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Patriots Impeachment Weekly Wrap-Up: ‘I Want Nothing’

Virginia Kruta Associate Editor
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With just one week to hold hearings before Congress members left for Thanksgiving — and high hopes for a January Senate trial — the House Intelligence Committee lined witnesses up from wall to wall and ceiling to floor.

Committee Chairman Adam Schiff presided over three full days of witness testimony against President Donald Trump that included:

  • Jennifer Williams, former aide to Vice President Mike Pence
  • LTC Alexander Vindman, National Security Council director of European affairs
  • Ambassador Kurt Volker, former envoy to Ukraine
  • Tim Morrison, White House aide with the National Security Council
  • Gordon Sondland, Ambassador to the European Union
  • Laura Cooper, deputy assistant Secretary of Defense
  • David Hale, undersecretary of State
  • Fiona Hill, former senior director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council
  • David Holmes, political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv

The key players:

  • Sondland’s testimony garnered the most attention, especially after his opening statement appeared to omit one simple point of clarification that proved to be quite relevant. After multiple outlets published on his statement — which said he would testify that there was, in fact, a quid pro quo — Sondland conceded during the course of his interview that he presumed there was a quid pro quo, rather than it being explicitly directed.
  • Fiona Hill made headlines with a story from her childhood about the time another student set her hair on fire during an exam — she put it out with her bare hands and continued with her test, as one does. When she suggested that the Steele Dossier was possibly Russian disinformation, however, there was no response from Schiff — who had seized upon the dossier and attempted to use it against Trump.
  • Vindman set off a fierce exchange between Schiff and ranking member Devin Nunes over whether or not answering certain questions would “out the whistleblower” — a person whose identity both Vindman and Schiff claim not to know.
  • Vindman also revealed during his testimony that he had been asked to step into a role as Ukraine’s defense minister —three times.
  • South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham made his long-awaited first move Thursday, announcing that he had sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting documents related to all communications between former Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, Ukrainian officials and other Obama administration officials. Graham also told Fox News host Sean Hannity that the long-awaited report on FISA abuse would be made available December 9.

The White House response:

The hot takes:

  • First Daughter Ivanka Trump weighed in with a quote from Alexis de Tocqueville: “A decline of public morals in the United States will probably be marked by the abuse of the power of impeachment as a means of crushing political adversaries or ejecting them from office.”
  • Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who presided over the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, was not impressed with Schiff’s handling of the process thus far. “It’s hard to exaggerate how fundamentally dishonest Adam Schiff has been throughout this impeachment process. It’s on a scale that dishonors the United States Congress,” he said.
  • LTC Vindman, upon being addressed as “Mr. Vindman” by ranking member Nunes, asked that he be addressed by rank.
  • Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders to Fox News host Sean Hannity: “Every witness did not witness anything!”
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a memo to her fellow House Democrats, urged commitment to the impeachment inquiry and suggested that allowing the American people to decide Trump’s fate at the ballot box in 2020 would be “weak” and “dangerous.”

Public response: