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I’ve started re-reading the testimony transcripts at a more leisurely pace. Today’s reading is the #AlexanderVindman testimony, I thought this would be appropriate on #VeteransDay2019.
Here is the link to the PDF copy of the document.

This document reads like a crime drama novel. It is riveting!

Let’s start after the opening statement:
Right away there’s explosive material in the document. Here the question is around a post meeting with Bolton & his Ukrainian counterpart. This is after Sondland states ...
... there will be no meeting between the presidents without an agreement of deliverables from an investigation & this demand came from Mick Mulvaney. Vindman then states his objection to the agreement. At that point, Sondland requests that the Ukrainians leave the room
The meeting gets uncomfortable for everyone involved. Most stayed silent after the Sondland bomb. The speculation is that they were just waiting to see how this all would unfold.
Vindman explains to the questioner that asking any foreign power to produce results of an investigation it could be very bad. That this would put a country desperate for assistance from the US into a position to produce anything to keep their own country safe.

Dr. Fiona Hill agreed with Col. Vindman’s objection to the investigation. Vindman further stresses the point that by pushing the Ukrainians into a partisan situation it could risk future funding & support from the US
*note: $400M represents 10% of the Ukrainian military budget
Vindman is questioned about the phone call that launched the impeachment investigation. This call was scheduled for after the president of Ukraine won a parliamentary majority. This was supposed to be a congratulatory call. The NSC gave *45 talking points for this call.
The questioning regarding the handling of the transcript & edits are where the anomalies are shown. How the normal process works, & how this all deviated from this. The editing process follows specific protocols, but this one didn’t...
Vindman describes that his edits usually are entered into the MEMCON for presidential conversations. This one deviated from that, the conversation was placed on a highly classified system.

Minority counsel is then given an opportunity to ask questions of Col. Vindman.
The story doesn’t change, but we get a bit more detail about how Bolton and Dr. Hill felt about the “investigation”. Both were upset/distressed with what Sondland was “attempting to orchestrate”
A little break from Vindman’s testimony to show that Rep. Mark Meadows is an insufferable jerk.

Remember, this is in a closed door meeting. He’ being disrespectful and actually tells Rep. Swalwell to “shut up”.

Stopping for the night .... I’ll pick up tomorrow.

Starting back up again. It may seem that I am jumping around on topics, that is because the format of the testimony has counsel for the majority & minority asking Lt. Col Vindman questions

I am also catching things I missed the first time I read this, so excuse my excitement
While the counsel for the minority is asking questions, the words “illegal”, “in artful”, “illegal”, “improper” are used by counsel where Vindman uses “troubling”, “disturbing”, “wrong”. Counsel is trying to get him to speculate on the legality, but Vindman keeps dodging that
This line of questioning is repeatative, counsel for the minority keeps asking Vindman if he thought what *45 did was illegal, & he keeps stating that he is not an attorney & couldn’t make that assessment
He did feel it was something to go to Eisenberg (NSC Legal counsel) ...
... almost immediately after the meeting
He states that there were several things that disturbed him. The mention of Barr, Giuliani, and an investigation that didn’t exist.

Counsel tries very hard to color this as a way that *45 is trying to “root out” corruption.

Vindman sticks to his facts. He keeps stressing that there is no investigation & that *45 is obviously not testing Zelensky.
Rep McCaul jumps into the fray & tries (in vain) to get Vindman to slip up, but he doesn’t he keeps on point & doesn’t waver one bit.

There is a short break, but when testimony resumes the Chairman gives Vindman a chance to clarify a few things that were muddied by minority counsel &/or MoC.

Vindman states that there were talking points given to *45, but he went off script.
The chairman further makes the point that this isn’t about *45 asking about corruption, but the troubling points for Vindman was that the president of the US was asking for Zelensky to investigate the Bidens, Crowd Strike & a supposed server from 2016.
Minority counsel goes back to questioning Vindman. This time on Yovanovich. He expresses that her work in Ukraine & her reputation was exemplary. He was shocked when her name came up in the phone call as a point of trouble.
Before minority counsel can leave the subject of the phone call, the chairman asks about the subject of javelins from Zelensky & how important they are to Ukraine.

Vindman says that they are important to Ukraine in defending themselves & Europe from Russian agression.
The point that concerned Lt. Col. Vindman the most was not asking for a “favor though”, it was that *45 asked to investigate a private US citizen and Crowd Strike in exchange for the javelins.

I know this thread is long, but bear with me, this is important.
A later exchange is in regarding to the secure server that is used for this conversation. Vindman’s speculation is remarkable. He says that because of the partisan nature of the call & the process undermining our relationship with Ukraine, the storage was probably warranted
I believe that what Vindman is saying here is that because *45 went off script and decided to try to pull a fast one on Ukraine and withhold the military funding & javelins he put our relationship with Ukraine at risk.
Next line of questions is about the delegation for a visit to Ukraine. Pence is supposed to lead the delegation & then pulled last minute. .Vindman has speculation that Pence wasn’t going to attend the inauguration because the Ukrainians wouldn’t investigate the Bidens

Vindman has a clear message to the Ukranians & president Zelensky, stay out of the political fray, but the administration and the back channel led by Giuliani make it difficult for him to reinforce this message.
A line of questioning starts by asking Vindman who else he spoke to about the July 25th call. Vindman spoke with George Kent. Kent had no knowledge of an investigation into Crowd Strike or the Bidens & that the relations between the two countries was most likely worse off
Rep Ratcliffe (remember he’s one of the MoC who pulled the stunt in the SCIF) asks Vindman if he thought it was improper to demand a foreign govt. to investigate a US Citizen. I think Lt. Col. Vindman answers this perfectly! He makes it clear that there was a quid pro quo.
Ratcliffe continues to question why he chose the wording “demand” in his opening statement, and Vindman continues to assert that he thought it was wrong, and that if the president of the US asks for a favor, it is a demand.
OH!! I understand why this is going in this direction unchecked, the chairman stepped out for a vote!

They are trying to get the name of the whistleblower. Thankfully the counsel for the Majority and Vindman’s counsel stop Rep. Ratcliffe ...

Over & over again, Vindman says the same thing, that this was wrong & that he felt it was his duty to alert someone. Then the whole thing goes sideways when Ratcliffe starts his insinuations. Vindman’s attorney & the Majority counsel fire back at Ratcliffe.
Read this with 🍿
Counsel for the Majority scores one for the good guys by this line of questioning.
Ukraine’s had a problem with their leaders investigating political rivals.
US policy is pushing Ukraine NOT to investigate their political rivals
US policy believes that is corrupt

Vindman is given an opportunity to show that his counsel to the Ukraine president regarding refraining in getting involved in partisan activities was sound advice. They aren’t stupid, they know that they enjoy bipartisan support, & to mess with that is crazy.

Rep Stewart begins questioning (BTW, the counsel for the minority keeps deferring to the MoC, while the counsel for the majority gives all the questions). Stewart begins to badger ...er .. ask a question regarding Vindman knowing if any other members who’d been ...
.. to counsel about the phone call. Vindman says that he only knows about himself. It is obvious to me that Rep Stewart is on a fishing expedition for the whistleblower. Same tactic as before.

I am not kidding when I say you need 🍿 when you read this
The bickering goes on and finally turns ugly ... so ugly that Vindman’s counsel says “Look, if you guys want to have your spat, we’ll step out, okay, and you can spat it out”
All this so Stewart can make his point that supposedly others did not seek counsel on that phone call
The minority counsel begins a line of questioning that makes it appear that *45 would be justified in not liking the Ukrainians because of negative Op Eds & statements to the press during his campaign in 2016. Later, the chairman sets this straight.

The minority also tries to paint the idea of “false narratives” as being subjective by Vindman. The chairman sets this straight by asking about the false narrative by Russia about Ukraine.

The chairman asks the question: “What does it mean to a foreign leader when the President of the United States asks them for a favor?”

Vindman again answers using the word “demand”. This is almost a thumbing of the nose by the Lt. Col. toward the minority.
Swalwell asks if during the July 25th phone call it appeared *45 was reading a script or if he was using his “own voice”. Vindman replies after clarifying that this was his opinion, “he was using his own voice”

Sounds like the NSC talking points were ignored.
“I perceive that that our relationship is damaged... It undercuts U.S. resolve to suppont Uknaine and centainly puts a question into their mind whether they, in fact, have U.S. support”

- Vindman on what this is doing to our relationship with Ukraine.
Vindman is not the only one who was concerned about the activities of *45 & his shadow government in Ukraine. His narrative never changes. He felt it was wrong that *45 demanded that Pres. Zelensky investigate a US Citizen. He is stating what HE felt/thought.
A few majority members ask questions to clarify that Vindman was stating things about himself & how they relate to the facts that were public & what he witnessed in two separate events.
The tone changes each time that the minority takes over the questioning, but Vindman doesn’t just lay down & let them walk all over him. Here he tells the minority counsel that it doesn’t take a “rocket scientist” to see what *45 was doing.
The minority takes over and they begin to ask vague questions & attempting to twist the answered questions into something that they want to use against Vindman. His attorney (Mr. Volkov) luckily keeps all this under control, although he meets resistance, he pushes through.
The minority is doing their best to out the whistleblower. Here Gym ..uh, Rep JIM Jordan & minority counsel are fishing for whether Vindman was the one who spoke with the whistleblower.
Luckily, Vindman’s counsel stops the line of questioning seeing through their charade
It also appears that after the meeting on July 25 & Vindman’s involvement in meetings that he should be attending are stopped. Remember, he’s the director of a portfolio of countries that include Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus as well as others.

The minority continues to harp on a few things. The identity of the whistleblower & Vindman’s use of the word “demand” in his opening statement. Problem is, the US president is still asking a foreign government to investigate a US citizen.
The minority counsel continues to try to get Vindman to admit that he was wrong, that he should walk back his original complaint. Vindman states the same thing repeatedly, he felt that the US president asking a foreign government to investigate a US citizen was wrong.
Coming toward the end here folks, bear with me.
The minority is still trying to get Vindman to go back on his statement about the demand language. He continues to refer all questions about his statement back to his original statement

Vindman ends the testimony with this answer. He states that he counseled Zelensky regarding relationships that may appear problematic and might risk funding from the US.

The Chairman thanks him for his testimonym and the deposition ends
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