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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 132)

Trump Takes Aim at His Own White House Aides

WASHINGTON — As Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman sat in a stately chamber testifying on Tuesday, the White House posted on its official Twitter account a message denouncing his judgment. His fellow witness, Jennifer Williams, had barely left the room when the White House issued a statement challenging her credibility.

In President Trump’s Washington, where attacks on his enemies real or perceived have become so routine that they now often pass unnoticed, that might not seem all that remarkable — but for the fact that Colonel Vindman and Ms. Williams both still work for the very same White House that was publicly assailing them.

With the president’s allies joining in, the two aides found themselves condemned as nobodies, as plotting bureaucrats, as traitors within and, in Colonel Vindman’s case, as an immigrant with dual loyalties. Even for a president who rarely spares the rhetorical howitzer, that represents a new level of bombardment.

Mr. Trump has publicly disparaged cabinet secretaries, former aides and career officials working elsewhere in the government, but now he is taking aim at people still working for him inside the White House complex by name.

“This White House appears to be cannibalizing itself,” said William C. Inboden, a former national security aide to President George W. Bush. “While many previous White House staffs have feuded with each other and leaked against each other, this is the first time in history I am aware of a White House openly attacking its own staff — especially for merely upholding their constitutional duties.”

Video

transcript

Day 3: Trump Impeachment Hearings Highlights

Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee today were: Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert for the National Security Council; Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Mike Pence; Tim Morrison, a senior national security aide and Trump loyalist; and Kurt D. Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine.

“On July 25th, along with several of my colleagues, I listened to a call between President Trump and President Zelensky, the content of which has since been publicly reported. 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.” “Dad, I’m sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected professionals — talking to our elected professionals, is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth. It was improper for the president to request an — to demand an investigation into a political opponent, especially a foreign power where there is at best dubious belief that this would be a completely impartial investigation.” “What is it about the relationship between the president of the United States and the president of Ukraine that leads you to conclude that when the president of the United States asks a favor like this, it’s really a demand?” “Chairman, the culture I come from, the military culture, when a senior asks you to do something, even if it’s polite and pleasant, it’s not — it’s not to be taken as a request. It’s to be taken as an order. In this case, the power disparity between the two leaders — my impression is that in order to get the White House meeting, President Zelensky would have to deliver these investigations.” “In no way shape, or form in either readouts from the United States or Ukraine did you receive any indication whatsoever or anything that resembled a quid pro quo — is that correct?” “That’s correct.” “And the same would go for this new allegation of bribery?” “I’ve only seen an allegation of bribery in the last week.” “It’s the same common set of facts — it’s just instead of quid pro quo, now it’s bribery.” “I was never involved in anything that I considered to be bribery at all.” “O.K. Or extortion?” “Or extortion.” “O.K.” “Ambassador Volker thinks it’s inappropriate to ask a foreign head of state to investigate a U.S. person, let alone a political rival. But you’ve said you had no concern with that. Do you think that’s appropriate?” “As a hypothetical matter, I do not.” “Well I’m not talking about a hypothetical matter. Read the transcript — in that transcript, does the president not ask Zelensky to look into the Bidens?” “Mr. Chairman, I can only tell you what I was thinking at the time. That is not what I understood the president to be doing.” “But nonetheless, this was the first and only time where you went from listening to a presidential call directly to the national security lawyer, is it not?” “Yes, that’s correct.” “Ms. Williams, on Sunday the president personally targeted you in a tweet. This is after he targeted Ambassador Yovanovitch during her hearing testimony. I’d like to show and read you the tweet. It reads: ‘Tell Jennifer Williams, whoever that is, to read both transcripts of the presidential calls and see the just-released statement from Ukraine. Then she should meet with the other Never Trumpers, who I don’t know and mostly never even heard of, and work out a better presidential attack.’ Did that tweet make an impression on you when you read it?” “It certainly surprised me. I was not expecting to be called out by name.” “Lt. Col. Vindman, did you discuss the July 25th phone call with anyone outside the White House on July 25th or the 26th? And if so, with whom?” “Yes, I did. I spoke to two individuals.” “And what agencies were these officials with?” “Department of State, and an individual in the intelligence community.” “What agency was this individual from?” “If I could interject here. We don’t want to use these proceedings —” “It’s our time, Mr. Chairman —” “I know, but we need to protect the whistle-blower.” “Lt. Col. Vindman, you testified in the deposition that you did not know who the whistle-blower was or is.” “I do not know who the whistle-blower is. That is correct.” “So how is it possible for you to name these people and then out the whistle-blower?” “Per the advice of my counsel, I’ve been advised not to answer specific questions about members of the intelligence community.” “You’re here to answer questions and you’re here under subpoena. So you can either answer the question or you can plead the Fifth.” “Excuse me. On behalf of my client, we are following the rule of the committee, the rule of the chair with regard to this issue. And this does not call for an answer that is invoking the Fifth or any theoretical issue like that. We’re following the ruling of the chair.” “What — counselor, what ruling is that?” “If I could interject: Counsel is correct. The whistle-blower has the right, statutory right to anonymity. These proceedings will not be used to out the whistle-blower.”

Westlake Legal Group 19dc-impeach-hilights-sub-videoSixteenByNine3000-v4 Trump Takes Aim at His Own White House Aides Williams, Jennifer (Foreign Service Officer) Vindman, Alexander S United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Pence, Mike impeachment Government Employees

Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee today were: Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert for the National Security Council; Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Mike Pence; Tim Morrison, a senior national security aide and Trump loyalist; and Kurt D. Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

In part, that reflects the challenge for a president facing an impeachment inquiry where every witness called so far either currently or previously worked in the government over which he presides. To defend against potential charges of high crimes and misdemeanors, Mr. Trump evidently feels he must undercut the believability of the witnesses testifying about his pressure campaign on Ukraine for help against his domestic rivals.

It also reflects the president’s longstanding distrust of the career professionals who populate his White House, just as they have every other. While such officials characterize their work as nonpartisan in service of presidents of either party, Mr. Trump has felt burned since the early days of his administration when internal documents were leaked, including transcripts of two of his phone calls with foreign leaders.

“Nothing is the same anymore,” said Ari Fleischer, a White House press secretary for Mr. Bush. “Clearly, when the staff leaks presidential phone calls with foreign leaders the first week of the president’s job, the staff is not what the staff used to be. It taints everyone, even good and loyal staffers.”

All three witnesses who testified publicly last week still work for the State Department, and Mr. Trump directly denigrated one of them, Marie L. Yovanovitch, who was recalled as ambassador to Ukraine. But Colonel Vindman, the top Ukraine policy official on the National Security Council staff, and Ms. Williams, a national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence, were the first to appear before the House Intelligence Committee while still working in the White House.

Even before raising his hand to take the oath on Tuesday, Colonel Vindman had come under particularly sharp fire. Mr. Trump’s allies on Fox News and elsewhere have questioned his patriotism by noting that he was born in Ukraine, a critique the naturalized citizen rebutted by showing up Tuesday in his Army dress uniform with Combat Infantry Badge and a Purple Heart from his service in Iraq.

Colonel Vindman opened his testimony by deploring smears on government officials who have been subpoenaed to testify in the inquiry. “The vile character attacks on these distinguished and honorable public servants is reprehensible,” he said.

Amid the threats, 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 onto a military base for their protection, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions.

The committee’s Republican counsel questioned Colonel Vindman on Tuesday about an offer from Ukraine’s new government to become defense minister, a proposal he said he dismissed out of hand and reported to his superiors and counterintelligence officials. Fox News quickly picked up on the issue, sending out a news alert moments later: “Vindman says Ukrainian official offered him the job of Ukrainian defense minister.”

Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, grilled Colonel Vindman about comments by two former bosses at the National Security Council, Tim Morrison and Fiona Hill, raising questions about his judgment.

Colonel Vindman replied by pulling out a copy of a performance evaluation that Ms. Hill wrote in July and read it aloud. “Alex is a top 1 percent military officer and the best Army officer I have worked with in my 15 years of government service,” Colonel Vindman read.

The White House nonetheless posted a Twitter message: “Tim Morrison, Alexander Vindman’s former boss, testified in his deposition that he had concerns about Vindman’s judgment.”

Speaking with reporters, Mr. Trump seemed to scorn Colonel Vindman for appearing in uniform. “I never saw the man,” the president said. “I understand now he wears his uniform when goes in. No, I don’t know Vindman at all.”

Democratic lawmakers responded angrily to attacks on Colonel Vindman. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, Democrat of New York, accused Republicans of trying to “air out some allegations with no basis and proof, but they just want to get them out there and hope maybe some of those strands of spaghetti I guess will stick on the wall if they keep throwing them.”

As for Ms. Williams, the president tweeted about her over the weekend. “Tell Jennifer Williams, whoever that is, to read BOTH transcripts of the presidential calls, & see the just released ststement from Ukraine,” he wrote, misspelling “statement.” “Then she should meet with the other Never Trumpers, who I don’t know & mostly never even heard of, & work out a better presidential attack!”

Ms. Williams, a career official who got her start under Mr. Bush and called former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice “a personal hero of mine,” denied that she was a “Never Trumper.” So did Colonel Vindman. “I’d call myself Never Partisan,” he said.

Asked her reaction to the president’s tweet, Ms. Williams said: “It certainly surprised me. I was not expecting to be called out by name.”

But she would be again before the day was out. Mr. Pence’s two most senior aides pushed back against her after she testified that she considered Mr. Trump’s July 25 telephone call with Ukraine’s president “unusual” because of the president’s request that the Kyiv government investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

“I heard nothing wrong or improper on the call,” retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, the vice president’s national security adviser, said in a written statement released after her testimony. “I had and have no concerns. Ms. Williams was also on the call, and as she testified, she never reported any personal or professional concerns to me, her direct supervisor, regarding the call.

“In fact,” he added, “she never reported any personal or professional concerns to any other member of the vice president’s staff, including our chief of staff and the vice president.”

Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff, went on Fox News to make the same point. “She said she found the call unusual, yet she never raised any concerns with her supervisor, General Kellogg, she never raised any concerns with the chief of staff, she never raised any concerns with the vice president,” he said.

He added, “We have impeachment in pursuit of a crime.”

Neither Ms. Williams nor Colonel Vindman weighed in on whether Mr. Trump should be impeached. As career officials, they generally stuck to factual accounts of their experiences and gave dispassionate though at times pointed assessments of what they saw while clearly trying to avoid being drawn into the larger political debate about what Congress should do about the situation.

But they presumably will have to return to work at some point, back to the same White House complex where they have served knowing that the president they serve blames them for his political troubles.

Charles A. Kupchan, who was President Barack Obama’s Europe adviser, said it should come as no surprise that Colonel Vindman and Ms. Williams would be targeted from within. “It is quite unusual for a White House to eat its young,” he said. “But Trump is a president who seems unable to tolerate dissent.”

Andrew Weiss, who was President Bill Clinton’s Russia adviser, said the attacks on Colonel Vindman “must be incredibly demoralizing for career people” still at the National Security Council. “During my time at the N.S.C., there was a bright red line between national security and domestic politics,” he said. “Under Trump, that line has completely disappeared.”

Even some more supportive of Mr. Trump suggested on Tuesday that he stop going after witnesses. “The president should just ignore this whole thing,” Brian Kilmeade, a host on “Fox and Friends,” one of Mr. Trump’s favorite shows, said before the day’s hearings got underway. “Don’t tweet during it. Don’t get outraged over it. It ticks you off.”

That was advice the president did not take.

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Officials Testify That Trump Requests on Ukraine Call Were Inappropriate

WASHINGTON — Two White House national security officials testified before the House’s impeachment inquiry on Tuesday that President Trump’s request to Ukraine’s president to investigate Democratic rivals was inappropriate, and one of them said it validated his “worst fear” that American policy toward that country would veer off course.

Hours later, two more witnesses — another former White House national security official and a former top American diplomat — charted a more careful course but said under oath that the president’s requests on a July 25 phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine were not in line with American national security goals.

The new accounts came as the House Intelligence Committee opened a packed week of testimony, with nine witnesses scheduled to answer questions before the public before the House decamps for Thanksgiving.

Democrats used Tuesday’s back-to-back hearings to move the focus of their growing case into the White House and back to the July phone call they see as the centerpiece of an abuse of power by Mr. Trump.

Taking their cues from the White House, Republicans moved aggressively to try to undercut the day’s lead witness, Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the National Security Council’s Ukraine expert. They tried to raise questions about Colonel Vindman’s loyalty to the United States, and sought to portray the concerns expressed by Colonel Vindman and an aide to Vice President Mike Pence as merely the opinions of unelected, and even unreliable, bureaucrats second-guessing the president of the United States.

Colonel Vindman responded by invoking his sense of duty as an American and an officer to explain why he was so alarmed by Mr. Trump’s request that he reported his concerns to White House lawyers.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” Colonel Vindman, an Iraq war combat veteran who appeared before the House Intelligence Committee dressed in his deep-blue Army dress uniform covered with military ribbons. “It was probably an element of shock — that maybe, in certain regards, my worst fear of how our Ukraine policy could play out was playing out, and how this was likely to have significant implications for U.S. national security.”

Sitting beside him during the morning’s hearing, Jennifer Williams, a diplomat serving on Mr. Pence’s national security staff, reiterated that she found Mr. Trump’s phone call with Mr. Zelensky “unusual and inappropriate.” She said she was struck that Mr. Trump was pressing a foreign leader about a personal domestic political issue, though she did not report any concerns at the time.

On the call, Mr. Trump veered off talking points prepared by Colonel Vindman and pressed Mr. Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, and a debunked theory that Democrats conspired with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.

Both witnesses testified that it was clear to the Ukrainians by summer’s end that the United States was withholding vital military assistance, adding that Trump administration officials had questioned the legality of doing so. And both said that no national security official in the administration supported the freeze in aid.

Ms. Williams recounted a September meeting between Mr. Pence and Mr. Zelensky in which the Ukrainian president explained in dramatic terms how failing to provide the money would only help Russia.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_164685900_5d90c64e-80b3-4f66-b4db-6c4d4f74a531-articleLarge Officials Testify That Trump Requests on Ukraine Call Were Inappropriate Zelensky, Volodymyr Whistle-Blowers Vindman, Alexander S United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Republican Party impeachment House of Representatives House Committee on Intelligence Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr

Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman testifying Tuesday before Congress.Credit…Jason Andrew for The New York Times

“Any signal or sign that U.S. support was wavering would be construed by Russia as potentially an opportunity for them to strengthen their own hand in Ukraine,” Ms. Williams said, relaying what Mr. Zelensky told Mr. Pence.

For Colonel Vindman in particular, the testimony amounted to an unusual act of public criticism of the president by a White House employee — and it came at an immediate cost.

The colonel, who came to the United States as a refugee at 3, referred to his family’s history in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, noting that in Russia, “offering public testimony involving the president would surely cost me my life.”

Addressing his father, who he credited with “the right decision” in leaving the Soviet Union to seek refuge in the United States 40 years ago, Colonel Vindman said, “Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.”

But as Colonel Vindman sat in the stately House Ways and Means Committee Room, the official, taxpayer-funded Twitter account of the White House posted a critical quote in which Tim Morrison, his former boss at the National Security Council, questioned Colonel Vindman’s “judgment.”

Mr. Morrison, the council’s former senior director for Russia and Europe, testified in a second session that went well into Tuesday evening alongside Kurt D. Volker, the former United States special envoy to Ukraine. Public testimony from both men had been requested by Republicans, but they also confirmed key details of the case Democrats are building against Mr. Trump.

In carefully calibrated testimony, Mr. Morrison confirmed that he and other White House officials had ongoing concerns about Colonel Vindman, though he declined to discuss them at length. Mr. Morrison, who listened in on the July 25 call himself from the White House situation room, said he wished Colonel Vindman had come to him directly with his concerns.

“I think we both agreed we wanted that more full-throated support of President Zelensky and his reform agenda, and we didn’t get it,” Mr. Morrison said of the call. He reported it to White House lawyers himself, but only out of concerns it would be politically damaging if leaked.

He said in questioning that he did not view the call as illegal or improper, but added of the requests for investigations, “It’s not what we recommend that the president discuss.”

Mr. Volker was more withering.

“I don’t think that raising 2016 elections or Vice President Biden or these things I consider to be conspiracy theories that have been circulated by the Ukrainians” were “things that we should be pursuing as part of our national security strategy with Ukraine,” he testified. “We should be supporting Ukraine’s democracy, reforms, its own fight against corruption domestically and the struggle against Russia and defense capabilities.”

Mr. Volker called Mr. Biden “an honorable man.”

Mr. Volker was a key player in negotiations during the summer between the Ukrainian government and the Trump administration over whether Mr. Zelensky would be granted an Oval Office meeting with the president. Among the conditions put on Mr. Zelensky was that he make a public commitment to investigating the debunked theory that someone in Ukraine rather than Russia was responsible for a hack of the Democratic National Committee in 2016 and Hunter Biden’s role as a board member of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma.

Mr. Volker testified that while he was aware Mr. Trump wanted an investigation of Burisma, he did not make the connection at the time between Burisma and the Bidens.

Mr. Volker said that looking back, he misunderstood what other officials meant the Bidens when they mentioned investigations of Burisma.

“In retrospect, I should have seen that connection differently, and had I done so, I would have raised my own objection,” he said.

Mr. Volker said he was also unaware that other officials saw a connection between the withholding of nearly $400 million in United States military aid to Ukraine and Mr. Zelensky’s willingness to commit to the investigations sought by Mr. Trump.

“I did not know of any linkage between the hold on security assistance and Ukraine pursuing investigations,” he testified. “No one had ever said that to me — and I never conveyed such a linkage to the Ukrainians.”

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, a top Republican ally of the president’s, cited Mr. Morrison’s comment about Colonel Vindman and criticism from Fiona Hill, his former boss at the National Security Council to ask why the witness’s concerns out to be considered relevant.

“Any idea why they have those impressions?” Mr. Jordan inquired. Colonel Vindman, who apparently came prepared for the criticism, pulled out a copy the performance evaluation Ms. Hill wrote about him in July, read aloud from it and pressed ahead with his account of what transpired.

Soft-spoken at first, Colonel Vindman grew more confident in addressing lawmakers who criticized him as the hearing went on.

“Ranking member, it’s Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, please,” he instructed the committee’s top Republican, Representative Devin Nunes of California, at one point after Mr. Nunes addressed him as “Mr. Vindman.”

In another exchange that touched on Colonel Vindman’s loyalty to the United States, Steve Castor, the top Republican staff lawyer, asked him about three instances when Oleksandr Danylyuk, the director of Ukraine’s national security council, had approached him with offers to become the country’s defense minister.

Colonel Vindman confirmed the offers and testified that he repeatedly declined, dismissing the idea out of hand and reporting the approaches to his superiors and to counterintelligence officials.

“Every single time, I dismissed it,” he said, adding: “I’m an American. I came here when I was a toddler.”

Mr. Danylyuk himself said Tuesday that the offer was not a serious one.

Democrats fumed, accusing Republicans of sliming a patriot because he had a politically inconvenient story to tell.

”They’ve accused you of espionage and dual loyalties,” said Representative Jim Himes, Democrat of Connecticut. “The three minutes we asked about the offer making you minister of defense — that may have been cloaked in a Brooks Brothers suit, but that was designed exclusively to give the right-wing media an opening to questioning your loyalties.”

Democrats also continued to push back against what they saw as efforts by Republicans to tease out the name of or information about the whistle-blower whose account of the July 25 call helped lead to the impeachment inquiry.

Democrats sought throughout both hearings to redirect attention back to actions by Mr. Trump, who they believe withheld the $391 million in assistance earmarked for Ukraine and a coveted White House meeting to get the political advantaged he thought Ukraine could deliver him.

It may be too early to fully know the effect the hearings are having on public opinion. Television ratings and opinion polls released in recent days suggest that public engagement has so far fallen short not only of hearings at the height of Watergate and the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, but of earlier blockbuster Trump-era congressional hearings. But it is harder to measure the reach of proceedings online and on social media.

And after three long days of public testimony, House Republicans appear to be holding together in Mr. Trump’s corner, either unconvinced his behavior was as the witnesses described or unconvinced that it warrants a remedy as drastic as impeachment.

“An impeachment inquiry is supposed to be clear,” said Representative John Ratcliffe, Republican of Texas. “It’s supposed to be obvious, it’s supposed to be overwhelming and compelling, and if two people on the call disagree honestly about whether or not there was a demand and whether or not anything should be reported on a call, that is not a clear and compelling basis to undo 63 million votes and remove a president from office.”

Mr. Volker, who served until this fall as the United States’ special envoy to Ukraine, testified Tuesday evening that he was left in the dark about key elements of the pressure campaign on Ukraine as described by other witnesses, but he did not contest them. He insisted he had not been part of an irregular foreign policy channel, but rather working in the best interest of the United States and Ukraine.

Much of his testimony revolved around Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, who appears to have instigated a push for investigations, and Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union who put it into action. Mr. Sondland will testify publicly on Wednesday.

Andrew Kramer contributed reporting from Moscow.

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Key Moments from the Impeachment Inquiry Hearing: Vindman, Williams, Morrison and Volker Testify

Video

transcript

Day 3: Trump Impeachment Hearings Highlights

Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee today were: Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert for the National Security Council; Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Mike Pence; Tim Morrison, a senior national security aide and Trump loyalist; and Kurt D. Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine.

“On July 25, along with several of my colleagues, I listened to a call between President Trump and President Zelensky, the content of which has since been publicly reported. I found the July 25 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. “Dad, I’m sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected professionals — talking to our elected professionals, is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth. It was improper for the president to request an — to demand an investigation into a political opponent, especially a foreign power where there is at best dubious belief that this would be a completely impartial investigation. What is it about the relationship between the president of the United States and the president of Ukraine that leads you to conclude that when the president of the United States asks a favor like this, it’s really a demand?” “Chairman, the culture I come from, the military culture, when a senior asks you to do something, even if it’s polite and pleasant, it’s not — it’s not to be taken as a request. It’s to be taken as an order. In this case, the power disparity between the two leaders — my impression is that in order to get the White House meeting, President Zelensky would have to deliver these investigations.” “In no way shape, or form in either readouts from the United States or Ukraine did you receive any indication whatsoever or anything that resembled a quid pro quo — is that correct?” “That’s correct.” “And the same would go for this new allegation of bribery?” “I’ve only seen an allegation of bribery in the last week.” “It’s the same common set of facts — it’s just instead of quid pro quo, now it’s bribery.” “I was never involved in anything that I considered to be bribery at all.” “O.K. Or extortion?” “Or extortion.” “O.K.” “Ambassador Volcker thinks it’s inappropriate to ask a foreign head of state to investigate a U.S. person, let alone a political rival. But you’ve said you had no concern with that. Do you think that’s appropriate?” “As a hypothetical matter, I do not.” “Well I’m not talking about a hypothetical matter. Read the transcript — in that transcript, does the president not ask Zelensky to look into the Bidens?” “Mr. Chairman, I can only tell you what I was thinking at the time. That is not what I understood the president to be doing.” “But nonetheless, this was the first and only time where you went from listening to a presidential call directly to the national security lawyer, is it not?” “Yes, that’s correct.” “Ms. Williams, on Sunday the president personally targeted you in a tweet. This is after he targeted Ambassador Yovanovitch during her hearing testimony. I’d like to show and read you the tweet. It reads: ‘Tell Jennifer Williams, whoever that is, to read both transcripts of the presidential calls and see the just-released statement from Ukraine. Then she should meet with the other Never Trumpers, who I don’t know and mostly never even heard of, and work out a better presidential attack.’ Did that tweet make an impression on you when you read it?” “It certainly surprised me. I was not expecting to be called out by name.” “Lt. Col Vindman, did you discuss the July 25 phone call with anyone outside the White House on July 25 or the 26th? And if so, with whom?” “Yes, I did. I spoke to two individuals.” “And what agencies were these officials with?” “Department of State. And an individual in the intelligence community.” “What agency was this individual from?” “If I could interject here. We don’t want to use these proceedings —” “It’s our time, Mr. Chairman —” “I know, but we need to protect the whistle-blower.” “Lt. Col. Vindman, you testified in the deposition that you did not know who the whistle-blower was or is.” “I do not know who the whistle-blower is. That is correct.” “So how is it possible for you to name these people and then out the whistle-blower?” “Per the advice of my counsel, I’ve been advised not to answer specific questions about members of the intelligence community.” “You’re here to answer questions and you’re here under subpoena. So you can either answer the question or you can plead the Fifth.” “Excuse me. On behalf of my client, we are following the rule of the committee, the rule of the chair with regard to this issue. And this does not call for an answer that is invoking the Fifth or any theoretical issue like that. We’re following the ruling of the chair.” “What — counselor, what ruling is that?” “If I could interject: Counsel is correct. The whistle-blower has the right, statutory right to anonymity. These proceedings will not be used to out the whistle-blower.”

Westlake Legal Group 19dc-impeach-hilights-sub-videoSixteenByNine3000-v4 Key Moments from the Impeachment Inquiry Hearing: Vindman, Williams, Morrison and Volker Testify Zelensky, Volodymyr Williams, Jennifer (Foreign Service Officer) Whistle-Blowers Vindman, Alexander S United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Republican Party National Security Council impeachment House of Representatives House Committee on Intelligence Giuliani, Rudolph W Ethics and Official Misconduct Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee today were: Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert for the National Security Council; Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Mike Pence; Tim Morrison, a senior national security aide and Trump loyalist; and Kurt D. Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_164686602_0783266c-b6f6-4967-9791-356423e9f9d3-articleLarge Key Moments from the Impeachment Inquiry Hearing: Vindman, Williams, Morrison and Volker Testify Zelensky, Volodymyr Williams, Jennifer (Foreign Service Officer) Whistle-Blowers Vindman, Alexander S United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Republican Party National Security Council impeachment House of Representatives House Committee on Intelligence Giuliani, Rudolph W Ethics and Official Misconduct Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

Jennifer Williams, after testifying on Tuesday.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Vice President Mike Pence’s two senior most aides pushed back against their colleague, Jennifer Williams, on Tuesday after she testified that she considered President Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president “unusual” because of its focus on domestic politics.

“I heard nothing wrong or improper on the call,” Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, the vice president’s national security adviser, said in a written statement released after her testimony. “I had and have no concerns. Ms. Williams was also on the call, and as she testified, she never reported any personal or professional concerns to me, her direct supervisor, regarding the call.

“In fact,” he added, “she never reported any personal or professional concerns to any other member of the vice president’s staff, including our chief of staff and the vice president.”

Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff, went on Fox News to make the same point. “She said she found the call unusual yet she never raised any concerns with her supervisor General Kellogg, she never raised any concerns with the chief of staff, she never raised any concerns with the vice president,” he said.

He added: “We have impeachment in pursuit of a crime.”

Mr. Trump attacked Ms. Williams on Twitter on Sunday, writing that she should read the transcript of the call and then “meet with the other Never Trumpers, who I don’t know & mostly never even heard of, & work out a better presidential attack!”

The two former officials testifying on the afternoon panel were both originally on the Republican witness list in hopes that their accounts would provide testimony that would be more useful to President Trump’s defense. But while neither was as damning as the morning witnesses, both highlighted how unusual the president’s actions were.

“I don’t think that raising 2016 elections or Vice President Biden or these things I consider to be conspiracy theories that have been circulated by the Ukrainians” were “things that we should be pursuing as part of our national security strategy with Ukraine,” Kurt D. Volker, the president’s former special envoy for Ukraine, told the House Intelligence Committee.

“We should be supporting Ukraine’s democracy, reforms, its own fight against corruption domestically and the struggle against Russia and defense capabilities and these are at the heart of what we should be doing and I don’t think pursuing these things serves a national interest,” he added.

Timothy Morrison, the former senior director for Europe and Ukraine at the National Security Council, said he did not think the president’s July 25 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine was inherently wrong or illegal, but feared it would ignite a political storm if it became public.

“I feared at the time of the call on July 25 how its disclosure would play in Washington’s climate,” he said. “My fears have been realized. I understand the gravity of these proceedings, but beg you not to lose sighted of the military conflict underway in Ukraine today.”

During later questioning, Daniel S. Goldman, the Democratic counsel, asked: “But you would agree, right, that asking a foreign government to investigate a domestic political rival is inappropriate, would you not?”

“It is not what we recommend the president discuss,” Mr. Morrison replied curtly.

Mr. Volker portrayed himself as left out of key moments and unaware that others working for Mr. Trump were linking the release of American security aid to Ukraine committing to investigations of Democrats.

Opening the second panel of the day, Mr. Volker sought to reconcile his original closed-door testimony with the accounts of other witnesses who came after him. “I have learned many things that I did not know at the time of the events in question,” he said in his opening statement.

Among other things, he said that at the time he worked with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, to seek assurances from Ukraine about investigations he was pushing, he did not understand those investigations to include former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as a target nor did he know that they would be tied to release of the frozen security aid.

“I did not know of any linkage between the hold on security assistance and Ukraine pursuing investigations,” Mr. Volker said. “No one had ever said that to me — and I never conveyed such a linkage to the Ukrainians.” He recalled telling the Ukrainians “the opposite,” that they did not need to do anything to get the hold lifted and that it would be taken care of. “I did not know others were conveying a different message to them around the same time,” he said.

Mr. Volker sought to clarify why his testimony about the now-famous July 10 meeting at the White House differed from those of Fiona Hill, then the senior director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council, and Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, her Ukraine policy deputy.

Ms. Hill and Colonel Vindman testified that John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, ended the meeting abruptly when Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, brought up the investigations and that some in the room took the conversation downstairs where it turned heated. Mr. Volker mentioned none of that in his original testimony.

“As I remember, the meeting was essentially over when Ambassador Sondland made a general comment about investigations,” he said on Tuesday. “I think all of us thought it was inappropriate. The conversation did not continue and the meeting concluded. Later on, in the Ward Room, I may have been engaged in a side conversation or had already left the complex, because I do not recall further discussion regarding investigations or Burisma.”

More generally, he said he did not interpret the word Burisma to be tantamount to Mr. Biden. “In hindsight, I now understand that others saw the idea of investigating possible corruption involving the Ukrainian company Burisma as equivalent to investigating former Vice President Biden. I saw them as very different — the former being appropriate and unremarkable, the latter being unacceptable. In retrospect, I should have seen that connection differently, and had I done so, I would have raised my own objections.”

Mr. Volker expressed annoyance at being lumped together with Mr. Sondland and Energy Secretary Rick Perry as “three amigos,” as if they were somehow indistinguishable, and he rejected the notion that he was part of an irregular foreign policy channel.

The term “three amigos” has come to characterize how the usual foreign policy process was warped by Mr. Trump’s interest in obtaining damaging information about Democrats from Ukraine. It originated from an interview Mr. Sondland gave to Ukrainian television when he said “we have what are called the three amigos,” naming Mr. Volker, Mr. Perry and himself.

Mr. Volker in his testimony objected to the name and the implication. “I’ve never used that term and frankly cringe when I hear it,” he said. In his mind, he said, he associated the phrase with his mentor, Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who died last year, and two allies who supported a troop surge in Iraq in 2006 and 2007, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, who has since left the Senate.

Mr. Volker said he was not part of a shadow foreign policy because he was the officially designated diplomat assigned to help resolve Ukraine’s war with Russia. “My role was not some irregular channel, but the official channel,” he said, noting that he reported to Rex W. Tillerson, the secretary of state who appointed him, and Mike Pompeo, his successor, and coordinated with diplomats and White House officials.

Democratic lawmakers responded angrily to attacks on Colonel Vindman, who testified during the morning session, as the White House and Republicans sought to discredit the colonel in real time during his appearance before the committee.

“There’s been a lot of insinuations and there’s been a lot suggestions, maybe, that your service is somehow not to be trusted,” said Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, Democrat of New York. He accused Republicans of trying to “air out some allegations with no basis and proof, but they just want to get them out there and hope maybe some of those strands of spaghetti I guess will stick on the wall if they keep throwing them.”

His angry remarks came after the official, taxpayer-funded Twitter account of the White House posted a critical quote about Colonel Vindman from Mr. Morrison, his former boss at the National Security Council, who testified later in the day on a separate panel.

Earlier, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio had cited that comment as well as criticism from Ms. Hill, Colonel Vindman’s former boss at the National Security Council.

“Any idea why they have those impressions?” Mr. Jordan inquired. Colonel Vindman, who apparently came prepared for the criticism, pulled out a copy the performance evaluation Ms. Hill wrote about him in July and read aloud from it.

“Alex is a top one percent military officer and the best army officer I have worked with in my 15 years of government service,” Colonel Vindman said, quoting Ms. Hill. “He is brilliant, unflappable, and exercises excellent judgment.”

Republicans also questioned the loyalty of Colonel Vindman, an American citizen and decorated Army combat veteran who was born in Ukraine, by asking him about three instances when Oleksandr Danylyuk, the director of Ukraine’s national security council, had approached to offer him the job of defense minister in Kyiv.

Under questioning by the committee’s Republican counsel, Colonel Vindman confirmed the offers and testified that he repeatedly declined, dismissing the idea out of hand and reporting the approaches to his superiors and to counterintelligence officials.

The line of questioning seemed to be designed, at least in part, to feed doubts about Colonel Vindman’s commitment to the United States, the subject of a wave of character attacks on him by Mr. Trump’s allies. Fox News quickly picked up on the tactic, sending out a news alert moments after Mr. Castor finished: “Vindman says Ukrainian official offered him the job of Ukrainian defense minister.”

Mr. Maloney said he was particularly outraged by questions from a Republican lawmaker questioning why Colonel Vindman wore his Army dress uniform to the hearing.

“That dress uniform includes a breast plate that has a combat infantryman badge on it and a purple ribbon,” Mr. Maloney said. “It seems if there is someone who should wear that uniform, it’s someone who has a breast plate on it.”

Two senior national security officials at the White House challenged Mr. Trump’s description of his call with the Ukraine president as “perfect,” testifying on Tuesday about how concerned they were as they listened in real time to Mr. Trump appealing for an investigation of Mr. Biden.

Colonel Vindman testified that he was so disturbed by the call that he reported it to the council’s top lawyer.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” he said under questioning about his first thoughts when he heard Mr. Trump’s mention of investigations into Mr. Biden and an unproven theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election. “It was probably an element of shock, that maybe in certain regards, my worst fear of how our Ukraine policy could play out was playing out, and how this was likely to have significant implications for U.S. national security.”

Earlier, Colonel Vindman explained why he felt it was his “duty” to report his concerns to John Eisenberg, the top lawyer at the National Security Council. “It is improper for the president of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and political opponent.”

Ms;Williams, a national security aide to Mr. Pence, said she found the president’s call unusual because it included discussion of a “domestic political matter.”

Their testimony kicked off three days of hearings featuring nine diplomats and national security officials as Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee continue to build their case that Mr. Trump abused his power by trying to enlist Ukraine to publicly commit to investigations that would discredit Mr. Biden, a leading political rival, and other Democrats.

In a cabinet meeting as the hearing unfolded, Mr. Trump praised his allies and dismissed the hearings as a “kangaroo court,” saying, “Republicans are absolutely killing it, because it’s a big scam.”

Colonel Vindman and Ms. Williams both testified that they were never aware of any other national security officials in the United States government who supported the decision to withhold nearly $400 million in security aid for Ukraine, which both said was directed by the White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney.

Both witnesses said withholding the military assistance from Ukraine was damaging to relations between the two countries and to Ukraine’s ability to confront Russian aggression. Representative Mike Quigley of Illinois asked Colonel Vindman whether anyone else supported the decision to freeze the aid.

“No one from the national security?” Mr. Quigley asked.

“None,” Colonel Vindman said.

“No one from the State Department?”

“Correct.”

“No one from the Department of Defense?

“Correct.”

Ms. Williams testified that President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine told Vice President Mike Pence during a Sept. 1 meeting that continuing to withhold the aid would indicate that United States support for Ukraine was wavering, giving Russia a boost in the ongoing conflict between the two countries.

“Any signal or sign that U.S. support was wavering would be construed by Russia as potentially an opportunity for them to strengthen their own hand in Ukraine,” Ms. Williams said, relating what Mr. Zelensky told Mr. Pence.

Representative Devin Nunes of California, the top Republican on the committee, sought to turn the focus away from Mr. Trump to Mr. Biden, leading the witnesses through a series of questions intended to suggest that the former vice president had intervened in Ukraine’s domestic affairs to benefit his son, Hunter Biden, despite the lack of evidence.

Mr. Biden, as vice president, pressured Ukrainian officials to fire a prosecutor who was seen as tolerating corruption in keeping with the policy of the United States, European allies and international financial organizations at the time. But Mr. Nunes suggested that Mr. Biden was acting to benefit his son, who was on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company that had been investigated for corruption.

“Did you know that Joe Biden called Ukrainian President Poroshenko at least three times in February 2016 after the president and owner of Burisma’s home was raided on February 2 by the state prosecutor’s office?” Mr. Nunes asked, referring to Petro O. Poroshenko, then the president.

“Not at the time,” Ms. Williams answered. She added: “I’ve become aware of that through this proceeding.”

Mr. Nunes asked a series of similar questions and then repeated them for Colonel Vindman. Neither witness was working on the issue at the time, so neither could offer information to about it. But Mr. Nunes used the opportunity to introduce his allegations, anyway. He also tried repeatedly to extract information from Colonel Vindman about the identity of the whistle-blower who filed a complaint about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, drawing objections from the colonel’s lawyer.

At one point, things turned testy when Mr. Nunes addressed Colonel Vindman as “Mr. Vindman.”

“Ranking member, it’s Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, please,” he shot back.

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Impeachment Hearings Updates: Vindman, Williams, Morrison and Volker Testify

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Westlake Legal Group merlin_164689263_28ffafe0-8471-4a47-ad5a-8b705181a4cc-superJumbo Impeachment Hearings Updates: Vindman, Williams, Morrison and Volker Testify Zelensky, Volodymyr Williams, Jennifer (Foreign Service Officer) Whistle-Blowers Vindman, Alexander S United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Republican Party National Security Council impeachment House of Representatives House Committee on Intelligence Giuliani, Rudolph W Ethics and Official Misconduct Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

Kurt D. Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine, and Timothy Morrison, a former top National Security Council official will deliver testimony to the impeachment inquiry. Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman and Jennifer Williams testified earlier.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_164686602_0783266c-b6f6-4967-9791-356423e9f9d3-articleLarge Impeachment Hearings Updates: Vindman, Williams, Morrison and Volker Testify Zelensky, Volodymyr Williams, Jennifer (Foreign Service Officer) Whistle-Blowers Vindman, Alexander S United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Republican Party National Security Council impeachment House of Representatives House Committee on Intelligence Giuliani, Rudolph W Ethics and Official Misconduct Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

Jennifer Williams, after testifying on Tuesday.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Vice President Mike Pence’s two senior most aides pushed back against their colleague, Jennifer Williams, on Tuesday after she testified that she considered President Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president “unusual” because of its focus on domestic politics.

“I heard nothing wrong or improper on the call,” Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, the vice president’s national security adviser, said in a written statement released after her testimony. “I had and have no concerns. Ms. Williams was also on the call, and as she testified, she never reported any personal or professional concerns to me, her direct supervisor, regarding the call.

“In fact,” he added, “she never reported any personal or professional concerns to any other member of the vice president’s staff, including our chief of staff and the vice president.”

Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff, went on Fox News to make the same point. “She said she found the call unusual yet she never raised any concerns with her supervisor General Kellogg, she never raised any concerns with the chief of staff, she never raised any concerns with the vice president,” he said.

He added: “We have impeachment in pursuit of a crime.”

Mr. Trump attacked Ms. Williams on Twitter on Sunday, writing that she should read the transcript of the call and then “meet with the other Never Trumpers, who I don’t know & mostly never even heard of, & work out a better presidential attack!”

The two former officials testifying on the afternoon panel were both originally on the Republican witness list in hopes that their accounts would provide testimony that would be more useful to President Trump’s defense. But while neither was as damning as the morning witnesses, both highlighted how unusual the president’s actions were.

“I don’t think that raising 2016 elections or Vice President Biden or these things I consider to be conspiracy theories that have been circulated by the Ukrainians” were “things that we should be pursuing as part of our national security strategy with Ukraine,” Kurt D. Volker, the president’s former special envoy for Ukraine, told the House Intelligence Committee.

“We should be supporting Ukraine’s democracy, reforms, its own fight against corruption domestically and the struggle against Russia and defense capabilities and these are at the heart of what we should be doing and I don’t think pursuing these things serves a national interest,” he added.

Timothy Morrison, the former senior director for Europe and Ukraine at the National Security Council, said he did not think the president’s July 25 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine was inherently wrong or illegal, but feared it would ignite a political storm if it became public.

“I feared at the time of the call on July 25 how its disclosure would play in Washington’s climate,” he said. “My fears have been realized. I understand the gravity of these proceedings, but beg you not to lose sighted of the military conflict underway in Ukraine today.”

During later questioning, Daniel S. Goldman, the Democratic counsel, asked: “But you would agree, right, that asking a foreign government to investigate a domestic political rival is inappropriate, would you not?”

“It is not what we recommend the president discuss,” Mr. Morrison replied curtly.

Mr. Volker portrayed himself as left out of key moments and unaware that others working for Mr. Trump were linking the release of American security aid to Ukraine committing to investigations of Democrats.

Opening the second panel of the day, Mr. Volker sought to reconcile his original closed-door testimony with the accounts of other witnesses who came after him. “I have learned many things that I did not know at the time of the events in question,” he said in his opening statement.

Among other things, he said that at the time he worked with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, to seek assurances from Ukraine about investigations he was pushing, he did not understand those investigations to include former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as a target nor did he know that they would be tied to release of the frozen security aid.

“I did not know of any linkage between the hold on security assistance and Ukraine pursuing investigations,” Mr. Volker said. “No one had ever said that to me — and I never conveyed such a linkage to the Ukrainians.” He recalled telling the Ukrainians “the opposite,” that they did not need to do anything to get the hold lifted and that it would be taken care of. “I did not know others were conveying a different message to them around the same time,” he said.

Mr. Volker sought to clarify why his testimony about the now-famous July 10 meeting at the White House differed from those of Fiona Hill, then the senior director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council, and Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, her Ukraine policy deputy.

Ms. Hill and Colonel Vindman testified that John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, ended the meeting abruptly when Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, brought up the investigations and that some in the room took the conversation downstairs where it turned heated. Mr. Volker mentioned none of that in his original testimony.

“As I remember, the meeting was essentially over when Ambassador Sondland made a general comment about investigations,” he said on Tuesday. “I think all of us thought it was inappropriate. The conversation did not continue and the meeting concluded. Later on, in the Ward Room, I may have been engaged in a side conversation or had already left the complex, because I do not recall further discussion regarding investigations or Burisma.”

More generally, he said he did not interpret the word Burisma to be tantamount to Mr. Biden. “In hindsight, I now understand that others saw the idea of investigating possible corruption involving the Ukrainian company Burisma as equivalent to investigating former Vice President Biden. I saw them as very different — the former being appropriate and unremarkable, the latter being unacceptable. In retrospect, I should have seen that connection differently, and had I done so, I would have raised my own objections.”

Mr. Volker expressed annoyance at being lumped together with Mr. Sondland and Energy Secretary Rick Perry as “three amigos,” as if they were somehow indistinguishable, and he rejected the notion that he was part of an irregular foreign policy channel.

The term “three amigos” has come to characterize how the usual foreign policy process was warped by Mr. Trump’s interest in obtaining damaging information about Democrats from Ukraine. It originated from an interview Mr. Sondland gave to Ukrainian television when he said “we have what are called the three amigos,” naming Mr. Volker, Mr. Perry and himself.

Mr. Volker in his testimony objected to the name and the implication. “I’ve never used that term and frankly cringe when I hear it,” he said. In his mind, he said, he associated the phrase with his mentor, Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who died last year, and two allies who supported a troop surge in Iraq in 2006 and 2007, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, who has since left the Senate.

Mr. Volker said he was not part of a shadow foreign policy because he was the officially designated diplomat assigned to help resolve Ukraine’s war with Russia. “My role was not some irregular channel, but the official channel,” he said, noting that he reported to Rex W. Tillerson, the secretary of state who appointed him, and Mike Pompeo, his successor, and coordinated with diplomats and White House officials.

Democratic lawmakers responded angrily to attacks on Colonel Vindman, who testified during the morning session, as the White House and Republicans sought to discredit the colonel in real time during his appearance before the committee.

“There’s been a lot of insinuations and there’s been a lot suggestions, maybe, that your service is somehow not to be trusted,” said Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, Democrat of New York. He accused Republicans of trying to “air out some allegations with no basis and proof, but they just want to get them out there and hope maybe some of those strands of spaghetti I guess will stick on the wall if they keep throwing them.”

His angry remarks came after the official, taxpayer-funded Twitter account of the White House posted a critical quote about Colonel Vindman from Mr. Morrison, his former boss at the National Security Council, who testified later in the day on a separate panel.

Earlier, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio had cited that comment as well as criticism from Ms. Hill, Colonel Vindman’s former boss at the National Security Council.

“Any idea why they have those impressions?” Mr. Jordan inquired. Colonel Vindman, who apparently came prepared for the criticism, pulled out a copy the performance evaluation Ms. Hill wrote about him in July and read aloud from it.

“Alex is a top one percent military officer and the best army officer I have worked with in my 15 years of government service,” Colonel Vindman said, quoting Ms. Hill. “He is brilliant, unflappable, and exercises excellent judgment.”

Republicans also questioned the loyalty of Colonel Vindman, an American citizen and decorated Army combat veteran who was born in Ukraine, by asking him about three instances when Oleksandr Danylyuk, the director of Ukraine’s national security council, had approached to offer him the job of defense minister in Kyiv.

Under questioning by the committee’s Republican counsel, Colonel Vindman confirmed the offers and testified that he repeatedly declined, dismissing the idea out of hand and reporting the approaches to his superiors and to counterintelligence officials.

The line of questioning seemed to be designed, at least in part, to feed doubts about Colonel Vindman’s commitment to the United States, the subject of a wave of character attacks on him by Mr. Trump’s allies. Fox News quickly picked up on the tactic, sending out a news alert moments after Mr. Castor finished: “Vindman says Ukrainian official offered him the job of Ukrainian defense minister.”

Mr. Maloney said he was particularly outraged by questions from a Republican lawmaker questioning why Colonel Vindman wore his Army dress uniform to the hearing.

“That dress uniform includes a breast plate that has a combat infantryman badge on it and a purple ribbon,” Mr. Maloney said. “It seems if there is someone who should wear that uniform, it’s someone who has a breast plate on it.”

Two senior national security officials at the White House challenged Mr. Trump’s description of his call with the Ukraine president as “perfect,” testifying on Tuesday about how concerned they were as they listened in real time to Mr. Trump appealing for an investigation of Mr. Biden.

Colonel Vindman testified that he was so disturbed by the call that he reported it to the council’s top lawyer.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” he said under questioning about his first thoughts when he heard Mr. Trump’s mention of investigations into Mr. Biden and an unproven theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election. “It was probably an element of shock, that maybe in certain regards, my worst fear of how our Ukraine policy could play out was playing out, and how this was likely to have significant implications for U.S. national security.”

Earlier, Colonel Vindman explained why he felt it was his “duty” to report his concerns to John Eisenberg, the top lawyer at the National Security Council. “It is improper for the president of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and political opponent.”

Ms. Williams, a national security aide to Mr. Pence, said she found the president’s call unusual because it included discussion of a “domestic political matter.”

Their testimony kicked off three days of hearings featuring nine diplomats and national security officials as Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee continue to build their case that Mr. Trump abused his power by trying to enlist Ukraine to publicly commit to investigations that would discredit Mr. Biden, a leading political rival, and other Democrats.

In a cabinet meeting as the hearing unfolded, Mr. Trump praised his allies and dismissed the hearings as a “kangaroo court,” saying, “Republicans are absolutely killing it, because it’s a big scam.”

Colonel Vindman and Ms. Williams both testified that they were never aware of any other national security officials in the United States government who supported the decision to withhold nearly $400 million in security aid for Ukraine, which both said was directed by the White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney.

Both witnesses said withholding the military assistance from Ukraine was damaging to relations between the two countries and to Ukraine’s ability to confront Russian aggression. Representative Mike Quigley of Illinois asked Colonel Vindman whether anyone else supported the decision to freeze the aid.

“No one from the national security?” Mr. Quigley asked.

“None,” Colonel Vindman said.

“No one from the State Department?”

“Correct.”

“No one from the Department of Defense?

“Correct.”

Ms. Williams testified that President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine told Vice President Mike Pence during a Sept. 1 meeting that continuing to withhold the aid would indicate that United States support for Ukraine was wavering, giving Russia a boost in the ongoing conflict between the two countries.

“Any signal or sign that U.S. support was wavering would be construed by Russia as potentially an opportunity for them to strengthen their own hand in Ukraine,” Ms. Williams said, relating what Mr. Zelensky told Mr. Pence.

Representative Devin Nunes of California, the top Republican on the committee, sought to turn the focus away from Mr. Trump to Mr. Biden, leading the witnesses through a series of questions intended to suggest that the former vice president had intervened in Ukraine’s domestic affairs to benefit his son, Hunter Biden, despite the lack of evidence.

Mr. Biden, as vice president, pressured Ukrainian officials to fire a prosecutor who was seen as tolerating corruption in keeping with the policy of the United States, European allies and international financial organizations at the time. But Mr. Nunes suggested that Mr. Biden was acting to benefit his son, who was on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company that had been investigated for corruption.

“Did you know that Joe Biden called Ukrainian President Poroshenko at least three times in February 2016 after the president and owner of Burisma’s home was raided on February 2 by the state prosecutor’s office?” Mr. Nunes asked, referring to Petro O. Poroshenko, then the president.

“Not at the time,” Ms. Williams answered. She added: “I’ve become aware of that through this proceeding.”

Mr. Nunes asked a series of similar questions and then repeated them for Colonel Vindman. Neither witness was working on the issue at the time, so neither could offer information to about it. But Mr. Nunes used the opportunity to introduce his allegations, anyway. He also tried repeatedly to extract information from Colonel Vindman about the identity of the whistle-blower who filed a complaint about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, drawing objections from the colonel’s lawyer.

At one point, things turned testy when Mr. Nunes addressed Colonel Vindman as “Mr. Vindman.”

“Ranking member, it’s Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, please,” he shot back.

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A Purple Heart, Combat Badge and Ranger Tab: Vindman Sends a Message

Westlake Legal Group 19dc-scene1-facebookJumbo A Purple Heart, Combat Badge and Ranger Tab: Vindman Sends a Message Williams, Jennifer (Foreign Service Officer) Vindman, Alexander S United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry National Security Council

WASHINGTON — The uniform made an entrance at the top of the morning.

Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a Purple Heart recipient and an Iraq war veteran, strode into the hearing room with chest and shoulders trimmed with his Combat Infantry Badge, his Ranger tab and other recognitions of military service.

He stood there fidgeting next to the witness table, forced to linger on his feet while he waited for the morning’s other witness, Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, to arrive. His hands came to rest at his belt and appeared to be shaking slightly.

But what he wore was the star visual.

Colonel Vindman, who still works at the White House as the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, testified in the House impeachment inquiry in his Army dress uniform, the ultimate witness power move. Oliver L. North, the lieutenant colonel at the center of the Reagan-era Iran-contra scandal more than three decades ago, would have a varied and checkered career. Yet the most indelible image of him remains the Marine uniform he wore in his televised hearings.

Representative Devin Nunes of California, left, speaking with the Republican counsel, Steve Castor.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times Representative Jim Himes of Connecticut, left, with the counsel for the Democrats, Daniel Goldman, and Representative Eric Swalwell of California.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

“It’s Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, please,” Colonel Vindman said, correcting Representative Devin Nunes of California, the House Intelligence Committee’s top Republican, who at one point in the morning had addressed him as “Mr. Vindman.”

This was, depending on your point of view, either a deft pulling of rank or a petty show of arrogance. But there was no missing the subtext beneath so much of Colonel Vindman’s testimony: He was, he said, a patriot, loyal to no partisan interest and driven by no animus to the president.

He was not a “Never Trumper,” as President Trump himself had suggested, using what has become the president’s catchall dismissal in this zero-sum capital that he has loomed over for nearly three years. In today’s Washington, you’re either with the president, or your ability to serve the country may be suspect.

“I’m not sure I know an official definition of a Never Trumper,” Ms. Williams said during what has become a recurring feature of these hearings, the part where a committee member — in this case Representative Jim Himes, Democrat of Connecticut — is obliged to ask the witness to assess their level of Never Trumpiness.

“I’d call myself Never Partisan,” Colonel Vindman replied to Mr. Himes.

So enough about the president, at least for a bit. This was about Colonel Vindman’s transcendent allegiance, one placed methodically into doubt in the run-up to the hearing.

“The uniform I wear today is that of the United States Army,” Colonel Vindman said in his opening statement. “We do not serve any particular political party; we serve the nation. I am humbled to come before you today as one of many who serve in the most distinguished and able military in the world.”

He described an immigrant’s story: how next month would mark the 40-year anniversary of his family’s arrival to the United States from Ukraine; how Colonel Vindman and his two brothers were instilled with a sense of duty and service to their adopted country; how all three were inspired to enlist in the armed forces.

“Our collective military service is a special part of our family’s story in America,” he said.

Over four and a half hours of inquiry and testimony, Colonel Vindman kept invoking his adopted land, both as a statement of his patriotism and as a shield.

But he was hit with all manner of aspersions about his national devotion, his judgment, even his right to wear his uniform in this setting. Steve Castor, the counsel for the Republicans on the committee, seemed to suggest that the witness held a dual loyalty when he asked Colonel Vindman whether he had considered accepting job offers to serve in his birth country as defense minister of Ukraine.

“I’m an American,” Colonel Vindman said. “I immediately dismissed these offers, did not entertain them.”

A C-Span camera operator watching the hearing.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times The hearing audience included a man in the president’s signature “Make America Great Again” hat.Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

As he testified, a tweet from the official White House account pointed out that Tim Morrison, Colonel Vindman’s former boss on the National Security Council, said he had concerns about his judgment. (Mr. Morrison had raised those concerns in a closed-door deposition on Oct. 31, but did not elaborate.) When Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, raised questions about Colonel Vindman’s job performance, the witness read aloud from a stellar review from another former boss, Fiona Hill, the National Security Council’s former director for Europe and Russia.

Later, when Mr. Jordan pelted the Army officer with questions about why he would report his concerns about a call Mr. Trump had with the president of Ukraine to a White House lawyer and not to his supervisor, Colonel Vindman peered up like he was watching a cloud pass.

“Representative Jordan,” he said in a flat, even tone, “I did my job.”

On a few occasions, Colonel Vindman conveyed thanks to his father for having the courage to immigrate to the United States as a refugee from Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union. To express concerns in the Soviet Union in public testimony “would surely cost me my life,” he said.

This was no small point to make, given that Colonel Vindman has faced threats since he came forward.

“Dad, my sitting here today, in the U.S. Capitol, talking to our elected professionals, is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago,” Colonel Vindman said in his opening statement, addressing his father, who was not in the room. “Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.”

Late in the hearing, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, Democrat of New York, revisited that earlier statement. He asked whether Colonel Vindman’s father was concerned about his son coming forward and subjecting himself to this most severe spotlight.

Yes, his father was “deeply worried,” Colonel Vindman said. “Because in his context it was the ultimate risk.”

But this hearing room was a different context, or at least an ideal Colonel Vindman has spent his professional life fighting for. So no, he said, he was not worried about testifying.

“Because this is America,” he said, as a spontaneous burst of applause rose from the galley.

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What We Learned Today From Impeachment Inquiry Hearings

Westlake Legal Group merlin_164671383_ba7085eb-b9c5-418d-af8b-a0cf1dc030bd-facebookJumbo What We Learned Today From Impeachment Inquiry Hearings Zelensky, Volodymyr Williams, Jennifer (Foreign Service Officer) Vindman, Alexander S United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry National Security Council House Committee on Intelligence Giuliani, Rudolph W Ethics and Official Misconduct Eisenberg, John A Defense Department

WASHINGTON — Two top national security officials offered new details about President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine as they appeared for testimony during the second week of public hearings in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

At issue is whether Mr. Trump abused his power by holding out security aid and a coveted White House meeting from the Ukrainian government in exchange for an announcement from Ukraine’s president of investigations that could benefit Mr. Trump politically. Here are the new revelations from the officials, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Jennifer Williams:

Tuesday morning’s witnesses provided a new window into how the national security establishment reacted to the decision to freeze $391 million in security aid for Ukraine for 55 days. Colonel Vindman, the top Ukraine expert at the National Security Council, and Ms. Williams, an adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, both testified that they knew of no one at the National Security Council — the foreign policy arm of the White House — the State Department or the Pentagon who supported holding up the aid. “None,” Colonel Vindman said.

Colonel Vindman and Ms. Williams were the first two witnesses at a public hearing who listened in real time to Mr. Trump’s now-infamous July call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. Both said they were alarmed; Ms. Williams called the call “unusual and inappropriate” while Colonel Vindman said it was “wrong.”

But Ms. Williams said she told no one about her concerns, while Colonel Vindman offered new detail of what he did after the call: He told an intelligence officer and a State Department official before reporting his concerns to the security council’s top lawyer. Together, their responses contrasted with other witnesses who have said they heard nothing wrong with the call.

Colonel Vindman provided new details about how the reconstructed transcript of the call ended up in a secure White House server. He testified that he believed that John A. Eisenberg, the senior lawyer at the National Security Council to whom he reported his concerns about the call, intended to put the reconstructed transcript into a secure system to limit access and prevent leaks. “I didn’t take it as anything nefarious,” the colonel testified. His testimony contradicts Timothy Morrison, his former direct superior at the council, who has told lawmakers that the transcript was accidentally put on the secure system.

Colonel Vindman testified that he believed that Mr. Trump’s request for Ukraine to open investigations into the “2016 election, the Bidens and Burisma” — inquiries that could help Mr. Trump’s re-election chances — should be viewed as demands that were “inappropriate and had nothing to do with national security.”

Colonel Vindman also revealed a new understanding about how he conveyed to his superiors his concerns over a White House meeting on July 10 with Ukrainian officials. He said he immediately spoke to Mr. Eisenberg, adding to a similar account from Fiona Hill, who at the time was Colonel Vindman’s superior at the National Security Council.

Ms. Williams and Colonel Vindman added texture to the frustration inside the government about the shadow Ukraine foreign policy being conducted by the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and others. Colonel Vindman testified that he quickly became aware of “former mayor Rudy Giuliani’s promoting false narratives that undermined the United States’ Ukraine policy.” Their testimony confirms many of the other impeachment witnesses who have described Mr. Giuliani, who has no official government job, as having an outsize role in influencing Mr. Trump’s position on Ukraine.

The White House and the president’s Republican allies revealed a key part of their impeachment strategy as they sought to aggressively undermine Colonel Vindman’s credibility. Republican lawmakers confronted Colonel Vindman with comments from Mr. Morrison questioning his judgment. The colonel, an Iraq war veteran who received a Purple Heart after being wounded by a roadside bomb, was ready for the attack, citing a work evaluation from Ms. Hill that said he was “brilliant, unflappable and exercises excellent judgment.”

The White House ignored that and tweeted out the disparaging quote from Mr. Morrison, making it clear that even a decorated veteran who is still a National Security Council aide was not off limits.

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White House Attacks Its Ukraine Expert as He Says Trump Call Was ‘Inappropriate’

Westlake Legal Group 19dc-impeach1-facebookJumbo White House Attacks Its Ukraine Expert as He Says Trump Call Was ‘Inappropriate’ Zelensky, Volodymyr Whistle-Blowers Vindman, Alexander S United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Republican Party impeachment House of Representatives House Committee on Intelligence Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — The White House attacked its own top Ukraine expert on Tuesday as he offered sworn testimony before the House’s impeachment inquiry that President Trump’s request to Ukraine’s president to investigate Democratic rivals had been “inappropriate” and validated his “worst fear” that American policy toward that country would veer off course.

On the opening day of a packed week of impeachment testimony, the expert, Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, who serves on the National Security Council, said he was so alarmed by the request as he listened in to a call on July 25 between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine that he reported his concerns to White House lawyers. On the call, Mr. Trump pressed Mr. Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and an unproven theory that Democrats conspired with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” Colonel Vindman, an Iraq war combat veteran who appeared before the House Intelligence Committee dressed in his deep-blue Army dress uniform covered with military ribbons. “It was probably an element of shock — that maybe, in certain regards, my worst fear of how our Ukraine policy could play out was playing out, and how this was likely to have significant implications for U.S. national security.”

Sitting beside him, a second White House official who also listened in on the call, Jennifer Williams, testified that she found Mr. Trump’s phone call with Mr. Zelensky “unusual and inappropriate,” saying she was struck that Mr. Trump was pressing a foreign leader about a personal domestic political concern.

Both witnesses testified that it was clear to the Ukrainians that the United States was withholding vital military assistance, saying that Trump administration officials had questioned the legality of doing so. And both said that no national security official in the administration supported the freeze in aid.

Ms. Williams, a national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence, recounted a September meeting between Mr. Pence and Mr. Zelensky in which the Ukrainian president explained in dramatic terms how failing to provide the money would only help Russia.

“Any signal or sign that U.S. support was wavering would be construed by Russia as potentially an opportunity for them to strengthen their own hand in Ukraine,” Ms. Williams said, relaying what Mr. Zelensky told Mr. Pence.

After two days of earlier hearings laid out the contours of a broad pressure campaign on Ukraine by Mr. Trump and his allies, the accounts by Colonel Vindman and Ms. Williams brought the public phase of the impeachment inquiry inside the White House for the first time. For Colonel Vindman in particular, the testimony amounted to a remarkable act of public criticism of the president by a White House employee.

The colonel, who came to the United States as a refugee at 3, referred to his family’s history in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, noting that in Russia, “offering public testimony involving the president would surely cost me my life.”

Addressing his father, who he credited with “the right decision” in leaving the Soviet Union to seek refuge in the United States 40 years ago, Colonel Vindman said, “Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.”

But the White House and its Republican allies on Capitol Hill moved quickly to try to discredit Colonel Vindman, questioning his loyalty to the country and his professionalism.

As he sat in the stately House Ways and Means Committee Room that is the backdrop for the impeachment hearings, the official, taxpayer-funded Twitter account of the White House posted a critical quote in which Timothy Morrison, his former boss at the National Security Council, questioned Colonel Vindman’s “judgment.”

Mr. Morrison, the council’s former senior director for Russia and Europe, was testifying in a second session on Tuesday afternoon alongside Kurt D. Volker, the former United States special envoy to Ukraine.

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, a top Republican ally of the president’s, cited Mr. Morrison’s comment and criticism from Fiona Hill, Mr. Vindman’s former boss at the National Security Council.

“Any idea why they have those impressions?” Mr. Jordan inquired. Colonel Vindman, who apparently came prepared for the criticism, pulled out a copy the performance evaluation Ms. Hill wrote about him in July, read aloud from it and pressed ahead with his account of what transpired.

With his Ukrainian heritage and military background, Colonel Vindman presented a striking figure to investigators, who have already heard his account and that of Ms. Williams behind closed doors. In his testimony on Tuesday, he spoke of a sense of duty and patriotism to offer his account — an implicit rebuke to conservative commentators who questioned his loyalty to the United States in recent weeks as he emerged as a public figure.

Soft-spoken at first, Colonel Vindman grew more confident in addressing lawmakers who criticized him as the hearing went on.

“Ranking member, it’s Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, please,” he instructed the committee’s top Republican, Representative Devin Nunes of California, at one point after Mr. Nunes addressed him as “Mr. Vindman.”

In another exchange that touched on Colonel Vindman’s loyalty to the United States, Steve Castor, the top Republican staff lawyer, asked him about three instances when Oleksandr Danylyuk, the director of Ukraine’s national security council, had approached him with offers to become the country’s defense minister.

Colonel Vindman confirmed the offers and testified that he repeatedly declined, dismissing the idea out of hand and reporting the approaches to his superiors and to counterintelligence officials.

“Every single time, I dismissed it,” he said, adding: “I’m an American. I came here when I was a toddler. And I immediately dismissed these offers, did not entertain them.”

Republicans, searching for clues about the anonymous whistle-blower whose account of the Ukraine matter helped start the impeachment inquiry, pressed Colonel Vindman to recount who he spoke with about the call in its immediate aftermath. Democrats and the witness’s lawyer objected to questioning that may identify the whistle-blower, but Colonel Vindman indicated that he had spoken to an intelligence official he communicated with in the normal course of business.

“Per the advice of my counsel, I’ve been advised not to answer the specific questions about members of the intelligence community,” Colonel Vindman said when pressed further.

Democrats fumed, accusing Republicans of sliming a patriot because he had a politically inconvenient story to tell.

”They’ve accused you of espionage and dual loyalties,” said Representative Jim Himes, Democrat of Connecticut. “The three minutes we asked about the offer making you minister of defense — that may have been cloaked in a Brooks Brothers suit, but that was designed exclusively to give the right-wing media an opening to questioning your loyalties.”

Fox News quickly seized on the line of questioning, with a blaring a headline on its website: “Vindman says Ukrainian official offered him the job of Ukrainian defense minister.”

Democrats sought to redirect attention back to actions by Mr. Trump.

Colonel Vindman and Ms. Williams both testified that withholding the military assistance from Ukraine was damaging to relations between the two countries and to Ukraine’s ability to confront Russian aggression.

It may be too early to fully know the effect the hearings are having on public opinion. Television ratings and opinion polls released in recent days suggest that public engagement has so far fallen short not only of hearings at the height of Watergate and the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, but of earlier blockbuster Trump-era congressional hearings.

And after two and a half days of damning public testimony, House Republicans appear to be holding together in Mr. Trump’s corner, either unconvinced his behavior was as the witnesses described or unconvinced that it warrants a remedy as drastic as impeachment.

Mr. Volker, who served until this fall as the United States’ special envoy to Ukraine, was testifying that he was left in the dark about key elements of the pressure campaign on Ukraine as described by other witnesses. Mr. Volker was the first witness to speak in private to investigators in early October, and his statement then that he was aware of no quid pro quo between the two nations has since come under scrutiny.

Mr. Volker plans to try to reconcile his earlier remarks with facts relayed by other witnesses, including Mr. Sondland and Mr. Morrison. Specifically, Mr. Volker planned to testify that he was not aware that Mr. Sondland had told Ukrainian officials that the release of security assistance money was linked to a public commitment to investigate the issues Mr. Trump wanted scrutinized.

And he will state that he does not contest the accounts of other witnesses, like Colonel Vindman, of the July 10 White House meeting. Mr. Volker was present that day with Mr. Sondland, Ms. Hill and John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, but he will say he may have missed the exchanges in question when Mr. Sondland tied a White House meeting for Mr. Zelensky to the investigations.

Depending on how forcefully Mr. Volker insists on those views, his public testimony could complicate the defense offered by Republicans, who have held his earlier account up for weeks as evidence that Mr. Trump’s conduct was not nearly so offensive as Democrats argued it was.

Mr. Morrison’s testimony may be more politically contested. In closed questioning, he confirmed key facts about Mr. Sondland’s statements about preconditions for releasing the Ukrainian assistance funds. And he recounted that it was the “unanimous” view of the White House, Defense Department and State Department national security apparatus that the assistance funds never should have been suspended and should have been reinstated immediately.

But as Republicans frequently pointed out during the morning session, he also questioned Colonel Vindman’s judgment, and testified that he saw nothing untoward to the July 25 call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky at the center of the inquiry.

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Impeachment Hearings Live Updates: Morrison and Volker Begin Testimony

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Kurt D. Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine, and Timothy Morrison, a former top National Security Council official will deliver testimony to the impeachment inquiry. Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman and Jennifer Williams testified earlier.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_164689233_f2cae21e-653b-4fce-a5cd-9ca6b367f9ab-articleLarge Impeachment Hearings Live Updates: Morrison and Volker Begin Testimony Zelensky, Volodymyr Williams, Jennifer (Foreign Service Officer) Whistle-Blowers Vindman, Alexander S United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Republican Party National Security Council impeachment House of Representatives House Committee on Intelligence Giuliani, Rudolph W Ethics and Official Misconduct Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

Kurt D. Volker arriving to testify on Tuesday.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Kurt D. Volker, the former special envoy for Ukraine, portrayed himself as left out of key moments and unaware that others working for President Trump were linking the release of American security aid to Ukraine committing to investigations of Democrats.

Opening the second panel of the day, Mr. Volker sought to reconcile his original closed-door testimony with the accounts of other witnesses who came after him. “I have learned many things that I did not know at the time of the events in question,” he said in his opening statement.

Among other things, he said that at the time he worked with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, to seek assurances from Ukraine about investigations he was pushing, he did not understand those investigations to include former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as a target nor did he know that they would be tied to release of the frozen security aid.

“I did not know of any linkage between the hold on security assistance and Ukraine pursuing investigations,” Mr. Volker said. “No one had ever said that to me — and I never conveyed such a linkage to the Ukrainians.” He recalled telling the Ukrainians “the opposite,” that they did not need to do anything to get the hold lifted and that it would be taken care of. “I did not know others were conveying a different message to them around the same time,” he said.

Mr. Volker sought to clarify why his testimony about the now-famous July 10 meeting at the White House differed from those of Fiona Hill, then the senior director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council, and Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, her Ukraine policy deputy.

Ms. Hill and Colonel Vindman testified that John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, ended the meeting abruptly when Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, brought up the investigations and that some in the room took the conversation downstairs where it turned heated. Mr. Volker mentioned none of that in his original testimony.

“As I remember, the meeting was essentially over when Ambassador Sondland made a general comment about investigations,” he said on Tuesday. “I think all of us thought it was inappropriate. The conversation did not continue and the meeting concluded. Later on, in the Ward Room, I may have been engaged in a side conversation or had already left the complex, because I do not recall further discussion regarding investigations or Burisma.”

More generally, he said he did not interpret the word Burisma to be tantamount to Mr. Biden. “In hindsight, I now understand that others saw the idea of investigating possible corruption involving the Ukrainian company Burisma as equivalent to investigating former Vice President Biden. I saw them as very different — the former being appropriate and unremarkable, the latter being unacceptable. In retrospect, I should have seen that connection differently, and had I done so, I would have raised my own objections.”

Mr. Volker expressed annoyance at being lumped together with Mr. Sondland and Energy Secretary Rick Perry as “three amigos,” as if they were somehow indistinguishable, and he rejected the notion that he was part of an irregular foreign policy channel.

The term “three amigos” has come to characterize how the usual foreign policy process was warped by Mr. Trump’s interest in obtaining damaging information about Democrats from Ukraine. It originated from an interview Mr. Sondland gave to Ukrainian television when he said “we have what are called the three amigos,” naming Mr. Volker, Mr. Perry and himself.

Mr. Volker in his testimony objected to the name and the implication. “I’ve never used that term and frankly cringe when I hear it,” he said. In his mind, he said, he associated the phrase with his mentor, Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who died last year, and two allies who supported a troop surge in Iraq in 2006 and 2007, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, who has since left the Senate.

Mr. Volker said he was not part of a shadow foreign policy because he was the officially designated diplomat assigned to help resolve Ukraine’s war with Russia. “My role was not some irregular channel, but the official channel,” he said, noting that he reported to Rex W. Tillerson, the secretary of state who appointed him, and Mike Pompeo, his successor, and coordinated with diplomats and White House officials.

Democratic lawmakers responded angrily to attacks on Colonel Vindman, who testified during the morning session, as the White House and Republicans sought to discredit the colonel in real time during his appearance before the committee.

“There’s been a lot of insinuations and there’s been a lot suggestions, maybe, that your service is somehow not to be trusted,” said Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, Democrat of New York. He accused Republicans of trying to “air out some allegations with no basis and proof, but they just want to get them out there and hope maybe some of those strands of spaghetti I guess will stick on the wall if they keep throwing them.”

His angry remarks came after the official, taxpayer-funded Twitter account of the White House posted a critical quote about Colonel Vindman from Timothy Morrison, his former boss at the National Security Council, who testified later in the day on a separate panel.

Earlier, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio had cited that comment as well as criticism from Ms. Hill, Colonel Vindman’s former boss at the National Security Council.

“Any idea why they have those impressions?” Mr. Jordan inquired. Colonel Vindman, who apparently came prepared for the criticism, pulled out a copy the performance evaluation Ms. Hill wrote about him in July and read aloud from it.

“Alex is a top one percent military officer and the best army officer I have worked with in my 15 years of government service,” Colonel Vindman said, quoting Ms. Hill. “He is brilliant, unflappable, and exercises excellent judgment.”

Republicans also questioned the loyalty of Colonel Vindman, an American citizen and decorated Army combat veteran who was born in Ukraine, by asking him about three instances when Oleksandr Danylyuk, the director of Ukraine’s national security council, had approached to offer him the job of defense minister in Kyiv.

Under questioning by the committee’s Republican counsel, Colonel Vindman confirmed the offers and testified that he repeatedly declined, dismissing the idea out of hand and reporting the approaches to his superiors and to counterintelligence officials.

The line of questioning seemed to be designed, at least in part, to feed doubts about Colonel Vindman’s commitment to the United States, the subject of a wave of character attacks on him by Mr. Trump’s allies. Fox News quickly picked up on the tactic, sending out a news alert moments after Mr. Castor finished: “Vindman says Ukrainian official offered him the job of Ukrainian defense minister.”

Mr. Maloney said he was particularly outraged by questions from a Republican lawmaker questioning why Colonel Vindman wore his Army dress uniform to the hearing.

“That dress uniform includes a breast plate that has a combat infantryman badge on it and a purple ribbon,” Mr. Maloney said. “It seems if there is someone who should wear that uniform, it’s someone who has a breast plate on it.”

Two senior national security officials at the White House challenged Mr. Trump’s description of his call with the Ukraine president as “perfect,” testifying on Tuesday about how concerned they were as they listened in real time to Mr. Trump appealing for an investigation of Mr. Biden.

Colonel Vindman testified that he was so disturbed by the call that he reported it to the council’s top lawyer.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” he said under questioning about his first thoughts when he heard Mr. Trump’s mention of investigations into Mr. Biden and an unproven theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election. “It was probably an element of shock, that maybe in certain regards, my worst fear of how our Ukraine policy could play out was playing out, and how this was likely to have significant implications for U.S. national security.”

Earlier, Colonel Vindman explained why he felt it was his “duty” to report his concerns to John Eisenberg, the top lawyer at the National Security Council. “It is improper for the president of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and political opponent.”

Jennifer Williams, a national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence, said she found the president’s call unusual because it included discussion of a “domestic political matter.”

Their testimony kicked off three days of hearings featuring nine diplomats and national security officials as Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee continue to build their case that Mr. Trump abused his power by trying to enlist Ukraine to publicly commit to investigations that would discredit Mr. Biden, a leading political rival, and other Democrats.

In a cabinet meeting as the hearing unfolded, Mr. Trump praised his allies and dismissed the hearings as a “kangaroo court,” saying, “Republicans are absolutely killing it, because it’s a big scam.”

Colonel Vindman and Ms. Williams both testified that they were never aware of any other national security officials in the United States government who supported the decision to withhold nearly $400 million in security aid for Ukraine, which both said was directed by the White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney.

Both witnesses said withholding the military assistance from Ukraine was damaging to relations between the two countries and to Ukraine’s ability to confront Russian aggression. Representative Mike Quigley of Illinois asked Colonel Vindman whether anyone else supported the decision to freeze the aid.

“No one from the national security?” Mr. Quigley asked.

“None,” Colonel Vindman said.

“No one from the State Department?”

“Correct.”

“No one from the Department of Defense?

“Correct.”

Ms. Williams testified that President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine told Vice President Mike Pence during a Sept. 1 meeting that continuing to withhold the aid would indicate that United States support for Ukraine was wavering, giving Russia a boost in the ongoing conflict between the two countries.

“Any signal or sign that U.S. support was wavering would be construed by Russia as potentially an opportunity for them to strengthen their own hand in Ukraine,” Ms. Williams said, relating what Mr. Zelensky told Mr. Pence.

Representative Devin Nunes of California, the top Republican on the committee, sought to turn the focus away from Mr. Trump to Mr. Biden, leading the witnesses through a series of questions intended to suggest that the former vice president had intervened in Ukraine’s domestic affairs to benefit his son, Hunter Biden, despite the lack of evidence.

Mr. Biden, as vice president, pressured Ukrainian officials to fire a prosecutor who was seen as tolerating corruption in keeping with the policy of the United States, European allies and international financial organizations at the time. But Mr. Nunes suggested that Mr. Biden was acting to benefit his son, who was on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company that had been investigated for corruption.

“Did you know that Joe Biden called Ukrainian President Poroshenko at least three times in February 2016 after the president and owner of Burisma’s home was raided on February 2 by the state prosecutor’s office?” Mr. Nunes asked, referring to Petro O. Poroshenko, then the president.

“Not at the time,” Ms. Williams answered. She added: “I’ve become aware of that through this proceeding.”

Mr. Nunes asked a series of similar questions and then repeated them for Colonel Vindman. Neither witness was working on the issue at the time, so neither could offer information to about it. But Mr. Nunes used the opportunity to introduce his allegations, anyway. He also tried repeatedly to extract information from Colonel Vindman about the identity of the whistle-blower who filed a complaint about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, drawing objections from the colonel’s lawyer.

At one point, things turned testy when Mr. Nunes addressed Colonel Vindman as “Mr. Vindman.”

“Ranking member, it’s Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, please,” he shot back.

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House Moves to Stave Off Another Government Shutdown

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WASHINGTON — The House on Tuesday voted to extend government funding for another month, rushing to ward off a government shutdown and setting up a pre-Christmas clash over spending just as the House is likely to be considering whether to impeach President Trump.

With just days before funding for the entire government is set to lapse on Thursday, lawmakers effectively postponed the spending fight for another day, approving another stopgap spending bill exactly two months after the first spending bill passed the chamber. The measure would extend funding through Dec. 20 for all federal government departments and agencies, as well as a number of health care and community programs.

That sets up a potentially explosive set of votes just before Christmas, when the House may be considering impeachment articles against Mr. Trump just as it is staring down a deadline to avoid a disastrous government shutdown.

The specter of last year’s 35-day shutdown drove a slim bipartisan margin on Tuesday, as most lawmakers agreed that a temporary spending bill maintaining current levels of funding for another four weeks was preferable to an encore of the breach last year, which lasted into January.

Lawmakers also included additional funds to accommodate the Census Bureau’s preparations for the 2020 survey, provide funds for a 3.1 percent military pay raise and stave off an automatic cut to highway funds. The legislation, which passed the House on a 231 to 192 margin, is expected to pass the Senate later this week, and will be signed by the president, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said on Monday.

The bill “will allow additional time to negotiate and enact responsible long-term funding for priorities that make our country safer and stronger and give working families a better chance at a better life,” said Representative Nita Lowey, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Left unresolved, however, are the dozen must-pass bills that would maintain funding for the remainder of the fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1. Lawmakers on the traditionally bipartisan Appropriations Committees have failed to reach an agreement over funding Mr. Trump’s signature campaign promise to build a wall between the United States and Mexico — the same fraught debate that led to the nation’s longest government shutdown nearly a year ago.

“The administration, and the Republicans and the Democrats, are very wary of a shutdown,” said Senator Richard C. Shelby, Republican of Alabama and the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “It helps no one. Everybody loses.”

Reminded that he offered a similar optimistic message a year ago, Mr. Shelby said, “Yeah, and I believe that.”

The measure had its share of critics in both parties. Some lawmakers voted against it in a show of solidarity for responsible governing and a need to provide full-year funding. Representative Kay Granger of Texas, the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, noted on Tuesday that “no business in the world could survive on temporary funding, doled out on a month-to-month basis.”

Others specifically objected to provisions related to extending or reviving certain government surveillance powers that trace back to the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks. One provision would reauthorize for 90 days a system shut down earlier this year that permitted the National Security Agency to access and analyze bulk logs of Americans’ domestic phone logs.

The same part of the resolution would also briefly extend expiring F.B.I. surveillance powers, such as one that permits agents working on national security cases to get court orders to obtain relevant business records or to swiftly follow a wiretapping target who changes phones in an attempt to evade surveillance, for three more months. In effect, the resolution would delay until March a surveillance debate that advocates had been gearing up to have in November and early December.

“Congress should have ended this beleaguered spying program and enacted meaningful surveillance reform a long time ago,” said Neema Singh Guliani, a senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. “It is disappointing that Congress is instead extending spying powers that have repeatedly been used to violate Americans’ privacy rights, and trying to bury this extension in must-pass funding legislation.”

Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, the House’s sole independent, said his effort to add an amendment to the measure removing what he described as “the Patriot Act provisions” was rejected.

Over the summer, lawmakers and the White House reached a bipartisan agreement to raise government spending for the next two years, offering a rough framework for defense and domestic programs. The dozen bills will establish how that money will be divided across the federal government, but lawmakers have not agreed on top spending levels for each of the bills.

Republicans have pushed to adjust funding to accommodate the administration’s request for billions of dollars in wall funding, while Democrats have vowed to deny any money for that purpose. Democrats have also objected to replacing military funds that the president earlier this year unilaterally transferred to wall construction, after Congress again denied Mr. Trump wall money in the regular funding process.

“We have well over a trillion dollars’ worth of decisions to make, I don’t know why we would go to that,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “I think that his comments about the wall are really an applause line at a rally, but they’re not anything that he’s serious about.”

The traditionally bipartisan appropriations process has become particularly rife with division in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to advance major legislation. While a package of four spending bills passed in late October, most Senate Democrats blocked a procedural vote that would allow a second package that would fund the Pentagon and a number of labor, health and education programs to move forward.

Democrats said that Republicans have not engaged in fair negotiations over raising spending limits for domestic bills, while Republicans have blasted their counterparts for violating the terms of the budget agreement.

Optimism peaked on Thursday, after Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary and a key broker of the budget deal, huddled with Ms. Pelosi, Ms. Lowey and Mr. Shelby to resolve the impasse. But negotiations fizzled over the weekend, again leaving lawmakers without an agreement on the spending limits.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to bridge that gap,” said Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia and the top Republican on the appropriations subcommittee responsible for the Department of Homeland Security bill.

The temporary fix that the House approved Tuesday also includes additional funds to counter the spread of ebola in Africa and an extension of funding for community health centers. It also includes a payment to Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the widow of Representative Elijah E. Cummings, who died last month, a “death gratuity” that Congress traditionally approves for the surviving family of a sitting member who dies.

Left out of the spending bill, however, was a critical provision that would replenish $255 million for historically black colleges, tribal colleges and higher education institutions that serve Hispanic students in order to boost science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM — over the next two years. Funding ran out Sept. 30 — the end of the fiscal year — although the Education Department has assured funding will continue through the current school year.

Ms. Pelosi, in a statement Monday, blamed Republicans for the removal of the provision. Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, blocked passage of a measure that would have provided the funding, calling instead for a rewrite of parts of the Higher Education Act.

Proponents of the program vowed to continue fighting for the funding.

“After having worked so long for H.B.C.U.s and their issues to remain bipartisan, we are perplexed to be in the middle of a partisan ‘tug-of-war’ with our number one priority,” said Lodriguez V. Murray, the senior vice president of public policy and government affairs at the United Negro College Fund. “We will continue to fight for it, as our colleges need it and so do the students. We started a campaign for it and we will not stop.”

Erica L. Green and Charlie Savage contributed reporting.

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Who Is Kurt Volker? Trump’s Former Special Envoy to Ukraine Will Testify

Westlake Legal Group 19dc-volker-facebookJumbo Who Is Kurt Volker? Trump’s Former Special Envoy to Ukraine Will Testify Volker, Kurt D United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment

WASHINGTON — As the impeachment inquiry has picked up speed in recent weeks, Americans have heard a lot about the “three amigos” — a trio of Washington figures who worked with President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to carry out Mr. Trump’s plan for Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

Tuesday afternoon, the first of the amigos — Kurt D. Volker, Mr. Trump’s former special envoy to Ukraine — will testify before the House Intelligence Committee.

Mr. Volker is a career diplomat who served as the United States’ permanent representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization under President George W. Bush and was most recently the executive director of the McCain Institute for International Leadership, a Washington-based research group affiliated with Arizona State University.

In 2017, he volunteered to be Mr. Trump’s envoy to Ukraine, but resigned abruptly on Sept. 27, one day after the release of an explosive whistle-blower’s complaint that revealed he had been working as a go-between to connect Ukrainian officials to Mr. Giuliani in a back-channel effort at shadow diplomacy.

Republicans and Democrats both believe Mr. Volker has something important to say.

Democrats are eager to have him testify because of text messages between him, Mr. Giuliani and another of the amigos, Gordon D. Sondland, Mr. Trump’s ambassador to the European Union. The messages reveal that Mr. Trump was trying to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate a discredited theory about Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 elections, as well as former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter, by dangling two things Mr. Zelensky coveted: a White House meeting with Mr. Trump, and $391 million in military aid that Congress had approved for Ukraine, but which the president was refusing to release.

(Mr. Sondland will testify Wednesday; the third amigo, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, is not on the list of witnesses.)

“Heard from White House — assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for a visit to Washington,” Mr. Volker wrote to a top aide to Mr. Zelensky on July 25, the same day that the two presidents spoke by phone in a conversation that is now central to the inquiry.

But Republicans believe Mr. Volker can help exonerate Mr. Trump, because during his closed-door testimony he said that he was not aware of any quid pro quo that tied the investigations Mr. Trump sought to military aid. Mr. Volker plans to testify that he was out of the loop at key moments during the events in question.

Mr. Volker was the first witness to testify in the impeachment inquiry behind closed doors in October. He told investigators that “at no time was I aware of or took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden.” He said that Mr. Biden was “never a topic of discussion” in the text messages. But the messages include references to Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company on whose board Hunter Biden served.

On the surface, Mr. Volker appears more loyal to Mr. Trump than the other career diplomats who have testified. In 2016, he pleaded with two former Republican officials not to publish a letter promoting the “Never Trumper” movement.

Mr. Volker, 54, began his government career as an analyst with the C.I.A., and joined the State Department as a Foreign Service officer in 1988. His overseas assignments included London, Brussels and Budapest. He rose through the ranks, eventually becoming the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs under Mr. Bush, but was pushed out when President Barack Obama took office.

While serving as the unpaid, part-time special envoy, Mr. Volker also worked as a strategic adviser to BGR Group, a firm that has lobbied on behalf of Ukraine. But the Ukraine inquiry cost him his job at the McCain Institute, established by former Senator John McCain, which Mr. Volker had led since 2012. He resigned last month, saying the investigation would be a distraction.

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