Impeachment Hearings: Day 3 – Witnesses to the July 25 Call [UPDATE-2]

[NB: Updates to this post will appear at the bottom. /~Rayne]

Today’s hearings are already under way, the first scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. ET and the second at 2:30 p.m.

Per NPR, the witnesses for the first panel:

  • Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine specialist on the National Security Council. Vindman listened to the July 25 telephone conversation in the White House Situation Room and reported his concerns about the president’s mention of political investigations to the top NSC attorney, John Eisenberg. He said the attorney decided to move the record of the call onto a highly classified system that few could access. (heard the July 25 phone call)
  • Jennifer Williams, a foreign service aide detailed to Vice President Pence’s office who listened in on the July 25 call between Trump and Zelenskiy.(heard the July 25 phone call)

Bold mine.

The witnesses for the second panel:

  • Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine, who along with Sondland and Energy Secretary Rick Perry was part of the “three amigos” tasked by the president to handle Ukraine policy. He was on the list of witnesses requested to appear by Republican members of the Intelligence Committee.
  • Tim Morrison, the former National Security Council aide who heard the July 25 call but in closed-door testimony told the committees conducting the impeachment inquiry that he didn’t view the president’s actions as illegal or inappropriate. Republicans say his testimony supports the president’s position that there was nothing improper about the July 25 call, and they included him on a list of witnesses they asked the Intelligence Committee chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., to call.(heard the July 25 phone call)

Trump supporters whining about hearsay should be treated as just that, whining, given the number of witnesses who have heard the July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky directly.

If these same supporters question these witnesses’ testimony about the July 25 call, they could demand the actual word-for-word transcript which had been placed in the secured server in an exception to past practice.

Schiff’s opening statement can be found at this link.

Let’s do this.

UPDATE-1 — 11:00 A.M. ET —

If you’re not able to stream the hearing today you can follow these live Twitter threads in progress:

Marcy’s live twitter thread

Emma Loop-BuzzFeed’s thread

Jennifer Taub’s thread

Brandi Buchman-Courthouse News’s thread

Aaron Rupar-Vox’s thread

My Trump-Russia Twitter list which includes most of the above folks.

UPDATE-2 — 11:23 A.M. ET —

In response to Lt. Col. Vindman’s closing remarks in his written statement, I’m adding to this post a comment I left in another thread:

Vindman’s point about the threat to witnesses in other countries who give testimony against a government shouldn’t be treated as a throw-away.

A Russian journalist and opposition politician died mysteriously this past Saturday while traveling on a train. Nikita Isaev was only 41 years old; in 2017 he’d made some waves insisting Russia release kompromat on Trump after Trump failed to lift sanctions on Russia.

What odd timing of this death from undetermined causes — Isaev looked okay in the last selfie he tweeted from the train.

The risk to witnesses is serious because they are essentially testifying about a continuation of the Russian interference program.

Vindman’s closing remarks, in case you missed them:

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110 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Nunes keep asking the witnesses about things they know nothing about. He’s speechifying and selling talking points about what he calls, “an impeachment charade.” The witnesses would be better off responding to such tactics by saying, “I’m not aware whether those statements are true,” which Vindman starts doing.

    Nunes is now inferring that Williams and Vindman are lying, but disclaims doing so.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Cow Nunes is now divining for the whistleblower. Still carrying bags for Trump in his attempt to out the whistleblower. Schiff steps in, to GOP dismay.

      Nunes non-plussed, claims Vindman can only invoke the Fifth Amendment or answer his questions. Schiff steps in to clarify that’s bullshit. Vindman’s lawyer puts the monkey back onto Nunes and Schiff. Nunes gives up, passes to Castro.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        As Adam Klasfeld notes, Nunes presents a reprehensible strawman argument. He says that Vindman can answer his question or take the Fifth. That is accusing Vindman of having committed a crime – a precondition to his invoking the Fifth.

        That was no mistake by Nunes. His craven accusation is only the beginning of the smears and dirty tricks this GOP will do to protect His Greatness, Donald I.

        https://twitter.com/KlasfeldReports

        • timbo says:

          No. You are implying that invoking the 5th is evidence of a crime. It is not recognized legally in this country as such whatsoever. This is a right that prevents forcing someone from implicating themselves in a possible crime but, as has been ruled now for the entire time the Constitution has been in place, it is not an admission of guilt if invoked.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          No. I am stating that Nunes framed his false choice to imply that Vindman engaged in a crime. The truth was irrelevant; creating the impression that he might have was the point.

          It’s the same technique Trump used in trying to get Zelensky to publicly announce an investigation of the Bidens. Truth and fighting corruption were irrelevant. The point was to create the impression of wrongful conduct.

  2. Rayne says:

    ~10:35-ish

    GOP’s injecting bullshit into the hearing by asking information-loaded questions about which Vindman wouldn’t have any answers.

    ~10:40

    Now Nunes is asking Vindman if he’s talked with the press at all or if he knows any individual who discussed the July 25 call.

    Just feels to me like they are going to try to make Vindman their whipping boy.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Castro is better prepared today, better suit, but that yellow tie seems out of date. He’s cherry-picking the call memorandum to characterize Trump’s words as “ambiguous”, open to interpretation and to being understood as being whatever the listener had preconceived. Attempting to lay the groundwork to say that Trump’s words did not relate to a QPQ.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A wag:

    “Devin Nunes is what would happen if someone tried to make stupid from concentrate, but forgot to add water.” True, but that would apply to Wisconsin’s Sen. Ron Johnson and a host of GOP characters, including the House’s bully-in-chief, Matt Gaetz.

    https://twitter.com/middleageriot

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Castor insinuating Vindman might want to take up a Ukrainian minister’s offer to become Ukraine’s Minister of Defense. Vindman repeatedly says he dismissed the offers. Castor doesn’t let it go, ignores how often Vindman says he told his chain of command. He is just full of bullshit GOP conspiracy talking points, but not many questions useful to a legitimate defense.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Gym Jordan complains about Vindman’s judgment. Apart from the hypocrisy regarding his own bad judgment, his gall is bitter, even for Jordan.

    The GOP is using gutter shaming techniques without restraint because it has no good defense on the law or the facts – and it’s gone all-in for the execrable Donald Trump.

    • Sambucus says:

      I was hoping, when Jordan questioned Vindman’s judgement, that Vindman would respond that his judgement would have never allowed him to permit college athletes to be sexually molested.

      • coriolis says:

        I suspect Jordan would love for that to come out now. He would then claim victimization and attempt to reduce ongoing hearings to a grudge, held against previously unpunished acts.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Outing the whistleblower is political theater for Trump and the peanut gallery. It is irrelevant for the case against Mr. Trump, because of his own admissions and the multitude of fact and background witnesses the committee has access to. But being vindictive is Trump’s defining characteristic, it gives him pleasure.

    • fikshun says:

      At the risk of speculating, attempting to out a whistleblower is also a good tactic for someone who has committed other crimes not yet discovered.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Ratcliffe has no questions for the witnesses. He’s mumbling and mixing up the facts: “Not a single witness is describing as ‘bribery'” Donald Trump’s conduct.

    Might be the same reason a guy behind the wheel of a smashed car with two dead passengers in it does not refer to the other driver as having committed “vehicular homicide.” He talks about how fast he was driving, in what direction, and how the other guy ran the red light.

    • timbo says:

      He could, of course, scold is own faction for not having pressed that issue more of witnesses. I mean, if he actually wanted an answer on that particular issue he could. Stupidly, he seems to be pressing witnesses to tell he himself what his conclusions should be based on the evidence they produce. What did he say his job was exactly?

  9. klynn says:

    As an Ohioan I apologize for the Ohio reps on the committee.

    I have no idea why there are so many from Ohio. That’s a problem.

    To thank a serviceman for their service and then attack their testimony is a really bad look. It is rude.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Elise is back! Purgatory must be in a nearby neighborhood.

    She must still think Theranos and its ilk are not corrupt companies, like Burisma, because Joe Biden’s son didn’t work there.

    She is dismissive of anyone “setting policy” besides the president. So that’s it then, it’s all on Donald.

    • timbo says:

      Good catch. Yeah, the deference that these GOP bozos show to Trump seems to come from the fact that they’re beholden to the money Trump controls to their campaign chests… and not much else. I mean they certainly would have a hard time reconciling their pledges to the Constitution and instance deference to Trump no matter what—the two things are not actually compatible.

  11. Rayne says:

    Goddamn it I can’t stand this blind-to-sexual-abuse, jacketless hack Gym Jordan.

    It must grate the fuck out of Vindman to be questioned like this by a guy who has no personal moral compass.

  12. harpie says:

    Vindeman [to his father]: “Do not worry. I’ll be fine for telling the truth.”
    Maloney: why?
    Vindeman: Because this is America. […] Here right matters.

    • harpie says:

      Here’s video of that exchange:
      https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1196857036027432960
      10:25 AM – 19 Nov 2019

      Vindman receives an ovation after he says he feels obligated to stand up to the president because “this is America … here, right matters.” [VIDEO]

      Transcript:
      Maloney: You realize when you came forward out of sense of duty, that you were putting yourself into direct opposition to the most powerful person in the world. Do you realize that, Sir?

      Vindman: I knew I was assuming a lot of risk.

      M: And I’m struck by that word, that phrase “Do not worry” you addressed to your dad. Was your dad a warrior?

      V: He did serve. It was a different military, though. [smile]

      M: And he would worry if you were putting yourself up against the president of the United States, is that right?

      V: He deeply worried about it, because in his context there was the ultimate risk.

      M: And why do you have confidence that you can do that? And tell your dad not to worry?

      V: Congressman, because this is America. This is the country I’ve served and defended; that all my brothers have served. And here right matters. [Applause]

      M: Thank you, Sir.

      • Cathy says:

        Damn. My waterworks shifted to autostart just reading the transcription.

        Mr. Jordan, sir, Bless the heart you do not have. And the horse you rode in on.

        Sincerely,
        Suburban Women Voters
        (yes, we all got together and elected me spox for the duration of this comment)

  13. PSWebster says:

    they are all so fockeded…Trump is going down. The best thing that could happen to him is he infarct-ed and leaves the white house “gracefully”. .
    Another great presentation by Schiff …guy is brilliant.

  14. PSWebster says:

    Ms.Marcy’s tweet coverage was spot on as usual and I wanted to thank her with sharing https://twitter.com/IlvesToomas Guy is former prez of Estonia..WTF is that, right…one of the three Baltic States Hitler grabbed back at beginning of WW2. Guy is very smart and I think it was a Marcy tweet I first found him. For a broad perspective: worth a look.

    You guys have done a wonderful LOGICAL job over the last several years under trying conditions to say the least. All of you: the maz, the rayne et al. Thanks.

  15. timbo says:

    Today we got to see some major DP thought being put into the witness panels. This is a very hopeful sign. For instance, they paired Williams with Vindman—very astute to do that. Next, we have Volker and Morrison, both guys who may be vulnerable on a number of fronts. I mean, isn’t it odd all the folks here who are asked to step up and agree to and then suddenly are heading for the exits (voluntarily or otherwise)? This points to the turmoil in the regular organs of government that Trump’s goons have left us with. And the Senate may well take heed of the fact that they themselves are not recieving a good read on what precisely the President it up to, both in the short term, and in the long term effect of the Senators themselves to get accurate information about where and how US laws and policies are being carried out, how expenditures are actually being effective (or not), etc, etc.

    • bmaz says:

      This is bad framing. It was NOT a “DP” action, it was the action of people trying to protect and defend the Constitution. Framing it as a “DP” action is wrong and counterproductive. Seriously, THAT is your take???

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Speaking of counterproductive, what’s your take on the new and improved Sports Illustrated “content creators” replacing journalists?

        They are described as akin to “franchisees,” so not employees, and are paid on the basis of the clicks, popularity, the money their “content” brings in – based on whatever Hollywood accounting SI uses. The contingent and deferred comp would seem to be an important part of the new business model. (SI described the old one as so 1986.)

        Whatever SI intends to sell, it’s not content. There’s no indication it would even be fact checked. It’s not journalism. Which makes it the sort of thing sprayed around Tillamook, OR, by the ton.

        • P J Evans says:

          More “gig economy” – profits for the guys at the top, sub-minimum wage for the people doing the actual work.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          SI’s new owners contend they bought a “brand,” using B school jargon, not the company, much less its employees. The first thing they did was not kill all the lawyers, but fire 40% of staff. I hope they suffer an immediate 40% loss of their subscriptions. Private equity is a pox on the Republic.

      • timbo says:

        I submit that now that Pelosi has started this process, that DP leadership is now concentrating on how to present this as quickly and as successfully as they can, while trying to put GOP “always-Trumpers” on the backfoot. (And the facts of this scandal help there heaps!)

        The organization of these hearings seems to be formulated so far, by the DP leadership in the House, not by exceedingly politically independently minded patriots per se. Now, as I am sure you or I can agree on, we might have gone about this much sooner and in a considerably different fashion, etc. But, to return to the DP House leadership, I think that there is a positive note in the organizing of the witness order and combinations for simultaneous testimony that furthers the chances of impeachment being sustained in the Senate. And, most certainly, we must all hope that those who are generally concerned about not turning our country into a completely and utterly corrupt state, of whatever political faction, must rally to that cause.

        • bmaz says:

          I “submit now” that Pelosi has been, and is continuing to be, completely derelict in her duty and oath of office in regard to protecting and defending the Constitution as opposed to cravenly trying to protect her majority. The former is literally her job, the latter is not.

          So, no. Pelosi has been a disgrace. And, she remains so while tirelessly working to cut evidence and hearings short for her, and her pet centrists, political expediency. At a time when all available political data supports Dems seeking accountability as to the Trump Administration.

          • timbo says:

            Be happy you didn’t have to see her on your ballot? ;/

            Now that today’s testimony is over, it looks like the DP reps are still not fully capable of asking the necessary questions to get to things quickly. And this could be a good thing if it forces them to continually have to field “revelations” as the correct questions and subsequent testimonial fallout continue to trickle in.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          in this regard, quickly and successfully are contradictory, like all deliberate speed and airline food.

  16. Jockobadger says:

    Goldman is good.

    Thank the Goddess the process includes this sort of questioning (vs Gym Jordan grandstanding – if it can even be called that – lol!!)

  17. Rayne says:

    Morrison’s body language – hand in front of his mouth while Schiff questions him about ~6:29 p.m.

    I was distracted didn’t catch the line of inquiry, but whatever it was, Morrison was physically holding back his response. I’ll have to go back and watch for this point again when video of this hearing is online.

    • P J Evans says:

      Mark Sumner at Kos commented:
      “Morrison can only tell you what he was thinking at the time … which was apparently that extortion is politically unpleasant, but not a real problem.”

    • Rayne says:

      Another jackass from Ohio, Mike Turner questioned Volker about official versus unofficial channels.

      Really wish Dems would slip in something about the laundering of unofficial and unlawful requests by official channels.

        • mb says:

          My *mute* button gets regular exercise during these hearings too! I was silently watching a split-screen of Jordan questioning Volcker and it was interesting to note Volcker’s facial expressions. At the very beginning of Jordan’s time, Volcker was frequently nodding “yes” in silent agreement. But at about 2-3 minutes in when Jordan’s rant ramped up, Volker stopped nodding and stayed stone-faced for the rest of the time…

          • Rayne says:

            Hey Gym…your hair product isn’t doing its job any longer, the shiny spot exposed now that the flop sweat caused the product to fail and slip.

            Maybe he’ll quit if somebody points this out to him. I can’t handle his overacting any longer.

            • Eureka says:

              He contained his pitch & decibel levels as best he could that round (as if he _was_ taking feedback notes); the heat had to escape somehow.

              Hit the shower, Gym (**shivers**, this only reminds of creepy Sandusky). (And why does Jordan keep getting a pass on his knowledge of OS, every news item sinks…)

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      I think Morrison is not to be trusted; he could be a closet Neidermeier from Animal House.

      I am shocked at the seeming naivete of Volcker. It is easing his way into my ‘stupid or evil’ category. I expect to take incoming for that because I know that he is an esteemed member of the State Dept., but I find some of his testimony hard to swallow.

      • P J Evans says:

        For someone who was supposed to be both smart and experienced, he comes across as more naive than most average people.

          • Rayne says:

            Accurate.

            He’s just trashed the worth of his law degree though he qualified he’s not a lawyer for the U.S.

            How did he listen to the same call and not have serious concerns about the solicitation of a favor related to investigating an American citizen and opposition candidate?

            • timbo says:

              I think Sewall (I think it was) had Morrison on the ropes pretty much. Basically, Morrison tried to CYA-it in once he became worried about the legal implications and had clamped down on access to the record of the President’s call on the 25th July. Ah, and there goes another attack on Morrison’s trying to have it both ways… good times.

    • Jenny says:

      Rayne, yes body language speaks volumes with Morrison. Many times no direct eye contact. He looks uncomfortable.

  18. Rayne says:

    Uggghhhh…tell me we are near the end of this torture. Nunes hauled out the well-beaten dead horse that is the Steele dossier, which means he knows the rest of his tropes he’s been using are likewise dead.

    Probably the closest this moron has gotten to environmental consciousness, recycling the dossier for outrage refresh.

  19. Cathy says:

    I think some of these guys might feel as though they’ve been forced to bring their toddler to work because the babysitter bailed on them: They’re trying desperately to execute their own priorities while trying to keep the unpredictable toddler from being a debilitating disruption.

    • Cathy says:

      They take turns playing elaborate games with the little terrorist while the others try to get some work done, though they find most of their energy fruitlessly spent on cleaning up toddler messes. So in desperation Play Shift #3 puts the Pack n Play in the supply closet and gives Junior someone’s mobile to keep him quiet.

      • Cathy says:

        Only while they think they’ve got him safely contained and they’re starting to catch up on all those interrupted projects, Toddler King calls the entire client list, broadcasting to the entire industry that they can’t keep their own office in order. Plus it turns out locking a toddler in the supply closet is considered child endangerment and Child Protective Services is on the way.

          • Cathy says:

            Maybe (1) unlock the closet door (finding that keycard was quite a scramble, wasn’t it?) (2) grab the mobile and toss it down an elevator shaft (“we were just about to report that phone stolen, actually”) (3) all claim innocuous entry level job titles (unpaid intern, coffee boy) and, purely as an afterthought (4) assign one of the interns to take Toddler King to the pediatrician while the rest explain, quite helpfully, that that office visitor that called CPS must have misinterpreted a purely innocent game of Hide’n’Seek.

  20. klynn says:

    My 16 y-o:

    “After reading the President’s twitter feed, it is clear which witnesses he is threatened by. Nothing like the criminal shining a light on the truthful facts. It reads like a criminal confession on Twitter.”

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