On Tuesday and the third day of public hearings of the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump for, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman corroborated that the Ukrainians did not feel pressured.
The witness, an official of the National Security Council who had declared that he found President Trump’s behavior “incorrect” and “inappropriate” during the call between the two presidents on July 25, had to admit that the Ukrainians did not feel any kind of pressure from the president.
The lawyer of the House Intelligence Committee, Democrat Daniel Goldman, tried with his questions to show that President Trump had pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate his political opponent, Joe Biden, under threat of withholding economic aid to Ukraine.
In the end, however, Vindman’s answers corroborated that no member of the Ukrainian executive felt or claimed to have perceived any kind of pressure.
Goldman: Colonel Vindman, you said in your deposition, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the political benefits of the president’s demands.” For those of us who are not rocket scientists, can you explain what you meant by that?
Vindman: My understanding is that it was, the connection to investigate into a political opponent, was inappropriate and improper. I made that connection as soon as the president brought up the Biden investigation.
Goldman: Colonel Vindman, you testified that President Trump’s request for a favor from President Zelenskiy would be considered as a demand to President Zelenskiy. After this call, did you ever hear from any Ukrainians either in the United States or Ukraine, about any pressure that they felt to do these investigations that President Trump demanded?
Vindman: Not that I can recall.
Goldman: Did you have any discussions with officials at the Ukrainian Embassy here in Washington D.C.?
Vindman: Yes, I did.
Goldman: Did you discuss at all the demand for investigations with them?
Vindman: I did not.
In fact, according to Vindman, the Ukrainians did not even notice the delay in granting the aid promised by the United States, the holding of which they learned almost as soon as Politico made it public, according to the military’s testimony.
If President Trump really had withheld aid as a pressure strategy, it would be logical to think that the Ukrainian government would be well aware of this, otherwise the alleged blackmail would have no sense.
The truth is that, according to the closed-door testimony of Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale, aid to Ukraine, like aid to Lebanon, was withheld for other reasons: the Trump administration was reviewing the rules that guide assistance to foreign countries.
For the time being there is still no evidence of any quid pro quo.