Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Russiagate: Vindman Special

The story du jour is the  of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who according to WaPoo and the rest of the liberal media  whose "secret" testimony Firsthand account of Trump’s Ukraine call puts GOP in bind, emboldens Democrats. How would we know if we haven't seen the full testimony? We don't we only know what Adam Schiff chooses to release. Apparently Vindman, on the NSC, was listening in on the call with President ZZ Top, and took issue with some aspects of the call:
“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine,” Vindman told lawmakers. “I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained. This would all undermine U.S. national security.”

Vindman also testified that the rough transcript of the July 25 call released by the White House is slightly different than what he remembers transpiring. For example, Vindman recalled Zelensky specifically referencing the Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma when Trump pushed him to investigate a company related to Biden’s son Hunter, who had served on its board. Vindman also remembers Trump going on about how Joe Biden was on tape boasting about Ukraine funds — most likely referring to comments Biden made in January 2018 that the United States held up $1 billion in loan guarantees until the nation fired a corrupt former prosecutor, Victor Shokin.
So his recollection is better than the team of people taking notes that assembled the transcript?  Some Republicans apparently took issue with Vindman, noting his Ukrainian birth might make him a not quite so objective source of testimony, which prompted Democrats and anti-Trumpers like Patterico to swaddle Vindman in the flag, and accuse Republicans of attacking his patriotism. Also,  Lt. Col. Vindman: The Ukraine Transcript Is Missing Some Important Lines. Althouse, "The idea that Vindman would have grown up with any sense of fealty to the Ukrainian volk is patently absurd, not only because he and his twin brother are clearly ardent American patriots..."
"... who have committed their lives to this country’s service but because I have yet to meet a single Jew who came to America from the Soviet Union who feels any kind of personal or historical tie beyond any relatives who might have been left behind."
From "Vindman is a Jew, Not a Ukrainian, Mr. Duffy/A loaded charge" by John Podhoretz (at Commentary).

Okay, then it's only about how complete and reliable the transcript is. It's reconstructed and not verbatim. But there's no new material from Vindman that matters. Vindman is only useful for the proposition that not everything is in the transcript, and then, I presume, the idea is to add in things that do matter from others who unlike Vindman, did not listen into the conversation but only heard about it second hand (or third or fourth hand). That feels quite tenuous.

If there was something important that was left out, why isn't Vindman the one to tell us about it? You have to say that he was troubled by what happened to trouble him and though that turns out not to be important, there were other things that were important but that just didn't happen to trouble Vindman, and here's a second/third/fourth-hand witnesses who can tell us about that.

I'm skeptical because I assume that things would tend to become more troubling as they are retold, remembered, and retold again.
Mickey Kaus, a liberal never-never-Trumper has some interesting tweets on Vindman
New Impeach Hero Vindman: “‘I realized [Burisma probe] would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained.'" So he was motivated by desire to aid Ukraine?
Note that VIndman's objection was that Dems would PERCEIVE a Burisma investigtion as "partisan" and desert Ukraine. That's slightly different than saying he was outraged that Trump's push WAS outrageously partisan. Pols perceive a lot of things as partisan.
The argument isn't that he's unpatriotic. The argument is that in his mind US national interests became fused with maintaining support for Ukraine, so anyone with a different policy--ie a President elected by voters who knew his views--was committing a high crime.
In other words, Dems could see a Biden investigation as partisan even if there were ample grounds for it and Trump's 'request' was totally legitimate. Vindman's objection would still apply--Ukraine might lose support! …
I'm going off what was in his own testimony. He didn't want Ukraine to be "losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained." Not right party or 'wrong party'-he wants both parties to support Ukraine. If that's trivialization he trivialized himself …
"The number that believes the [Zelensky] call is an impeachable offense, 38%, is well below what could be called a groundswell." …
Not shockingly, sundance at CTH takes a pretty dim view of Vanadman: Seditious Conspiracy / Sketchy Witness – Schiff Blocks Questioning of NSC Staffer Alexander Vindman to Protect Him from Legal Exposure…
Holy smokes, this Alexander Vindman witness is very sketchy. Generally suspected of being “whistle-blower #2”, records show Vindman had numerous contacts with registered foreign agents, while a member of the National Security Council. [FARA link – pg 4]

Additionally, it is highly likely Vindman leaked the content of presidential phone calls illegally while he was a member of the National Security Council; which explains why Adam Schiff would not permit Vindman to answer questions about who he talked to.

The New York Times is reporting that sketchy Vindman attempted to manipulate the CIA transcripts of President Trump’s call with Ukraine President Zelenskyy to meet Vindman’s ideological interpretations. [Vindman had a hidden agenda “spying” while inside the NSC]

In an effort to bolster his very sketchy credibility; and likely in an effort to avoid the appearance of sedition; Schiff’s Lawfare staff recommended Vindman wear his military uniform to the hearing today, though Vindman never wore the uniform for his NSC job.

As noted above Rep. Jordan: Schiff Directed Vindman Not to Answer Certain Questions from Republicans  (Breitbart).
[House Intelligence Committee] Chairman Schiff has prevented the witness from answering certain questions we had during the deposition. … When we asked [Vindman] who he spoke to after important events in July. Adam Schiff said, “No, no, no” we’re not going to let him answer that question. Even though at the start of every one of these depositions … he says, “This is not classified.”
Nice Deb at AmGreat, Dems’ ‘Star Witness’ Never Had Direct Contact with Trump, Had ‘Concerns’ About Ukraine Phone Call
Vindman made a point of saying that the American people already have the most important piece of evidence, the transcript of the phone call. “As the transcript is in the public record, we are all aware of what was said,” he noted.

Vindman also admitted that he’d never had any contact or communication with President Trump, about Ukraine or anything else. “I have never had direct contact or communications with the President,” he said.

In his testimony, Vindman noted that the president made the call at the behest of the NSC after Zelenskyy’s party won the Parliamentary elections in a landslide victory, undermining allegations that the call was part of a “quid pro quo” conspiracy.
My hunch is that Vindman was one of those assigned to help summarize the call, and he was less than satisfied that his perceptions were being represented adequately in the document.

Mediaite: Joe Scarborough Ridicules Laura Ingraham and John Yoo’s ‘Breathtaking’ Espionage Claim: ‘Oh My God, the Idiocy’
Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough ridiculed Fox News primetime host Laura Ingraham and her guest John Yoo for pointed commentary made on Monday night’s show that suggested treason on behalf of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Trump official set to appear before impeachment inquiry hearings Tuesday morning.

Amid a conversation with Atlantic contributor James Fallows, Morning Joe producers aired a stunning clip of Fox News host Ingraham referencing a paragraph in a New York Times report about the opening statement of Lt. Col. Vindman, a Ukraine expert on the National Security Council ( and Ukrainian immigrant), which Yoo reacted by saying “I find that astounding, and some people might call that espionage.”
Capt. Ed at Hot Air,  WaPoo: Ukraine Expert Statement To Schiff Committee Accuses Sondland Of Pushing A Quid Pro Quo
Of course, the problem here for Schiff et al is that Vindman never worked directly with Trump. He prepared a couple of memoranda for Trump’s signature on Ukraine and aid, which Trump never signed, but Vindman has no direct testimony on anything Trump did except the Zelensky call. We already have the transcript of that conversation, so unless Vindman can contradict the transcript or discuss excluded comments, this won’t directly get Schiff closer to impeachment. It might, however, impeach Sondland as a witness — and might be another reason why Sondland went back to review his testimony.
That looks like enough Vindman to fill a post; maybe I'll get around to the rest of Russiagate (and I have a bunch) later.

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