The Journal Gazette
Thursday, November 14, 2019 1:00 am

Public 'smear' campaign, area lawmakers say

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Two federal lawmakers representing northeast Indiana expressed disdain Wednesday for the start of public impeachment inquiry hearings on President Donald Trump.

Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, called the first day of hearings by the House Intelligence Committee “a made-for-TV circus meant to smear the president.”

Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-2nd, said majority Democrats in the House “have been working to impeach the president since day one.”

Banks tweeted several times about Wednesday's hearing as it was in progress. 

“Today, America will see one party try and overturn the constitutional election of a president of the United States of America – a goal since @realDonaldTrump was elected,” he tweeted.

“This smear campaign is light on facts,” he wrote later.

He wrote that neither of the committee witnesses – William Taylor, acting ambassador to Ukraine, nor George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state – had listened to Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The call is the basis of the congressional investigation into whether Trump requested Ukraine to investigate a potential political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, in exchange for the release of U.S. military aid to the Eastern European ally.

“They have as much inside knowledge about Ukraine call as you and me, since we can all read the transcript” of the call released by the White House, Banks tweeted.

“What we're seeing is a made-for-TV circus meant to smear the president,” he tweeted.

“So, the best witnesses @RepAdamSchiff could find is two men who heard rumors,” he tweeted about the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

Walorski, whose South Bend-based district includes parts of Kosciusko County, tweeted just once, 15 minutes before the hearing ended.

“House Democrats have been working to impeach the president since day one. With only 15 more legislative days left on the calendar, they begin their public impeachment hearings instead of passing #USMCA, funding our military, and lowering prescription drug costs,” she wrote. USMCA is shorthand for the proposed trade agreement among the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

Hearings could hurt productivity

Impeachment hearings might cost U.S. employers $2.1 billion an hour in lost productivity as workers follow along on TV, radio and the internet, a Chicago consulting firm said Wednesday.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas based the figure on wages and the estimated number of employees interested in politics that also use the internet at work.

Sign up for our daily headlines newsletter

Top headlines are sent daily