Two witnesses gave powerful and important testimony beginning Tuesday morning as the impeachment hearings into President Donald Trump continued.
Republicans finally got what they’ve been asking for in the form of two firsthand witnesses to President Donald Trump’s conduct — National Security Council staffer Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence — but they weren’t happy with what they heard. Both Williams and Vindman were stunned and disturbed by Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Here are seven remarkable moments from the hearing:
1. Vindman laid out why Trump’s “inappropriate” demand for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden was so disturbing.
“The Ukrainian judiciary is imperfect at the moment,” he said. “And the reliance on US support could conceivably cause them to tip the scales of justice in favor of finding a U.S. citizen guilty if they felt they needed to do it.”
ALEXANDER VINDMAN on TRUMP call for Ukraine investigations:
“The Ukrainian judiciary is imperfect at the moment. And the reliance on US support could conceivably cause them to tip the scales of justice in favor of finding a U.S. citizen guilty if they felt they needed to do it.” pic.twitter.com/DANb6vq5T7
— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) November 19, 2019
2. Vindman made clear that — despite Trump defenders’ claims that the president only cared about fighting corruption Ukraine, not his own re-election campaign — he never mentioned “corruption” in his two phone calls with President Zelensky.
Schiff: "Did talking points [prepared for POTUS for April 21 call] include rooting out corruption in Ukraine?"
Schiff: "Did Pres. Trump ever mention corruption in the April 21 call?"
Vindman: "To the best of my recollection, he did not." https://t.co/lmTBBmoYVV pic.twitter.com/cvmg1FVRCg
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) November 19, 2019
3. Williams reacted to the president’s attacks on her.
“I was not expecting to be called out by name,” she said.
"I was not expecting to be called out by name," Jennifer Williams said about President Trump's tweet attacking her loyalty before her testimony.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 19, 2019
4. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) spoke out against the attacks on Vindman suggesting he was insufficiently loyal to the United States.
“From one immigrant American to another immigrant American, I want to say to you that you and your family represent the very best of America,” he said.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi blasts commentators who have questioned Vindman because he is an immigrant:
— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 19, 2019
5. Vindman read Fiona Hill’s evaluation of him.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) tried to attack Vindman’s credibility, saying his supervisors had expressed concerns about him. But the witness was prepared for this line of questioning, and he responded by reading a glowing review of him from Hill.
— Brother Nyght (@wondermann5) November 19, 2019
6. “Lt. Col.”
Vindman corrected Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) for not calling him by his rank.
Rep. Devin Nunes refers to Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman as "Mr. Vindman."
— ABC News (@ABC) November 19, 2019
Republicans have been trying to use the proceedings to out the whistleblower, but Schiff has said he won’t let the hearings be used for that purpose.
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) November 19, 2019
So much for ‘originalism’ — Trump’s impeachment defense is a constitutional dumpster fire
In the absence of any exculpatory evidence, Donald Trump's defense against impeachment increasingly relies on arguments that fly directly in the face of the Constitution. Trump himself set the standard last July with his grandiose claim that "Article II says I can do anything I want," which encountered no serious pushback from his fellow Republicans.
This article first appeared in Salon.
Any normal president could find some defense attorneys who aren’t clowns and grifters
Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.
Donald Trump's penchant for telling reporters about his crimes doesn't leave his legal defense team a lot to work with. In the first week of his Senate trial, they've pounded the desk and rended their garments over how mean their Democrats opponents are toward their client. But the worst is yet to come--WaPo reports that during the next phase of the proceedings, Trump's legal team will offer "a scorched-earth defense of President Trump in the impeachment trial, mounting a politically charged case aimed more at swaying American voters than GOP senators — and damaging Trump’s possible 2020 opponent, Joe Biden."
White House attorneys’ defense of Trump debunked and discredited by nearly everyone with readily available facts
After three days of House impeachment managers’ brilliant prosecution of President Donald Trump – and “prebuttal” of the arguments the president’s team was expected to make – White House attorneys Saturday morning began their defense of President Trump.
It’s not going well.
Deputy White House Counsel Mike Purpura (photo) has been making the majority of today’s arguments – they have decided that not enough people will be watching on TV so Saturday’s defense will last not eight but just two hours.