’t recognize those requesting the transcripts be released.
If anyone is
having a worse time than Schiff in the hearings, it’s former Vice President Joe
Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was asked on Friday by Rep. Chris Stewart if she
had any evidence of criminal activity at all by President Trump.
But when Rep. Elise Stefanik finally did get her chance to ask questions without Rep. Adam Schiff silencing her, she extracted the most newsworthy information of the day from Yovanovitch.
State Department had been so aware and concerned about Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s
role on the board of Burisma they prepared Yovanovitch to answer questions
about the situation.
Yovanovitch said an investigation into corruption at Burisma was still open when Biden forced the firing of the Ukrainian prosecutor in charge. She also told the world that the situation with Hunter Biden raised the appearance of conflicts of interest that concerned her. Yovanovitch’s testimony was consistent with George Kent’s testimony Wednesday on the matter.
When asked about foreign policy under the Obama Administration and the Trump Administration, Yovanovitch said that the Trump Administration had provided Javelin missiles in line with inter-agency consensus on the need for Ukraine to have them. That consensus had existed during the Obama-Biden administration but had been ignored.
Providing those missiles, Yovanovitch said, had strengthened Ukraine’s ability to stand up to Russia.
to the questions from Republicans, both from their representatives and their
counsel, Democrats largely seemed to be trying to generate sympathy for
Yovanovitch for her termination as an Ambassador. It was an unusual tact for
Democrats to take in light of the fact that President Obama replaced every single
Bush ambassador when he took office and it is well known that ambassadors serve
at the pleasure of the President.
other witnesses, the approach could have been riveting. But with a witness like
Yovanovitch, who started out the day proudly recounting her work in some of the
most dangerous places in the world, the Democrat questioning just felt staged
and out of place.
Yovanovitch, who is now a Fellow at Georgetown University and confirmed she is still an employee at the I.S. State Department, had little to gain by losing her composure before the world.
In contrast, Joe Biden, whose political party’s nomination to run for President appears to be his to lose, faces fallout on two fronts as a result of the Yovanovitch testimony.
Regarding his son Hunter, the revelation that the Obama-Biden State Department was so concerned about conflicts of interest that they were briefing career diplomats on how to deflect from the issue seriously undercuts him. Any claim Biden planned to make that everything was clean, clear, and on the up-and-up is out the window with the revelation that even the State Department during his tenure was concerned about the arrangement.
Biden, who was
heralded as the “point man” on Ukraine for President Obama, now faces more than
just concerns about Hunter, Burisma and corruption in Ukraine.
After Ambassador Yovanovitch’s testimony on the failure of the Obama administration to provide lethal aid to Ukraine to defend against the Russians, sending only blankets and non-lethal support, Biden is now easily labeled as nothing more than the point man on President Obama’s Ukraine blanket-brigade.
In Presidential debates in the fall of 2020, President Trump can look across the stage at Joe Biden and say, “Joe, when it comes to helping Ukraine stand up to Russia, you gave them blankets and I gave them missiles. By the way, where’s Hunter?”
So much for the Russian collusion conspiracy theory. President Trump has helped Ukraine stand up to Russia far more than the Obama-Biden Administration did.
So much for the claim that investigating the case of Burisma and Hunter Biden was out of line for President Trump. Even the Obama State Department was concerned about it.
And so much for Adam Schiff’s second attempt at impeaching President Trump if all he has is three witnesses, hearsay and what amounts to an unemployment hearing for an Ambassador who was legally recalled by a duly elected President who had the absolute right to do so.
As with any matter of foreign policy and national security, there certainly are still things those of us who are watching from afar do not know. That doesn’t change the reality that unless something here changes, Democrats are fast becoming their own worst enemy when it comes to challenging President Trump in 2020.