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Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, and she questioned witnesses William Taylor and George Kent during the impeachment inquiry’s first public hearing Wednesday. She joins Judy Woodruff to discuss why she thinks President Trump is guilty of “committing bribery,” how her Republican colleagues are in “lockstep” with the president and what’s coming next.
And for a Democrats' take, we turn now to Representative Jackie Speier of California. She's a member of the Intelligence Committee. She questioned the witnesses today.
And she joins us from Capitol Hill.
Congresswoman Speier, welcome back to the "NewsHour."
We heard Congressman Collins saying nothing new today. How did you hear it?
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif.:
You know, we have a very different view of what took place.
First of all, we have evidence that the president of the United States hijacked our foreign policy agenda for his personal benefit in his 2020 campaign. There is more and more evidence growing that he is committing bribery, where he has asked someone to do something for him in his official capacity. He's withheld military aid during that time frame, in exchange for these investigations.
What's important to point out is that Tom Bossert, who was the homeland security adviser to the president back in 2017, debunked all of the myths and the story that was being told on very fringe organizations that there had been Ukrainians involved in the 2016 election.
So his own advisers had told them it had no merit. And yet he is still pursuing that particular narrative.
We heard — we did hear Congressman Collins make a distinction between Ukrainian officials, government officials, or the government itself being involved in 2016. He made the distinction of saying it was Ukrainian — Ukrainian individuals.
So does that change the argument, in your view?
Rep. Jackie Speier:
No, because, as it turns out, in 2016, there was a reference to CrowdStrike, which is, frankly, a company in the United States that is a former Ukrainian or Russian owner.
So, putting all of that aside, what George Kent said today was that it was unfortunate that there was an American who had engaged with Ukrainians with — who were corrupt and pursuing a private agenda to try and trash the ambassador to Ukraine, who was taken out of that position because of the likes of Lev Parnas and others who wanted her out, and who had contributed substantial sums of money to President Trump's campaign, and who actually had White House meetings, something that President Zelensky has certainly wanted to try and show that the United States is aligned with them against Russia, as Russia continues their very aggressive and adversarial relationship in trying to take over land in Ukraine.
Congresswoman, what about the Republicans' repeated declaration that this is — so much of what the Democrats are hanging there their view on is hearsay, it is not — and we did hear the two witnesses today say that neither one of them had spoken directly with President Trump.
Their information is based on what other people have told them or what other people have told them they heard.
Well, I have two responses.
First of all, we have the actual script, the summary of President Trump's call with Mr. Zelensky, where he sets out that "I want a favor, though," and then asks for an investigation.
As you pointed out, he wasn't asking for an exhaustive review of corruption in Ukraine. He was asking for a specific focus of an investigation on Biden and on Hunter Biden. So that's number one.
Number two, if they want to have persons who had direct knowledge, we would love to have Mick Mulvaney come and testify. We would love to have John Bolton come and testify. But, again, it is the White House, it's the president who has said that they cannot come and testify before the committee.
The two persons that we had today from the State Department had a total of 77 years of service to this country. And they came because of a subpoena issued each of them. They defied the White House, because they recognize their obligation to the Constitution and to the American people.
Congresswoman, can Democrats make this case without those officials who either are from the White House or at the State Department, who are part of the administration, and, frankly, without Republican — Republicans being on board the arguments you're trying to make?
Well, first of all, there were Republicans who joined in wanting to have an impeachment inquiry, Justin Amash. And then he proceeded to leave the Republican Party and become an independent.
There is such a lockstep requirement to just follow whatever the president says, that many of my colleagues, regrettably, have lost sight of their responsibility to be a check and balance on the executive branch.
So, moving forward, we will have Ambassador Sondland come and testify next week. He had some direct conversations with the president, the president who says he hardly knows him, but has him on speed dial, it appears — is going to be an interesting conversation that we have with him next week.
And aside from Ambassador Sondland, where do you think most of the attention next week is going to fall?
Well, I think Fiona Hill is going to be an outstanding witness for us to listen to. And I think her testimony will be very important.
We will hear from a number of witnesses that the Republicans had sought, in particular Tim Morrison, Mr. Hale, and Kurt Volker. So it's going to be a very comprehensive look, with Republican witnesses and witnesses that the Democrats are going to bring.
And the American people will have the opportunity duty to make their own minds up.
For months now, the Republicans were saying, this is being done in the dark, this is being done because behind closed doors. Now it's in the open, and now they have got to change their narrative. And so that's what they're doing.
Congresswoman Jackie Speier of the Intelligence Committee, thank you very much.
Thank you, Judy.
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