Republican Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe was not impressed that Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff waited to warn impeachment witnesses about leading or unfair questions until it was the Republicans’ turn to do the questioning.
Several hours into Wednesday’s first televised impeachment inquiry hearings, after both the House Intelligence Committee Chairman himself and the House Democrats’ counsel had had the opportunity to question acting Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, Schiff interrupted Republican Counsel Steve Castor to warn Taylor that he did not have to answer questions that were leading or assumed “facts not in evidence.”
“I just want to be clear, Ambassador, if you’re able to verify the things that the Counsel has identified in the prerequisite of the question, that’s fine, otherwise in questions for the majority or the minority that may assume facts not in evidence before you, you should be cautioned about that,” Schiff said, after acknowledging that he would not dock the time for his own interruption.
“Mr. Chairman, point of order,” Texas Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe interrupted.
“Chairman, I sat here through the first 45 minutes and literally had an objection to almost the foundation of every question that Mr. Goldman asked regarding facts not in evidence, leading,” Ratcliffe continued. “But House Resolution 660 does not say that we are under the federal rules of evidence. If it is your position that I should be inserting objections to questions that violate the federal rules of evidence, let me know now, because this hearing is going to change significantly.”
Schiff responded, “As I said, Mr. Ratcliffe, I will allow the question.”
California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes cut in then, clarifying, “I think that the gentleman has a different question about the rules. So what are the rules that are going to govern this?” (RELATED: Devin Nunes Blasts Impeachment Hearing As ‘Low-Rent Ukrainian Sequel’ To ‘Russia Hoax’)
“For what purpose do you seek recognition?” Schiff turned to Nunes.
“To answer Mr. Ratcliffe’s question,” Nunes shot back.
“I have answered it,” Schiff protested.
“Respectfully, Mr. Chairman, you haven’t answered my question,” Ratcliffe said and proceeded to repeat the question. “Whether or not I should be asserting ‘assumes facts not in evidence’ or leading objections to questions that are posed from this point forward. That is my question.”
Schiff again responded, “Mr. Ratcliffe, I will say once again, I am not objecting to the question, but I am instructing the witness that they should not presume questions from the majority or the minority of facts not in evidence are correct.”
Schiff gave no direct answer to Ratcliffe’s question with regard to the rules.