Adam Schiff

House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks before Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

 

On Tuesday, Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a Director of National Security Affairs at the National Security Council, testified before Adam Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee. Vindman, a direct witness to the July 25th conversation between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, is considered the White House’s “Ukraine expert.” He was so troubled by the call that he reported his concerns to the NSC’s lead counsel, John A. Eisenberg.

In his prepared statement, Vindman wrote:

I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine. Following the call, I… reported my concerns to NSC’s lead counsel…

I am a patriot, and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend our country, irrespective of party or politics…

For over 20 years as an active-duty United States military officer and diplomat, I have served this country in a nonpartisan manner, and have done so with the utmost respect and professionalism for both Republican and Democratic administrations.

There were several troubling aspects to Vindman’s testimony. First, according to the New York Times, after viewing the White House rough transcript of the call, he noticed there were several omissions. For example, Zelensky had referred to Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma, and that name did not appear in the transcript. Burisma, had been under investigation in 2015-2016 by Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. At that time, Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, served on the company’s board. Knowing that Shokin was about to question his son, Biden famously threatened that he would withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid unless Shokin was fired. The other major omission was “Trump’s assertion that there were recordings of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. discussing Ukraine corruption.”

Vindman testified that he had tried to have those items put back into the call transcript, but had failed. At first, news that he had tried to tamper with the rough transcript sent off alarm bells among Republicans. Ultimately, cooler heads prevailed and this issue was said to be minor.

The more concerning issue with Vindman’s testimony was his admission that he had shared read-outs of the call with others afterward. You can well imagine that Republican ears perked up when they heard this. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) asked Vindman how many others he shared this information with. At that point, according to Jordan who spoke to reporters following the hearing, Schiff said, “No, no, no, no, we’re not going to let him answer that question.”

This is extremely problematic. If Schiff had not stopped the witness from answering the question, Jordan would have asked who exactly were the individuals he gave this information to. It’s possible that one of them is the whistleblower.

Reporters accused Jordan of trying to find out the name of the whistleblower through the process of elimination.

So what!

We should know the name of the whistleblower. The so-called “whistleblower” set off a national firestorm. He doesn’t get to remain anonymous.

The fact that Vindman shared the read-outs with others after the call led Fox News‘ Catherine Herridge to wonder if he had violated 18 USC 798. the federal leaking statute, by doing so.

In the clip below, Herridge explains that presidential phone calls are classified, so if Vindman shared it with an individual who was not authorized to receive it, he may have potentially violated the law. In his prepared statement, he indicates he shared it with “a very small group of properly cleared national security counterparts with a relative need to know.”

It is important for Republicans to find out who these individuals are. It may be that they are all properly cleared. It may also be that one of them spoke to the whistleblower.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Schiff have handled the impeachment inquiry, that Pelosi says is not an impeachment inquiry, poorly. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) said that Schiff is trying “to run a one-sided, Soviet style process that we’ve never seen before.”

Last night, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) joined Sean Hannity. He said:

I have never in my life seen anything like what happened today, during the testimony of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.

It was unprecedented. I mean, they’ve been bad at most of these depositions, but to interrupt us continually to coach the witness, to decide… what we’re going to be able to ask the witness.

And, to see someone coach a witness, this isn’t the first time that Schiff — Schiff is very good at coaching witnesses.

All I can say is that the American people are watching, and with the exception of the Democratic base, no one is too impressed.