The efforts to impeach President Donald Trump have come down to Nov. 19-21. Because the Democrats have yet to produce a witness who can claim firsthand knowledge of any wrongdoing, it is difficult to imagine how that will change as no fewer than eight serving and former government officials are set to testify publicly. Each one of them has already attended a closed-door hearing.
Transcripts of some testimonies have now been made public, but others have not, which appears to be a deliberate strategy on the part of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) to manipulate public opinion by controlling what information gets out.
Unreleased Transcripts the Missing Puzzle Pieces?
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) has called for the remaining public hearings to be postponed until all transcripts have been released. The issue is that what was said in those hearings not yet disclosed cannot be used or discussed in the hearings yet to come. Zeldin is claiming that some of the information from the still-secret hearings has a direct bearing on questions upcoming witnesses would have been asked this week. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) official Mark Sandy testified in a closed-door hearing over the weekend. That transcript has not been released, and Sandy is not scheduled to appear at a public hearing.
Zeldin, during an appearance on Fox News, said Sandy provided information that clarifies why military assistance to Ukraine was put on hold. Democrats are trying to make the case that the aid was held up until Ukraine committed to investigating Joe and Hunter Biden and alleged Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 U.S. election:
“You still have those several transcripts, including both David Holmes and Mark Sandy, that haven’t been released to the public. I believe that we should not go forward with the next open public hearing until the rest of these transcripts are out because I would have questions to ask of these witnesses come Tuesday morning based off of what we heard.”
The Witness Line-Up
It seems highly unlikely that Schiff will agree to a delay as Democrats are up against the clock, in terms of drawing up articles of impeachment. On Nov. 19, Jennifer Williams and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman will testify in a public hearing of the House Intelligence Committee.
Williams is an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, and Vindman is the National Security Council’s (NSC) Ukraine point-man. Both of them listened in on the July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that is at the heart of the impeachment investigation. In the afternoon, former U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and former NSC Russia and Europe director Tim Morrison will appear.
On Nov. 20, Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, will testify, and Laura Cooper and David Hale will appear in the afternoon. Cooper is the deputy assistant secretary of defense, and Hale is the undersecretary of state for political affairs. On Nov. 21, President Trump’s Russia adviser, Fiona Hill, will testify, concluding the week’s hearings.
Some of these witnesses have provided conflicting versions of events or differ in how they interpreted certain events or statements. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, changes in the answers they provide lawmakers in the public setting, as opposed to what they said behind closed doors.
Read more from Graham J Noble.