Four key impeachment witnesses testify

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12:09 p.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Fact check: Are Vindman and Williams "Never Trumpers"?

Oliver Douliery/AFP/Getty Images
Oliver Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

Rep. Jim Himes asked Jennifer Williams and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman about the President's tweets claiming that they are "Never Trumpers."

Facts First: Both Williams and Vindman denied the accusation.

Williams said, "I'm not sure I know an official definition of a Never Trumper," adding she wouldn’t describe herself as such. Vindman said “I would call myself a never partisan."

Williams and Vindman are not the only witnesses in the impeachment hearings who have received this label. Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and Ambassador Bill Taylor, who testified last week, were also attacked by the President as “Never Trumpers.”

There is no evidence for any of these claims. (You can read a more in-depth fact-check here.)

12:10 p.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Why a GOP congressman just brought out stacks of transcripts


Rep. John Ratcliffe just brought out a stack of transcripts to make the point that no witness has described Trump's actions as "bribery."

Ratcliffe displayed transcripts from 10 closed-door depositions.

"These aren't all of the deposition transcripts. These are just 10 that have been released. Six weeks of witness interviews in this impeachment inquiry. Hundreds of hours of testimony Thousands of questions asked, thousands of answers given," he said.

He continued:

"The number of times that witnesses have been asked any question about whether or not President Trump's conduct constituted bribery — before Ambassador Yovanovitch was asked by my colleague, congressman Stewart, last Thursday — is zero. The number of times witnesses have used the word "bribery" or "bribe" to describe President Trump's conduct in the last six weeks of this inquiry zero."

Watch the moment:

12:02 p.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Vindman on the President's "Never Trumper" tweet: "I'd call myself a never partisan"

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council aide, was just asked if he was "Never Trumper."

Here's what he said:

"Representative, I'd call myself a never partisan."

Some background: President Trump called Vindman, an Army officer who is currently detailed to the National Security Council as its top Ukraine expert, a "Never Trumper" after he appeared in a closed-door deposition to testify in the impeachment inquiry.


12:02 p.m. ET, November 19, 2019

This is how Vindman got his Purple Heart

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was asked by Democratic Rep. Jim Himes about the Purple Heart that he's wearing on his Army uniform today.

Vindman said that in 2004 he was involved in "probably the largest urban operation in decades" outside of Fallujah, Iraq, while he was serving in the Iraq war.

The vehicle he was traveling in hit an IED and the "device that penetrated armor" and he was injured.

Watch him explain:

12:08 p.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Williams: Trump's tweet "surprised" me

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Jennifer Williams said she was "surprised" by Trump's tweet this weekend claiming she was a "never Trumper."

First, some background: Trump resurfaced an unfounded accusation he has raised against other officials who have testified in the probe, characterizing Williams as a Never Trumper and associating her with other "Never Trumpers."

Democratic Rep. Jim Himes just asked her about it:

Himes: Ms. Williams, are you a never Trumper? 
Williams: I'm not sure I know an official definition of a never Trumper. 
Himes: Would you describe yourself that way? 
Williams: I wouldn't, no. 
Himes: Did that tweet make an impression on you when you read it? 
Williams: It certainly surprised me. I was not expecting to be called out by name.

Watch the moment:

11:53 a.m. ET, November 19, 2019

The Ward Room was mentioned today. Here's what we know about it.

One of the most significant events of the impeachment inquiry is said to have occurred in the White House Ward Room.

What is that exactly? It’s actually part of the dining hall where White House staffers grab lunch. It’s in the White House basement, near the highly secure Situation Room.

The name derives from the Navy term for a cabin or compartment for commissioned officers to eat.

Why this matters: It’s in the White House Ward Room that multiple witnesses say they overheard the US ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, mention investigations into the Bidens and linked them to a White House meeting for the Ukrainian president.

The setting denotes a more casual meeting than something that might occur in an official’s office or in a formal meeting room.

Indeed, the meeting in question took place after a more formal gathering in then-national security adviser John Bolton’s office in the West Wing.

One witness, former National Security Council director Fiona Hill, said she was concerned that Ukrainian officials were allowed to remain so close to the Situation Room.

11:56 a.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Vindman: It's "preposterous" to think I'd leak information

AP Photo/Susan Walsh
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman said it's "preposterous" to think he'd leak information.

"Colonel, you never leaked information?" Rep. Jim Jordan asked Vindman, who is under oath.

"I never did — never would. That is preposterous that I would do that," he said.

Just before this, Jordan asked Vindman about testimony from Tim Morrison, in which he said Vindman may have leaked information.

"Mr. Jordan, I would say that I can't say what Mr. Morrison — why Mr. Morrison questioned my judgment," Vindman said. "We had only recently started working together. He's — he wasn't there very long, and we were just trying to figure out our relationship."


11:55 a.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Williams: Vice President Pence has "never brought up" the investigations

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, said he has never brought up investigations into the Bidens and Burisma.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff mentioned the investigations while describing a meeting Pence had with the Ukrainian president in September. He said two to three dozen people were in the meeting.

Schiff asked if Pence mentioned the investigation during the meeting.

"No, he did not bring up those investigations. He's never brought up those investigations," Williams responded.

Watch more:

11:47 a.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Vindman ignores question about his loyalty to the United States

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

During the short break, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman did not answer a question from CNN about whether he felt his loyalty to America was being questioned in the ongoing hearing.

Vindman appeared to ignore the question, which we asked outside the Capitol Hill hearing room.

Vindman's twin brother Yevgeny Vindman, who has accompanied his brother to Tuesday's hearing, also appeared to ignore a similar question.

Republican counsel Steve Castor asked Vindman several questions about an offer from Ukrainian officials to serve as Ukraine's defense minister. 

Vindman testified that while the offer had been made three times, he refused each time. He also appeared to treat the offer as amusing rather than serious. He said to lawmakers he did tell his chain of command about the offers.

Vindman was born in the Soviet Union and immigrated as a toddler to the United States. He is an American citizen and an Army officer.

The hearing has now resumed.