Four key impeachment witnesses testify

By Veronica Rocha, Meg Wagner and Amanda Wills, CNN

Updated 8:44 p.m. ET, November 19, 2019
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1:49 p.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Schiff: Ukraine's war against Russia is "our fight, too"

Shawn Thew/Pool
Shawn Thew/Pool

In a statement closing out the first hearing of the day, Chairman Adam Schiff referenced the ongoing war in Ukraine with Russia.

"Ukraine is fighting our fight against the Russians, against their expansionism. That's our fight, too. That's our fight, too. At least we thought so on a bipartisan basis. That's our fight, too," Schiff said.

He added: "That's why we support Ukraine with the military aid that we have. The President may not care about it, but we do. We care about our defense, we care about the defense of our allies, and we darn well care about our constitution."

Watch:

1:43 p.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Vindman testified he believed Ukraine was pressured during Trump's July 25 call

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi asked Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman if he believed there was pressure placed on the Ukrainians during the July 25 phone call.

"The Ukrainians needed the meeting. The Ukrainians, subsequently, when they found out about it needed the security assistance," Vindman responded.

Krishnamoorthi followed up by asking if "pressure was brought to bear" on the Ukrainians.  

"I believe so," Vindman said.

Watch:

1:36 p.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Republican senator says he doubts the hearing will change public opinion

From CNN's Ted Barrett and Ali Zaslav

Senate Republican Whip John Thune said he has watched parts of the high-profile impeachment inquiry testimony from National Security Council aide Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Vice President Mike Pence’s aide Jennifer Williams, as he has moved in and out of his office between meetings.  

“I think these are public servants, and I respect their service,” Thune said. “My guess is their testimony (will) reinforce some things that have already been said and, like I said last night, I don’t think a lot has changed.”

On Monday, Thune told CNN he didn’t think the recent major developments in the inquiry had moved public opinion.

“It doesn’t look like there is anything new,” the South Dakota Republican said Monday. “People can disagree about the way the President does things but it doesn’t seem like in the court of public opinion people’s minds are being changed by anything that’s come out so far.”

1:48 p.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Why Vindman isn't worried about testifying: "This is America ... right matters"

AP Photo/Alex Brandon
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council aide, spoke about his father and the importance of telling the truth.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney said Vindman's father would likely be worried that he is putting himself up against the president of the United States.

Vindman said he father would be deeply worried about because he was would consider it "ultimate risk."

Maloney then asked why he had confidence that he can do that and tell his dad not to worry.

Here's what Vindman said:

"Congressman, because this is America. This is the country I served and defended, that all my brothers have served, and, here, right matters."

See the moment:

1:51 p.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Vindman explains why it's important for the US to support Ukraine

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was just asked why it's important to have a strong and independent Ukraine.

He called Ukraine a "front-line state" and then described what that means.

Here's how he put it:

"We sometimes refer to Ukraine as a front line state. It's on the front line of Europe. It's — they have actually described to me, the Ukrainians, that they consider themselves as a barrier between Russian aggression and Europe. And what I've heard them describe is the need for US support in order to serve this role, in order to protect European and western security." 

Watch:

1:55 p.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Republicans are questioning why Vindman appeared in uniform, but US Army points out that this is normal

From CNN's Ryan Browne and Kevin Liptak

AP Photo/Julio Cortez
AP Photo/Julio Cortez

A US Army spokesperson tells CNN that “a Soldier performing duties in an official capacity will normally be in uniform.”  

“In cases where a Soldier is detailed to an agency outside of DoD, the individual would follow the policies of that agency," Col. Kathy Turner, Army spokesperson said.

It is not unusual for military officials detailed to the NSC to wear civilian attire while working in White House and wear their uniforms while appearing before congressional hearings. 

For example, Oliver North appeared in uniform during the Iran-Contra hearings in the 1980s. 

Several Republican members have sought to question Lt. Col. Vindman’s stature inside the White House, seeking to portray him as a disgruntled underling who inflated his own importance.

Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah even went as far to point out that Vindman was wearing a military uniform to his hearing, even though he normally wears a suit to his job at the White House. And he asked why Vindman clarified his rank during earlier questioning with Rep. Devin Nunes.

“I’m in uniform wearing my military rank. I thought it was appropriate to stick with that. The attacks that I’ve had in the press and Twitter have marginalized me as a military officer,” he said.

1:44 p.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Vindman jokes that "hopefully" this is the last time he'll have to testify to Congress

Pool
Pool

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney opened his questioning of Lt. Col. Vindman by pointing out that this is one of Vindman's first congressional hearings at which he's testified.

Vindman shot back, "and hopefully the last," which got laughs from the chamber, including his fellow witness, Pence aide Jennifer Williams.

"I can't blame you for feeling that way," Maloney responded.

Watch the moment:

1:44 p.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Minutes ago, the White House tweeted about Vindman's judgment

Democratic Rep. Denny Heck pointed out that, moments ago, the White House tweeted to discredit Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman's judgement, citing testimony from Tim Morrison.

Here's the tweet:

"Indeed sir, less than 20 minutes ago, the White House officially quoted out, out of context, the comments referred to earlier by Mr. Morrison in your judgment. I can only conclude sir that what we thought was just the President as the subject of our deliberations in this inquiry isn’t sufficient to capture what’s happening here," Heck said.

Remember: Despite Morrison’s concerns, he still said Vindman was a patriot who “literally bled for our country.”

His concerns seemed primarily that he wasn’t cut out for policymaking.

Here's the transcript:

Watch the moment:

1:20 p.m. ET, November 19, 2019

Vindman reached out to Army about his family's safety amid attacks by Trump and GOP lawmakers

From CNN's Ryan Browne

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman has reached out to the US Army about the security of his family as he comes under repeated attack by Trump and his allies.

The Army has had conversations with Vindman about the security of his family, a US defense official told CNN. These conversations were initiated at the request of the Vindmans, the source said. As of now, the Army does not believe there is an imminent security threat against the decorated veteran, the defense official said.

"The Army is providing supportive assistance to help Lt. Col. Vindman with the public attention. 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," Army spokeswoman Col. Kathy Turner said.

Earlier today, Vindman told lawmakers that Trump's push for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden on a July call was "inappropriate," and he knew "without hesitation" that he had to report it. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden in Ukraine.