- The Washington Times - Friday, November 15, 2019

At a public impeachment hearing Friday, Rep. Devin Nunes accused Democrats of pursuing their “Watergate fantasies.”

Mr. Nunes, the ranking Republican on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that is holding the hearings, noted that five Democrats on the committee voted for impeaching President Trump before the Ukraine issue came to light.

“Democrats have been vowing to impeach President Trump since the day he was elected,” said the California Republican. “So Americans can rightly suspect that his phone call with President Zelensky was used as an excuse for the Democrats to fulfill their Watergate fantasies.”

He described the evidence presented so far in the Democrats’ impeachment probe as “second-hand, third-hand and fourth-hand [accounts] from other people, in other words, rumors.”

“The problem with trying to overthrow a president based on this kind of evidence is obvious,” said Mr. Nunes.

He delivered the remarks in his opening statement at the second public impeachment hearing against Mr. Trump. The witness facing the panel was former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovtich, who Mr. Trump recalled in May and who claims she was removed to clear the way for the president’s push for Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

SEE ALSO: Marie Yovanovitch warns ‘foreign and private interests’ undermined U.S. interests in Ukraine

He vowed that Republicans would not relent in their challenge to the impeachment process until they got answers to three questions.

They want to know the full extent of Democrats’ prior coordination with the whistleblower, who met with Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff’s staff before making the complaint against the president.

They want to know the full extent of Ukraine’s involvement in meddling in the U.S. 2016 election, which is known to include a Democratic National Committee operative contacting the Ukraine embassy in Washington to dig up dirt on then-candidate Donald Trump.

They also want to know the full details of Hunter Biden’s work at Ukraine natural gas company Burisma Holdings. Hunter Biden got the high-paying job on Burisma’s board of directors while his father, then-Vice President Joseph R. Biden, was the point man for Obama White House policy in Ukraine.

The impeachment case against Mr. Trump hinges on accusations, first lodged by the whistleblower, that he pressured Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 phone call to investigate the Bidens. Mr. Trump also pushed for Mr. Zelensky, who was newly elected on an anti-corruption platform, to open an investigation of Ukrainian interference in the U.S. 2016 presidential election.

Democrats argue that Mr. Trump made $391 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine conditional upon Mr. Zelensky’s announcement of the investigations, which they describe as the quid pro quo of the president’s self-serving deal.

Although the military aid was put on hold for a short time, it was delivered and there is no evidence that the Ukrainians began any investigations into the Bidens at Mr. Trump’s behest or otherwise. Mr. Zelensky has said he did not feel he was being pressured or coerced on the phone call, a transcript of which the White House has released.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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