White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham claimed Friday morning that President Donald Trump would tune out of former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s hearing after Intel Ranking Member Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) conspiracy theory-laden opening statement.
WH confirms, per Stephanie Grisham: “The President will be watching Congressman Nunes’ opening statement, but the rest of the day he will be working hard for the American people.”
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) November 15, 2019
Nunes spent much of his time criticizing Democrats for the “TV spectacle” of the impeachment inquiry, rehashing a bogus conspiracy theory on 2016 Ukraine election meddling and reading from the first, fairly bland call Trump had with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. The White House released the transcript of that earlier Trump call just as the hearing was getting underway Friday.
“Even as they were accusing Republicans of colluding with Russians, the Democrats themselves were colluding with Russians by funding the Steele Dossier, which was based on Russian and Ukrainian sources,” he said, citing a favorite right-wing conspiracy theory. “Meanwhile, they turn a blind eye to Ukrainians meddling in our elections, because the Democrats were cooperating with that operation.”
Nunes uses opening statement to spout off on Steele Dossier, bogus Ukraine meddling conspiracy theory pic.twitter.com/XjEKZ8WuTb
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) November 15, 2019
Nunes also bashed Wednesday’s hearing with Ukraine diplomat Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, calling it “hearsay.
“I’m glad that on Wednesday, after the Democrats staged six weeks of secret depositions in the basement of the Capitol, like some kind of strange cult, the American people finally got to see this farce for themselves,” he said. “They saw us sit through hours of hearsay testimony about conversations that two diplomats who had never spoken to the President heard second-hand, third-hand and fourth-hand from other people.”
The witnesses’ degrees of separation from the President was a frequent Republican complaint during the first hearing, despite the fact that the White House is blocking most witnesses who spoke to Trump directly from testifying. In addition, as ranking member on the committee, Nunes sat in on all of the “secret depositions” of the last few weeks.
Trump often claims that he’s not watching events like this one, but tends to live-tweet throughout.