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Witness Says Nothing Concerned Him About Trump Ukraine Call, Republicans Question Pelosi's Claim of Bribery

11-19-2019
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A new week of public impeachment hearings has kicked off on Capitol Hill. 

Day three of the public testimony might have been the most interesting yet with the public finally hearing from witnesses who were directly involved with the phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelenksy.

One of the more notable revelations came when Republicans hinted multiple times during questioning of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, that they believe he might be a whistleblower source.

"I spoke to two individuals with regards to providing some sort of readout of the call," Vindman said.

Vindman testified one of them was George Kent, but when asked a question about the second person by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) about what agency the individual was from, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff (D-CA) intervened.

"If I could interject here. We don't want to use these proceedings. We need to protect the whistleblower," the California Democrat said. 

Democrat objections leading Republicans to this question.

"You have said you don't know who the whistleblower is, so how is this outing the whistleblower if you don't know who it is?," asked Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)

Both Vindman and Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Pence, acknowledged concerns while listening to the July 25 telephone call. 

"What was your real-time reaction to hearing that call?" Schiff asked.

"Chairman, Without hesitation, I knew I had to report this to the White House counsel," Vindman responded. "It was my duty to report my concerns. It was inappropriate. It was improper for the President to demand an investigation into a political opponent."

"I found the July 25 call unusual," Williams testified. 

Vindman testified, however, he didn't view moving the call to a secure server as "anything nefarious." 

"This is definitely not unprecedented," Vindman told the committee.

Both of the witnesses denied Trump's accusations they are "never Trumpers."

"It certainly surprised me," Williams said. "I was not expected to be called out by name."

"I'd call myself "never partisan," Vindman said. 

Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) questioned Speaker Nancy Pelosi's claims that the House's investigation is about bribery.  

"The word bribery appears in these 3,500 pages one time. It appears in the description of Vice President Biden's conduct," the congressman said. 

"The reason we don't ask fact witnesses to make a judgment about whether a crime of bribery has been committed is, you're fact witnesses," Schiff responded. "It will be our job to decide whether the impeachable act of bribery has occurred. That's why we don't ask you those questions."

In the afternoon, Republicans finally got the chance to bring forth two witnesses of their own – Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison, both former administration officials. 

"In hindsight, I now understand that others saw the idea of investigating.."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," Volker testified. 

Morrison and Volker both say they were never asked to bribe or extort anyone.

"I was never involved in anything I considered to be bribery at all or extortion," Morrison said. 
 
"Did anything concern you on the call?," GOP Counsel Steve Castor asked Morrison. 

Morrison simply replied, "No."

Meanwhile, President Trump said look the impeachment started even before he became commander-in-chief. On Tuesday, he pushed back on testimony that he did anything wrong.

Trump said he doesn't know Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a man who listened in on the infamous July 25 call.

"All these people are talking about they heard a conversation about a conversation of another conversation that was had by the president. What's going on is a disgrace and it's an embarrassment to our nation," Trump said. 

Trump has repeatedly called for people to "read the transcript" insisting the call was "perfect."

"If anybody reads the transcripts, I had two calls with the President of Ukraine, by the way, said that there was no pressure whatsoever," the President said.  

During the House's second week of public testimony, the President pushed policy form the Cabinet Room at the White House

"In the meantime, we can't get USMCA approved because Nancy Pelosi is grossly incompetent," he said.  

The President himself is now toying with testifying, considering accepting the speaker's invitation to submit written answers tweeting "Even though I did nothing wrong? I like the idea & will strongly consider it!

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