Prepared statement of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman to three House committees conducting impeachment inquiry, Oct. 29, 2019

Click here to access Oct. 29, 2019 prepared statement by Alexander S. Vindman >

Reading such a statement enables a person to follow the impeachment story more closely than would otherwise be the case.

Oct. 30, 2019 Associated Press article refers to concerns that were raised

An Oct. 30, 2019 Associated Press article is entitled: “Diplomat: Bolton cautioned him about Giuliani and Ukraine.”

An excerpt (I have not included a link, which is featured in the original text) reads:

Anderson also says that senior White House officials blocked an effort by the State Department to release a November 2018 statement condemning Russia’s attack on Ukrainian military vessels.

Another Foreign Service officer testifying Wednesday, Catherine Croft, says that during her time at the National Security Council, she received multiple phone calls from lobbyist Robert Livingston telling her that the ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, should be fired.

“He characterized Ambassador Yovanovitch as an ‘Obama holdover’ and associated with George Soros. It was not clear to me at the time — or now — at whose direction or at whose expense Mr. Livingston was seeking the removal of Ambassador Yovanovitch,” she will say.

Both witnesses were instructed by the administration to not testify but appeared in response to subpoenas from the House, according to a statement from their attorney Mark MacDougall. The lawyer cautioned lawmakers that neither of his clients is the whistleblower whose complaint triggered the impeachment inquiry and that he would object to any questions aimed at identifying that person.

Their testimony follows that of Alexander Vindman, an Army officer with the National Security Council who testified that he twice raised concerns over the administration’s push to have Ukraine investigate Democrats and Joe Biden.

Vindman, a lieutenant colonel who served in Iraq and later as a diplomat, was the first official to testify who actually heard Trump’s July 25 call with Zelenskiy. He reported his concerns to the NSC’s lead counsel.

Oct. 30, 2019 Guardian article refers to gaps ins transcript

An Oct. 30, 2019 Guardian article is entitled: “Army officer tells impeachment inquiry of gaps in Trump’s Ukraine transcript: Lt Col Vindman reportedly said omissions included references to Joe Biden and Burisma.”

An excerpt (I have not included links, which are featured in the original text) reads:

A decorated army officer and the top Ukraine expert on the national security council has reportedly told House impeachment investigators that the White House transcript of a call between the presidents of the US and Ukraine left out important words and phrases.

The New York Times cited three sources familiar with Alexander Vindman’s testimony on Tuesday who said the omissions included Donald Trump making reference to recordings of the former vice-president Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelenskiy making reference to Burisma, the company for which Biden’s son Hunter worked.

Lt Col Vindman tried to edit the White House reconstruction of the call to correct the omissions, but some of his edits were not incorporated into the transcript, according to the report.

The arrival of Vindman tipped Republicans into a spiral of internal conflict over how far to go – and what lines were unacceptable to cross – in defending the US president.

Vindman appeared on Capitol Hill wearing his US army dress uniform, which bore a combat infantry badge and a Purple Heart medal, bestowed when he was wounded by an improvised explosive device in Iraq.

Oct. 30, Lawfare article notes impeachment is both a political and a legal process

An Oct. 30, 2019 Lawfare article is entitled: “The Strategic Underpinning—and the Limits—of the Republican ‘Due Process’ Defense of Donald Trump.”

An excerpt reads:

Impeachment is both a political and a legal process. It is not unconstrained by precedent, nor is it controlled by it. In the course of impeachment, legislators may be guided by a sense of constitutional responsibility, but they also keep their eye on public opinion polls. They are sensitive to the constitutional history they are writing. Lawmakers also prefer reelection to defeat. Nothing they say in one moment about process or substance may hold under the pressure of events or swings in public sentiment.

This does not mean that the politics of impeachment take no account of the merits of a charge against the president. Every major development in a presidency under siege reverberates through the political system and causes constitutional actors to adjust their positions. As we have seen with the pace of developments since the revelation of President Trump’s call with the president of Ukraine and subsequent disclosures, it is all in flux.

These cross-cutting and complex pressures are worth keeping in mind in understanding the positions the two political parties and their leaderships have taken in the early round of the Trump impeachment process. They are especially evident in the Republican embrace, for the moment, of a “due process” defense of the president in response to the now-central allegations in the impeachment process: President Trump pressured foreign governments to intervene in the 2020 presidential election.

Opening statements for two State Department foreign service officers, Catherine M. Croft and Christopher J. Anderson

An Oct. 30, 2019 Lawfare article, featuring two additional opening statements, is entitled: “Opening Statements from State Dept. Ukraine Experts.”

Previous posts

Three previous posts are entitled:

Opening statement of Ambassador William B. Taylor to three House committees conducting impeachment inquiry, Oct. 22, 2019

Opening statement of Marie L. Yovanovitch to House of Representatives permanent select committee on intelligence, committee on foreign affairs, and committee on oversight and reform, Oct. 11, 2019

Fiona Hill, former top adviser on Russia who resigned shortly before Ukraine call, has written first-rate book about Putin’s formative experiences, worldview, and rise to power

Ukraine

Click here for previous posts about Ukraine >

Commentary

I am highly impressed with the sense of dedication and command of language evident in recent statements by officials testifying at the impeachment inquiry.

American dedication by itself does not guarantee that things will work out well, as the American experience in Vietnam as underlined at a previous post attests. Nor does command of language by itself guarantee that things will work out well, as sometimes such a command is dedicated most of all toward public relations strategies where language serves hierarchical configurations of forces that bode well for some but not for others.

These qualifications aside, the sense of dedication and facility with language, evident in statements by the above-noted diplomats, is highly impressive and inspiring.

With regard to storytelling associated with the ongoing impeachment inquiry, I am reminded of observations by James C. Scott regarding corruption as a regular part of political life in specified circumstances.

We can add that storytelling, which entails a process of social construction, and is frequently concerned with a divergence in responses to ambiguous communications and situations, is at times based upon evidence, and at other times proceeds (highly effectively, depending on the audience) in the absence of it.

I am reminded, as well, of the relevance, when we seek to gain understanding of military history and contemporary news events, of the metaphors, and conceptual frameworks, around which gangster and espionage literature is constructed.

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