I prefer members of Congress who put partisanship aside and go to the heart of the issue — for example, Rep. Will Hurd stands out here.
But if politicians are going to be partisan, they should at least do so with some decorum and seriousness towards the witnesses in front of them. In that regard, Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik did a good job in her questioning of former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch on Friday.
Stefanik offered genuine gratitude to Yovanovitch, a public servant who has served her nation in some of the toughest locations on Earth. She repeatedly praised Yovanovitch for choosing to put America before herself. But unlike fellow Republican Rep. Mike Conaway, who also offered high praise for Yovanovitch, Stefanik asked important, albeit partisan, questions of the ambassador.
She noted that the Obama administration was aware of the bad imagery surrounding Hunter Biden’s appointment to the board of Burisma Holdings. Stefanik asked Yovanovitch to confirm that Obama officials warned her that the issue might be raised during her confirmation hearings to become ambassador to Ukraine. Stefanik received that confirmation.
Stefanik also asked whether it was true the Obama administration failed to deliver anti-tank weapons to Ukraine and that the Trump administration then did so. Again, Yovanovitch confirmed.
While these points do not address President Trump’s conduct vis-a-vis Ukraine and thus must be considered partisan in nature, they are much better than other partisan questions. While Democrats have good reason to question Trump’s influence efforts in Ukraine, they are being utterly disingenuous in pretending that Hunter Biden’s business dealings were legitimate and that the Obama administration was a strong friend of Ukraine.
Stefanik’s good-partisan distinction from many of her colleagues is striking. Democratic Chairman Adam Schiff spent most of the hearing attempting to lead Yovanovitch. Republican Rep. Michael Turner continually interrupted the ambassador because of some odd desire to talk about the Clinton Foundation or something. Earlier this week, Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe deliberately decontextualized the Ukrainian president’s comments on Trump’s phone call.
We should all welcome Stefanik’s approach. It’s not ideal, to be sure. But it’s a lot better than most of the others in Congress who are turning this impeachment process into a very negative partisan circus.