Impeachment Hearing Scorecard After Four Rounds [OPINION]
My scorecard has it 39-37 after four rounds, in favor of the Republican defense of the president.
Wednesday was by far the most problematic for President Trump as the Democrats were finally able to get a witness to say that he believed there was a quid quo pro, albeit a much more benign reason than they originally pushed for and even today's witness, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, admitted that the president told him he expected nothing from the Ukrainians.
Sondland recalled President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Guiliani indicating that Ukraine's President Zelensky would not get his desired invitation to the White House unless he made a public statement that the Burisma Energy company was going to get another look by the prosecutor general there.
Last week, the Democrats under House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California) attempted to steer the impeachment from quid pro quo to bribery and the bribery count he wanted to charge Trump with was withholding congressionally funded military aid, which included arms such as the Javelin anti-tank missiles and other smaller arms, to dissuade the Russians from further aggression against that nation.
As it became clear that there was no path to prove this with last week's witnesses, Schiff has again changed course and now points to bribery based on Sondland's account that Trump wouldn't meet with Zelensky until a formal announcement was made that Burisma's case was re-opened.
Again, the Democrats have to use this information knowing that the one conversation Sondland had with Trump, he was told there was no quid pro quo and Trump stated he was not interested in getting anything from Zelensky. Coupling that with the transcript from the call between the two nations' leaders, the evidence just isn't there.
One amusing thing for me in this evening's testimony is the inadvertent condemnation of the Obama Administration by the House Democrats on the Intel Committee.
While questioning Deputy Asst. Secretary of Defense for Ukraine Laura Cooper, Democrats tried to push her to say that by Trump denying the military aid until September was reckless.
They built the case that Trump not giving Ukraine the Javelin missiles for the 10 weeks it technically could have arrived was negligent, and likely cost Ukrainian lives.
I immediately said to myself, "Wow, so these Democrats don't realize that they basically called the Obama/Biden administration policy to not give a single bullet to Ukraine for four years, out-of-touch and complete morons."
During her interrogatories, Democratic members went on about how the Russians had killed over 20,000 Ukrainians since their military annexation of Crimea in 2014. I don't think they realized that if Americans compare the Trump policy to the Obama one, it's light-years apart.
Trump is arming Ukraine with advanced weaponry that would take out Russia's best military advantage, armored vehicles. Obama treated them to things the Red Cross could (and has) offered to the homeless, literally offering Ukraine blankets. I'm assuming they were to deal with the elements after Russia flattened homes and buildings.
Cooper did amend her testimony in the hearing today – and it remains to be seen how big of a problem this will be for Trump – but she claims that someone on her staff (although she did not name the person) informed her that the Ukrainians were asking about the military aid status, on the same day as the Trump-Zelensky phone call on July 25.
Somehow, some document has apparently surfaced indicating this but it will be scrutinized. How could she forget as much as she did about that recent timeline and how did her staff not already round up all possible documents in her first deposition? Ponderous.
While the president authorized the aid to go through on September 11, it could have been provided in late June, according to Cooper.
I don't see this as any real problem for Trump since he had been skeptical of the Ukrainian government and seemed to proceed very slowly on all things in that nation. He eventually became convinced that Zelensky was sincere and was going to be a more sound partner than his predecessors.
It has also been Trump's M.O. to try to re-negotiate the burden of aid with other NATO partners, particularly in Eastern Europe.
Strong points so far for Republicans is that not one witness is aware of any illegal act, bribery, quid pro quo, or illicit demands made by President Trump.
Hearsay may be good enough for the House Democrats who have led a disgraceful sham of a hearing to this point, but it does not meet with federal standards and will not be allowed in the Senate hearing, should the House move forward with the impeachment of President Trump.
Schiff himself began the hearings last week by lying through his teeth, saying he didn't know the identity of the so-called "whistleblower." Even his mother doesn't believe him.
Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch stated under oath that she was not briefed on Hunter Biden or Burisma, only later to testify that she was prepped on how to deal with the topic should it come up. Both of those cannot be the truth.
She also made it clear that she found a president that she did not support to give her department "a chilling feeling" because he was enacting his policy over her favored long-standing policy comprised by the inter-agencies of the United States over the last several administrations.
Well, guess what sweetheart? You, career bureaucrats, were not elected by the American people and the State Department is part of the Executive Branch. Donald Trump is the President of the United States and he will decide the policy for the United States until he isn't the president.
Besides, the U.S. inter-agencies' combined wisdom has done little more than witness Russia seize an area roughly the size of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, remain rife with dysfunction and corruption and whose energy company Burisma has been a high-paying gig for the likes of Hunter Biden, the equally dysfunctional son of Obama's vice president and current presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Not for nothing, but how does anyone buy that whole story? Hunter Biden, who was thrown out of the United States Navy for his inability to not use cocaine, a man who slept with his recently deceased brother's wife – is there anyone you know as much of a real creep and loser as this guy?
So, let's get an idea of what they'd have us believe Burisma Energy's thinking was there in the board room. Picture the Burisma assessment of Board of Directors candidate, Hunter Biden. I mean, we're supposed to believe Burisma CEO Nickolai Zlochevsky was pumped up about the controversial Hunter and, not forced to take him on as a board member?
Does anyone believe they read his resumé and heavily recruited him? Cocaine addiction, a disgraced ex-military man, tossed out on his ass. No areas of expertise useful to an energy company. No knowledge of Ukraine. He went back home as an embarrassment to his family and nation and starts up a "hot and heavy" with his dead brother's wife before this too crashed and burned. Are you kidding me? "We need to sign this man! Offer him anything....tell him $83,333.00 per month for a salary."
VP Biden comes to Ukraine in October of 2016 and tells the government that unless they fire the prosecutor who is looking into his son and his son's company, he will leave with the congressionally funded $1 billion in aid to their country and they needed to decide in six hours or less. Extortion? Withholding congress's approved funds to keep the heat off his son?
Apparently, the Democrats only decry a quid pro quo when it can't be proven and are okay with it if a Democratic vice president does it. Hey look, I don't pretend to understand them.
Back to the hearings recap.
Witness for Democrats Lt. Colonel Vindman came across as the one guy perhaps more unlikable than Adam Schiff. Arrogant, petty and snarky, Vindman seemed more indignant that he was sidelined in the Trump Administration after being the Obama Administration's expert on Ukraine. In the end, he admitted that he could not characterize anything Trump did as a demand, bribe or quid pro quo.
Witnesses brought in by Schiff, Ambassador Taylor and Deputy Secretary of State George Kent both said they were not aware of a single illegal thing President Trump said or did.
Depending on the channel you watch, either side is claiming a solid victory. That's my card so far.
Gold dress or blue dress?
Ken Pittman is the host of The Ken Pittman Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Contact him at ken.pittman@