New im­peach­ment wit­ness rocks White House

Trump of­fi­cial says Ukraine call raised se­cu­rity con­cerns

The Korea Times - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON (AFP) — A dec­o­rated Iraq War vet­eran rocked the White House Tues­day with dev­as­tat­ing tes­ti­mony on Don­ald Trump’s al­leged ex­tor­tion of Ukraine as Democrats laid out plans for the public phase of the im­peach­ment in­quiry threat­en­ing his pres­i­dency.

The Demo­cratic-led House is in­ves­ti­gat­ing Trump over his bid to pres­sure Ukraine into dig­ging up dirt on elec­tion ri­val Joe Bi­den — and ac­cu­sa­tions he con­di­tioned nearly $400 mil­lion in mil­i­tary aid on the po­lit­i­cal fa­vor.

Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil Ukraine expert Lieu­tenant Colonel Alexander Vind­man said in writ­ten tes­ti­mony for his closed-door de­po­si­tion he wit­nessed Trump and a se­nior diplo­mat pres­sur­ing Ukraine for that help.

In ex­plo­sive pre­pared tes­ti­mony, Vind­man re­counted lis­ten­ing to Trump pres­sure Ukraine Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Ze­len­skiy on the now in­fa­mous July 25 phone call that sparked the im­peach­ment probe.

His open­ing state­ment, re­leased late Mon­day, of­fers some of the strong­est ev­i­dence yet for ac­cu­sa­tions that Trump abused his of­fice and broke elec­tion law to gain Kiev’s sup­port for his re-elec­tion.

Vind­man ar­rived on Capi­tol Hill Tues­day in full mil­i­tary dress uni­form, as Trump blasted him on Twit­ter as a “Never Trumper” — his la­bel for Repub­li­cans who fun­da­men­tally op­pose the pres­i­dent.

“How many more Never Trumpers will be al­lowed to tes­tify about a per­fectly ap­pro­pri­ate phone call,” he asked.

“Was he on the same call that I was? Can’t be pos­si­ble!” Repub­li­cans mo­bi­lized to un­der­cut Vind­man’s cred­i­bil­ity, ques­tion­ing his loy­alty by not­ing he moved to the U.S. from the Soviet Union at the age of three and sug­gest­ing he is part of an ef­fort by the U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity bu­reau­cracy to un­der­mine Trump.

“Don­ald Trump is in­no­cent. The deep state is guilty,” said Repub­li­can lawmaker Matt Gaetz, one of the pres­i­dent’s most stri­dent de­fend­ers in

Congress.

The first White House of­fi­cial to tes­tify and a Pur­ple Heart re­cip­i­ent af­ter be­ing wounded in Iraq, Vind­man has proved a much more dif­fi­cult wit­ness for Repub­li­cans to dis­miss, how­ever, than pre­vi­ous civil­ian gov­ern­ment fig­ures.

The vet­eran, who ig­nored White House or­ders to defy a con­gres­sional sub­poena to tes­tify, said alarm bells rang dur­ing a July 10 meet­ing with Am­bas­sador to the Euro­pean Union Gor­don Sond­land and a Kiev of­fi­cial.

Vind­land said Sond­land pres­sured the of­fi­cial to open cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tions into a de­bunked con­spir­acy the­ory that Ukraine helped Democrats against Trump in the 2016 elec­tion.

AP-Yon­hap

Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vind­man, sec­ond from left, a mil­i­tary of­fi­cer at the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, departs a closed door meet­ing af­ter tes­ti­fy­ing as part of the House im­peach­ment in­quiry into Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Capi­tol Hill in Wash­ing­ton, Tues­day.

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