Rep. John Ratcliffe made the most of the 22 seconds of time he was allotted by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff.
After being interrupted during his questioning of William Taylor, the acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, in the public House impeachment hearings on Wednesday, Ratcliffe zinged Democrats in fiery comments about President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The Texas Republican grilled Schiff’s star witness in a rapid-fire questioning of the facts and left him as well as George Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, speechless when he pressed them to name the impeachable offense in the president’s actions on the phone call.
Ratcliffe, a former US Attorney from Texas, drove home the point that the Ukrainians have repeatedly stated they were not aware of any hold on military aid from the US government, which Democrats allege Trump used as leverage in asking Zelensky to launch an investigation into the business dealings of former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.
Zelensky had characterized the phone conversation with Trump as a “good phone call” during a joint press conference in September as the controversy escalated. He later held what Ratcliffe called a “press marathon” on October 12, again repeatedly denying any knowledge of a hold of military aid.
Ratcliffe went on to note how the Ukraine leader had stated there was no pressure placed on him by Trump, that “there were no conditions, that there were no threats…that there was no blackmail, that there was no corruption of any kind” during the call. The lawmaker cited various news reports and press releases to quote Zelensky’s repeated contention that there was nothing questionable in the call with Trump.
“Unlike the first 45 minutes that we heard from the Democrats today, that’s not second-hand information, it’s not hearsay,” he said referring to the fact that witnesses so far on Wednesday were not witnesses at all, but seemed to only be able to relate second and third-hand information.
“What I can do here for you today is tell you what I heard from people.”
That about sums up the impeachment hearings.pic.twitter.com/PRlsgAL6fe
— BlazeTV (@BlazeTV) November 13, 2019
Ratcliffe bluntly asked Taylor if he thought the Ukraine president was lying, to which the ambassador said he had “no reason to doubt” Zelensky’s remarks.
“So in this impeachment hearing today where we impeach presidents for treason or bribery or other high crimes, where is the impeachable offense in that call?” Ratcliffe asked Taylor and Kent. “Are either of you here today to assert there was an impeachable offense in that call?”
“Shout it out, anyone?” the congressman said as neither of the witnesses replied.
But Taylor attempted to respond to the Republican’s comments and the two soon began to wrangle over the short tine that was still left for Ratcliffe to finish his questioning. Tensions mounted as Schiff interrupted to allow Taylor to make a comment.
When Ratcliffe asked for the clock be reset to one minute so he could have finish, Schiff only allowed him to have 22 seconds, sparking some laughter in the room likely from Democrats.
But Ratcliffe got the last laugh as he went out in a blaze.
“I think everyone knows that House Democrats have made up their minds to impeach one president. The question that we just learned is whether or not they are prepared to impeach two,” Ratcliffe said.
“Because, to be clear, if House Democrats President Trump for a quid pro quo involving military aid, they have to call President Zelensky a liar,” he said. “If they impeach him for abusing his power, or pressuring or making threats or demands, they have to call President Zelensky a liar to do it. “
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