Trump impeachment drama: ‘Dad, I will be fine for telling the truth’

The impeachment hearings have been broadcast wall-to-wall on US TV. (Photo: MSNBC, screen grab)

It was one of the most dramatic, emotional moments of the US impeachment hearings.

Decorated soldier Alexander Vindman summoned his immigrant history on the the third day of public hearings, saying: “Dad, I’m sitting here today, in the US Capitol talking to our elected officials is proof that you made the right decision forty years ago to leave the Soviet Union … Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.”

Lieutenant Colonel Vindman was the latest in a series of damaging witnesses at hearings investigating Mr Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. The inquiry centres on a phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in July 2019 in which it is alleged Mr Trump pushed for an investigation of his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, in return for the release of American military aid.

A summary of the key events so far:

THE WITNESSES

William Taylor: Chargé d’affaires of the US embassy in Kiev. Vietnam Veteran who served as Ambassador during the Obama and Bush administrations. Taylor was called in to replace former US Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. He is a witness alleged to be directly aware of the quid pro quo between Mr Trump and Ukraine.

George Kent:  Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. Mr Kent was not personally involved in the events that transpired however speaks authoritatively regarding the US–Ukraine relations.

Marie Yovanovitch:  A career foreign service official who was the ambassador to Ukraine from August 2016 to May 2019, Yovanovitch was removed from her position with what appears to be no substantial grounds.

Alexander Vindman: Military veteran, National Security Council staff member in the White House who was on the Ukraine call.

Jennifer Williams: Aide to Vice President Mike Pence. Was also on the call in question.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Taylor and Kent have testified behind closed doors to the committee and the hearing stood as a public reiteration of their accounts.
  • Taylor testified to one of his staff overhearing a second phone call in Kiev in which Trump was discussing the investigations into his political rivals.
  • David Holmes (the aide) will testify behind closed doors regarding what he overheard in the phone call.
  • Kent supports the allegation that Trump was acting in service of the interest of furthering his political career and that the quid pro quo deal constitutes the abuse of power.
  • Republican inquirers drilled witnesses for lacking firsthand knowledge.
  • Republicans request the original whistleblower be subpoenaed.
  • Vindman

WHO SAID WHAT

 “It sounded like a threat.” – Marie Yovanovitch, on hearing her name mentioned by Mr Trump in the Ukraine call.

“Now the president, in real time, is attacking you. What effect do you think that has on other witnesses willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing?” – Adam Schiff.

“It’s very intimidating.” – Marie Yovanovitch

“It’s one thing to try to leverage a meeting in the White House. It’s another thing to try to leverage security assistance to a country at war.” –  Bill Taylor.

RELATED COVERAGE US expats share view from afar

“It was unexpected, and most unfortunate, to watch some Americans — including those who allied themselves with corrupt Ukrainians in pursuit of private agendas — launch attacks on dedicated public servants advancing U.S. interests in Ukraine.” – George Kent

“It is improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and political opponent.” – Alexander Vindman

“Dad … do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth.” – Vindman

“I found the July 25th phone call unusual because, in contrast to other presidential calls I had observed, it involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter.” – Jennifer Williams

COMING UP NEXT

Wednesday November 20: European Union ambassador Gordon Sondland; Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defence; David Hale, undersecretary of state.

Thursday November 21: Fiona Hill, National Security Council official; David Holmes, political counselor at the US Embassy in Ukraine.

THE BIG ISSUES

House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff has identified four primary questions the inquiry seeks to investigate:

  1. Did Trump solicit foreign help in an election?
  2. Did the Trump White House agree to a meeting with Ukraine on the condition that Ukraine launch investigations on behalf of Trump?
  3. Did Ukraine have reason to believe military aid was being withheld on the condition of launching Trump’s investigations?
  4. Has there been a cover-up of the basic facts of Trump’s conduct?