WASHINGTON — As one of the top Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, was on the front lines of the impeachment inquiry proceedings this past week.
Here is a recap of the questioning by Jordan during the televised events. Jordan represents the 4th Congressional District, which includes Allen, Auglaize, Logan and Shelby counties in the region.
Testimony of Bill Taylor, diplomat to Ukraine
Jordan’s first round of questioning got the most national attention, as he worked to undercut Taylor’s testimony that Ambassador Gordon Sondland had told Taylor that he had linked U.S. military aid with investigations into Burisma Holdings and the Bidens during a conversation with the top aide of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“We’ve got six people having four conversations in one sentence, and you just told me this is where you got your ‘clear understanding’ that the president had linked security assistance to investigations,” Jordan said.
“Clear understanding” is a reference to Taylor’s earlier testimony during closed-door depositions.
“This is what I can’t believe,” Jordan continued. “And you’re (the Democrats’) star witness! You’re their first witness. Based on this, I’ve seen church prayer chains that are easier to understand than this.”
Taylor clarified that his testimony was bipartisan in nature.
During Jordan’s second round of questioning, Jordan argued that Taylor’s understanding of the state department’s proceedings were flawed due to military aid being released on Sept. 11 — two days after House committees began investigating the whistleblower’s complaint — despite the lack of a public acknowledgment from Zelensky of a Burisma investigation.
“The fact is (Taylor’s testimony) was wrong because (Zelensky’s public commitment to investigating Burisma) didn’t happen. The whole point was you had a clear understanding that aid will not get released unless there’s a commitment,” Jordan said.
Later in the hearing, Jordan explained that Trump was hesitant about releasing aid dollars due to concerns of Ukrainian corruption. After a 55-day-long vetting of Zelensky, Jordan said the administration decided to release the funds.
He argued along the same lines during the testimony of Marie Yovanovitch held Friday.
Testimony of Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine
Jordan had two memorable moments during the testimony of Yovanovitch, and both involved Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff. The first involved Republican House members repeatedly calling for points of orders as Schiff refused to yield the floor to other House members.
“A point of order,” Jordan could be heard saying as Schiff talked over him. “Mr. Chairman, there are four transcripts that have not been released. Holy cow. Mr. Chairman, I want you to release the four transcripts of depositions. That’s my point of order.”
Jordan tweeted out a similar message earlier in the day.
“We now have both the April and July calls between President Trump and President Zelensky. Once again, no linkage of any kind,” Jordan tweeted. “The WH has displayed unprecedented transparency. Meanwhile, Democrats haven’t even released all of the deposition transcripts.“
Transparency and process have been a consistent theme for Jordan, who called the whole impeachment proceeding a sham. During the exchange with Schiff, the chairman thanked the president for releasing the transcript of the first Trump-Zelensky call in April, but he also asked Trump’s administration to comply with the House in providing witnesses and releasing the “thousands of documents” that have been requested.
While House Republicans have often talked about the lack of firsthand information during the impeachment inquiry proceedings, the state department through Secretary Mike Pompeo has repeatedly said it will not comply with House subpoenas calling for witnesses.
Schiff and Jordan: Part 2
Jordan’s second exchange with Schiff occurred as he asked Yovanovitch if there was a solid basis for Trump’s concerns about corruption.
After listing a number of op-eds from Ukrainian politicians and officials arguing against a Trump election win in 2016, Jordan asked Yovanovitch if she asked Ukrainian politicians to stop commenting on Trump. Yovanovitch said she did not.
“No one did anything. No one did anything,” Jordan repeated. “You see why maybe the president was a little concerned about what went on in Ukraine? And you couple that with the corruption level that exists in Ukraine. You add to that this idea that he’s not a big fan of foreign aid, why he might be a little concerned about sending the tax dollars of the American people to Ukraine?” Jordan said.
Yovanovitch seemed confused by Jordan’s delivery of the question.
“I’m sorry, is there a question there?” she said.
Schiff allowed Jordan to repeat the question after running out of time. Jordan explained the lengthy question again. Schiff pressured Jordan to get to the point, saying he had already “indulged” Jordan enough.
“Our indulgence wore out with you a long time ago, Mr. Chairman,” Jordan replied.
After Jordan clarified the question, Yovanovitch explained that political commenting is common and “that it doesn’t necessarily constitute interference.”
Later in the hearing, Jordan contested the testimony that Yovanovitch’s removal from the state department was due to a smear campaign.
“If recalling Ambassador Yovanovitch was part of some scheme by Trump and Pompeo and Giuliani to get President Zelensky to do an investigation, why would they replace her with the Democrat’s first witness — their star witness — Bill Taylor?” Jordan said.
Taylor was first nominated as a Ukrainian ambassador during President George W. Bush’s tenure. Trump pulled the diplomat out of retirement to replace Yovanovitch.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.