As the fifth day of open hearings in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump began, the president challenged claims that State Department staffers overheard one of his phone calls with Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union.
Trump tweeted that he has “been watching people make phone calls my entire life,” adding that he’s never been able to hear a conversation that wasn’t on speakerphone — despite trying — and encouraged people to “try it live.”
“I have been watching people making phone calls my entire life. My hearing is, and has been, great. Never have I been watching a person making a call, which was not on speakerphone, and been able to hear or understand a conversation. I’ve even tried, but to no avail. Try it live!”
I have been watching people making phone calls my entire life. My hearing is, and has been, great. Never have I been watching a person making a call, which was not on speakerphone, and been able to hear or understand a conversation. I’ve even tried, but to no avail. Try it live!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 21, 2019
CNN’s Chris Cuomo accepted Trump’s challenge on live television. In the middle of a panel, Cuomo whipped out his phone to call his mom to prove that you can hear phone calls that are not on speakerphone.
“Very interesting theory from our president that he has really good hearing, some would say, the best hearing ever, and he’s never been able to hear a phone call when it wasn’t on speakerphone from anybody. So, let’s just play with that for a second. Mom, can you hear me? All right. So if I were holding the phone here, I’m with Dana Bash, you know how you’re always telling me to let her talk because she’s so smart and I shouldn’t say so much. Can you just say hello? Mom? She probably can’t hear me.”
Watch the moment below:
His mom responded, “Yes, I hear you. When you talk to me, I hear you,” and it was apparently loud enough to be picked up by the microphones without the phone being on speakerphone.
Bash and his mother exchanged pleasantries that were not picked up by the mics. Cuomo pointed out that he was holding the phone about two feet away from Bash’s ear, then thanked his mother and hung up, adding, “Thank you for not saying anything that’ll get me in trouble. I’ll call you back. I love you.”
Holmes: "While Amb. Sondland's phone was not on speakerphone, I could hear the president's voice through the ear-piece… The president's voice was loud & recognizable, & Amb. Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume." pic.twitter.com/DicIuZDxBT— The Hill (@thehill) November 21, 2019
Cuomo’s experiment comes after David Holmes, U.S. political affairs counselor to Ukraine, told impeachment investigators that he overheard a phone conversation between Sondland and Trump while they were eating at a restaurant in Ukraine because Sondland would sometimes hold the phone away from his ear.