Vindman was not a good witness and his lawyer was worse

Byron York:
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Here are four problems with the Vindman testimony:

1) Beyond his opinions, he had few new facts to offer. Vindman seemed to be an important fact witness, the first who had actually been on the July 25 call when Trump talked to Zelensky. But the White House weeks ago released the rough transcript of that call, which meant everyone in the secure room in which Vindman testified, and everyone on the planet, for that matter, already knew what had been said.

Indeed, Vindman attested to the overall accuracy of the rough transcript, contrary to some impeachment supporters who have suggested the White House is hiding an exact transcript that would reveal everything Trump said to the Ukrainian president. As one of a half-dozen White House note-takers listening to the call, Vindman testified that he tried unsuccessfully to make a few edits to the rough transcript as it was being prepared. In particular, Vindman believed that Zelensky specifically said the word "Burisma," the corrupt Ukrainian energy company that hired Hunter Biden, when the rough transcript referred only to "the company." But beyond that, Vindman had no problems with the transcript, and he specifically said he did not believe any changes were made with ill intent.

"You don't think there was any malicious intent to specifically not add those edits?" asked Republican counsel Steve Castor.

"I don't think so."

"So otherwise, this record is complete and I think you used the term 'very accurate'?"

"Yes," said Vindman.

Once Vindman had vouched for the rough transcript, his testimony mostly concerned his own interpretation of Trump's words. And that interpretation, as Vindman discovered during questioning, was itself open to interpretation.

Vindman said he was "concerned" about Trump's statements to Zelensky, so concerned that he reported it to top National Security Council lawyer John Eisenberg. (Vindman had also reported concerns to Eisenberg two weeks before the Trump-Zelensky call, after a Ukraine-related meeting that included Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.) Vindman said several times that he was not a lawyer and did not know if Trump's words amounted to a crime but that he felt they were "wrong." That was when Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe, a former U.S. attorney, tried to get to the root of Vindman's concerns. What was really bothering him?

"I'm trying to find out if you were reporting it because you thought there was something wrong with respect to policy or there was something wrong with respect to the law," Ratcliffe said to Vindman. "And what I understand you to say is that you weren't certain that there was anything improper with respect to the law, but you had concerns about U.S. policy. Is that a fair characterization?"

"So I would recharacterize it as I thought it was wrong and I was sharing those views," Vindman answered. "And I was deeply concerned about the implications for bilateral relations, U.S. national security interests, in that if this was exposed, it would be seen as a partisan play by Ukraine. It loses the bipartisan support. And then for — "

"I understand that," Ratcliffe said, "but that sounds like a policy reason, not a legal reason."

Indeed it did. Elsewhere in Vindman's testimony, he repeated that his greatest worry was that if the Trump-Zelensky conversation were made public, then Ukraine might lose the bipartisan support it currently has in Congress. That, to Ratcliffe and other Republicans, did not seem a sufficient reason to report the call to the NSC's top lawyer, nor did it seem the basis to begin a process leading to impeachment and a charge of presidential high crimes or misdemeanors.

At another point, Castor asked Vindman whether he was interpreting Trump's words in an overly alarmist way, especially when Vindman contended that Trump issued a "demand" to Zelensky.

"The president in the transcript uses some, you know, words of hedging from time to time," Castor said. "You know, on page 3, he says 'whatever you can do.' He ends the first paragraph on page 3, 'if that's possible.' At the top of page 4, 'if you could speak to him, that would be great.' 'So whatever you can do.' Again, at the top of page 4, 'if you can look into it.' Is it reasonable to conclude that those words hedging for some might, you know, lead people to conclude that the president wasn't trying to be demanding here?"

"I think people want to hear, you know, what they have as already preconceived notions," Vindman answered, in what may have been one of the more revealing moments of the deposition. "I'd also point your attention to 'whatever you can do, it's very important to do it if that's possible.'"

"'If that's possible,'" Castor stressed.

"Yeah," said Vindman. "So I guess you can interpret it in different ways."

2) Vindman withheld important information from investigators. Vindman ended his opening statement in the standard way, by saying, "Now, I would be happy to answer your questions." As it turned out, that cooperation did not extend to both parties.
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There is much more despite Schiff's attempts to squelch answers to questions that were pertinent.  It appears that Vindmean disclosed classified information to people outside his chain of command and that his worries about the phone call were totally misplaced.  He seems presumptuous when it comes to who is in charge of US foreign policy.

Schiff is not suited for his role as chairman of this coup attempt by the Deep State.

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