(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
After the more marquee testimony of Alexander Vindman this morning (which is odd to say since he essentially provided nothing of value), Schiff called Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison for the afternoon session. In a marathon hearing, each man was questioned by both sides in an attempt to gather more answers about just what happened between Trump and Ukraine.
(See Impeachment LIVE Blog: Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison Armageddon Edition)
With the Democrat theory being that Trump orchestrated a “bribe,” offering aid in exchange for investigations, would these two men provide any substantive evidence to that assertion? Given that the media-sphere isn’t currently melting down, you can safely judge the answer to that is no even if you didn’t watch. Oddly enough, the Volker/Morrison testimony turned out to be less exciting than Vindman’s, even though my original expectation was that Democrats would be ready to grill these two men because their stories run counter Schiff’s narrative. It didn’t really turn out that way, which is probably a testament to just how pointless this all is.
Here are some of the highlights.
Volker touts “strong” Trump policy on Ukraine, “fundamentally turned US policy around” after Obama pic.twitter.com/AzjGCdayE8
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) November 19, 2019
This is important because this is yet another witness admitting that Trump has done far more for Ukraine than the last administration. If Trump were truly harboring some grave, Putin-loving animosity towards the nation, why would he even approve lethal weapons in the first place? And of course, the latest round of aid was released.
Then we got to the main event, which was Devin Nunes getting Volker and Morrison to go on record saying they had no knowledge of any quid pro quo, bribe, or extortion attempt between Trump and Ukraine. Again, that’s the only reason we are here and these are now the 5th and 6th witnesses to all say they had no knowledge of wrongdoing.
.@DevinNunes: "Did anyone ever ask you to bribe or extort anyone at anytime during your time in the White House?"
Volker and Morrison: "No" pic.twitter.com/EpusMJgWC9
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) November 19, 2019
Another key point was Kurt Volker conceding (even though he disagreed with the suspicions) that Joe Biden did present a conflict of interest with his son working for Burisma. Several witnesses, even those hostile to Trump, have made that concession, which builds the case that the President’s concerns were not completely out of bounds.
We also learned in greater detail just how much Alexander Vindman’s behavior was questioned by his superiors.
In addition to everything that Timothy Morrison list below, there apparently were even *more* problems with Alexander Vindman but Morrison's lawyer stopped him from revealing what the other apparent problems were https://t.co/R33Et0Bigt
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) November 19, 2019
This goes to the heart of Vindman’s motivations. Yes, we have the call, but Vindman is being used as a character witness to proclaim that his concerns somehow create an improper or illegal act. None of it adds up and the real picture of Vindman becomes one of a disgruntled employee upset that he wasn’t being taken on trips and kept in the loop as much as he’d like.
Finally, we saw Morrison completely reject the ludicrous description by Vindman that Trump had “demanded” things from Zelensky on the phone call. Anyone that’s read the transcript know that’s completely false. Even the most uncharitable interpretation shows Trump playing coy and simply being suggestive. He never demands anything or mentions any possible retaliation if his requests aren’t met.
When asked why he characterized it as a "demand," Vindman said he "just wrote it the way I kind of felt it."
Ok then. Glad we're all putting ourselves through this for objective facts. pic.twitter.com/K4rQXYswKz
— Rachel Bovard (@rachelbovard) November 19, 2019
Honestly, I’m starting to wonder what Schiff’s end game is here. Does he have the ace up his sleeve? Or was his more somber tone today a realization on his part that he needs to pull back and stop overplaying his hand so much? Given his statements, even as recent as this weekend were he proclaimed he was going to take down Trump, I just don’t see how Schiff can back down now. He has to take this to its logical conclusion, which is an impeachment vote that he endorses.
Tomorrow we’ll get Gordon Sondland’s testimony and that’s really the Chairman’s last shot. If he can’t get Sondland to provide proof of a quid pro quo (or bribery or whatever the Democrats are accusing Trump of today), then this thing is over. Rudy Giuliani isn’t going to come testify and the court battles would be too lengthy to factor in. John Bolton is also unlikely to testify, but even if he does, he seemed to be upset about being out of the loop but giving no indication he was part of or privy to any extortion scheme.
We’ll see what happens tomorrow, but the country is not going to support the removal of a President based on what’s out there so far.
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