‘Schiff likes to claim he doesn’t know who the whistleblower is… So then how would he know Nunes is asking about the whistleblower?’
(Liberty Headlines) President Donald Trump commended GOP members of the House Intelligence Committee for “killing” it on the third full day of public impeachment hearings Tuesday, while denouncing the effort led by Democrat adversaries as a disgraceful “kangaroo court.”
Both were present in the White House Situation Room, listening in on Trump’s July 25 phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
The Charade Continues…
Vindman, a naturalized American citizen who was 3 when his family fled Ukraine, said he spoke out afterward due a sense of “duty” because of the “significant national security implications” he perceived.
“I was concerned by the call,” Vindman said in his opening statement. “What I heard was inappropriate.”
However, many of the assessments he recounted in his stilted testimony seemed to have been more speculative than fact-based.
Vindman, who had helped prepare talking points for the July 25 call, testified that he had used his judgment, based on his military background, in interpreting Trump’s request for a “favor” from Zelenskiy as an order, but that it was open to different interpretations.
Other noteworthy moments from his testimony included a questioning of “bribery” claims that Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, observed was only raised by Democrats after focus-group testing to help sell their impeachment narrative but had never been raised during six weeks of closed-door testimony in connection with Trump.
Pelosi now claims this charade is all about “bribery.”⁰
The problem with that focus-group-tested narrative? No witness has used the word “bribery” to describe @realDonaldTrump‘s conduct.
In fact, “bribery” has only ever been mentioned in the context of Biden’s alleged conduct. pic.twitter.com/6RZKgFPV48
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) November 19, 2019
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the ranking minority member on the Intelligence Committee, also called out Vindman’s refusal to answer questions on the supposedly anonymous whistleblower when Vindman previously testified he did not know the identity of the whistleblower.
🚨🚨 Schiff just shut down Ranking Member @DevinNunes to advise one of his star witnesses on how to answer a question about the whistleblower.
But Schiff likes to claim he doesn’t know who the whistleblower is… So then how would he know Nunes is asking about the whistleblower? pic.twitter.com/QT06yMcRC7
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) November 19, 2019
The whistleblower is widely presumed to be Vindman’s NSC colleague, Eric Ciaramella, who has a history of partisan ties to congressional Democrats and members of the Obama administration. That includes former Vice President Joe Biden, whose involvement in a Ukrainian scandal was the focus of much of Tuesday’s testimony.
Conflicts of Interest?
Under questioning from GOP impeachment counsel Steve Castor, Vindman revealed that he was offered the post of Ukraine’s defense minister three times but rejected the suggestion.
Vindman said he was made the offer while attending Zelenskiy’s inauguration as part of the official U.S. delegation.
He added, “I immediately dismissed these offers.”
He said two American officials witnessed the exchange with a top adviser to Zelenskiy, and that he notified his chain of command and counterintelligence officials about the offer upon returning to the U.S.
Castor questioned whether that created the impression of a conflict, to which Vindman replied, “it’s more important what my American chain of command thinks.” He added: “The whole notion is rather comical.”
Republicans also pointed out that some in the NSC feared Vindman might leak information.
Tim Morrison, the NSC senior director for Russia and Europe, told Republicans in a closed-door deposition that others at the White House had registered worries about Vindman.
Morrison said senior NSC official Fiona Hill had “raised concerns about Alex’s judgment” as the two discussed the strengths and weaknesses of their team.
“[A] significant number of bureaucrats and staff members within the executive branch have never accepted President Trump as legitimate and resent his unorthodox style and his intrusion onto their turf,” Johnson said.
“They react by leaking to the press and participating in the ongoing effort to sabotage his policies and, if possible, remove him from office,” he continued. “It is entirely possible that Vindman fits this profile.”
Dems Seek a Double-Whammy?
In the unlikely event that impeachment resulted in Trump’s resignation or removal from office, succession would pass to the vice president.
However, Dems have sought to implicate Pence as well, which would hand the presidency over to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., one of the engineers of the impeachment conspiracy.
Pence has been portrayed largely as out of the loop about Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate Biden.
However, Williams’s testimony sought to refocus attention on what the Pence knew and when about the events that sparked the House impeachment investigation.
Pence’s office said the vice president barely interacted with Williams, a career foreign service officer who was detailed to the office from the State Department.
“She doesn’t directly report to the Vice President,” said Katie Waldman, a spokeswoman for Pence, noting Williams’s current appointment began on April 1.
Tell Jennifer Williams, whoever that is, to read BOTH transcripts of the presidential calls, & see the just released ststement 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 17, 2019
Williams compiled briefing materials for Pence on Ukraine and was in the room when he met with Zelenskiy in September.
She declined in her testimony to answer questions about the vice president’s September call with Zelenskiy on the grounds that it remains classified. She said she would instead submit a classified memo about the call as part of the impeachment investigation.
Williams told the committee behind closed doors this month that the call was “very positive” and the two men did not discuss Trump’s push for investigations of Democrats. Pence’s office has so far declined to release the transcript.
Waldman said in an email to media that Williams’s prior House testimony underscored that there was no quid pro quo involved in the delay of military support to Ukraine.
“The bottom line is that after the Vice President returned from the President’s pre-planned meeting in Poland with President Zelensky, the aid was released soon thereafter,” Waltman said. “The Vice President’s goal was to relay the importance of burden sharing and corruptions reforms.”
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press