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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 10/24/19

GOP Lawmakers Disrupt Impeachment Hearing As More Damaging Details Emerge About Trump's Misconduct

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Republican lawmakers stormed a closed hearing room Wednesday, disrupting the House impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump and delaying a Pentagon official's testimony. In an extraordinary chain of events, dozens of Republican congress-members pushed into a secure hearing room as Laura Cooper, the U.S. defense official who oversees Ukraine and Russia matters, was due to testify. A five-hour stand-off ensued. The spectacle unfolded one day after Tuesday's explosive testimony by William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine. Taylor told congressional lawmakers that the Trump administration held up $391 million in aid to Ukraine for the purpose of pushing Ukraine to incriminate Trump's political rivals, particularly presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden.

We go to Capitol Hill to speak with Mitch Jeserich, the host of Letters & Politics heard on KPFA and Pacifica Radio. And we speak with retired colonel and Vietnam War veteran Andrew Bacevich, co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I'm Amy Goodman with Nermeen Shaikh.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Republican lawmakers stormed a closed hearing room Wednesday, disrupting the House impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump and delaying a Pentagon official's testimony. In an extraordinary chain of events, dozens of Republican congress-members pushed into a secure hearing room as Laura Cooper, the U.S. defense official who oversees Ukraine and Russia matters, was due to testify. A five-hour standoff ensued. This is Kansas Republican Representative Roger Marshall being questioned by reporters.

REP. ROGER MARSHALL: So we just all -- maybe 15, 20 Republicans, maybe 30 of us, the whip led us in there, to the Star Room. Schiff walks out. They all walk out. They're not gonna let us hear anything. This whole thing is a sham...Now we're just in there yelling and screaming at each other. If this was out open and transparent, then the American public can see exactly what's going on. That's all we're wanting, is we want this to be transparent.

REPORTER: What did Chairman Schiff say?

REP. ROGER MARSHALL: Nothing. He doesn't have the guts to come talk to us! He does not have the guts to talk to us. He left. He just got up and left. He doesn't have the guts to tell us why we can't come in the room, why he doesn't want this to be transparent. It's the biggest facade, the biggest farce I've ever seen in my life.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Laura Cooper was finally able to testify once the protest ended. California Democrat Eric Swalwell addressed Wednesday's dramatic events.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL: But the tactics are in an effort to delay the inevitable. They are a response to just damaging and pulverizing testimony yesterday from a courageous Ambassador in Bill Taylor. But they will not stop us in pursuing the truth.

AMY GOODMAN: The former presidential candidate, Congress-member Swalwell, was referring to Tuesday's explosive testimony by William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine. Taylor told congressional lawmakers that the Trump administration held up $391 million in aid to Ukraine for the purpose of pushing Ukraine to incriminate Trump's political rivals, particularly Joe Biden.

In Taylor's opening statement, which has been made public, he laid out his interactions with Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union. He's a wealthy Oregon hotel magnate with no diplomatic experience who received the ambassadorship after donating $1 million to Trump's inauguration. Taylor says Ambassador Sondland told him that everything, including security assistance, was dependent on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announcing an investigation into Burisma, the gas company where Joe Biden's son, Hunter, was a board member. Taylor's testimony offers the most damning evidence so far in the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

For more, we're joined by Mitch Jeserich, host of Letters and Politics heard on KPFA and around Pacifica Radio, and a Capitol Hill correspondent. Still with us, Andrew Bacevich, co-founder of The Quincy Institute, the new Washington anti-war think tank, who recently wrote a piece for TomDispatch headlined The real cover-up: Putting Donald Trump's impeachment in context.

But Mitch, let's go to you first. You're right there on Capitol Hill. Talk about the latest in the impeachment inquiry, the takeover of this room yesterday by this group of Republican mainly men, and also the significance of Bill Taylor's testimony.

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Democracy Now!  is a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program hosted by journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. Pioneering the largest public media collaboration in the U.S., Democracy Now! is broadcast on (more...)
 
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