In yet another display of the partisan sham that is the House Democrats-led mockery of an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, portions of a witness’ testimony during a closed-door hearing on Tuesday that reflected poorly on the president were selectively leaked to a compliant media.
That witness, National Security Council member Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, allegedly claimed he attempted to make edits after the fact to the transcript of President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, ostensibly to add remarks made during that call that hadn’t initially been included.
Of course, it is not at all clear that Vindman was even authorized to make edits to the transcript, nor is it clear exactly what he had been attempting to add, and it is notable that of all of the various officials who purportedly listened in on the call or played a role in the creation of the transcript, nobody else has said anything about any edits being made or being necessary.
NBC News, citing an anonymous lawmaker present during the testimony and “another source familiar” with it — likely a Democrat member and Democrat staffer — reported that Vindman, supposedly a Ukraine expert on the NSC, had tried to add purportedly omitted details of the call to the transcript.
According to the leaked portions of his testimony, Vindman had tried to include a mention by President Trump of certain recordings of former Vice President Joe Biden discussing corruption in Ukraine — most likely a video that has been viral on social media for some time of Biden bragging about getting a Ukrainian prosecutor fired.
Vindman had also allegedly tried to include a mention by President Zelensky of the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings, on whose board Biden’s son Hunter sat and which had been under investigation by the Ukrainian prosecutor Biden had demanded be fired in exchange for U.S. aid during the Obama administration.
Ironically, Biden’s pressuring of Ukraine to fire the prosecutor in exchange for U.S. aid is the exact sort of “quid pro quo” of which Democrats are currently accusing Trump, without any real evidence.
It is worth noting, however, that the military aid was only temporarily delayed and was eventually released. Furthermore, Ukraine never even knew the aid had been temporarily held and never opened the supposedly desired investigations that ostensibly formed the basis of the imagined “quid pro quo” at issue today.
A story of ellipses and overreach
A key focal point of Vindman’s testimony appears to be the belief by Democrats that the transcript of the phone call is incomplete, largely due to the inclusion of ellipses in certain places.
It has been unconvincingly argued that the White House supposedly engaged in some grand conspiracy to leave out portions of the conversation that may have looked bad for the president by using ellipses. This is a patently ridiculous notion that ignores the usual process by which such transcripts are created, and, again, ignores the fact that numerous officials were listening in on the call or participated in creating the transcript — none of whom have said anything similar to Vindman.
All in all, Vindman’s testimony revealed little more than the fact that he didn’t particularly like what Trump said to Zelensky and didn’t approve of Trump’s changes to U.S. foreign policy about Ukraine.
None of that matters, though, as the president sets foreign policy, and it is not up to bureaucrats to overrule those changes, but rather to enact them as the president sees fit.