Just days before the start of public impeachment hearings, Congressional Republicans on Friday shuffled the GOP membership on the House Intelligence Committee, adding Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), one of the most vocal and staunch defenders of President Donald Trump.
"I am appointing @Jim_Jordan to the Intelligence Committee — which has now become the Impeachment Committee — where he will continue fighting for fairness and truth," tweeted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Friday.
Jordan has routinely been one of the more outspoken defenders of the President on a host of issues.
"No quid pro quo whatsoever," he told reporters earlier this week about allegations that President Trump had withheld military aid from Ukraine in an effort to get the government to start several investigations which could give political help to Mr. Trump's re-election bid in 2020.
In order for Jordan to be added to the panel, Rep. Rick Crawford of Arkansas will step aside; he submitted a resignation letter for his committee slot, which was read on the House floor on Friday afternoon.
“I look forward to rejoining my colleagues on HPSCI when this impeachment hoax has concluded and we return to the important work and oversight of the Intelligence Community that the committee is intended for,” Crawford said.
The switch involving Jordan came as Democrats released the transcripts of closed door depositions with two more witnesses, former White House aide Fiona Hill, and National Security Council staffer Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.
One of the few aides who listened to a July 25 phone call between President Trump and the leader of Ukraine, Vindman said there was no question in his mind that President Trump was holding back military aid for Ukraine in order to get the government to start investigations which could benefit Mr. Trump's re-election.
“And was there any doubt in your mind as to what the President, our President, was asking for as a deliverable?” asked Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT).
“There was no doubt,” Vindman answered.
In a separate deposition, Hill - who served as a Russia expert for the Trump White House until just a few months ago - said national security experts like herself had been subjected to false conspiracy theories and death threats to paint them as opponents of President Trump.
"My entire first year of my tenure at the National Security Council was filled with hateful calls, conspiracy theories, which has started again," Hill testified.
"I received, I just have to tell you, death threats, ca1ls at my home," Hill added. "My neighbors reported somebody coming and hammering on my door."
Hill blamed the back channel actions of President Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, for the escalating pressure on Ukraine to investigate the son of Joe Biden, and a debunked theory that Ukraine - and not Russia - had hacked Democrats during the 2016 elections.
"I didn't know exactly what Mr. Giuliani was doing," Hill said. "So we are now living my worst nightmare."
Watching Giuliani discuss Ukraine-related issues on television, Hill said the President's lawyer seemed to be separated from reality.
“He seemed at times to actually believe some of the things he was saying that I knew to be untrue,” Hill testified.
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