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Mother, baby pepper-sprayed by stranger in Georgia Walmart, police say

Mother, baby pepper-sprayed by stranger in Georgia Walmart, police say

Mother, baby pepper-sprayed by stranger in Georgia Walmart, police say
Photo Credit: knivesdeal/Pixabay
Stock photo of peeper spray.

Mother, baby pepper-sprayed by stranger in Georgia Walmart, police say

Sheree Campbell of Folkston, Georgia, is behind bars, accused of attacking Briona Wimbush and her baby in a St. Marys, Georgia, Walmart on Tuesday. 

>> Read more trending news 

According to the report, Campbell pepper-sprayed both Wimbush and her baby, and punched Wimbush in the face. 

"She was able to come up on this side, grab this side of my hair, still pepper spraying me, and hitting me, to where I had cuts on my eyes and my lip was busted," Wimbsuh said.

Wimbush felt she was being followed

The report says the violent encounter stemmed from an earlier incident in the store, in which Wimbush questioned Campbell's husband, Michael, about following her around inside the Walmart.

The report states Campbell denied following her. 

"So, I turn around and I tell him, ‘Why are you following me? Are you following me?'" Wimbush said. "And he says, ‘I'm not following you! You're delusional!’” 

Action News Jax reporter Ryan Nelson also spoke to a witness, Tammy Floyd, about Wimbush and Michael Campbell's encounter in the aisles. 

"I was looking down the aisles as I went, and he was very close to her," Floyd said. "So I thought they were there shopping together. She came down another aisle and there he was again … She stopped and turned around and asked, ‘Are you following me?' And he said, ‘No, I'm not, and why would I be?' And then he cussed her out, and then she said ‘Well, you need to stay away from me.'"

Wimbush talks to management

After the encounter in the aisle, Wimbush tells us she called her mother, who advised her to find security at the store. She tells us she spoke to an associate and two Walmart managers were paged. 
Wimbush says she gave a description of Campbell. 

"I'm just thinking, like, ‘Oh, she's going to go see what's going on,' or ask them to leave the store, and I guess that's not what happened," said Wimbush. "I just said thank you. They walked away, and I walked away, and finished my shopping."

The violent encounter

After Wimbush spoke to managers, the report states Mrs. Campbell was seen on video surveillance confronting Wimbush in the deli section, as Wimbush was holding her 16-month-old child, Dallas. 

"They continued to argue when Mrs. Campbell pulled out pepper spray from her purse and sprayed Mrs. Wimbush while she was holding Dallas," an incident report stated. "The spray hit Mrs. Wimbush in the face causing her to be blinded and also got on the face and eyes of Dallas. One of the bystanders then took Dallas from Mrs. Wimbush arms before Mrs. Campbell proceeded to pull Mrs. Wimbush's hair and try and hit her in the face which caused the scratch on her eye."

According to the report, Wimbush was then separated from Sheree Campbell, and the Campbell family left.

Wimbush told police she had never met Mrs. Campbell or her family before. Wimbush and her son were checked by EMS and she declined to go the hospital, the report states. 

Wimbush and family believe the violent incident could have been prevented had Walmart employees done more after she complained of being followed. 

"They walked away, and I walked away because I'm thinking they're going to go handle it," Wimbush said. 

Walmart responds

Nelson reached out to Walmart for a statement on the measures taken by staff after Wimbush's complaint. 

"We take these claims seriously and believe our associates acted appropriately. We will continue to assist law enforcement as they investigate," said Walmart spokesperson Payton McCormick. "We offered to leave an associate with our customer to make her feel more comfortable but she refused, and continued shopping."

How Campbell was identified

Police turned to the public to help identify Mr. and Mrs. Campbell and another woman seen in a surveillance image inside the Walmart. The people in the surveillance image were identified as Michael and Sheree Campbell. 

On Wednesday, police spoke to Michael Campbell.

"I asked Mr. Campbell what happened," a police officer stated. "To which he recounted the events that Mrs. Wimbush had stated previously except that he states that he and his wife felt threatened due to Mrs. Wimbush having a baggy sweatshirt, and they did not know if she was hiding a weapon in it. Mr. Campbell claims he was not following that other woman and that his family was sorry that this happened. I inquired as to why they left to which he stated they left to go pray since they felt terrible about the events. I asked if he would write out a voluntary statement to which he agreed."

The police report says that Mr. Campbell said his wife wanted to give a statement later. Later in the day, Mr. and Mrs. Campbell went to the police station.

"I went out to the lobby and had Mrs. Campbell recount the events that had happened after reading her Miranda Rights," an officer wrote in a report. "She then stated on body cam that she had pepper sprayed Mrs. Wimbush and her child. When asked if she knew that Mrs. Wimbush was holding her baby she stated that she did see that. Mrs. Campbell claimed she felt threatened which is why she did it. I asked why she continued to attack Mrs. Wimbush after she pepper sprayed her to which she replied the adrenaline had kicked in, and I just wanted to protect my family."

She was then arrested for battery and cruelty to children. At last word from police, she was awaiting a bond hearing.

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Washington Insider

  • In what may be a final day of public impeachment hearings by the House Intelligence Committee, a former National Security Council official said she shared her concerns about the work in Ukraine of President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, recalling she had warned officials the effort would lead to trouble. 'I did say to Ambassador Sondland, Gordon, I think this is all going to blow up,' Hill said. 'And here we are.' Repeating a warning from her former boss at the Trump White House, ex-National Security Adviser John Bolton, Hill quoted Bolton say saying 'Giuliani was a hand grenade that was going blow everyone up.” In testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Hill criticized the interest inside the White House in Giuliani's efforts to press Ukraine to start investigations into Hunter Biden, and GOP questions about interference in the 2016 elections by Ukraine, deriding it as a 'domestic political errand.' In testifying about Giuliani's back channel work in Ukraine, Hill described how she confronted U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland about the two-track diplomatic efforts on Ukraine, complaining that Sondland was not keeping her in the loop on his work - and then predicting it would cause problems. Hill said she made much the same prediction to her former boss, Bolton, saying the Giuliani effort would 'backfire' on the White House. 'The story line he was promoting, the narrative he was promoting was going to backfire,' Hill said. 'I think it has backfired.' In her appearance, Hill also agreed with the testimony of Sondland on Wednesday, in which he said Giuliani was pressing a quid pro quo - trading a White House meeting for the new leader of Ukraine for investigations sought by President Trump. The hearing also featured testimony from a U.S. official in the American embassy in Ukraine, David Holmes, who overheard a phone call between Sondland and President Trump. 'The President's voice was loud and recognizable,' Holmes said, telling lawmakers that Sondland actually held the phone away from his ear and winced at the volume from Mr. Trump. In that call, Holmes said he clearly heard the President ask Sondland if Ukraine was going to announce investigations sought by the President about the Bidens, Burisma, and the allegations of interference by Ukraine in the 2016 elections. “I then heard President Trump ask, 'so he's going to do the investigation?'” Holmes recounted.  “Ambassador Sondland replied, 'he's going to do it,'” Holmes added. Republicans tangled with Holmes several times over his story. At one point in the GOP questions to Holmes, Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) requested the Foreign Service Officer declare that he would never reveal the details of such a high level call in the future. 'I think it was Gordon Sondland who showed indiscretion by having that conversation over a public phone line,' Holmes said. Earlier, Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) rebuked Holmes for revealing portions of the Trump-Sondland call, where Sondland told Mr. Trump that the leader of Ukraine 'loves your ass.' Turner said it was embarrassing to President Zelensky; Holmes defended his actions, calling Zelensky a 'Ukrainian patriot.' You can find more coverage of Thursday's impeachment hearing at this link. 
  • A three day, nine witness impeachment hearing blitz comes to a conclusion on Thursday, as lawmakers will hear from a former Russia expert on the National Security Council, and a Foreign Service Officer who currently works at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, as Republicans and Democrats continue to consume these proceedings like people living on different planets. After Wednesday's testimony with Ambassador Gordon Sondland, this session will feature Fiona Hill, who worked on the National Security Council until this July, and David Holmes, who overheard Sondland's phone conversation with President Trump, in which Mr. Trump reportedly asked about Ukraine announcing investigations sought by the President. Here's the latest on the impeachment hearings: - 4:20 pm.  The hearing is over.  Here's my story. 4:15 pm.  As Rep. Adam Schiff D-CA ends this impeachment hearing, he appeals for Republicans to look at the evidence, and support this effort to remove President Trump from office.  'Where is Howard Baker?' Schiff asked, reaching back to Watergate, and invoking the GOP Senator from Tennessee who asked the famous question, 'What did the President know and when did he know it?' 3:20 pm.  GOP lawmakers continue to go after Holmes, and he continues to stand his ground on the Sondland-Trump phone call. At one point, Rep. Mike Conaway R-TX demanded that Holmes never talk in the future about calls like the Sondland-Trump call. Holmes fired back, saying that Sondland should not have held the call in public like he did, and defended going up the chain of command to report it. 2:50 pm.  It's always good to have a bit of levity at a hearing like this.   2:25 pm. Unlike Jordan and Ratcliffe, Rep Mike Turner R-OH doesn't give Holmes a chance to answer his criticism, accusing Holmes of using 'anecdotal' evidence about the Sondland-Trump call to embarrass the Ukraine leader 2:15 pm.  It's been a very interesting last half hour.  GOP lawmakers have tried to undercut the testimony of Holmes about the Sondland-Trump phone call - but Holmes has held his own. 1:45 pm.   The 45 minutes are up for the GOP.  Fiona Hill forcefully pushed back on a series of GOP lines of questioning, as she bluntly said there was no reason to have anyone in the White House involved in the Giuliani effort in Ukraine, which she labeled a 'domestic political errand' 1:10 pm.  The White House has provided a statement on today's hearing denouncing the proceedings.  As you read this statement, one should remember that the White House has prevented a number of officials from testifying before this investigation. 1:00 pm.  The hearing has resumed with Republicans asking 45 minutes of questions. Rep. Nunes starts by asking Hill & Holmes if they met with Alexander Chalupa, Nellie Ohr, Bruce Ohr, or Glenn Simpson.  All 'no' answers.  Then, Nunes pressed Hill on the Steele Dossier.  She says she was sent a copy of it a day before it was published by BuzzFeed in early January of 2017. 12:30 pm.  The hearing won't resume for about another 30 minutes.  Various photographers are using their expensive equipment to stake out their spots. 11:05 am. The 45 minutes of questions are now over, and there is a break, with House votes coming soon. My best guess? The hearing does not resume for another 60-90 minutes. 10:50 am. Meanwhile, Giuliani's name keeps coming up repeatedly. Fiona Hill recounts her conversation with John Bolton, who said of Giuliani and his work in Ukraine:  'Rudy Giuliani was a hand grenade that was going to blow everyone up.' Hill finishes by saying, 'that's where we are today.' 10:40 am.  More from Holmes on the Trump phone call.  Holmes said, “I've never seen anything like this in my foreign service career.”  10:25 am.  Fiona Hill makes a very direct jab at Republicans over the issue of people trying to switch the blame for 2016 election interference to Ukraine, and away from Russia.  It should spark some interesting Q&A with the GOP. 10:15 am.  Here is the video of Holmes talking about the Sondland-Trump phone call. 10:05 am.  Holmes has been going for almost 40 minutes.  A big chunk of his testimony was describing how he overheard Sondland talking on the phone with President Trump, as they sat at a table at a restaurant in Kyiv. 9:50 am. In his testimony, Holmes is going through familiar testimony that Rudy Giuliani was pressing Ukraine for investigations sought by President Trump. Holmes backs up the quid pro quo assertion of Sondland that Giuliani was conditioning a White House visit on those probes. 9:25 am. Schiff and Nunes give their opening statements. Nunes starts by calling the hearings 'bizarre' and denounces what he labels a 'carousel of accusations' against the President 9:10 am.  The hearing has started a few minutes late.  There will be a break at some point for votes on the House floor later this morning.  The House and Senate are ready to leave town today for a Thanksgiving break.  At this point, we don't know when the next public impeachment hearing will be scheduled by this panel - or if there will be another. 8:55 am.  Fiona Hill's opening statement is out.  The Russia expert has a message aimed at Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee. 8:40 am.  President Trump has no public events on his schedule until 3:30 pm.  He has been on Twitter expressing his frustration with the impeachment investigation. 8:15 am.  I'm back in the room at the Ways and Means Committee.  Reporters are arriving a bit more slowly today.  But the still photographers are already here staking out their spots from the initial photos as the witnesses arrive for testimony. 7:50 am.  The morning papers on the front step about the impeachment hearings.   7:45 am.  If you missed the end of the Gordon Sondland hearing on Wednesday, members of the public audience gave him a standing ovation, and extended applause as he left the hearing room.  There was a similar reaction last Friday for ex-Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. 7:30 am.  The news from the evening hearing evidently did not sit well with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), as more than an hour after the hearing ended, Jordan tweeted out his skepticism about Cooper's testimony, and the discovery of her staff. 7:25 am.  The day after the July 25 phone call, a group of top U.S. officials gathered in Washington to meet about military aid to Ukraine.  The number three official in the State Department testified last night that a White House budget official made clear aid to Ukraine was on hold - under orders from the President. 7:15 am. The biggest piece of news to come out of last night's impeachment hearing was about when Ukraine officials found out that U.S. aid was being delayed.  Pentagon official Laura Cooper said her staff had uncovered emails which showed Ukraine embassy officials in Washington asking what was going on with U.S. aid money.  Those emails were sent on - July 25.  Why is that important? That's the same day President Trump had his phone call with the leader of Ukraine. 7:00 am. If you missed the Sondland hearing on Wednesday, you missed one of the more unique hearings in some time on Capitol Hill.  Sondland sharpened his previous testimony, accusing Rudy Giuliani of a quid pro quo in which he pressed Ukraine to announce investigations backed by President Trump, in exchange for a White House meeting with the President.   When the hearing began, the top Republican said Sondland would be smeared - presumably by Democrats.  But it was GOP lawmakers who scrapped with the Ambassador over his testimony, where he all but said that President Trump had ordered a hold on aid to Ukraine, in order to get the government to announce investigations of Hunter Biden, and the conspiracy theory that Ukraine - and not Russia - had interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections. Here is a link to Sondland's testimony.
  • Ambassador Gordon Sondland drew stern rebukes from Republican lawmakers on Wednesday as he told impeachment hearings that President Donald Trump's personal lawyer had made clear that in order for the new leader of Ukraine to get a White House meeting with the President, then Ukraine would have to announce investigations sought by Mr. Trump. 'Mr. Giuliani's requests were a quid pro quo,' Sondland said, as U.S. Ambassador to the European Union said it became clear to him that the President ultimately had been holding up military aid to Ukraine to leverage those same investigations as well. 'We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani,' Sondland added. While Sondland repeatedly acknowledged that no one - including President Trump - had told him the aid for Ukraine was tied to any investigations wanted by Mr. Trump, the Ambassador said he ultimatley felt that was the bottom line. 'That was my presumption,' Sondland said. Seemingly caught off guard by Sondland's testimony - which more sharply alleged that there was a clear effort to condition aid to Ukraine for a series of investigations than his previous deposition testimony - Republicans ultimately took the gloves off, and took after the President's own ambassador. 'You really have no testimony today that ties President Trump to a scheme to withhold aid from Ukraine in exchange for these investigations,' said Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH). 'Other than my own presumption,' Sondland interjected, further aggravating Turner, his voice growing more strident by the minute. 'Do you know what hearsay evidence is ambassador?' Turner asked. 'Do you know what made up testimony is?' GOP lawmakers mocked Sondland's earlier statement that he presumed the aid-for-investigations effort was true, when he said he realized 'two plus two equals four.' 'Two presumptions plus two presumptions does not equal even one fact,' said Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH). Earlier, GOP counsel Stephen Castor sought to undercut Sondland's testimony, rattling off a series of items which Sondland did not have to back up his presumption. 'You don't have records, you don't have notes, because you didn't take notes, you don't have a lot of recollections,' Castor said.  'I mean, this is like the trifecta of unreliability, isn't that true?' Castor asked, who did not gain the agreement of Sondland.  'What I'm trying to do today is use the information I have to be as forthcoming as possible,' said Sondland. Republicans also complained openly to Sondland about why he did not use a quote from the President - which Sondland had used in a text message - denying any kind of quid pro quo. 'Do you know what a quid pro quo is?' asked Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who said Sondland should have made that one of the first items in his lengthy opening statement. Ironically, at the start of the hearing, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), warned the Oregon hotel developer that he faced a difficult day. 'Ambassador Sondland, you are going to be smeared,' Nunes declared. But the roughest treatment for Sondland actually came from the GOP, and not from Democrats. Here is the link to my live updates on today's hearing.
  • After hearing Tuesday from three people who listened in on President Trump's July 25 phone call with the leader of Ukraine, lawmakers will take testimony from U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who helped to coordinate efforts in Ukraine with President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Sondland will certainly have to address a phone call he supposedly made from a restaurant in Ukraine - on an unsecured cell phone - where he spoke to President Trump, who made clear he wanted to know if Ukraine was going to announce it had started investigations into the Bidens, and a 2016 conspiracy theory that Ukraine - and not Russia - had hacked Democrats during the elections. “Ambassador Sondland is a big personality,” said former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, who testified a day earlier. Follow along with developments here: - 8:00 pm.  While the hearing is over, there is now an extra session in which Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are voting down a variety of requests from Republicans for subpoenas of Hunter Biden, the whistleblower, and others. 7:25 pm. Here's the headlines from tonight's hearing so far: + New emails show Ukraine embassy asked on July 25 what was going on with military aid + State Dept official says at a July 26 meeting OMB said the President had directed a delay on that aid. Trump-Zelensky call was July 25. 7:00 pm.  Here is the video of Hale's testimony with respect to the July 26 meeting where an OMB official said the President had authorized a hold on the military aid for Ukraine. 6:55 pm.  One of the GOP arguments is that Ukraine did not know the military aid was on hold. But it's clear that the July 25 Trump-Zelensky phone call had the Kyiv government concerned. 6:45 pm.  While this is a fairly dry hearing which reminds me of covering a regular Congressional oversight hearing, there have been some kernels of news.  Along with Cooper's statement, Hale says at an interagency meeting on July 26, officials were told that military aid was on hold “because the President had so directed through the Acting Chief of Staff.' 6:10 pm. Cooper says her Pentagon staff found a series of emails in which there were concerns relayed by Ukraine officials about why military aid was on hold. Two of the emails were sent to State Dept on July 25. That was the same day President Trump spoke with the Ukraine leader. 5:40 pm.  After almost a two hour break, the second hearing is underway.  Pentagon official Laura Cooper and State Department official David Hale are testifying. 3:45 pm.  The hearing has ended.  There was prolonged applause for Sondland as he left the room. 3:15 pm.  Sondland says it would have been better for a Trump-Zelensky meeting to take place without conditions, saying he thought their chemistry would have been very good, describing the Ukraine leader as smart, funny, and charming. 3:10 pm.  The GOP frustration grows with Sondland at this hearing.  Rep. Jim Jordan R-OH to Sondland: 'You said there were three quid pro quos but there weren't.' 2:20 pm.  It's now open season on Sondland from the Republican side.  Rep. Mike Turner R-OH blasted Sondland, calling his testimony 'confusing' and 'somewhat circular.'  Turner was followed by Rep. Brad Wenstrup R-OH, who rebuked Sondland as well.  House Republicans moved quickly to get the Turner Q&A out on social media. 2:00 pm.  Rep. Jim Jordan R-OH echoes earlier GOP complaints to Sondland about why he didn't use a quote from the President in today's opening statement where Mr. Trump denied any quid pro quo. 1:50 pm.  Giuliani tweeted something about Sondland at 12:29 pm, and then deleted it.  Now, about an hour later, he has re-posted the same tweet.  Not clear what changed, or what was wrong with the original missive. 1:40 pm.  Sondland is back.  The White House has just issued a statement on his testimony, pushing back on his 'quid pro quo' assertions. 1:09 pm.  The committee is taking a break for lunch.  Republicans had so little to offer between Nunes and Castor that they did not use their full 30 minutes. 1:05 pm.   Giuliani has already deleted his 12:29 pm tweet about Sondland's testimony. 12:50 pm.  Rep. Devin Nunes R-CA has again been making the GOP point today that President Trump clearly had a reason to be mad at Ukraine over what happened in 2016. One of the things which happened was the downfall of his campaign manager, Paul Manafort. 12:35 pm.   Democrats clearly feel today's testimony has played in their favor.  12:30 pm.  Giuliani joins the President in downplaying the role of Sondland. 12:15 pm.  The GOP effort to counter Sondland is to say that he has no evidence to back up his assertions. 12:00 pm.  Here are the comments by President Trump about Sondland as he left the White House today. 11:45 am. The GOP response in the hearing (and outside) is that President Trump never directly told Sondland to do anything. Q: The President never told you about pre-conditions for a White House meeting. Sondland: 'Personally, no.' 11:30 am.  President Trump is now 45 minutes behind schedule for his departure from the White House.  He is headed today to Texas. 11:25 am.  Nunes starts the GOP time by focusing not on anything Sondland said in his testimony so far today, focusing on Republican allegations that Ukraine was 'out to get him' during the 2016 elections. First question from Nunes on this line. Sondland: 'I am not aware of it.' Nunes keeps going with more. Sondland: 'I am not aware of it.' 11:20 am.  During the break, Democrats went to the TV cameras stationed outside.   11:15 am.  Again in this impeachment hearing process, viewers on Fox News are getting some different messages. 11:00 am.  A light moment in the hearing, as Sondland says he and President Trump tend to communicate with words that probably aren't for kids. 10:47 am.  On the Drudge Report.  It's not the greatest of headlines for the President on what's usually a favorable website. 10:45 am. Sondland said the President and Giuliani wanted Ukraine to publicly announce the Burisma / Bidens / Crowdstrike-2016 investigations. But Sondland says that doesn't mean Ukraine actually had to undertake the investigations. 10:35 am.  Critics of the President in Congress say the testimony today from Sondland is a big, big deal. 10:20 am. Sondland says Secretary of State Pompeo was up to date with the Giuliani/Trump efforts all along. Sondland says he raised the delay in aid with Vice President Pence on September 1.  10:15 am.  Sondland has finished with his opening statement.  There is a lot of explosive testimony there, especially Sondland saying that 'everyone was in the loop' about the President seeking investigations from Ukraine. 10:05 am.  Was there a quid pro quo involving Ukraine?  Sondland says, in one sense, the answer is yes. 10:00 am.  Sondland says he was surprised to see the rough transcript of the July 25 call the President had with the leader of Ukraine, because he had not been told about the fact that President Trump mentioned investigations related to Biden/Burisma/Crowdstrike in the call. 9:50 am.  Sondland repeatedly says that State Department officials wanted no part of Giuliani being involved in diplomatic work.  But the President did.  So, they had to play the hand they were dealt (Sondland's description). 9:40 am.  Democrats immediately seize on the 'quid pro quo' description by Sondland.   9:27 am.  Sondland uses the term “quid pro quo” to describe what was going on at three different points in his prepared testimony. 9:25 am.  Sondland will also show that Vice President Pence was in that loop as well. 9:20 am.  Sondland says multiple times - “Everyone was in the loop.” 9:15 am.  Sondland says it has been difficult to come up with answers because the White House and State Department have not helped him get documents and phone records. 9:10 am.  The hearing is underway.  Sondland's statement is going to provide some interesting moments in questioning from both parties.  Here is the Ambassador's recount of the July 26 unsecured cell call to President Trump from a restaurant in Kyiv. 9:00 am - The opening statement of Sondland is now available at the following link. 8:40 am.  Someone asked me on Facebook what the advantage is of actually being in the hearing room.  In one way, it is being a witness to history.  But not seeing the TV feed could put you at a disadvantage, as many others watch every facial twitch, frown, and smile on the faces of the witnesses and lawmakers.   When I got here into the room this morning, I found the still photographers had taken my power plug spot, and a TV crew has taken my audio feed. So, I had to deal with that, and switch things around. If I were back in my booth in either the House or Senate side of the Capitol, everything would be just fine. I could stand, go to the bathroom, have lunch,  etc.  Here is my “view” of the dais. 8:10 am.  The folks at Fox and Friends do not buy the testimony that President Trump talks loud and could be overheard on his cell phone. 8:00 am.  A reminder of the testimony so far, is that Sondland called up President Trump from a restaurant in Ukraine, and spoke to him on an unsecured cell phone.  In that call, US embassy staffer David Holmes testified that he could easily hear the President's voice, and hear what was being discussed with Sondland - investigations - which Mr. Trump wanted from the Ukraine government. The Holmes testimony can be found at this link. 7:50 am.  The Sondland phone call with President Trump is going to get a lot of attention today - and rightfully so. 7:45 am.  Most readers probably know Sondland's name from the impeachment / Ukraine controversy, but don't really know all of the details.  There's some interesting stuff which has GOP lawmakers a bit uneasy, because the script today may not be that obvious at first. 7:35 am.  It's not just Gordon Sondland testifying today, starting at 9 am.  And there is another hearing on Thursday.  Like Tuesday, it would be no surprise for me if the hearings are still going at 8 pm - which is when the Democratic debate in Atlanta is set to begin.  That would a split screen political Super Bowl.
  • At the same time one of President Donald Trump's National Security Council staffers testified before Congress on Tuesday, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman found himself taking social media flak from the official White House Twitter account, and from aides to the who also work with Vindman at the White House complex. 'I don't know what the President was thinking,' was one of a series of quotes from Vindman tweeted out by the White House, part of a GOP effort to argue against impeachment hearings led by Democrats in the House. Vindman's testimony represented the first time witnesses had publicly discussed what they heard in a July 25 phone call between President Trump and the leader of Ukraine, where President Trump pressed Ukraine to open up a pair of investigations which could help Mr. Trump politically. 'Frankly, I couldn't believe what I was hearing,' said Vindman, who answered most of the questions, and was challenged the most by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee. 'It is improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and a political opponent,' Vindman said. The other witness, Jennifer Williams, a State Department foreign policy expert who is currently detailed as an adviser for the staff of Vice President Mike Pence, also expressed her concerns. 'I found the July 25th phone call unusual,' Williams said in her testimony. 'It was the first time I had heard internally the president reference particular investigations that previously I had only heard about through Mr. Giuliani's press interviews,' Williams added. While Vindman found himself a Twitter target today, Williams had experienced that on Sunday, when the President loudly objected to her characterization of the Ukraine phone call, accusing her of being a 'Never Trumper.' 'It certainly surprised me,' Williams said. 'I was not expecting to be called out by name.' Maybe the most contentious part of the morning hearing came as Republicans sought to find out who Vindman told of the July 25 phone call, as GOP lawmakers moved to undercut Vindman's work on the National Security Council, which dovetailed with the message of the White House. Republicans said Vindman had puffed up his responsibilities, and jumped on his admission that he had never met with President Trump. 'You've never met the President of the United States, right?' asked Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH). 'That is correct,' Vindman said. 'So, you have never advised the President of the United States on Ukraine,' Turner added, part of a GOP push to downplay Vindman's role on Ukraine policy. Those type of responses netted a series of posts from the White House on Twitter during the hearing. The hearing also featured some exchanges of note regarding the Ukraine whistleblower, as it was clear Republicans believe Vindman notified someone in the Intelligence Community about the July 25 call who may have relayed that information to the whistleblower. 'I do not know who the whistleblower is,' Vindman said at one point, but he refused to name the official he briefed soon after the July 25 call, saying the person was in a 'need to know' situation. Republicans were not pleased. 'You're here to answer questions, and you're hear under subpoena,' said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA). But heeding a ruling from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Vindman refused to say whom he briefed on the call. GOP lawmakers also came close to accusing Vindman of being a leaker as well. 'Colonel, you never leaked information?' asked Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). 'I never did, never would, that is preposterous that I would do that,' Vindman replied. You can find a more detailed review of this morning's hearing at this link.