House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., questions Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire,as he testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Leader of the farce Adam Schiff (D-CA) gave in to Republican pressure and released the transcript of Tim Morrison’s testimony on Saturday. Morrison is the outgoing National Security Council’s (NSC) Senior Director for European Affairs. Schiff’s star witness, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, reports to Morrison. (They also released the transcript of Jennifer Williams’ testimony. She is Vice President Mike Pence’s special adviser on Europe and Russia.)
In a statement issued when these transcripts were released, the chairs of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees wrote, “The testimony released today shows that President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky immediately set off alarm bells throughout the White House.”
And if you happened to read the Huffington Post’s version of Morrison’s transcript, you would have heard that “the testimony appears to suggest that Trump used the full weight of his office to pressure Zelensky.”
Both Morrison and Williams had listened in on the call and will be testifying publicly in the coming week.
The House Intelligence Committee Republicans, however, saw Morrison’s testimony quite a bit differently and consider it to be favorable to the President, which may be the reason why Schiff was reluctant to release it.
(Note: On Saturday, the House Intelligence Committee Republicans published a list of key points from Morrison’s closed-door hearing, complete with page numbers and relevant testimony. The website also provides the key points from Vindman’s testimony here.)
In summary, Morrison did not believe President Trump said anything improper on the July 25th call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. He also painted an unflattering picture of his subordinate, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the director of European Affairs at the NSC. Morrison said he considers Vindman to be unreliable and told lawmakers that he questions his judgment. Vindman, who listened to the call, strongly disagrees with Trump’s Ukraine policy and is widely believed to have leaked the readout of the call to the whistleblower, whom most presume to be CIA officer Eric Ciaramella.
Morrison was asked why he chose to exclude Vindman from his conversations with the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor. Morrison replied, “I had concerns about Lieutenant Colonel Vindman’s judgment…Among the discussions I had with Dr. [Fiona] Hill in the transition was our team, my team, its strengths and its weaknesses. And Fiona and others had raised concerns about Alex’s judgment. (p. 81-82)
Q: So, I mean — and I, like you, Mr. Morrison, I appreciate the service Colonel Vindman has given to our country and the sacrifice he has made. But I think in the last — or since you’ve been here today, you’ve talked about Colonel Vindman. There were issues of judgment, that he operated outside his lane. He didn’t adhere to the chain of command. Was not included, specifically excluded — I guess, to your use your language, was not included on certain trips. And there was an area of Ukraine that you kept him restricted from being a part of, and you said you couldn’t get into that. Did Mr. Vindman — did he talk too much?
A: I had concerns that he did not exercise appropriate judgment as to whom he would say what. (p. 205)
Another notable exchange involved Vindman’s testimony that he’d received “light queries” from “Ukrainian officials in August regarding the hold on aid.” Morrison was asked if Vindman should have notified him about those queries and he had said yes.
Q: And if he did not, would you consider that to be a violation of the chain of command?
A: I would consider it to be an unfortunate habit he picked up from his prior boss.
House Intelligence Committee Republicans list of key points:
1. Mr. Morrison did not believe anything improper occurred on the July 25 call. (p. 60)
2. Mr. Morrison testified that the memorandum of conversation (a phrase used to describe the call transcript) of the July 25 call was complete and accurate. (p. 60)
3. Mr. Morrison, who listened to the July 25 call, testified that he was not concerned about the substance of what was discussed on the call – only that the transcript might leak. (p. 46-47)
4. Mr. Morrison was told by National Security Council lawyer John Eisenberg that the July 25 call record mistakenly ended up on the highly classified system, debunking the Democrats’ allegations of an attempted “cover up.”
5. Mr. Morrison repeatedly testified that he purposefully kept Lt. Col. Vindman out of the loop on this matter because he had concerns about Vindman’s judgment, which were also raised to him by Fiona Hill and others.
6. Mr. Morrison testified that, as the final clearing authority for any edits made to the 7/25 call package, he accepted all of Lt. Col. Vindman’s proposed edits. (p. 61-62)
7. Mr. Morrison testified that he does not believe Burisma came up on the call or that anyone suggested edits to the mem-con to include the word Burisma. (p. 64)
8. Mr. Morrison testified that Lt. Col. Vindman relayed two concerns to him about the July 25 call: that the call did not get into the subject matter they had hoped, and the fidelity of the translation. (p. 72-73)
9. Mr. Morrison testified that Lt. Col. Vindman never reported to Morrison any of the “light queries” that he received from Ukrainian officials in August regarding the hold on aid. (p. 93)
10. Mr. Morrison confirmed that President Trump generally does not like foreign aid generally, and specifically held concerns that corruption in Ukraine may cause U.S. aid to be “misused.”
During Friday’s public impeachment inquiry hearing, Jim Jordan questioned why Schiff hadn’t released four key transcripts. He said, “The chairman has promised that we’d get to see the transcripts, but there are still four people that we have not been able to see their transcripts. Therefore, the testimony they provided, we’re not able to use in these open hearings. If it’s an open hearing, all the available testimony of depositions that has been taken by the committee should be available to be discussed, for the American people to see.”
The four transcripts Jordan was referring to included the testimonies of Morrison, Williams, David Hale, undersecretary of state for political affairs; and Philip Reeker, a top State Department diplomat in charge of U.S. policy for Europe. In addition to Morrison and Williams, Hale will be testifying this week.
— The Hill (@thehill) November 15, 2019