The first day of public hearings into the Donald Trump impeachment inquiry could have turned into a snoozer.
It didn’t. Far from it. The daylong testimony was riveting on a couple of levels.
On one level we got to hear from the mouths directly of two career public servants about the things they said in private to the House Intelligence Committee. Their public testimony was as damaging as what we were led to believe their private testimony had been.
William Taylor is the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine; George West is a deputy secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. They were strong. They were forthright. I believe they told the truth.
They told us that Trump sought political favors from a foreign government. They said the president was more interested in digging up dirt on Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, than in rooting out corruption in Ukraine.
I believe they helped shore up the belief among many Americans that Trump has committed at least one impeachable offense. There might even be a bribery count thrown into the impeachment mix once the House of Representatives votes on the issue.
With several more days of hearings to go, the other aspect of this spectacle deals with how the Republicans on the committee and elsewhere in Congress are going to respond.
I will acknowledge my bias, but to my eyes and ears, the GOP didn’t fare as well as their Democratic colleagues. They struck out hard against Democratic motives and challenged what the witnesses saw and heard. Stunningly, they didn’t say a single word — that I heard — in defense of Donald Trump’s character. Which makes me wonder: How are they going to defend Trump against this impeachment tide?
They won’t defend their political main man. They will continue to attack, which will seek to divert our attention from the issue at hand: whether the president broke the law while violating his oath of office.
There will be more to come. This serious matter is likely to demonstrate — no matter how this drama concludes — that our Constitution does work.