Three House Democrats on Monday released select transcripts from recent testimony in front of the Intelligence Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee, and Oversight and Reform Committee — and immediately went after President Donald Trump in public statements because four White House officials, including John Eisenberg, a lawyer central to the Ukraine controversy, defied lawmakers’ subpoenas to testify.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) (shown above left), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) — the three chairs — released a joint statement claiming that the incomplete transcripts show “the president’s attempt to manipulate the levers of power to his personal political benefit.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Schiff also called the four officials who declined to appear on Monday “first-hand witnesses to serious misconduct” — and said their absence was further evidence that Trump is trying to obstruct Congress.
“These witnesses are significant, and the White House understands they are significant,” Schiff told members of the media.
“We may infer by the White House obstruction here that their testimony would be further incriminating to the president.”
What’s obvious, however, is that Democrats have not released full transcripts of the closed-door testimony they’ve been conducting.
They cannot hide that from anyone.
It’s why GOP House members are calling for full transparency and publication of all of the committee transcripts.
Less partisan observers than these three House Democrat leaders may see something very obvious in the release of a partial batch of material, which is designed — in their eyes — to bolster the case for the impeachment of Trump.
They may see that Trump was legitimately acting as a chief executive in exercising his prerogatives as head of American foreign policy and its attendant responsibilities in the appointments and dismissals of officials.
The partial transcripts released on Monday were from the October testimonies of Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and Michael McKinley, former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Trump fired Yovanovitch in May; McKinley resigned his post earlier this year.
The former ambassador claimed the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, had her ousted — as she was suspected of disloyalty to the president. She denied that charge.
“I have heard the allegation in the media that I supposedly told our embassy team to ignore the president’s orders since he was going to be impeached. That allegation is false,” Yovanovitch told investigators, the transcript showed; she seemingly was confusing the terms impeachment and removal from office.
McKinley says he resigned because he saw State Department personnel trying to dig up negative information on political opponents of the president. He said he had not seen that in “37 years in the Foreign Service.”
McKinley’s statement regarding political activity by executive branch employees may be looked at as a tad non-credible by certain analysts.
When former President Barack Obama parted ways with Dennis Blair, his director of National Intelligence, there were no congressional inquiries.
The same was true when the 44th president fired General Stan McChrystal (who commanded American forces in Afghanistan), CIA Director David Petraeus, and DIA chief Mike Flynn. All were in very sensitive posts during a highly partisan era.
Not one of the above personnel management decisions by Obama prompted a congressional investigation.
Three other positions — secretary of Defense, secretary of Commerce, and White House chief of staff — all also changed hands during Obama’s tenure.
But there was not a peep from Congress or the press.
There were no anguished statements from disgruntled diplomats.
But today, the firing of one ambassador appears to be fair game for the impeachment of Trump. Some would call that a massive double standard.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) countered the Democrat strategy of the selective release of information when she wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday, “The full and complete record must be provided for the American people to see.”
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