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'Star Witness' to Testify in Impeachment Hearing

Republicans attack Vindman on eve of testimony
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2019 6:51 AM CST
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The Capitol in Washington is seen early Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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(Newser) – The second week of impeachment hearings kicks off Tuesday with the testimony of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman at 9am—a man the Washington Post considers one of the Democrats' "star witnesses." Vindman, a Purple Heart recipient who is the National Security Council's top Ukraine specialist, is expected to say that he found President Trump's request for Ukraine's president to investigate the Bidens "disturbing." "I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a US citizen," Vindman said in closed-door testimony last month. Vindman listened in on the July 25 call, as did Mike Pence aide Jennifer Williams, who will also testify Tuesday morning. More:

  • GOP attacks. Vindman, who reported his concerns about Trump's conduct to the NSC's lead counsel, has been denounced as a "Never Trumper" by the president, whose allies have also gone on the attack. Sen. Ron Johnson said Monday that it was "entirely possible" that Vindman was among "bureaucrats and staff members within the executive branch" who have "never accepted President Trump as legitimate" and want to remove him from office.

  • The afternoon session. The afternoon hearing, which starts at 2:30pm, will feature testimony from former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and former National Security Council aide Tim Morrison, NPR reports. Both Volker and Morrison—who has testified that he didn't hear anything illegal in the Trump phone call—are on the list of witnesses requested by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee.
  • Strategy. Democrats see the "potential for bombshell after bombshell" all day, with testimony from people with direct knowledge of the call bringing the inquiry closer to Trump, Politico reports. Republicans, meanwhile, are expected to focus on trying to discredit Vindman.
  • "Out of the loop." The New York Times reports that Volker—who is seen by Democrats as a link between the State Department and the "shadow" Ukraine policy pushed by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani—is expected to say he was "out of the loop" as Giuliani pressed Ukrainian officials to investigate the Bidens.
  • Further ahead. The inquiry will hear from US ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland on Wednesday morning, the AP reports. Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, and State Department official David Hale will testify Wednesday afternoon, followed by State Department official David Holmes, a State Department official in Kyiv, and former NSC staffer Fiona Hill in a single session on Thursday.
(Trump has responded to Nancy Pelosi's invitation to testify.)

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