- On the first day of impeachment impeachment hearings in the House of Representatives, two senior US State Department officials testified.
- George Kent, a top State Department expert on Ukraine, and Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, described their shock at learning that President Donald Trump had pressured Ukraine to open a criminal investigation into political rival Joe Biden.
- After five-and-a-half hours of testimony, White House officials, senior Republicans, and pro-Trump activists all claimed the detailed testimony had been “boring” and not worth paying attention to.
- “This sham hearing is not only boring, it is a colossal waste of taxpayer time & money,” tweeted White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham.
- Trump himself said he was too busy to watch, but sent 60 tweets about it during Wednesday.
- Democrats hit back at the attempt to dismiss the testimony, which they claimed provided startling new evidence of wrongdoing by President Trump.
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Following Wednesday’s damaging testimony by two senior US diplomats during the first day of the House impeachment hearings, Republicans coalesced round a new response: the proceedings are just too boring to bother paying attention to.
During the hearing Bill Taylor, the acting US ambassador in Ukraine, provided a startling new piece of evidence, damaging to the president’s defense that he sought no personal advantage from his dealings with Ukraine.
Taylor claimed that he was told by the US’ EU ambassador, Gordon Sondland, that Trump cared more about Ukraine’s investigations into his political rival, Joe Biden, than he did about Ukraine, a key regional ally of the US.
—Stephanie Grisham (@PressSec) November 13, 2019
During the hearings Republican lawmakers attacked Taylor’s testimony and that of senior State Department official George Kent as founded on second-hand information.
Rather than engaging with the substance of the testimony, afterwards senior Republicans and allies of the president changed tack and dismissed the entire proceeding as too “boring” to merit attention.
“This sham hearing is not only boring, it is a colossal waste of taxpayer time & money,” tweeted White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham.
Echoing her, President Trump’s son, Eric Trump, tweeted “This is horribly boring.” He posted the message alongside the hashtag “#Snoozefest.”
Rep. Mark Meadows, a Republican from North Carolina and a key congressional ally of the president, claimed during a break in the testimony that it was sending people to sleep.
“Just like all of you as reporters have your impression of what truth is, the ultimate judge will be the American people. And I think most of them will see what I’m seeing in that room — it’s reporters and people in the audience who are yawning because this is all about a policy difference between the president of the United States and a few people at the State Department,” he remarked, as quoted by The Hill.
The claim was repeated by right-wing populist website Breitbart, and pro-Trump activists and conspiracy theorists including Jack Posobiec, Bill Mitchell, and Ann Coulter.
Despite Trump claiming earlier Wednesday that he was too busy to watch the testimony, he seemed to have been playing close attention, retweeting scores of clips from the proceedings showing Republican representatives interviewing the officials, and a video in which he alleged impeachment was a malign plot by Democrats. In total, he posted 60 tweets about the hearing during Wednesday.
—Michael McFaul (@McFaul) November 14, 2019
Democrats and other critics took issue with the characterization of events as boring, given the gravity of the occasion. Some saw the response as an attempt to distract Americans from the seriousness of the allegations laid out about Trump during the hearing.
“Is Eric Trump really the best source to assess excitement/boredom of events today? Dont you think he might have a political agenda in describing the impeachment hearing as boring? Why didnt you call me and ask me my opinion?!” tweeted Michael McFaul, the former US ambassador to Russia, after Reuters’ Jeff Mason cited Eric Trump’s tweet and echoed his assessment of the excitement value of the testimony.