Rep. Mike Quigley defended the Democrats’ witnesses in the impeachment hearing Wednesday by arguing that hearsay can be better than direct evidence.
After questioning Bill Taylor the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, the U.S. ambassador to the country, Quigley made the case that it didn’t matter that they did not have direct knowledge of President Donald Trump’s actions.
“I think the American public needs to be reminded that countless people have been convicted on hearsay,” the Illinois Democrat said. “Because the courts have routinely allowed and created needed exceptions to hearsay. Hearsay can be much better evidence than direct as we have learned in painful instances, and it’s certainly valid in this instance.”
That prompted a Republican outburst, which Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California sought to silence.
Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, carefully managed the hearing, which kicked off the public phase of the impeachment inquiry he is leading against President Donald Trump.
However, Schiff could not subdue conservatives on Twitter.
“Can you believe this insanity? tweeted Donald Trump Jr.
Can you believe this insanity? “Heresay can be much better evidence than DIRECT EVIDENCE” according to Democrat Mike Quigley. Are you fricken kidding me? 3rd and 4th party info better than hearing it yourself? pic.twitter.com/K8WVcPhv7v
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) November 13, 2019
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California tweeted that the witnesses’ testimony was “2nd or 3rd or 4th hand knowledge.”
“Democrats are trying to impeach the president based on a game of telephone,” he said.
Both of the Democrats' star witnesses just admitted that they were NOT on the July 25th call between Presidents Trump and Zelensky. Everything they are saying today is 2nd or 3rd or 4th-hand knowledge.
Democrats are trying to impeach the president based on a game of telephone. pic.twitter.com/jbpvWOPMFs
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) November 13, 2019
During his questioning of Taylor, Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, made a similar point.
Taylor testified in support of the alleged quid pro quo at the heart of the impeachment push. According to Democrats, Trump’s temporary withholding of military aid to Ukraine was meant to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce investigations related to Joe Biden and other domestic political opponents of the president.
However, Jordan pointed out that Taylor has limited knowledge of Trump’s dealings with Kyiv and had never met the president.
When Taylor admitted that he was simply relaying what he had heard from other people, Jordan called him out for contradicting himself.
“What you heard did not happen. It didn’t happen,” Jordan said. “It’s not just could it have been wrong, the fact is, it was wrong, because it didn’t happen.”
A number of other U.S. officials have testified that Sondland discussed the quid pro quo, including with Ukraine, and the E.U. ambassador confirmed as much in a Nov. 4 amendment to his testimony. Trump also brought up the investigations after Zelensky mentioned military aid on their phone call. But Sondland said he did not actually know why military aid was withheld, and Democrats have so far failed to prove Trump made the aid conditional.
The next public hearing is scheduled for Friday.