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Saturday June 6th, 2020 7:18AM

The Latest: Vindman says he saw Trump request as a demand

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the public impeachment hearings into President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine (all times local):

10:20 a.m.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official, says his military experience shapes how he views a phone call between President Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart.

Vindman said at Tuesday’s impeachment hearing that he believed Trump was demanding that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy undertake an investigation into Trump’s Democratic rival Joe Biden even if Trump didn’t phrase it as a demand.

Vindman says that in the military, when someone senior "asks you to do something, even if it’s polite and pleasant, it's not to be taken as a request. It's to be taken as an order."

Vindman wore his military dress blue uniform with medals to the hearing.

___

10:15 a.m.

An aide to Vice President Mike Pence has told the House Intelligence Committee she will submit a classified memo about a September call between Pence and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as part of the impeachment investigation.

Asked by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff if she took notes of the call and if there was anything she wanted to share that is relevant to the impeachment probe, Jennifer Williams testified that she would follow the advice of her lawyer who advised her not to answer. The lawyer said the vice president’s office said the call was classified.

Williams told the committee behind closed doors this month that the call was “very positive” and the two men did not discuss Trump’s push for investigations of Democrats.

___

10:10 a.m.

The White House is responding to Tuesday’s House impeachment proceedings in real time, stepping up pushback after facing criticism that it wasn’t doing enough to defend the president.

The White House sent out five “rapid response” emails to reporters before the witnesses were even sworn in for questioning. And the notes continued throughout the proceedings to defend President Donald Trump and try to undermine the credibility of the witnesses appearing.

Administration officials were also participating Tuesday in an event for regional reporters.

Press secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted that, "While the dems cry impeachment we are speaking to the country w regional media interviews focused on @POTUS balanced trade agenda.”

Trump has been silent on Twitter so far, but has a Cabinet meeting scheduled later Tuesday morning.

___

10:05 a.m.

A White House aide says that he doesn’t think the omission of the word “Burisma” from the transcript of a July 25 call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s new president was significant.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman says he thinks the people who do transcripts may not have caught the word. He said they put in “company” instead. Burisma is a Ukrainian gas company affiliated with the son of Joe Biden.

Vindman is testifying publicly Tuesday before a House committee in the impeachment inquiry into Trump.

He said that he tried to edit the transcript of the call to note the word “Burisma” but it didn’t make it into the rough transcript released publicly. He doesn’t know why.

Vindman said he thought President Volodymyr Zelenskiy may have been prepped for the call because he didn’t think the new leader would know about it otherwise.

___

10 a.m.

A White House aide says that he told Ukrainian officials to stay out of U.S. politics.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is testifying publicly Tuesday before a House committee in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Vindman was on a July 25 call between Trump and Ukraine’s new president where Trump pressed for investigations into the 2016 presidential election and the son of his Democratic rival.

Vindman said he knew “without hesitation” that he had to report the call to the White House counsel.

He told the committee that another official, U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, later said the Ukrainians needed to provide “a deliverable” which was “specific investigations.”

Vindman later told Ukrainian officials they should steer clear of the requests.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

___

9:55 a.m.

The Democratic committee chairman leading the House impeachment hearing is highlighting verbal attacks that President Donald Trump and his defenders have made against two government officials who are testifying.

As Tuesday’s hearing began, California Rep. Adam Schiff mentioned Trump’s tweet in which he accused Vice President Mike Pence adviser Jennifer Williams of being a never-Trumper.

Schiff also criticized “scurrilous attacks” against Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who he noted “shed blood for America.” He said he hoped members of the House Intelligence Committee would not attack him.

The top Republican on the committee is California Rep. Devin Nunes.

He accused Democrats of hiding the whistleblower whose report triggered the impeachment investigation in their “own witness protection program.” And he says witness testimony so far has been based on second- and third-hand accounts of conversations.

___

9:45 a.m.

A White House aide says that he recognizes that what he is doing — testifying before Congress — would not be tolerated in many other countries.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman says in Russia, for example, his “act of expressing my concerns to the chain of command in an official and private channel” would have cost him his life.

Vindman, dressed in uniform, testified that he felt Trump’s request on a July 25 call to a new Ukrainian leader to investigate a political rival was “improper.”

The U.S. Army official is an immigrant from Ukraine. He said that he is grateful his father came to the United States some 40 years ago, a place “where I can live free of fear for mine and my family’s safety.”

He then spoke to his late father, saying “Dad, my sitting here today ... is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union.”

___

9:38 a.m.

A White House aide tells lawmakers that what he heard on a July phone call between President Donald Trump and the new Ukrainian president was "improper."

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is testifying Tuesday in a public hearing in the House impeachment inquiry into Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate his Democratic political rivals as he withheld aid to the East European nation.

Vindman is a U.S. Army officer detailed to the National Security Council. He listened in on the July 25 call at the center of the impeachment inquiry. Trump asked the new Ukrainian president to look into whether Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election and wanted the country to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Vindman said it was "improper" for Trump to demand a foreign government investigative a U.S. citizen and political opponent.

Vindman is one of several witnesses coming before the committee this week. He and the other witnesses have already testified behind closed doors.

Trump has denied doing anything wrong.

___

9:30 a.m.

The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee is blaming the media for the impeachment drive against President Donald Trump.

Devin Nunes spent his opening statement at the third day of impeachment hearings excoriating journalists, saying “the media of course are free to act as Democratic puppets ... at the direction of their puppet masters.”

Absent from Nunes opening remarks Tuesday was any significant defense of Trump as he faces the starkest test of his presidency. The Democratic-led House is investigating his pressure campaign against Ukraine to open a probe into Joe Biden and his son.

At the center of the impeachment drive is Trump’s July 25th call to Ukraine’s president, when he mentioned Biden and a discredited theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

___

9:15 a.m.

The twin brother of a U.S. Army officer and White House aide is in the House intelligence hearing to support his appearance at the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is testifying Tuesday publicly on what he heard on a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine’s new leader.

Vindman told his twin brother Yevgeny about the call and his concerns about it. His brother sat behind him Tuesday in the hearing room. Yevgeny Vindman is also a U.S. Army official who is an attorney in the White House.

The House intelligence panel is holding public hearings into Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate his Democratic political rivals while also withholding aid to the Eastern European nation.

__

9:05 a.m.

An adviser to Vice President Mike Pence says she found a July phone call between President Donald Trump and the Ukraine leader “unusual” since it “involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter.”

Jennifer Williams was at the witness table Tuesday as the House intelligence public hearing got underway. The House impeachment inquiry is looking into the Trump administration’s interactions with Ukraine.

She listened to the July 25 call between Trump and Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy. She says that after the call, she provided an update in the vice president’s daily briefing book indicating that the conversation had taken place.

Williams says she did not discuss the call with Pence or any of her colleagues in the office of the vice president or the National Security Council.

The House intelligence panel is holding public hearings into Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate his Democratic political rivals while also withholding aid to the Eastern European nation.

__

9:05 a.m.

An adviser to Vice President Mike Pence says she was told that White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney had directed that a hold on military aid to Ukraine should remain in place.

Jennifer Williams is testifying Tuesday in the House impeachment inquiry into the Trump administration’s interactions with Ukraine.

Williams says she attended meetings earlier this year in which the hold on Ukraine security assistance was discussed.

She says representatives of the State and Defense departments advocated that the hold on the aid should be lifted, and that budget officials said that Mulvaney had directed that it remain in place.

Williams says she learned on Sept. 11 that the hold had been lifted. She says she’s never learned what prompted that decision.

The House intelligence panel is conducting public hearings into President Donald Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter, while also withholding security aid to the Eastern European nation.

__

8:47 a.m.

Key impeachment witnesses Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and adviser Jennifer Williams have arrived for their testimony at a House intelligence panel hearing. They are the Tuesday morning witnesses in a critical week of public hearings against President Donald Trump.

Vindman was wearing his dress uniform. Both Vindman and Williams, a State department employee deployed to Vice President Mike Pence’s staff, listened in on the key July 25 call between Trump and the Ukrainian president.

On the call, Trump prodded the Ukraine leader to do him a “favor” and launch an investigation into Joe Biden and his son while crucial aid to Ukraine was being held up on his orders.

___

12:05 a.m.

Two top national security aides who listened to President Donald Trump’s call with Ukraine are scheduled to testify in the impeachment hearings, launching back-to-back sessions as Americans hear from those closest to the White House.

An Army officer at the National Security Council, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, and his counterpart at Vice President Mike Pence’s office, Jennifer Williams, both had concerns as Trump spoke on July 25 with the newly elected Ukraine president about political investigations into Joe Biden.

They are set to testify publicly Tuesday morning. In the afternoon, the House will hear from former NSC official Timothy Morrison and the former Ukraine special envoy, Kurt Volker.

In all, nine witnesses are testifying in a pivotal week as the House’s historic impeachment inquiry accelerates and deepens.

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