Byron York’s article about the “Democrats’ Colonel Vindman problem” highlights the things that Col. Vindman said that might hurt Democrats by the time Democrats wrap up Col. Vindman’s public testimony. Of particular interest to Republicans will be Col. Vindman’s verification of the July 25th Trump-Zelenskiy phone call.

Democrats have suggested that the rough transcript was doctored by the White House. Though that hasn’t gotten much traction, it’s still out there. Col. Vindman put that to rest.

Another problem that Democrats have comes from John Ratcliffe’s cross-examination of Col. Vindman:

“I’m trying to find out if you were reporting it because you thought there was something wrong with respect to policy or there was something wrong with respect to the law,” Ratcliffe said to Vindman. “And what I understand you to say is that you weren’t certain that there was anything improper with respect to the law, but you had concerns about U.S. policy. Is that a fair characterization?”

“So I would recharacterize it as I thought it was wrong and I was sharing those views,” Vindman answered. “And I was deeply concerned about the implications for bilateral relations, U.S. national security interests, in that if this was exposed, it would be seen as a partisan play by Ukraine. It loses the bipartisan support. And then for — ” “I understand that,” Ratcliffe said, “but that sounds like a policy reason, not a legal reason.”

Saying that you’re worried about the conversation sounds ominous. Without pinning the source of the concern down, it might mean that Col. Vindman was worried for legal reasons. That’s certainly how Democrats tried portraying it. Rep. Ratcliffe’s cross-examination pinned that down as policy concern. That matters because you don’t impeach sitting presidents over policy disagreements. That’s a dispute best settled with elections, not impeachment.

This back-and-forth highlights another problem for Democrats:

At another point, Castor asked Vindman whether he was interpreting Trump’s words in an overly alarmist way, especially when Vindman contended that Trump issued a “demand” to Zelensky. “The president in the transcript uses some, you know, words of hedging from time to time,” Castor said. “You know, on page 3, he says ‘whatever you can do.’ He ends the first paragraph on page 3, ‘if that’s possible.’ At the top of page 4, ‘if you could speak to him, that would be great.’ ‘So whatever you can do.’ Again, at the top of page 4, ‘if you can look into it.’ Is it reasonable to conclude that those words hedging for some might, you know, lead people to conclude that the president wasn’t trying to be demanding here?”

“I think people want to hear, you know, what they have as already preconceived notions,” Vindman answered, in what may have been one of the more revealing moments of the deposition. “I’d also point your attention to ‘whatever you can do, it’s very important to do it if that’s possible.'” “‘If that’s possible,'” Castor stressed. “Yeah,” said Vindman. “So I guess you can interpret it in different ways.”

That isn’t a demand as much as it’s a petition or request. There’s lots of literary distance between demand and request. In fact, they’re close to being opposites. Saying that President Trump demanded an investigation is provocative. Saying that President Trump requested help with something doesn’t sound provocative.

That’s why Democrats intentionally chose the word demand. It isn’t surprising that Democrats used the provocative-sounding word considering the fact that they’re trying a weak case. You might even say that Democrats are trumping up the accusations because they know that the evidence doesn’t get them there. Then there’s this:

Vindman portrayed himself as the man to see on the National Security Council when it came to issues involving Ukraine. “I’m the director for Ukraine,” he testified. “I’m responsible for Ukraine. I’m the most knowledgeable. … Yet at times there were striking gaps in Vindman’s knowledge of the subject matter. He seemed, for instance, distinctly incurious about the corruption issues in Ukraine that touched on Joe and Hunter Biden.

“What do you know about Zlochevsky, the oligarch that controls Burisma?” asked Castor. “I frankly don’t know a huge amount,” Vindman said. “Are you aware that he’s a former Minister of Ecology”? Castor asked, referring to a position Zlochevsky allegedly used to steer valuable government licenses to Burisma. “I’m not,” said Vindman.

“Are you aware of any of the investigations the company has been involved with over the last several years?” “I am aware that Burisma does have questionable business dealings,” Vindman said. “That’s part of the track record, yes.”

If that’s the NSC’s definition of an expert, we should be worried. I’d make an exception if Col. Vindman was holding his cards close to his vest. I suspect that’s what Lt. Col. Vindman was doing.

Schiff steps in it

“Both those parts of the call, the request for investigation of Crowd Strike and those issues, and the request for investigation of the Bidens, both of those discussions followed the Ukraine president saying they were ready to buy more Javelins. Is that right?” asked Schiff.

Mr. Schiff just stepped in it mightily. An action can’t be both a request and a demand. Those words are close to being opposites definition-wise.

For the record, it’s obvious from President Trump’s softened language that request is the accurate word. Demand is a stretch.

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