Republican Rep. Devin Nunes claimed in his opening statement today that diplomats who testified in the impeachment inquiry last week were “unable to identify any crime or impeachable offense the President committed.”
Facts First: Two diplomats who testified last week, Bill Taylor and George Kent, declined to venture an opinion when asked whether Trump committed impeachable offenses. Taylor made clear that they were testifying to say what they knew, not to take a position for or against impeachment.
Rep. John Ratcliffe asked them: “So, in this impeachment hearing today, where we impeach presidents for treason or bribery or other high crimes, where is the impeachable offense in that call? Are either of you here today to assert there was an impeachable offense in that call? Shout it out. Anyone?”
Both Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, stayed silent for about three seconds after the “anyone?” But then Taylor said, “Mr. Ratcliffe, if I could just respond. Let me just reiterate that I’m not…”
Ratcliffe then interrupted, saying he only had a minute left for his questioning. When the committee chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, reminded Ratcliffe that he had asked a question the witness was trying to answer, Ratcliffe said, “I’ll withdraw the question.”
Taylor answered anyway, returning to what he had said in his opening statement that he was appearing at the hearing to provide facts, not to advocate or oppose impeachment. “I’m not here to take one side or the other. That’s your decision,” he said. He continued moments later that Kent was also not present to “decide about impeachment.”
Watch the moment: