Top House Democrat: We’re ‘Confident’ Ukraine Transcript Doesn’t Represent Full Extent of ‘Mind-Boggling’ Call
A little less than a year ago, just after Democrats won the midterm election for control of the House of Representatives, I interviewed my long-time friend, Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth on my podcast. At that time, I literally pleaded with John, who did not favor impeaching President Donald Trump, to change his mind, based mostly on the long-term implications for the country of not doing so.
Soon afterwards, Yarmuth, the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, altered his position to being in favor of impeachment. He even led the charge, consistently being quoted that Trump’s impeachment was a matter of “when, not if,” even when others, including me, had started to give up on the prospects of it actually happening.
Wednesday, for the first time since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi officially opened an impeachment inquiry of the president, I interviewed John again, with most of the conversation focusing on the Ukrainian scandal which facilitated this dramatic development. Here are some of the highlights of that conversation:
- Yarmuth, whose committee is investigating the circumstances of how exactly Trump cut off the military aid to Ukraine before the now infamous phone call, says that he has never known of a president acting in exactly this fashion to stop promised money to a foreign country.
- As for whether the public transcript represents the full phone call, Yarmuth said, “Not at all. We are confident it is not,” adding that it was “mind-boggling” that the “do us a favor, though” reference was left in the publicly-released document. He also said, with confidence, “we definitely will” discover more damning evidence about the true nature of the phone call.
- On whether this should make his caucus revisit the allegations and information in the Mueller report from a far more skeptical perspective, he admitted that, “people get that… but some don’t want to muddy the waters.”
- Interestingly, John said he had never heard the theory (which I currently believe to make a lot of sense) that Trump’s first “ask” of the Ukrainian president was, at least in part, an effort help the defense of Roger Stone in his upcoming federal trial, though he promised to ask Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff about it.
- On the question of whether to bring only a very narrow impeachment or to “go big,” I offered my theory that the best way to do this would be to offer four generalized “umbrella” Articles of Impeachment with multiple specific instances of violations within each subject (i.e.; Obstruction of Justice, Abuse of Power, etc.) constituting the evidence for them. Yarmuth responded, “I see a lot of merit in your argument and I will raise it when I get back to Washington.”
- As for the political impact all of this is having on the race for the Democratic nomination, Yarmuth agrees that Joe Biden “absolutely” did nothing wrong with regard to Ukraine, but that it will probably hurt him a little bit. He agreed with me that Elizabeth Warren would be the weaker candidate electorally against Trump, and that she is the one whom he really wants to see Democrats nominate, but expressed more optimism than I have that she might also be able to prevent Trump from getting a second term.
- As for how his long-time Kentucky rival, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will handle the impeachment process, and whether he might eventually throw Trump under the bus, Yarmuth called my purposely far-fetched column earlier this week “a lovely fairytale,” though he held out some hope that he might eventually be forced to take down Trump out of self-preservation.
- Finally, Yarmuth asserted that he simply, “can’t imagine” Trump not getting impeached due to this current inquiry, but pegged the chances of him actually being removed from office at “10%, or less.”
Here are two separate links to the entire interview, which is well worth a listen.
John Ziegler is a senior columnist for Mediaite. He hosts a weekly podcast focusing on news media issues and is documentary filmmaker. You can follow him on Twitter at @ZigManFreud or email him at [email protected]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.