House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., talks to reporters about the release by the White House of a transcript of a call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelenskiy, in which Trump is said to have pushed for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his family, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Transcripts are being released from various impeachment inquiry witnesses and it’s becoming clear exactly why Adam Schiff wanted to keep all this stuff secret.
As we gain more context, many claims we’ve seen bandied about as bombshells have ended up becoming much more murky. For example, we saw more headlines than I can count proclaiming that Bill Taylor had confirmed a quid pro quo. Yet, his full testimony shows that his evidence consisted of fourth-hand assumption and a report in The New York Times. We also saw Gordon Sondland reveal that he told a Ukranian official that aid was “likely” tied to corruption investigations, including into Burisma (and by virtue Hunter Biden). Just as with Taylor, though, he swore under oath that he was basing that on presumption and not any direct order.
While it may be reasonable to claim there’s smoke here, none of this has been directly connected to the President. That seems like a pretty big issue if one seeks to impeach and remove him.
Outside of that issue though, there are other questions involving the original whistle-blower (reported to be Eric Ciaramella). We know he was not legally privy to anything on the telephone call between Trump and Zelensky, which has formed the genesis of this matter. That means that whoever gave him the contents was illegally leaking classified information. Perhaps the whistle-blower himself is protected by statute for simply passing that information along, but whoever gave it to him certainly isn’t it for their original crime.
That leads us to Alexander Vindman. He’s become a central figure in these discussions after he marched up to Capitol Hill, proclaiming himself a patriot, and shared all his deep concerns about Donald Trump. He accused the President of “subverting” U.S. foreign policy, which gives you a window into the perverted minds of some of these bureaucrats that assume it is they who actually run things.
It’s been suspected that Vindman was the one who leaked to the whistle-blower and now that his testimony has been released, it seems fairly certain. Check out these excerpts and see what you notice.
JORDAN: "Who else did you talk to following the July 25th call?"
And then Swalwell, Schiff, and Vindman's criminal defense attorney immediately jump in to make sure he never answers the question.
What are they afraid of? pic.twitter.com/wzeo5oW65p
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) November 8, 2019
In these transcripts, we see Jim Jordan pressing Vindman on who outside of the chain of command he talked to about the call. Then we see Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell jump in and stop him from answering. But it’s what they say when they stop Vindman that gives the entire thing away.
“Mr. Chairman, I want to object that the question calls to reveal the whistleblower, and if there’s no other — (interruption)
Then Schiff says this to follow up.
“Mr. Jordan, the minority may not care about protecting the whistleblower, but we in the majority do.”
The problem is that Jordan never asked about the whistle-blower. This means that both Schiff and Swalwell accidentally confirmed here that Vindman is indeed the source for the ICIG complaint. In short, if Vindman answering the question about who he talked to would give up the whistle-blower’s identity, that means Vindman was the source.
Last I checked, it’s a crime to share classified information with people not legally able to receive that information. We’ve been told from the beginning of this ordeal that the whistle-blower himself did not have the proper clearance to access the phone call.
The rough transcript of the call, according to the complaint, was first classified as secret and later top-secret, ensuring that only those with the highest clearances would be able to read it.
Not only did Vindman share concerns about a call classified at the highest level, he gave exacting details and quotes to the whistle-blower.
Contrary to what some said when Vindman was first called to testify, he does not enjoy any immunity simply because he’s part of an impeachment proceeding. He did not follow the chain of command or protocol to report his concerns, instead leaking to someone without proper clearance. I’m failing to see any argument that he didn’t break the law here.
This impeachment thing is going to be over soon enough. When it is, the DOJ needs to go to work. You don’t get to commit crimes just because you disagree with decisions made by the President. Vindman should absolutely be investigated over this. To let him skate would set yet another awful precedent.
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