Ukraine accusations come to life in public hearings. Here's the latest in the impeachment inquiry

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee dissect the testimony from diplomats Bill Taylor and George Kent.

Posted: Nov 14, 2019 6:00 AM
Updated: Nov 14, 2019 6:00 AM

Diplomat Bill Taylor on Wednesday played the role of the unimpeachable truth-telling Vietnam vet in Congress that a lot of people thought Robert Mueller would play.

Taylor, the top official at the US Embassy in Ukraine, joined State Department official George Kent as the leadoff witnesses in public impeachment hearings to tell a story that's already known.

He was credible

While Mueller's sometimes obtuse and muddled delivery did nothing to drive home the conclusions of the Russia report, Taylor brought life and conviction to his retelling of events, which led him to accuse his bosses of using badly needed military aid to force the Ukrainian government into US politics.

He added in some new information

Taylor expanded his earlier testimony to include the story of an aide who overheard Trump ask US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland over the telephone on July 26 about whether the Ukrainians would undertake investigations the US wanted.

Just the facts (as he heard them)

That's far from firsthand information, but Taylor didn't try to embellish. He refused to speculate, but he also insisted that he knew what he knew. Taylor was a George W. Bush administration official, and someone the Trump administration brought out of retirement. Along with the moral authority of his years of service, his testimony felt credible when he said the behavior he witnessed was not normal or OK. (His radio-worthy voice didn't hurt, either.)

No screaming and yelling

There were no angry back-and-forths with Republicans because he and Kent stayed in their lanes and left the pontificating to the politicians. Taylor even managed to share a smile and a laugh with Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Republicans' self-appointed attack dog at these hearings.

That's my big takeaway after watching.

Read and listen to some other thoughts here:

Impeachment Watch podcast real-time analysis with David Chalian, Carrie Cordero and Molly Ball

Most important takeaways from the first day of public impeachment hearings, by Chris Cillizza

Republicans shrug off impeachment hearings as boring, by Kevin Liptak

All of CNN's hearing coverage is here.

Jordan's reply: The aid went through

Republicans pushed back against the testimony from Taylor and Kent. They argue the White House phone call doesn't show pressure on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky despite President Donald Trump's power over him -- and because White House staffers, for the most part, are refusing to cooperate with subpoenas, it may be hard for investigators to fill in those gaps.

Main theme of the defense

Jordan's arguments against impeachment boiled down, very simply, to the fact that the aid was ultimately unfrozen and there is no investigation.

In his telling, this becomes a story of a heroic Trump taking a chance with military aid on a young new leader standing up to Russia.

A preview of coming impeachment hearings

Jordan again: "The next few weeks we're going to have more witnesses like today that the Democrats will parade in here and all going to say this. So-and-so said such and such to so-and-so and therefore -- we got to impeach the President."

Aid was released. But after whistleblower complaint

The reality is that the Ukraine aid was released just as everything was blowing up around the whistleblower complaint. Our timeline had gotten a bit hard to follow, so today I shrank it down to the key moments that explain the accusations against Trump.

August 12 -- Whistleblower files complaint

August 29 -- Ukraine raises concerns about the aid

September 1 -- Sondland delivers ultimatum; Taylor raises concerns about Ukraine aid

September 9 -- Inspector general informs Congress of whistleblower complaint, and concerns from Taylor come to a head

September 12 -- Ukraine is informed that military aid is unfrozen; CNN interview with Zelensky is off.

Trump confused by report of call with Sondland

During a White House news conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the hearing Wednesday, Trump bristled at being asked about the impeachment hearings. Specifically he responded on the new information we learned today: that Taylor said an aide had overheard Trump talking by phone to Sondland about Ukraine.

Trump said he doesn't recall it.

"I never heard this," he said, adding that it sounds like "more secondhand information."

Secret ballot in the Senate?

The House is where the action is, but attention is already drifting to the Senate, which will have to conduct a trial if the House votes to impeach.

Juleanna Glover is an anti-Trump Republican and she suggests an elegant solution in Politico -- that senators use a secret ballot. She argues there is precedent for secret ballots in particularly tough votes on Capitol Hill, and there have been many stories about Republican senators being cowed by Trump.

In secret, Glover argues, senators could vote their minds. And that's exactly why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell probably wouldn't allow it. It would take a handful of Republicans to side with Democrats to make it happen, although Democrats aren't talking about this either.

What's coming next

Thursday

  • White House may release transcript of April phone call between Trump and Zelensky

Friday

  • Marie Yovanovitch, former US ambassador to Ukraine, testifies in public

  • Taylor aide David Holmes testifies behind closed doors.

Saturday

  • Mark Sandy, Office of Management and Budget official, testifies behind closed doors

What are we doing here?

The President has invited foreign powers to interfere in the US presidential election.

Democrats want to impeach him for it.

It is a crossroads for the American system of government as the President tries to change what's acceptable for US politicians. This newsletter will focus on this consequential moment in US history.

Keep track of documents and hearings with CNN's Impeachment Tracker. See a timeline of events here. And get your full refresher on who's who in this drama here.

West Lafayette
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 75°
Kokomo
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 73°
Rensselaer
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 75°
Fowler
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 75°
Williamsport
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 72°
Crawfordsville
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 67°
Frankfort
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 73°
Delphi
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 73°
Monticello
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 73°
Logansport
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 72°
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 50300

Reported Deaths: 2748
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11920692
Lake5432248
Elkhart347058
Allen2902133
St. Joseph205169
Hamilton1665101
Cass16449
Hendricks1446100
Johnson1325118
Porter80238
Tippecanoe7599
Clark68144
Vanderburgh6816
Madison67264
LaPorte60527
Howard59458
Bartholomew59345
Kosciusko5704
Marshall5308
Noble50128
LaGrange4829
Jackson4783
Boone47444
Delaware46952
Hancock46036
Shelby43525
Floyd40444
Morgan33631
Monroe32928
Grant30926
Dubois2976
Henry29717
Montgomery29720
Clinton2893
White26810
Decatur25532
Dearborn25423
Lawrence25225
Vigo2478
Warrick24329
Harrison21722
Greene19332
Miami1922
Jennings17912
Putnam1728
DeKalb1674
Scott1639
Wayne1536
Daviess15017
Perry1459
Orange13723
Steuben1362
Jasper1332
Franklin1278
Ripley1277
Wabash1152
Carroll1132
Gibson1132
Fayette1057
Whitley1045
Newton10010
Starke983
Huntington932
Randolph794
Wells791
Jefferson782
Fulton731
Jay680
Washington681
Knox670
Clay665
Pulaski661
Rush613
Posey550
Owen521
Benton510
Spencer501
Adams491
Sullivan471
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain352
Crawford330
Tipton321
Switzerland300
Martin240
Parke230
Ohio220
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events