Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz built on his reputation for being a thorn in the Democrats’ side during the House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearings on Wednesday. Among several moments that ended up generating some buzz online is a question Gaetz asked the expert witnesses invited to testify Wednesday that drove home a larger point that Republicans have been making all along.
“So let’s see if we can get into the fact,” said Gaetz. “To all of the witnesses: If you have personal knowledge of a single material fact in the Schiff report, please raise your hand.”
After none of the witnesses — a collection of law professors, only one of which was called by Republicans — raised their hand, Gaetz said, “And let the record reflect: no personal knowledge of a single fact.”
The fiery congressman then got to his point: “And you know what, that continues on the tradition that we saw from [Intelligence Committee Chairman] Adam Schiff. Where Ambassador [William] Taylor could not identify an impeachable offense. Mr. [George] Kent never met with the president. Fiona Hill never heard the president reference anything regarding military aid [to Ukraine], Mr. [David] Hale was unaware of any nefarious activity with aid, Colonel [Alexander] Vindman even rejected the new Democrat talking point that ‘bribery’ was invoked here. Ambassador [Kurt] Volker denied that there was a ‘quid pro quo.’ Mr. [Tim] Morrison said there was nothing wrong on the call.”
“The only direct evidence came from Gordon Sondland, who spoke to the President of the United States, and the president said, ‘I want nothing, no quid pro quo.’”
"To all of the witnesses: if you have personal knowledge of a single material fact in the Schiff report, please raise your hand."
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) December 4, 2019
As Gaetz points out, Sondland, the only witness who presented first-hand testimony about Trump’s orders on the Ukraine aid and investigations, testified during the Schiff-led inquiry that during a call with Trump in which he asked for clarity about his directives on the U.S. military aid to Ukraine, Trump made clear that he wants “nothing,” “no quid pro quo” — only that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “do the right thing.”
“It was a very short abrupt conversation, he was not in a good mood, and he just said, ‘I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky to do the right thing,’ something to that effect,” Sondland told the committee. “So I typed out a text to Ambassador Taylor and my reason for telling him this was not to defend what the president was saying, not to opine on whether the president was being truthful or untruthful, but simply to relay I’ve gone as far as I can go. This is the final word that I heard from the president of the United States.”
Gaetz’ “raise your hand” moment was highlighted by the White House, which tweeted out a clip of the exchange. “Democrats are calling as witnesses the kind of people who would name the minor child of the President as a punchline in a committee hearing,” the White House wrote.
Democrats are calling as witnesses the kind of people who would name the minor child of the President as a punchline in a committee hearing. pic.twitter.com/lyqRxVXKsD
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 4, 2019
Gaetz’ fellow congressman Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) also pointed out the moment.
“As [Rep. Matt Gaetz] exposed, all 3 of the Democrats’ witnesses have NO personal knowledge of a single material fact in the Schiff Report – and all 3 have comments or contributions in their history that call their objectivity into question,” wrote Biggs, along with a clip of Gaetz’s “no personal knowledge of a single fact” comments. “This is a complete sham.”
As @RepMattGaetz exposed, all 3 of the Democrats' witnesses have NO personal knowledge of a single material fact in the Schiff Report – and all 3 have comments or contributions in their history that call their objectivity into question.
This is a complete sham. pic.twitter.com/sw0gYjqvKm
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) December 4, 2019
As noted by PJ Media, Gaetz’s “raise your hand” moment was not his only memorable comments of the hearings Wednesday. “His questioning also saw Karlan explain that she’d given more money to Hillary Clinton’s campaign because ‘I’ve been giving to a lot of charities recently because of all the poor people in the United States.’”
Gaetz also called out Stanford University Professor Pamela Karlan for using Trump’s 13-year-old son as a punchline during her testimony.
“So while the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron,” quipped Karlan in a line that resulted in instant blowback, including from First Lady Melania Trump.
“When you invoke the president’s son’s name here, when you try to make a little joke out of referencing Barron Trump, that does not lend credibility to your argument — it makes you look mean,” Gaetz told the professor.
"When you invoke the president’s son’s name here, when you try to make a little joke out of referencing Barron Trump, that does not lend credibility to your argument- it makes you look mean."#ImpeachmentHearing #ImpeachingHearings pic.twitter.com/tHk3mcBioH
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) December 4, 2019