Four key impeachment witnesses testify

By Veronica Rocha, Meg Wagner and Amanda Wills, CNN

Updated 8:44 p.m. ET, November 19, 2019
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9:35 a.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Vindman and Williams are both testifying under subpoenas

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Jennifer Williams, aide to Vice President Mike Pence, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, National Security Council aide, are both testifying under subpoenas, an official said.

The pair both testified behind closed doors before appearing at today's public hearing.

Williams and Vindman have first-hand knowledge of President Trump's July 25 call with the Ukrainian president.

9:38 a.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Pence's aide Jennifer Williams is now giving her opening statement

Pool
Pool

Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, is now giving an opening statement.

She was on the July 25 call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. She testified she found the call "unusual."

She said she is appearing under subpoena.

Watch more:

9:38 a.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Williams and Vindman have been sworn in

Pool
Pool

Jennifer Williams, an aide to Mike Pence, and Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council aide, were just worn in.

They'll now give their opening statements. Williams is going first.

Watch more:

9:32 a.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Top Republican asked a lot of questions about the whistleblower in his opening statement

Pool
Pool

Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, asked a slew of questions about the whistleblower during his opening statement.

"What is the full extent of the Democrats' prior coordination with the whistleblower and who else did the whistleblower coordinate this effort with?" he asked.

He continued: "What are the whistleblower's political biases and connections to Democratic politicians? How does the whistleblower explain the inaccuracies in the complaint? What contact did the whistleblower have with the media, which appears to be ongoing?

Remember: Many details in the whistleblower's complaint — which is at the center of the impeachment inquiry — match up with rough transcripts of the call released by the White House.

Watch the moment:

9:32 a.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Adam Schiff says Vindman told lawmakers Trump made a demand during his July 25 call. But here's what he really said.

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff opened the hearing speaking about Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council aide who listened to President Trump's call with the Ukrainian president.

“Vindman testified that due to the unequal bargaining position of the two leaders and Ukraine’s dependency on the US, the favor Trump asked of Zelensky was really a demand," Schiff said.

Trump never used the word “demand” in the call on July 25. But this is what Vindman testified, that the power dynamic between the US and Ukraine meant Trump’s strong request to Volodymyr Zelensky was a de facto demand.

Here’s what Vindman said in his closed-door deposition: “The power disparity between the President of the United States and the President of Ukraine is vast, and, you know, in the President asking for something, it became – there was – in return for a White House meeting, because that’s what this was about. This was about getting a White House meeting. It was a demand for him to fulfill his – fulfill this particular prerequisite in order to get the meeting.”

Watch more:

9:28 a.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Pelosi on Trump testifying: "If he has anything to say — under oath — we’d welcome it"

From CNN's Haley Byrd 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke briefly with CNN on her way into this morning’s Democratic caucus meeting. Asked if Democrats have gathered enough evidence at this point to constitute an impeachable offense, Pelosi didn’t answer directly.

“Why don’t we just have the hearings reveal more of the facts, and we’ll make a judgment,” she said.

She also reacted to President Trump’s tweet in which he suggested he would consider testifying before Congress, saying, “If he has anything to say — under oath — we’d welcome it.”

9:24 a.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Is Trump watching today's hearings?

from CNN's Kevin Liptak

Ahead of the first two public hearings in the impeachment inquiry, the White House made clear President Trump didn’t plan to watch.

He did watch, at least on Friday, undercutting the White House press secretary’s statement.

There haven’t been any similar statements today — perhaps an acknowledgement that it lacks both credibility and usefulness to say Trump isn’t watching hearings that bear on his political future.

He does have some engagements today, including an 11:30 a.m. ET meeting of his Cabinet.

But the safe bet is that Trump will watch at least some of today’s proceedings — particularly since today’s witnesses actually work at the White House.

9:23 a.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Vindman and his family said they were concerned about their security

From CNN's Ryan Browne

Win McNamee/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Getty Images

The US Army has had conversations with LTC Alexander Vindman about the security of his family, according to a US defense official. These conversations were initiated at the request of the Vindmans. 

Keep in mind: The Army does not believe there is an imminent security threat against Vindman.

But because of the concerns expressed by the family, the Army is taking steps that it typically takes in these type of situations such as coordinating with local law enforcement and checking the Vindman’s computers. 

The official said there has been no serious consideration of a family move yet but, yes, the Army would in theory do that kind of thing is the security situation merited such action.

9:22 a.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Schiff: How can we urge Ukraine to stop political investigations if Trump did the same?

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

In his opening statement, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff said:

“How could our diplomats urge Ukraine to refrain from political investigations of its own citizens, if the President of the United States was urging Ukraine to engage in precisely the same kind of corrupt and political investigation of one of our own citizens? ”

Remember: By pressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for political favors, Trump essentially upended US support for the rule of law in Ukraine. You can read more analysis here.

Watch the moment: