When GOP questioning began after a break in the House Intelligence Committee hearings on Thursday afternoon, Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) wasted no time in putting the pieces together on the background and motivations of witness Fiona Hill, a National Security Council staffer.
Later, the same comeuppance would be in store for Foreign Service Officer David Holmes at the hands of Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas).
Nunes made clear the long-standing relationship between Hill and David Steele, the former British spy and the purveyor of the completely discredited Steele Dossier that was used to perpetrate the Russian hoax. The dossier was produced by Fusion GPS, a Democrat contractor firm — and was also funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign for president and the Democratic National Committee.
Hill knew Steele and knew him well.
Hill also made no bones about her relationship with Strobe Talbot at the Brookings Institution. He was her superior there and her friend. Talbot was Bill Clinton’s college roommate at Oxford. He later went on to very prominent positions in leftwing academic and foreign policy institutions and was known for his soft line with the Soviets and his taste for appeasing their national security goals.
This culminated in Talbot’s top diplomatic slot with the Clinton administration. But — strange — after Russia threw off communism, Talbot and Hill suddenly became aware of Russian aggression and duplicity.
When Russia dropped Marxism for capitalism — granted of the Wild West variety — Talbot and Hill did an about-face and opposed Russia at every opportunity.
That brought her to a job in Ukraine — and this inquiry.
Hill also told lawmakers on Thursday of her anger with Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland over Ukraine policy — but she played the feminist card, saying her anger was misinterpreted as a female emotion. But what else is anger but an emotion, regardless of gender? Hill, as she was during her entire testimony, was being too clever by half and looked silly as a result.
When Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) started to question witness Holmes, Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) tried to cut him off, as he did in the past with other GOP members of the committee.
However, Jordan was having none of it and continued to talk over Schiff’s objections and attempts to silence him.
Jordan asked Holmes, if the restaurant phone call (or part of it) that he said he overheard between Sondland and President Donald Trump was so important and noteworthy, then why did Ambassador Bill Taylor — whom Holmes admitted to quickly telling about it — not mention it at all in the course of his testimony to the committee? Such an important development and not a word?
Holmes could not answer and lamely protested the besmirching of his general acumen in operational security.
Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) took over and hit Hill, quoting her opening statement referencing GOP ignorance of Russian interference in the 2016 elections. It wasn’t true and Hill knew it. But she said it anyway, suggested Turner. Hill pleaded she had just found out.
So, a career intelligence officer only just found out about a public and long-divulged facet of an inquiry she herself is involved in? Unlikely — or she is a below-average Intel officer.
As a former member of the Intel community myself, I think it would be kind to rank her as merely below average, given her testimony.
Holmes was not being paid a lot of attention at this point in the hearings on Thursday and this seemed to miff him. As such, his answers to questions became increasingly smug and combative.
When the GOP’s Conaway asked him why, by Holmes’ own words, he had shared his recollection of the phone conversation at the restaurant with “interested” parties and not only with people cleared to know, Holmes was nonplussed. A phone call involving an American ambassador and the president of the United States — and a career Foreign Service Officer treated it like chitchat, like idle gossip? Holmes had no defense and sank into despondent doubletalk.
Even Dems on the panel looked pained.
GOP lawmakers then shared statements about what a waste the whole inquiry effort has been — and the different character of the process that will be held in the Senate. This presupposes Trump is impeached by the House. At this juncture, given that the Dems have the House majority, this is all but assured.
The Democrats — and Schiff in a tendentious closing statement — merely reiterated the themes they have been pushing all along: Trump is a liar, Trump is corrupt, Trump is a criminal. Do they have any evidence for those charges? No.
But in what historians term “the big lie” gambit (repeating something long enough that some people will begin to believe it), they hope it will give them enough fuel to launch a duly elected president’s removal from office.
When that effort starts in the Senate, all past Democrat intimidation and agitprop campaigns like Code Pink, Occupy Wall Street, the Kavanaugh hearings, immigration issues, and the Russian hoax will look puny by comparison. This is for all the marbles. This is their revenge for their 2016 election loss — and they will do anything, anything, to get it.
Expect the worst, not in presidential removal — the president should be OK there — but in national turmoil and a further division of America into two warring camps.
Welcome to 1860 — in 2019 and beyond.
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