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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► National Security Council Ukraine expert Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is testifying today in impeachment investigations into President Trump. As The Washington Post reports, Vindman’s appearance on Capitol Hill is making for a lot of nervous Republicans:
Vindman is the first witness in the House’s impeachment probe to have not only listened in on the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump said he wanted a “favor” after Zelensky brought up the topic of promised American military aid. Vindman was listening in from the Situation Room, he said, along with other NSC officials and members of Vice President Pence’s office, and was so “concerned by the call” — and that the president’s request could be seen as “a partisan play” that could “undermine U.S. national security” — that he reported it to the NSC’s lead counsel.
Vindman’s prepared testimony touched a nerve with Trump, who took to Twitter on Tuesday to deride the Iraq War veteran, who appeared for his testimony in uniform, as a “Never Trumper,” questioning his recollection of events.
Trump and his allies spent Monday evening viciously attacking Vindman and questioning his patriotism as part of a smear campaign that has even upset some Republican lawmakers. Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney derided the attacks on Vindman as “shameful.”
Meanwhile, as The Hill reports, Vindman’s testimony could mean big trouble for EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland:
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said late Monday that he believes U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland committed perjury in his congressional testimony to investigators in their impeachment inquiry.
“Based on all the testimony so far, I believe that Ambassador Gordon Sondland committed perjury,” Castro tweeted.
► Congressional Republicans privately admit that they are very worried about continuing to defend President Trump from an endless list of misdeeds. Putting their own butts on the line has many in the GOP biting their fingernails; as Axios reports, there are growing fears of a complete electoral wipeout in 2020.
National Journal outlines the big red flags for Senate Republicans. The State of Oregon is losing its one Republican Member of Congress; Rep. Greg Walden announced that he will not seek re-election in 2020, making him the 19th GOP member of the House of Representatives to walk away from his seat.
► As The Washington Post reports, new polling numbers explain why Republicans are loathe to discuss President Trump’s requests for foreign governments to get involved in American elections:
“Is it okay with you or not okay for political candidates in the U.S. to ask for assistance from a foreign government to help them win an election?” In response to that question, only 7 percent of U.S. adults say it’s okay. Eighty-one percent say it is not okay…
…The numbers of people who say it’s wrong to seek assistance from a foreign government are remarkably consistent across ages, demographic groups, education levels, income and even party lines. More than 80 percent of self-identified Republicans, evangelicals and rural dwellers say it’s not okay for a president to ask for assistance from a foreign government to help win an election.
► This week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast is now available:
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