On today's BradCast, our special coverage of the first day of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
We share extended excerpts from the opening statements at today's historic hearing in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, as chaired by Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and led on the Republican side by Ranking Member Devin Nunes.
The witnesses for Wednesday's hearing were two long-serving, non-partisan, career diplomats who offered detailed and often damning testimony on Trump's unprecedented withholding of military aide to Ukraine as part of a pressure campaign to force its new President to announce investigations into Trump's political rivals and into an uncorroborated theory regarding Ukraine's interference in the 2016 election. Both men also offered background on Ukraine's struggle to break away from its corrupt past with its new administration, even while the beleaguered former Soviet-bloc nation continues its long and deadly war on its eastern border against Russian-backed separatists.
Ambassador Bill Taylor, a 30-year foreign service veteran and decorated Vietnam combat soldier, currently serves as Trump's top diplomat in Ukraine. He was assigned to the post by Trump's Sec. of State Mike Pompeo after Trump's previous Ambassador, the virulently anti-corruption Marie Yovanovitch (who will testify on Friday), was pushed out of her role by what Taylor described as an "irregular" diplomatic channel consisting of several of Trump's political allies, including his attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Taylor broke the most noteworthy new piece of information of the day as he described learning, just last week, about a late night unsecured cell phone call in July by one of the "irregulars", Ambassador to EU Gordon Sondland, to the President. The call was made in a restaurant, the day after Trump's infamous July 25 call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. Taylor's staffer (who will now also testify on Friday) is said to have overheard Trump asking Sondland about the status of "the investigations" into the Bidens and the 2016 election. After the call, Taylor testified, when the staffer asked Sondland about Trump's feelings toward Ukraine, the Trump-donor-turned-diplomat said he "cares more about the investigations of Biden" than Ukraine.
Sharing the witness table with Taylor on Wednesday was George Kent, Deputy Asst. Sec. of State overseeing policy for Ukraine. Kent, who also offered damning testimony about Trump's scheme to strong-arm Ukraine, has been a part of the State Department's foreign service since 1992, having served, like Taylor, under five different U.S. Presidents --- three Republicans and two Democrats --- during his time in government service.
We're joined today for insight and analysis on all of this by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Hullabaloo and Salon, as we discuss today's breaking news of note, the damning case being laid out against the President by Democrats, the thin and disjointed rebuttal being offered by Republicans in his defense, and how all of this may be perceived by the American public as the historic hearings continue later this week, into the next one, and likely beyond...
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