After waiting all morning for an opportunity to question acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor, House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., interrupted Republicans to essentially offer legal counsel to the witness.
And, according to Republicans, “change the rules mid-hearing.”
Republican counsel Steve Castor was questioning Taylor when Schiff interjected to tell Taylor he should be cautious in answering questions that assume facts not in evidence — in effect, telling him not presume facts not in evidence are correct.
“Parliamentary inquiry: are you seriously interrupting our time here?” Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said with a laugh, when Schiff spoke out.
Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, angrily objected after Schiff was finished interrupting.
“I sat here through the first 45 minutes and literally had an objection to almost the foundation of every question that Mr. Goldman asked regarding facts not in evidence — leading,” Ratcliffe said. “But House resolution 660 does not say we are under the federal rules of evidence. If it is your position that I should be asserting objections to questions that violate the federal rules of evidence, let me know now because this hearing is going to change significantly.”
“As I said, Mr. Ratcliffe, I will allow the question,” Schiff said.
Nunes, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, spoke up to say that the chairman did not answer the question about which rules are in effect.
Schiff replied that he did answer the question.
“Respectfully, Mr. Chairman, you haven’t answered my question whether or not I should be asserting assumed facts not in evidence or leading objections to questions that are posed from this point forward. That is my question,” Ratcliffe clarified.
“I am not objecting to the question, but I am instructing the witness that they should not presume questions from the majority or minority that may represent facts not in evidence are correct,” Schiff countered.
At this point, Schiff had the GOP resume its questioning of Taylor.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., commented on the remarkable exchange on Twitter.
“John Ratcliffe making a great point: Adam Schiff just apparently changed the rules mid-hearing. Virtually every question Democrats asked was leading, hearsay, or some other federal evidence rules violation. Now Schiff seems to be saying he can enforce those rules. Unreal,” Meadows tweeted.
John Ratcliffe making a great point: Adam Schiff just apparently changed the rules mid-hearing.
Virtually every question Democrats asked was leading, hearsay, or some other federal evidence rules violation. Now Schiff seems to be saying he can enforce those rules.
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) November 13, 2019
This prompted a rather timely tweet from RNC spokesperson Liz Harrington.
“Democrats making up the rules as they go along, because they abide by only one rule: “Get Trump,” she tweeted.
— Elizabeth Harrington (@LizRNC) November 13, 2019
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