Takeaways from the Initial Public Impeachment Hearings

  • The Democrats' witnesses relied almost solely on third and fourth hand evidence.
  • No new or startling revelations were revealed.
  • Democratic representatives, who were initially in favor of having the whistleblower testify, voted to table a Republican motion to subpoena the whistleblower.

Wednesday was the first day of public hearings for the controversial impeachment hearing. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for the official inquiry after ongoing pressure from highly progressive Democratic representatives. The inquiry is in regards to the president’s call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, in which the Democrats claim President Trump abused his power.

Democrats believe the president engaged in a quid pro quo, threatening to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless president Zelensky investigated Hunter Biden’s elicit business activities in Ukraine. President Trump, his supporters, and the Republican Party maintain that there was no quid pro quo, and that this is just another attempt by the Democrats to impeach the president as part of their ongoing “with hunt.”

Corruption is widespread in Ukrainian society. Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perception Index ranks the country in 120th place out of 180 countries. In 2012 Ernst & Young put Ukraine among the three most-corrupt nations of the world – alongside Colombia and Brazil. In 2015 The Guardian called Ukraine “the most corrupt nation in Europe”. According to a poll conducted by Ernst & Young in 2017, experts considered Ukraine to be the ninth-most corrupt nation in the world. United States diplomats described Ukraine under Presidents Kuchma (in office from 1994 to 2005) and Yushchenko (in office from 2005 to 2010) as a kleptocracy, according to WikiLeaks cables.

One major takeaway from the hearings was the amount of second hand evidence that the Democrats were actively relying on. At one point during the hearings Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) said, “hearsay can be much better evidence than direct. Countless people have been convicted on hearsay because the courts have routinely allowed and created, needed exceptions to hearsay.”

None of the Democrats’ witnesses had actually been present for the controversial conversations between Trump and Zelensky or had any real connection to the supposed “quid pro quo,” something Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan drew attention to when he responded to a statement from William Taylor, acting US Ambassador to Ukraine. Taylor had said that a member of his staff had overheard Gordon Sondland, the US Ambassador to the EU, talking to the president about “the investigations.” Taylor claimed the staff member heard Sondland say, “the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.” Taylor claims that when the staff member asked Sondland what the president thought about Ukraine, Sondland responded, “President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for.”

Rep. Jim Jordan responded by reading a statement from Sondland, “Ambassador Taylor recalls that Mr. [Tim] Morrison told Ambassador Taylor that I told Mr. Morrison that I had conveyed this message to Mr. [Andriy] Yermak on September 1, 2019, in connection with Vice President Pence’s visit to Warsaw and a meeting with President [Volodymyr] Zelensky.” Rep. Jordan then said, “We’ve got six people having four conversations in one sentence… Ambassador, you weren’t on the call, were you? You’ve never talked to Chief of Staff [Mick] Mulvaney? You’ve never met the president.”

As the hearing wrapped up, Democratic representatives, who were initially in favor of having the whistleblower testify, voted to table a Republican motion to subpoena the whistleblower.

The first day of the public hearings for the impeachment inquiry didn’t reveal any new revelations, and certainly didn’t clarify anything regarding the president’s request for Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden. The hearing often seemed like political theater, with many of the witnesses relying on third or fourth hand accounts of the president’s actions.

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Kyle Reynolds

I'm a young writer who for a long time has been fascinated by history, politics, economics, and everything else that makes the world go round. I love to hear from my readers and can be contacted at kylereynolds2017@gmail.com.

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