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What I learned from watching the first week of impeachment hearings

Rep. Adam Schiff
Bill O'Leary/Pool via REUTERS
Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence committee, making his concluding remarks as he closes the impeachment inquiry on Thursday.

One of the blessings of my great MinnPost gig (plus the invention of the DVR), is that I was able to watch the entirety of the House impeachment hearings. So many of the witnesses were inspiring examples of honesty, patriotism and commitment to the truth.

In this paragraph, I pretend to have a lot of sympathy for the Republican complaint that chairman Adam Schiff was unfair to them. I would actually have some sympathy for them if any of them, other than Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, had made even a vague pretense of wanting to learn the truth, rather than spend every opportunity they had trying, not very effectively, to blur it.

Countless times, they accused the Democrats of anti-democratic motives, trying to remove the people’s choice from the Oval Office. Over and again, they referred to Trump’s victory as the result of an Electoral College “landslide.” I would bet several hryvnia (that, believe it or not, is the Ukrainian currency) that there was a Republican messaging memo to use that “L” word (landslide).

This is some combination of hilarious and pitiful on two counts. First, although they were at least honest enough to claim only an “electoral college” landslide, they never, ever mentioned that Trump actually lost the popular vote, nor that the entire victory is tainted by the benefits of foreign interference (but the latter is only the unanimous conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community, so feel free to ignore it).

But the second point is even funnier. While Trump did win the (tainted, according to me) electoral vote, his E-vote margin was the 46th largest out of the 58 presidential elections to date. So it’s (barely) in the top 80 percent of victory margins.

Don’t believe me? See this link. It’s pretty pitiful that they do this stuff. Shame on them, and (a little less shame) on anyone who falls for it.

The witnesses were fabulous. Patriotic Americans serving with integrity. I learned a lot of details that I hadn’t known, although the basic outlines were long available.

I have a little more (but still not much) sympathy for the Republican complaint that Democrats controlled the list of witnesses who testified (although Chairman Adam Schiff did call some witnesses whom Republicans asked him to call, it wasn’t up to them which ones, and there weren’t very many).

I’ve long felt, and my thinking hasn’t changed, that the odds are very high that the Democratic-controlled House will vote to impeach. I don’t know that a single Republican will join them. But since only a majority vote is required, impeachment will likely pass, which only sets up a Senate trial, in the majority Republican Senate. And, since a two-thirds vote is necessary to convict/remove a president, I do not expect Trump to be removed from office.

Judging by the lack of movement in Trump’s approval ratings (yes, bad as always, but still always low-40s approval, low 50s-disapproval) Trump will probably survive to seek and, who knows, possibly, win a second term.

I used to be shocked at the loyalty of his approvers, but how long can the same fact retain its power to surprise?

Lastly, acknowledging that this could be my bias showing (but I don’t really think so), the hearing showed a colossal mismatch, across the party lines, in the brains and talent on the committee. I almost feel sorry for the committee Republicans, to be so overmatched. But if you doubt my conclusion, I offer links below to the closing arguments by the lead Republican on the committee, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, and the Democratic Chair, Adam Schiff (also of California).

My opinion: while Schiff’s is longer, Nunes’ is harder to sit through.

Here’s Nunes:

Here’s Schiff:

Comments (64)

  1. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/22/2019 - 08:54 am.

    “So many of the witnesses were inspiring examples of honesty, patriotism and commitment to the truth.”

    While I agree they were examples of honesty and patriotism, I found their unified narrative around Ukraine and Russia to be facile at best, Imperial propaganda at worst, about inspiring in America support for a new Cold War.

    “Lastly, acknowledging that this could be my bias showing (but I don’t really think so), the hearing showed a colossal mismatch, across the party lines, in the brains and talent on the committee. I almost feel sorry for the committee Republicans, to be so overmatched.”

    That is as much bias as it is an example of an unattractive liberal conceit, that liberals are smarter than conservatives generally. It is absurd to suggest dems are one wit smarter or less smart than republicans, and vice versa.

    What I learned from these hearings, mostly, is that Congress Left and Right is united in telling us that Russia is the great demon, and we must eject them from Ukraine. Because profits of the military industrial complex need to grow eternally, and beyond ejecting Russia from Ukraine, regime change is ideal because profits from the War on Terror have hit a ceiling.

    • Submitted by Brian Simon on 11/22/2019 - 11:06 am.

      I think you misunderstand the point about the committee members. Eric is not aguing that liberals in general are smarter than conservatives; he’s arguing that on this particular committee the democrats are smarter than the republicans. Taking as examples chairman Schiff & ranking member Nunes, it’s hard to disagree. The former is builing a logical, rational case outlining the misbehaviors of the Trump administration, while the latter ignores the evidence & clings to debunked cospiracy theories. Nunes is cetainly not demonstrating particularly above-average intellectual acuity.

      On the subject of Russia, again, the Democrats are relying on the determinations of US intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, and continues to work to undermine democratic processes in this country. They’re invaded & occupied portions of Ukraine, including but not limited to the entire Crimean penninsula. There continues to be a hot war between the two countries, though its not covered much by news outlets. Democrats aren’t pushing for a new cold war, they’re noting that Russia is a bad actor contributing to global insecurity & again, undermining the electoral process here. It is mind boggling that conservatives seemingly don’t care about these issues.

      • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/22/2019 - 05:11 pm.

        The phrase “conspiracy theory” was embedded in the culture by the CIA in the sixties, around the time of the program called “Mockingbird”, the CIA planting stories through their assets in major media. Nowadays, in the corporate media , the phrase “conspiracy theory” is repeated daily, in reference you might notice, to any theory that is not otherwise approved by the “Intelligence community”. Nowadays, the CIA doesn’t need to covertly plant information in the media; anything flowing from the intelligence community is repeated by the media as “real news” and “the truth”.

        Both the narrative of Shiff and Nunes, but especially Shiff’s, from a more nuanced perspective, would be called facile at best and imperial propaganda at worst, about Ukraine, Russia and the election of 2016.

        Geopolitics is never as simple as our gov and media make it out to be. As Americans we might ask a deeper question, after this parade of officialdom embedded in Ukraine, how is that we are so deeply involved on the very borders of Russia but Russia is deemed the aggressor? How was it that we got here? Is any nation or government as aggressive as official Washington, in the maintence of “America’s” economic interests? China maybe. Russia considerably less, from a global perspective.

        • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 11/23/2019 - 07:39 pm.

          “Both the narrative of Shiff and Nunes, but especially Shiff’s, from a more nuanced perspective, would be called facile at best and imperial propaganda at worst, about Ukraine, Russia and the election of 2016”


          • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/24/2019 - 09:51 am.

            Official narrative: Russia invaded Ukraine. Russia is aggressive. Russia must be stopped.

            What actually happened: Russia was happy with a stable Ukraine. America and the EU had been pushing Ukraine to become part of NATO, wanting to militarize to the very border of Russia. Russia and EU offered economic deals to Ukraine. The Russia deal maintained Ukraine sovereignty, the EU deal made Ukraine like a vassal state to the EU. Ukraine took the Russia deal. The CIA and American NGO’s started fomenting a regime change coup. the elected leader of Ukraine was deposed. Neo-nazi elements in the new western puppet government, having perpetrated violence in the “revolution of dignity”, talked about outlawing the Russian language and about ethnic Russians like dogs/subhuman; ethnic Russian Crimea overwhelmingly voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia, ethnic-Russians in the east fought back against Neo-nazi violence in the Donbass, Russia stepped in to assist, where they remain.

            The story of Syria is a good deal more sordid like that too. Neither Dems nor repubs are honest about Ukraine or Syria. War war and more war, on false/bs pretenses. Nunes pushes that dumbed down imperialist narrative, but Shiff talks about it with the righteousness of absolute doctrine, as fervent as a preacher.

            • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 11/24/2019 - 05:34 pm.

              Crimea is now occupied by Russia, not Ukraine. Is that fake news? There is no hot war between Ukraine and Russia, then why are we sending military assistance, fake war? Russia ginned up the 2016 elections, so what makes it any different in Ukraine? “everybody does it”!

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 11/22/2019 - 04:45 pm.

      No bias. Just facts.

      • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/23/2019 - 11:31 am.

        Never mind these Russia “facts” have mostly been used to shut down traffic to independent on-line media prone to questioning the official narrative (stealth censorship).

        With all this incessant repeating of the phrase “conspiracy theory” in corporate media, there are already calls for more censorship, and with all the fear about Russia ginned up in these hearings, and the last three years, I expect to hear calls for even more censorship, the closer we come to the 2020 election.

        That is how it usually works. Fear of a foreign adversary used to silence dissenting voices domestically.

        • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 11/24/2019 - 09:30 am.

          “and with all the fear about Russia ginned up in these hearings, and the last three years,”
          “Ginned up” Meaning what, they didn’t interfere in 2016, and they won’t in 2020?

          • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/24/2019 - 10:50 am.

            The rhetoric around Russian Meddling in 2016 is vastly more influential than the actual meddling. It was totally blown out of proportion by the Clinton campaign, the DNC, the FBI and corporate media, as a kind of covert attempt at regime change, totally bought by Dems generally, no evidence actually necessary (can you point to me any actual evidence that Russia meddled to a degree that made Sen Clinton lose? “The intelligence community said” is not evidence). It also served, in a most human way, as a way for Dems to ignore their own failures and policy attitudes that lead to Trump’s election. It also serves the war machine, which would love to make another few trillion on hostilities against Russia.

            Will Russia meddle again? My guess is, not near as much as Dems will claim, esp if they lose 2020.

            • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 11/24/2019 - 05:37 pm.

              “The rhetoric around Russian Meddling in 2016 is vastly more influential than the actual meddling. It was totally blown out of proportion by the Clinton campaign” and the proof for this is where, Breitbart, FOX, or? Seems the US intelligence folks don’t agree with you, fake intelligence folks?

              • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/25/2019 - 08:54 am.

                Independent media has reported extensively on the Clinton Campaign and the DNC hiring Fusion GPS and British Intelligence officer Christopher Steele to write the Steele Dossier to tie Trump to Russia. The dubious findings of the dossier were used by the FBI to appael ti the FISA court so the Obama Admin could spy on the Trump campaign. When Clinton lost that same dubious info and more was made up to slander Trump as an agent of Putin/Russia.

                One of the reasons also, Russia fears were used to force Google to throttle traffic to Independent media, ie stealth censorship.

                All of that should be forthcoming in the Horowitz DOJ Report, the Barr Report, except the part about gov and google censorship.

              • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 11/25/2019 - 08:54 am.

                And Fake 60 minutes reporting? “The Russian Hack”

                • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/25/2019 - 03:05 pm.

                  Yes, It is a full-court press in corporate media to triple and quadruple down on the RussiaRussiaRussia narrative, especially now with it about to be revealed how much energy in 2016-2017 went into making more of the story than there really was, to depose Trump.

    • Submitted by Patrick Tice on 11/22/2019 - 04:47 pm.

      I think if you are talking about traditional conservatives, you are correct. But the current usage of “conservative” encompasses a collection of know-nothings, religious zealots, anti-science crusaders, and conspiracy theorists that really do lower the octane level of the term.

  2. Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 11/22/2019 - 09:00 am.

    May I reply to your observations/assertions, sir? Thank you.

    “..they never, ever mentioned that Trump actually lost the popular vote”

    That’s likely because everyone in the room knew the popular vote is completely irrelevant, and counted on informed audience members to explain it to their less informed friends. I think everyone that is reading your post understands it, though.

    “nor that the entire victory is tainted by the benefits of foreign interference”

    Actually, Fiona Hill touched on that during her testimony. She said Russia had hedged it’s bets so that who ever won (Clinton or Trump) would be tainted by their interference.

    “The witnesses were fabulous.”

    They were as good as they could be (although David Holmes received a well deserved spanking after he gratuitously slandered President Zelensky). That meaning they offered a lot of opinion, but few relevant facts that were helpful to anyone.

    As to the Democrat control of the witness list, well, speaking for myself I didn’t really expect anything else. But as was pointed out, when the circus pulls into the Senate, the log will roll over and we can count on seeing a more complete hearing.

    “I almost feel sorry for the committee Republicans, to be so overmatched.”

    Again, speaking for myself, I don’t think the GOP members need or want your sympathy, sir.

    Speaking for my many conservative friends, we think they did a wonderful job, given the circumstances they were forced to operate in. Besides, your sympathies will be needed by your fellow travelers when the Senate takes control; that I can guarantee.

    • Submitted by George Kimball on 11/22/2019 - 02:06 pm.

      I’ve heard the argument the Democrats could or should use that, if the Senate calls witnesses that weren’t called by the House (e.g Hunter Biden), that the Democrats should recuse or at least advise those potential witnesses NOT to comply (borrow a page from the Republican) playbook unless the witnesses who refused to appear in the House agree to testify in the Senate.

      Seems fair.

    • Submitted by Dennis Litfin on 11/22/2019 - 02:13 pm.

      Ha….Are bewildered Neunes and caustic Jordan the best that the republicans can offer ? If so, republican troubles are deeper than you think.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/23/2019 - 10:47 am.

      In other words, those ‘circumstances’ included a habitual prevaricator committing illegal acts.
      Of course, they could go for the moral high ground and wipe their hands of him, but it appears that the cost is too high.
      As it was said: ” For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
      King James Bible

  3. Submitted by joe smith on 11/22/2019 - 09:26 am.

    What I learned was second hand testimony, hearsay and disgruntled career bureaucrats make for poor witnesses when asked a few blunt questions. One witness for Schiff, Sondlan, actually talked to President Trump and Trump specifically told him no quid pro quo. There was an accusation that Trump demanded a public statement from Ukraine before aid would be released, no statement was ever made but aid was released. No witness for Schiff could explain that. All you had was “that was my assumption “ followed by “that is what I heard from so and so” only to be topped by many “that is how I feel”.
    Bad news for career bureaucrats, their feelings don’t matter. The President sets foreign policy, period. If they didn’t agree with the policy talk to your supervisor to state your grievance, step down or follow the policy.
    Funny what different folks learn from watching the same hearing.

    • Submitted by Mike Chrun on 11/22/2019 - 05:42 pm.

      “Funny what different folks learn from watching the same hearing.”

      Or rather funny what they refuse to learn. Keep telling us how confident you are. Your great leader babbling on and on doesn’t exactly exude cool confidence.

    • Submitted by John Evans on 11/22/2019 - 05:48 pm.

      And yet Sondland admitted that there was absolutely a quid pro quo, and that “everyone was in the loop,” by which he meant the people closest to Trump, who refuse to testify.

      • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 11/25/2019 - 02:21 pm.

        “And yet Sondland admitted that there was absolutely a quid pro quo, and that “everyone was in the loop,”

        Sondland opined that it was his perception there was quid pro quo, and admitted he had absolutely nothing to back it up, ie; “no one on the planet said that to me”.

    • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 11/23/2019 - 04:18 pm.

      Hearsay and second hand testimony is sufficient to support a grand jury indictment so there’s no reason it is not sufficient to support a bill of impeachment. The issue is whether it is sufficient to establish the basis for an accusation that Trump committed a high crime or misdemeanor. Evidently, the Republican argument is going to be “so what?” meaning it’s OK to use the office of the Presidency to extort priceless political contributions from foreign nationals. What’s next? Asking Communist China for cash to the Republican National Committee PAC?

      As far as the aid having been released, you will find I think that it was released after this whistleblower made the complaint and the July 25 telephone call was making the headlines. More cover up like burying the verbatim transcript of the July 25 call.

  4. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 11/22/2019 - 10:05 am.

    Some thoughts:

    With it moving to the Senate, the most uncomfortable person in the room will be Chief Justice Roberts when Rudy Giuliani is subpoenaed and the presiding judge has to rule.

    Looking forward to the president testifying–it should be fun based on his record of previous depositions.

    If the GOP Senate and Trump do not treat this as a serious and substantial matter, it will burn down the GOP.

    • Submitted by richard owens on 11/22/2019 - 04:56 pm.

      What if Rudy simply refuses to appear, same as the Presidents’ witnesses refused House requests to appear?

      Who will have the authority to restore a non-partisan DOJ?

      Nunes, Jordan, Conaway abuse witness after witness without fear of reprisal, nor respect for the experience and loyal records of our finest career professionals. Will thugs win in a mob-like administration?

      The tone is set for warfare and weaponized tales- not honest discovery.

      • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 11/23/2019 - 10:37 am.

        As the presiding officer of the court, Roberts will have the option of ordering Giuliani to appear, or not. But that decision will have to happen in short order from the presiding officer. The refusal to comply with highest court in the land on the part of the witness (on behalf of the defendant) becomes THE constitutional crisis.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/23/2019 - 10:49 am.

        Since Giuliani has no official status, I see no reason why he could not be jailed for contempt until he testifies.

  5. Submitted by BK Anderson on 11/22/2019 - 11:33 am.

    It was a great failure of the Dem party that they did not begin immediately to stigmatize our recent popular vote-losing presidents (in both 2000 and 2016) as being both anti-democratic and without a mandate. This is especially the case now that the conservative movement has come to understand that it can never again obtain a national majority in support of its failed policies, and thus must rely exclusively on the anti-democratic mechanisms of our (failed) constitution. But the inconvenient truth is that presidents who do not (and cannot) win the popular vote command little democratic legitimacy.

    The witnesses were well chosen if one had an interest in determining the facts of Trump’s scheme to abuse his office by coercing baseless announcements of foreign “investigations” into his likely political opponent. He has now demonstrated a clear history and pattern of seeking to obtain and benefit from election interference by foreign governments. Obviously he see this abuse as “smart” and what a “winner” does.

    Clearly the Repub members of the committee had no interest whatever in determining what occurred, and were interested solely in propagating false narratives (as Fiona Hill made plain) and attacking the messenger(s). But Repubs have been a party of bad faith for some time now.

    The timeline of the Trump/Giuliani scheme and the personnel detailed to implement it were painstakingly revealed, even if various witnesses such as Sondland and Volker could not quite bring themselves to utter the final scraps of truth. Thus Sondland had to claim (quite ridiculously) that he “could not recall”[!] a July 26, 2019 telephone call with the president in which Trump wanted to know if Ukraine would “do the investigations”. This was almost certainly a lie on Sondland’s part, but fortunately a patriotic American diplomat was present who could recount the actual language of Trump and Sondland, as well as Sondland’s immediate characterization of Trump’s message. (But perhaps some here think directly hearing all this is “secondhand”, ha-ha)

    The question now becomes whether the House will see the need to waste time jousting for additional testimony with the various sycophants in the WH such as Mulvaney and Pompeo. Or whether Bolton hates Trump enough to wreck his conservative career by testifying truthfully about what he knew of Trump’s Ukraine coercion scheme. Since Mulvaney and Pompeo cannot be seen as credible witnesses, one has to doubt that their testimony would be of any real value, or would add anything.

    And obviously anything out of the mouth of either Trump or Giuliani is and would be a self-serving lie.

  6. Submitted by kurt nelson on 11/22/2019 - 11:45 am.

    I learned that the Republicans on the committee all used the same lame tactic. Pull out the most whiny voice, then talk really fast, and loudly, like their tautology will make a difference – pathetic really, but not surprising.

  7. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 11/22/2019 - 01:27 pm.

    “I have a little more (but still not much) sympathy for the Republican complaint that Democrats controlled the list of witnesses who testified (although Chairman Adam Schiff did call some witnesses whom Republicans asked him to call, it wasn’t up to them which ones, and there weren’t very many).”

    It would have been nice to allow Republicans subpoena power, But there were two problems with that in my opinion. First of all, Republicans have made it clear that they do not recognize subpoena power. They refuse to honor subpoenas issued to Republican officials. That being the case, it doesn’t seem fair to allow them to issue and enforce subpoenas against people who atren’t Republican officials. Secondly, it’s clear enough that Republicans wouldn’t use the subpoena power to advance the proceeding , they just wanted to use to harass the Bidens.

    That said,there was certainly a deal to make here, but no one chose to make it. What a master dealmaker could have done was agree to allow subpoenas of the Bidens in exchange for the honoring of subpoenas by Republican officials. That would have been fair, but as is often the case, fairness doesn’t happen because it lacks a constituency and it doesn’t hire lobbyists.

    What I have been thinking about is the next step. What will happen with subpoena power in Mr. Trump’s senate trial should there be one? Will Democrats have subpoena power? Will the nature and extent of it be determined by CJ Roberts? Will Roberts be able to enforce his rulings? Will his rulings be reversed by a vote of the senators? Who knows?

  8. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 11/22/2019 - 04:11 pm.

    What I learned was that Fiona Hill can run rings around every Republican in the hearing room intellectually, at least when the subject at hand is Russia, its actions and its intentions. Republicans on the committee couldn’t touch the substance of any of her assertions. I also learned that Mr. Sondland, no surprise, is a well-meaning amateur who was involved in national affairs far above his pay grade, though perhaps not his donation level.

    Mr. O’Keefe and Dr. Hill may well be correct in asserting that the Russians hedged their bets so that either / both candidates would be tainted. What Mr. O’Keefe conveniently leaves out of that innuendo is that only one of the two candidates became President. Had Clinton become President, assistance from the Russians in doing so would be just as damning, and just as illegal. Since the electoral college chose her opponent, such assistance to the Clinton campaign becomes moot – unless Mr. O’Keefe thinks both candidates from 2016 should stand trial. That would definitely be interesting.

    Mr. O’Keefe apparently thinks facts need to be helpful. I disagree. They only need to be facts, and the facts offered on Thursday, confirming, as they did, suspicions and assertions made previously, do not cast a favorable light on anyone holding high office in the White House or State Department (or, I might add, the Department of Justice, which is curiously absent from the proceedings, at least so far).

    Like Mr. O’Keefe, I look forward to a Senate trial, though – like most – I think the outcome is something of a foregone conclusion. I’ll be interested in the defenses offered by Mr. Mulvaney, Mr. Pompeo, and Mr. Trump, should they, and especially the latter, testify. I’d have loved to have heard at least Mr. Mulvaney and Mr. Pompeo testify under oath, but I believe it’s the President himself who forbade it – let’s not blame that on the Democrats on the committee.

    I’m sure O’Keefe is correct in asserting that committee Republicans are uninterested in sympathy from a blogger in Minneapolis. That’s too bad. They obviously need help. My thought was that Mr. Nunes and Mr. Jordan are no more than party apparatchiks on their best days, and these were not their best days. They both were overmatched, demonstrating little intellect, firing questions driven, apparently, by lockstep ideology rather than a desire to find out the truth. Mr. Nunes’ affection for the thoroughly (and repeatedly) debunked Ukraine conspiracy theory being but one example.

    Mr. Smith apparently watched different testimony than most of the nation, as I saw and heard Mr. Sondland say, specifically, that “Yes,” there WAS a quid pro quo. If he believes the Presidents’s assertion to the contrary, given the President’s well-deserved reputation for dishonesty, I have some magic beans I’d like to sell him. For his further education, it might be helpful to point out that the aid in question was released AFTER the whistleblower complaint became public. Everyone in the hearing room knew what that meant. One of the things it meant was that a statement was no longer necessary because domestic politics here in the U.S. had caught up with what appears to have been a Trump / Giuliani / Pompeo scheme, making a public statement about a Ukraine investigation into the Bidens awkward, at best.

    Indeed, it IS funny what different folks learn while watching the same events.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 11/24/2019 - 08:05 am.

      No doubt the R members of the committee were all sharing a group text the essence of which was:

      Stop asking Hill questions that require an answer. Her responses are lengthy, articulate and fact filled. Three things that do nothing to advance our cause.

  9. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 11/22/2019 - 04:34 pm.

    I watched the whole thing, start to finish.

    I learned lots of facts: Trump tried to shake down Ukraine’s new President by demanding that he investigate Joe Biden and his son, and a conspiracy theory that it wasn’t Russia but Ukraine that messed in our 2016 election, for Trump’s political advantage in 2020 if Zelenskiy wanted a promised White House meeting and then, the Congressionally-appropriated and Pentagon/State approved defense funding to protect against Russia.

    Quid pro quo. Pure Russian mafia sort of thing, done ad hoc by a strange trio who contradicted official U.S. policy toward Ukraine to do Trump’s bidding. And damn anybody (i.e., Ambassador Yovanovich) or anything (i.e., the new Zelenskiy government’s anti-corruption drive) that might get in Trump’s way. Trump insisted that Ukraine BE corrupt, for him!

    One aspect of this that shows that it was Donald Trump behind the whole thing: Sondland said that it wasn’t so much the investigations Trump demanded from Ukraine. It was an announcement on international TV–CNN–that Ukraine would investigate–they didn’t really have to do them, for Trump to “win.”

    That’s pure TV. That’s what Donald Trump knows. That’s Trump leaving his fingerprints all over this escapade.

    At least the Democrats stayed in the room to listen to the witnesses, which Fiona Hill called out the GOP reps for NOT doing yesterday whe she testified to what she KNEW–not what she “felt” or “believed.” The Republicans so much didn’t want to hear the truth they left the room.

    But lots of Americans are paying attention.

  10. Submitted by John Evans on 11/22/2019 - 06:03 pm.

    I learned that Republican congressmen can repeat Russian talking points with high moral outrage. That appears to be their job description now.

  11. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 11/22/2019 - 06:37 pm.

    The entire “it’s OK to investigate” angle is pretty much done in by Sondland’s testimony that there was no need to investigate, just go on CNN and say there will be an investigation.

    How is that defended as anything other than domestic politics.

  12. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 11/22/2019 - 07:31 pm.

    A headliner from “Spotlight” “Who won impeachment hearings this week?” Strikes at the heart of the problem, America as a country is losing bigly. This is not win-lose this is as Erik stated about discovering the truth and being honest about it. Instead we get folks that would rather use slash and burn strategies to further destroy the country. And yes you see them here in the comments section. No fellow country person truth teller can go with out a proper maligning or smear campaign. Better to burn the entire system and country down than face the truth of the situation. Seems Bloomberg did a nice little piece, link below, so folks this is what you are protecting. Yeah we know its just more conspiracy.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/23/2019 - 10:51 am.

      That’s ‘big league’, a common Noo Yawk expression.
      The one and only time that I’ll defend El Trumpo.

      • Submitted by Jack Lint on 11/25/2019 - 04:48 pm.

        It might be “bigly.” The word dates back to the 13th or 14th century. It survived in areas of Scotland. It’s possible that Trump learned it from his mother who was a Scottish immigrant.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/01/2019 - 02:18 pm.

          Many things are possible.

          from the OED: Ҡ bigly, adj.

          Forms: ME biglie (in a late copy), ME byggly, ME bygly; Scottish pre-17 18 bigly.
          Origin: Formed within English, by derivation. Etymons: big v.1, -ly suffix1.
          Etymology: < big v.1 + -ly suffix1. Compare Old Icelandic byggiligr habitable.
          Obsolete (Scottish in later use).

          " Habitable, fit to dwell in; (hence) pleasant."

          Doesn't look like the way Trump is using it.

  13. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 11/23/2019 - 11:21 am.

    Voters don’t elect our presidents. That’s done by the electoral college. One result of that is that presidents don’t have quite the same political legitimacy as other elected officials in Washington, particularly when the president has lost the popular vote.

  14. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/23/2019 - 12:16 pm.

    Here is a more astute assessment coming from an alternative media voice, Aaron Mate, in The Nation (and the prime takeaway, that these hearings, because they produced no bombshell info, with Sondlunds testimony over-hyped in the extreme, are a real threat to Dems in 2020:

    Impeachment Non-Bombshells Endanger Democrats in 2020:

    The impeachment hearings leave us with a gap between the evidence presented and the maximalist, “bombshell” interpretations drawn from it. That’s nothing new. The same dynamic drove Russiagate for nearly three years until it collapsed. And just like Russiagate, a major driver of Ukrainegate is an underlying hawkish posture toward Russia. It is abundantly clear that witness after witness disagreed with Trump’s decision to briefly freeze the military funding, and firmly believes that the United States should arm Ukraine in its conflict with Russian-backed forces in the Donbass region.

    What is not at all clear is why anyone beyond Beltway war hawks should be enrolled in their Cold War designs. Schiff, the impeachment leader, declared that Ukrainians fighting Russian-backed forces are “fighting our fight too, to defend our country against Russian aggression.” In reality, Ukrainians are fighting a war that the United States helped start by backing the overthrow of a democratically elected Ukrainian government in 2014. President Barack Obama, who bears some responsibility for that war, tried to scale it back by rejecting intense Beltway pressure to send the military funding now at the heart of the impeachment inquiry. Among those national security state voices whose pleas Obama rebuffed was Bill Taylor, the Democrats’ opening witness.

    • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/23/2019 - 12:20 pm.

      And this (Yep):

      Data exclusive to Vanity Fair shows impeachment could be a losing issue for Democrats hoping to recruit Independents in 2020.

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 11/24/2019 - 06:26 am.

        I don’t think polling should determine policy. And bear in mind that our president who is setting policy lost at the polls.

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 11/24/2019 - 09:24 am.

        Yep, new justice system, take a poll, when too many folks don’t like it, don’t enforce the laws, and don’t prosecute the criminals, especially WASP presidents.

        • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/25/2019 - 03:06 pm.

          What laws are you refering to?

          • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 11/26/2019 - 10:48 am.

            Your point inferred was: Dems’ give up on the impeachment because the polls say you are losing votes. Interpretation, impeachment is an investigation of potential “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” but if the polls don’t agree with it, don’t do it, the first derivative then is only investigate crimes after the polls say they agree with you.If it good for the president why isn’t it good for every other American citizen? Or is it that King thing? .

  15. Submitted by Joe Musich on 11/23/2019 - 08:25 pm.

    And now we have this. Mr Nunes oh excuse me Congressman Nunes now must recuse ……

  16. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 11/24/2019 - 06:37 am.

    I saw an interesting article in the Washington Post yesterday that set the Ukraine matter in a broader context of disputes within the National Security Council. Last week we had the benefit of Fiona Hill’s razor sharp analysis so reminiscent of Occam. In her simplified view derived from an epiphany like experience derived from watching Sondland’s testimony, there were two Ukraine policies. One was the conventional American policy toward Ukraine which involved supporting in various ways in various degrees the Ukrainian government generally and in their war with Russia. The other policy, one that hardly anyone bothered to conceal withing the government was to use the Ukraine as a tool to be used against President Trump’s political rivals who were engaged in, in Dr. Hill’s words, “a political errand”. These two policies were certainly different, and in all likelihood, inherently contradictory. The result is what I think of as a rock and a hard place. That is, when the attack is focused on one, the defense is to refer to the other. When we are talking about the hard place, Trump’s defenders and impeachment skeptics say, what we should really be discussing is the rock.

  17. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 11/24/2019 - 08:23 am.

    Hunter Biden! Hunter Biden! Hunter Biden! Hunter Biden!

    Is very much akin to:

    And who is going to pay for the wall?

    Great public talking points gobbled up by Trump nation.

    In private, what does Trump tell the Mexican President?

    I know your not going to pay for the wall; but, in public you have to stop telling everyone your’re not going to pay for it

    And what does Trump communicate to Sondland?

    I don’t care if they really investigate they just need to publicly state they are investigating.

    I guess we know gullibility comes before integrity in the dictionary.

    • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 11/26/2019 - 09:46 am.

      “And what does Trump communicate to Sondland?

      I don’t care if they really investigate they just need to publicly state they are investigating.”

      That, according to Sondland’s sworn testimony is not what Trump told him, sir. According to his sworn testimony, Trump told Sondland to tell the Ukrainian President to “do the right thing; what he campaigned on”.

      IMO, when one has to embellish the record to warrant an argument, it’s time to rethink the argument all together.

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 11/28/2019 - 07:16 am.

        Well sir:

        “SCHIFF: And in order to perform that official act [a meeting in the Oval Office], Donald Trump wanted these two investigations that would help his reelection campaign, correct?

        SONDLAND: I can’t characterize why he wanted them. All I can tell you is this is what we heard from Mr. Giuliani.

        SCHIFF: But he had to get those two investigations if that official act was going to take place, correct?

        SONDLAND: He had to announce the investigations. He didn’t actually have to do them, as I understood it.

        Daniel Goldman, the attorney who did a good chunk of the questioning for the Democratic side, came back to this issue later in the hearing. Here’s the key point:

        GOLDMAN: Giuliani and President Trump didn’t actually care if they did them, right?

        SONDLAND: I never heard, Mr. Goldman, anyone say that the investigations had to start or be completed. The only thing I heard from Mr. Giuliani or otherwise was that they had to be announced. … President Trump presumably, communicated through Mr. Giuliani, wanted the Ukrainians on-record publicly that they were going to do those investigations.

        GOLDMAN: You never heard anyone say that they really wanted them to do the investigations.

        SONDLAND: I didn’t hear either way.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/01/2019 - 02:22 pm.

          An ongoing investigation would be much more help to Trump than a completed one, which would probably turn up nothing illegal on the part of the Biden’s.

  18. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 11/24/2019 - 12:14 pm.

    I learned if you spew information from Trump, Fox, Limbaugh, Hannity, Nunes, Jordan, McConnell etc., all of which have zero credibility, you too have zero credibility.

  19. Submitted by Tim Smith on 11/25/2019 - 11:40 am.

    What I learned is that the dems have no iron clad proof, hearsay and HR gripes more like. and the whole thing is a partisan sham as previously thought.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 11/25/2019 - 06:51 pm.

      And if Hillary did the EXACT same thing you would be outraged and demand impeachment now.

      Please tell me no…

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/26/2019 - 09:04 am.

        They would not demand impeachment.

        They would demand that she be drawn, quartered, and hanged, plus an attainder placed on her. Impeachment, no. That wouldn’t be enough.

      • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 11/26/2019 - 09:41 am.

        In my, and many other’s opinion sir, Hillary did something far more egregious.

        Not only does the factual record prove she cobble together a secret email server to shield her communications from the Freedom of Information Act, she lied about having sent and received classified data on it at least twice, under oath and if that were not bad enough, she instructed her staff to destroy the hard drive to obstruct justice.

        AG Lynch instructed Comey to change the language in his report to remove the statutory definition a criminal act from it. This is not conjecture, sir; it’s all in the record.

        • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 11/27/2019 - 12:24 pm.

          And, where is the record? A super secret server in the White House?

        • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 11/28/2019 - 07:34 am.

          That would be the two wrongs make a right school of thought.

          How about this:

          Future generic D President does pretty much exactly what Trump allegedly has done:

          Using the resources of the US government to enhance their reelection chances.

          The US government has considerable resources.

          Connor: can’t you at least acknowledge the inherent danger if incumbents can use these resources to reduce their opponents chances to best them at the ballot box?

          Can you honestly tell me that is the tables were turned, Jim Jordan would not be arguing with vigor the exact opposite position he is taking now?

          Trump made a bad decision on the Ukraine / Biden affair. It now appears that Biden is not the one to worry about anyway. All of this was unneeded. Let time take it’s course. Look at the Nixon landslide of 1972. Does anyone think that the petty little info gained by the Watergate break in changed the course of the election? Monumental bad judgement by Nixon. Trump is following the same scenario. Corrupt Ukrainian meddling to make a few bucks is found equally distributed on both sides of the political aisle. There is no political hay to be made here: every gain is offset by a loss.

  20. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 11/25/2019 - 04:00 pm.

    What I learned is that the Trump supporters wouldn’t change their mind if they were eye witness’s and ears to the events at hand.

  21. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 11/29/2019 - 12:23 pm.

    Trump is pretty obnoxious, but for a lot of his supporters what his presidency means is that Republicans through their control of the federal judiciary will effectively govern this country for generations.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 11/30/2019 - 05:39 am.

      I believe that the Rs will repeatedly experience what happened with Robert’s and the ObamaCare decision.

      They would like to think Robert’s and all are as partisan as McConnell. Not the case.

      They will see lots of favorable decisions; but, lose some too which they will find more than a little frustrating:

      “Wait, wait! This is supposed to be rigged for us! We was robbed!”

  22. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 11/30/2019 - 10:58 am.

    Roberts, more than the other Republican justices, understands the risk associated with GOP policy. He knows that if Republicans on the courts go too far, the authority of the courts will be rejected by the other two branches. I think this process is well under way, because of the amazingly reckless policy followed by Republican justices. The time of the supremacy of a judiciary of a branch full of lifetime political points is coming to an end, and I think that’s a good thing for the country.

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