Experts analyze the testimonies of career diplomats William Taylor and George Kent
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Experts analyze the testimonies of career diplomats William Taylor and George Kent

November 14, 2019


JUDY WOODRUFF: And now two people who were
here with me all day for our live coverage of the hearings. They are Mieke Eoyang. She’s a former top staffer for Democrats on
the House Intelligence Committee, and Michael Allen, former House Intelligence Committee
staff director under Republican leadership. Also with us here in the studio, C. Boyden
Gray, former U.S. ambassador to the European Union under President George W. Bush and White
House counsel under President George H.W. Bush, and, from Raleigh, North Carolina, Walter
Dellinger, former acting U.S. solicitor general and head of the Office of Legal Counsel under
President Clinton. Hello to all of you. So much to consider. We have had hours and hours of testimony today. Boyden Gray, I’m going to start with you,
because you served in the White House and, as we said, you served as ambassador to the
European Union. What did you primarily take away from all
this testimony? C. BOYDEN GRAY, Former White House Counsel:
What I primarily took away from it is, the two witnesses who appeared are very solid
citizens, the best, you know, in the Foreign Service, although I guess Taylor’s not a Foreign
Service officer. I took away that they’re solid people, but
they didn’t break through the big problems the Democrats have, which is the aid went
through and no request was made for an investigation. So what is the transaction that is under investigation? What is the so-called high crime? JUDY WOODRUFF: Walter Dellinger, what about
that? As someone who’s watched the American — got
to get you on the right camera over here. As someone who’s watched the American legal
process for as long as you have, did they make the case? Did they not make the case? What did you hear? WALTER DELLINGER, Former Acting Solicitor
General: Well, I certainly they made the case. And in response to Boyden Gray’s point that
the aid actually went without any investigation, the aid went because they were caught, the
whistle was blown, Congress was going to investigate, and they hastened to release the aid. But I think, Judy, the big picture is here,
like in Watergate, what we have is a president attempting to use the powers of his office
to improperly influence the outcome of the next presidential election. Both of the demands made on the Ukrainians,
first to, in effect, cast some aspersions on Biden, who was the leading candidate against
the president at that time, and the fact that he wants to gin up blaming Ukrainians for
interfering in the 2016 election, which is a way of excusing what Vladimir Putin did
— and there’s no Russian hoax. What — Mueller repeats what every agency
of government agreed to, that there was a systematic and vast interference, sweeping
interference in the election in 2016. The president has encouraged that kind of
interference. And in the Ukraine example, it’s sort of like
the Watergate break-in, is the one instance where we — of a larger project, which is
to undermine the next presidential election, made worse here by the use of a foreign power. JUDY WOODRUFF: And we are — so we’re hearing
two quite different interpretations. Michael Allen, to you, first. You served on the committee, on the Intelligence
Committee, for a number of years, as we said, staff director. Did you hear today something that materially
changed the scales in this argument? MICHAEL ALLEN, Managing Director, Beacon Global
Strategies: So, not yet. We have a long way to go, obviously. The thing I was looking for most today was,
were the Democrats able to lay out a crime, in other words, to answer the question, why
are we here? And so the crime here in this case would be,
did the president convince — were they convinced that the president conditioned aid? And then they need to answer the question,
does it matter? Was U.S. national security hurt? And I think here is where you saw the Republicans
advance a series of arguments which are basically that the aid was delayed, it wasn’t withheld,
no investigation occurred, like the president allegedly asked for, and nor were there any
ensuing statements that came out insinuating that Vice President Biden had done anything
wrong. So we have a long way to go, but I don’t think
the Democrats have gotten over the hurdles that they need to establish. JUDY WOODRUFF: Mieke Eoyang, same question
to you. Did what we hear today change our understanding
of what it is that the Democrats say the president did? MIEKE EOYANG, Former Staff Director, House
Intelligence Committee: I think a lot of the facts that we heard today were already in
the public domain. The basic outlines of this inquiry have been
out since the president released the call record earlier. So we have known for a long time that the
president was bringing pressure to bear against Ukraine for these investigations into the
2016 election and Biden. And what we heard today was really important
context-setting of what U.S. national security policy is, why anti-corruption efforts were
so important, and why Ukraine was so interested in maintaining U.S. aid, and so why it was
so — such a divergence to see this attempt to push Ukraine into these other investigations. JUDY WOODRUFF: Because you’re saying it was
so different from what had been done previously? MIEKE EOYANG: Exactly. JUDY WOODRUFF: I mean, we went so far — Boyden
Gray, back to you. We heard Congresswoman Speier say, you know,
more and more, she said there’s evidence of bribery, if you look at what the president
did. Did you see — did that come through to you? C. BOYDEN GRAY: Didn’t come through to me
because, I’m now repeating, it doesn’t to me make any difference exactly why the aid
went through. I mean, I think there are a lot of different
reasons. They were running out of time. They had to do it because of September 30
was a drop-dead day. But, no, the aid went through. There was no — there was no transaction there,
and there wasn’t any request for hearings or an investigation. So what happened? A lot of confusion, a lot of talk. I hate to say this about any president, but
this particular president is not known for his consistency. And he’s changes his mind many, many times
on many, many issues. The question is, what actually happened? And what actually happened was nothing. JUDY WOODRUFF: Mieke Eoyang, can we say there’s
just enough lack of clarity in all of this that, in the end, the White House, Republicans
can argue — you know, and again, the aid flowed in the end? MIEKE EOYANG: Right. I think that one of the fundamental mistakes
the Republicans are making is insisting the aid has to have flown, that it had to be a
completed contract here. When we’re talking about a government initial
making a demand that’s not in an official government act, that’s not in our national
— it’s not in the national interests, it’s not a part of their official duties, but is
a personal benefit, the request itself can be a crime, right? The request itself is problematic. And, here, people talk a lot about bribery. In the Constitution, impeachment is one of
the listed crimes. There was a broader understanding of bribery
then. It was about self-enrichment and self-benefit
then. And when we talk about this, I think there
are lot of people who think, this is more like a crime of extortion, where pressure
is being brought to bear on someone who is unwilling to do something they don’t want
to do. JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see this? MICHAEL ALLEN: The question is — and I think
you’re on to something. The question is, is it a high crime or misdemeanor
deserving of negating a presidential election and removing a president? That’s the thing we all have to confront as
a country. That’s what the Democrats are trying to do
by laying out their case over this series of weeks. Today is only the first day. I don’t think they were able to hit the mark,
but it’s very, very early. But it is a tremendously high bar. And that’s the way the founders intended it
to be. And so I think we’re going to have to wait
and see. JUDY WOODRUFF: Boyden Gray, this came up in
my conversation with Jackie Speier. The fact that the White House is not willing
to allow most of the administration officials to testify — some of them are testifying
under subpoena. But the fact that they haven’t wanted to cooperate
with this investigation, does that affect how we should understand what we’re hearing? C. BOYDEN GRAY: I think it’s up to the individual
member of the House and Senate, at the end of the day, obviously. But, no, I don’t think it makes any difference. I think the key is that nothing happened. JUDY WOODRUFF: Nothing happened, meaning? C. BOYDEN GRAY: There was no transaction. There was no request for hearings. There were no hearings. There was no holdup of aid. The aid went through. There was no harm done, no harm, no foul. It was — sure, was it messy? Well, when you go into a separate channel
in foreign policy, which every president’s done and every president in the future will
do, you run the risk of confusion and mixed signals. And I think that’s what happened here, but
nothing, in the end, actually ever happened. JUDY WOODRUFF: Walter Dellinger, I’m going
to come back to you now on this point, but also, again, another point that was raised
when I spoke with the two members of Congress. And that is, in that conversation that the
president had, President Trump had with the president of Ukraine, there wasn’t a reference
to corruption broadly. There was a reference to Joe Biden, to Joe
Biden’s son, and to the 2016 election. How much of a difference does that distinction
make? WALTER DELLINGER: I think it makes a huge
difference, because what we have here is a president that seems intent on using the powers
of his office in order to sabotage the next presidential election. And what you will see, this is a president
who has shown no interest in corruption anywhere in the world, home or abroad. What he wanted was to use $4$400 million of
military aid as a leverage to get this particular government to facilitate his election campaign
by harming what seemed to be his strongest opponent. He has encouraged the Chinese. He has encouraged the Russians. And he has given the Russians a green light
for their massive involvement in the next presidential election. That’s why I think it was imperative for Congress
to act. JUDY WOODRUFF:®MD-BO¯ Mieke Eoyang, we pointed
this out, I think, earlier in the day, but it — typically, in an impeachment process,
not that there have been that many — this is only the fourth one — it’s the Judiciary
Committee that is involved. It is unusual to have the Intelligence Committee
of the House involved. How awkward is it? How — I mean, it’s precedent-breaking. How does Intelligence fit in to this story? MIEKE EOYANG: Yes, I think that it is very
precedent-breaking, in part because, when you look at the two most recent impeachments
in the modern era, what you have is a statutory independent counsel who did the investigations
that the House has to do itself now, because there’s no way that they could get an independent
counsel passed and signed by this president. So you have the Intelligence Committee conducting
this investigation, in part because the issues arose in the Intelligence Committee through
this whistle-blower, in part because it’s foreign policy issues, but also, in part,
because Chairman Schiff is one of the best investigators in the House, and he’s a very
careful and thoughtful prosecutor. So when the speaker looks at who her choices
are, he made the most sense. JUDY WOODRUFF: Michael Allen, how does this
come down for you? MICHAEL ALLEN: This is a really big mistake
to have invested our old committee with impeachment. The Intelligence… JUDY WOODRUFF: A big mistake? MICHAEL ALLEN: A big mistake. The Intelligence Committees were founded after
some intelligence abuses in the late ’70s to be an oasis of bipartisanship, to oversee
the sensitive, the most sensitive activities of the Central Intelligence Agency and the
FBI. And to all of a sudden to vest with them the
most partisan of exercises that the U.S. House of Representatives can go through, I think,
is doing damage to what should be a place where people get along. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Walter Dellinger, we did
hear Congressman Doug Collins, who is the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee,
which will handle, if this process — assuming it goes forward, it goes next to the House
Judiciary Committee. He was saying, none of the rules that we would
normally observe have been followed here. He namely was referring to, he said, the rules
of evidence. We haven’t been able to examine the evidence
going into this. How much will that matter? WALTER DELLINGER: You know, I think that it’s
a big mistake to assume that we’re looking for the particularities of a crime or that
we’re following the federal rules of evidence. What we have is, I think, fairness. All sides had a chance to question the witnesses
today. And I think we’re just — those discussions
are just avoiding the central question of whether we have a president who is willing
to use his leverage over foreign governments in a way to distort the next presidential
election. JUDY WOODRUFF: It is the first of a number
of days in this process. And we want to thank all four of you for being
with us. Walter Dellinger, joining us from North Carolina,
Boyden Gray here in Washington, Michael Allen, Mieke Eoyang, thank you all. JUDY WOODRUFF: And please do join us on Friday. As we said, today was just the first day,
but, on Friday, starting at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, we will have live special coverage
of the next impeachment hearing with the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. She was fired by President Trump, Marie Yovanovitch. She will be at the witness table then.

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