Tim Morrison - former National Security Counsel official in charge of overseeing Russia and Europe policy
Kurt Volker - former Special Representative to Ukraine
Mute this if boring to you...
It was good but the pace of consumption made it less than satisfying.
There will be a follow-up round required after this next hearing. Maybe I'll get a salad.
If this is true, it would seem likely the witness would be Volker revising the record to match what he will say today.
Folks, affix your chinstraps. We're about to pick up some speed here.
Volker amending and testifying today. Sondland tomorrow.
We are in for some high-octane incrimination.
Alas, an opportunity lost.
Schiff calls the room to order.
Here we gooooo...
This should be interesting.
Volker's prior testimony wasn't terribly damaging for Trump but felt less than fulsome. He's a mini-Sondland. Moment of truth for him.
Among the setup nuggets:
- Morrison was on the 7/25 call
- Both Morrison and Volker worked on a draft statement to be delivered by Zelensky
We know Giuliani provided edits and feedback - including insisting that Burisma be named specifically.
We'll see how much Volker and Morrison cough up about that set of events...
I love you people. I really do. Yet, having now listened to Nunes' opening and closing remarks and his questioning block, it is not reasonable to ask me to attentively endure this prattle factory's ignorant, masturbatory tripe.
- when Devin Nunes shuts up
Alexandra Chalupa. Drink!
All I need is "Steele Dossier" for Devin Nunes Bingo.
Volker - served under five presidents - both D's and R's
Morrison - served on the Hill as a congressional staffer and aid to a Republican House committee before joining the National Security Counsel
Stresses that Ukraine is on the front lines of a soft war between Russia and the West.
Describes their ongoing conflict with Russia as "fighting over there so we don't have to fight over here."
These statements make the withholding even worse.
This is setting up as the statement of someone looking to put maximum daylight between his diplomacy and Trump's extortion of an ally.
While he was working hard to advance our interests and those of Ukraine and was succeeding, Trump was getting an earful from bad actors poisoning his opinion of Ukraine.
Chief among them: Giuliani
He has also repeated over and over Trump's "negative view" of Ukraine was at the root of the problem - a negative view he had been spoonfed by... Rudy Giuliani.
Translation: Volker brought the lumber today.
He is a career Repub more senior than many of the R's on the Committee. He is more man than the boys.
Anyway, Volker now reading out his efforts to broker a meeting between the White House and Zelensky.
He is trying hard to shade the truth here.
Not. Remotely. Plausible.
Well, gosh, if I had known the fellas in the ski mask were robbing the bank, I would have never volunteered to drive them home.
My bullshit meter is smoking.
Schiff suggests he's poised to just yield to minority counsel - which would be odd - no block for Dan Goldman? Or would he go second since these were Repub witness requests?
Volker basically describes Lutsenko as out of a job and thirsty after the election of Zelensky. A shady dude looking to make shady friends.
This is going to be good because Volker's depiction strains credulity which will likely be revealed under cross.
And Goldman gets going by drawing an admission Volker knew Burisma had Biden ties.
1) He thinks the Bidens did nothing wrong
2) He thinks the Ukrainian Giuliani ally, Lutsenko, is full of shit
3) He didn't realize all of this was about targeting the Bidens for dirt
Again, Volker is trying to thread a needle here... "I realize it was shady now but didn't know that then."
Morrison now detailing what we've heard from other witnesses ad infinitum in different ways: the consensus of all involved in the State Dept and diplomatic corp was that Ukraine very much deserved full throated support.
Only Trump objected
Punchline: Trump was off-script and spouting positions and views he wasn't briefed on and weren't the views of State, the NSC, etc.
Volker dissembles somewhat but basically repeats the above in a more abstruse and rambling way.
Tim Morrison testifies:
1) He was on the 7/25 call
2) Trump was off-script
3) He was concerned
4) So he spoke to the NSC counsel (John Eisenberg)
5) He was only worried about domestic political fallout not that there had been wrongdoing
Tim Morrison strikes me as lying like a goddamn rug.
Dude, come on.
Entirely possible he is going to happily try to rehab Trump in his testimony.
Not loving where this is going.
Hope I'm wrong.
Volker still alleging he was waist deep in the dirty planning while somehow not getting wet.(eyeroll.gif)
Or maybe I will run for coffee somewhere in there and press on.
We'll see. This is a lot. And with Jim Jordan on deck, my vim and vigor are neither vimful or vigorous.
Coffee is needed.
Anyway, back to it.
Said it was Zelensky's first topic.
Says Pence characterized Trump's concern about "corruption".
Says Pence told Zelensky we were "reviewing the aid".
Goldman: Was there a review of the aid going on?
Morrison: (long rambling answer saying 'well, we have a whole review process')
Goldman: yeah, but that was done.
He knew that because Sondland told him... and Sondland knew that because, according to Sondland, Trump had told him.
He isn't throwing Trump under the bus with prejudice. He clearly doesn't want to... Yet, his testimony is delivering lacerating cuts to Trump's alibi and defenses.
This is an insider confessing to the mob bosses crimes.
Nunes opens with "I have some bad news. TV ratings are way down."
Fuck this asshole. I'm going to get coffee. Back shortly.
That is not dispositive.
It helps Volker by distancing him from the chicanery. It does nothing to exonerate Trump.
Remarkably incurious whose sole function was to advance interests he testified previously supported such a release.
It does nothing to exonerate Trump.
It provides no alternative narrative for how the delay might be other than corrupt.
Explains he was told the aid was being held during explorations of Europe providinf greater support - which Morrison would have known if true.
Thus far, each has managed to insulate themselves from liability while in no meaningful way helping Trump.
However, he will nonetheless be more angered by these two far more than by Vindman.
Lord, I am tired of typing today.
Volker testified that he told Zelensky that Giuliani's badmouthing was poisoning the well.
The Special Envoy to a key strategic ally was left with no choice but to suggest a foreign leader that he should try to talk the President of the United States out of false beliefs he had been fed by someone outside government.
Volker testifies that he was not aware of what he regarded as either.
Again, that does not exonerate Trump. It exonerates Volker.
In last week's testimony, Castor tried to raise the issue of Burisma adding Hunter Biden to their board as if it suggested wrongdoing.
The witness testified Burisma also added the President of Poland.
Castor was stumped
Asked Volker if he was aware of the Board appts.
Volker testifies he was aware Burisma was looking to clean up their image.
Ooops... again... another miss.
AHA! Maybe they installed security cameras to only make you THINK they were against robbery.
Lord, this guy is a tedious dope.
As I have thought after each of the first three of these, I am left half-thinking Castor is terrible at this and half-thinking that being boring and irrelevant might actually be his goal - and if so, he is spectacular at it.
Asks Morrison about Vindman's testimony that the call memo was incomplete and purposely edited out.
Morrison answers all questions with "Not that I recall."
More and more Morrison plays like a guy shielding himself from liability while taking no pleasure in doing harm to Trump.
For perhaps the first time today, Morrison's attorney steps in and shuts it down. Says it is out of scope and they won't go there.
That was interesting.
Morrison and his counsel apparently saw the smear tactic R's developed based on his deposition and wanted no part.
We will allegedly be back in 5-10 minutes for the 5-minute round robin of questions from the committee.
With 21 members, that's nearly two hours of additional testimony.
At $0 dollars per hour, I am woefully underpaid.
1) Each entirely laughed off the idea Biden was in any way dirty or deserving investigation
2) Each threw Rudy under the bus with both hands
Trump is going to simmer about Biden getting a better buff job than he did.
We have heard from two kinds of witnesses:
1) Ones who were in on it
The one who were in on it all serve up a wholly contradictory couplet of a) adamant support for the Ukraine aid; and b) complete incuriousness when it was delayed
"OMG, I LOVE UKRAINE. WE SHOULD ABSOLUTELY HELP THEM!"
"Gosh, the aid critical to their survival just got kinda stuck in accounting or something. weird. I didn't think about it much."
Now says that while he didn't know it at the time, he now knows Ukraine aid was being used to solicit a Biden invest.
Adam Schiff announces that we will now be going to a supplemental 15-minute round by counsel again.
In other words, Dan Goldman is getting a chance to follow-up with add'l questions.
There must be a good reason...
...and then he pulls up Volker's text messages the day before the call directly discussing Zelensky needing to please Trump with promises of investigating corruption.
He mentioned Biden, the DNC, etc...
Volker stammers a bit.
Goldman just caught him. Volker used euphemisms in texts, etc, but knew the game all along. That's my take.
He is peeling away the various layers of Volker's denials that he knew or understand what was afoot.
This is less about nailing Volker and more proving the jig was well known.
Volker revised his testimony to acknowledge that he now knows that there had been an illicit quid pro quo all along.
Goldman is making him now play back every call, meeting and discussion to acknowledge he now knows the real topic had been the corrupt ask.
Earlier, we had Volker talking about meetings blithely as if there had been nary a clue anything was wrong.
So Goldman made him walk the plank and admit the topic had been dirty whether he knew it or not.
Morrison just looked like a deer in the headlights.
Goldman has shifted gears rather sharply from earlier to now.
He was a velvet glove earlier. Now he's brass knuckles.
Goldman's best moment during the hearings.
While Morrison and Volker aren't exactly hostile witnesses, they aren't fully cooperating witnesses either.
Goldman was incisive, sharp, and in command.
Well done. Damn well done.
Nunes whines like the PAB he is for five minutes.
What a whiny shitbag.
Minority Counsel Steve Castor now back at the mic.
Thankfully, he wrapped it up. The dude is the proverbial tree falling in the woods with no one there. It makes no sound.
Immediate jumps in to probe disparities between Volker's original testimony and his now amended testimony and testimony today.
Drills right in on Volker allegedly not remembering a highly memorable event...
Numerous people have since testified:
1) Sondland brought up the shakedown
2) Bolton promptly shut the meeting down
Vindman testified this morning that the meeting was ended so abruptly there were agenda topics left untouched.
Schiff outed Volker's selective amnesia.
Schiff, like Goldman, brought out the knives.
Schiff now lasering in on Morrison's prior testimony about the 7/25 call and handling of it.
Makes Morrison look like he is covering his ass rather than telling the truth.
I expect little will come of these follow-up sessions. There isn't much to work with here.
All Volker and Morrison have done is distance themselves from the conspiracy not rebut that it occurred.
White noise. Doesn't withstand scrutiny. This just won't get the job done.
All Turner can do is talk fast and hope to create fog.
Volker has done a pretty good job of reducing the heat under his own ass by feigning ignorance.
Sondland is far more squarely in the crosshairs.
Still, he's going to be tempted to try to pull a Volker.
Trump is getting impeached. We know that. He is absolutely getting impeached by the United States House of Representatives.
He will likely not be convicted in the Senate.
The battle is for the public's hearts and minds.
However, he can definitely make it far worse for Trump.
Rep. Jim Himes at the mic now hammering away at how open the discussions were of Giuliani and Sondland going rogue while Mike Pompeo was somehow in the dark and uninvolved.
Not plausible but nothing but blank stares from Morrison.
The man is useless. I won't waste either of our time.
Not much new or significant occurring in these so far.
Might get a bit more meat from Swalwell, Castro, Maloney.
I am sure you are shocked by this.
I have no more to say about that.
Further, barring a new bombshell, the newscycle has already gotten more than it needs.
If something earth-shattering arises, I'll add postscripts as needed but don't be shocked if no such foundation-rattlers come forth.
The Rs have done a decent job of kicking up a few small clouds of dust that on an ordinary day would have been somewhat useful.
They would have fit into the newscycle...
The public will be impacted by what it sees and it will see little.
His opening. His cutting response to “Mr. Vindman”. His impassioned recitation of his reasons for trusting the truth to be safe here in America.
Nothing in Volker and Morrison came close.
The moments when the most eyes were on the hearings were powerful and damning.
The two witnesses Republicans hoped would most rehab Trump were reduced to being a weak matinee.
For all but the Forever Trump crowd, today was another damning day in the death by a thousand paper cuts of Trump’s facade.
Wow. That was brilliant.
Swalwell got Morrison to stipulate that 1) the President sets foreign policy; and 2) his job is to follow all lawful orders.
Swalwell: After that call, you spoke with your Ukrainian counterparts many time, correct?
Morrison: I did not
Swalwell: Your job is to follow the foreign policy set by President Trump. You heard his ask. Why did you not follow up on it?
Morrison: I did not see it as a foreign policy objective.
He knew it to be an ask of personal value to Trump alone... and he saw it as out of professional bounds.
Sondland often claimed to have spoken with Trump.
Volker verified he had been telling the truth in those claims.
Sondland DID have an open channel to Trump.
Castro than secures a crisp admission that Volker and Morrison both believe Trump’s ask to have been wrong.
Man, this has been interminable.
Some minor additional points made in the last few rounds but none so significant they stand a chance of breaking into the public consciousness.
The overall impressions have been created and will stand.
Trump did it. Everyone knew.
But they have been consistent in pointing the ultimate finger at Trump.
Not one single witness has suggested Trump DIDN’T want Biden dirt and WASN’T the architect.
Today’s testimony will further that belief for some.
It will reduce that belief for no one.
Trump has been nothing but harmed further.
Nunes prattled on about the Steele Dossier.
Schiff offered a powerful reprisal of the crime corroborated yet again.
Repeats over and over Trump only released aid, only stopped “...when he got caught!”
And with that, we are adjourned.
Thanks for following along.
And thanks to all who fed my beer and bills fund. Deep thanks for that kindness...