Donald Trump, National Security Council, United States discussed on CNN's The Daily DC
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Today I'm pinch hitting for the regular host of this podcast David Challen and a note were recording this in the afternoon noon. So we've already heard testimony this morning from Lieutenant. Colonel Alexander Vin men from the National Security Council Jennifer Williams State Department employees on detail to Vice President Mike Pence but we're still anticipating the public hearings of Kurt Volker. He's the former special envoy for Ukraine and Tim Morrison Morrison vitamins boss at the National Security Council at the time. Luckily I have to stellar guests to help me through all the revelations emerging from this consequential day in a few minutes we'll be talking to David Sanger political and national security analyst and national security correspondent at the New York Times but I I'm joined by my colleagues CNN national security reporter Kylie Atwood. Welcome back to the PODCAST Kylie. Thanks so we've just heard from Jennifer Williams and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander van men. I think he was probably the to the more anticipated of the Witnesses but they are both people who were on the call and by the call. All I mean the call on July twenty fifth between the Ukrainian President Vladimir Zielinski and President Donald Trump. So what did you take. Take away from this morning session where we finally heard from people who listened in in real time to what president trump said the president Celeski. Yeah so they were both on the call and we now have them speaking to the public about what they heard and the bottom line is they both had concerns about what happened on that call and and as as we have all talked about repeatedly at length president trump did ask presidents lunch. Do him a favor and to investigate the Biden's on that call and so however one thing is that Jennifer Williams who works in the vice president's office Didn't actually raise her concerns to the lawyers at the National Security Council at the White House but Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Vin men who is at the NFC at the National Security Council. He said that he did raise concerns about that call and so he was a bit more full-throated in how concerned he was about what had went down He called it inappropriate and improper improper for the president to making a request for Ukraine to investigate a US citizen that being a President Vice President Biden at the time but He also said however that you know there were political implications with the ask that was being made and there were concerns at the White House about leaking out Just because of how political in nature it would be viewed. And I think it's important to know the Jennifer Williams She also thought thought that the call had political undertones to it because of the nature that president trump was asking about something that had to do with his political rival and not something that was consistent with. US policy towards Ukraine. But she didn't raise any concerns about it whatsoever really. She said she thought it was unusual. That there was this political so You know politicalness underneath it. But she didn't like then went to the National Security Council. Lawyer she basically Put it into a binder To give depends before he was gonna meet with Zielinski and that would that was about it. Yeah and she couldn't even say if the vice president had seen Those notes that she put into the binder. She wasn't aware aware of that. But as I said Lieutenant Colonel Vin men Went even further and he said that it was actually something that would be viewed as a demand by hi the Ukrainians and he was pushed on that because the language that the That president trump uses in the calls that he's asking for a favor and so they asked Lieutenant Colonel Vitamin why he would see it as a demand and that's when he spoke about kind of power disparity between trump and Zilenski and he also spoke about the fact that in military culture when a senior asks you to do something it's taken as in order and that was his interpretation Shen of the ask that vice that president trump was making a presence Lonski. This is a really good point and we have so we can. We can play a little sound of him Driving this point I went home. I think it's important to hear him say chairman culture. I come from the military culture when a senior asks you to do something even if it's play in pleasant it's it's not. It's not to be taking as request. It's B it's to be taken an order in this case the power disparity between the two leaders. My impression is that in order to get the White House meeting presidents alinsky would have to deliver. Are these investigations. This is a military guy. Donald Trump is not a military guy. You could sort of hear the wheels turning and Republicans heads maybe commander and chief. You sure he's the community. Ah but a civilian and so when he has ruined Donald Trump asked for a favor. Maybe he means it maybe he doesn't. This isn't pressure is at the end of the story and the Republicans did actually bring up that exact point you know they. They asked Vitamin is it appropriate to cast this expectation on president trump. Because he hasn't served served in the military and vitamin didn't have an exact response for that but he stood by his assessment. And that's really important here and the other thing that Vinnie Vinnie did was paint this picture for us of a moment at the White House in July when July tenth. That's right when the US ambassador to the U.. Gordon Sunland came out to Ukrainians and asked for specific investigations at the White House and it was a really incredible incredible moment to hear him describe because he talked about Ukrainian officials seeing discord among White House officials. Now it's no secret to you and I to to anyone who has covered a White House that there's always discord competition amongst. US officials to see that on display in front of the Ukrainians was really something something that was very very significant especially for vitamin and he also disagreed with what ambassador saw lynn was asking of the Ukrainians Dan and he told Ambassador Song then he told lawmakers this today that Ambassador Song that he told him bathroom stall and it was inappropriate and that his asks had nothing to to do with national security. We've now heard a couple of different You know versions of this July tenth meeting. It's turning out to be one of the more important moments and I it will be really interesting to see what Gordon Sunland says when he gets his turn To talk on Wednesday for so many reasons but this is one of them okay Kylie. We're just scratching the surface here. We've got a lot more to discuss. Plus we'll bring in Pulitzer Prize winner. David Sanger but first this quick break.