Trump’s Ukraine call gets scrutiny with White House officials’ testimony

https://www.politico.com/news/2019/11/19/trump-ukraine-scrutiny-officials-testimony-071395

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Jennifer Williams have two things in common: They both listened to President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president. And they both testified under oath that it was far from “perfect.”

On Tuesday, the two White House national security aides will sit side by side as House Democrats kick off the second week of public impeachment hearings. Lawmakers plan to press them about why they felt Trump’s efforts to push his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate his political foes were inappropriate — and how they believed the campaign jeopardized U.S. national security.

The duo has another thing in common: They have since come under attack from Trump, who dubbed them “Never Trumpers” and pushed back against their characterization of the fateful phone call that is at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

The testimony of Vindman, the top Ukraine specialist on the National Security Council, and Williams, an adviser to Vice President Mike Pence on Russia and Europe, brings the inquiry closer to Trump than ever before — arming Democrats with firsthand accounts of Trump’s posture toward Ukraine amid criticism from Republicans that last week’s witnesses offered only “hearsay.”

Both officials also offer high-level insight into the confusion and alarm that followed Trump’s abrupt decision to freeze U.S. military aid to Ukraine, a key U.S. ally fending off Russian aggression.

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