The House Intelligence Committee will hear from four witnesses on Tuesday as the impeachment inquiry into President Trump stretches into a second week.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Ukraine specialist on the National Security Council (NSC), and Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Pence, will appear during a morning session, led by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif) and ranking member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).
In the afternoon, former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison, an outgoing top Russia expert on the NSC, will answer lawmakers’ questions. Vindman, Morrison and Williams are among the officials who listened in on the July 25 phone call in which Trump allegedly pressed Ukraine’s leader to open two politically motivated investigations, including one into 2020 rival and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
Read The Hill’s complete coverage below.
Trump campaign: Hearing ‘could not have gone worse for Democrats’
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale asserted in a statement Tuesday’s hearing went poorly for the Democrats and claimed Vindman’s testimony as a positive for Trump.
“Democrats structured their whole sham impeachment hearing strategy with Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman as the lynchpin and today it further fell apart. Vindman confirmed that the transcript of the Ukraine phone call is accurate, was forced to admit that the President alone makes U.S. foreign policy, and testified that Burisma was a corrupt company which employed the son of then-Vice President Joe Biden,” Parscale said. “This could not have gone worse for Democrats, and could not have gone better for Americans sick to death of this concocted, bogus circus.”
White House: Witnesses offered ‘personal opinions and conjecture’
The White House took a veiled jab at the witnesses at the close of Tuesday’s first hearing while declaring the two provided “nothing new” to incriminate the president.
“Buried among the witnesses’ personal opinions and conjecture about a call the White House long ago released to the public, both witnesses testified the July 25 transcript was ‘accurate’ and nothing President Trump has done or said amounts to ‘bribery’ or any other crime,” press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
“Today’s hearing only further exposes that Chairman Schiff and the Democrats are simply blinded by their hatred for Donald Trump and rabid desire to overturn the outcome of a free and fair election,” she added.
Both Vindman and Williams testified that they found Trump’s July 25 call with the Ukrainian president to be “unusual” and “inappropriate.”
Schiff says GOP argument is that Trump’s actions were not successful
Schiff said the Republican argument against the impeachment inquiry is essentially that Trump was unsuccessful in his attempt to get Ukraine to open an investigation into his political opponents.
“The only lament I hear from my colleagues is, it wasn’t successful. They got caught. They didn’t get the political investigations and they still had to release the money,” Schiff said, referring to Republicans.
“They argue, well, this makes it OK that it was a failed effort to bribe Ukraine, a failed effort to extort Ukraine. That doesn’t make it better. It’s no less odious because it was discovered and it was stopped,” the intelligence committee chairman added.
Nunes says hearing yields no evidence to support impeachment in closing remarks
Nunes said that the morning impeachment hearing featuring Vindman and Williams yielded no evidence to support impeaching Trump.
“Democrats continue to poison the American people with this nonsense. We sat here all morning without any evidence for impeachment, which would be a very serious crime — high crime and misdemeanors, it says in the Constitution — no such thing,” Nunes said.
Nunes also accused House Democrats of causing “long-term damage” to federal agencies, including the Justice Department, the State Department and the FBI, through pursuing the impeachment inquiry.
“Act one of today’s circus is over, for those of you who have been watching at home, the Democrats are no closer to impeachment than where they were three years ago,” Nunes said.
Applause breaks out after Vindman says he doesn’t have to worry about testifying because ‘this is America’
Spectators applauded after Vindman said he didn’t need to worry about testifying because “this is America” and that “right matters” here.
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) had asked Vindman if his father, whom Vindman had addressed in earlier testimony, was worried about his speaking out against the president’s actions by coming forward.
“He was deeply worried about it because in his context, there was the ultimate risk,” Vindman said of his father, who migrated to the U.S. from the Soviet Union.
When Maloney asked why Vindman felt like his dad didn’t need to worry, Vindman replied, “Because this is America. This is the country I’ve served and defended. … Here, right matters.”
Whistleblower’s attorneys lashes out at Jordan on Twitter
An attorney representing a whistleblower in the intelligence community who filed a complaint about Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president lashed out at Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on Twitter, accusing him of lying and spreading conspiracy theories in Tuesday’s hearing.
Andrew Bakaj tweeted Tuesday that Jordan had lied about who the unnamed whistleblower had contacted before filing his report.
Congressman @Jim_Jordan – I AM TIRED OF YOU LYING IN A HOUSE COMMITTEE ROOM IN FRONT OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. My client hired ME – no one else in leading up to filing the disclosure with the ICIG. I have made that clear TIME AND TIME AGAIN – and you ignore the FACTS!
— Andrew P. Bakaj (@AndrewBakaj) November 19, 2019
A second attorney representing the whistleblower, Mark Zaid, added: “Certain Members of Congress continue to lie abt my role in this case & deliberately distort facts to deflect from addressing #WBer complaint.”
“They didn’t treat me this way when I worked w/them re #Benghazi #WBers. #Shameful,” he continued, adding “#FactsMatter.”
Heck says White House’s Vindman attack shows stakes of impeachment inquiry
Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.) sharply criticized a White House tweet put out Tuesday that was critical of Vindman, saying that the tweet shows how the impeachment inquiry extends beyond Trump himself.
As Vindman testified, the official White House Twitter account posted that “Tim Morrison, Alexander Vindman’s former boss, testified in his deposition that he had concerns about Vindman’s judgment.”
Heck strongly pushed back against this tweet, telling Vindman that he “can only conclude, sir, that what we thought was just the president as the subject of our deliberations on this inquiry isn’t sufficient to capture what is happening here.”
Heck added that “what is subject to this inquiry, and what is at peril, is our Constitution and the very values on which it is based.”
Castro pushes back against Trump accusations of Ukrainian election meddling
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) questioned Vindman on whether Ukraine tried to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections, with both Castro and Vindman pushing back against the idea and highlighting the Russian interference that in fact took place.
Castro referenced Trump’s claim of Ukraine being in possession of servers from cybersecurity company Crowdstrike that were recovered as part of the response to Russian hacking operations targeting the Democratic National Committee in 2016.
Castro said the Crowdstrike issue was “a debunked conspiracy theory that has no basis in fact” and asked Vindman if there was any evidence that Ukraine interfered in 2016.
Vindman responded that he was not aware of any evidence it had and instead said the Crowdstrike issue “is a Russian narrative that President [Vladimir] Putin has promoted.”
Castro said in response that “false narratives” around Ukrainian interference are “damaging our country, they poison our politics and distract from the truth.”
Intelligence agencies, the Senate Intelligence Committee and former special counsel Robert Mueller all concluded that Russia conducted hacking and disinformation operations against the U.S. elections in 2016.
Castro jokes that his twin brother made him grow a beard
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) joked that his twin brother, 2020 presidential candidate Julián Castro, made him “grow a beard” to distinguish between the two of them at the start of his questioning of Vindman, who is also a twin.
“It’s great to talk to a fellow identical twin. I hope that your brother’s nicer to you than mine is to me and doesn’t make you grow a beard,” the lawmaker quipped.
Julián Castro served as the Housing and Urban Development secretary in the Obama administration and is one of more than a dozen Democrats seeking the party’s 2020 presidential nomination.
He mocked his twin’s facial hair in a tweet following the congressman’s remarks:
Let’s be clear—if I knew it’d look like that I wouldn’t have suggested it. https://t.co/CLeRBskQfJ
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) November 19, 2019
White House tweets quote questioning Vindman’s judgment
The official White House Twitter account tweeted out a quote that called Vindman’s judgment into question as he testified on Capitol Hill.
“Tim Morrison, Alexander Vindman’s former boss, testified in his deposition that he had concerns about Vindman’s judgment,” the White House tweeted.
The account attached a graphic of a quote from Morrison’s deposition illustrating that point.
The tweet reflected the willingness of the president and his allies to target their criticisms on Vindman, who is still detailed to work for the White House as part of the National Security Council.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) similarly questioned Vindman’s judgment earlier in the hearing.
Trump: ‘I don’t know Vindman at all’
Trump said at a Cabinet meeting that he does not know Vindman.
“I never saw the man. I understand now he wears his uniform when he goes in,” Trump told reporters at the White House when asked if Vindman was credible. “No, I don’t know Vindman at all. What I do know is that he said the transcript was correct.”
“Vindman, I watched him for a little while this morning, and I think he – I’m going to let people make their own determination,” Trump, who last month called Vindman a “Never Trumper,” continued.
Stewart presses Vindman on ‘military culture’ interpretation of a ‘favor’
Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) asked Vindman if it is fair to use his military-based interpretation of a “favor” being essentially a “demand” in reference to a call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, two leaders who have no military experience.
“Your interpretation of the word favor, and I paraphrase, you feel free to correct me, you said in the military culture, which you and I are both familiar with, when a superior officer asks for a favor of a subordinate they will interpret that as a demand,” said Stewart, who served for more than a decade in the Air Force.
“Representative, when a superior makes a request, that’s an order,” Vindman responded.
Stewart asked if it’s fair to attach his interpretation of a favor “to someone who has never served.”
Vindman said he sticks by his judgement.
“I think it’s nonsense,” Stewart said. “I was in the military, I could distinguish between a favor and an order and demand and so could my subordinates. And I think President Zelensky did as well.”
“The context of this call consistent with the July 10 meeting with the reporting that was going on including the president’s personal attorney made it clear that his was not simply a request,” Vindman responded.
Stewart also asked Vindman if he “always insists on civilians” calling him by his rank after Vindman quickly corrected Nunes on his title earlier in the hearing.
“Mr. Stewart, Representative Stewart, I’m in uniform wearing my military rank. I just thought it was appropriate to stick with that,” he said, adding that he doesn’t think Nunes meant any disrespect.
Vindman describes Giuliani involvement with Ukraine as ‘not helpful’
In response to a question from Sewell on whether it was normal for a private U.S. official to get involved in foreign affairs, Vindman said that Giuliani’s efforts involving Ukraine also “did not advance U.S. national security interests” and noted that Ukrainian officials were concerned with his involvement.
Sewell also asked Vindman for his thoughts on why it is “important for foreign governments not to get involved in the political affairs of the United States.”
Vindman referred to Russian interference in the 2016 elections in responding, and noted that the Trump administration enforced “heavy sanctions” against Moscow for its meddling.
Schiff pushes back on GOP questions over ‘bribery’
Schiff said witnesses are not asked to make judgements on whether or not activity they witnessed was “bribery” because they are testifying specifically to the facts.
“The reason we don’t ask witnesses that are fact witnesses to make the judgement about whether a crime or bribery has been committed, or whether, more significantly, what the founders had in mind when they itemized bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors, is you’re fact witnesses,” Schiff said.
“It will be our job to decide whether the impeachable act of bribery has occurred that’s why we don’t ask you those questions,” he said.
Schiff added that witnesses may also be unaware of other “facts” that have been adduced during the investigation.
His clarification came after Ratcliffe challenged the Democrats argument that Trump committed alleged “bribery” in withholding U.S. aid in return for the investigations. Ratcliffe claimed the word “bribery” only appeared once in the 10 sworn deposition transcripts and was not about Trump’s actions.
Ratcliffe pushes back on Democrats’ narrative of bribery
“Multiple Democratic members of this committee gave TV and radio interviews over this past week discussing how the president’s conduct supported his impeachment for committing bribery, all of which struck me as very odd, because for the longest time this was all about quid pro quo,” Ratcliffe said, also referencing Pelosi’s comments. “After witness after witness began saying there was no quid pro quo…we saw a shift from the Democrats. They briefly started to refer to the president’s conduct on the July 25 call as extortion, and now it’s shifted again last week to bribery.”
He asked Williams and Vindman whether they had described as bribery Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. They both affirmed they had not used the words “bribery” or “bribe.”
“No witness has used the word ‘bribery’ to describe President Trump’s conduct,” Ratcliffe added. “The number of times that witnesses have been asked any question about whether or not President Trump’s conduct constituted bribery before [former Ukrainian] Ambassador [Marie] Yovanovitch was asked…last Thursday is zero. The number of times witnesses have used the word ‘bribery’ or ‘bribe’ to describe President Trump’s conduct in the last six weeks of this inquiry is zero.”
“In these 3,500 pages of sworn deposition testimony…the word ‘bribery’ appears in these 3,500 pages exactly one time, and ironically, it appears not in a description President Trump’s alleged conduct, it appears in a description of Vice President Biden’s alleged conduct,” the Texas Republican continued.
The phrase bribery was used in the transcripts during a Democratic line of questioning that mentioned a June tweet by Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani that referred to “alleged Biden bribery.”
Witnesses deny being ‘Never Trumpers’
Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) on Tuesday asked the witnesses to respond to Trump attacks the weekend that they were “Never Trumpers,” while also pushing back against questioning tactics by Republicans.
Williams told Himes that she did not know the “official definition” of a “Never Trumper,” but that she would not describe herself in that way and that she “was not expecting to be called out by that name.”
Trump tweeted on Sunday that Williams should “read BOTH transcripts of the presidential calls, & see the just released st[a]tement from Ukraine. Then she should meet with the other Never Trumpers, who I don’t know & mostly never even heard of, & work out a better presidential attack!”
Himes on Tuesday described the tweet as “witness intimidation,” echoing an incident last week in which Trump criticized former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch over Twitter while she was testifying. Yovanovitch said under oath that she believed the effect of the tweet was to “intimidate” her.
Vindman also said he was not a “Never Trumper” but would in fact describe himself as “never partisan.”
Vindman calls it ‘preposterous’ that he would leak information
Vindman pushed back firmly on Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) raising questions about his judgment and inquiring whether he was a source of leaks from within the government.
“You never leaked information?” Jordan asked.
“I never did. I never would. That is preposterous that I would do that,” Vindman replied.
Jordan and other Republican allies of the president have sought to call Vindman’s credibility into question by suggesting he has undermined the president’s agenda and noting his ties to Ukraine.
“Your boss had concerns about your judgment, your former boss, Dr. [Fiona] Hill, had concerns about your judgment, your colleagues had concerns about your judgment, and your colleagues felt there were times when you leaked information,” Jordan said. “Any idea why they have those impressions?”
Vindman appeared to be prepared for lines of inquiry calling his credibility into question. He read from an evaluation from Hill in mid-July in which she characterized him as “a top 1 percent military officer.”
“He’s brilliant, unflappable and exercises excellent judgment,” Hill said, according to a review read by Vindman.
Vindman asserted that Tim Morrison, another national security official who Jordan cited as raising concerns about Vindman’s judgment, may have simply clashed with Vindman because of a difference in work culture and a lack of familiarity.
Vindman says he never coordinated with Giuliani
At one point during the hearing, Vindman said he never spoke with Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and jokingly referred to him as “New York’s finest mayor.”
“You never had any meetings, phone calls — anything of that sort?” GOP counsel Stephen Castor asked.
“I did not. I only know him as New York’s finest mayor,” Vindman quipped.
The moment marked a rare lighthearted episode during the hearing, encouraging smiles from Vindman and his lawyer as well as Castor.
“America’s mayor,” Castor rejoined.
“America’s mayor,” Vindman agreed.
Vindman also said that he did not have any personal contacts with Trump.
GOP counsel probes Vindman on Ukrainian offer to make him minister of defense
GOP counsel Stephen Castor probed Vindman on Ukrainian offers to make him the nation’s minister of defense, asking if Vindman “left the door open” to accepting these offers.
Vindman rejected the idea, noting that while the offers from Ukrainian national security leader Oleksandr Danylyuk were an “honor,” he is “an American, I came here as a toddler, and I immediately dismissed these offers, did not entertain them.”
Vindman said he received the offer to serve as minister of defense three times, and each time, “notified my chain of command and the appropriate intelligence folks” about the offers upon his return to the United States, though he didn’t know how seriously they were extended.
Castor pressed Vindman on whether he “left the door open” to potentially accepting the offer in the future, an idea Vindman strongly denied.
“The whole notion is rather comical that I was being asked whether I would want to be minister of defense, I did not leave the door open at all. It is pretty funny for a lieutenant colonel of the United States Army, which really isn’t that senior, to be offered that illustrious of a position.”
Vindman also noted that he never viewed the job offers as being “legitimate.”
Schiff, Nunes clash over questions that could point to identity of the whistleblower
Schiff and House Republicans clashed after it appeared that Nunes was trying to zero in on the identity of the intelligence community whistleblower.
Vindman, during Nunes’s questioning, said he had had discussions with two officials who were “properly cleared individuals with a need to know” basis for such information.
Vindman identified a member in the intelligence community and George Kent, a senior State Department official.
Schiff, however, interjected at this point, saying that they “need to protect the whistleblower.”
Several Republican lawmakers seated in the public viewing gallery immediately reacted with an “Ah ha,” to Schiff’s interjection.
Nunes protested that it was their time to question the witness, but both Schiff and Vindman’s lawyer said they would not participate in efforts to identify the person who first came forward with allegations about Trump’s July 25 phone call.
At one point, Vindman corrected Nunes on his title as well after the California Republican addressed him as “Mr. Vindman.”
“Ranking member, it’s Lt. Col. Vindman, please,” he said.
Nunes questions witnesses on Hunter Biden involvement with Burisma
Nunes began the Republican round of questioning on Tuesday by asking a series of questions around Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma, which employed Hunter Biden on its board.
Nunes asked Williams if she knew about potential concerns around former Vice President Joe Biden’s son sitting on the board, and whether she was aware that that Burisma had routed millions to bank accounts of Hunter Biden.
Williams said she was “not aware” of these issues “until others testified in more detail on those issues,” such as George Kent, a State Department diplomat who testified last week.
Nunes also asked Vindman these questions, with Vindman responding that he “didn’t independently look into” concerns around Hunter Biden’s involvement with Burisma.
Vindman says he doesn’t recall Ukraine mentioning pressure regarding investigations
After Vindman called Trump’s request for investigations by Ukraine a “demand” he said that he did not hear from Ukraine about pressure they felt to conduct the investigations.
Asked by Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman whether he heard from any Ukrainians “about any pressure that they felt to do these investigations,” Vindman replied, “Not that I can recall.”
Goldman then asked whether Vindman discussed the “demand for investigations” with officials at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington.
“I did not,” Vindman replied.
He said that “in the August time frame” the Ukrainian Embassy started to become aware of the hold on military assistance to the country.
President Trump has insisted that there was no pressure on the Ukraine call, and Republicans promptly began highlighting Vindman’s comments.
Vindman: July 25 call intentionally moved to highly classified server
Vindman said that he believed the transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky was deliberately moved to a different, highly classified server in order to control who saw it.
“I think it was intended to prevent leaks and to limit access,” Vindman said.
He disagreed with the suggestion that it was done by mistake, which another National Security Council official, Tim Morrison, told investigators. Morrison said that he was told by NSC lawyer John Eiseberg that the call transcript was moved to the different server by “mistake.”
Williams declines to answer questions about Pence call, citing guidance from VP’s office
Williams declined to answer a question about a Sept. 18 call between Vice President Pence and the Ukrainian president, citing guidance from the vice president’s office that the call is classified.
Schiff asked Williams at the outset of his questioning whether there was anything relevant on that call to the impeachment inquiry. Williams’s lawyer interjected to note that Pence’s office “has taken the position” that the call is classified.
“Given the position of the vice president’s office on classification, I’ve advised Ms. Williams not answer further questions about that call in an unclassified setting,” the attorney said.
Williams referenced her closed-door testimony and said she’d be willing to answer further questions about the call in a classified setting.
Vindman denounces attacks on impeachment witnesses
Vindman described attacks on him and other witnesses as “reprehensible” and “cowardly,” recognizing career officials for their courage in coming forward to raise concerns about the Trump administration’s policies toward Ukraine.
“I never thought I would be sitting here testifying in front of this committee and the American public about my actions,” Vindman, who wore his uniform for the hearing, said.
Vindman and other career officials who have testified privately or publicly have withstood criticisms from the president’s Republican allies and even Trump himself, who last month called Vindman, a career official working on the White House’s National Security Council, a “Never Trumper.”
“I want to state that the vile character attacks on these distinguished and honorable public servants is reprehensible. It is natural to disagree and engage in spirited debate, this has been our custom since the time of our Founding Fathers, but we are better than callow and cowardly attacks,” Vindman said during his opening statement, without mentioning Trump or any specific attacks.
“The uniform I wear today is that of the United States Army. The members of our all-volunteer force are made up of a patchwork of people from all ethnicities, religions and socio-economic backgrounds who come together under a common oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America,” Vindman continued. “We do not serve any particular political party, we serve the nation.”
Vindman addresses his dad during opening statement: ‘I will be fine for telling the truth’
Vindman in his opening remarks thanked his father for leaving the Soviet Union 40 years ago to give him and his brothers the opportunity to live in a country “free of fear” over their safety.
“Dad, I am sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol, talking to our elected professionals, proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come her to the United States of America in search for a better life for our family,” he said.
“Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.”
Vindman said his reporting of the president’s actions through proper channels “would not be tolerated” in other countries.
Testimony involving the president would “surely cost me my life” in Russia, he added.
Vindman said his dad’s “courageous decision” to leave the Soviet Union inspired gratitude and a sense of duty in him and his brothers.
Williams says Pence assured Ukraine of ‘unwavering support’
Williams testified in a three-page opening statement that Vice President Pence pledged “unwavering support” from the U.S. for Ukraine during a Sept. 1 meeting with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
The meeting between Pence and Zelensky was one of a few key events Williams touched on during her brief opening statement, which offered some distance between Pence and the heart of the Ukraine controversy.
The career government official said she found Trump’s July 25 call with the Ukrainian president to be “unusual” but that she did not discuss the call with Pence. The call — and the investigations Trump wanted — did not come up during Pence’s Sept. 1 meeting with the Ukrainian president either, Williams said.
She added that she never learned the reason for a Trump administration hold on security aid for Ukraine, nor why it was eventually released.
Williams joined the State Department in 2006. She is detailed to Pence’s office as a national security adviser on Eurasia affairs, a role she called the “greatest honor of my life.”
Vindmand and Williams sworn in
Vindman and Williams, two career civil servants, stood to take the oath to tell the whole truth as they testify about Trump’s contacts with Ukraine.
Vindman and Williams are sworn in. pic.twitter.com/TmZGBfb09D
— Olivia Beavers (@Olivia_Beavers) November 19, 2019
Nunes encourages viewers to read John Solomon articles in opening remarks
Nunes encouraged impeachment inquiry viewers to read articles written by John Solomon, a former employee of The Hill, in regards to Ukraine, with the ranking member lashing out at the media as a whole.
Nunes criticized the decision by The Hill’s management on Monday to review and update opinion pieces referenced during the impeachment inquiry, with Nunes saying that “Solomon’s reporting on Burisma, Hunter Biden, and Ukraine election meddling has become inconvenient for the Democratic narrative, so the media is furiously smearing and libeling Solomon.”
Nunes described Solomon as a “veteran investigative journalist” and also criticized a recent incident involving a reporter for The Hill last week, during which Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) told the reporter she would no longer speak to The Hill due to Solomon’s past writing.
Nunes “encouraged” viewers to read Solomon’s articles and to “draw your own conclusions about the evidence Solomon has gathered.”
Overall, Nunes harshly criticized the media for its portrayal of the impeachment inquiry, comparing it to how the media covered the investigation into Russian election interference by former counsel Robert Mueller.
“With their biased misreporting on the Russia hoax, the media lost the confidence of millions of Americans,” Nunes said.
Williams and Vindman appear under subpoena
Both Vindman and Williams are testifying under subpoena on Tuesday, according to an official working on the impeachment inquiry.
It has been common practice for the committee to issue subpoenas for witnesses amid efforts by the White House to prevent officials from complying with the inquiry.
Schiff begins hearing by claiming Trump put himself over country
Schiff opened the third public hearing by claiming that Trump “put his own personal and political interests” above the interests of the country.
“To press a foreign leader to announce an investigation into his political rival, President Trump put his own personal and political interests above those of the nation. He undermined our military and diplomatic support for a key ally and undercut U.S. anticorruption efforts in Ukraine,” Schiff said in his opening remarks.
Schiff noted that both Vindman and Williams have voiced concern after listening in on the July 25 phone call in which Trump raised the prospect of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky investigating interference in the 2016 election and Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company that employed the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, a top 2020 political rival. Both probes would benefit the president politically, and the California Democrat said Trump officials made it clear nearly $400 million in U.S. aid was contingent on opening the two politically motivated probes.
“After the call, multiple individuals, including Vindman, were concerned enough to report it to the National Security Council’s top lawyer. It was the second time in two weeks that Vindman had raised concerns with the NSC lawyers,” Schiff said. “For her part, Williams also believed that asking Zelensky to undertake these political investigations was inappropriate,” he continued.
The chairman also addressed the president’s attacks against both Williams and Vindman for their testimonies, saying the American people are grateful.
“Col. Vindman, we have seen far more scurrilous attacks on your character, and watched as certain personalities on Fox have questioned your loyalty. I note that you have shed blood for America, and we owe you an immense debt of gratitude,” he added.
Witnesses enter ahead of hearing
Vindman, who was dressed in uniform, walked to his seat as the loud shuttering of cameras captured his appearance in the hearing room.
Vindman’s twin brother, Yevgeny Vindman, sat a row behind him.
Williams quietly took her seat shortly thereafter.
Zelensky: ‘Everybody in Ukraine is so tired of Burisma’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Tuesday his country is “tired” of hearing about Burisma Holdings, while not answering a reporter’s question over whether he was preparing to announce a Trump-requested investigation into the energy company that employed Hunter Biden.
“You were ready to publicly announce an investigation into Burisma after your phone call with President Trump?” a CNN reporter asked Zelensky Tuesday morning.
“I think everybody in Ukraine is so tired of Burisma,” Zelensky responded. “We have our country, we have our independence, we have our problems and questions.”
Trump’s push for Zelensky to announce a public investigation into Burisma, where Biden sat on the board, as well as into alleged 2016 election interference from Ukraine, is at the center of the House’s impeachment inquiry.
Trump knocks Pelosi ahead of new impeachment hearings: ‘She’s CRAZY!’
President Trump early Tuesday called Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) “crazy” and accused her of wanting to “change our voting system” after she called his dealings with Ukraine an abuse of power.
“Nancy Pelosi just stated that ‘it is dangerous to let the voters decide Trump’s fate.’ @FoxNews In other words, she thinks I’m going to win and doesn’t want to take a chance on letting the voters decide. Like Al Green, she wants to change our voting system,” he claimed in an early morning tweet, referring to Pelosi and the Democratic congressman from Texas who has long supported impeachment.
“Wow, she’s CRAZY!” Trump added.
Pelosi in a “Dear Colleague” letter to the Democratic caucus on Monday criticized the Republican argument that Trump’s future should be determined by the 2020 election rather than impeachment. She argued that it is up to the House to investigate possible wrongdoing by the president.
Catch up with our previous coverage
This morning marks the beginning of a busy week in the hearing room, with nine witnesses scheduled to testify over the next three days.
House Democrats got the week started late on Monday night by releasing two transcripts from closed-door depositions, including one from David Holmes, a career State Department official now based in Kyiv, who told lawmakers he believed officials in Ukraine “gradually came to understand that they were being asked to do something” in order for a hold on security assistance from the U.S. to be lifted.
And if you want to catch up on what’s already happened, here are five takeaways from Friday’s open hearing with former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and what we found important in the first public hearing last week with William Taylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine, and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs.