The impeachment crisis that has plagued the White House has created new turbulence for the National Security Council. Officials wonder if their efforts will be undermined and fear that the president could harm the entire body's role in the current crisis.
The National Security Council officials, who were already a bumpy job under Trump, are now being re-examined by an already skeptical president and his inner circle.
Tim Morrison, Council Russia and European Director, worked with Vindman on the Ukrainian transcript and is expected to testify on Thursday.
However, Morrison is expected to leave his post, a long-planned departure that has been hampered by the current impeachment drama.
After more than a year in the National Security Council, Mr. Morrison has decided to take other opportunities ̵
Sources familiar with the situation in the Council say that some employees have a sense of concern when they see their colleagues and officials Hill State said in the ongoing impeachment investigation that resulted in unfounded personal attacks by Republican lawmakers, some in the West Wing and even the president himself, is a "never-trumper" with questionable motives – a cold shiver through the Council's office suite in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the West Wing.
In the nearly 150-year-old building next to the White In the house where the National Security Council is located, sentiment has changed dramatically.
Uncil-officials – especially those who do not contact the Prior White House workers, such as the Middle East or Asia, are increasingly undervalued and postponed in the political decision-making process, according to people familiar with the dynamics.
Like Vindman, many members of the National Security Council are from the Pentagon, the State Department or US intelligence agencies. Many are careerists who have served under former Democratic and Republican governments.
A demoralized air hovers over the council as they know that their work is being treated with skepticism by the West Wing and that political decisions are often not taken to be influenced by traditional national security. Often, civil servants are urged to remedy problems that have arisen in the West Wing at the end of the decision-making process.
Concerns that they might be involved in the impeachment process have, according to several complicating sources, familiarity with the situation. According to one source, several members of the National Security Council fear that they will have to hire lawyers if they do not have the necessary resources.
Since Trump's unfortunate July call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, employees have watched the secular domestic politicians publicize the operation of their normally inconspicuous council – such as writing a transcript of a call with a foreign leader.
"This is the last thing an official wants to get involved with," he said. A former National Security Council official from the Trump administration remains in contact with current staff. "The people who are still there are just trying to keep their heads down and focus on their work."
In their statements to Capitol Hill, two council officials – Vindman and former Russian director Fiona Hill – recalled their concerns over obvious attempts to use US relations with Kiev for political purposes. All said that they expressed these concerns to their supervisors, and ultimately to the National Security Council lawyers, which is a remarkable demonstration of the internal anxiety of White House professional staff towards the measures taken by the President and those close to him.
Vindman was scrutinized in his own ranks. His opening speech to the lawmaker, who was not considered a meticulous copycat, raised his eyebrows at some colleagues, fearing he would confuse details and doubt what had happened.
Nonetheless, White House officials admitted that Vindman's credibility rests on his proximity to the call. He was the first official to follow the conversation, though he is unlikely to be the last if the House Democrats want it.
Away from Trump
Trump's Interactions He was fleeting with a large proportion of the National Security Council's staff, and he announced that some of the most damaging testimony against him came from people he does not know.
"Why are people I've never heard of testifying to the call," he wrote on Tuesday shortly before Vindman's arrival in his military uniform on Capitol Hill on Twitter.
The list of high-ranking officials from the State Department and the National Security Council, whom Trump claims to be strangers, is long. His high-ranking Russian adviser, the architect of US-Ukrainian politics, the top diplomat in Kiev: he claims now that he is unknown to the president, because they are each before the legislators of the congress, to explain their unrest about his behavior.
The blatant ignorance of his own government's key political aides merely confirms what these officials claim behind closed doors: Trump ignored the official diplomatic channels that oversaw them in favor of unofficial offensives to Ukraine, led by Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who this intended surface dirt for political opponents.
Regarding Ukraine, Trump often favored the advice of people outside the government instead of experts within the administration. He confused Hill, a longtime Russian expert, once during a briefing with a case officer.
The impeachment probe was also ramped up at a time when there was already a cloud of uncertainty They were hanging over the National Security Council while officials appealed to their new leader, Robert O & # 39; Brien, accustomed who had replaced former national security adviser John Bolton last month.
Officers looking for instructions for dealing with the impeachment probe at O & # 39; Brien have not found them. O & # 39; Brien has not held employee-wide meetings to promote or improve the mood. And there was no instruction to keep her head down and concentrate on her work – a popular mood in the West Wing amidst the special conference.
Nevertheless, the employees have continued their work and some colleagues have informed them about the exits in the eye.
O'Brien has already tried to reduce the size of the National Security Council after the President took action against perceived leaks. Earlier this month, O'Brien told White House staff he wanted to reduce Council staff by almost half and increase the percentage of political leaders, sources told CNN.
This would likely weaken an already watered-down employee Bolton, whose adjutants insisted on merely streamlining the bureaucracy.
O'Brien told White House staff and outside allies that he plans to downsize National Security Council personnel by about 50% by early 2020 to reduce the total number of employees by approximately O & # 39; Brien said the council had "risen to a massive bureaucracy" during the Obama administration. O'Brien spoke to his associates only weeks after the hiring, and several officials said few had a clear understanding of his leadership style or how to deal with people he did not have a hand in the setting – complicating uncertainty about it Daily work for the employees of the National Security Council.
These employees now have to face additional difficulties caused by the impeachment even before two National Security Council officials have been summoned: Vindman and Morrison.
In the meantime, National Security Council officials, who may expect a hint from their former boss Bolton, have received little public information on how he intends to address his own possible involvement in the request. Bolton fell silent on the radio ever since reports that the House investigators were interested in hearing from him turned up.
His former deputy, Charles Kupperman, who keeps the same lawyer, threw a key to impeachment proceedings last week, in which a judge was asked to decide if he is required to appear. This seemed to be an attempt to delay his testimony.
It is unlikely that Kupperman's lawyer will seek an alternative approach to Bolton, whose testimony now seems to be in the hands of a federal judge. Before the lawsuit was filed, sources close to Bolton told CNN that they would be surprised if he were prepared to appear before the House Committee despite his incontestable dismissal by Trump.
Bolton keeps his plans close to the vest and raises questions about how current National Security Council officials who have maintained a close relationship with him deal with a possible subpoena or petition for testimony.