As the impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump began today in the House of Representatives, the Republican line of attack fell to the most recently appointed member of the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Jim Jordan, a right-wing favorite who tried to paint the witnesses’ testimonies as hearsay. The attack was extremely similar to the one levied by Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton, who claimed last week that the inquiry should be called the “’Gossip Girl’ impeachment.”
As William B. Taylor Jr., acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, testified before Congress today, Republican members—including ranking member Devin Nunes—often ceded to Jordan part of their time for questioning the witnesses.
“Again, Jordan is the chief strategist here. The *chair* of the committee is yielding him time,” tweeted PBS NewsHour correspondent Lisa Desjardins, referring to Nunes, who chaired the committee before the Democrats regained control of the House in 2018, and now leads the committee’s GOP caucus.
Jordan, an ardent Trump defender, was tapped by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to join the Intelligence Committee on Friday, just one day after a second person accused him of turning a blind eye to sexual assault at Ohio State during his time there as an assistant wrestling coach.
Echoing Fitton, Jordan sought to sow doubt, painting the details of Taylor’s testimony as hearsay, and challenging the diplomat as to whether he had a clear understanding that Trump had withheld military aid to Ukraine in exchange for the investigation into Joe Biden and Biden’s son, Hunter. Jordan claimed that Taylor was “wrong” to have said there was a “clear understanding,” adding that there was “no linkage” between the administration’s withholding of appropriated military aid to Ukraine and the request for an investigation of the Bidens in the three meetings Taylor had with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Jordan pointed to a single sentence in an addendum made by Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, to the original testimony he delivered in the committee’s closed hearings last month. Striving to make his “hearsay” point, Jordan quickly read the sentence aloud twice: ”Ambassador Taylor recalls that Mr. Morrison told Ambassador Taylor that I told Mr. Morrison that I had conveyed this message to Mr. Yermak on September 1, 2019, in connection with Vice President Pence’s visit to Warsaw and a meeting with President Zelensky.” (What Sondland was saying there is that he apparently forgot that he had conveyed this message to Yermak, a Ukrainian official, until his memory was jogged by Taylor’s opening statement in the October hearings, which were conducted in a secure room in the Capitol.)
“We got six people having four conversations in one sentence, and you just told me this is where you got your clear understanding,” Jordan said.
When Jordan finally got his own time to ask questions, he asked no questions and instead delivered a monologue.
Only Chairman Schiff knows who the whistleblower is. We don’t. We will never get the chance to see the whistleblower raise his right hand, swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth—we’ll never get that chance. More importantly, the American people won’t get that chance. This anonymous so-called whistleblower with no first-hand knowledge, who’s biased against this president, who worked with Joe Biden, who is the reason we’re all sitting here today—we’ll never get a chance to question that individual. Democrats are trying to impeach the president based on all that? All that? Eleven-and-a-half months before an election? We’ll not get to check out his credibility, his motivations, his bias. I said this last week, but this is a sad day. This is a sad day for this country. You think about what the Democrats have put our nation through for the last three years. Started July of 2016 when they spied on two American citizens associated with the presidential campaign. And all that unfolded with the Mueller investigation after that. And when that didn’t work, here we are. Based on this [whistleblower]. This is a—the American people see through all this. They understand the facts support the president. They understand this process is unfair. And they see through the whole darn sham.
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) November 13, 2019
Jordan’s remarks and remarks by others like Nunes—who referred to the need to examine to what extent Democrats coordinated with the whistleblower—sounded oddly familiar to Right Wing Watch.
In Judicial Watch’s Nov. 8 “Weekly Update with Tom Fitton,” Fitton addressed what he called a “coup” targeting Trump that was orchestrated by the “top state of the deep state” and playing out in House committees conducting an impeachment inquiry against President Trump. In the video, Fitton urged his viewers to read released transcripts of closed-door hearings where members of Congress took depositions from witnesses related to the inquiry.
Upon reading them, Fitton said, he believed they showed “how both corrupt and dangerous this coup is, but also how fundamentally petty and boring the coup is, as well.”
“When you look at the testimony, you see bureaucrats and appointees worrying about their jobs, being a little bit confused as to who was setting policy or what the policy goal was, bickering with each other,” Fitton said. “It’s the ’Gossip Girl’ impeachment.”
He continued, “It’s bureaucratic back-and-forth complaining, mostly, about the president doing his job as president, which is to direct policy. And you see these deep state-ers, some of whom were anti-Trumpers, even though nominally they were appointed by Trump, complaining about the president’s prerogatives in that regard.”
During today’s hearings, he tweeted the same remarks:
Gossip Girl impeachment.
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) November 13, 2019
And after Jordan’s performance during the hearing, Fitton tweeted it approvingly, including the hashtag “#StoptheCoup.”
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) November 13, 2019