Democrats have been scrambling following Wednesday’s lackluster public impeachment hearing, changing the focus of their impeachment narrative to “attempted” crimes after Republican lawmakers largely decimated their weak impeachment case.
Wednesday’s public impeachment hearing, which featured testimonies from acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor and senior State Department official George Kent, was deemed a bust by many, including Democrats.
“It was a total disaster for us,” one senior House Democrat aide told Breitbart News.
“It’s hearsay,” Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ) said of Taylor’s testimony. “It’s really difficult dealing with this because it’s he said-she said.”
Neither of the bureaucrats who testified was able to outline a clear case of wrongdoing by the president, and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) took the opportunity to mock House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) “star witness,” whose “clear understanding” came from layers of hearsay.
Jordan read an excerpt of U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s addendum:
Ambassador Taylor recalls that Mr. Morrison told Ambassador Taylor that I told Mr. Morrison that I had conveyed this message to Mr. Yermak on September 1, 2019, in connection with Vice President Pence’s visit to Warsaw and a meeting with President Zelensky.
Taylor confirmed to Jordan that he did not listen to Trump’s phone call with President Zelensky, nor did he speak with Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney or ever meet Trump, for that matter.
“This is what I can’t believe. And you’re their star witness. You’re their first witness. You’re the guy – you’re the guy. Based on this, based on – I mean, I’ve seen church prayer chains that are easier to understand than this,” Jordan marveled.
Due to the Republicans’ strong counternarrative, Democrats and the establishment media are moving the goalposts, arguing instead that Trump is guilty of “attempted” bribery and extortion. It has been an emerging talking point in recent days – one which Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) alluded to during Wednesday’s hearing:
“So ambassadors, is attempted murder a crime?” he asked, repeating his question. “Is attempted murder a crime?”
“Attempted murder is a crime,” Taylor said.
“Is attempted robbery a crime?” he asked.
“Neither of us is a lawyer,” Taylor began before Castro interrupted.
“I think anyone in this room could answer that question,” he said.
“I’ll go out on a limb and say yes it is,” Taylor said.
“Is attempted extortion and bribery a crime?” Castro asked, trying to draw a parallel.
“I don’t know sir,” Taylor said.
.@JoaquinCastrotx is trying to get the witnesses to answer whether "attempted bribery" is a crime. (They don't know.) There WAS no attempted bribery, but regardless — the Constitution says that bribery itself, not the attempt, is impeachable. #ImpeachmentInquiry
— Joel B. Pollak (@joelpollak) November 13, 2019
I can't wait for the class on attempted conspiracy! And attempted attempted murder!
If no crime was committed, it doesn't matter what stopped you.
"He was going to conspire to commit murder, but then his narcolepsy kicked in and he forgot." https://t.co/atov82FeRL
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) November 13, 2019
Democrats have been desperately angling to get the new narrative to stick. Castro even repeated his point following the hearing.
“Either he committed extortion and bribery of a foreign official, or he committed attempted extortion and bribery of a foreign official … and that’s still a crime,” Castro stated:
Based on the evidence that I've seen, the President did one of two things:
1) Either he committed extortion and bribery of a foreign official;
2) Or, he committed attempted extortion and bribery of a foreign official.
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) November 14, 2019
While CNN’s Chris “Fredo” Cuomo admitted that Democrats are “wrong to use the word extortion,” he described Trump’s purported action as an “attempted bribe”
“The Democrats are wrong to use the word extortion. I don’t see a threat of force. This was an attempted bribe and not just cause it’s in the Constitution,” he stated Wednesday night.
Castro and Cuomo were not the only two touting the new “attempted” narrative.
The main takeaway from today's damning testimony is this: Trump clearly attempted to extort Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 elections. Learn more at https://t.co/wQHfGSXJbu pic.twitter.com/zLwsuJTl1Z
— MoveOn (@MoveOn) November 13, 2019
Just because Ukrainian military aid was released doesn't exonerate Trump. It took pressure from:
State Dept lawyers
Only after Trump was caught did he relent. Attempted extortion is still a crime. https://t.co/WLjIsRvALc
— Anthony Brown (@RepAnthonyBrown) November 13, 2019
Once again for @RepRatcliffe: Zelensky was *this close* to going on CNN and making a statement about fabricated investigations when a whistleblower outed Trump's attempted extortion.
'Nothing happened' because a brave patriot exposed the plot. #ImpeachmentHearings
— JackiSchechner (@JackiSchechner) November 13, 2019
President Trump abused his power and endangered our national security when he attempted to pressure Ukraine into interfering in our upcoming elections.
— Raul M. Grijalva (@RepRaulGrijalva) November 13, 2019
good grief, people pretending attempted extortion and bribery = "foreign policy" https://t.co/Z0N8a6QpQ0
— Eric Boehlert (@EricBoehlert) November 14, 2019
It is confirmed. The current occupant of the White House attempted bribery. https://t.co/vIXECHKPqn
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) November 13, 2019
— Glenn Kirschner (@glennkirschner2) November 14, 2019
Btw #Trump, yesterday was DEVASTATING for you. The following are not valid defenses:
*didn’t know it was a crime
*too stupid to commit the crime
*the crime was only “attempted”
*there are no first-hand witnesses (especially when YOU bar them all from testifying)#Impeachment
— Andy Ostroy (@AndyOstroy) November 14, 2019
I'll repeat this until I'm numb: Trump attempted to withhold Congressionally approved aid to an ally to force them to declare an investigation into debunked conspiracy theories about a potential opponent in the 2020 election. That's 100% impeachable.
— GLOCKNER (@AndyGlockner) November 13, 2019
The only other R arg, that aid ultimately was released, v weak:
1) It's not a defense to bank robbery to say "I didn't get to carry it out b/c the cops stopped me." Attempted crimes are crimes. Trump tried to do this secretly, he just got busted
2) Timeline blows it apart…1/2
— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) November 13, 2019
The tactic is similar to the massive narrative pivot Democrats embraced after the Mueller report failed to deliver. After it was revealed that the report found no such evidence of collusion or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia – a narrative Democrats were banking on for impeachment – they switched to obstruction and followed with “attempted” obstruction, even though former Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not arrive to a conclusion. Attorney General William Barr ultimately cleared the president, stating that there was not enough evidence to substantiate a criminal obstruction of justice charge.
As for the “attempted bribery and extortion” narrative, another wrench has been thrown into the Democrats’ argument, as Breitbart News reported:
Ukrainian foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko said Thursday that U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland had ‘never’ linked U.S. aid to Ukrainian investigations of the 2016 elections or the Biden’s role in stopping a probe of Burisma.
The second round of public impeachment hearings will take place on Friday and feature former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.