How Rep. Elise Stefanik destroyed the Democrat impeachment narrative

by WorldTribune Staff, November 21, 2019

Rep. Elise Stefanik has emerged as a GOP star for her cross-examination of Democrats’ witnesses during the public impeachment hearings.

Her questioning of Marie Yovanovitch and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman all but destroyed the Democrats’ narrative, analysts say.

Rep Elise Stefanik questions Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Jennifer Williams during the public impeachment hearings. / YouTube

Stefanik has been so effective that Democrats and anti-Trumpers have launched a campaign to try to unseat the New York Republican.

Stefanik “cross-examines witnesses the way cross-examination should be done: A tightly controlled examination that does not allow the witness to vary from prior testimony or to deny the obvious,” William A. Jacobson wrote for Legal Insurrection on Nov. 19.

Jacobson pointed to a key part of the transcript of her questioning of Vindman and Jennifer Williams which displays her technique.

First, signal control:

Stefanik: My question to both of you today will focus on the following: Systemic corruption in Ukraine. Two, highlighting for the public that by law aid to Ukraine requires anti-corruption efforts, and three, who in our government has the decision-making authority when it comes to foreign policy and national security matters.

Next, precise questions based on prior testimony from which the witnesses cannot vary or things so obvious they would be fools to dispute it:

Stefanik: So on corruption in Ukraine, as Ambassador Yovanovitch testified one of the key reasons why presidents Zelensky was overwhelmingly elected by the Ukrainian people was that they were finally standing up to rampant corruption in their country. Would you both agree with the ambassador’s assessment.

Vindman: Yes.

Williams: Yes.

Stefanik: [After going through Vindman prior testimony as to Burisma corruption] Do you agree that Hunter Biden on the Board of Burisma has the potential for the appearance of a conflict of interest?

Vindman: Certainly the potential, yes.

Stefanik: And Ms. Williams?

Williams: Yes.

Stefanik: Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, you testified that you understood that Congress had passed under the Ukrainian Security Assistance Initiative a legal obligation to certify that corruption is being addressed.

Vindman: That is correct.

Stefanik: And you also testified that it is required by the National Defense Authorization Act.

Vindman: That is correct.

Stefanik: Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, you spoke extensively about the importance of defensive lethal aid to Ukraine specifically Javelins. This was in your deposition.

Vindman: Correct.

Stefanik: And you testified that the Javelin in particular because of its effectiveness in terms of influencing the Russian decision calculus for aggression. It is one of the most important tools we had have when it comes to providing defensive lethal aid.

Vindman: The system itself and the signaling of your support. Yes.

Stefanik: And it is a fact that that aid was provided under President Trump and not President Obama.

Vindman: That is correct.

Stefanik: And my last question Lieutenant Colonel Vindman. I know you serve at the NSC in the White House. I served in the West Wing of the White House for President Bush on the Domestic Policy Council and in the Chief of Staff’s office, so I’m very familiar with the policy process. I also know that as a staff member the person who sets the policy the United States is the president not the staff. And you testified that the president sets the policy, correct?

Vindman: That is correct.

“Where did Stefanik get this skill? It doesn’t appear from her Bio that she’s a lawyer,” Jacobson wrote. “But she could teach all the lawyers in the hearing room a thing or two.”

Jacobson added: “Stefanik’s only detour from typical cross-examination is that, this being a political event, she takes the opportunity to skewer Adam Schiff and Democrats whenever she can. This is a thing of beauty because she was reading Schiff’s own words back to him.”

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