Rep. Jim Jordan grilled William Taylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine, during the first day of President Donald Trump’s impeachment hearings on Wednesday.
Jordan’s line of questioning focused on Taylor’s purported lack of firsthand knowledge of the events surrounding Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.
The Ohio Republican asked Taylor if he listened in on Trump’s call with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky, which is at the center of the current impeachment debate.
“I did not,” Taylor replied.
“You’ve never talked with Chief of Staff Mulvaney?” Jordan said, continuing his rapid-fire style of interrogation.
“I never did,” said Taylor.
Jordan asked, “You’ve never met the president?”
“That’s correct,” Taylor answered.
“You had three meetings again with Zelensky and it didn’t come up?” Jordan said, referencing the alleged quid pro quo that conditioned United States military aid to Ukraine on the country pledging to investigate Trump’s political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.
“And two of those they had never heard about it as far as I know,” Taylor replied.
“This is what I can’t believe,” Jordan said. “And you’re their star witness.”
“I’ve seen church prayer chains that are easier to understand,” Jordan added.
Senior Democratic and Republican lawmakers presented dueling narratives on Wednesday as a congressional impeachment inquiry that threatens Trump’s presidency entered a crucial new phase with the first televised public hearing.
The drama unfolded in a hearing of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee in which two career U.S. diplomats – Taylor and George Kent – voiced alarm over the Republican president and those around him pressuring Ukraine to conduct investigations that would benefit Trump politically.
The public hearings are scheduled for Wednesday and Friday.
With a potential television audience of tens of millions looking on, Schiff opened the historic session – the first impeachment drama in two decades – in an ornate hearing room packed with journalists, lawmakers and members of the public.
Schiff’s accusations that Trump abused his power was met by a staunch denial by the panel’s senior Republican, Devin Nunes, of the Republican president’s complicity in a saga that revolves around whether Trump and his aides improperly pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt on a political rival for his political benefit.
(Reuters contributed to this report.)