Tuesday’s House Intelligence impeachment hearings didn’t go so well for the Republicans in the House, as Vox points out.
Democrats and Republicans had two witnesses each: for Democrats, there was Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official who listened in on that fateful July 25 call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, and Jennifer Williams, a foreign policy adviser to Vice President Mike Pence. The second set of witnesses were former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Kurt Volker and former Trump foreign adviser Tim Morrison, called upon by the Republicans. Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman handled most of the questioning.
The four witnesses all confirmed that the call was a breach of U.S. foreign policy, with Trump leveraging military aid to force Ukraine to launch an investigation of the Biden family. Volker even went back on his earlier closed-door deposition to clarify that the Trump administration’s behavior was more questionable than he previously disclosed.
The Republicans on the intelligence committee, led by ranking member Devin Nunes, had nothing to combat these accusations. They attacked the media coverage of the impeachment proceedings, the whistleblower and the witnesses themselves, mirroring the blame-game behavior of Trump.
The Democrat-called witnesses proved that Trump can’t escape the truth. Vindman and Williams heard Trump’s call in real time and found it concerning, with Vindman stating he raised concerns about the call inside the U.S. government, interpreting Trump’s words as an “improper … demand” that “a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and political opponent.” Williams called the conversation “unusual,” because it “involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter.” Vindman opened his testimony with an eloquent statement that reflected on his immigrant background and demonstrated the necessity of speaking up in the face of abuses of power.
The Republicans’ supposed saving graces Morrison and Volker did nothing for the right’s cause. Goldman asked Morrison about a conversation he had with Trump’s ambassador to the EU, Gordan Sondland. Morrison then gave a description of a conversation between Ukranian official Andriy Yerkmark and Sondland:
[Sondland told Yermak] that the Ukrainians would have to have the Prosecutor general make a statement with respect to the investigations as a condition of having the aid lifted.
Sondland was the focus of Volker’s testimonies, as well. Volker stated that in a July 10 meeting between U.S. and Ukrainian officials, “Ambassador Sondland made a generic comment about investigations … I think all of us thought it was inappropriate.” This statement amended a previous testimony in which Volker described the meeting as “uneventful,” but corroborated Vindman’s testimony regarding the same meeting. Vindman also stated then-National Security Adviser John Bolton shut down the meeting to cut off Sondland’s comments.
The Republican-called witnesses didn’t spin the story the way the GOP were probably hoping that they would. Tuesday’s testimonies unsurprisingly backed up all of the accusations against Trump, and ironically, didn’t go right for the right.