Today's historic first day of the Trump impeachment hearing was just into its second witness this morning when career diplomat Bill Taylor testified that the president was overhead on a phone call asking about the investigation he demanded from Ukraine into the Bidens, the energy company, Burisma, and the 2016 election.
Republican Congressmen on the impeachment panel had a hard time with that one. There went their argument that Trump wasn't trying to cut a deal with the Ukraine -- U.S. aid and a White House meeting in return for the investigation into the Bidens.
Taylor said one of his staffers was at a dinner with Gordon Sondland, the Ambassador to the European Union, on July 26 when Sondland took a phone call from Trump in which the president was loud enough for others to hear. According to Taylor’s staffer, Trump pressed Sondland about “the investigations.” After the call, Sondland told the staffer that Trump cared more about the investigation that he wanted into Biden and his son than he did about Ukraine.
Republicans on the panel tried every which way to discredit Taylor, a West Point graduate, Vietnam veteran, and longtime diplomat, as well as today's other witness, George Kent, a deputy assistant Secretary of State. Both stressed they are nonpartisan and have served Republican and Democratic presidents alike.
For them, it was "just the facts."
The Republicans' argument seemed to rest on their claim that no crime had been committed by Trump since the $394 million in appropriated funds were eventually provided to Ukraine and that Ukraine did not actually conduct the Trump-requested investigation into the Bidens.
That's like saying a convenience store robber isn't guilty because he tripped going into the store, dropped his gun and was caught before he could actually pull off the heist.
They pushed already debunked conspiracy theories, and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), one of the most irritating members of Congress I have ever met, tried to play hard-ass prosecutor and trip up the witnesses, only to be calmly turned aside. Talk about fingernails on a chalkboard!
Meanwhile, Democrats pursued the sobering argument that if Trump isn't held accountable for his criminal behavior, then there will be nothing to prevent him or future presidents from running roughshod over the Constitution and Congress.
Today's witnesses, Taylor and Kent, were steadfast in their refusal to be brought into the nasty politics of the proceedings. They said they were there to testify as to the facts, and that is exactly what they did.
Republicans whined and carried on. Jordan said the Whistleblower, who began all of this with a report about Trump's phone call with Ukraine's new president, should be brought in to testify and said only one member of the impeachment panel, Chairman Adam Schiff, knew his identify. Despite Schiff's statement that he did not know the Whistleblower's identity and that he would not be forced to testify, Jordan, like the attack dog he is, kept at it.
But that was about all they had. Trump's not guilty because he didn't really go through with his crime. Doesn't matter that he was selling the Ukrainian people out and allowing his pal, Putin, to run roughshod over them, all because he wanted dirt on Joe Biden, a potential political opponent.
Could be none of that will matter. If this keeps up, Trump may not even make it to the election.