In impeachment hearings this week, Utah Republican Congressman Chris Stewart repeatedly called the inquiry into President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine unfair and lacking any evidence of wrongdoing.
“Zero evidence of any bribery,” Stewart said. “Zero firsthand evidence of any quid pro quo.”
The Democratic-led impeachment inquiry is investigating whether the president withheld military aid to Ukraine in exchange for a political favor earlier this year. At the center is a July phone call between Trump and Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Trump asked Zelenskiy to announce an investigation into Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden’s involvement in Ukraine when he was Vice President.
Stewart is Utah’s only representative on the House Intelligence Committee, which heard from 9 witnesses this week.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a member of the National Security Council who was listening in on the July phone call, testified Tuesday that Trump’s request to Zelenskiy was inappropriate due to the power imbalance between the two men. Ukraine relies on military assistance from the U.S. to help combat Russia’s influence in the region.
Stewart dug into Vindman’s analysis. He asked Vindman if that assumption was based on his experience in the military, where a request from a superior amounts to an order. When Vindman answered yes, Stewart pointed out neither Trump nor Zelenskiy are members of the military.
“Would it be fair then, to take someone who has never served in the military and to take your reevaluation of their words based on your military experience and your military culture and to attach that culture and that meaning of those words to someone who has never served?” Stewart asked.
“Representative, I made that judgement. I stick by that judgement,” Vindman answered.
“I gotta tell you I think that’s nonsense,” Stewart said.
Throughout the week, in addition to picking apart the Democrats’ case, Stewart also criticized the impeachment inquiry’s process.
“Welcome to Impeachapalooza 2019,” Stewart said Tuesday afternoon to kick off his questioning of Ambassador Kurt Volker and Timothy Morrison, “which is the Democratic plan to compel America to impeach President Donald J. Trump through the sheer force of boredom. Because it’s been a long day and it turns out impeachment is very boring if you don’t have any compelling or any condemning evidence.”
Stewart argued that the Democrats have wanted to impeach President Trump for years, and despite what he calls “zero evidence,” the Democratic-controlled House will vote to impeach the President. If that happens, the Senate would hold a trial and then vote on whether to remove him from office.
“That’s good news,” Stewart said Thursday. “The warm-up band is over and now we’re going to go on to the main event and that’s in the U.S. Senate. And in the U.S. Senate, there won’t be any secret testimony, there’s not gonna be dishonest leadership or a chairman who refuses to let us ask appropriate questions or to deny a defense.”
Republicans have asked for several witnesses to appear publicly, including the whistleblower and Hunter Biden. Democrats haven’t allowed those witnesses, but have allowed Republicans to call others.