The Key Moments In Vindman, Williams Hearing In Impeachment Probe

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 19: Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, National Security Council Director for European Affairs and Jennifer Williams, adviser to Vice President Mike Pence for European and Russian Affairs, are swor... WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 19: Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, National Security Council Director for European Affairs and Jennifer Williams, adviser to Vice President Mike Pence for European and Russian Affairs, are sworn-in to testify (Photo by Shawn Thew - Pool/Getty Images) MORE LESS
|
November 19, 2019 1:02 p.m.

By Tuesday evening, a total of four witnesses will have marched onto Capitol Hill to testify as part of the impeachment inquiry.

The first two, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Ukraine specialist on the National Security Council, and Jennifer Williams, a foreign policy aide to Vice President Mike Pence, had listened in on the July 25 call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Democrats saw them as their strongest witnesses, in part because they both recall Zelensky mentioning Burisma during the conversation, a line that is cut out of the White House call memo.

Republicans had more confidence in the afternoon witnesses, former envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and former NSC aide Tim Morrison. Volker, one of the “three amigos” running the U.S.-Ukraine backchannel, claims ignorance of the quid pro quo. Morrison, who also listened to the Trump-Zelensky call, said that it was not “illegal.”

Here are the top moments from the morning hearing:

Vindman ends opening statement with emotional moment 

Vindman, wearing his Army dress blues, presented himself as a very sympathetic witness during his opening statement, perhaps to head off the credibility attacks Republicans had been telegraphing that they intended to launch.

He ended his opening statement with an emotional address to his father:

“Dad, my sitting here today, in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected officials is proof
that you made the right decision forty years ago to leave the Soviet Union and
come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our
family,” he said. “Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.”

Vindman blows holes in Trump’s excuse for holding back Ukrainian military aid 

Trump and his allies, faced with accusations that they withheld military aid in exchange for investigations into the Bidens and 2016 election, have been insisting that the widespread corruption in Ukraine is the real reason they froze the funds.

Vindman testified Tuesday that Trump did not even mention corruption during his two calls with Zelensky, taking the legs out from under that excuse.

“So when the President says now that he held up security assistance because he was concerned about rooting out corruption in Ukraine, that concern was not expressed in the two phone conversations that he had with President Zelensky earlier this year. Is that right?” asked Daniel Goldman, the attorney for the House Intel Democrats.

“Correct,” Vindman responded.

Vindman corrects Nunes for not using his military rank

In one exchange, when Ranking Member Devin Nunes referred to Vindman as “mister,” Vindman quickly corrected him.

“Ranking member, it’s Lt. Col. Vindman, please,” Vindman responded.

When Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) brought up the exchange later, saying that “the ranking member meant no disrespect,” Vindman said that he preferred being called by his rank after the extensive attacks on his character he had sustained.

Jordan goes after Vindman’s credibility

In one especially tense exchange, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) attacked Vindman’s credibility by quoting the deposition of former NSC aide Tim Morrison, in which Morrison questioned Vindman’s judgment and said that former NSC senior director Fiona Hill expressed the same qualms.

Vindman responded by reading Hill’s evaluation of his job performance, written just before she left the post in July.

“Alex is a top 1 percent military officer and the best Army officer I have worked with in my 15 years of government service,” he read. “He is brilliant, unflappable, and exercises excellent judgment.” He looked up, holding Jordan’s gaze on the last two words.

Jordan moved on to insinuate that Vindman is a leaker.

“I never did, I never would,” Vindman responded. “That is preposterous that I would do that.”

Support The TPM Journalism Fund
  • Contributions allow us to hire more journalists
  • Contributions allow us to provide free memberships to those who cannot afford them
  • Contributions support independent, non-corporate journalism
Comments
advertisement
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer:
SPECIAL DEAL FOR PAST TPM MEMBERS
40% OFF AN ANNUAL PRIME MEMBERSHIP
REJOIN FOR JUST $30