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Impeachment Hearing Erupts in Applause as Rep. Jackie Speier Cracks That Trump ‘Has 5 Pinocchios on a Daily Basis!’

Wednesday’s impeachment hearing erupted in laughter when Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) punctuated a dispute over a Washington Post fact check with a wisecrack about President Donald Trump’s penchant for false and misleading statements.

At Wednesday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing in the Trump impeachment inquiry, Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) opened the can of worms when he began his questioning of Ambassador Gordon Sondland by entering a Washington Post “Fact Checker” column into the record.

The column in question awards Chairman Adam Schiff three “Pinocchios” for saying that the whistleblower has “a statutory right to remain anonymous.”

Conaway argued that while Democrats say they are “trying to protect the whistleblower,” it is “equally valid and credible” that Democrats are protecting the whistleblower’s identity because “there’s something to hide and that this unlevel playing field that’s been created by the chairman’s insistence that there is a statutory right to anonymity, maintains that unlevel playing field and the advantages that gives them.”

He then excoriated Democratic Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer for publicly urging a boycott of Sondland’s hotels until he agreed to testify (which Sondland has obviously done), and said “I’m hopeful that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will join me in saying Mr. Blumenauer, you really shouldn’t be using your congressional influence to try and bully and threaten a witness before these proceedings, that it’s just wrong.”

Rep. Speier opened her questioning by telling Conaway, “I was somewhat humored by your request that Mr. Blumenauer not bully to get something done, when all we are talking about is the president bullying to get something he wants done.”

“But having said that, I’d like to clarify one point about the whistleblower protection from the article that Mr. Conaway just provided,” Speier continued, then read from that article:

[The law] says that “the Inspector General shall not disclose the identity of the employee without the consent of the employee, unless the Inspector General determines that such disclosure is unavoidable during the course of the investigation or the disclosure is made to an official of the Department of Justice responsible for determining whether a prosecution should be undertaken.”

That appears to be the lone statutory restriction on disclosing a whistleblower’s identity, applicable only to the inspector general’s office. We found no court rulings on whether whistleblowers have a right to anonymity under the ICWPA or related statutes. Vladeck said it is nonetheless a best practice to avoid disclosure of the Ukraine whistleblower’s identity, “given the concerns about retaliation.” McCullough said, “We’ve stepped into bizarro-land when senior policymakers are trying to yank a CIA employee into the public spotlight in retaliation for making a whistleblowing complaint, especially when there are credible threats to that employee’s personal safety.”

“I don’t know why our colleagues on the other side of the aisle…” Speier began, but Conaway interrupted, asking “Will the gentlelady yield?”

“No I’m afraid I only have 3 minutes and I have some other issues, but thank you,” Speier replied.

Conaway carried on anyway, noting that the article Speier just read from contained the passage Speier had just read, and that “there’s three Pinocchios in spite of that conversation.”

“Well the President of the United States has five Pinocchios on a daily basis, so let’s not go there,” Speier cracked, to big laughs from the crowd.

Watch the clip above, via CNN.

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