The Attempted Spin of the Latest Impeachment Testimony

October 23, 2019 Updated: October 24, 2019

Commentary

Bill Taylor’s “bombshell” testimony was anything but a major new revelation, and like every other aspect of the Democratic-led impeachment effort, it fails to hold up to basic scrutiny.

Like previous witnesses called as part of the impeachment inquiry, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine appeared on Oct. 22 at a closed-door hearing of members of three investigating congressional committees that was kept secret not only from the American public, but also from members of Congress who are not on those committees.

Taylor’s testimony was meant to fuel the impeachment fire and embarrass President Trump. Instead, it raised serious questions about the Democrats’ hand-in-glove collaboration with the media, while failing to reveal anything new about the allegations at the heart of the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

All Taylor did was elaborate on his own personal perceptions, which were already public knowledge after the Democrats released text messages in recent weeks in which other administration officials categorically contradicted Taylor’s interpretation of the president’s diplomatic strategy in Ukraine.

Soon after the closed-door session ended, Democrat members of the House Intelligence Committee took to the airwaves to make hyperbolic statements regarding the testimony’s significance. Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) called it his “most disturbing day in Congress so far,” while Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) said the testimony will “answer more questions than it raises.”

The statements are part of a strategy to craft a misleading narrative about the testimony’s substance by selectively releasing information to the American people. Democrats, for example, leaked Taylor’s opening statement to the press, while restricting even fellow members of Congress from accessing other hearing documents.

While that strategy may play out well in the short-term, driving a news cycle and generating a bevy of headlines, it will ultimately backfire as Americans become more aware of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) deeply secretive and flawed process.

Several Republican committee members have already raised pointed objections to the narrative Democrats are trying to sell to the American people.

In a Fox News interview, for instance, Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) said that Democrats are preventing key moments from Taylor’s testimony from coming to light. According to Ratcliffe, “Neither [Taylor] nor any other witness has provided testimony that the Ukrainians were aware that military aid was being withheld. You can’t have a quid pro quo with no quo.”

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) also directly contradicted the Democrats’ characterization of the hearing; he asserted that Ratcliffe’s questions “destroyed the witness.” Predictably, Democratic leaders don’t want the public to see that unfiltered exchange, even restricting Republicans from speaking about it to the press under mysterious committee rules authored by Schiff.

Even Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), who is no fan of the president, tacitly conceded that Taylor’s testimony provided no impeachment news. Hurd told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that the hearing mainly revealed that the controversy is “ultimately … a question about how diplomacy should be conducted” and said the inquiry should be carried out by other committees.

Although it may bruise the egos of establishment-minded civil servants such as Taylor, bypassing the usual State Department channels is hardly an impeachable offense. In fact, given the widespread bureaucratic hostility to Trump’s agenda, it was arguably necessary in order to ensure that the president’s foreign policy agenda wouldn’t be co-opted or undermined by unelected career bureaucrats.

Reports that one of Schiff’s staffers attended a meeting with Taylor in Ukraine as recently as August only reinforce the perception that the whole impeachment process is a partisan farce, based on a nonexistent scandal that Democrats themselves played a major role in concocting. Indeed, it seems possible that Schiff’s team may have even been behind Taylor’s infamous text messages, exploiting their backdoor connections to the diplomat to plant a record they could later cite as part of their impeachment effort.

The mainstream media is trying to advance the Democrats’ cause by throwing around nefarious-sounding terms such as “shadow diplomacy,” but after nearly three years of watching Democrats and their media allies try and fail to find an excuse to overturn the results of the 2016 presidential election, American citizens should view their latest effort with deep skepticism.

Despite the hysteria it provoked on the left, Taylor’s testimony provided no substantive support to the Democrats’ impeachment crusade. If anything, the hearing just underscored the extent to which the whole enterprise depends on maintaining a strict veil of secrecy, and therefore, underscored its illegitimacy.

Jason D. Meister is an advisory board member of Donald J. Trump for President Inc. and managing director of Ackman-Ziff

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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