White House officials are brushing off the first public hearing in the impeachment inquiry held on Wednesday.
“The president wasn’t watching, he was working, he has a job to do as president,” said White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley.
However, Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he and the other senators who could become jurors in an impeachment trial were paying close attention.
“The evidence we all heard from Mr. Taylor and Mr. Kent cast a troubling portrait of a president who is trying to use the powers of his office for personal political gain,” said Schumer.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chimed in.
“Makes what Nixon did look small,” she said.
Lawmakers are particularly interested in new information revealed by Ambassador William Taylor, who said one of his staff members heard Ambassador Gordon Sondland and Trump on a phone call discussing Ukraine and the Bidens.
The deputy press secretary said the White House doesn’t think the new information about the phone call is important and that Trump isn’t worried.
“It’s like having a conversation with your father’s brother’s nephew’s former roommate,” said Gidley. “It doesn’t amount to anything. The fact is, the president has done nothing wrong.”
The Associated Press reports a second person witnessed the phone call.
Sondland is scheduled to testify publicly next week and will likely be asked about the call. He has already told the committee that the release of U.S. military aid to Ukraine was tied to the investigations the president wanted.