FACTBOX-'A fevered rush to target and remove a president': Quotes from Trump impeachment hearing
The U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee held its third day of public hearings on Tuesday in an impeachment inquiry examining President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine. On the first of two witness panels were Jennifer Williams, an aide to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, and U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, director for European Affairs at the National Security Council.
In the afternoon, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, and Tim Morrison, former White House aide with the National Security Council will testify. Below are quotations from the proceedings:
HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN ADAM SCHIFF
Schiff, a Democrat, opened the impeachment hearing by addressing the alleged actions by Trump that are the focus of the inquiry he is spearheading.
"To press a foreign leader to announce an investigation into his political rival, President Trump put his own personal and political interests above those of the nation. He undermined our military and diplomatic support for a key ally, and undercut U.S. anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine." "If the president abused his power and invited foreign interference in our elections, if he sought to condition, coerce, extort, or bribe an ally into conducting investigations to aid his reelection campaign and did so by withholding official acts — a White House meeting or hundreds of millions of dollars of needed military aid — it will be up to us to decide, whether those acts are compatible with the office of the presidency."
Schiff also addressed attacks on Williams and Vindman by the president and his supporters. "Ms. Williams, we all saw the president's tweet about you on Sunday afternoon ... You are here today, and the American people are grateful. Colonel Vindman, we have seen far more scurrilous attacks on your character and watched as certain personalities on Fox (News) have questioned your loyalty. I note that you have shed blood for America and we owe you an immense debt of gratitude. I hope no one on this committee will become part of those vicious attacks."
Nunes, the top Republican on the committee, spent much of his opening statement denouncing the U.S. news media as "puppets of the Democratic Party" who are in "a fevered rush to tarnish and remove a president."
"The media, of course, are free to act as Democrat puppets, and they're free to lurch from the Russia hoax to the Ukraine hoax at the direction of their puppet masters. But they cannot reasonably expect to do so without alienating half the country who voted for the President they're trying to expel." "Americans have learned to recognize fake news when they see it, and if the mainstream press won't give it to them straight, they'll go elsewhere to find it—which is exactly what the American people are doing."
LIEUTENANT COLONEL ALEXANDER VINDMAN:
"It is improper for the president of the United States to demand a foreign government to investigate a U.S. citizen and a political opponent ... It would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing bipartisan support, undermine U.S. national security and advance Russia's strategic objectives in the region."
Vindman spoke about attacks that have been directed against him and other witnesses by Trump and his allies: "I want to take a moment to recognize the courage of my colleagues who have appeared and are scheduled to appear before this committee. I want to say that the character attacks on these distinguished and honorable public servants is reprehensible ... We are better than personal attacks." He also addressed his father during his opening statement, saying he had made the right decision to leave the Soviet Union and come to the United States in search of a better life, free of fear, for the family.
"Dad, my sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol, talking to our elected officials, is proof that you made the right decision forty years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth."
"On July 25th, along with several of my colleagues, I listened to a call between President Trump and President Zelenskiy ... I found the July 25th phone call unusual because, in contrast to other presidential calls I had observed, it involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter."
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