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Politics They Toil Gladly Offstage. Impeachment Lands Them in the Spotlight.

05:50  22 november  2019
05:50  22 november  2019 Source:   nytimes.com

Touting membership cards, Trump campaign steps up anti-impeachment Facebook ads

  Touting membership cards, Trump campaign steps up anti-impeachment Facebook ads President Donald Trump's re-election campaign is ramping up a Facebook ad blitz.(Pictured) Donald Trump, accompanied by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaks on Oct. 23 in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, D.C.

Of the dozen witnesses who have testified in the House impeachment inquiry, 10 are career professionals — members of the “deep state” that President Trump But over the past two weeks of hearings, they have been enduring, if not enjoying, rare turns in the spotlight on Capitol Hill, at times

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WASHINGTON — They are, in a sense, the permanent, beating, bipartisan heart of the government of the United States.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Fiona Hill, President Trump’s former top adviser on Russia and Europe, on Thursday. As with other witnesses, she framed her service to the United States in terms of her immigrant experience.© Doug Mills/The New York Times Fiona Hill, President Trump’s former top adviser on Russia and Europe, on Thursday. As with other witnesses, she framed her service to the United States in terms of her immigrant experience.

They are deeply credentialed, polyglot, workaholic and respectful before Congress. They are graduates of Harvard and West Point, and veterans of Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. They take meticulous notes, are on key phone calls and give “readouts.”

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Of the dozen witnesses who have testified in the House impeachment inquiry, 10 are career professionals — members of the “deep state” that President Trump derides — who normally toil far from television. But over the past two weeks of hearings, they have been enduring, if not enjoying, rare turns in the spotlight on Capitol Hill, at times in defiance of the White House.

They have put faces on a Washington bureaucracy often dismissed and disparaged. Their stories are compellingly human, uniquely American, often immigrant.

“I am an American by choice, having become a citizen in 2002,” Fiona Hill, the former top Europe and Russia expert at the White House, and one of three immigrants among the 10, told the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday. “I was born in the northeast of England, in the same region that George Washington’s ancestors came from.” As with other witnesses, she was eager to frame her service to the United States in terms of her immigrant experience.

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  Read: William Taylor's opening statement at impeachment hearing Read: William Taylor's opening statement at impeachment hearing(Pictured) Donald Trump, accompanied by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaks on Oct. 23 in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, D.C.

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a group of people sitting and looking at the camera: Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman said he never could have spoken up about his concerns had his father not fled the Soviet Union four decades ago.© Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman said he never could have spoken up about his concerns had his father not fled the Soviet Union four decades ago.

“I can say with confidence that this country has offered me opportunities I never would have had in England,” said Ms. Hill, the descendant of coal miners. “I grew up poor, with a very distinctive working-class accent. In England in the 1980s and 1990s, this would have impeded my professional advancement.”

A similar note of first-generation gratitude came from Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the National Security Council’s Ukraine expert who testified Tuesday. He said he never could have spoken up about his concerns — that a phone call between Mr. Trump and the president of Ukraine was inappropriate — had his father not fled the Soviet Union four decades ago. On the contrary, he offered that as a reason he felt compelled to appear.

New testimony ties Trump more directly to Ukraine pressure campaign

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“In Russia, my act of expressing concern to the chain of command in an official and private channel would have severe personal and professional repercussions,” Colonel Vindman said. “Offering public testimony involving the president would surely cost me my life.”

The theme carried unmistakable subtexts. Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, spoke of how undermined she felt when she learned of a smear campaign against her, ostensibly because she was viewed as unhelpful to Mr. Trump — “bad news” in his words.

“What U.S. ambassador could be blamed for harboring the fear that they can’t count on our government to support them,” Ms. Yovanovitch said last week, in an opening statement that also included a chronicle of how her father fled the Soviets and how her mother grew up “stateless” in Nazi Germany. “Their personal histories, my personal history, gave me both deep gratitude toward the United States and great empathy for others like the Ukrainian people who want to be free.”

Marie L. Yovanovitch et al. standing in a room: Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, touched on her family history in her opening statement.© Doug Mills/The New York Times Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, touched on her family history in her opening statement.

The Republicans were not always impressed. Representative Devin Nunes of California, the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, made repeated references to the witnesses “auditioning” for the right to play in “the Democrat’s star chamber.”

Read George Kent Full Opening Statement at the First Public Hearing in Trump’s Impeachment Inquiry

  Read George Kent Full Opening Statement at the First Public Hearing in Trump’s Impeachment Inquiry The U.S. State Department official with decades of experience in Ukraine policy appeared Wednesday morning before the House Intelligence Committee. Both officials have expressed alarm in previous closed-door testimonies about Trump’s conduct with regards to Ukraine — highlighting allegations that he pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rival, Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden, and used his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to subvert normal diplomatic channels in this pursuit.

But an essential part of the witnesses’ refrain was that they have served multiple presidents of both parties. Anodyne in some ways, the point makes a statement central to the identity of so many civil servants who populate every administration.

“I take great pride in the fact that I am a nonpartisan foreign policy expert, who has served under three different Republican and Democratic presidents,” Ms. Hill told the committee.

Laura K. Cooper, a career Pentagon official, said on Wednesday, “I have proudly served two Democratic and two Republican presidents.”

William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, let people know where he stood last week exactly three paragraphs into his opening statement. “I am nonpartisan and have been appointed to my positions by every president from President Reagan to President Trump,” he said.

An uglier subtext questioned their patriotism. Colonel Vindman, who was born in Ukraine and came to the United States when he was 3, faced doubts about what nation he was actually committed to serving. In that hearing, Steve Castor, the counsel for the panel’s Republicans, pressed him about whether he considered accepting a job offer as the defense minister of his birth country.

William B. Taylor Jr. wearing a suit and tie sitting in front of a crowd: William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, last week. An essential part of the witnesses’ refrain was that they have served multiple presidents of both parties.© Erin Schaff/The New York Times William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, last week. An essential part of the witnesses’ refrain was that they have served multiple presidents of both parties.

Colonel Vindman said it would have been a great honor but quickly shot down the prospect. “I am an American,” he said. “I came here when I was a toddler and I immediately dismissed these offers.”

Impeachment hearings go live on TV with first witnesses

  Impeachment hearings go live on TV with first witnesses The closed doors of the Trump impeachment investigation are swinging wide open. When the gavel strikes at the start of the House hearing Wednesday morning, America and the rest of the world will have the chance to see and hear for themselves for the first time about President Donald Trump's actions toward Ukraine and consider whether they are, in fact, impeachable offenses. It's a remarkable moment, even for a White House full of them.

Although none of the witnesses were angling for cable news gigs, by the close of the last hearing on Thursday, they had become unwilling symbols of the Washington “establishment” — tarred as embedded resistors by a president who is just trying to “shake things up.”

In a sense, they have also become proxies inside a larger battle at the heart of the impeachment debate.

Molly Montgomery, a former Foreign Service officer who did not testify, said the hearings revealed a “huge gap between the reality that is experienced by public servants on the ground and the rhetoric in the political world.”

Ms. Montgomery, whose last position was as special adviser for Europe and Eurasia to Vice President Mike Pence, said she was heartened to see so many “everyday Americans” on social media express their appreciation, even awe, over so much of the testimony in recent days.

“The one silver lining here,” she said, “is that the American people are getting to see firsthand that there are Americans who serve all over the world, under difficult circumstances. And that they are just as patriotic and just as admirable as anyone who wears a uniform.”

Despite the aversion of the witnesses to anything that might suggest grandstanding or partisanship, it did not preclude some of them from expressing points of view. Ms. Hill was adamant Thursday that she would not take part in any “alternative narrative” promoted by Mr. Trump and some Republican allies on the committee that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

“These fictions are harmful even if they are deployed for purely domestic political purposes,” Ms. Hill said of these notions.

She issued a broader plea. “When we are consumed by partisan rancor,” she said, “we cannot combat these external forces as they seek to divide us against each other.”

Public impeachment testimony is set to begin. Here are the lawmakers to watch .
Republican lawmakers on the committee will try to cast doubt on the impeachment testimony from a trio of diplomats.WASHINGTON – Public hearings are set to begin Wednesday in the impeachment inquiry into allegations that President Donald Trump used military aid as leverage to pressure Ukraine into conducting investigations that stood to benefit him politically.

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