Although he said it in an attempt to lend credibility and gravitas to new evidence presented by one of the witnesses, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin admitted on Wednesday that Democrats have a bit of a “problem” with their witnesses. Namely, none of them ever actually spoke to President Donald Trump to get a sense of where he stood as it pertained to Ukraine military aid or the reasons it was being withheld.
Toobin brought this up in a discussion of Ambassador William Taylor, who dropped a – cough, cough – “bombshell” new piece of “evidence” on the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. According to Taylor, one of his aides came to him in the days after he was first deposed by the committee in a closed-door hearing. At that time, the aide (suddenly?) recalled overhearing a phone conversation between Ambassador Gordon Sondland and President Donald Trump.
“Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine,” Taylor testified. “Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for.”
Ooh, can’t you just feel the goosebumps?
On CNN, Toobin paraphrased Taylor’s testimony: “The president cares more about investigations of Biden of the 2016 campaign than he does about anything else relating to Ukraine. That’s important, because the one criticism of these two witnesses, which I think is very much legitimate – it’s not really a criticism, it’s just a factual statement – is that neither of them had direct contact with the president.”
“Ever,” noted host Jake Tapper.
“Ever,” said Toobin. “You know, that’s a problem if you’re going to impeach the president.”
Well, yeah. It’s a huge problem, and we’re not clear on how this bit of new testimony makes it any better. According to Taylor, his aide overheard a phone call before talking to a third party about the president’s state of mind. This isn’t just hearsay – it’s hearsay of hearsay. It’s just more of the same “problem” that Toobin readily identified.
So far, Democrats have been unable to produce any witness with direct, clear testimony about Trump’s motivations in dealing with Ukraine. And it seems unlikely that they’ll be able to, since one of their members was actually arguing on Wednesday that hearsay evidence “can be better” than direct evidence. We’re not sure who Rep. Mike Quigley was trying to convince with that absurd statement – the public or himself – but he only succeeded in making a joke of these proceedings.
Of course, at this point, that doesn’t take a whole lot of effort.