This story has been updated with links to the opening days' questioning by U.S. congressmen representing Westchester County, NY, and Fairfield County, CT.
In his defense, President Donald Trump's supporters point to what the Republican from New York described as a "perfect" transcript of summer phone calls with Ukraine's president. Trump admitted requesting help investigating alleged corruption in Ukraine. The matter allegedly involved former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter.
During a news conference on Wednesday Nov. 12, President Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in the White House with reporters from their respective countries. Trump answered questions about the opening day of public impeachment hearings under way on Capitol Hill.
“Are you talking about the witch hunt, is that what you mean?” Trump asked.
Outside the White House fence, protesters chanted such phrases as, "We are here to stop the invaders," "The world is watching; 1950s; Silently; Like 1930 in Dachau."
As Erdogan looked for a reporter to ask a question, Trump joked: “A friendly person from Turkey, please. Friendly. Only friendly reporters . . . we like to see.There aren’t too many of them around. . . .We need nice reporters."
Trump, who has conceded delaying U.S. military aid to Ukraine due to concerns about former Vice President Biden, a leading Democratic contender for president, issued a statement calling the opening week's congressional hearings: "The single greatest scam in the history of politics. They're trying to stop me because I am fighting for you and that will never happen."
The foreign lobbying also reportedly included help from former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney.
No original tape or detailed notes from any calls have been released. Some federal officials have been quoted as saying original phone transcripts may be "locked down," per classified protocol. Some of those government officials have, often reluctantly, agreed to testify before Congress, some against the advice of White House counsel. Others fear subpoenas, charges for obstruction of justice or perjury as new facts get verified.
The House Intelligence Committee, which includes New York Congressmen Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat from Cold Spring, NY, in Putnam County, and Connecticut U.S. Rep Jim Himes of Fairfield County, CT, opened their first Capitol Hill impeachment hearing on Wednesday, Nov.13 when the special subcommittee took public testimony from William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, and George Kent, deputy secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. (Maloney represents northern Westchester and parts of Rockland, Orange and Dutchess counties.)
Daily Voice Plus coverage of Maloney's opening day questions can be found by clicking here.
Earlier Wednesday, Maloney tweeted: "My view from the dais on this somber day. I did not come to Congress to impeach a president -- but I took an oath to uphold the Constitution, and I don’t take that lightly."Maloney is up for reelection in 2020.
U.S. Rep. Eliot L. Engel, a Democrat who represents southern Westchester County and parts of the Bronx in the 16th Congressional District previously subpoenaed witnesses and testimony for closed-door sessions as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Engel was invited to speak to CNN's Wolf Blitzer, which Engel announced here on Twitter. Engel faces a Democratic primary challenge in June 2020.
The Washington, D.C., hearing has drawn intensive news media coverage, but several top Republican senators, who would ultimately try any articles of impeachment passed by the House, said they probably would not watch live coverage it unfolds.
Some Senate Republicans have argued the House impeachment investigation is unfair because it doesn’t give GOP congressmen enough power to call competing witnesses -- or the President’s defense team enough opportunity to cross-examine officials as they testify.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, “I don’t have time to watch that. . . ." A Grassley aide said that the Senate Judiciary Committee was meeting at the same time as the opening day of public House testimony. Grassley said it will be worth it to pay attention when Democrats “decide to give due process to (the) minority party the same way we did when (Bill) Clinton and (Richard) Nixon were involved. Grassley was referring to the 1973-1974 and 1998-1999 impeachment proceedings in the U.S. House of Representatives. (Clinton, a Democrat now living in Chappaqua, was impeached by the House, but not convicted by the Senate. Nixon also was impeached by the House but the Republican president resigned before a Senate trial.)
In other news accounts:
-- House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland, denounced efforts by Republicans to win testimony in the impeachment probe from the whistleblower whose confidential report triggered the House inquiry. Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, called the efforts despicable, according to this report on Wednesday by the Hill.
-- In New York City, a World War II veteran threatened to shoot anti-Trump protesters, including other U.S. veterans, if he could get a hand on a gun. According to multiple news reports, the World War II veteran angrily confronted a group of anti-Trump protestor -- who also identified themselves as U.S. veterans -- during a New York City parade for Veterans Day on Monday, Nov.11, while allegedly threatening to shoot them all. In footage shot by a journalist for ScooterCaster, and shared widely on social media, including a retweet by Donald Trump Jr., the elderly veteran approached a group of protesters standing on the sidewalk during the parade to chastise them.
"We're all vets just like you, sir. We're all vets," said one of the protesters, who stood in front of a banner that read: "Trump: Veterans aren't your political props."
"Are you enjoying this country?" asked the WWII veteran, who said he served in the Pacific under Gen. Douglas MacArthur and was at the surrender of Japan. The protesting veterans started chanting: "Here for the vets, not for Trump."
In another video of the same confrontation, shown by CBS News, one protester said he did not want to take on the elder veteran. "I want to punch the s. . . out of him," the WWII veteran responded, pointing at the younger veteran who was protesting -- before concluding they all have "a lot of hate."
"You're full of hate," one female protester replied "We're trying to support you and you're here screaming at us."