WASHINGTON — House Democrats unveiled a resolution Tuesday afternoon to set the parameters of the public phase of the impeachment inquiry. They plan to vote to formalize it Thursday.

President Trump and Republican lawmakers continued to assail the impeachment process as House investigators heard testimony for the first time from a White House official who listened in on the controversial Trump call at the heart of the Ukraine controversy.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, was expected to testify that he did not think it was proper for Trump to demand that Ukraine investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden and feared that doing so undermined U.S. national security.

Ahead of Vindman’s closed-door deposition, Trump complained about testimony from “people that I never even heard of,” while GOP allies continued to portray the process as unfair. Some also questioned Vindman’s loyalty because he was born in Ukraine.

Vindman is testifying under subpoena, according to an official working on the impeachment inquiry who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door proceedings.

“In light of an attempt by the White House to direct Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman not to appear for his scheduled deposition, and efforts by the White House to also limit any testimony that does occur, the House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena to compel his testimony this morning,” the official said. “As is required of him, Lt. Col. Vindman is now complying with the subpoena and answering questions from both Democratic and Republican Members and staff.”

Senate Democrats plan to use the confirmation hearing of John Sullivan, nominated to be the next U.S. ambassador to Russia, to press the State Department official on the administration’s approach toward Ukraine, which is the focus of the House’s impeachment inquiry.

Sullivan, who currently serves as the deputy secretary of state, was the official who told Marie Yovanovitch, then the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, that she was being recalled from her post in Kyiv in May, according to Yovanovitch’s testimony before House impeachment investigators earlier this month.

Yovanovitch, who testified under subpoena despite the Trump administration’s order not to, told the investigators that her ouster was directly caused by pressure from Trump on the State Department to remove her. In her remarks before the House, Yovanovitch testified that Sullivan told her: “I had done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause.”

Sullivan’s role in Yovanovitch’s dismissal from Kyiv are related issues are expected to surface at Wednesday’s confirmation hearing for Sullivan, according to two Senate Democratic aides who requested anonymity to preview party strategy ahead of the hearing.

Sullivan’s hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

A group of more than three-dozen Republicans last Wednesday stormed the secure hearing room where witnesses are being deposed by impeachment investigators.

But on Tuesday, one House Republican took a different approach. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., revealed that, despite sitting on one of the committees conducting the inquiry, he hasn’t been attending any depositions at all.

“No, I haven’t gone to those. … I see this as kind of a sideshow, because it’s not an official inquiry in impeachment,” Yoho, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on CNN.

Asked by host Poppy Harlow why he was on television instead of attending Tuesday’s deposition of Vindman, Yoho replied, “I have other responsibilities in the House.”

Later in the interview, the Florida Republican said he was planning to attend part of the deposition after all.

“I plan to go in there,” Yoho said. “I’ve got my questions written for him. … As soon as I’m off the air.”

The attack on Vindman, an Army officer who came to the United States at age 3, was awarded a Purple Heart after being wounded in Iraq and serves as a top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council – quickly drew condemnation.

“If that’s all they’ve got, is to question the patriotism of a lieutenant colonel who took a bullet for us and has a Purple Heart on the battlefield, well, good luck to them,” said Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., “My goodness.”

“I don’t at all question his patriotism,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said. “I respect his service. He’s a Purple Heart and I think it’d be a mistake to attack his patriotism.”

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, called such criticism “misplaced.”

“This man is a decorated America serviceman, and I have full confidence in him as an individual and his patriotism,” Romney said.

Asked about criticizing Vindman, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., replied, “This is the career military officer with a Purple Heart? I’m sure he’s doing his best to serve his country.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, also said he “wouldn’t go there” when it comes to questioning Vindman’s patriotism.

On the House side, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Vindman’s planned testimony did not change his view of Trump’s July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“I thank him for his service, I thank him for his commitment to this country, but he is wrong,” McCarthy said when asked about Vindman’s contention that Trump put politics ahead of national security. “Nothing in that phone call is impeachable. … The president did nothing wrong.”

McCarthy and other GOP leaders also dismissed the significance of a planned vote to formalize the rules of the impeachment inquiry going forward, arguing that the process remains deeply flawed.

“You can’t put the genie back in the bottle,” McCarthy said. “Due process starts from the beginning.”

Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, offered a similar assessment.

“They’re now attempting to put a cloak of legitimacy around this process. It won’t work,” she said.

Also Tuesday, Rep. Jeff Van Drew, D-N.J., said Tuesday that he is likely to vote “no” on the expected impeachment procedures resolution, becoming the first Democrat to come out against the measure.

“I would imagine that I’m going to vote no unless I see something really unusual,” Van Drew said at the Capitol. “It’s not that I’m friends with the president. It’s not that I believe he should be protected. I don’t mind if he’s investigated. … But what going to happen in my mind, it’s going to happen here in the House; it will go over to the Senate and then he will believe that he has been exonerated. He will still be the president, and he will still be the candidate – a candidate who has been exonerated by the Senate.”

Van Drew voiced skepticism that any of the evidence the House has gathered to date proves that Trump took actions that merit impeachment.

“It’s not to protect me politically, because there’s no win on this. You’re gonna get hurt either way. … I just think it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “I’ve seen things that are distasteful and things that make you uncomfortable, and I don’t like the way they’re termed. I don’t see it as impeachable.”


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