Donald Trump on Thursday bashed the first two witnesses to appear for public hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry after they could not say whether there was an ‘impeachable offense’ in his phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart.
The president directly weighed in on Twitter after making general public comments on Wednesday and quoting and reposting several sentiments to his account throughout the hearing.
‘@RepRatcliffe asked the two ‘star’ witnesses, ‘where is the impeachable event in that call?’ Both stared straight ahead with a blank look on their face, remained silent, & were unable to answer the question. That would be the end of a case run by normal people! – but not Shifty!’ Trump tweeted Thursday morning.
He is directly referencing a moment in the hearing where Republican Representative John Ratcliffe asked the two witnesses, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent, to point to the impeachable offense in the call.
Donald Trump claimed Thursday morning that the Democrats’ ‘star witnesses’ of the impeachment inquiry were unable to point to an impeachable offense from his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
Trump referenced Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe’s (pictured) questioning where he pushed the witnesses to point to the impeachable offense from the call, which was the event that caused Democrats to launched the impeachment inquiry
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor (right) and Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent (left) were silent in response to Ratcliffe’s question. But Taylor said it wasn’t their job to point to or determine if there was an impeachable offense
The July 25 phone call, made public by an anonymous whistle-blower in September, sparked the House impeachment inquiry after Democrats claim it proves the president set a quid pro quo with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky of military aide in exchange for Kiev launching an investigation into Joe Biden.
When it was Ratcliffe’s turn to question Kent and Taylor, he made an open question to the two diplomats: ‘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?’
When neither Kent nor Taylor was able to answer and instead responded with silence, Ratcliffe pushed.
‘Shout it out! Anyone?’ the Texas congressman asked.
Taylor attempted to weigh in on his reason for testifying, but was unable to get a word in with Ratcliffe speaking over him. Finally, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff suspended the time and allowed Taylor to speak.
Taylor said he and Kent were not there to determine if there was an impeachable offense or to recommend impeachment.
Ratcliffe was one of the more aggressive GOP lawmakers during the hearing. He said if Democrats were to say Trump committed an impeachable offense, they would have to call a foreign leader a ‘liar.’
Zelensky has sided with the president in claiming there was no pressure put on him to open an investigation into the Bidens.
‘I would much rather focus on peace in the Middle East,’ Trump said when asked about the hearing. The president said he didn’t want to make the impeachment inquiry the focus of the day and instead wanted to talk about his meeting with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday
Several individuals related to or with knowledge of Trump’s conversation and policy in Ukraine testified behind closed-doors before the three committees co-conducting the impeachment investigation over the past few weeks. But Wednesday’s Capitol Hill testimony was the first public hearing of the impeachment inquiry.
Trump was quieter than usual both in public and on social media regarding the first open impeachment hearing.
When he was asked about his thoughts on it overall during a joint press briefing with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday afternoon, Trump insisted he didn’t want to make that the focus of the day.
‘I would much rather focus on peace in the Middle East,’ he told a right-leaning reporter.
Trump said he didn’t watch the ‘witch hunt’ hearing because he was meeting with Turkey’s leader in the White House – which was met with Kurdish protesters and their supporters across the street.
‘This is a sham and shouldn’t be allowed. It was a situation that was caused by people that shouldn’t have allowed it to happen,’ Trump said during the joint press briefing.
‘I want to find out who is the whistle-blower because the whistle-blower gave a lot of incorrect information including my call with the president of Ukraine, which was a perfect call, and highly appropriate,’ he continued.
Taylor (left) and Kent (right) appeared on Capitol Hill Wednesday and the first two witnesses to publicly testify as part of the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump. They testified and answered lawmaker and lawyer questions for more than 5 hours
Trump said he would be releasing potentially on Thursday a transcript of a second, earlier call he had with Zelensky over the summer.
In Trump’s call with Zelensky, according to the transcript, he urged his Ukrainian counterpart to launch a probe into political rival and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son’s business dealings there – especially related to Hunter’s previous position on the board of Burisma Holdings, a natural gas firm in the country.
The next witness called to publicly testify is former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who will appear on Capitol Hill Friday. She already testified in a closed-door meeting with lawmakers about her time as ambassador and her premature recall from her three-year post in Ukraine.
Democrats announced there will be eight more witnesses questioned in public hearings next week.
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