Ten Ways the Democrats’ Own Impeachment Witnesses Destroyed Their Case Against Trump
As the impeachment managers attempt to make their case for Trump’s removal from office during the impeachment trial, you’ve probably heard them cite the testimony of their witnesses from the House impeachment inquiry and the claim that that testimony confirmed an illegal quid pro quo.
But in reality, none of them did. Under questioning from Republican lawmakers, the Democrats’ entire case about a quid pro quo fell apart. The next major narrative of the Democrats was that there was no legitimate reason for there to be an investigation into the Bidens and Ukraine. When pressed by Republicans on this issue, that narrative fell apart as well.
It makes sense why Democrats want more witnesses for the Senate trial, because the witnesses they relied on during the House impeachment inquiry destroyed their case against Trump and turned public opinion against impeachment. Here are the top ten examples.
10. Ambassador Volker testified there was no effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens
Ambassador Kurt Volker, who served for two years as the top U.S. diplomatic envoy to Ukraine, testified he never took part in or was aware of any effort to push the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens. “As you will see from the extensive text messages I am providing, which convey a sense of real-time dialogue with several different actors, Vice President Biden was never a topic of discussion” he testified. “[A]t no time was I aware of or took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden,” Volker added.
9. Ambassador Taylor testified there was ‘no linkage’ between military aid and investigations
On the very first day of public impeachment hearings, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) asked former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor if there was any "linkage" between the lethal aid being given to Ukraine and an investigation into Burisma. Taylor testified that he met three times with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, and "no linkage" of these issues were mentioned in any of those meetings.
8. Ambassador Taylor testified Ukraine was unaware the lethal aid was being withheld
During the same round of questioning from Rep. Jordan, Ambassador Taylor let it slip that Ukrainian officials had no idea that the lethal aid that is the focus of the impeachment investigation was even being withheld.
"Three meetings with the president of Ukraine and no linkage [between the aid and investigations]," Jordan summarized. "That’s accurate?"
"Mr. Jordan, it’s certainly accurate on the first two,” Taylor responded. “To my knowledge, Ukrainians were not aware of the hold on assistance until the 29th of August. The third meeting that you mentioned with the senators… there was discussion of the security assistance... but there was no discussion of linkage."
You can’t have a quid pro quo unless both parties are aware that something is being asked for in exchange for something else.
7. Ambassador Sondland testified Trump didn't want anything from Ukraine, no quid pro quo
When U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testified during the impeachment inquiry, he said that President Trump told him there was no "quid pro quo" with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and the military aide. “I asked the President: 'What do you want from Ukraine?' The President responded, 'Nothing. There is no quid pro quo,'” Sondland testified. “The President repeated: 'no quid pro quo' multiple times. This was a very short call.”
6. Ambassador Sondland testified he had no evidence of a quid pro quo other than his ‘own presumption’
Ambassador Sondland may have been told there was no quid pro quo, but did he ever have any evidence that one took place? Not according to his testimony.
It’s true that in his opening remarks he said there was one. “I know that members of this Committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: 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.”
But, under questioning from Republican Congressman Mike Turner from Ohio, Sondland admitted that he had no evidence of a quid pro quo and that he was only presuming one occurred.
"Is it correct, nobody else on this planet told you that Donald Trump was tying this aid to the investigations?” asked Congressman Turner. “Because if your answer is yes, then the chairman's wrong and the headline on CNN is wrong. No one this planet told you that President Trump was tying aid to investigations, yes or no?"
"Yes," Sondland replied.
"So, you really have no testimony today that ties President Trump to a scheme to withhold aid from Ukraine in exchange for these investigations?" Turner asked.
"Other than my own presumption," Sondland said.
5. Lt. Col. Vindman admitted Hunter Biden wasn’t qualified to be on Burisma’s board
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the director of European affairs for the United States National Security Council, admitted during his testimony that Hunter Biden wasn’t qualified to be on the board of Burisma Holdings.
“As far as I can tell he didn’t seem to be [qualified],” Vindman said in response to a question about the younger Biden.
4. Lt. Col. Vindman and Jennifer Williams both agreed Hunter’s position at Burisma had the potential for the appearance of a conflict of interest
Vindman and Jennifer Williams, who serves as an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, were both also asked by Rep. Elise Stefanik about the appearance of a conflict of interest regarding Hunter serving on the board of Burisma.
“Do you agree that Hunter Biden on the board of Burisma has the potential for the appearance of a conflict of interest?” she asked.
“Certainly the potential, yes,” replied Vindman.
“Yes,” replied Williams.
3. Ambassador Taylor basically admitted Hunter Biden’s position at Burisma ‘raises questions’
Sometimes silence speaks volumes. It certainly did when Steve Castor, House Intelligence Committee counsel for the GOP, asked Ambassador Taylor a rather simple question about Hunter Biden and his position at Burisma. He couldn't (or perhaps refused to) answer, resulting in perhaps the most awkward silence I've ever seen in such a hearing.
CASTOR: Ambassador Taylor, do you know whether Hunter Biden offers anything other than the fact that his dad's the former vice president?
AMB. TAYLOR: I don't—
CASTOR: Or at the time was the vice president?
AMB. TAYLOR: I have no knowledge of Hunter Biden—
CASTOR: But you agree it raises questions?
AMB. TAYLOR: (five seconds of silence)
2. Marie Yovanovitch confirmed that there was concern in the Obama State Department about Hunter Biden’s conflict of interest at Burisma
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch confirmed during her testimony that the Obama State Department was so concerned about potential conflicts of interest and corruption with Burisma and Hunter Biden’s position on their board that they actually coached her on the issue for her confirmation.
"President Obama’s own State Department was so concerned about potential conflicts of interest from Hunter Biden’s role at Burisma that they raised it themselves while prepping this wonderful ambassador nominee before her confirmation," Rep. Elise Stefanik noted during her questioning of Yovanovitch. "And yet our Democratic colleagues and the chairman of this committee cry foul when we dare ask that same question that the Obama State Department was so concerned about."
As PJM’s own Tyler O’Neil noted at the time, “This was a monumental revelation. If even the Obama State Department recognized the potential for corruption in late 2016-early 2017, when officials were coaching Yavonavitch, why is it considered the height of partisanship for Trump to ask Zelensky to look into this corruption?”
1. George Kent said there were legit concerns about Hunter Biden, and Burisma should be investigated
George Kent, the Deputy Assistant Secretary overseeing policy towards Ukraine, was another witness that was supposed to help the Democrats' cause during the House impeachment hearings, but ultimately helped destroy the case against Trump.
In his testimony, Kent said that back in 2015 when he became aware of Hunter Biden being on the Board of Burisma Holdings he raised concerns about “the perception of a conflict of interest” in a call with then-Vice President Biden’s national security staff.
As RedState’s Nick Arama noted, “That certainly raises questions again about what Joe Biden knew about Hunter’s business and why nothing was done about addressing the concern about Hunter’s conflicts by the Obama administration,” especially given Burisma’s reputation for corruption.
Kent also testified that he believed Burisma and its owner should be investigated for corruption.
Kent might as well have been a witness for President Trump, as he proved that concerns about Burisma’s corruption and the Bidens' conflict of interest were legitimate.
As Rep. Elise Stefanik noted, “Every witness who has testified and has been asked [about the appearance of a conflict of interest] has answered yes.”
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama's Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis