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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Morrison: July 25 call confirmed back-channel diplomacy

Morrison testified that when he heard Trump request an investigation into Burisma and the Bidens in the July 25 call, it “confirmed” something he’d already been warned about by his predecessor, Fiona Hill, in their handoff meetings.

“She mentioned the traditional […] process and the parallel process, and in the context of discussing the parallel process, she mentioned issues like Burisma, which were noteworthy to me at the time because I had never heard of them before," he said. "Upon hearing them in the call, it wound up confirming, OK, there’s something here."

The concept of diplomatic back channel has been a major theme during the impeachment proceedings.

Morrison said Hill told him the parallel process included Gordon Sondland and Rudy Giuliani.

Morrison calls handling of July 25 transcript was an 'administrative error'

Morrison was asked by Goldman about the highly unusual effort to "lock down" the transcript of the July 25 call between Trump and the Ukranian president and said that it was put on the secure server by mistake. 

"It was an administrative error," he said. 

In his closed-door testimony, Morrison said, “it was a mistake.”

The way that the transcript was handled created a lot of consternation among former national security officials and Democrats who saw it as irregular. 

Volker is asked how he felt Biden, Burisma were different

Volker, under questioning from Goldman about the Bidens and Burisma, reiterated that he “did believe that they were separate.”

“Allegations against Biden are self-serving and not credible,” Volker said. 

But that, he added, was “separate” from the issue of potential investigations into corruption at Ukrainian companies like Burisma.

Volker testimony includes major changes from private deposition

Kurt Volker, the former U.S. envoy to Ukraine, is amending his testimony from his Oct. 3 private deposition, and now says he didn’t know at that time that military aid to Ukraine had been linked to Ukraine launching investigations that would have been politically advantageous to the president.

“Since I gave my testimony on Oct. 3, a great deal of additional information and perspectives have come to light. I have learned many things that I did not know at the time of the events in question,” Volker said in his opening statement.

“I did not know of any linkage between the hold on security assistance and Ukraine pursuing investigations. No one had ever said that to me — and I never conveyed such a linkage to the Ukrainians," Volker said.

Volker also said that, in hindsight, he now understands the desired investigation into Burisma — the Ukrainian gas company that Hunter Biden joined as a board member in 2014 —  was, in fact, intended as an investigation into the Bidens.

“In retrospect, I should have seen that connection differently, and had I done so, I would have raised my own objections,” he added.

These are significant amendments and reinforce the emerging narrative being established by House Democrats that military aid for Ukraine was, in fact, conditioned on the launching of investigations by Ukraine into the Bidens and the 2016 election.

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6 things we learned from Vindman's and Williams' impeachment testimony

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Jennifer Williams — who both listened in on the July 25 call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskiy at the center of the House's impeachment inquiry — spent more than four hours testifying before the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday.

During the hearing, both Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, and Williams, a special adviser on Europe and Russia to Vice President Mike Pence, said that call gave them cause for concern, while Vindman faced repeated personal attacks by Republicans on the committee.

Here are six takeaways from their public appearance.

Morrison: ‘My fears have been realized’

Morrison used his opening statement to share his concerns about the hearings. He said he does not know who the whistleblower is and declined to speculate. Morrison said that he did not feel pressured to resign from his post or fear retaliation, but he was very concerned about the July 25 call between Trump and the Ukrainian president. 

"I feared at the time of the call on July 25 how its disclosure would play in Washington's political climate. My fears have been realized,” he said. 

He then used his statement to urge lawmakers to not lose sight of the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia after the illegal annexation of Crimea and that these hearings could hurt Ukraine’s efforts to fight the Kremlin. 

Witnesses sworn in

Ambassador Kurt Volker, former special envoy to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, a former official at the National Security Council, are sworn in before the House Intelligence Committee on Nov. 19, 2019.Alex Brandon / AP

Nunes slams witness choice before GOP-chosen witness testimony

Rep. Devin Nunes again railed against the impeachment inquiry — calling it “a farce”—  and the Democrats leading the process. He complained that the public hearings were not a fact-finding missions but instead designed to “showcase” witnesses chosen by the Democrats.

He failed to mention, however, that the witnesses about to be interviewed were requested by the minority party, according to the committee chairman.