The New York Times

The New York Times 13 Nov 2019

Key Moments From the Trump Impeachment Hearing


William B. Taylor Jr., the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and George P. Kent, a senior State Department official in charge of Ukraine policy, are testifying before the House Intelligence Committee for the first public hearing of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

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”If we find that the president of the United States
abused his power and invited foreign interference
in our elections, or if he sought to condition, coerce
extort or bribe an ally,
if this is not impeachable conduct, what is?”
“Ambassador Taylor and Mr. Kent,
I’d like to welcome you here.
I’d like to congratulate you for passing the Democrats’
star chamber auditions held for the last weeks
in the basement of the Capitol.
It seems you agreed, witting or unwittingly,
to participate in a drama.
But the main performance,
the Russia hoax, has ended and you’ve
been cast in the low-rent Ukrainian sequel.”
“I encountered an irregular informal channel
of U.S. policymaking
with respect to Ukraine, unaccountable to Congress.
The odd push to make President Zelensky publicly
commit to investigations of Burisma,
and alleged interference in the 2016 election,
showed how the official foreign policy of the
United States was undercut by the irregular
efforts led by Mr. Giuliani.”
“Did you ever try to wrest control
of the irregular channel?”
“I didn’t try to wrest control of the irregular channel —
do that.
At the time when I —”
“Well why not though, if you had your concerns?”
“Because Mr. Counselor, at the time,
both channels were interested
in having a meeting between President Zelensky
and President Trump.”
“New leaders, particularly countries that are trying
to have good footing in the international arena,
see a meeting with the U.S. president in the Oval Office
at the White House as the ultimate sign of endorsement
and support from the United States.”
“It’s one thing to try to leverage
a meeting in the White House.
It’s another thing, I thought, to leverage
security assistance, security assistance to a country at war.”
“You also said that more Ukrainians would undoubtedly
die without U.S. assistance.
Why is that?”
“This assistance allows the Ukrainian military
to deter further incursions by the Russians
against their own — against Ukrainian territory.”
“In your deposition you said this and you said it again
the first hour of the majority,
‘My clear understanding was security assistance money
would not come until President Zelensky committed
to pursue the investigation.’
Now with all due respect, Ambassador,
your clear understanding was obviously wrong —
because it didn’t happen.
President Zelensky didn’t announce
he was going to investigate Burisma
or the Bidens.
Ambassador, you weren’t on the call, were you?
You didn’t listen on President Trump’s call,
and President Zelensky’s call?”
“I did not.”
“You’ve never talked with Chief of Staff Mulvaney?”
“I never did.”
“You never met the president?”
“That’s correct.”
“This is what I can’t believe.
And you’re their star witness.
You’re their first witness.”
“Mr. Jordan —”
“You’re the guy, you’re the guy based on this.
Based on —
I mean, I’ve seen, I’ve seen church prayer chains
that are easier to understand than this.”
“Mr. Kent, are you a never Trumper?”
“I am a career non-professional,
who serves whatever president is duly elected
and carries out the foreign policies of that president
and the United States.
And I’ve done that for 27 years for three
Republican presidents and two Democrat presidents.”
“Ambassador Taylor are you a Never Trumper?”
“No, sir.”
“In this impeachment hearing today
where we impeach presidents for treason or bribery,
or other high crimes,
Where is the impeachable offense in that call?
Are either of you here today to assert
there was an impeachable offense in that call?
Shout it out — anyone?”
“Mr. Ratcliffe, If I could just respond let me just
reiterate that I’m not —”
“I’ve got one minute left.”
“I know and let me —”
“Let me just make this —”
“I’ve just got 30 —”
“Please allow the witness —
You asked the witness a question, the witness —“
“I withdraw the question.”
“I’m not here to take one side or the other —
Mr. Ratcliffe, I would just like to say that I’m not here
to do anything having to do with the —
to decide about impeachment.
That is not what either of us are here to do.
This is your job.”

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