This week, the quick pace of testimony in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry continued. On Tuesday, investigators heard from National Security Council official Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who was one of the few listening into a highly scrutinized phone conversation between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as it happened. On that call, according to the record the White House itself released, Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate the Bidens, and after Vindman shared what he knew about the scheme, Congressional Democrats exclaimed that they were disturbed.
‘Acting House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y, told NBC News she found Vindman’s remarks “extremely, extremely, extremely disturbing” as she left the deposition. Maloney refused to answer any other questions about Vindman’s testimony.’
Panel member Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fl.) also shared how explosive that Vindman’s testimony really was.
‘[She] said his testimony “corroborated the testimony of other witnesses” that “really drew a direct line to the President, and those around him and their interest in withholding foreign aid through Ukraine that was vital, as well as insisting on investigations into Biden.”‘
It’s true — as Trump and those closest to him pushed Ukraine for that dirt on the Bidens, they halted previously approved military aid for the country that was meant to help them protect against Russian aggression. Eventually, the Trump team explicitly told Ukraine that the aid would be released in exchange for a Biden investigation, but even before that, Ukraine knew the aid was being held up as they were getting the pressure from Trump, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and others.
Vindman repeatedly alerted the National Security Council’s lead attorney John Eisenberg about what he knew about the scheme.
Other witnesses have confirmed parts of this account. Top Ukraine diplomat Bill Taylor shared that Trump donor turned E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland told Ukraine that “everything” they wanted would be dependent on them producing dirt on the Bidens. That “everything” included, besides the aid, a summit in D.C. with the Trump administration.
Sondland himself admitted in his own testimony that he believed that the president’s actions amounted to a “quid pro quo,” which has become the magic phrase favored by Republicans denying Trump’s wrongdoing. In reality, Trump did seek to exchange politically useful favors with a foreign government. Could the corruption be any more clear?
Republicans responded to the latest development of Vindman’s testimony via seeking to uncover the identity of an initial whistleblower whose complaint first let lawmakers know about the Ukraine scheme. Both Schultz and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) attested to this behavior from Republicans during Vindman’s Tuesday appearance before Congress.
‘My concern inside the room is that you know there, there’s an intent to out the whistleblower, and you know risk that person’s life which is why we’re trying to protect them.’
On his own time, Trump has led the way in attacking the credibility of witnesses like Vindman. The president complained on Twitter that the administration official was supposedly a “Never Trumper,” and Trump cronies at places like Fox News suggested that Vindman — who was born in the then-Soviet Union — has some kind of dual loyalty.