As the first public impeachment hearing began Wednesday, Representative Devin Nunes said Democrats’ new quid pro quo accusations against President Trump should not be taken at “face value” given that the party’s previous allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia have been discredited.
“After the spectacular implosion of their Russia hoax … in which they spent years denouncing any Republican whoever shook hands with a Russian, on July 25th they turned on a dime and now claim the real malfeasance is Republican’s dealings with Ukraine,” Nunes, the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, said in his opening statement.
“Now we’re supposed to take these people at face value when they trot out a new batch of allegations,” Nunes added.
The first public hearing will feature testimony from George Kent, a top State Department official in charge of Ukraine, and William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine.
Democrats began the impeachment inquiry last month with a series of closed-door hearings after a member of the intelligence community filed a whistleblower report expressing concern about Trump’s July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky. During the call, Trump asked Zelensky to investigate allegations that Joe Biden used his position as vice president to help a Ukrainian gas company avoid a corruption probe, soon after Biden’s son Hunter was appointed to the board.
Days before filing the report, the whistleblower contacted a House Intelligence Committee staff member, who shared the whistleblower’s concerns with Democratic committee chairman Adam Schiff.
Schiff previously denied the committee had received early information about the whistleblower’s concerns, saying, “We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower,” adding that he and his staff “would like to.”
In his opening statement, Nunes demanded answers to what he said are three “crucial” questions, first, the full extent of Democrats’ prior coordination with the whistleblower; second, the full extent of Ukraine’s alleged election meddling against the Trump campaign; and third, the details surrounding Hunter Biden’s position at the Ukrainian gas company, Burisma Holdings, and whether his position influenced the Obama administration.
“The main performance — the Russia hoax — has ended, and you’ve been cast in the low-rent Ukrainian sequel,” the California Republican told Wednesday’s witnesses.