House Democrats on Friday released transcripts of closed-door depositions given by Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Fiona Hill, capping off a week of releases of private testimony from various players involved in the controversy.
Vindman, a Ukraine specialist on the National Security Counsel who was accused of being coached by House Intel Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), was present on a July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky, when the US president asked that Ukraine investigate former VP Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as claims of pro-Clinton meddling in the 2016 US election.
He was notably counseling Ukraine on how to counter President Trump's foreign policy according to the New York Times, which led some to go as far as accuse him of being a double agent.
Oh my God, look at the spin they are using right now, actually saying that Vindman is a Ukrainian double agent....this is so freaking bananas pic.twitter.com/Oxpju5W23N— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) October 29, 2019
Vindman claimed in his closed-door deposition that acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney "coordinated" a plan that would make the Biden investigation prerequisite to any White House meeting between Zelensky and Trump. Via Axios:
"[EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland] just said that he had had a conversation with Mr. Mulvaney, and this is what was required in order to get a meeting. ... So he was talking about the 2016 elections and an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma."
"It became crystal clear when [Office of Management and Budget staffers reported that the hold [on military aid to Ukraine] came from the Chief of Staff’s Office. ... Eventually it became the — what I was told is to ensure that the assistance aligned with administration priorities."
At one point, Vindman - who at one point said he tried to correct the transcript of the Trump-Zelensky call, also said "the transcript is accurate."
Schiff also tried to coax Vindman into saying that President Trump's request that Ukraine do him a "favor" and investigate Crowdstrike was cause for alarm - however Vindman essentially said that was no big deal, and the investigation into Biden is what triggered him.
Also released was testimony from former Russia adviser Fiona Hill, who testified that reporting on the July 25 phone call was "kind of [her] worst fears and nightmares," as it had the appearance of a quid pro quo.
Following Vindman's testimony, Rep. Nunes said of Schiff allegedly 'coaching' the witness: "I have never in my life seen anything like what happened today," adding "It was unprecedented ... I mean, they’ve been bad at most of these depositions, but to interrupt us continually to coach the witness, to decide… what we’re going to be able to ask the witness."