Politics: White House stresses 'hearsay' in witness testimony ahead of public impeachment hearings - - PressFrom - US

Politics White House stresses 'hearsay' in witness testimony ahead of public impeachment hearings

01:00  13 november  2019
01:00  13 november  2019 Source:   thehill.com

U.S. House panels release two more impeachment depositions

  U.S. House panels release two more impeachment depositions U.S. House panels release two more impeachment depositions

With public televised hearings set to begin on Wednesday, both President Trump and the House Democrats spearheading the impeachment inquiry The Democrats have set the open hearings to be phase two of a three-phase approach to impeachment : first, the closed-door depositions before

House investigators are preparing for the first public hearings of the impeachment inquiry, set to begin Wednesday with the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine as the lead witness . In his closed-door deposition last month, Taylor described a “Washington snake pit” of bad actors who were willing to cut

The White House is seeking to undercut the accounts of three witnesses who have testified in the Democrats' impeachment inquiry, attacking their claims about President Trump's contacts with Ukraine ahead of this week's public hearings.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: White House stresses 'hearsay' in witness testimony ahead of public impeachment hearings© Getty Images White House stresses 'hearsay' in witness testimony ahead of public impeachment hearings

In an email sent Tuesday morning to GOP congressional offices, the White House claimed that the testimonies of top Defense official Laura Cooper as well as Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, two onetime assistants to former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, "were filled with hearsay."

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House impeachment inquiry begins public hearings this week with State Department officials who dealt with President Donald Trump's policy in Ukraine. The House Intelligence Committee is holding its first public hearings after three panels, including Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform, spent

The White House has been coordinating with House Republicans on a strategy for the hearings in hopes of distancing the president from the witnesses , arguing that none of those testifying had direct knowledge of the president's thinking, and of blocking any witnesses who would have had direct

Democrats had released the transcripts of their testimonies on Monday.

Among the "topline takeaways" the White House put forward was the claim that all three witnesses "based everything on second, third, and fourth hand information," arguing that none of them were on the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The White House in particular sought to challenge the claims made by Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, who expressed her dismay over the summer's delay of nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine, painting a portrait of a Pentagon doing battle with the White House over the release of funding deemed "vital" to national security.

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The public hearings on Wednesday and Friday are the first real tests of whether House Democrats can mount a straightforward case that For Republicans, this new phase of public hearings offers them a chance to portray the entire impeachment inquiry as illegitimate and overtly partisan, simply

Ahead of the first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry, Republican lawmakers have created a strategy to rebut the claim President Donald Trump did something wrong when pressuring Ukraine into investigating political rivals. That strategy, outlined in a memo obtained by Axios, codifies defense

Cooper said she had a "very strong inference" that Kyiv knew the aid was being withheld after having conversations with Volker and William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine who is slated to testify in Democrats' first public hearing on Wednesday.

"The conversation with Ambassador Volker, because it related to the security assistance needing to be lifted and the importance of that, and he was relating conversations he had had with Ukraine officials. It could have been my inference, yes, a very strong inference that there was some knowledge on the part of the Ukrainians," Cooper testified.

The White House is charactering her perspective as being unfounded.

"Cooper's comments about when Ukraine knew about the aid being withheld were conjecture based on information she heard from others," the talking points memo reads. "Cooper's conjecture about when Ukraine knew about the aid being withheld was based on hearsay - and even then she couldn't recall specifics."

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The first hearings in the public phase of the impeachment inquiry will feature testimony from State In morning tweets, Trump, meanwhile, said that both Bidens should be called as witnesses in the public Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney no longer plans to seek a judge’s ruling on

The testimony ahead . The first public hearings of the impeachment inquiry begin on Wednesday, with diplomats who have already spoken behind closed doors. Acting ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor is testifying Wednesday, followed by the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and

The White House also claimed that Cooper "testified that she wasn't on the call with Zelensky and doesn't have direct knowledge about the call" beyond the summarized readout the White House released earlier this year.

But the talking point appears to undercut the argument Republicans are using in claiming that summary of the call is evidence that the president did not explicitly use the aid as a quid pro quo. Congressional Republicans also did not participate on this call.

The White House hammered the point that Taylor in his testimony said Ukraine did not know the aid was being withheld until late August, despite him testifying that it was "my clear understanding" that the aid was contingent on Zelensky pursuing an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, one of Trump's 2020 political rivals.

Yet, Croft has challenged this claim, with her telling House investigators that Kyiv knew the aid was being withheld earlier than previously known.

In her closed-door testimony last month, Croft told House investigators that officials at the Ukrainian Embassy approached her two separate times to privately inquire about the decision to withhold aid, stating that these contacts occurred sometime after July 18 and before Aug. 28, when Politico reported the hold.

"They found out very early on, or much earlier than I expected them to," she told investigators on Oct. 30.

The White House sought to challenge Croft's testimony by saying that she did not have firsthand knowledge of the July 25 call.

And in terms of Anderson, who was Croft's predecessor, the White House also noted he was not on the July 25 phone call.

But the memo sought to twist Anderson's words, claiming he said "the issue of investigations never came up in discussions over Zelensky coming to the White House."

Anderson testified that while the specific investigations were not explicitly identified in July 18 meeting with Taylor, who was talking about "the need to avoid specific investigations," the former Volker deputy testified that he was aware that Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was pushing Ukraine to initiate these two investigations.

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Just before the third day of public impeachment hearings, Fox and Friends host Brian Kilmeade asked Trump not to tweet during the hearings the way he did in the past.He noted that Trump has other issues to attend to. "There's so much for him to do," he said. Kilmeade said that Trump should just leave the hearings in the hands of the Representatives who are defending him. "Let these guys like Doug Collins and company fight it out and keep it on the straight and narrow from the Republican perspective," he said.

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