Takeaways From Day 3 Of House Impeachment Hearings

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Jennifer Williams, right, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, and National Security Council aide Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, stand to take a break as they testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A career Army officer. A career foreign service official. Both had a consistent message during Day 3 of the House impeachment inquiry, and each was troubled by the phone call between President Donald Trump and the president of Ukraine.

Here are some takeaways from Tuesday’s testimony:

‘CONCERNED BY THE CALL’

Republicans have consistently criticized the House impeachment inquiry by saying witnesses didn’t have firsthand knowledge of President Donald Trump’s role in trying to persuade Ukraine to investigate a chief political rival.

On Day 3 of the proceedings, that posture is suddenly more difficult to maintain.

The two witnesses in Tuesday morning’s session each listened to the July 25 phone call in which Trump prodded his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, said she considered the call “unusual” since it “involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter.”

Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who arrived for the hearing in military uniform adorned with medals, went even further. He considered it “improper,” and, acting out of “duty,” reported his alarm to a lawyer for the National Security Council.

“I privately reported my concerns, in official channels, to the proper authorities in the chain of command. My intent was to raise these concerns because they had significant national security implications for our country,” Vindman said.

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ATTACKS ON VINDMAN

Republicans leveled early and frequent attacks on Vindman’s credibility, even lacing an occasional nicety with a not-so-veiled barb.

Republican Rep. Chris Stewart thanked Vindman, who was wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq and awarded the Purple Heart, for his service. Yet Stewart also wondered aloud why Vindman felt it necessary to wear his uniform rather than a suit to the hearing.

He wanted to know, too, if Vindman always insisted on being referred to by military rank rather than “Mr.” as he did in an exchange earlier with Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the committee.

The committee attacks on the current NSC official mirrors the combative approach of the White House and other Trump allies, who have repeatedly derided Vindman.

Some Republican attacks struggled to land. After Rep. Jim Jordan suggested that Vindman’s peers questioned his judgment, Vindman read aloud from a glowing performance review that called him “brilliant” and “unflappable.”

Some attacks even sought to imply that Vindman, a naturalized American citizen who was a toddler when his family fled Ukraine, may have dual loyalties toward the former Soviet Republic.

Under questioning from GOP impeachment counsel Steve Castor, Vindman revealed that he was offered three times the post of Ukraine’s defense minister while attending the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy but “immediately dismissed these offers.”

He says two American officials witnessed the exchange with a top adviser to Zelenskiy, and that he notified his chain of command and counterintelligence officials 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.”

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PENCE ROLE?

Pence has been portrayed largely as out of the loop about Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate Biden. The public testimony by Williams refocused attention on what Pence knew about the events that sparked the House impeachment investigation.

But Pence’s office says the vice president and Williams barely interacted.

Williams, a career foreign service officer who was detailed to Pence’s office from the State Department, compiled briefing materials for Pence on Ukraine. She was in the room when he met with Zelenskiy in September and was among the staffers in the Situation Room who listened and took notes during the July 25th call.

Katie Waldman, a Pence spokeswoman, noted that Williams’ appointment began April 1 and said she “she doesn’t directly report to the Vice President.”

Pence failed to come to Williams’ defense when Trump recently tweeted that she should meet with “the other Never Trumpers, who I don’t know & mostly never even heard of, & work out a better presidential attack!”

Williams said she was confused by the attack and “would not” consider herself a “Never Trumper.”

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WHITE HOUSE REAL-TIME RESPONSE

The White House reacted to the impeachment inquiry in real time Tuesday, stepping up its engagement after facing persistent complaints from Republican allies that it wasn’t doing enough to counter allegations against the president.

The White House sent out five “rapid response” emails to reporters before the witnesses were even sworn-in. The messages sought to defend Trump and undermine the credibility of the witnesses.

“The President of the United States determines American foreign policy – not unelected bureaucrats,” said one email, as the White House argued that the career officials testifying had a policy dispute with Trump about Ukraine. “It’s the job of bureaucrats to implement that agenda set by the President – not leak and undermine him at every turn.”

“Williams’ prior testimony offered nothing but personal opinion and conjecture over a call that all Americans can see for themselves was perfectly appropriate,” the White House said.

Trump was criticized by Democrats for his push-back efforts last week, when he tweeted out an attack on another witness, former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, as she was speaking.

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20 COMMENTS

  1. The momzarim not only in Congress, but also on a certain cable tv channel, who had the chutzpah, the gall, to question the loyalty and patriotism of Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, whose family fled from the Soviet Union, when he was three years old; his family struggled for many years, while growing up in Brighton Beach. Yet, in 1999, Col. Vindman was commissioned as an Officer in the United States Army, after graduating from the State University of New York, at Binghamton. For those who questioned his loyalty and patriotism, they should take note that Vindman was awarded the Purple Heart, as a result of a terrorist IED attack in Iraq, in 2004, the Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Ranger Tab, Parachutist Badge, the Presidential Service Badge, Joint Chief of Staff Identification Badge, Defense Meritorious Service Medal with bronze oak leaf cluster, Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, National Intelligence Meritorious Unit Citation, and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation. The same anti-semitic charges of “dual loyalty” which we’ve heard for centuries are emerging right now. What a crock!

    • We correctly called out Ilhan Omar for her anti-Semitic dual loyalty slander. But Donald Trump made a similar slander and got a pass. Now Trump’s apologists are ramping up the dual loyalty slander and we are again silent.

  2. YourDictionary:

    “Argumentum ad hominem…an argument based on a personal attack on someone’s character or motive, rather than an attempt to address the actual issue at hand…whereby genuine discussion of the topic at hand is avoided by instead attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument, or persons associated with the argument, rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself…categorized among informal fallacies, more precisely as a genetic fallacy, a subcategory of fallacies of irrelevance.”

    That’s today’s GOP….they’re more interested acting like Trump’s personal defense counsel than they are in protecting the Republic.

    • And they complain about how the Democrats refuse to work with Trump when he has insulted, belittled and slandered anyonecwho disagrees with him irrespective of whether the insult has to do with policy. Republicans who has insulted and lied about like Ted Cruz don’t mind as long as they get to be close to the seat of power.

      This isn’t how you build bi partisan consensus
      He never tried so his complaints are just bellyaching

  3. Things don’t look good for Donald Trump and his loyal pro bono lawyer Rudy Giuliani. No effort has been made by the Republicans to defend them, but they have chosen to attack those who found fault with their scheme.

    • Things look great and spting under 5 screen names don’t look great for you, nachum=phineas=Cixelsyd Wnosanoy = yakov doe. Fools we are not.

      Its all great. We all agree the president did something wrong. but too bad we are not removing him. Go yell and scream all you want! Meanwhile, Biden was brought down in the dirt. His election chances got smaller as he is tarnished. And you guys and Bloomberg are panicking! I love yoni’s dictionary terms. Too bad. As long as it kepps our elcted president in office. A i mentioned already, He is so stuck against the corner by you whicthes and the fake news liars that he has no choice but to resort to unmoral fahsions.

      Nunes poinnted out all the fake news reported lies that trump is up against. I urge all Americans to listen to to his testimony before I urge all Americans to read the full Mueller report

      Trump 2020 KAG! Yoni getting nervous ? just a little?

      • Archy, for the 20th time, there are no split screen names; Nachum is my legal Hebrew name, and the others who backed me on this site are using their own, separate names. You’ll notice that I did not say one word in my posting, against the President. Yet, as a ostensibly frum Jew, you don’t have the decency to condemn those who expounding the centuries old anti-semitic canard of dual loyalty, as they did with Lt. Colonel Vindman. One Congressman even had the gall to object to Col. Vindman’s wearing his uniform, with all of his medals. It’s odd that when Col. Oliver North testified before Congress in 1987, (and incidentally, used the Fifth Amendment more than one time), not one Congressman objected to him wearing his uniform. Do you have any further comments on this, or are you going to return to your usual bad mouthing retorts, with such fancy words as “liar, phony, fake news”, or even worse?

        • Tying this loyalty argument to anti semtisim is nonsense . It’s baloney . You can argue that the loyalty argument is silly . But just bec years ago that argument was once used to put Jews in a bad light doesn’t mean that anyone who ever uses that argument t for someone who they believe is disloyal is an anti Semite .

          It’s just such a stupid fluffy talking point . You have no tangible proof that one leads to another

          It’s also an argument very similar to yonsanw hyper Nazis argument . It’s pure paranoia nonsense . You are not a good liar or spammer

          • Are you nuts? Dual loyalty was one of the memes the Nazis used against us! And it was one of the slanders that we correctly used to show that Ilhan Omar is an anti-Semite. But when Republican anti-Semites use that slander, Republican Jews are silent or even defend it.

          • Archy is dumber and more stupid than I previously thought. For one thing, his uneducated friends on the House Intelligence Committee, (as well as Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade at Fox News), kept implying that Lt. Colonel Vindman was more loyal to the Ukraine, than to the USA, and kept referring to him as a Ukranian-American. In fact, Ukraine did not even exist as an independent nation until 1991, which was a dozen years after Vindman arrived in the USA, as a three year old. The Soviet Union, which Vindman’s family fled from, also accused Jews of dual loyalty, even though hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews fought and died in the Soviet Army, against the Nazis.

        • So pack your bags and leave. I thought it was phineas who wrote he was nervous for the republic?

          I more nervous about liars like you who claim the moral high ground than cheat and lie yourself. Trump is who he is. No hidden secrets. You are a two facer and liar.

          Now let me address your comment under Charlie Hall. (hard to keep track of all your lies. It beats Trump’s lies) yes the nazis used it so what? Hitler’s first victory was democratic too. does that mean democracy =anti semistm?

          yes we use it for Omar and you can argue that here its not appriprioate. And we can address that. but that doesn’t make it nazism

  4. Life-long GOP guy Morrison directly testified today that he was on The Call and confirmed the Quid Pro Quo (Latin for This For That) by Tangled Trumpf, overtly pressuring Ukraine to dig up dirt on the fakakta Bidens in exchange for $400 MM in Congressionally approved military aid vs Russia. And not one Republikaaner defended the Tangled one- they only tried to belittle the witnesses! IMPEACHMENT NOW, REMOVE SHORTLY! RESIST trumpf ALWAYS…

    • If, as you (falsely) claim, no Republicans are defending Trump, then logic would dictate that you’d speak well of them, not try to smear them as “Republikaaner.” But you are so consumed with your vile and twisted hatred that even such simple logic is beyond you.

      Well, you’re wrong. There are indeed Republicans defending Trump, and rightly so. With Hashem’s help, he – and the American people with him – will win, and you and your side will lose, again and again, no matter how much you try to “resist” the truth.

  5. You self haters who hate the greatest president and friend of Orthodox Jews should wake up. It’s ok for Hillary to erase her emails and do all her dirty tricks. We orthodox Jews will be voting in mass for Donald Trump.

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