Cline goes with the “hearsay” defense

Fortune magazine reports:

House Democrats held their first public hearing in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump Wednesday, with acting ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor telling a live television audience that Trump asked about Ukraine’s “investigations” into the Bidens during a phone call with Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

Taylor further testified that Trump cared more about “the investigations” that the diplomat said were pushed by the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, than Ukraine. Taylor said that he was told about the call by a member of his staff.


Meanwhile, several Republicans dismissed the revelation without answering to the substance of Taylor’s revelation. “In court that would be called hearsay, and that’s pretty much what most of the testimony in intelligence has been, is second-and third-degree hearsay,” Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.) told Fortune, referring to the House Intelligence Committee. 

For Republicans, however, the “hearsay” defense will likely only last for so long. Sondland is scheduled to testify on November 20. And during the hearing Wednesday, House investigators called the aide who overheard the call, David Holmes, to testify behind closed doors on Friday. Both witnesses will almost certainly be asked about the call and what they heard Trump say, should they testify as scheduled.

As Cline surely knows, the rules for a Congressional hearing are not the same as for a criminal trial.

And if Cline is so concerned about “second-and third-degree hearsay,” shouldn’t he be demanding testimony from some of the people with first-hand information– including Mick Mulvaney, Mike Pompeo, John Bolton and Trump himself?

But OK, Congressman. Let’s imagine for a moment that the phone call occurred as Ambassador Taylor described, and that future witnesses confirm it.

Will you then finally address the substance of what Taylor and the other witnesses have testified to?

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