The Democratic Chairman of the committee, Adam Schiff, had promised a dramatic start with incredulous and bombshell level information, but that would prove to be lacking. His opening remarks were basically repeats of opinions which he paraded as fact and he even had to clarify points of order before starting. Republicans asked about the rules which were still fluid and Schiff just put them off. When he was done, Congressman Devin Nunes, the ranking minority member, shredded his comments. He directly tied the entire issue to the phone call which was released earlier and showed how the information gathered opposing that phone call was based upon second or third hand comments by people who did not listen in on the call. He also mentioned that fact that the whistleblower was not being brought before the committee as Schiff had previous said he would do and that the entire process lacked legitimacy by the way the chair was running the operation. He cited the ties of the Biden family to the position Hunter Biden held with a corrupt Ukrainian company and that it was all part of the corruption used against American politics by that nation in the prior election. Even the people interviewed to that point in secret admitted there was a bad corruption problem throughout the Ukraine and that validated the President's reasoning for wanting to insure American dollars would be spent properly. Nunes correctly reported that the United States had a formal agreement to stop corruption jointly with the Ukraine which had been approved by Congress in 1998 giving the President authority to do just what Trump did.
The two main witnesses for the day then began their appearances. The prime witness was Ambassador Bill Taylor and the follow-on witness was Deputy Secretary of State George Kent. In response to questions by Schiff and the Democrats, it became clear that the complaints they have about Trump were not about law breaking but about the proper conduct of American foreign policy. Both said in different ways that the President was not following American foreign policy processes long established. And regardless of what anyone might think about that, both men have a misguided understanding of how foreign policy is established for the Constitution only recognizes the President as the one who sets out the policy for the nation. All the officials, such as career diplomats Bill Taylor and Deputy Secretary Kent are tasked to carry out the President's policy, not to establish it. After all, there is nothing in the Constitution establishing a State Department, that was left to the Chief Executive, the President, to formulate. Furthermore, their concerns about the President establishing another channel for diplomacy have no basis for concern. Just like President Washington used John Jay in such a role and Franklin Roosevelt used Harry Hopkins, just to name two, Donald Trump decided to use Rudy Giuliani as a special ambassador. All Presidents have done so in an effort to get to the answers needed more efficiently than the time-labored process of State Department channels.
Key minority opposition to the entire impeachment process was provided by, in addition to Representative Nunes of California, Jim Jordan of Ohio and John Ratcliffe of Texas. Jordan hammered home the point of how former President Obama had refused to give military aid to the Ukraine, how even the State Department had questioned the culpability of former Vice President Biden in pressuring Ukraine not to investigate corruption of energy company Burisma since his son was a paid member of the company's board of directors despite lacking any experience in energy matters. Joe Biden's threat to block funding to Ukraine as approved by Congress was validated by his own words in a now well-watched Utube video of his appearance before the Council on Foreign Relations in January 2018.
The icing on the cake, however, came when Representative Ratcliffe, a former United States Attorney, asked both Taylor and Kent to name where the President of the United States committed an impeachable offense. He asked twice and the silence was deafening. But what's more, Ambassador Taylor even offered that it was not his purpose to be there to deal with a political hot potato, but just to report what he knew, even if none of it was first hand. And in the case of both men, neither heard the call or has ever met the President of the United States. They might have thought they were doing something important, but it was not anything impeachable and further more, without testimony and cross of the whistleblower, the process is ridiculous. If we even consider the possibility of removing the nation's leader based on the testimony of an anonymous source, it will so cheapen the seldom used process to something that could very well be something that every future President going forward could face. Bad precedents lead to very bad results. Allowing the United States to teeter toward the status of a banana republic is the worst of bad ideas.