Impeachment watch: Schiff blasts Republicans for being mad Trump 'got caught'

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Rep. Adam Schiff says GOP lawmakers aren't bothered by Trump's alleged crimes, only that someone blew the whistle on them.

Tuesday's impeachment hearing ended with a bang, when Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) blasted the House Republican defense of Donald Trump, charging his GOP colleagues with being more upset Trump got caught trying to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, rather than the alleged extortion of an American ally.

"My Republican colleagues, all they seem to be upset about with this is not that the president sought an investigation into his political rival, not that he withheld a White House meeting and $400 million in aid we all passed on a bipartisan basis to pressure Ukraine to do those investigations, their objection is he got caught," Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said. "Their objection is that someone blew the whistle, and they would like this whistleblower identified. And the president wants this whistleblower punished, that's their objection."

Indeed, that was the point Republican lawmakers and their legal counsel continually made during the third public impeachment hearing on Tuesday, demanding the release of the whistleblower's identity and smearing a war hero for coming forward to report his concerns with Trump's behavior.

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In all, it was a bad day for the GOP, whose own witnesses said Trump's behavior was "inappropriate" and that Trump's claim that former Vice President Joe Biden was acting corruptly was not "credible."

The testimony from two GOP witnesses — ex-Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker and former National Security Council aide Tim Morrison — went so badly that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) falsely claimed, in his closing argument, that the two men were actually Democratic witnesses.

Things are unlikely to get better for Republicans on Wednesday, as Gordon Sondland — the U.S. ambassador to the European Union who was overheard having phone calls with Trump about the investigation demand — is testifying.

Multiple reports say the White House is concerned about Sondland's testimony, as Sondland further undermines the argument Republicans have used to date.

Republicans say the witnesses who have testified thus far never had contact with Trump and do not have first-hand accounts of the attempt to pressure Ukraine into investigating Trump's rivals, and thus are not relevant.

Sondland, however, had direct contact with Trump, and is expected to testify that he carried out Trump's demand that the Ukrainians investigate his political rivals.

Here's what else is happening in impeachment news:

  • More bad news came out for the Trump administration, when the New York Times reported on Wednesday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was aware of the pressure campaign against Ukraine and was OK with the plan.
  • The White House publicly attacked Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman — a Purple Heart recipient and top expert on Ukraine who testified that he believed Trump's withholding of military aid was inappropriate — in an effort to discredit his testimony. The attack is shocked many, as Vindman is a current White House employee who now has to work in a White House that has made its disdain for his service known.
  • Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) sent the House Intelligence Committee a letter discussing his own efforts to try to stop Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani's shadow diplomacy efforts. "Given the partisan nature of the delegation, and my continued concerns regarding Giluiani’s pressure campaign, I began to believe that it would be important for me to travel back to Ukraine to express to the new government the dangers of acceding to Giuliani’s requests and getting Ukraine dragged into American domestic politics,” Murphy wrote in his letter. He sent the letter a day after Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) sent a letter to Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee that was rife with conspiracy theories on Ukraine, and without evidence claimed Vindman was trying to take down Trump.

Come back tomorrow for more impeachment news.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.