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Here we goooooooo.

Impeachment Hearing thread starts now.

Mute this one if you’d rather not get pounded with updates.

This is a profoundly sober moment in our history.

Adam Schiff calls the meeting to order.

Devin Nunes looks somewhere between lost, drunk and afraid.

Ambassador Bill Taylor and State Depat. staffer George Kent sit side by side under the gaze of all the world.

Adam Schiff opens with a prepared statement.

He is so very much the right face of the moment. Dignified and professional. Upright and direct.

We are in good hands.
(Note: this is going to be typo-filled mess. Don’t judge. Or judge. Whatever. There will be no proofreading.)
Adam Schiff is reading into the record a detailed playback of the timeline and events of the Ukraine Shakedown.

While necessary, I suppose, it is too detailed and content-rich to be compelling as television material.

Let’s get to the hearing.

The opening statements are likely to drag just long enough for me to get coffee while listening in the car.

My morning was poorly planned.

I’ll redouble my efforts when re-caffeinated.

“If this is not impeachable conduct, what is?” - Adam Schiff
Devin Nunes now delivering a Fiesta of Stupidity.

The man is an animate turd.

I will transcribe none of his horseshit.
Devin Nunes has all of the gravitas of a wilted cabbage.

He is so profoundly inane yet speaks with such a fake-ass play at seriousness, it is hard not to laugh.

He is a cornfield scarecrow who thinks he’s Socrates.
I have now acquired more coffee, so Dipshit McGee’s time at the mic was not a total loss.
Adam Schiff now reading in the rather impressive bios of Ambassador Taylor and George Kent.

Key takeaway: Each is a career public servant trusted by both Democratic and Republican presidents.
Immediately upon the completion of the swearing in, a number of attending Republicans immediately launched into specious parliamentary questions which Schiff shunted aside like tedious mosquitos.

None of these silly attempts will make even a ripple in the newscycle.
George Kent now reading a prepared opening statement.

“Today, I appear before you again, under subpoena, as a fact witness.”

His motive for appearing:

“Principled public service in pursuit of our national interest.”
George Kent describes the criticality of “America’s support in [Ukraine’s] de facto war of independence” and likens their struggle to the American Revolution which gave rise to our own liberty.

Powerful stuff.
“Here are the main themes from my [prior] testimony...”

Kent goes on to define the proper foreign policy mission in Ukraine and contrasts it with the inappropriateness of a demand that Ukraine investigate American citizens.
“Over the course of 2018-2019, I became increasingly aware of an effort by Rudy Giuliani [...] to smear Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.”
Kent describes Giuliani’s corrupt efforts as “infecting” Ukraine foreign policy efforts.

Infecting. Like a parasitic weakening its host.
Kent completes opening remarks.

Ambassador Taylor begins his.

Gravelly and stoic, Taylor is a man of gravity.

Republicans going after him will likely go badly and play even worse.
“As we sit here today, Russians are attacking Ukrainians in their own country. I saw this on the frontlines last week. [...] The aid we provide is crucial to their defense.”
Taylor makes a point of describing how he was recruited by Mike Pompeo to serve as Ambassador to Ukraine.

Taylor laying out Russia’s unlawful aggression under the direction of Putin.

“14,000 Ukrainians have died and more die each week.”
Taylor describes his wife’s strong opposition to his accepting the Ambassador role but his somewhat reluctant decision to accept after being counseled by a Republican mentor who said:

“If your country asks you to serve, you do it if you can be effective.”
Side note: I want Ambassador Taylor to record my voicemail message.

That dude has a great voiceover voice.

“It is with great regret that I inform you, Hoarse is unable to attend to your inquiry at this moment in our history. Please state that nature of your matter.”
Taylor lays out the two channels of Ukraine foreign policy - the regular and highly irregular Giuliani channel - and makes clear the latter was undermining the former.
Taylor basically describing a unanimous agreement across all parties in government that aid to Ukraine should be released but the aid nonetheless withheld on orders of Mick Mulvaney.

Taylor just laid the direct responsibility for the withholding of aid in Mick’s lap.
Now, here is the thing to remember:

Mulvaney serves as both the head of the Office of Management and Budget - and - as Trump’s acting Chief of Staff.

Mulvaney abused his power at the OMB to serve Trump’s personal political goals.
Taylor relates the details of a call with State Department staffer Morrison who told him Trump didn’t want to provide any aid to Ukraine at all.

That is what makes this extortion.

Trump, in his mind, was abusing power by asking for something only under threat of harm.
Taylor now roping Pence into the shenanigans.

Describes conversations with Pence where Pence assured him he would speak to Trump directly about the release of aid - which, as we know was withheld as political leverage - which therefore ensures Pence heard the same directly.
Ambassador Taylor’s prepared opening statement is enough to convict.

Detailed, specific, clear and readily corroborated.

Taylor is naming names and laying bare the full conspiracy.

His testimony will be impossible to discredit on the merits.

R’s are in for a long day.
As a matter of political strategy, calling Ambassador Taylor first was an act of great shrewdness.

He has sooooo much gravitas.

He is everything that Nunes, Jordan, et al, are not.

He has more gravitas than Mueller had in his appearance.

The man is towering.

Ambassador Taylor relating members of his staff overhearing a Trump phone call to Sondland where he directly inquired about the investigations he had demanded.

The gun, she smokes.
Ambassador Taylor absolutely hit it out of the park in his opening statement.

You must find the video of his closing about a young Ukraine fighting for a promising future.


That’s the first major soundbite of the day.

Schiff now jumping right to the point raised a couple posts ago:

The smoking gun of Taylor’s staffer directly overhearing Trump asking Sondland about the “investigations” he had demanded as a predicate for releasing aid.

Per Schiff, this is new - and it’s major.
Schiff now leading Taylor through questions which elicit a clear description of how Trump’s proposed abandonment of Ukraine directly helps Putin.
Schiff turns over control of the questioning to counsel who will now have 45 minutes for direct.

Counsel Goldman takes all of three minutes to get Taylor on record re: the clear political nature of the demand for investigations as evidenced by Giuliani stating as much on TV.
While the average American will not watch this hearing in its entirety, it is riveting as these things go.

It is the polar opposite of the charade of the Corey Lewandowski hearing.

The excerpts will be so damning, they will be inescapably damaging to Trump.
“It is one thing to try to leverage a meeting. [...] It is another thing to leverage security assistance to a country reliant on that support. It was much more alarming.” - Taylor

Ambassador Taylor: I took detailed notes.

Atty Goldman: The State Department has those notes but hasn’t turned them over, correct?

Taylor: Yup
Taylor nails Sondland for perjuring himself by relaying Sondland’s direct acknowledgement that “everything” - meaning aid - was contingent on Ukraine investigating Biden and the DNC.
Taylor goes on to say that he was told by multiple Ukrainian officials that Sondland had told them they would not receive aid without delivering Trump’s demanded investigations.

Sondy is what experts call “seriously fucked”.
Not only did Sondland wholly incriminate himself for the felony of lying to Congress, he served as the central courier in a criminal conspiracy.

Somewhere in the world, the bumbling Sondland is likely defecating profusely.
At multiple points, when a question would require speculation or information beyond Ambassador Taylor’s personal knowledge, he has declined to answer.

He is a stellar witness. Stellar.

He is a prosecutor’s dream.
Taylor’s testimony is so crisp, clear and detailed, he is leaving no opening to impugn his credibility.

Republicans are going to be left with no choice but to attempt to change the subject or erect smokescreens.

They’re in such a bad spot here. Unarmed. It will be embarrassing.
I was unsure how the dual appearance of both Kent and Taylor would play but it is rather effective.

It links together the State Department here in the United States with the ambassador corp serving abroad - and it joins them in condemnation of Trump’s conduct.
The initial 45-minute block of questioning has now ended and we are on a brief recess.

Republican questioning will begin shortly.

That is going to be a clown car Thelma and Louise’ing off a cliff.

Redouble your popcorn supplies.
One programming note:

I’ll do my best to cover this up until 2:00 pm at which point today’s sobering affairs will take a backseat to picking up my 12-year old.

In the meantime, I will toil away lunchless while dreaming of a Guinness.
In the meantime, @NicolleDWallace opens the coverage by lasering in on the point above about the bombshell of the day:

Direct knowledge of Trump personally drawing a line between his investigation demands and the release of aid.

Told ya that was a blockbuster.
Back to my hunger.

I now deeply regret my ill-considered decision to eschew an egg and cheese sandwich this morning.

I can think of little else.

People don’t plan to fail; they fail to plan.
MSNBC panel also drilling into the absurdity of Sondland calling Trump directly on a cell-to-cell call about sensitive foreign policy matters.

I’m old enough to remember when cell phone usage was considered a criminal matter by Republicans.
We’re back.

Devin Nunes now opening with an insipid filibuster so idiotic, a person would have to have been kicked repeatedly in the head by a malicious burro or other mean-spirited beast of burden for it to seem somehow intelligent.
Since Nunes’ prattling fuckery is of no particular import, allow me to take this moment to update you on my hunger.

I have now procured two Pop Tarts. Brown Sugar Cinnamon. That is unequivocally the best flavor of Pop Tart.

I will not be accepting rebuttals at this time.
Nunes is spinning like a buffoonish top on some asshatted ramble about Fusion GPS and Democrat conspiracies.

The man is such a fucking clown. An absurd, asinine fuckwit.

The man is dumber than an effing stool sample.
Nunes turns over the questioning to Republican counsel.

So far, the gambit appears to be to deliver long filibustering rambles and then ask an insipid question.

Delivery of speeches as a proxy for testimony.

This isn’t going to work well.
Schiff neuters the tactic right out of the gate by advising the witnesses to not respond to statements or insinuations reliant on facts not in evidence.

Translation: ignore shit they make up.
Republican counsel is trying very hard to center the discussion on the July 25th call only to run into the deadend of an explanation from George Kent that it’s the National Security Counsel that preps a President for such things.
Counsel then deadends on attempts to probe on the post-call summary after the July 25th call.

He appears to be attempting to position the call as ordinary when its handling was clearly not - either before, during or after.

Counsel: Ukraine has always been super corrupt, right?

Kent: Until Zelensky

The guy Trump tried to corrupt.


Counsel: Burisma is super corrupt though, right?

Kent: They’re a huge company. Their reputation is mixed.

Counsel: Didn’t they put people on the board?

Kent: Yeah, like the President of Poland

Counsel: Doh. Not him. Rhymes with Bunter Hiden.
Kent took a lot of the piss out of counsel’s questioning by pointing out Burisma added multiple foreign figures to its board.

Totally quashed his follow-up questions about whether Hunter Biden relocated to Ukraine.

The President of Poland probably didn’t move there either.
Counsel tried his level best to validate the need to investigate Burisma.

It was muddled and a bit clumsy.

If that was his most potent vector, this is going to end with a whimper not a bang.
The dramatic weakness in opposing counsel’s direct is his very heavy reliance on his own editorializing.

A lawyer talking for three paragraphs and a witness answering in five words just doesn’t play well as soundbites.

Haven’t heard an extractable clip here yet.
As a matter of personal style, Ratcliffe, Republican counsel, is also less effective as an orator than Democrats’ Goldman.

Speaks fast. Ends every statement with “correct?”

It becomes earwash. Even for careful listeners, it is fundamentally weak. It won’t resonate.
So far, the entirety of the rebuttal questioning has been very inside-baseball.

It’s in the weeds.

Lots of Americans turning off their TVs and getting a sandwich.

As a matter of public persuasion, this is a zero so far.
Note: counsel’s name is apparently Castor not Ratcliffe. Not in front of TV. My apologies.
Castor close to done with his first block of time.

Circles back to Burisma.

Clearly the strategy is to impugn Burisma and therefore rationalize a demand for an investigation.

I’d give it a C-.

Could have gotten there. Didn’t quite.

A swing and miss.
Yet another correction. Caster not Castor.

I don’t know. I’m just taking people’s word for it.

He was unimpressive. I see little reason to commit his name to long term memory.
We have now moved on to the round robin of 5-minute questioning blocks.

My understanding was that respective counsel would be given as many 45-minute blocks as necessary before proceeding to this portion.

I may have that wrong... if not though, it suggests Dems are happy.
The five-min back and forth may yield some soundbites but they don’t favor an effort to substantively rebut the meat of the testimony.

Expect a bunch of grandstanding fillibusters with little substance from Repubs on the committee.

Their ship has largely sailed.

Damage done.
Schiff gets Taylor on record testifying to Zelensky’s opposition to appearing on TV to announce investigations knowing that would mire him in American domestic politics.


Trump has claimed Zelensky didn’t mind any of this.
Jim Jordan now semi-shouting into the mic in a verbal diarrhea of bullshit.


Not really even asking a question.

Just yelling like the brainless shitbird he is.

Fuck that asshole.
I won’t even bother trying to transcribe that jerkoffs ranting diatribe.

Anyone have anything good for lunch?

The Pop Tarts were wildly insufficient.
After Jim Jordan winds up with a tornado of angry bullshit, Ambassador Taylor calmly reminds him that he is there not as a witness for or against anything but as a fact witness testifying to the truth.

Took the air right out of the balloon of that shirtsleeved tool.
I’m soon to have to shut down this long thread.

Will do my best to rejoin later if poss.

On balance, I’d say the testimony thus far has been a solid B+ for Democrats.

Credible witnesses: ✅
New damning info: ✅
Corroborated by future witnesses: ✅
Solid foundation: ✅
Thanks for reading along. Hope this has been of some use.

Boy, I could use a beer.

Visit my Soundcloud or whatever it is the kids say at the end of these things.
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