Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert at the National Security Council, and Jennifer Williams, a senior aide to Vice President Mike Pence, are scheduled to testify Tuesday morning. Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy to Ukraine, and Timothy Morrison, a senior national security aide, will appear in the afternoon.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times
Here’s what you need to know:
Two White House officials will challenge Trump’s claim that his call with Ukraine’s president was “perfect.”
Two senior national security officials at the White House will challenge President Trump’s description of his call with the Ukraine president as “perfect,” during Tuesday’s impeachment hearing by recalling their growing sense of alarm as they listened in real time to Mr. Trump appeal for investigations into a political rival.
Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a decorated Iraq war veteran and the top Ukraine official at the National Security Council, is expected to testify that he was so disturbed by the call that he reported it to the council’s top lawyer. Jennifer Williams, a top aide to Vice President Mike Pence, will also testify that she found the president’s call “unusual and inappropriate.”
Jennifer Williams arriving Tuesday on Capitol Hill.Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times
The pair will kick off three days of testimony from nine diplomats and national security officials as Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee continue to build their case that Mr. Trump tried to extort Ukraine by withholding security aid until the government agreed to announce investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden.
A decorated Iraq war veteran expresses outrage about a pressure campaign.
Colonel Vindman arrived at the hearing room in his dark blue Army dress uniform with military ribbons on his chest. Democrats are betting that Mr. Trump’s defenders will have a difficult time dismissing the testimony of a Ukrainian-American immigrant who received a Purple Heart after being wounded in Iraq by a roadside bomb.
Colonel Vindman’s previous testimony was filled with declarations of duty and patriotism as he described his concern at learning that Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, was leading a pressure campaign on Ukraine to announce the investigations that Mr. Trump wanted. Colonel Vindman is expected to say that at the direction of John R. Bolton, the president’s national security adviser at the time, he wrote a memorandum urging that security aid for Ukraine be restarted, but Mr. Trump refused to sign it.
Republicans are hoping to portray Colonel Vindman’s strong opinions about the president’s call with Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, as just that — his own opinions about a telephone call for which a reconstructed transcript has already been released. They intend to point out that the president makes no mention of security aid during the call.
Colonel Vindman has been the subject of character attacks by Mr. Trump’s allies since he testified privately in the impeachment inquiry. The campaign against him has become so intense that the Army has been assessing potential security threats to Colonel Vindman and his brother Yevgeny, who also works at the National Security Council. There have also been discussions about moving the Vindmans and their families on to a military base for their protection, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions.
Trump’s Ukraine envoy will say he was out of the loop, while a national security aide says he heard nothing illegal on President Trump’s call.
Kurt D. Volker, President Trump’s special envoy for Ukraine, will testify Tuesday afternoon that he was out of the loop as Mr. Giuliani effectively sought to pressure Ukraine for investigations of the Bidens. Other witnesses, however, have challenged Mr. Volker’s testimony, describing him as a member of a trio known inside the Trump administration as the “three amigos,” who were running a shadow foreign policy on Ukraine with Rick Perry, the energy secretary, and Gordon D. Sondland, a Trump megadonor and the United States ambassador to the European Union.
Mr. Volker will be joined on the afternoon panel by Timothy Morrison, a longtime Republican congressional aide who has previously testified about a conversation between the president and Mr. Sondland in which Mr. Trump insisted that Ukraine must publicly announce investigations.
But Republicans plan to focus on Mr. Morrison’s assessment of the president’s July 25 call with Mr. Zelensky. Mr. Morrison told lawmakers that he heard nothing illegal as he listened to the call, though he was concerned that it could leak and cause political problems.
Catch up on some important background on the impeachment inquiry.
Mr. Trump repeatedly pressured Mr. Zelensky to investigate people and issues of political concern to Mr. Trump, including the former vice president. Here’s a timeline of events since January.
A C.I.A. officer who was once detailed to the White House filed a whistle-blower complaint on Mr. Trump’s interactions with Mr. Zelensky. Read the complaint.
Who Are the Main Characters in the Whistle-Blower’s Complaint?
President Trump’s personal lawyer. The prosecutor general of Ukraine. Joe Biden’s son. These are just some of the names mentioned in the whistle-blower’s complaint. What were their roles? We break it down.
Congressman: “Sir, let me repeat my question: Did you ever speak to the president about this complaint?” Congress is investigating allegations that President Trump pushed a foreign government to dig up dirt on his Democratic rivals. “It’s just a Democrat witch hunt. Here we go again.” At the heart of an impeachment inquiry is a nine-page whistle-blower complaint that names over two dozen people. Not counting the president himself, these are the people that appear the most: First, Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani. According to documents and interviews, Giuliani has been involved in shadowy diplomacy on behalf of the president’s interests. He encouraged Ukrainian officials to investigate the Biden family’s activities in the country, plus other avenues that could benefit Trump like whether the Ukrainians intentionally helped the Democrats during the 2016 election. It was an agenda he also pushed on TV. “So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden.” “Of course I did!” A person Giuliani worked with, Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine’s former prosecutor general. He pushed for investigations that would also benefit Giuliani and Trump. Lutsenko also discussed conspiracy theories about the Bidens in the U.S. media. But he later walked back his allegations, saying there was no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens. This is where Hunter Biden comes in, the former vice president’s son. He served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company run by this guy, who’s had some issues with the law. While Biden was in office, he along with others, called for the dismissal of Lutsenko’s predecessor, a prosecutor named Viktor Shokin, whose office was overseeing investigations into the company that Hunter Biden was involved with. Shokin was later voted out by the Ukrainian government. Lutsenko replaced him, but was widely criticized for corruption himself. When a new president took office in May, Volodymyr Zelensky, Zelensky said that he’d replace Lutsenko. Giuliani and Trump? Not happy. They viewed Lutsenko as their ally. During a July 25 call between Trump and the new Ukrainian president, Trump defended him, saying, “I heard you had a prosecutor who is very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair.” In that phone call, Trump also allegedly asked his counterpart to continue the investigation into Joe Biden, who is his main rival in the 2020 election. Zelensky has publicly denied feeling pressured by Trump. “In other words, no pressure.” And then finally, Attorney General William Barr, who also came up in the July 25 call. In the reconstructed transcript, Trump repeatedly suggested that Zelensky’s administration could work with Barr and Giuliani to investigate the Bidens and other matters of political interest to Trump. Since the whistle-blower complaint was made public, Democrats have criticized Barr for dismissing allegations that Trump had violated campaign finance laws during his call with Zelensky and not passing along the complaint to Congress. House Democrats have now subpoenaed several people mentioned in the complaint, as an impeachment inquiry into the president’s conduct continues.
President Trump’s personal lawyer. The prosecutor general of Ukraine. Joe Biden’s son. These are just some of the names mentioned in the whistle-blower’s complaint. What were their roles? We break it down.CreditCredit…Illustration by The New York Times
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