The first day of the public hearings following a Democrat-led impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump has come to an end with no bombshells, and the focus has now shifted to moderate House Democrats—but will secondhand information be enough to sway their opinions?
President Trump said that during the “brief moment” when European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland actually spoke to him, he testified saying the president engaged in no quid pro quo.
“The only thing, and I guess Sondland has stayed with his testimony, that there was no quid-pro-quo, pure and simple,” President Trump said.
Sondland however revised his testimony to say he suspects an exchange of favors between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in the July 25 call, although he failed to provide evidence of any wrongdoing by President Trump.
Toward the end of the public hearing, the panel voted 13-9 to reject a Republican motion to subpoena the whistleblower, with both sides voting along party lines.
The proceedings raised questions from political observers who wondered if its continuation would change the minds of moderate Democrats.
CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin pointed out that key witnesses called to testify by Democrats on Wednesday, Nov. 13, had never directly interacted with President Trump, adding, “That’s a problem if you’re going to impeach the president.”
“Part of me is wondering, what do facts matter anymore in these debates?” ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos stated on live television.
But two Democrats, Reps. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) disagreed with their party’s decision and voted against a House resolution last month to proceed with the next stage of the impeachment inquiry.
“He will still be president, and he will still be the candidate, but he will say—and be correct—that ‘I’ve been exonerated,’” Van Drew said to TIME on Oct. 31. “Impeachment is a really, really, really high bar. We’re going to split the country apart, even further because of all this, which I think is bad.”
“This impeachment process continues to be hopelessly partisan,” Peterson told TIME. “I have been hearing from my constituents on both sides of this matter for months, and the escalation of calls this past week just shows me how divided our country really is right now.”
“I have some serious concerns with the way the closed-door depositions were run, and am skeptical that we will have a process that is open, transparent and fair,” Peterson continued. “Without support from Senate Republicans, going down this path is a mistake. Today’s vote is both unnecessary, and widely misrepresented in the media and by Republicans… I will not make a decision on impeachment until all the facts have been presented.”
New York Post contributor Miranda Devine is all for exposing the identity of the whistleblower at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.
“You could protect his identity all you’d like, we just want to know where this is all coming from, to see his demeanor, to check his credibility,” Devine said during an appearance on “Fox & Friends.” “You can’t have the president being accused of wrongdoing by nobody, by this shadowy figure who Adam Schiff is doing his best to erase from history.”