Members of the impeachment hearing held a rare Saturday session. They lost two days after the death of the Oversight Committee chair and lion of the House of Representatives, Elijah Cummings (D-MD). That meant Philip Reeker had to give eight hours this weekend of raw testimony.
Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Reeker appeared under a friendly subpoena, which gave him some cover from the White House verbal attacks. Donald Trump’s administration has forbidden anyone, current and former, from testifying in the House hearings.
Reeker began in the State Department in 1992 and is known as an “apolitical professional whose reputation is admired,” according to NPR. He testified about how Trump booted the ambassador of Ukraine. Reeker was promoted to his current position just months prior to Trump’s dispatch of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. The acting assistant secretary of state defended her in a strongly-worded statement, but the third in seniority of the State Department David Hale’s killed it.
He testified that he had developed a strategy to defend the Ukrainian ambassador from the president’s smear campaign against her. Then, the State Department killed that, too.
Former U.S. career diplomat Dan Fried said:
‘He’s regarded as a straight-arrow professional, not a showboat. I’ve known him for a long time, and I have no idea what his politics are. He’s completely non-partisan.’
Fried commented about watching independent institutions and civil servants sabotaged in the communist countries, such as Yugoslavia in the late 1980s:
‘[T]o see it in my own country is horrific. I commend those like Reeker standing up against it. It shows their fidelity to their oath of office.’
Trump and company saw Yovanovitch as a hindrance to his secret foreign policy with Ukraine. The president froze $391 million in desperately-needed military aid to the new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Trump via Vice President Mike Pence told the Ukrainian president that he would release the funds after Zelensky appeared on Ukraine’s television and stated he was investigating former vice president Joe Biden’s son. Hunter sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. He and his father were already cleared in an earlier investigation.
Reeker knew about the plan to freeze the military aid, but he did not know the reason for holding it up, the “quid-pro-quo scheme.” That was why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) started the impeachment inquiry.
Reeker is the top State Department official for 50 countries. Ukraine was part of his responsibilities. European Union (EU) Ambassador Gordon Sondland, appointed by Trump after giving his campaign a million-dollar donation was deeply involved. Kurt Volker was directly in charge of Ukraine.
Representative Stephen Lynch (D-MA) was in the room during Reeker’s testimony. He spoke briefly about the hearing, saying it was:
‘…a much richer reservoir of information than we originally expected.’
Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC) was one of the few Republicans at the hearing. He said that Reeker did not advance the investigation:
‘Is there an impeachable offense here? Was there some quid pro quo? And now you have another high-ranking State Department official who didn’t provide any support for that allegation.’
The Mueller Report Adventures: In Bite-Sizes on this Facebook page. These quick, two-minute reads interpret the report in normal English for busy people. Mueller Bite-Sizes uncovers what is essentially a compelling spy mystery. Interestingly enough, Mueller Bite-Sizes can be read in any order.