EVENT ENDED

Analysis after Alexander Vindman, Jennifer Williams, Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison 's impeachment testimony

Their testimony kicked off the second week of open hearings in the House's impeachment inquiry.

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The second week of public hearings in the House's impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump kicked off on Tuesday with testimony from four current and former administration officials.

Former U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and former National Security Council staffer Tim Morrison testified beginning around 3:30 p.m. ET. Earlier Tuesday, NSC staffer Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, testified for around 4.5 hours starting at 9 a.m ET.

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GOP spins who's partisan and who isn't

As the GOP side suggests Vindman is partisan and disloyal to his country, they’re promoting the words of Tim Morrison, a former National Security Council official who oversaw Russia and Europe policy.

It’s worth noting the asymmetry here: Vindman has served his career in explicitly nonpartisan roles. Morrison was a longtime aide to House Republicans on the Armed Services Committee. That is, the lawmakers in the hearing are positioning a declared partisan actor as nonpartisan and a declared nonpartisan actor as partisan.

Heck: A 'painful irony' Trump pardons war criminals and demeans Vindman

Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., gave an impassioned defense of Vindman, who has been attacked by the GOP and Trump allies. Heck said there was a “rich but incredibly painful irony” in the GOP and the president attacking Vindman within a week of Trump, contrary to the advice of military advisers, pardoning military officers who were convicted of war crimes. 

Heck has played this role before in the last two hearings, often using his time to thank the witnesses for their service and serve as a sort of anger translator to push back on GOP attacks.

Former Obama official on White House tweet criticizing Vindman: 'Astonishing'

Ratcliffe uses a poster of Pelosi during questioning

Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, uses a poster of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as he questions National Security Council aide Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman on Nov. 19, 2019.J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Castro’s twin quip offers a moment of levity

Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, drew laughter in the hearing room when he quipped about being an identical twin before questioning Vindman, who also has an identical twin brother. 

“It’s great to talk to a fellow identical twin. I hope that your brother is nicer to you than mine is to me and doesn’t make you grow a beard,” Castro said.

Castro’s brother, Julián Castro, is the former HUD secretary and 2020 presidential hopeful. The two have been regularly mistaken for each other, especially since Julián’s presidential run. 

Julián Castro fired back on Twitter shortly after:

Hurd points out Trump doesn’t ever stick to talking points

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas., is making it clear in his questioning of Vindman that there was nothing out of the ordinary with Trump not addressing corruption with Zelenskiy in his April 21 phone call, even though Vindman had put together talking points suggesting he do so.

Hurd, reminding Vindman that he regularly prepared talking points for his superiors, asked him, “Do they always use them?”

“No,” Vindman replied.

“Is President Trump known to stick to a script?” Hurd asked.

“I don't believe so,” Vindman said.

“So is it odd he didn’t use your talking points?” Hurd asked.

“No,” Vindman said.

A summary of the April 21 call released by the White House last week did not mention corruption.

Lindsey Graham criticizes 'bribery' charge

Vindman explains why he corrected Nunes

As GOP Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah questioned Vindman on why he wanted Nunes to address him as "Lt. Col." instead of "Mr.," Vindman says "the attacks I've had in the press and Twitter have kind of" served to marginalize "me as a military officer.”

Stewart says he is sure Nunes meant “no offense” by not referring to him by his military title.

Stewart then segued into suggesting that, because Vindman is a military officer, he might have wrongly assumed Trump was demanding the investigations from Zelenskiy — because Trump doesn't have a military background so maybe he was just asking and didn't know better.

Vindman said earlier, citing his military background, that when a superior such as Trump asks for something, it's an order, not just a request, especially when the person being asked is someone far less powerful, like Zelenskiy.

Army providing 'supportive assistance' to Vindman during impeachment inquiry

Vindman is receiving “supportive assistance” from the Army amid his role in the impeachment inquiry and as he draws public attention, a Defense Department official said Tuesday as Vindman testified on Capitol Hill. 

“The Army is providing supportive assistance to help Colonel Vindman with the public attention,” said Col. Kathy Turner, an Army spokeswoman. 

She wouldn’t elaborate on that assistance, such as safety or security measures.

“As a matter of practice, the Army would neither confirm nor deny any safety or security measures taken on behalf of an individual; however, as we would with any soldier, the Army will work with civilian authorities to ensure that he and his family are properly protected,” Turner said. 

According to The Associated Press, the Army and local law enforcement are providing security for Vindman. This comes after the Army conducted a security assessment to assess whether Vindman and his family are secure, the official told the AP. 

A U.S. official told NBC News that the Army will put necessary measures in place to ensure Vindman can serve his country. The official said that some of the options for security could be moving Vindman and his family to a military base. 

The U.S. official, however, said there is no imminent threat to Vindman.

Vindman says he’s seen changes at work due to his role in inquiry

Responding to questions from Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., about whether they’ve been treated differently at their respective jobs in the weeks since their roles in the impeachment inquiry became public, Vindman and Williams answer differently.

While Williams replied, “I have not,” Vindman said he has.

“I did notice I was being excluded from several meetings that would have been appropriate for my position,” he said. 

When asked by Speier whether he felt those exclusions merited “reprisals” for his role, Vindman said, “I’m not sure if I could make that judgment.”

Vindman added, however, that it was “out of the course of normal affairs.”