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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Graham says Trump shouldn't testify at impeachment hearings

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was asked by reporters during a break in the hearing on Tuesday about President Donald Trump possibly testifying before the House Intelligence Committee.

Q: Do you think the president should come testify in the House impeachment trial? He said he's strongly considering it.

"If I were him, I wouldn't," Graham responded.

Nunes calls hearings ‘poison,’ Schiff says they're a ‘duty’ to the country

In their closing statements, ranking member Nunes and Chairman Schiff, again, offered wildly different interpretations of the nearly five-hour public hearing.

Nunes said that the hearings, as led by Democrats, “poison” the American people and that today's hearing offered no evidence that the president had pressured Ukraine.

Schiff, instead, thanked the witnesses for their service to the country and went through a list of evidence that he said showed Trump tried to pressure Ukraine.

He said Trump’s explanation and the GOP’s talking points are not sufficient because if the president was concerned about corruption he would have brought it up much earlier and would not have recalled an ambassador who led an anti-corruption effort in Ukraine. He said corruption was only a pretense to help the president’s re-election campaign. 

Williams, Vindman hearing over

The Williams and Vindman hearing has concluded after roughly 4.5 hours.

Vindman gets audience cheers after saying 'right matters' in America

Vindman got a round of applause from some in the audience during an exchange with Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y.

Maloney asked Vindman how he could be confident in telling his father not to worry about raising alarms about Trump's conduct.

"This is America," Vindman said. "This is the country I've served and defended. That all of my brothers have served. And here, right matters."

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.