The WASHINGTON EXAMINER has some good sources inside Adam Schiff’s hearing room, so we’re getting an idea of what has been going on in there. What a travesty. It’s easy to see why Democrats aren’t allowing it to take place in public, let alone with video cameras, as Schiff's strongarm tactics for getting the testimony he wants are on full display.
This is particularly the case for former U.S. Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker in his testimony on October 4.
In her report the day of the hearing, which took place in a secure room in the U.S. Capitol, Susan Ferrechio said that “sources familiar with Volker’s testimony” told her that the former diplomat “repeatedly” rejected assertions by Schiff that Trump was pushing for a quid pro quo in his July 25 phone call with President Zelensky: Look, you investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and we’ll give you aid. The source said that Volker testified that the Americans never raised the issue and that the Ukrainians never felt pressure.
Of course, that didn’t stop Democrats from leaking selected and highly misleading text messages to make it look as though we were withholding security aid to get help with a political campaign, and it certainly didn’t stop fatuous California Rep. Eric Swalwell from running to microphones that very day and saying. “We saw further evidence that there was a shadow shakedown going on, and the lead deputy for the President was Rudy Giuliani.” He added that the testimony provided “more and more evidence” that Trump used the power of his office to “leverage help from an ally” to benefit him politically.
My goodness, that sounds serious.
But not so fast. As Volker had said in his opening statement, the Ukrainians asked HIM to put them in contact with Giuliani, not vice versa. And Mark Meadows said after the hearing, “There was definitely no quid pro quo, and it was asked 20 different times. The American people need to see the transcripts.” Well, we haven’t seen the transcripts in the days following the interview, but we do have the next best thing: an apparent leak of them to Byron York. And from this material, we know not only the words of Volker’s testimony –- there appears to have been no shakedown whatsoever –- but also the sleazy strategy being tried by Schiff to elicit the response he wants.
York’s report from Wednesday shows just how hard Schiff was trying to get Volker to say that the Ukrainians felt pressured by Trump to investigate the Bidens, specifically through the withholding of U.S. military aid. He kept asking the question in different ways, and Volker kept denying it in different ways. As it turns out, Volker didn’t even know that Trump had mentioned the Bidens during the call until the transcript of that conversation was released on September 25. He couldn’t deny that they felt pressured, of course; he could speak only for himself, but he had never been told anything about that, and he maintained that if they had, they would have brought it up with him. To his knowledge, the Ukrainians were not aware at that time that the aid had been suspended. And he said his first discussions of the issue with any Ukrainian official was on August 28 and 29, well after the July 25 phone call. He himself learned of it on July 18, one week before the phone call. He wondered about it but didn’t learn the reason for it.
His testimony was clear and specific: “The first conversation I had was when the diplomatic adviser to President Zelensky, Vadym Pristaico, I believe it was, texted me a copy of the POLITICO article about the hold on assistance. So I had had many conversations in the months prior to that, and this did not come up from him to me, which makes me believe that this was not on his radar until that time when he saw the article.”
That wasn’t good enough for Schiff, who is clearly a man on a mission. (Call it MISSION: IMPEACHABLE.) When he didn’t get the testimony he wanted right off the bat, his strategy was first to gain Volker’s agreement on a general statement, asking Volker to agree that “no President of the United States should ever ask a foreign leader to help intervene in a U.S. election.”
“I agree with that,” Volker said.
Then Schiff led his witness into a hypothetical scenario, asking, “And that would be particularly egregious if it was done in the context of withholding foreign assistance?”
Volker didn’t let himself be drawn into a hypothetical, saying. “We’re getting now into, you know, a conflation of these things that I didn’t think was actually there.
Dead end for Schiff! So, again, he asked another general question, asking him to agree that “if it’s inappropriate for a President to seek foreign help in a U.S. election, it would be doubly so if a President was doing that at a time when the United States was withholding military support from the country.”
Again –- and surely to Schiff’s dismay –- Volker refused to be drawn into a hypothetical and kept to the specifics of his own experience. “I can’t really speak to that,” he said. “My understanding of the security assistance issue is---”
Schiff cut him off and pressed him to answer. “Why can’t you speak to that, ambassador? You’re a career diplomat. You can understand the enormous leverage that a President would have while withholding military support from an ally at war with Russia. You can understand how significant that would be, correct?”
Remember that Volker had already testified that to his knowledge, the Ukrainians weren’t yet aware that the aid had been withheld. He sort-of played along, saying, “I can understand how that would be significant.”
So Schiff sensed an opening and tried to blur the timeline: “And when that suspension of aid became known to that country, to Ukraine, it would be all the more weighty to consider what the President had asked of them, wouldn’t it?”
Volker had already testified that as far as he was aware, they DIDN’T know. He tried again to make his point, beginning “So again, congressman, I don’t believe---” but was cut off again by Schiff.
“It’s a pretty straightforward question,” Schiff said.
“But I don’t believe the Ukrainians were aware of the assistance being held up---” Volker said, interrupted once again by Schiff.
“They became aware of it.”
“They became aware later, but I don’t believe they were aware at the time, so there was no leverage implied.”
You get the idea. There was much more of this volleying back and forth, with Schiff trying every which way to get Volker to go along with his made-up scenario. Volker never did. Clearly, his testimony did not support the point Schiff wanted to establish –- because Schiff was pushing a scenario that NEVER HAPPENED –- but that didn’t stop Schiff from relentlessly pursuing a flawed theory and for Swalwell to run to the microphones afterwards to do what he does best: lie.