Democratic lawmakers said Thursday they have reason to believe that some witnesses involved in the House impeachment inquiry are coordinating their stories with each other before giving their testimony before Congress.
The claims surfaced Thursday in an article published by The Daily Beast. Two House Democrats involved with the impeachment inquiry, announced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in late September, claim there is evidence that some of the nine witnesses they have previously interviewed have coordinated their testimony with each other prior to delivering it before the committee.
“We have direct evidence from our investigation that witnesses have talked to each other about their testimony,” Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat and a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told The Daily Beast.
At least one other Democrat seemed to share Swalwell’s sentiments – Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline – who said previous testimony has already seemed to indicate some of the witnesses have coordinated their statements to Congress.
“We’re working very hard to protect the integrity of the investigation and prevent witnesses from sharing their testimony with each other,” he said. “You can only do that so much.”
Legislators are reportedly worried that coordination between witnesses would allow them to manufacture alibis or otherwise help each other. As The Daily Beast noted, lying under oath is a crime. Legislators reportedly believe that at least one witness – U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland – may have lied during testimony given before the committee, The Daily Beast said.
House Democrats have said they are conducting testimony behind closed doors in order to prevent this very issue. The lawmakers have said they are holding these meetings privately so that those who are slated to testify cannot get their stories in line with each other in order to all be on the same page, which they say wouldn’t be possible if these early proceedings were public. Republicans – in protest – on Wednesday occupied the room where the proceedings had been taking place in an attempt to force Democrats to open the proceedings up to the public.
The impeachment inquiry was announced last month following news that, in a July phone call, President Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate theories relating to 2020 rival, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, and relating to Russian interference in the 2016 election. The president has insisted he did nothing wrong on the call and that there was no quid pro quo involving funds the administration had withheld from Ukraine at the time. Last week, however, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney seemed to suggest that there was a quid pro quo involved, though he later walked back those claims.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, testimony delivered by former Ukraine ambassador Bill Taylor earlier this week reportedly drew gasps and sighs from members of Congress. On Wednesday, the president lashed out at Taylor in a series of tweets that blasted Republicans he called “Never Trumpers” amid their refusal to support him as president.
Other Democrats were less keen on saying whether they believed witnesses had coordinated testimony with each other. California Democrat Rep. Harley Rouda said he wouldn’t “opine” when asked, though he admitted it was possible that witnesses had spoken with each other. Rep. Jim Himes, a Democrat from Connecticut, said he didn’t believe that witnesses had coordinated, and said he thought that Sondland and U.S. Diplomat Kurt Volker were the only witnesses interviewed thus far who were perhaps “complicit.”