House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) “blockbuster” impeachment hearing, particularly the first hour, did not appear to live up to the hype.
Republican lawmakers wasted no time, taking advantage of their opportunities and questioning the chairman and the unprecedented power he has brandished throughout the impeachment inquiry thus far.
Here are nine of the GOP’s best moments.
1. Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) questioned Schiff’s subtle plans to snuff out GOP voices, particularly during the first hour of the hearing.
Mr. Chairman, this is our first hearing under these new set of rules. House Resolution 660 gives you the discretion to allow yourself and the Ranking Member periods of extended questions of up to 45 minutes each before other members are allowed to ask questions.
If possible we would like to know the rules of engagement before we get started. Have you made a decision yet as to how many 45 minute rounds you will allow yourself and the Ranking Member?
“I have not,” a visibly irritated Schiff responded. “As we informed the minority yesterday we will see how the first period goes and how much material we are able to get through.”
“At that point the chair will announce the period. If there is a period of the second round, which may be up to 45 minutes or we will go straight to five-minute questions by members,” Schiff added.
2. House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes (D-CA) took a number of veiled shots at Schiff, describing the current impeachment inquiry as an “orchestrated media smear campaign” and specifically called him out for making up a conversation between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky during a committee hearing in September.
Nunes stated in a direct reference to Schiff:
At a prior hearing, Democrats on this committee read out a purely fictitious rendition of the president’s phone call with president Zelensky. They clearly found the real conversation to be insufficient for their impeachment narrative, so they just made up a new one.”
3. Nunes reminded the American people that Schiff’s staffers had contact with the so-called “whistleblower,” despite Schiff’s insistence that he does not know the individual’s identity.
And most egregiously, the staff of Democrats on this committee had discussions with the whistleblower before his or her complaint was submitted to the Inspector General. Republicans can’t get a full account of these contacts because Democrats broke their promise to have the whistleblower testify to this committee. Democrat members hid these contacts from Republicans and then lied about them to the American people on national television.
4. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) called out Schiff for dismissing the GOP’s requests for witnesses – witnesses that include Hunter Biden, Biden’s business partner Devon Archer, Ukrainian American consultant for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Alexandra Chalupa, and Fusion GPS researcher Nellie Ohr.
“Mr. Chairman, when can we anticipate a response to our November 9 letter requesting certain individual witnesses to be called?” she asked.
“The gentlewoman should be aware that three of the witnesses the minority has requested are scheduled for next week,” Schiff responded.
Stefanik reminded Schiff that the scheduled witnesses were his, adding, “What about the additional six witnesses?”
Schiff told her that she could ” inquire about additional witnesses” after the witness testimony.
5. Stefanik also brought Schiff’s behavior in the secret impeachment chamber depositions to the forefront, asking, “Mr. Chairman, will you be prohibiting witnesses from answering members’ questions as you have in the closed-door depositions?”
SCHIFF: The only times I prevented witnesses from answering questions along with our counsel was when it was apparent that members were seeking to out the whistleblower. We will do everything necessary to protect the whistleblower’s identity, and I’m disturbed to hear members of the committee who have in the past voiced strong support for whistleblower protections seek to undermine those protections by outing the whistleblower.
STEFANIK: Mr. Chairman, only one member and their staff–
SCHIFF: (INAUDIBLE) the gentlewoman–
STEFANIK:–on this committee has direct knowledge of the identity of the whistleblower.
SCHIFF: The gentlewoman will suspend. You asked a parliamentary inquiry, and I am responding–or point of order, and I’m responding. We will not permit the outing of the whistleblower, and questions along those lines, counsel will inform their clients not to respond to. If necessary, I will intervene. Otherwise, I want members to feel free to ask any questions they like.
6. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) forced Schiff to address the GOP’s desire to subpoena the “whistleblower” for “a closed-door, secret deposition,” adding that he would prefer that over Schiff making the decision alone.
“I thank the gentleman. It won’t be my single decision,” Schiff said.
“Subpoena the whistleblower,” Conaway said
“It won’t be my single decision. We will entertain a motion to subpoena any witness, but after the witnesses have had an opportunity to testify,” Schiff stated.
7. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) confronted Schiff on the so-called “whistleblower” and asked when they will have the opportunity to speak with the individual.
Do you anticipate when we might vote on the ability to have the whistleblower in front of us, something you–[of] the 435 members of Congress, you are the only member who knows who that individual is and your staff is the only staff of any member of Congress that has had a chance to talk with that individual. We would like that opportunity. When might that happen in this proceeding today?
Schiff denied any knowledge of the identity of the “whistleblower,” despite the fact that his aide had direct contact with the individual before the formal complaint was made:
First, as the gentleman knows that is a false statement; I do not know the identity of the whistleblower and I am determined to make sure that identity is protected. But as I said to Mr. Conaway, you will have an opportunity after the witnesses testify to make a motion to subpoena in the witness and compel a vote. And with that I now recognize the witnesses.
Before I do I want to just emphasize the microphones are sensitive so please speak directly into them. Without objection your written statements will be made part of the record and with that, deputy assistant secretary Kent, you are recognized for your opening statement. Ambassador Taylor, you are recognized immediately thereafter for your opening statement.
8. Nunes called Schiff out for interrupting during the GOP’s line of questioning.
“Are you seriously interrupting our time here?” he asked.
We're not surprised.
Schiff's impeachment circus has been rigged from the start. pic.twitter.com/Zvl3FWaOEO
— Oversight Committee Republicans (@GOPoversight) November 13, 2019
9. Jordan ripped Schiff’s “star witness,” demonstrating the layers upon layers of hearsay that Ambassador Taylor is dependent on.
“Where did you get this clear understanding?” Jordan asked, reading an excerpt of the addendum from U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. Jordan read:
“Ambassador Taylor recalls that Mr. Morrison told Ambassador Taylor that I told Mr. Morrison that I had conveyed this message to Mr. Yermak on September 1, 2019, in connection with Vice President Pence’s visit to Warsaw and a meeting with President Zelensky.”
The grilling continued:
“Ambassador, you weren’t on the call were you?” You didn’t listen in on President Trump’s call and President Zelensky’s call? he asked.
“I did not,” Taylor said.
“You never talked with Chief of Staff Mulvaney?” he asked.
“I never did,” Taylor said.
“You never met the president?” Jordan asked.
“That’s correct,” Taylor confirmed.
“You had three meetings, again, with Zelensky, and it didn’t come up,” Jordan said.
“And two of those – they never heard of about it as far as I know – there was no reason for it to come up, ” Taylor said.
“And President Zelensky never made an announcement,” Jordan said, mocking the Democrats for choosing such a weak “star witness.”
“This is what I can’t believe. And you’re their star witness. You’re their first witness. You’re the guy – you’re the guy. Based on this, based on – I mean, I’ve seen church prayer chains that are easier to understand than this.”
Schiff closed the hearing, lambasting GOP lawmakers for repeatedly suggesting that he knows the identity of the “whistleblower.”
“Some of my colleagues made the statement repeatedly that I met with the whistleblower, that I know who the whistleblower is,” he stated.
“It was false the first time they said [it]. It was false the second through 40th time they said it, and it will be false the last time they say it. With that, this concludes this portion of the hearing,” he added.
#NEW: House Intelligence CMTE chairman Rep. Adam Schiffconcludes today's open impeachment hearings by saying GOP claims that he met the whistleblower or knows the individual's identity are false. pic.twitter.com/4Kz8fbSFyr
— Jennifer Franco (@jennfranconews) November 13, 2019