Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Wednesday that neither witness testifying in the House impeachment hearing said that President Donald Trump said anything impeachable in his Ukrainian telephone call in July.
"Rep. Ratcliffe just asked the most important question of the day: Was there anything in President Trump's July 25th phone call that was impeachable," Fleischer, who served in the George W. Bush administration, said on Twitter. "Neither witness said yes."
Fleischer was referring to intense questioning by Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, of the first two witnesses in the public impeachment hearing, William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent.
In a tense exchange, Ratcliffe asked: "In this impeachment hearing today, where we impeach presidents for treason or bribery or other high crimes, where is the impeachable offense in that call?
"Are either of you here to assert that there was an impeachable offense in that call?" the congressman asked the witnesses.
The pair sat silent.
"Shout it out," Ratcliffe encouraged. "Anyone?"
Taylor then began, " … Mr. Ratclife, if I could respond, let me reiterate … "
"I've got one minute left," Ratcliffe interrupted.
As Taylor was responding, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who is presiding over the hearings, interjected: "You asked the witness a question."
"I withdraw the question," Ratcliffe said. "Ambassador, let me ask you this question."
"The general will suspend," Schiff said. "Ambassador Taylor would you like to answer? We will suspend the clock.
"Suspend the clock," Ratcliffe said. "One minute, please."
"Ambassador Taylor, would you like to respond to the question?" Schiff asked again.
"Mr. Ratcliffe, I am not here having to do with anything to decide about impeachment," Taylor said. "That is not what either of us are here to do. This is your job."
"Can we restore the clock to one minute?" Ratcliffe then asked.
"No," Schiff responded, "but you may continue with 22 seconds."
Laughter could then be heard throughout the House chamber.
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