On Tuesday, the White House was moved by a new witness in the impeachment investigation with testimony that he personally witnessed officials pushing Ukraine to help Trump politically.
Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council Ukraine expert was to tell the House inquiry that earlier he twice reported concerns about improper White House efforts to get Kiev to open investigations designed to help Trump politically.
In an explosive prepared testimony, Vindman said he personally listened to Trump pressure Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 phone call. On Monday, in a released testimony Vindman provided some of the strongest evidence that accused Trump of abusing his presidential powers and broke election laws to gain Kiev’s support for his re-election effort next year.
The first White House official to appear before the inquiry as Trump blasted him on Twitter as a “Never Trumper”, his label for Republicans who fundamentally oppose the president. He asked that “How many more Never Trumpers will be allowed to testify about a perfectly appropriate phone call.”
“Supposedly, according to the Corrupt Media, the Ukraine call ‘concerned’ today’s Never Trumper witness. Was he on the same call that I was? Can’t be possible!”
Republican lawmaker Matt Gaetz, one of the president’s most strident defenders in Congress said, “Donald Trump is innocent. The deep state is guilty.”
Vindman appeared against White House orders to not comply with a congressional command and he is the first witness to have personally listened in on the July 25 phone call at the crore of the impeachment inquiry.
However, it has been argued by the Republicans that nine previous witnesses were aware of the call’s contents second-hand. A heavily edited official “transcript” of the call appears to match testimony that Trump pressured Zelensky for political reasons.
Referring to a Ukraine energy company on whose board Biden’s son Hunter sat while his father was vice president, “Following this meeting, there was a scheduled debriefing during which Amb. Sondland emphasized the importance that Ukraine deliver the investigations into the 2016 election, the Bidens and Burisma.”
“I stated to Amb. Sondland that his statements were inappropriate, that the request to investigate Biden and his son had nothing to do with national security,” he added.
“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a US citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the US government’s support of Ukraine,” he says.
“I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play,” he says. Vindman has reported his concern regarding the July 10 meeting as well as July 25 call to the chief attorney of the NSC.