On Tuesday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," CNN legal and national security analyst Susan Hennessey outlined a key problem for President Donald Trump in the wake of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman's testimony: He can no longer claim the phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was just some sort of generic push to fight corruption, as he has tried to characterize it.
"All of us have read the opening statement by Lt. Col. Vindman ... 'In the spring of 2019 I became aware of outside influencers promoting a false narrative of Ukraine inconsistent with the consensus views of the inter-agency,'" said anchor Wolf Blitzer. "How significant is his statement today?"
"It is significant, because I think it demonstrates that both on that call, before and after, the president was not just pursuing an anti-corruption agenda on Ukraine," said Hennessey. "What the president was doing was putting his political interests over the national security interests of the United States, and his own staff was alarmed by it at the time."
"We don't give military aid to Ukraine out of the goodness of our hearts. We do it because it advances important strategic regional interests for the United States," continued Hennessey. "And so it is significant to see the president's own staff saying they were alarmed at the time. Keep in mind, witnesses that have come forward at this point have told a remarkably consistent story about this. A story that involves abuse of power and involves the president placing his own political interests over the interest of the country."
"What is significant about the statement is that it doesn't line up with [EU Ambassador] Gordon Sondland's testimony," added Hennessey. "Vindman said he warned Gordon Sondland, or confronted him, but Fiona Hill also confronted him. Gordon Sondland testified that he — nobody ever raised concerns with him. So this is also going to provide a reason for the House to potentially bring Sondland back in and see if they could get him to tell a fuller story about what happened, and potentially about his communications with the president on the subject as well."