How you feel about the first day of the House Impeachment Hearing likely depends on your political persuasion – as watchers say there were no major bombshells yesterday. Similarly, Democrats and Republicans appeared to be acting in lock-step with their respective parties.
If there was a revelation? It was William Taylor’s testimony that his staffer overheard President Trump ask for an update on the investigations into Joe Biden the day after Trump spoke to Ukraine's president. That staffer – who was not named yesterday – is reportedly now set to appear before House Democrats in a closed-door hearing. Another witness will also answer questions Friday when televised hearings resume. In other highlights:
Taylor also testified that there was an “irregular” shadow communications channel between the White House and Ukraine. The trio – made up of EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, Kurt Volker (the then-U.S. special envoy to Ukraine) and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry – reported called themselves "the three amigos." But also in the exclusive group? White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
When GOP attorney Steve Castor asked Taylor, “In fairness, this irregular channel of diplomacy, it's not as outlandish as it could be, is that correct?” Taylor agreed. “It's not as outlandish as it could be,” he responded with a laugh. “I agree with that.”
Taylor was a committed note-taker. When asked if he’d kept notes "related to most of the conversations” he’d referenced in depositions and testimony, Taylor replied. "All of them.” Diplomat George Kent apparently kept similar notes. Why haven’t they been released? They’re the property of the State Department, who has declined to comply with the House Dems’ subpoena.
The Impeachment Hearing continue tomorrow morning at 9am ET with Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, set to testify. She has claimed that Giuliani worked to have her removed from her post because he believed she was standing in the way of investigations into the Bidens. Her testimony is expected to cover the workings of the "irregular" backchannel of foreign policymaking led by Giuliani.
Meanwhile, Democrats in the House Intelligence Committee are turning back Republican efforts to subpoena the anonymous whistleblower in the impeachment inquiry. Dems voted to "table" a Republican motion on a vote of 13-9. That effectively kills it. Republicans argue that the whistleblower needs to testify in a private session and complained that only Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff knows who he-or-she is.
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