Storify: Impeachment Hearings


Okay, I'm going to try to live-tweet the Impeachment Hearings.

I'm coming in late because I had tech problems on my end. Chairman Schiff is outlining the concerns in a thoughtful manner. "The president has instructed witnesses to ignore subpoenas and refuse to appear." (All quotes from me are subject to user error; the feed isn't closed-captioned.) "If we find that the president abused his power ... must we simply 'Get Over It'? Is this what Americans should now expect? If this is not impeachable conduct, what is?" --Schiff

I haven't heard Schiff speak before; he's a very effective public speaker so far. Calm and measured, thoughtful, not grand-standing. Nunes is talking now. He, uh, strikes an immediate awful contrast to Schiff's calm. He's blasting Democrats for "smearing any Republican who ever shook hands with a Russian." Nunes is playing to the base and I don't know how well that will work. Instead of answering Schiff's thoughtful charges, he's complaining that Dems tried to obtain "nude photos" of Trump from Russians.

Nunes: "This is a carefully orchestrated media smear ... the witnesses were put through a closed-door selection process in a cult-like atmosphere." Nunes is insisting there shouldn't be an impeachment discussions until they determine "the extent of [Dem] discussion with the whistleblower" and what Biden's son was hired for. And something about whether Biden's son's job... impacted the Obama administration? I... I don't know. "Elements of the civil service have decided that THEY, and not the president, are in charge." --Nunes

The way he talks about the president is like he's a king, which is obviously super healthy and good for any functioning democracy. "This spectacle is doing great damage to our country; it's nothing more than an impeachment process in search of a crime." --Nunes

...Bill Clinton, prepare to be relevant again.

Schiff is talking again and introducing the first witness: William Taylor, who sounds like his credentials are impeccable. Non-partisan ambassador and, I think, a veteran. The second witness is George Kent, a State Department official. I didn't catch his resume. Rep. Stefanik comes out with some aggressive questions about whether Schiff will prevent witnesses from answering questions. He looks annoyed and says he's only ever done so to protect the whistleblower's identity. Stefanik keeps trying to interrupt and talk over Schiff, which is a no-no. He tells her that questions re: the whistleblower's identity is not a topic for questioning.

Conaway tries to interrupt and is (rightly) shut down until the chair recognizes him. He wants the whistleblower (WB) brought in for closed door questioning. Schiff says they'll think about it LATER. Jordan is insisting a time/date on when he'll be allowed to know the WB's identity. Schiff says they can subpoena witnesses after these witnesses talk. The Rs are so clearly playing for the camera, sigh. Kent says he's served under 5 presidents and is here as a non-partisan. His entire family and legacy is as veterans, judges, and so forth. That's great but also sad that this is necessary.

I think the weak point here is that The American Relationship With The Ukraine is kind of confusing to a lot of people, whereas blow jobs in the oval office are pretty simple to explain. Kent is doing his best. Kent says we need a whole free Ukraine but that various areas on the map are now held by Russia. "America's support in Ukraine's de facto war of independence has been crucial." He's drawing comparisons to the American Revolution. Talks about how much money we've given them, like France and Lafayette to us.

Kent says he doesn't believe America should ask other countries to investigate opponents of those in power, as it undermines the rule of law. He says he himself opposed Hunter Biden's job as he was concerned about the appearance. But then Rudy Giuliani tried to gin up political interference over it. Kent talks about the corruption involved in RG's actions. It's kinda dense to summarize. Taylor is up now and here to talk about the importance of the Ukraine to America; he stresses he isn't here with an opinion on impeachment. He's non-partisan, etc.

"It is clearly in our national interest to deter Russian aggression [against the Ukraine]....Withholding security assistance in exchange for [campaign] help would be crazy". --Taylor

Phew, Taylor is just laying into Russia and Putin. He brought an entire thesaurus of anger with him. "14,000 Ukrainians have died in Donbass and more die each week." Taylor is doing an amazing job laying out Ukraine as a "rag tag army" resisting oppression and defending freedom with the aid of a lot of American money. He points out the Trump administration *strengthened* our Ukraine support after Obama left office. Taylor arrived in the Ukraine and was alarmed to find there was a whole layer of authority aside from the State Department, including Rudy Giuliani and Perry.

Ukraine President Zelensky wanted to meet with Trump (as offered by Trump in an official statement) but Trump wanted him to call first. Taylor was told that Trump needed certain "cooperation" before he would meet with Zelensky. "I did not understand what this meant." Taylor says it became clear that the meeting hinged on investigation into Burisma (the gas company Hunter Biden sat on the board of) and purported 2016 election interference. Taylor was informed there was a "hold" on security assistance to the Ukraine. "I and others sat in astonishment. Ukrainians were fighting Russians and counted on US support."

He was informed the hold came direct from the president, and felt this was directly against long-standing US policy and interests. Taylor is good at this; his speaking voice is interesting, he's making this accessible, and he's perfected that "non-partisan but pissed" voice that is compelling to the listener. Oh my god, they texted him on WhatsApp that the White House meeting hinged on the investigations. I can't. I gotta take a second. Taylor was not included on the call which the WB brought up; he didn't see the notes on the call until it was publicly released. He was informed the call "could've gone better." Barr and Giuliani were named.

He brings up, again, how crucial American assistance is to the Ukraine -- people are dying without it. By August, "security assistance had been withheld for over a month due to no reason I could discern." Taylor was informed that the Burisma investigation was mandatory for BOTH the White House meeting AND the security assistance funds. Taylor was told Trump said it was "not a quid pro quo" but rather that Zelensky "should want to do this". Taylor is repeatedly told that Trump is a businessman and businessmen don't write checks to people who owe them money. Taylor insists the Ukrainians don't "owe" us or Trump anything, let alone campaign assistance.

This is just appalling. So many people have been involved in this; why does the identity of one whistleblower even matter? He points out that we are morally obliged to support Ukraine and that this has always been a non-partisan American goal. Taylor and Kent will now take questions. Schiff gets four whole words out before someone tries to interrupt. He barrels over them. Schiff makes sure a few things are underlined: Taylor's staff overheard Trump asking about the investigations + why Ukraine support is so important + how Russia is a threat. I don't really understand how this can be spun as anything other than a quid pro quo. Counsel has text messages backing up what Taylor testified.

A public clarification that it's "Ukraine" and not "the Ukraine". I did that several times upthread and apologize for the error. The difference is important, as has been noted in replies to this thread (and retweeted). This whole thing is actually terribly depressing and I regret my earlier flippant Hamilton gif upthread; people are dying over this and it is awful. Like, it's easy to focus on this as an American from an impeachment perspective, but at the end of the day, the charges are that human lives were lost because our leader wanted dirt on a political rival. That is sobering.

Kent says, to his knowledge there is "no factual basis" for the allegations that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 elections (allegedly on behalf of Hillary Clinton). Kent says "it is amply clear that Russian interference in the 2016 election cycle [occurred]." Kent says Hunter Biden acted in Ukraine in accordance with US policy and that to his knowledge the allegations against Hunter Biden are untrue. Since these are the questions Nunes wanted answered before we can talk impeachment, I'm sure he's okay now. Counsel points out the direct link between Zelensky thanking Trump for assistance and Trump's immediate follow-up that he "wanted a favor, though". (His words.)

After a recess, Nunes gets 45 minutes. He's already used the word "nefarious". Nunes claims that the Democrats made up a fake version of the phone call. Nunes further claims that if Zelensky didn't know about the hold on assistance, then a quid pro quo is impossible. But the "favor" was in response to thanks for the assistance, not discussion of the hold. "Democrats downplay [evidence] that Ukraine did meddle in the election." Kent just testified they did not. Nunes is claiming that it made sense for Trump to send "his personal attorney" since the election meddling was against "his campaign." That's...not how...this works.

Nunes sneers at Kent saying he'll "skip him" since he was not concerned about Ukrainian meddling in the election. Steve Castor is trying to insist that the "irregular channel" of Giuliani and Perry is reasonable, again apparently from an excess of enthusiasm rather than anything problematic. Castor demands to know why Taylor didn't try to "wrest control" from the irregular channel. How was he meant to wrest control from an unelected, personal lawyer of the President?

Taylor: "I was concerned by Rudy Giuliani's involvement."
Castor: "Have you ever met Rudy Giuliani?"

Castor is implying that if this were serious enough to impeach the president over, then Taylor should have done something more than threaten to resign (which he did).

Taylor: "I raised concerns ... It struck me as unusual that [meetings] did not include the normal staff."
Castor: "You didn't have any issue at this time?"
Taylor: [meticulously outlines red flags]
Castor: "Mmhmm. You didn't have any issue with that?"
Taylor: "There were references to 'investigations'. That was a little bit of a concern."

Castor just used the phrase "this corrupt Burisma outfit" as quickly as possible and Taylor is frowning and asking him to ask the question again. They're going to paint Taylor as faltering and therefore confused or frail, but Castor is rapid-firing questions which are deliberately poorly worded, unclear, and labyrinthine. (This is why "just debate me" isn't really a good idea for political engagement; it's very easy to ask smart-sounding questions that are utterly nonsensical.)

Castor's time has expired and I breathed a sigh of relief. Schiff is going to calmly set the record straight on one thing: the Hunter Biden stuff, if it happened, was over 7 years ago. "Was there any mention of Trump" by the oligarch who was in charge during the alleged Biden events? "No."

Schiff: "The president brings up CloudStrike--the server--and the Bidens. There was no discussion of setting up an anti-corruption force or looking into corruption in general; the President was just focused on the Bidens and 2016?"
Kent: "Yes."

Schiff points out what Kent said earlier: that seeking an investigation against the Bidens at this time equals seeking an investigation against a political opponent. Schiff has Taylor clarify that Trump was interested in "the Bidens", not the oligarch mentioned nor that 7 year period in general. (I.e., he wasn't just cleaning house for Ukrainian corruption from years back.)

Nunes is asking why Trump would ask a country "he doesn't even like" to investigate the Bidens. Nunes yields his time to Jordan, who is talking *really* fast. My read of this hearing is that Kent, Taylor, and Schiff come off as thoughtful, measured, and trying to explain things to a layman audience. In contrast, Castor, Nunes, and Jordan are fast-talking to play to hardcore supporters. I don't know how well that will play with people on the fence; they sound like the stereotypical used car salesman.

Jordan appears to be making the case that since Zelensky didn't fold in public the way Trump wanted, therefore Trump didn't get what he asked for, therefore everything is fine. Jordan is just slinging around "Zelensky, Zelensky" and Taylor politely corrected him to say "President Zelensky" because our diplomatic ties actually matter. Less than a minute later, Jordan is saying "Zelensky" again and accusing Taylor of being a bad "star witness". Phew. Taylor is protesting the label of "star witness", repeating that he is here in a non-partisan capacity to speak to what happened regardless of side.

Himes is pointing out that the Republicans haven't addressed *any* of the evidence or allegations, and instead are just smearing Ukraine as corrupt and claiming Trump was trying to address that corruption in a generalized manner. Himes asks Kent to outline what a generalized anti-corruption push would look like. Again, we're back to the slow, thoughtful discussion rather than the rapid-fire "yes? no? yes? no?" stuff from the Republicans. Oh, HIMES.

Following a nuanced answer as to what an anti-corruption push needs, Himes reads Trump's own words from the call: "There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the Atty Gen would be great." Obviously absolutely none of that has to do with Kent's answer re: what real anti-corruption would look like, and makes it clear what the real focus was: Biden. (I feel like I must point out here that (a) there is no evidence Biden did anything wrong but (b) I still resent that a VP's son can basically get a totally legal, totally non-corrupt cushy board job just because. Sigh. Like, I know that's beside the point and even risks playing into the R's hands, but it's the elephant in the room here: the Bidens can be both innocent and disgustingly privileged at the same time.)

Himes: "Do you think President Trump was trying to end corruption in Ukraine?"
Kent: "No."

Ratcliffe (Tx) is up to talk again. He's asking about President Zelensky's "honesty and integrity". Because President Zelensky is honest and because he has repeatedly said he wasn't being blackmailed, therefore (Ratcliffe is trying to insist) Trump wasn't *trying* to blackmail him. "Where is the impeachable offense?" Taylor tries to answer and Ratcliffe throws a fit, claiming he is running out of time. "I withdraw the question!" Ratcliffe yells, trying to prevent Taylor from answering. "I think everyone knows House Democrats have made up their minds to impeach one president. ...They'll have to call President Zelensky a liar to do it." --Ratcliffe

I hope someone points out that Trump could have been trying to extort President Zelensky ineptly. Schiff is pointing out that President Zelensky's statements were made before he was made aware of a hold on financial assistance -- therefore, not a lie at that time, just unaware.

Sewell is asking about Giuliani. "Was it normal to have a private citizen take an active role in foreign policy?"
Kent: "No."
Taylor: "It is NOT normal. It's not unusual for people to give opinions, but it is not normal for them to have input particularly when it is contrary to US policy."

Turner (R) asks possibly the most ridiculous question I've ever heard: He finds it amazing that Kent and Taylor are key witnesses in an impeachment hearing against a person they've never met. (Trump) Turner is saying that Taylor's testimony should be discarded because it's about things "he heard" and those things could have been "not true".

Turner: "Since you learned it from others, you could be wrong."
Taylor: "I am here to tell you what I know."

Schiff points out how foolish it would be for President Zelensky to contradict Trump when his people are *dying* from lack of American aid. And that, furthermore, for President Zelensky to agree he was being pressured would have made him seem to be deferring to a foreign power: a thing Ukrainian people reasonably expect him not to do. Stewart is pointing out that the Obama administration did not provide "lethal aid", just blankets and tanks, and lives were lost. (Then what did Hunter Biden supposedly get them??) Stewart is... trying to claim that Obama told Russia they could march into Ukraine during the Obama administration. That has... nothing to do with this, even if somehow true.

While I reboot my computer and run to the bathroom, I'll just leave my tip jar here if this has been useful to anyone / any news outlets. Welp, I've completely lost the feed. Maybe too many users on the system? Switched over to NBC news. Looks like they're voting on whether to subpoena the whistleblower, shit. Oh, looks like they voted to table the motion. Schiff adjourned the meeting. Okay, good. We lost the hour and half that I was behind, I'm so sorry. I had to pause a lot and rewind for hearing. NBC is making the point that there's literally no point to bring in the whistleblower, and that direct evidence and witnesses are being blocked from testifying.

Vox is now stating that the recorded video will be available soon, so it may be possible to pick that back up.


Good morning. An elected official, Nunes, has just said that "the media" is "a puppet of the Democrat party". One of the papers listed was The Guardian, so Nunes is apparently alleging that the Democrat party controls even foreign press. Nunes has doubled down, repeating that the media "are free to act as Democrats' puppets and follow the commands of their puppet-masters." This is alarming and not normal. I don't know how to put it any other way.

Vindman is shaking and his voice wavers. I don't know if he's emotional or frightened but I feel for him. Vindman's testimony is that he was deeply disturbed by Trump's "demand" of the President of Ukraine. Williams and Vindman both remember Burisma (the gas company Hunter Biden worked for) mentioned on the call. The word does not appear in the "transcript" released to the public.

Vindman testifies that:
- there's no credible evidence that Hunter did anything wrong.
- there's no credible evidence that Ukraine meddled in the election.
- the entire intelligence community agrees that Russia did meddle in the election.

Williams testifies that she was uncomfortable by the clear request to investigate the Bidens as he is a political rival to the President. Vindman: "I speak Russian and Ukrainian. And a little English." The room chuckles. That was charming. There is actually a military plan in place to whisk Vindman and his family to safety because they fear for his life, apparently, and that's afaik unprecedented. Vindman is testifying re: how the call recording ended up on a highly classified system to prevent the likelihood of it being leaked. (This is kind of a big deal; it means damning evidence is being placed on systems it shouldn't be placed on just to bury it. I believe the Republican line has been that the call was filed incorrectly by accident.)

The best analogy I can give is that this is like hiding dildos in the oven so your mom won't find them when she opens a nightstand drawer. Dildos do not go in ovens and this is an attempt at secrecy. It's very clear that Vindman made multiple attempts to stop the bad behavior. This is important because the Day 1 Republican line was that the witnesses hadn't sufficiently made their concerns known. The fact that Vindman spoke up several times to say this was wrong means the Republicans can't claim this was all just enthusiastic incompetence.

Williams is clearly deeply uncomfortable testifying and she alluded to probably being a Republican earlier. Her testimony will be hard to discredit. Predict the Rs will just ignore her. Credit to Schiff for setting these up the way he did. Republicans mocked him for not having firsthand witnesses on Day 1, but he's been carefully building context before this slam dunk.

Nunes is talking again. Here we go. He's trying to use his cross examination to enter into the record things that Williams doesn't know but which he hopes sounds damning to the Bidens. "Did you know about Ukraine efforts against Trump" is worrying when he means "someone criticized Trump for saying something inflammatory".

I continue to be furious with Joe and Hunter Biden for even making all this possible. There is no credible evidence they did anything WRONG, but there's plenty of credible evidence they were careless, in my opinion. None of which makes it ok for the President to hold assistance funds hostage while his rival is investigated, guilty or innocent. Nunes is attempting to out the whistle blower by tracking where the information went. Schiff shut him down. Nunes is pressing the issue. He's trying to force Vindman to testify to who he told OR "plead the fifth". Council and Schiff are arguing with Nunes. It would be inappropriate and utterly discrediting (to many audiences) if Vindman pled the fifth here, so Schiff did well to shut that down.

Vindman also had to correct Nunes on his title. That's had to happen several times over these hearings. I wonder if they're hoping some people will assume Vindman was a whistle blower. The spin now is that Trump is just really worried about American money being spent wisely, so he's worried about general Ukrainian corruption. This was dealt with on Day 1. They really want to litigate the Biden allegations, which of course is an affirmative defense: like, yes, the President held funds hostage for political gain but he was correct so it's fine. This, of course, will not be ok for Democrats to do when they take office. It should alarm folks.

Williams may be a Republican but she's not a pushover. She's corrected Castor several times to keep him from running over her. I think she's politely pissed. I would be, too. It feels like they're politely asking her if she'd mind throwing herself under the bus and her mood is that Castor is cordially invited to fuck himself. But that's just my read. Castor is implying that Vindman has a chip on his shoulder because he wasn't included in a trip. Castor is now trying to discredit Vindman because he received, turned down, and properly and promptly reported a job offer from Ukraine.

This is making me angry. By all accounts, Vindman is squeaky clean and followed the rules in every way. But Castor needs him to be dirty. We're in recess. I need a drink. If anyone wants to buy me a shot of cranberry juice, now is the time, lol. Thank you. Oh my god, the recess interviews with Republicans are giving me hives. "I can offer an opinion based on no facts but then I'd be no better than these witnesses."

Schiff was smart to pair these two. Vindman is the star but Williams has confirmed everything he's said despite the fact that she's clearly Republican. She can't be painted as partisan, which means HE can't be. The Republican position is that the President can do whatever he wants and the President was "more informed" than these two. So we're not gonna pull a Reagan and claim underlings did the thing while the President was unaware of it.

Jordan is...I think...accusing Vindman of being a leak risk. This is astounding. Vindman came prepared with a glowing supervisor review calling him "brilliant" and a "top 1% military officer". Jordan is pointing out that only Vindman has refused to say who he talked to about the call. They're really trying to nail down the whistle blower. THE WHISTLE BLOWER DOES NOT MATTER. HAVE YOU NO DECENCY. Williams and Vindman are both having to deny being Never Trumpers. Speaking of, Himes is going there with full Welch: he's calling out the Republicans for implying Vindman is a traitor just because he wasn't born here.

Dems are explaining how important it is that the White House not manipulate foreign governments. Republicans seem to be suggesting that actually that's great. Stewart is negging Vindman for showing up in uniform + for correcting Castor from "mister" to his title. Vindman is politely shutting him down. Why don't Republicans support the troops? Stewart says the President's orders aren't "orders" because he's never been in the military. But also.....He's the commander in chief and is supposed to be obeyed, per Republicans. This is so stressful.

The president's belief that Ukraine interfered in 2016 is described as a "debunked conspiracy theory that Putin has pushed". Castro-D (not Castor-R) talks about how detrimental it is that Trump is listening to Russian myths over the truth from the intelligence community. Castro plainly reads Trump's remarks on the call and asks whether this sounds like a thoughtful anti-corruption push or an attempt to go after a rival.

Vindman points out that Ukraine could feel pressured by their need for US support to "find [for the President] a US citizen guilty if they felt they needed to."
Castro: "Trump up charges?"
Vindman: "Certainly."

Ratcliffe is trying to get Williams to characterize the President's words as a request rather than a demand. Williams is refusing to help him and tells him to read the transcript instead. Ratcliffe says they can't impeach if Williams and Vindman can't agree on whether the call was a demand or not. Jordan is still trying to out the whistle blower. Vindman is so patient. He's getting frustrated while I'm about to blow a capillary.

Heck-D is pointing out that the White House Twitter account is currently attacking Vindman's service and that our constitution is imperiled. Jordan is accusing the Democrats of rejecting the will of "the American people". He's spinning a conspiracy theory. Welch is pointing out that not one Republican has said whether it's ok for the President to ask a foreign government to investigate his rivals. Welch *invites* Trump to investigate Biden--just not via a foreign government which feels beholden to provide a specific answer.

Maloney points out that Republicans have cast aspersions on Vindman's loyalty yet haven't contradicted one iota of his actual testimony. "You heard the call with your own ears, am I right?"
Vindman and Williams: "Yes."
Maloney: "You went immediately and you reported it. Why?"
Vindman: "Because that was my duty."
Maloney: "You're putting yourself in opposition to the most powerful person in the world. Are you aware of that, sir?"
Vindman: "Congressman, this is America. Here, what is right MATTERS."

Just to recap, Vindman took a bomb blast in Iraq, didn't even consider leaving active duty, and isn't afraid of Trump or Putin because he thinks this is the right thing to do. Republicans are in a tight spot here. And I hate that this even matters? That witnesses need to vow they don't have any politics and need to bleed apple pie? But this witness bleeds apple pie.

Krishinamoorthi calls out Fox for implying Vindman is a traitor since he's an immigrant. I need to point out that the Republicans are calling Democrats puppet masters and all sorts of traitorous things. The Democrats are restraining from returning in kind. The media NEEDS to call out the radical difference here. Schiff is pointing out the the funds were released BECAUSE the whistle blower came forward, and that the President wants to hurt the whistle blower. The Republicans want credit for the extortion being brought to light and failed, therefore there's no crime. Schiff calls that out as ridiculous. Then closes the session. I'm emotionally exhausted. I hope this helped. Bless you all.

I was led to believe there would be time for a nap, dammit. The Republicans own witnesses seem really displeased to be here. Watching the Republicans read Trump's own phone call is surreal. They can't possibly think this is fine. Republicans ask Volker why it's not in America's national interests to ruin relations with Ukraine in order to pursue a discredited conspiracy theory. Volker looks stunned. Oh wait, I think that was a Dem who knew exactly what he was doing. Sorry, there's a LOT of faces.

Castor really wants to keep throwing out that sometimes funds are just held up for no reason. Volker is testifying that Trump went off on a rant about how Ukrainians are all corrupt and don't like him and "tried to take him down". Castor talks about how the President is "skeptical of foreign aid generally" and wants to make sure "the American people get their money's worth." There's something vile about that repeated phrase, I think because it's centering The American People over any more generalized ideal of efficient spending.

There's a concerted effort to portray Ukraine as a drain, a beggar with their hat in hand, and to cast Trump as an unsentimental man making Tough Choices to cut off the flow of funds. Or, more subtly, to demand the Ukrainians "work" for the money--hence the Burisma investigations. I keep coming back to the Day 1 testimony in which a witness had to assert that Ukraine doesn't owe us anything. My fear is that will be what causes America to yawn: that too many people won't care that "tax money" didn't go to non-Americans who needed it.

Volker is testifying that he, personally, is not guilty of bribery or extortion. Helpful Republican witness is helpful. Morrison is insisting it was a mistake to file the call recording on the classified system, rather than deliberate. That's.....not the sort of mistake which is supposed to happen? Castor and Morrison are trying to throw Vindman under the bus. Given that these two sound slimy and Vindman came off like a clean, exemplary officer......seems like a bad idea.

Morrison is trying to portray Vindman as meddling and needing to be more involved than Morrison required of him. Given that one of Vindman's listed concerns is Morrison meeting one on one with people... uh. I wouldn't trust Morrison to meet one on one with people either, and I've only known of him for a few hours. Oh my god, Volker is saying it's FINE for Rudy to be involved as a private citizen BECAUSE he wasn't in an elected office. We're in Wonderland. Thank god for the recess, I need a drink and a couch.

They're talking again. I can't deal with how many Republicans keep repeating "the President said 'no quid pro quo'," as though that's proof of something. Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest BUT NO MURDER THO. (Come for the hearings, stay for the history nerd.) Conaway is griping about the whistle blower AGAIN. What do they claim the whistle blower can even add at this point? We have DIRECT TESTIMONY from people on the phone call.

The Dem lady whose name I didn't catch just sat Volker down and explained to him that this is serious and he can't keep doing this golly gosh act. Sewell, thank you, is her name. I adore her. She doesn't talk long but she gently leads them to the truth. I can't help but feel Volker and Morrison are going down with this ship. They just don't seem to have realized they're the expendable link here. Like, SOMEONE is gonna get thrown under a bus. Williams politely declined to fling herself this morning. Do these boys have a plan??

Wenstrup is stating that the intelligence community which debunked the hoax that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election are the same people who meddled...for the...Russians. What. Wenstrup's voice is giving me a headache. Speier-D calling Morrison out for him implying Vindman is a liar. Stewart-R is trying to insist that the hearings are "boring". Sorry we aren't entertaining you, buddy. Stewart wants to know whether anyone who runs for President should be immune to investigation. I cannot. He also asks why Obama didn't provide lethal aid to Ukraine. Because that's relevant right now, lolsob.

The thing is, the hearings ARE boring because it's pretty clear what happened but Republicans are determined to keep waving their arms and saying "but but but" a lot. Schiff is just inhuman levels of patience. I aspire to be this man. Stalwell-D is hammering Morrison on some of his contradictions and I think everyone here needs a nap. Stalwell got a murmur when he asked Volker "is Russia a corrupt country?" Volker hesitantly says yes.

Heck is a DELIGHT. He's laughing in a very gallows humor way at the Republicans on the committee and I'm right there with him. Then he turns serious. He feels genuine. Ok, we have to come to grips with the fact that Jordan *always* sounds rapid-fire. Schiff is defining bribery in a political context. Good. The Republicans probably didn't call Volker with intent for him to say it was wrong of the President to withhold funds. But here we are. Schiff is defending the whistle blower now. "The President wants to punish the whistle blower." He carefully lays out why Americans should care about this. "People are dying. Are we prepared to accept a president to have the ability to leverage military assistance to investigate political rivals?"


"Was there a quid pro quo? As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes." This is from the witness the Republicans *thought* would clear him of everything. I'm shaken. THIS WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN.

Castor: "You believed the President when he said 'no quid pro quo', right?"
Sondland: "I'm not going to answer that and say whether I did or didn't believe him."

CSpan is taking calls from Average Americans and I had to mute the feed. At least one of them admitted he didn't vote and the other is trying to plug his own podcast he's planning to make. The talking points are that the Dems aren't allowing the Republicans to call any witnesses, which doesn't make sense because they explicitly have. Sondland just looks *gleeful*. Schiff is clarifying things with him. He looks very pleased.

Himes is having to substitute "don't give a fig" for "don't give a fuck" and this troubles me. Say what was said. Jim Jordan is filibustering demanding to know why Sondland didn't include "I want nothing" in his opening statement. The obvious answer is that Sondland didn't believe him. Sewell is following up on that and allowing him to actually answer. Now she defines bribery. She's such a good speaker. Sondland looking like Sewell is finally getting through to him that he's very likely going to prison over this. He's stopped grinning like a Muppet.

Turner-R is literally screaming about the press. Schiff is so impossibly calm. How the hell is this man so calm after having to hear Jim Jordan every day. Venstrop-R is at least calm. His position is basically that we have to take Trump at his word and Sondland's read of the situation is unreliable. Conaway is telling Sondland about a boycott of his hotels, I think. Wild. Speier-D is pointing out the whistle blower rules. Conaway tries to call her a liar ("three Pinocchios") and she points out Trump "has five Pinocchios on a daily basis." The room APPLAUDS and Conaway fumes.

Stewart-R is nigh almost weeping at how unfair the country has been to President Trump, truly the most maligned president. Stewart bragging he had to "look up extortion, I'm not a lawyer and didn't know what it means." Brah. Quigley-D hammering down precisely who was feeding Sondland his orders. Swalwell is really impressing me with his ability to redirect back to the facts. Swalwell has the most perfect bitch face every time Sondland tries to laugh off a question.

Swalwell: "You plainly call it a quid pro quo, is that right?"
Sondland: "I do."

Castro-D is a wonderful speaker. Points out that Mulvaney has a direct line to POTUS, then shows a clip of Mulvaney saying "that's why we held up the funding".

Heck-D: "What Ukrainian law did Hunter Biden violate?"
Sondland: "I'm not aware."
Heck: "That's because there is none."

Heck is painting Sondland as a patriot and invoking his immigrant parents. Unclear where he's going with this. Jordan wants to know why Zelensky never said he was being extorted.

Maloney: "Who would've benefited from an investigation of the President's political opponent."
Sondland: "The person who asked for the investigation."
Maloney: [presses]
Sondland, frustrated: "I assume President Trump!"
Maloney: "There we go!!"

The room erupts in applause.

Sondland: "I've been very candid and don't appreciate what you're trying to do."
Maloney: "Oh, you've been very candid! You've been so candid we've had to depose you three times now."

My god, Sean Maloney, I can only get so hard. *heart eyes* This will be in the movie version of this. THIS MOMENT. THIS CLIP. Gonna have a son and name him Sean Maloney just for that moment. GodDAMN.

[ ]

Schiff is categorically rejecting the idea that the President was being led around by the nose by Giuliani. How is everyone going? Checking in with the timeline. Cooper and Hale start in 45 minutes or so. The Cspan YouTube is live again. I don't know what Cooper and Hale are expected to testify about. The signs behind Jim Jordan's chair are so weak. They really can't let go of this whistle blower thing and it seems so petty and/or ominous. Like, even if you think Trump is innocent, it's abundantly clear that the whistle blower was notifying the proper authorities about a thing a LOT of witnesses claim to have been concerned about.

Schiff is just calmly WATCHING the camera, this man is a MACHINE. I mean that as a compliment. Nunes is apparently claiming Republicans haven't been allowed to call witnesses. I'm pretty sure this isn't true. I'm honestly surprised they aren't just blurting out the name. Nunes is complaining he hasn't been allowed to call Hunter Biden, who has nothing to do with whether or not Trump extorted Ukraine. Cooper was at the Pentagon on 9/11 so that's gonna be hard to bully.

Schiff is pointing out that Morrison, Volker, and Hale were called by the Republicans. (The problem is just that Volker and Morrison refused to be thrown under the bus for the Republicans.) Schiff's *smile* when he says he understands why the Republicans no longer characterize those witnesses as theirs is the definition of mischief. Hale does NOT look happy with Ratcliffe-R. There's some drama alluded to that he isn't thrilled to be here for the Republicans.

Himes is up; he's accurately summarizing the Republican defense that Trump just super cares about corruption in Ukraine and points out that never in the phone calls did Trump use that word. He also tackles the angle that Trump just super cares about spending money wisely by pointing out Congress holds the power of the purse and had approved the funds. Trump doesn't get to decide he won't sign. Cooper agrees. "Congressionally mandated process." I know I'm biased but someone should be concerned at the chasm of talent between the D and R side. Himes is hitting out of the park.

Good God, Jordan sounds whiny. "They're YOUR witnesses[, Schiff]. We asked for them but YOU called them. Misleading the American public is not welcome."


It's 7:30, how are the impeachment hearings already started?? They're apparently in recess, so I go search for coffee and, like, Advil. No, it wasn't a DNC debate drinking game. Girlfriend hadn't seen Twilight and bet I'd drink before she did. I took pity on her and forfeited when she started moaning in pain at the line deliveries. Ok, recess is over and Schiff is summarizing the Russian election interference and Trump's focus on the Bidens.

Wow. Fiona asked Sondland "who put you in charge of Ukraine?" and that smirking hotelier said "the President". Woooow, this opening summation. Schiff is going through a timeline and quotes with the precision of a scalpel. Nunes sounds tired. He has to keep falling back on extortion instead of bribery because he claims extortion needs a victim. He says "thought crime" and doesn't even seem to believe it himself. He sounds defeated. Or pre-coffee?? He had way more energy than this in previous sessions.

He's trying to do a "they got caught, they got caught" chant against the Dems and I think this was a bad idea because if you're just tuning in it sounds like more allegations against the Republicans. Holmes testifies that someone said "damnit, every time Rudy gets involved in anything, he fucks everything up" and I'm losing my shit in my doctor's office. Holmes is re-relating the much talked-about phone call people overheard and I think it's a mistake for the Republicans to keep insisting no one could EVER hold a cell phone out from their ear in a way that folks could overhear. We all know that's a thing.

Fiona Hill is up and holy SHIT. She sounds like a posh British nanny and she's castigating them for downplaying the Russian interference as a "hoax". She came here to serve Nunes his own head on a plate and she's doing it with style. I need SOMEONE to explain this situation with the rapper and Kim Kardashian. Schiff is calmly ripping the Republicans for conflating a Facebook comment from one Ukraine guy with the systemic interference from Russia on behalf of Trump. He's dealing with Nunes' complaint that the Dems won't sign off on the Republican report re: 2016, because the report denies Russian interference as supporting Trump.

Fiona is agreeing, saying that there's a difference between harsh words about a candidate vs. trying to undermine election results. Schiff with a fatality blow: asks how we can set an anti-corruption example for Ukraine when we're corruptly asking them to investigate our President's political rivals. Here we go. Goldman is up with questions. Fuck em up. Holmes is testifying that Trump talks so loud on the phone that Sondland winced and held the phone away from his face. Like we haven't all had to do that with that one relative. "I found this particular phone conversation surprising." -Hill

Goldman points out that Trump is promoting Putin's narrative over his own intelligence community. Hill is just SO DONE and I don't think she's making many friends today, lolsob. She's corrected Goldman on points of phrasing several times now. Cspan is taking normal people calls again and this woman is going to murder me with her ignorance. "It's all hearsay through the grapevine!" Ma'am, these are actual witnesses to the events. "I want a call record to prove the President called that man!" The man literally testified about the call himself and Trump doesn't deny a call took place. What on earth.

The thing about these Normal American calls is that most Americans don't call Cspan. Like, hell, I'M not a good barometer for Normal American. A nice Democrat caller is fact checking SINCE CSPAN FUCKING WON'T. There is just a stunning abdication of journalism; the unwillingness to push back against genuinely false statements. Cspan keeps concern trolling that all this might not play well to the voters and a voter just told them HISTORY HAS ITS EYES ON YOU. Mary out here speaking truth. "When Trump says he could shoot someone and his base will support him? That's not a compliment. He's insulting you."

God, this testimony. Sondland was just breathtakingly incompetent. Sondland said Trump only cares about "big stuff". He pointed out there was a WAR WITH RUSSIA, kinda big, and Sondland was like no no big stuff like the Bidens. Oh my god, this dude from Texas is giving me a headache. The Republicans have been successful in convincing the base that Trump gets to decide whether to give foreign aid or not. Cspan *finally* pointed out there's first-hand testimony and not hearsay. Texas dude blew past that. HAHAHA TEXAS DUDE IS INSISTING THAT THE BIDEN ASPECT IS A COINCIDENCE. "I do not think Trump thinks Biden is a threat to him."

Holy shit, Charles in Brooklyn actually made me tear up. Thank you, man. The Democrat callers are talking about how the Republicans are destroying norms and rules of law. The Republican callers are talking about how Dems just aren't giving Trump a chance. It was unnerving hearing the Republican woman talk about "facts not feelings" when she spent the entire time talking about how she emotionally hates Obama. Democrat caller pointed out that if Trump cares so much about corruption, he could investigate his own family. God, these long recesses are agony. Gotta love the Florida caller who told Cspan "impeach the motherfucker, have a good day!" Thank god the recess is over.

Nunes and Castor are trying to go at Fiona Hill and she's not flustered even a little. Nunes' opening statement has backfired and #TheyGotCaught is now trending. The amount of damage this man is doing to his party is immeasurable. Hill testifying that Sondland said he was "in charge of Ukraine." She asked who put him in charge and he answered "the President." "He said his job was to go out and make deals with Europe" and god help me I can believe it. These rich "businessmen" are an embarrassment. Hill says she expressed her concerns to numerous people, again undermining this idea that Trump and Giuliani were merely making enthusiastic "mistakes".

Nunes keeps trying to jam the Steele dossier into this. Nunes doesn't understand how briefings work and Hill has to school him. I am cringe from secondhand embarrassment. Oh, Fiona Hill just slammed down. "My POINT is that we were not told by official channels that this [the Bidens] should be our focus." God, she is just DONE. She's SHUTTING DOWN any thought that Sondland was acting on his own. Saying he had direction from the President that was different from her own. Schiff is again having to shut down the accusation that Vindman has dual loyalties. Hill calls this a nation of immigrants and "everyone here emigrated" and a reminder that this rhetoric erases native peoples. But her point is taken: that it's troubling that the Republicans keep trying to paint immigrant officials as inherently disloyal because of their place of birth. Hill told Sondland it was completely inappropriate to be discussing domestic politics in front of Ukrainians. Oh no, Jordan is talking.

"What's wrong with Jim Jordan again?" asks Girlfriend.
"Among other things, he sounds like a furious cartoon mouse who just swallowed a balloon full of helium."

Jordan is mocking Holmes for being a corroborating witness because apparently that's not fancy enough for him. Schiff tells him to stop interrupting the witness. Schiff has had to tell Jordan THREE TIMES-- FOUR TIMES to stop interrupting the witness. FIVE TIMES. FIVE FUCKING TIMES. SIX TIMES. Ratcliffe is talking and, as a Texan, I'm sorry. Fiona Hill points out that Twitter has posted her name and address. Sewell asks her if she's a Never Trumper or if she "remained true" to her profession and I really hate this repeated framing the Dems are doing. It's not a BAD thing for officials to have strong antipathy to voting for a person!!

Hill's expression as Turner pontificates is priceless. "And frankly she was an easy target as a woman." Hill isn't here to mince words. Schiff is literally having to warn the Republicans against lying about previous testimony. Wenstrup cannot talk without reminding everyone he was in the armed service. Wenstrup is asking Hill about Chalupa and Steele. She's just waiting for him to stop talking because he's clearly not talking to HER. He's openly accusing Democrats of a coup. Hill is asking if she's allowed to answer.

Stewart is insisting that Schiff and the whistle blower be called before the Senate to describe their relationship to Joe Biden. Sigh. Jordan is pontificating. "All based on some anonymous whistle blower who is biased against the President and worked with Joe Biden." Extremely grateful to the Dem for rephrase. "It would not be appropriate for a mayor to refuse to fund the police unless they opened an investigation on a rival." Sean Maloney is up, bless my soul. He's inputting into the record some articles and omg APOLOGIZING TO HILL FOR THE MANSPLAINING SHE WAS FORCED TO ENDURE. HE USED THAT WORD. THIS MAN HAS MY OVARIES.

Hill is having to explain antisemitic whistles to Congress because she has been slandered as a secret operative for George Soros. Wow. Schiff's closing statement gave chills. Said his decision came down to the way Trump *repeatedly* kept asking foreign powers to involve themselves in our elections. Said nothing is more dangerous than a President who thinks he's above the law. I think this thread is done. I'm exhausted. I hope this was helpful.


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