We go to air, on today's BradCast, midway between the two sets of witnesses on Day 3 of public hearings in the U.S. House impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump, with testimony from Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine and Tim Morrison, the National Security Council's former chief Russia and Ukraine adviser --- both of whom have since resigned in the wake of the Ukraine scandal --- scheduled for the afternoon session. So we focus today on the testimony from Tuesday's morning session featuring Lt. Col Alexander Vindman, the Ukraine expert on Donald Trump's NSC and Jennifer Williams, Vice President Mike Pence's Ukraine expert. [Audio link to show follows below.]
Both of those witnesses have served for years as government officials. Williams was hired as a political appointee by the George W. Bush Administration after working on his Presidential campaign. Vindman, who immigrated here from Soviet-era Ukraine with his family when he was three, is a 20-year, decorated military man and Purple Heart recipient after being wounded by an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2014. Both officials were listening in during Donald Trump's infamous July 25 call to Ukraine's new President Volodymyr Zelensky when Trump asked him for the "favor" of investigations into Joe Biden and his son's involvement with Ukrainian gas company Burisma, and into the Russia-supported theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. President election.
Williams described the President's phone call with Zelensky as "inappropriate", as did Vindman, who was so "shocked" by the attempt at strong-arming Ukraine for Trump's personal political purposes that he brought his concerns to the NSC's top legal counsel on two separate occasions. The first time was after a July 10 White House meeting with Ukrainian officials, after then National Security Advisor John Bolton objected strongly to Trump-donor turned EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland (who testifies on Wednesday) informing the foreign emissaries that they would need to carry out those investigations in order to receive a White House meeting for President Zelensky, and again after the July 25 phone call when nearly $400 million in military aid was held up by the Administration in exchange for the "favor" Trump sought from the Ukrainians. Vindman testified today that he "couldn't believe what [he] was hearing".
“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,” Vindman explained.
We share portions of Vindman's testimony on both of the disturbing July events, including his concerns that the pressure campaign was a threat to U.S. national security, along with his personal response to the attacks he has received from the President and others since his role in what Democrats describe as the President's bribery scandal has come to light.
We're joined once again by our special BradCast Impeachment Correspondent Heather Digby Parton of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo to discuss today's proceedings, including how Vindman's testimony blew up the Trump/GOP narrative that the pressure campaign was meant to combat corruption in Ukraine; what Democrats hope Americans take away from today's testimony; how Republicans are responding in their alternate reality world; how John Bolton might actually prove to be a hero in this story (as unlikely as that seems); and, by the way, what was Donald Trump doing in his unannounced, rushed, mysterious weekend trip to Walter Reed Medical Center anyway?
Finally today, as if all of that is not enough, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, on record, climate change-fueled flooding in the historic city of Venice; Ford's new all-electric Mustang SUV, and a landmark, bipartisan legislative plan passed by New Zealand to reach net zero carbon emissions in just over a decade...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)