//Dem impeachment witness Vindman unloads on Blackburn as Dems wrap third day of Trumps trial

Dem impeachment witness Vindman unloads on Blackburn as Dems wrap third day of Trumps trial

Because the third day of the continued impeachment trial of President Trump wrapped up within the Senate chamber, many of the drama was elsewhere — with one witness for the Democrats accusing a Republican senator of “defamation” and “slander,” after she accused him of being little greater than an insubordinate, disaffected bureaucrat plotting to take down President Trump.

The off-field spat started Thursday night on Twitter, when Tennessee GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn quoted the commanding officer of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman as saying that Vindman was a “political activist in uniform.”

Vindman, a Nationwide Safety Council official, has testified that Trump’s Ukraine dealings left him in a state of “shock,” and Democrats had been quoting from Vindman’s remarks through the trial. Vindman has denied figuring out the identification of the whistleblower who flagged Trump’s fateful July 25 cellphone name with Ukraine’s president — a declare that Republicans have questioned, as a result of beneath cross-examination final yr, Vindman apparently admitted to leaking the contents of Trump’s name to whistleblower.

On the time, California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, presiding over the Home impeachment inquiry, shut down GOP makes an attempt to press Vindman as to whom he had leaked details about Trump’s name, saying it will probably reveal the whistleblower’s identification.

Blackburn tweeted as Schiff spoke on Thursday night: “Adam Schiff is hailing Alexander Vindman as an American patriot. How patriotic is it to badmouth and mock our nice nation in entrance of Russia, America’s best enemy? … Alexander Vindman broke the chain of command and leaked the contents of the President’s July 25th cellphone name to his pal, the ‘whistleblower.’ Over a coverage dispute with the President! How is that not vindictive?”

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“It is smart that Alexander Vindman leaked the July 25th cellphone name to his good friend (aka the ‘whistleblower’),” Blackburn continued. “They each have tons in widespread: —Held the identical NSC job —Liberals who labored beneath Obama —Wished to take out Trump.”

Vindman’s authorized crew fired again inside hours.

“This troublesome second in our nation requires seriousness and seriousness of goal,” David Pressman, a lawyer with Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP representing Alexander Vindman, mentioned in a press release obtained by Fox Information. “Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman has sacrificed enormously for our nation. He believes in our nation. And he believes in our nation’s nice establishments, together with the US Senate.”

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Pressman added: “{That a} member of the Senate – at a second when the Senate is endeavor its most solemn accountability – would select to take to Twitter to unfold slander a few member of the army is a testomony to cowardice. Whereas Senator Blackburn fires off defamatory tweets, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman will proceed to do what he has all the time accomplished: serve our nation dutifully and with honor.”

Talking to “The Ingraham Angle” late Thursday, Blackburn doubled down, saying that she has spoken to many members of the army who’ve a “drawback” with the best way Vindman circumented the chain of command to attempt to undermine Trump’s overseas coverage.

“We honor the service of each man and girl in uniform,” Blackburn instructed anchor Laura Ingraham. “You take a look at what his commanders mentioned. He has an issue together with his judgment. That is been identified. He had one commander who mentioned he’s a political activist in uniform. He has had issues with going outdoors of his chain of command, which is what he did right here.

“I discuss to a variety of army members regularly,” Blackburn added. “They’ve an actual drawback with among the issues and the style through which he carried out himself on this matter. What we need to do is make sure that we get to the guts of the problems right here; we need to make certain the president is handled pretty. We need to make sure that we transfer by this and that we get again to the folks’s enterprise, issues they need to see us do, like placing extra judges on the federal bench.”

At one level throughout his impeachment testimony final yr, Vindman was caught in an apparent contradiction late within the day by Republican Ohio Rep. Brad Wenstrup. Vindman testified that he didn’t talk about his considerations about Trump’s July cellphone name with the NSC’s Tim Morrison, his superior, as a result of he was unavailable. However, beneath questioning from Wenstrup, Morrison confirmed that Vindman had given him edits of the transcript of the decision, on the identical day that Vindman testified Morrison was unreachable.

Morrison additional testified he had heard others categorical concern that Vindman was a leaker, and couldn’t be trusted with key info. Requested about that allegation, Vindman learn from a glowing efficiency evaluation that described him as an exemplary officer.

In the meantime, it remained unclear whether or not Vindman — or some other witnesses — would seem on the Senate trial, with Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow telling reporters he did not count on Democrats would current a compelling sufficient case to justify that step, however that it was nonetheless too early to debate the problem.

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On the entire, senators usually appeared considerably extra alert on Thursday, the third full day of the continued Senate impeachment trial and the second full day of the Democrats’ opening arguments within the case.

“It was a protracted day,” Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a key average swing vote, instructed Fox Information because the day wrapped on Thursday. “I used to be one pooped pet.”

She mentioned she might need a glass of wine and take a shower tonight to chill out. On Wednesday, Murkowski said she was “offended”  when Democratic impeachment supervisor Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., tried to argue that senators can be collaborating in a “coverup” in the event that they opposed Democrats’ doc requests — an aggressive transfer that apparently backfired within the chamber, and led to a rare intervention from Chief Justice John Roberts.

On his approach out of the Senate on Thursday, although, Nadler mentioned he was assured.

“I think we’re making an airtight case for anyone who’s willing to listen,” Nadler told Fox News. “The evidence is overwhelming. The president’s counsels have not offered any evidence against it, nor will they, because there is no possibility. And as I said the other day, or yesterday, watch what the president’s counselors say. It won’t be refutations of the evidence; there won’t be any new evidence, there will just be criticisms of the House managers, of our procedures, all irrelevant to the charges against the president.”

From the Senate gallery on Thursday, senators might be seen sitting of their seats for longer durations and intently taking what gave the impression to be extra detailed notes than they had been the earlier two days. A number of senators instructed Fox Information they consider that’s as a result of senators are extra rested immediately after the session on Tuesday drifted into Wednesday, earlier than adjourning at 1:50 a.m. ET.

The day introduced few new arguments, as Democrats centered totally on the “abuse of energy” impeachment article as a substitute of the “obstruction of Congress” cost. Democrats’ impeachment managers mentioned there was no proof that former Vice President Joe Biden did something improper in dealings with Ukraine, and that President Trump sought a political investigation of Biden by Ukraine solely to sway the 2020 election in his favor.

“There was no foundation for the investigation the president was pursuing and pushing. None. He was doing it just for his personal political profit,” mentioned Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas.

Equally, they argued that there was no fact to the speculation pushed by Trump and his allies that Ukraine meddled within the 2016 U.S. election. Though Democrats — and a few information retailers, together with The Related Press — have repeatedly claimed that the thought of Ukraine meddling is a “conspiracy principle,” a Ukrainian courtroom has ruled that officials in the country did illegally meddle within the U.S. election. Moreover, a 2017 investigative report by Politico discovered intensive efforts by Ukrainians to harm Trump’s presidential marketing campaign.

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“Trump put himself first,” forward of U.S. coverage and the nationwide curiosity, Schiff, appearing as Democrats’ lead prosecutor, instructed the Senate.

Added New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries: “The choice to grant or withhold an Oval Workplace assembly with [Ukrainian] President Zelensky had severe safety considerations for each Ukraine and the US.”

Sen. Richard Burr R-N.C., displaying a stress ball outside the impeachment trial Thursday. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Sen. Richard Burr R-N.C., displaying a stress ball outdoors the impeachment trial Thursday. (AP Picture/Steve Helber)

Yesterday, Trump and even some left-of-center commentators mocked Schiff for suggesting that Trump have to be eliminated by the Senate as a result of the 2020 election is already compromised. Schiff additionally implied Russia would possibly invade the United States.

On Thursday, throughout his closing remarks, Schiff modified the argument considerably. Invoking Vindman’s assertion that “right here, proper issues,” Schiff mentioned that Trump wanted to be eliminated as a result of he was “harmful” and trusted his private lawyer over the intelligence neighborhood.

Moreover, Schiff mentioned Trump couldn’t be trusted within the occasion that Russian hackers hypothetically tried to publicize inside paperwork associated to potential Biden corruption.

Earlier within the day, Democrats had been laughing alongside as Schiff joked that Trump had “made a religious man out of Vladimir Putin,” a reference to a comment by Putin last November: “Thank God,” he told an economic forum in Moscow, ”nobody is accusing us of interfering within the U.S. elections anymore; now they’re accusing Ukraine.”

“I used to be one pooped pet.”

— Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski

The principle that blames Ukraine for interfering within the 2016 elections is not any laughing matter, Schiff mentioned, calling it central to the impeachment costs. Trump is accused of looking for the Ukraine investigation — and a probe of Joe Biden and his son Hunter — for his personal political profit whereas holding again congressionally authorised army help as leverage.

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The White Home and a few congressional Republicans have raised questions on Hunter Biden’s profitable job on the board of a Ukrainian pure gasoline firm, and Joe Biden’s successful efforts to pressure the firing of a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor. Biden was overseeing Ukraine coverage as vice chairman whereas Hunter made huge cash in Ukraine, and Hunter obtained the job after testing constructive for cocaine within the Navy Reserves.

Through the Home impeachment proceedings, a profession State Division worker testified that he had flagged Hunter Biden’s apparent conflict of interest on the time however was instructed primarily to not trouble the vice chairman’s workplace.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., vowed that Hunter’s actions would quickly play a big function within the trial.

“I know a lot about the Trump family and their dealings in Russia,” Graham mentioned. “I don’t know anything about the Biden connection. You’re going to hear more about that.”

As senators sat by limitless hours of arguments on impeachment, they discovered a brand new outlet to focus their consideration: fidget spinners.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., handed out the toys to his colleagues earlier than Thursday’s trial proceedings started. A fidget spinner is a small toy designed to be spun between the fingers, relieving stress or boredom.

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Burr was seen taking part in with a blue spinner whereas listening to arguments by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., an impeachment supervisor.

Different senators, together with Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., had been additionally seen with spinners on their desks.

Whereas senators are pledged to silence through the trial proceedings — and disadvantaged of their telephones and different electronics — they’re talking out throughout breaks within the motion.

Senate Minority Chief Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in the meantime, rebutted Republican senators who lamented they heard nothing new from Home prosecutors. Republicans voted 9 instances this week to dam the Democrats’ proposed amendments for brand new witnesses and paperwork.

“If they want new stuff, there is plenty of it,” Schumer said at a news conference before Thursday’s session. ”Because the [impeachment] managers made clear, a variety of the paperwork are sitting there, all compiled, all able to go, with merely a vote of 4 Republicans to subpoena them.”

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Democrats are anticipated to wrap up their arguments when the proceedings resume at 1 p.m. ET Friday, with Trump’s authorized crew set to make its case for as much as three days starting Saturday. Sekulow deflected rumors that the protection could wrap up in a single day.

“We’re going to use a sufficient amount of time to defend our case and point out the inconsistencies of their case. We’re not going to run out the clock,” he said. ”I’m assured that whether or not it’s [completed] Saturday or Monday or Tuesday that the case shall be made defending the president. I’ve little question.”

Fox Information’ Chad Pergram, Adam Shaw and The Related Press contributed to this report.