6:10 — I don’t know what this is about, but I am not covering the impeachment hearings for six hours a day for six days a week for six to eight weeks! (I will totally cover the impeachment hearings for six hours a day for six days a week for six to eight weeks).
Sources close to Senate Republican leadership say they don’t know what Richard Burr is talking about. Timetable hasn’t been set and McConnell has not been inclined towards a 6-8 week trial. https://t.co/J2GFl9Gijm— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) November 13, 2019
4:55 — Trump is holding a press conference with Turkey’s president, but he only allowed two questions, one from the conservative OANN and one from Fox News. Ahem. John Roberts at least asked him about the new detail we learned today, and Trump was gave a very unconvincing denial.
Trump takes a question from Fox News' John Roberts, who asks about Taylor's new revelation today that a staffer overheard Trump talking about "investigations" on the phone with Sondland. Trump pleads ignorance. pic.twitter.com/WfD5NRc5tg— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 13, 2019
3:20 — This was a lively moment, when Jim Jordan asked again that the whistleblower being interviewed.
And the room erupted in laughter. https://t.co/3WWqiuyvrB— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) November 13, 2019
I love that @EliseStefanik thought she was scoring some big points by asking Schiff to enter the call summary into the record and he’s like “yeah sure whatever.”— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) November 13, 2019
These people are SO BAD at this.
3:05 — While the impeachment hearing has been ongoing, the fifth Department of Homeland Security Secretary under Trump was sworn in. Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolff replaces Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who resigned five weeks ago. He replaced Kirstjen Nielsen who resigned way back in two-thousand-dickety-tick (actually, it was in May of this year).
3:00 — I think that we all know what “I don’t remember” means.
Sidebar: Today, Bill Barr made his first public remarks about The Post's report last week revealing the AG would not comply with Trump's request to hold a news conference clearing him of wrongdoing in Zelensky call.— Andrew deGrandpre (@adegrandpre) November 13, 2019
Barr said he does not remember. https://t.co/HeVvEVOQem
2:40 — Rep. Eric Swalwell asks the necessary question: “Are you a Never Trumper.” “No sir,” says Taylor, while Kent says that he serves whoever is in the White House.
2:07 — Reminder, Jim Jordan helped to cover up the sexual abuse of 177 college students.
Jim Jordan's energy can be best described as "extremely angry former wrestling coach who definitely ignored sexual abuse"— andi zeisler (@andizeisler) November 13, 2019
1:54 — I will note that the crazy guy, Radcliffe, asking the idiotic questions, withdrew his nomination as national intelligence director because it was clear that not even the Senate Republicans would confirm him.
1:45 — I had to step away for a moment. I see that I missed the GOP’s brilliant defense:
Republican Counsel Castor: "This 'irregular channel of diplomacy' — it's not as outlandish as it could be, is that correct?"— Pod Save America (@PodSaveAmerica) November 13, 2019
Bill Taylor: Cool standard, bro. pic.twitter.com/PxzCF9p5C1
And questioning Taylor about conspiracy theories isn’t going to produce a lot of great testomony.
Taylor has no idea how to respond to the conspiracy theories Republican Counsel Steve Castor is alluding to here. Yikes! pic.twitter.com/D8d0Yo0lhq— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 13, 2019
But if you talk really fast, it’s like the President never even committed crimes!
what is even happening here pic.twitter.com/OETzDHDJfA— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 13, 2019
Jim Himes quickly knocks it all down.
12:22 — Watching CNN. I didn’t realize that John King and Dana Bash divorced seven years ago. Meanwhile, I’m using the hearings as an opportunity to update some evergreen content, re-add images, etc., if you’re wondering why you’re seeing some old posts resurface. I’ve now got the “Lava” song stuck in my head because God is cruel.
Also, enjoy this during the break.
Just Bill Taylor saying “Mr. Danylyuk” pic.twitter.com/iVgx0chpdf— Elijah Cone (@ElijahCone) November 13, 2019
12:20 — They’re taking a break,and then the GOP will ask questions.
Goldman with a veiled dig at Trump: "I want to spend some time reading the transcript, as we've been encouraged to do."— David Nakamura (@DavidNakamura) November 13, 2019
READ THE TRANSCRIPT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2019
12:00 — Walter Cronkite is trending on Twitter, because Taylor’s voice reminds everyone of Cronkite’s. That really does speak to his credibility. He is sober, calculating, smart, seemingly impossible to discredit.
This goes beyond gamesmanship and politics as usual. Coverage of this can’t be about Democrats scoring points. What we’re watching is a total indictment of a blatantly criminal presidency. This is a crisis.— Jared Yates Sexton (@JYSexton) November 13, 2019
Meanwhile, Trump is on a blathering retweet spree over on Twitter.
The White House says Trump is busy working and not watching the impeachment hearing. The hearing is also "boring," press secretary Stephanie Grisham says, and Trump has retweeted at least 10 posts about it.— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) November 13, 2019
11:45 — We’re getting our first look at the Democrats’ prosecutor, Daniel Goldman, whose first question is about why Bill Taylor said it was “crazy” to tie military aid to political favors. Taylor tells Goldman that in his decades of experience, he’s never seen aid tied to political favors.
11:34 — That new detail is getting a lot of play today, and it’s the first question that Schiff asks about.
NEW: Taylor discloses that his staff overheard phone call in which Trump asked Sondland about investigations into the Bidens in July— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 13, 2019
Taylor's staff member says Sondland told them that "Trump cares more about the investigations into the Bidens" than anything else re: Ukraine pic.twitter.com/yEaEOzIAMn
Sondland calling Trump on a cellphone from Kyiv is extraordinary for all sorts of reasons. Normally EU Ambos don’t call presidents. They never do so to discuss Ukraine policy. Doing so on a cellphone from Kyiv means whole world was listening in.— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) November 13, 2019
"At the time I gave my deposition on October 22, I was not aware of this information. I am including it here for completeness … I reported this information through counsel to the State Department's Legal Adviser, as well as to counsel for both the Majority and the Minority." https://t.co/2XFflMmkoN— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 13, 2019
So the day after Trump makes the call, Sondland meets w Zelensky aid to close the deal and calls Trump *from the meeting* and Trump is asking about the investigations.— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) November 13, 2019
Might be the most important quote of the entire impeachment process:— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) November 13, 2019
“President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden.” https://t.co/GI4UqTt6qx
11:21 — Ken Starr? THE Ken Starr?
Ken Starr on @FoxNews accusing the Democratic Party of "fostering this culture of impeachment," says censure is the responsible way to discipline a president.— Max Burns (@themaxburns) November 13, 2019
Am I having a goddam stroke?
11:15 — Taylor is making a powerful opening statement, and it is actually being aired on Fox News, for whatever that is worth, although they are doing their best to discredit him.
This is what Fox News thinks its viewers should know about Ambassador Taylor as he begins his testimony, in case you were wondering how they were going to introduce spin into live hearings. pic.twitter.com/XiH20HdvjI— Nicole Hemmer (@pastpunditry) November 13, 2019
The testimony, hwoever, is compelling.
William Taylor: "I encountered an irregular, informal channel of U.S. policymaking with respect to Ukraine, unaccountable to Congress. A channel that included" Kurt Volker, Gordon Sondland, Rick Perry, Mick Mulvaney, and "as I subsequently learned, Mr. Giuliani."— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 13, 2019
What Amb. Taylor is saying, right now, seems as smoking-gun-ish as anything on public record in past few years.— James Fallows (@JamesFallows) November 13, 2019
Sources say this is going so poorly for House Republicans that after a break they’re going to bring in Brett Kavanaugh to scream at everyone.— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) November 13, 2019
11:05 — This is a big deal if the GOP wants to distance Trump from the shenanigans.
This, from William Taylor’s prepared remarks, is new: pic.twitter.com/ZM4P2vknV6— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) November 13, 2019
10:58 — Taylor is going to be a good witness, and I look forward to his response the first time Nunes asks him about some insane conspiracy theory.
William Taylor: "As the Committee is aware, I wrote that withholding security assistance in exchange for help with a domestic political campaign in the United States would be 'crazy.' I believed that then and I believe it now."— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 13, 2019
10:52 — Kent does a solid here by solidly defending three of the witnesses — Vindman, Hill, and Yovanovitch — of the attacks by Trump and his allies.
Kent concludes opening remarks with praise for Amb. Yovanovitch, Lt. Col. Vindman and Dr. Hill who he says have come under "personal attacks." pic.twitter.com/f4hgJI6X7G— Monica Akhtar (@Monica_Akhtar) November 13, 2019
That was quite a statement from George Kent, and an unexpectedly moving close.— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) November 13, 2019
10:50 — SOUNDBITE.
George Kent: "In mid-August, it became clear to me that Giuliani’s efforts to gin up politically-motivated investigations were now infecting U.S. engagement with Ukraine, leveraging President Zelenskyy’s desire for a White House meeting."— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 13, 2019
10:45 — “Here are the main ten themes of my testimony.” George Kent, trying his damndest to put us to sleep. Sober, smart people are great for running bureaucracies. They do not make for compelling figures on TV.
10:42 — I have cleared the cache, so you can actually read the updates! (I’m an idiot)
10:40 — Before the questioning even begins, the Republicans grandstand, again trying to out the whistleblower, which I’d like to think doesn’t play particularly well.
Chairman Schiff: "We will do everything necessary to protect the whistleblower's identity. And I'm disturbed to hear members of the Committee … seek to undermine those protections by outing the whistleblower.— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 13, 2019
10:30 — Oh here we go with Devin Nunes’ opening statement. He brings up the Dems trying to get naked pictures of Trump, which I think is a conspiracy theory. Mostly Nunes is making the argument that Democrats are engaging in a “carefully orchestrated media smear campaign.” I mean, I’m not a Republican, so I don’t know how Republicans think, but Nunes sounds like a crackpot stringing together crackpot conspiracies.
I wonder if this Nunes statement is remotely intelligible to anyone not steeped in Fox News arcana— Michelle Goldberg (@michelleinbklyn) November 13, 2019
It all very much seems beside the point, and the kind of bullshit that’s going to be forgotten as soon as Taylor speaks. I’m sure Trump is happy with the statement, however. “The Russian hoax has passed, and you [Kent and Taylor] have been cast in the low-rent Ukranian sequel.” That’s a good line!
“By undermining the President, who they are supposed to serve, the FBI, State Department, and DOJ has lost the faith of …” What? They don’t serve the President! They serve the country, and the fact members of the FBI, State Department, and DOJ have spoken against the President should speak to just how egregious these offenses are.
What Devin Nunes thinks he looks like vs. what he actually looks like pic.twitter.com/yRZcpZMu5u— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) November 13, 2019
10:20 — Schiff keeps his opening statement fairly simple, outlining the basic facts, and noting that these facts are essentially uncontested. He throws in that John Bolton quote for good measure. “I will not be a part of the whatever drug deal” they are cooking up. Schiff reminds us of the cover-up, but Schiff doesn’t otherwise say anything in his opening statement that we didn’t already know. He throws in Mick Mulvaney’s press conference statement for good measure and notes that the military aid was only released after the whistleblower’s complaint surfaced and Congress began an investigation. Schiff also builds an obstruction case by noting that Trump has refused to allow his administration to participate in the proceedings and that he bullied and insulted those who did. He successfully uses Mick Mulvaney’s “Get over it” line as a refrain in the opening statement.
10 a.m. — I don’t watch much cable news, but I’m watching this morning ahead of the impeachment hearings, and why are they talking about whether Ambassador Taylor is a “Never Trumper.” Why is that a thing? Why does that matter? Even by denying that he’s a “Never Trumper,” CNN is playing right into Trump’s hands by legitimizing the label, by casting the impeachment process as a partisan process. Yes! It is partisan, but that’s only because the Republicans do not care that their leader has violated the Constitution. Why are CNN anchors baiting GOP lawmakers into asking Taylor and Kent if they are “Never Trumpers.” CNN is specifically making this a partisan issue.
Anyway, George Conway is part of the MSNBC coverage now, “reluctantly,” apparently.
Conway has very bad hair. THAT’S WHAT WE SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT.
WATCH: George Conway discusses the US Constitution, President Trump and the president's actions in regard to Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/X0vFOGVKwU— MSNBC (@MSNBC) November 13, 2019
Here we go, folks: The impeachment hearings are set to begin today, which is good because the heat surrounding impeachment has cooled some in the last week or so because the transcripts of testimony didn’t move the needle on public opinion. And above all, this impeachment hearing is about moving public opinion. There is no doubt that Donald Trump committed an impeachable offense, and we’re going to see witness after witness after witness testify to the same damning story.
The question is: Will it matter? Will independents be persuaded? Can the Democrats get public support for impeachment up to 59-60 percent, to a point where Republican Senators start to crack? And the answer is: I don’t know. We’ll see career, non-partisan diplomats outline a story of corruption, of foreign interference, of obstruction, and abuse of power, but will it register with television viewers? Will anyone even be watching the hearings, given that we’re probably not going to learn anything we didn’t already know?
It will be interesting to see how the Republicans in the House handle it. From what I am reading, it looks like they’re not going to deny the damaging testimony provided by the likes of Ambassador Taylor and Assistant Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent, who are very credible witnesses. They’re going to scapegoat Rudy Giuliani and Gordon Sondland. They’re going to try and distance the President from the actions that were taken on his behalf. “Rudy will be cut loose because he was rogue,” a Republican source told Axios.
Giuliani, meanwhile, ran an op-ed in the WSJ this morning, which may have been designed to avoid becoming the scapegoat by saying that what happened wasn’t impeachable, but that he definitely did it at the direction of Trump:
“Mr. Trump requested that Ukraine root out corruption; he didn’t demand it. His words were cordial, agreeable and free of any element of threat or coercion. Mr. Trump offered nothing in return to Ukraine for cleaning up corruption. If you doubt me, read the transcript. Allegations of Burisma-Biden corruption weren’t even a major part of the conversation. The focus was on Ukrainian corruption broadly speaking and out of a five-page transcript Mr. Trump spent only six lines on Joe Biden. … the left’s inability to accept the results of the 2016 election and fear of Mr. Trump’s policy agenda have driven the Democrats into a frenzy.”
It would be really interesting if Trump and the Republicans go full-bore when they throw Rudy under the bus. Could he pull a Michael Cohen and turns on the President? It’ll be a delicate balance, and if Rudy goes down, will he take the President with him?
In case you’re curious how this works, each of the two witnesses will be grilled by Daniel S. Goldman, a lawyer for the Democrats who, according to the Times, “made his bones as a prosecutor by sending mobsters, stock swindlers and a multimillion-dollar inside trader to prison, cases in which colleagues said he mixed brains and “swagger” to win convictions.” He’ll get 45 minutes with each witness, and each lawmaker will get five minutes of questions. Attorney Stephen R. Castor will run point for the Republicans.
This is below the line, but it is worth noting that Trump has considered firing Michael Atkinson, the Inspector General that he appointed, who was also the guy who took the whistleblower complaint to Congress and told them it was credible (that seems like obstruction?). He apparently also wants to fire Mick Mulvaney over his performance in that quid pro quo press conference, but his aides are strongly advising him against doing so during the impeachment hearings. Trump obviously doesn’t want Mulvaney — who was instrumental in freezing aid to Ukraine — on his bad side.
Meanwhile, we still wait to find out if John Bolton is going to be a part of this proceeding.
Header Image Source: Getty Images