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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Pence on impeachment: 'What else is new?'

Vice President Mike Pence spoke about impeachment Tuesday on the "Tony Katz and the Morning News" radio show on WIBC in Indianapolis.

"I think it's politics as usual, and frankly, it's what the Democrats have been doing for the last three years," Pence said. "I mean what else is new? That literally, from the day of our inauguration, there were press reports that the quest for impeachment begins.

"I think there was a headline in the Washington Post on Inauguration Day, and for two and a half years, while the president was delivering on rebuilding our military, reviving the American economy, nearly 7 million new jobs created, rolling back regulation, unleashing American energy, fighting for free and fair trade, 161 conservatives to our courts, America standing tall, engaging the world in new and in renewed ways, what the Democrats in Washington have been spending their time on is trying to overturn the results of the 2016 election."

Vice President Mike Pence delivers remarks at a Veterans Day event at Arlington National Cemetery on Nov. 11, 2019.Drew Angerer / Getty Images file

McConnell: 'Way too early' to outline Senate plan on impeachment

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters Tuesday that "it's way too early to scope out or announce how we might handle impeachment when it gets to the Senate."

McConnell was responding to a question about whether the Senate would call witnesses that House investigators haven't. 

"We're all having what-if discussions, but I think just laying out various hypotheticals now is not helpful," McConnell said.

The majority leader did opine on the likelihood of the Senate backing House impeachment, however. "It's inconceivable to me that there would be 67 votes to remove the president from office," he said.

Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, departs after testifying

Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, departs after testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on Nov. 19, 2019.J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Lt. Col. Vindman exits the Capitol after over four hours of testimony

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council's Ukraine expert, leaves the Longworth building on Tuesday after testifying before the House Intelligence Committee.Olivier Douliery / AFP - Getty Images

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.