Elise Stefanik has been the target of a smear campaign led by George Conway, among others, because she has been so effective.

She 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.

Armed with the transcript of prior closed-door testimony, Stefanik frames her question so that if the witness varies from prior testimony, Stefanik can reel them back in. She shows that she has papers with her that she is reading from for her precise questions. It’s a signal to the witness that she’s prepared, so don’t mess with her.

Her examination of former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch showed Stefanik’s approach.

She told the witness what territory she would cover not because she wanted to make it easier, but to signal to the witness that you are boxed in, I’m in control, and I’m covering topics about which you are going to have to capitulate. Pay attention to how many of the questions are answered with a simple “Yes” because the question was framed in such a way that Yes was the only viable option.

Those simple “Yes” answers were devastating to the Dems impeachment narrative.

Today’s cross-examination of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Jennifer Williams was another example. Here’s a key part of the transcript showing the 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.

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.

Where did Stefanik get this skill? It doesn’t appear from her Bio that she’s a lawyer.

But she could teach all the lawyers in the hearing room a thing or two.


Stefanik’s examination of Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, a former White House official who served on the National Security Council, as true to form:


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