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How both sides are preparing for a packed week of impeachment hearings

President Trump says he will consider testifying on his own behalf in the impeachment inquiry. Former U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, career State Department official Jennifer Williams, departing National Security Council official Tim Morrison and National Security Council official Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman are scheduled to appear Tuesday. Yamiche Alcindor joins Amna Nawaz to discuss.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    The stage is set on Capitol Hill for the second week of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

    And as White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor reports, there's word today he may testify on his own behalf.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    On CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited President Trump to testify.

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.:

    If he has information that is exculpatory, that means ex, taking away, culpable, blame, then we look forward to seeing it.

    The president could come right before the committee and talk, speak all the truth that he wants, if he wants to…

  • Margaret Brennan:

    You don't expect him to do that?

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi:

    … if he wants to take the oath of office. Or he could do it in writing.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Today, President Trump responded on Twitter. He wrote: "I like the idea and will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it."

    President Trump is accused of withholding almost $400 million in military aid from Ukraine in exchange for probes into his political opponents. Over the weekend, Republicans continued to defend the president. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, said Democrats don't have a case because Ukraine never followed through with any of the investigations.

    He also appeared on "Face the Nation."

  • Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio:

    The Ukrainians did nothing to, as — as far as investigations goes, to get the aid release. So there was never this quid pro quo that the Democrats all promised existed before President Trump released the phone call.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    In an interview today with "NewsHour"'s Judy Woodruff at a cancer fund-raiser in San Antonio, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson criticized the president's actions.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    What is appropriate and what is proper in the role of a diplomat?

  • Rex Tillerson:

    Well…

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And in American foreign policy?

  • Rex Tillerson:

    Yes, I mean, clearly — clearly, asking for personal favors and using United States assets as collateral is wrong. There's just no two ways about it.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Meanwhile, House Democrats on Saturday released two more transcripts from closed-door testimony. They came from Tim Morrison, a departing National Security Council official, and Jennifer Williams, a career State Department official who is an aide to Vice President Pence.

    Both were on the July 25 call between President Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. On it, President Trump pressed Zelensky to investigate Democrats. Morrison testified that he had — quote — "concerns about a potential leak of the call for political reasons."

    He also was concerned about how its release might affect the Ukrainian perceptions of the U.S.-Ukraine relationship. But he said — quote — "I wasn't concerned that anything illegal was discussed."

    Williams testified the call seemed — quote — "unusual and inappropriate." She said it shed some light on possible other motivations behind a security assistance hold.

    In a tweet on Saturday, President Trump went after Williams. He called her a never-Trumper and accused her and other witnesses of attacking him.

    Williams and Morrison plan to testify publicly, along with Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, National Security Council director for European affairs, as well as Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine. They all will appear before the House Intelligence Committee tomorrow.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Yamiche is here with me now to break all of this down.

    Good too see you, Yamiche.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Great to be here.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Let's start with the week. It's a big one, right?

    We have three days of public hearings, a number of officials coming before Congress to testify. Walk us through who we're going to hear from and why they matter.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, we have a full schedule this week, a packed schedule, really.

    And Democrats want to do this to make sure that they're basically laying out their case. So, if you look at this calendar, there's just a number of officials, both current and former officials who are serving in the Trump administration or who has served in the Trump administration.

    There are three key people that I'm going to point to. The first is Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman. Now, he's someone who is still working at the National Security Council. He's their Ukraine expert. And he's someone that has a Purple Heart.

    He's someone that Democrats point to and say, this is someone with a very good character. He's someone who's patriotic, who served the country. They're going to be pointing out that he is someone who had concerns in real time with the July 25 phone call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine.

    Vindman listened into that call and then went his superiors and said, I have concerns about the way that the president is asking for investigations into Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

    Republicans, though, say that Vindman has been inconsistent with his testimony. They also say that he's someone who can't really speak to whether or not the president did something that's impeachable, so he shouldn't essentially be coming before Congress in this way.

    So that's one person that they're going to be pointing to and kind of — you're going to hear the contrasting, contrasting messages between both parties.

    Second person is Kurt Volker. He is a longtime Foreign Service officer. He is someone who is a special envoy to Ukraine from the U.S. He's no longer in that role. But he's someone that Democrats are going to point to and say, when that call came out, and everyone learned what happened on July 25, he says he was surprised and troubled.

    But Republicans, again, are going to be making the case that Kurt Volker said he was never, himself, requested to do anything wrong. He's also going to say, they think, that he is someone who is going to say that Ukraine didn't know in real time that this money was being held up. Essentially, they couldn't be bribed, because they didn't know that there was a bribe happening.

    And the third person is Gordon Sondland. He's the person that's going to be — everyone's going to be watching.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Yes.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    I'm going to be watching, because he is someone who is — he's the European Union ambassador. He is a close ally of President Trump.

    And he's going to be making the case, essentially, that he was in direct contact with President Trump. Democrats say that he knew that President Trump wanted these investigations before and after the call, and that he was pressing — pressuring for that.

    Republicans are going to be making the case, essentially, that Sondland is someone who maybe had been — was acting on his own, but that the president didn't directly say, I need you to do this for me.

    So there's going to be a lot to watch there.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    A lot to watch, indeed.

    And some of those folks are going to raise concerns about the president's behavior and what they allegedly saw. President Trump's already been tweeting about some of them before we even hear from them publicly.

    What are you hearing from Republicans, from his own party about the president's actions.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The shock of Friday and the president going after Ambassador Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, in real time during the impeachment inquiry has not worn off.

    I have talked to a number of Republicans who essentially are saying, are you talking to White House sources? Are they going to be able to control the president this week?

    And the answer, of course, is no. No one at the White House can stop the President Trump tweeting. So Republicans are hoping that the president won't undermine their messaging and won't be attacking a lot of the witnesses' characters.

    But the president's already been doing that. He's already been tweeting, saying, these are never-Trumpers, these are people that were bad ambassadors. So we're going to have to watch very closely President Trump's Twitter account, because it's likely going to be very active in real time.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And, meantime, related to his Twitter account, you just reported there in your piece, Speaker Pelosi had said he's welcome, the president welcome to come before this hearing and testify and give us his account.

    He has tweeted he might be open to that. What do we know about that happening?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, the president says, hey, you have questions for me, I want to give you some answers in writing.

    The issue is that the House is already looking into whether or not the president lied to special counsel Robert Mueller during the Russia investigation. Essentially, he provided written answers there. And special counsel Robert Miller said those answers were inadequate, and that he really was not happy with the fact that he couldn't have follow-up questions to the president.

    The other thing to note is that Democrats say, this is really the president playing games here. The president, if he really wanted to come before Congress, could come and sit before the lawmakers and answer questions.

    They also say that he could provide people, like acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who has refused to come before Congress, to come and actually speak to Congress. They also say he could tell his national — his former National Security Adviser John Bolton to come before Congress.

    They could provide, they say, documents at the White House to help this impeachment inquiry. They're not really doing any of that. So Democrats are essentially saying, we understand that the president wants to provide us written answers, but that's just not quite good enough.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    It's a good reminder too a number of White House officials there we haven't yet heard from.

    A busy week ahead.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Thank you.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    You're going to be following it all.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Yes.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Our White House correspondent, Yamiche Alcindor, thanks, Yamiche.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Thanks.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And you can join us for special live coverage of the public impeachment hearings. We start tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

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