Gordon Sondland, Marie Yovanovitch and Lt. Col Alexander Vindman have been viewed by many as the three strongest witnesses for Democrats in the Trump impeachment hearing.
However, in a new Op-Ed, Gregg Jarrett argues not one of them delivered anything that Trump’s behavior was impeachable.
By Gregg Jarrett – Fox News
Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, took center stage in the second day of the hearings. She had no knowledge of the supposed “quid pro quo” because she had been fired a full two months before the Trump-Zelensky telephone call. This prompted ranking committee member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., to quip: “I’m not exactly sure what the ambassador is doing here today.” Valid point.
However, that did not stop Democrats from asking Yovanovitch to tender her opinion of the conversation and her innermost feelings at being described by Trump in an unflattering light. Right on cue, she lamented that she was “shocked and devastated.”
Democrats seized upon “the smear” of Yovanovitch as evidence of a larger scheme involving bribery that would constitute an impeachable offense. This was tortured logic, of course.
Bribery may be a more marketable way of describing a “quid pro quo,” which was Schiff’s obvious intent – a reported focus group told him so. But if there’s no evidence of a “quid pro quo,” there is no evidence of bribery. The chairman, a former prosecutor, seemed oblivious to the obvious deduction.
Schiff did manage to fabricate the most memorable, if not amusing, moment of the day when he read a critical comment of Yovanovitch tweeted by Trump during the hearing. He then invited the witness to bemoan that she felt “intimidated.”
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a somewhat pompous staffer on the National Security Council, was the featured witness. After scolding Nunes for not addressing him by his Army rank, Vindman testified that he felt “concerned” about Trump’s conversation with Zelensky. As with the witnesses before him, this was his gratuitous opinion.
Vindman, not lacking in hubris, seemed convinced that he was in charge of U.S. foreign policy, not the president. Even though he confessed that he’d never so much as met Trump, the National Security Council staffer bragged in his deposition: “I’m the director for Ukraine. I’m responsible for Ukraine. I’m the most knowledgeable. I’m the authority for Ukraine, for the National Security Council and the White House.”
How dare the president not defer to an unelected subordinate employee on matters of foreign relations!
Vindman had prepared materials and talking points in advance for Trump’s use in his call with Zelensky. When Trump did not follow the staffer’s script, Vindman became offended.
Vindman grumbled about it to others, including the faux whistleblower or an intermediary who then fed it to the confidential informant. Vindman’s apparent insubordination and leak set in motion the chain of events that led to the present impeachment inquiry.
Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union, was touted as the Democrats’ “star witness” who would implicate Trump in all manner of impeachable offenses. The opposite occurred.
Sondland acknowledged that the president kept repeating to him “over and over again” that there was no “quid pro quo.” Quoting Trump, the ambassador testified that the president said: “I want nothing, I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo.”
Thrusting a dagger into the heart of Democrats’ hopes of some damning indictment of Trump, Sondland made it abundantly clear that he never heard from the president that U.S. financial support was conditioned on an announcement of investigations.
Indeed, no one told Sondland. More than a dozen times he said that he merely “presumed” it. He called it a “guess.” The most penetrating exchange came during a withering cross-examination by Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio:
Turner: So you really have no testimony today that ties President Trump to a scheme to withhold aid from Ukraine in exchange for these investigations?
Sondland: Other than my presumption.
Turner: Which is nothing!
After that, Sondland seemed to melt and, with it, Schiff’s certitude that he had finally found a witness who would feed his insatiable desire to evict the president from the Oval Office.
Read more here.