I’ll let CNN set the stage, then I’ll trade off squibs from CNN, abc news, Bloomberg, wsws.org, foxnews.com, and sputniknews.com, sometimes quite in contrast. I’ve brought some of the videos CNN has on youtube (not that I’ve watched, sorry) in order that we all might be able to see what the various actors in this production look like, sound like, and so on. Spooky Schiff; Taylor? OMG: Desiccated Turtle face or worse?
But lest we believe that Ukraine-gate is a replacement for a failed Russia-gate, this televised hearing put that notion to rest. Also, the House is in a major hurry to get all this finished ahead of the first primaries in…Iowa?‘Most important takeaways from the first day of public impeachment hearings;, cnn.com, Nov. 13, 2019, Chris Cillizza
“The House Intelligence Committee opened historic impeachment hearings Wednesday to investigate whether President Donald Trump (and his allies) abused his office in an attempt to strong-arm Ukraine into opening an inquiry into his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
I monitored the highly anticipated — and hugely high-stakes — hearing as it happened. Below, my thoughts on the biggest moments of the day.”
Please allow me to change the order of the witnesses, as this is the BLOCKBUSTER of the day, as well as the reason you’ll want an Impeachment bumper sticker.
“Bill Taylor’s opening statement is a wow
Taylor, the top US official in Ukraine, delivered a tour-de-force opening statement — packed with details about the formation of an “irregular” channel (led by personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani) with Ukraine that often ran directly counter to his own regular channel and longstanding US policy in the region.
Taylor also laid out an excruciatingly specific timeline of his interactions with, among others, National Security Adviser John Bolton, US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and top Ukrainian officials. In that timeline, he repeatedly made clear that there was a not-very-quiet understanding that military aid from the US to Ukraine was being withheld unless and until the country announced an investigation into Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas company where Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son, sat on the board.
Most stunningly, Taylor recounted an episode that he was told about only after his September 22 closed-door testimony involving Sondland. According to Taylor, Sondland met with a top aide to Zelensky on July 26 — one day after the fateful call between Trump and Zelensky. Sondland then called Trump and informed him of the nature of the meeting and an aide to Taylor heard Trump ask of “the investigations.” Following that call, the Taylor aide asked Sondland what Trump’s thoughts were on Ukraine. Sondland replied that Trump cares more about the Biden investigation than anything else.
“Taylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine, testified about a previously undisclosed exchange between Trump and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, on July 26 — the day after the Trump-Zelenskiy call. Taylor said he learned of Sondland’s conversation with Trump only last week from an embassy staffer.
According to Taylor’s account, Sondland called Trump by mobile phone from a Kyiv restaurant where U.S. officials were dining after meeting with Zelenskiy. Trump was speaking so loudly that one of Taylor’s staff members could hear both sides of the call.
The staffer said Trump asked Sondland about “the investigations.” Taylor understood that term as referring to Trump’s request that Zelenskiy investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and Burisma Holdings, an energy company on whose board Hunter Biden served.
Sondland responded that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.
Taylor said his staff member asked Sondland what Trump thought about Ukraine.
“Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for,” Taylor said.”
wsws: While the anti-Trump section of the corporate media treated this as a “blockbuster” revelation, the timing is more than a little suspicious. Taylor claimed that he learned of this only after he gave his deposition testimony on October 22. That would suggest that his aide—now scheduled to give closed-door testimony Friday—sat on this information for three months, and for an entire month after the beginning of an impeachment inquiry focused on Trump’s role in Ukraine.
“Taylor further claimed, citing a White House budget official, that the order to put US aid to Ukraine on hold came from Trump via his Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. The US diplomat also revealed that according to Zelensky’s advisers, the Ukrainian president didn’t want to become an “instrument” to affect 2020 US Presidential election.”
Somewhere or other I’d grabbed this:
“The U.S. Embassy staffer who overheard the call, political counselor David Holmes, is scheduled to testify Friday before House impeachment investigators in a closed session.”
Devin Nunes turns it up to 11
“If Schiff tried to ground the hearings in history, California Rep. Devin Nunes, the highest-ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, sought to go the gonzo route.
He called the hearings a “pitiful finale” to Democratic attempts to overturn the results of the 2016 election.
He described the closed-door testimony offered by Ukraine witnesses a “cult-like atmosphere.”, yada, yada
More Nunes wsws: “The ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, called the impeachment inquiry a carefully orchestrated smear campaign, begun after the failure of the lengthy media-driven campaign portraying Trump as an agent of Russia, which culminated in the investigation led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller.
He raised three demands on behalf of the Republican minority: that the CIA “whistleblower” whose complaint was the starting point for the impeachment inquiry be called to testify, particularly about his contacts with the Democrats before he filed the complaint with the inspector general of the intelligence community; that the committee hear evidence about alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election to help Hillary Clinton; and that Hunter Biden be called to testify about what he did for four years in return for a $50,000-a-month payment from the big Ukrainian gas company Burisma.
Adam Schiff appeals to history — and the future
“Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s opening statement had a very clear message: These hearings aren’t about just Trump. They’re about how the presidency functions (and should function) within our democracy — and about the checks and balances between the legislative and executive branches built into the Constitution.
“Our answer to these questions will affect not only the future of this presidency, but the future of the presidency itself, and what kind of conduct or misconduct the American people may come to expect from their commander-in-chief,” said Schiff at one point.”
Or: The first day of public, televised hearings on the possible impeachment of President Trump was dominated by denunciations of Russia by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and the first two witnesses, current State Department officials George Kent and William Taylor.
These pronouncements underscore the real nature of the impeachment drive: the Democrats are targeting Trump not for his crimes against immigrants, his attacks on democratic rights or his efforts to build up a racist and fascist movement in America. Instead, they are acting as the representatives and political attorneys for a powerful faction of the national security apparatus that is strongly opposed to Trump on foreign policy issues relating to Russia, Ukraine and the Middle East.
Schiff attacked what he termed the Russian “invasion” of Ukraine, which he said was part of President Vladimir Putin’s effort to “reconstitute a Russian empire.”
Best moment of the day is Via Fox: ‘Adam Schiff to Jim Jordan: ‘I don’t know the identity of the (with video), whistleblower’
“After House Democrats kicked off their impeachment hearings against President Trump on Wednesday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., claimed he has no knowledge of the Ukraine whistleblower’s identity, despite reports of his staff meeting with the person in secret.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio., who was recently reassigned to the committee, interjected to point out that Schiff is the only member of Congress to have spoken with the whistleblower directly and asked that the rest of the chamber be given the same opportunity.”
At the end of the day, the committee tabled a Republican resolution to call the whistleblower as a witness, by a 13-9 party-line vote.
Mark Zuckerberg and youtube will erase any mention of Eric Ciaramellla; the MSM knows his name, but not you Adam?
The geopolitical impact of Trump’s approach to Ukraine
While the focus of Wednesday’s hearing — from members of Congress at least — is what Trump (and his allies) did in regard to Ukraine and the Bidens, both Taylor and George Kent, a State Department official, repeatedly expressed their concerns about the impact of withholding military aid to the country.
Taylor noted that he had traveled to the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine and had seen, directly, the impact of the nearly $400 million in withheld American military aid for the country in its ongoing fight against Russian incursions. Kent, similarly, sought to emphasize how critical Ukraine — and America’s support for Ukraine — was in the ongoing efforts to limit Russia’s advancement in the region. (Russia annexed Crimea, a Ukrainian territory, in 2014.)
The genuine concern expressed by Taylor and Kent is a startling reminder that the pressure campaign organized by the White House had, to these longtime diplomats’ minds, real-world implications not just for Ukraine but for the United States’ interests in the region — and specifically in its dealings with Russia.
In short: This wasn’t just about Trump getting what he wanted on the Bidens from Ukraine. This had real reverberations in American geopolitics.”
Such as this?
Also on Cillizza’s CNN’s page: ‘Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez challenges GOP after impeachment inquiry hearing’, you go, gurl! You may remember that the Bern had cited the need to #ImpeachTrump based on ’emoluments’, too, before he’d clapped for these hearings.
Satire aside, aside, you get the gist. Other testifiers and likely testiliars can be found at the CNN link at the top.
‘The public hearings before the House Intelligence Committee continue Friday with State Department official Marie Yovanovitch, who was removed as ambassador to Ukraine because she was considered an obstacle by Giuliani. Witnesses next week will include Alexander Vindman, Tim Morrison and Fiona Hill, all of the National Security Council, State Department officials Sondland, Volker, David Hale and Jennifer Williams (assigned to work with Vice President Mike Pence) and Pentagon official Laura Cooper. All are testifying under subpoena in defiance of Trump’s orders not to cooperate with the inquiry.’