Rep. Eric Swalwell gave MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday a recap of the nine-hour hearing Tuesday with US diplomat to Ukraine Bill Taylor about accusations that the president threatened to withhold military aid to that country unless they launched an investigation into allegations of corruption against Joe Biden and his son.
"We're going to give the president a fairer trial than he deserves. If this was Donald Trump justice, he would be impeached by now. But in America, even people who confess to crimes get due process. So he will get that," Swalwell said. "But if we, you know, go on a protracted investigation here, Donald Trump is just going to, you know, try and tie us up in court, give himself moral equivalence, and give everyone a nickname and confuse the American people, so we want to move fairly but also swiftly."
MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC: Congressman, yesterday with the republicans in attendance in the basement, did you hear any of them ask a question? Did you hear any of the questions? If so, what kinds of questions did they ask?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL: Cockamamie conspiracy questions.
MIKE BARNICLE: Of Ambassador Bill Taylor?
ERIC SWALWELL: Yes. Or 2016 Hillary server, what about her e-mails, that type of nonsense.
MIKE BARNICLE: Wow.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC: Hey, Congressman, Devin Nunes came out and gave an interview after the hearing and said that Congressman Ratcliffe, I believe the term he used, "destroyed the witness," and established that there was no quid-pro-quo. Can you shed any light on that? Did you see that?
ERIC SWALWELL: That did not happen. If you read the opening statement, I think what you see is, one, that there was, in fact, a connection between having a White House meeting and getting security assistance only if the Ukrainians would investigate the Bidens and investigate and exonerate Russia for the 2016 role. But also that you saw two sharp straight lines, not just Donald Trump to Rudy Giuliani because the defense, I think, has been well, this is rogue Rudy. No, you have a sharp straight line between the president and his lawyer, and the president and Ambassador Sondland, who says in this "Washington Post" opening statement that was leaked that the president is saying to connect investigations to aid.
WILLIE GEIST: So Congressman, how did you assess your witness yesterday, Ambassador Taylor? He obviously took very detailed notes, a career diplomat, an experienced diplomat who knew he needed to get some of this down in writing. He had dates and times and everything else. The White House came out yesterday and referred sort of indirectly to him as a "radical unelected bureaucrat." How did you assess his credibility in the room over those nine and a half hours?
ERIC SWALWELL: Well, I saw this radical unelected bureaucrat walk into a room of about 75 people, a very small room, with a commanding courageous presence, take a seat, and for 40 minutes lay out what he saw starting with his own credentials of serving in Vietnam after West Point in the 101st Airborne Division, working in the Senate, working for NATO, working at the State Department, coming out of retirement to take a job that he didn't need to take to serve his country. He had unimpeachable credibility and a detailed recall of the efferents that events that had happened.
JONATHAN LEMIRE, AP: We've been discussing a lot this morning about the real-world consequences here, that Ukrainian lives were in jeopardy. The media has obtained the opening statement from Ambassador Taylor -- He discusses at length the need for Ukraine to be an important American ally, the threat that they face every day from Russia, so particularly with that, how stark this is, this isn't about politics. This is about real lives here, real-world consequences. Is what you heard yesterday, very simply, is what you heard yesterday an impeachable offense?
ERIC SWALWELL: We're going to give the president a fairer trial than he deserves. If this was Donald Trump justice, he would be impeached by now. But in America, even people who confess to crimes get due process. So he will get that. I'm glad you brought up the human element here, because if you're an American at home who has been just outraged by what's been going on with the slaughter of the Kurds and the green light that the president has given them, you should be very concerned that this president was withholding aid --that is your taxpayer dollars-- that was supposed to help the Ukrainians and while that aid has been withheld, every second that goes by, that has led to dead Ukrainians. Aid that would have helped them defend themselves and as you saw in that "Washington Post" statement from Ambassador Taylor, 13,000 Ukrainians have died. They very much could have had more lives saved if the aid had come through rather than been held over the head to only benefit Donald Trump's re-election campaign.
MIKE BARNICLE: Congressman Swalwell, I want to clear one thing up. Ambassador Taylor, 40 minutes reads his opening statement. He has impeccable credentials as everyone clearly now knows, and during the question-and-answer session that ensued, an unnamed Republican actually asked Ambassador Taylor about Hillary Clinton's e-mails?
ERIC SWALWELL: No, you saw the line of questioning was about this cockamamie theory that the Ukrainians were involved and interfered in the 2016 election, this server theory that Donald Trump continues to spin. That's the theme that we're seeing here is really to go back and look at, you know, 2016 just as Donald Trump wants. No one -- no member on their side, I think, has let the gravity of this sink in and what it means for our national security and what it means for our constitution. That's what's so frustrating.
Those who have looks of disgust on their face, and I've seen that, we would really like them to start asking questions and have the courage to show that they are concerned because I know they're concerned, and they know it's not right.
WILLIE GEIST: Congressman, you're not going to change the mind of Devin Nunes or some of the Republicans who have decided it's their life work to protect President Trump, but do you in your private conversations talk to any Republican members who have now read the summary of the phone call with the presidents of the United States and Ukraine or seen the whistle-blower report or now heard this incredible testimony for Ambassador Taylor and have said to you, boy, there is something here?
ERIC SWALWELL: One member said to me he’s very concerned and he wants us to not rush this, and I -- I took that to heart, but I told him we will be fair, but if we, you know, go on a protracted investigation here, Donald Trump is just going to, you know, try and tie us up in court, give himself moral equivalence, and give everyone a nickname and confuse the American people, so we want to move fairly but also swiftly.