Toobin: House Dems' first two witnesses had "a big problem"

Can anyone guess what it might be? C’mon, it’s been known for some time, even if House Democrats and their media supporters on impeachment have been too, er, polite to mention it. These witnesses to a “quid pro quo” or even bribery by Donald Trump have one thing in common … they never talked with Trump.

And, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin admits, that’s kind of a “big problem” (via Twitchy):

This was, to adapt a phrase, the missing elephant in the room. While much of testimony might have had a titillating quality for people who don’t like Donald Trump, it all involved hearsay. Even the supposed revelation provided by Ukraine charges d’affaires William Taylor was the kind of hearsay that never would have been allowed in a courtroom under any circumstances. Taylor had heard from an aide friend that had overheard part of a conversation between Sondland and Trump about “investigations.” It would be inappropriate under any circumstances for Taylor to testify about that in any proceeding within US jurisprudence when the aide is still alive — and even he might not be a terribly good witness if he didn’t overhear the whole call. And thats assuming the call itself was actually problematic at all.

Both witnesses today offered up plenty of their own conclusions about motives and ambitions based on premises, rather than on established facts about Trump’s specific actions and direct discussions. Adam Schiff was fine with that when the target was Trump, but attempted to impose a completely different standard when it came to asking questions that might tend to challenge Schiff’s narrative. Here’s one example involving Taylor and the GOP counsel, one in which Rep. John Ratcliffe warned could change the entire tenor of the hearings:

Ahem. Only Democratic fishing expeditions here — no GOP fishing allowed!

Practically every question on the point of the hearing assumed facts not in evidence, because not one witness had any direct contact with Trump himself. Not one of them could point to an overt direction for a quid pro quo from the White House. They assumed that was the policy, they worried that was the policy, and they certainly didn’t like the direction the Trump administration was taking Ukraine. But as far as the quid pro quo issue, it’s entirely assumed on facts not in evidence, because none of these witnesses can testify to such orders, let alone from Donald Trump — with whom they had no contact.

Sheryl Attkisson was left less than impressed at the end:

Another day of this and the only mind changing will be about tuning in for more of this wheel-spinning.