Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) called out the Democrats at an impeachment hearing on Tuesday for continually changing the charges against President Donald Trump, with the latest being bribery, even though the more than 3,500 pages of transcripts so far have generated only one reference to it relating to former Vice President Joe Biden.
Ratcliffe noted in his time for questioning the witnesses – Jennifer Williams, Special Advisor for Europe and Russia, Office of the Vice President, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, Director for European Affairs, National Security Council — that since the impeachment inquiry started the alleged crime Trump committed while speaking to the Ukrainian president has evolved from quid pro quo to extortion and most recently to bribery.
“Miss Williams, you used the word unusual to describe the president’s call last on July 25th,” Ratcliffe said. “Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, you used the word inappropriate and improper.”
“I word searched each of your transcripts and the world bribery or bribe doesn’t appear anywhere,” Ratcliffe said. “Miss Williams, you’ve never used the word bribery or bribe to discuss president Trump’s conduct, correct?”
“Correct,” Williams said.
“Colonel Vindman, you haven’t either?” Ratcliffe said.
“That’s correct,” Vindman said.
“The problem is in an impeachment inquiry that the speaker of the House says it is all about bribery, where bribery is the impeachable offense,” Ratcliffe said. “No witness has used the word bribery to describe President Trump’s conduct. None of them.”
“The number of times any witness has been asked whether President Trump’s conduct constituted bribery before ambassador [Marie] Yovanovitch was asked by my colleague, Congressman Stewart, last Thursday, is zero.”
“The number of times witnesses have used the word bribery or bribe to describe President Trump’s conduct in the last six weeks of this inquiry is zero,” Ratcliffe said. “In fact, in these 3,500 pages exactly one time.”
GOP TX Rep Ratcliffe notes that in the nearly 4,000 pages of deposition transcripts, the word "bribery" appears only once – in reference to Biden. W/Pelosi poster as a backdrop, Ratcliffe then asked Vindman/Williams if they believe they witnessed bribery. Both answer “no"
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) November 19, 2019
“Ironically is it appears in a description of not President Trump’s conduct,” Ratcliffe said. “It appears in a description of Vice President Biden’s conduct.”
But Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) made it clear that the Democrats on the committee he chairs will decide what crime Trump allegedly committed.
“Just wanted to make one point clear for folks that are watching the hearing today,” Schiff said. “Bribery does involve a quid pro quo.”
“Bribery involves the conditioning of an official act for something of value,” Schiff said. “An official act may be a White House meeting.”
“An official act may be $400 million in military aid, and something of value to a president might include investigations of their political rival,” Schiff said, adding that America’s founders included bribery in its list of high crimes and misdemeanors.
“It will be our job to decide whether the impeachable act of bribery has occurred,” Schiff said.
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