Four key impeachment witnesses testify
Four key witnesses will testify publicly before the House Intelligence Committee today as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
This isn't the first time they will be testifying before lawmakers.
Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council aide, Kurt Volker, the former US special envoy to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, a National Security Council aide, previously met with members of Congress for closed-door depositions on Capitol Hill.
Here's what we know about them:
- About Williams: She told lawmakers she had been in the White House Situation Room listening to Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in real time. She testified that Trump's request for specific investigations struck her as "unusual and inappropriate" and "shed some light on possible other motivations" for his decision to freeze security aid to Ukraine.
- About Vindman: The White House's top Ukraine expert expressed concerns about Trump's phone call with Ukraine's president. Vindman, a decorated veteran who was born in Ukraine, told lawmakers that he reported concerns about Trump's July 25 call with the leader of Ukraine to the top National Security Council lawyer within hours, and said some of the changes he tried to make to the since-published transcript were left out, though he didn't say why.
- About Volker: In his own testimony, Volker said that the Ukrainians had asked to be put in touch with Giuliani — whose efforts have been described by other witnesses as a shadow foreign policy outside of State Department channels — because they believed "that information flow would reach the President." He said he had been surprised and troubled by what was said on the July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky.
- About Morrison: He told lawmakers that Gordon Sondland, the American envoy to the European Union, was acting at Trump's instruction in his dealings with Ukraine, and Sondland said that the President told him Zelensky "must announce the opening of the investigations," according to a transcript of his deposition released Saturday.
The House Intelligence Committee will hear public testimony from four witnesses today in its impeachment inquiry against President Trump.
Here's a breakdown of today's schedule:
Five more witnesses will testify later this week:
- Wednesday morning: US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland
- Wednesday afternoon: Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense and David Hale, the under secretary of state for political affairs
- Thursday morning: Former White House Russia expert Fiona Hill
- Thursday morning: State Department aide David Holmes
Here are the latest developments in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump:
- House investigates whether Trump lied to Mueller: The House of Representatives is now investigating whether Trump lied to special counsel Robert Mueller in written answers he provided in the Russia investigation, the House's general counsel said in court Monday. The House's arguments draw new focus to whether Trump had lied to Mueller following public revelations at Roger Stone's trial this month.
- Trump considers testifying: On Monday Trump tweeted that he would “strongly consider” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s suggestion over the weekend that he testify in the House impeachment inquiry. Pelosi suggested Trump could do so in writing.
- Republicans defend Trump: Republicans have begun dishing out new defenses of Trump as House Democrats enter the second week of the public chapter of their impeachment inquiry. Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise argued that "the real bottom line is ... Ukraine got the money." Rep. Mark Meadows, who is also one of Trump's allies in Congress, wrote in a Sunday tweet that "the people who had real access to and conversations with (Trump) have consistently made it clear: There was zero tie between aid to Ukraine and political investigations. Period."
- Protection for whistleblowers: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper asking that he “formally notify all civilian and military personnel of their legal rights to make protected disclosures to Congress.” He said he also would like a briefing about how whistleblowers, along with Pentagon official Laura Cooper and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert, are being protected.
- Witness added: State Department aide David Holmes will testify publicly alongside former White House Russia expert Fiona Hill before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday, according to a Democratic aide. Holmes said in closed-door testimony last week that US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland had told Trump that Ukraine was going to move forward with the investigation Trump had asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for a day earlier.