Trump impeachment hearing: Quotes and reaction

George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and William Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, are sworn in.
George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and William Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, are sworn in.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Below are quotations from the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee impeachment hearing on Wednesday (Nov 13) into allegations about President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine and noteworthy outside reaction.

REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE JIM JORDAN ASKING WITNESS WILLIAM TAYLOR QUESTIONS ABOUT HIS TESTIMONY ON TRUMP'S ACTIONS REGARDING UKRAINE:

"You weren't on the call were you? You didn't listen to President Trump's call and President (Volodymyr) Zelenskiy's call?" Jordan said.

"I did not," Taylor replied.

"You've never talked with Chief of Staff Mulvaney?" Jordan asked.

"I never did," Taylor said.

"You've never met the president?" Jordan asked.

"That's correct," Taylor said.

"This is what I can't believe. And you're their star witness. Your their first witness. You're the guy, you're the guy. Based on this, based on this. I've seen church prayer chains that are easier to understand than this," Jordan said.

"I don't consider myself a star witness for anything," Taylor said.

REPUBLICAN LAWYER STEPHEN CASTOR QUESTIONING WITNESSES:

Speaking of Hunter Biden's qualifications to serve on the board of the Ukrainian energy firm: "He's getting paid US$50,000 a month but we don't know if he had any experience, spoke the language or moved to Ukraine."

US REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS, AN ALLY OF PRESIDENT TRUMP, SPEAKING DURING THE BREAK:

"All of a sudden he (Taylor) gets this miraculous intervention from one of his staffers that reminds him of something. Does it concern me? I think what happens is when we start to look at the facts... The ultimate judge will be the American people. I think most of them will see what I'm seeing in that room, it's reporters and people in the audience who are yawning, because this is all about a policy difference between the president of the United States and a few people..."

Meadows also noted the new information was second-hand - "When it becomes second-, third- and fourth-hand... we know how wrong it can get."

FORMER US AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA MICHAEL MCFAUL, ON TWITTER:

"If Trump pushed Zelenskiy to review ALL past corruption cases, then this line of questioning from Republican counsel would make sense. But he didn't. He just focused on one American, who just happens to be the son of Trump's leading electoral opponent at the time."

HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI, SPEAKING THIS MORNING TO A CLOSED MEETING OF FELLOW DEMOCRATS:

"This president has said 'Article II (of the Constitution) says 'I can do whatever I want;' is even thinking that and acting upon it. That's a monarchy; it is not a republic."

She also said: "And so, for him: He must be held accountable, he is not above the law - no president is - and we have a responsibility to make sure that that is the message, not only for today, but for the ages."

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY STEPHANIE GRISHAM TWEET ABOUT THE HEARING:

"This sham hearing is not only boring, it is a colossal waste of taxpayer time & money. Congress should be working on passing USMCA, funding our govt & military, working on reduced drug pricing & so much more. @realDonaldTrump is working right now-the dems should follow his lead!"

The USMCA, or US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, is a trade pact awaiting approval by Congress.

HEARING WITNESS TAYLOR'S STATEMENT PROVIDING NEW INFORMATION ABOUT A SONDLAND-TRUMP PHONE CALL:

"Last Friday, a member of my staff told me of events that occurred on July 26. While Ambassador Volker and I visited the front, this member of my staff accompanied Ambassador Sondland.

Ambassador Sondland met with Mr Yermak.

 
 

"Following that meeting, in the presence of my staff at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kyiv. The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone, asking Ambassador Sondland about 'the investigations'. Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.

"Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which (Trump's personal lawyer Rudy) Giuliani was pressing for. At the time I gave my deposition on Oct 22, I was not aware of this information. I am including it here for completeness."

TRUMP-PENCE RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN FUND-RAISING EMAIL SENT SOON AFTER HEARING BEGAN:

"The Impeachment Scam hearings begin today! This is a complete Fake Hearing (trial) to interview Never Trumpers and a Pelosi-Schiff SCAM against the Republican Party and me.

"It's obvious they hate me, but more importantly, they HATE YOU. The Democrats know they can't win in 2020, so they want to rip the power from your hands by ERASING your VOTE, ERASING your VOICE, and ERASING your FUTURE!"

HEARING WITNESS GEORGE KENT, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EUROPEAN AND EURASIAN AFFAIRS, OPENING STATEMENT:

"I do not believe the United States should ask other countries to engage in selective, politically associated investigations or prosecutions against opponents of those in power, because such selective actions undermine the rule of law regardless of the country."

HEARING WITNESS TAYLOR, ACTING US AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE, OPENING STATEMENT:

"I found a confusing and unusual arrangement for making US policy towards Ukraine. There appeared to be two channels of US policymaking and implementation, one regular and one highly irregular."

WHITE HOUSE REACTION TO SCHIFF'S OPENING STATEMENT:

The White House wrote in a tweet about Adam Schiff: "Last time Adam Schiff delivered an opening statement to the public, it was a made up parody of a conversation between President Trump and the President of Ukraine. He has no credibility whatsoever."

GEORGE CONWAY, VOCAL TRUMP CRITIC WHO IS MARRIED TO TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER KELLYANNE CONWAY:

"It's the moment," Conway told MSNBC News. "This is about putting the country, the law, truth above partisanship," he said, calling Republican lawmakers' behaviour "appalling."

HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN ADAM SCHIFF:

Schiff, a Democrat, opened the impeachment hearing attempting to explain in simple terms what the investigation revolves around.

Schiff noted that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy "was a newcomer to politics and immediately sought to establish a relationship with Ukraine's most powerful patron, the United States."

"The questions presented by this impeachment inquiry are whether President Trump sought to exploit that ally's vulnerability and invite Ukraine's interference in our elections; whether President Trump sought to condition official acts, such as a White House meeting or US military assistance, on Ukraine's willingness to assist on two political investigations that would help his re-election campaign. And if President Trump did either, whether such an abuse of his power is compatible with the office of the presidency.

"If we find that the president of the United States abused his power and invited foreign interference in our elections or if he sought to condition, coerce, extort or bribe an ally into conducting investigations to aid his re-election campaign and did so by withholding official acts, a White House meeting or hundreds of millions of dollars of needed military aid, must we simply 'get over it?', Schiff said, referring to a statement Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney made in remarks to reporters.

"If this is not impeachable conduct, what is?"

HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE SENIOR REPUBLICAN DEVIN NUNES:

In opening remarks, Nunes dismissed the impeachment inquiry's first public hearings as "a televised theatrical performance staged by the Democrats" and a "low-rent Ukrainian sequel" to (Special Prosecutor Robert) Mueller's Russian investigation.

Nunes said no hearings should be held until three questions are answered - "what is the full extent of the Democrats' prior coordination with the whistle-blower; what is the full extent of Ukraine's election meddling against the Trump campaign; and, third, why did Burisma hire Hunter Biden, what did he do for them, and did his work affect the Obama administration?"

The impeachment inquiry began following the submission by an unnamed "whistle-blower" of a detailed report that raised concerns about Trump's contacts with Ukraine.