Key Moments from the Impeachment Hearings - Kurt Volker & Tim Morrison, Jennifer Williams & Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman
Do today's hearings change your mind about impeachment?
by Countable's Trump Impeachment Coverage | 11.19.19
Countable will continue to update this story throughout the day.
- Appearing before the House Intelligence Committee this afternoon: Former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and Former National Security Council official Tim Morrison.
- Earlier in the day, we heard testimony from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine specialist on the National Security Council, and Jennifer Williams, special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence on Europe and Russian.
- The 30-second recap: On July 25, President Donald Trump had a phone call with Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelensky where he asked Zelensky to "do us a favor" and work with Attorney General William Barr and Trump's personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, to "look into" former Vice President Joe Biden and his family. (Hunter Biden was on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma.) Trump also asked Zelensky to investigate a debunked conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election to benefit Hillary Clinton.
Here are some of the key moments from the Volker and Morrison hearing:
- Morrison told lawmakers that he recommended access to the Trump-Zelensky call transcript be restricted, but added that its placement onto a highly-classified computer system was an "administrative error."
- Morrison testified that he wasn't concerned about anything said on the July 25 call.
Steve Castor, GOP lawyer: "I want to turn our attention back to the July 25 call. You were in the room. Did anything concern you on the call?"
- Morrison says Ambassador the the EU Gordon Sondland told him that a Ukrainian statement about investigations was a "condition" on receiving military aid. Sondland told him that:
"[T]he Ukrainians would have to have the prosecutor general make a statement with respect to the investigations as a condition of having the aid lifted."
- Volker said allegations against Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, are a "conspiracy theory."
“At the one in-person meeting I had with Mayor Giuliani on July 19, Mayor Giuliani raised, and I rejected, the conspiracy theory that Vice President Biden would have been influenced in his duties as Vice President by money paid to his son,” Volker said. “As I testified previously, I have known Vice President Biden for 24 years. He is an honorable man and I hold him in the highest regard.”
- Volker plans to testify that he should have seen the Burisma investigation request "differently."
"In hindsight, I now understand that others saw the idea of investigating possible corruption involving the Ukrainian company, 'Burisma,' as equivalent to investigating former Vice President Biden. I saw them as very different — the former being appropriate and unremarkable, the latter being unacceptable."
"In retrospect, I should have seen that connection differently, and had I done so, I would have raised my own objections," he will say.
- GOP Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, ridiculed today's hearings in his opening remarks:
"Welcome back to Act II of today's circus, ladies and gentlemen. We are here to continue what the Democrats tell us is a serious, somber and even prayerful process of attempting to overthrow a duly elected president," Nunes said.
Here are some of the key moments from the Vindman and Williams hearing:
- Vindman testified there was no ambiguity when Trump asked Ukraine for a Biden investigation. Here's the exchange between Vindman and House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA):
Schiff: "Was there any ambiguity about the President's use of the word 'Biden.'"
Vindman: "There was not."
Schiff: "It was pretty clear that the President wanted Zelensky to commit to investigating the Bidens, was it not?"
Vindman: "That is correct."
Schiff: "That is one of the favors that you thought should be properly characterized as a demand?"
Vindman: "That is correct.
Schiff: "And there's no ambiguity about that?"
Vindman: "In my mind, there was not."
- Vindman told lawmakers that two "substantive" phrases were omitted from the July 25 call, but that he did not believe there was anything nefarious about the omissions.
- During the hearing, the White House tweeted a quote from former National Security Council official Tim Morrison's deposition where he says he had "concerns" about Vindman's judgment:
- Trump has attacked Vindman and Williams as "Never Trumpers." Both testified they would not label themselves in such a way.
"I'd call myself never partisan," Vindman said.
This is an ongoing story and will be updated.
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