More damaging testimony is expected today in Congress as part of the House’s Ukraine probe. Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, is scheduled to testify about his concerns regarding President Trump’s July 25th phone call to Ukrainian President Zelensky. Vindman listened in on the call and promptly reported his concerns to NSC lawyers.
As with other depositions so far, Lt. Col. Vindman’s testimony will be given behind closed doors, but Republican members of committees investigating the scandal will be present and have the opportunity to ask questions. Vindman’s opening statement was released last night, however, and is available here.
Lt. Col. Vindman is a career army officer who fled the Soviet Union with his family as a child. He has served in the US Army for more than 20 years, including a combat tour in Iraq where he received a Purple Heart after being wounded by an IED. He has also been posted at the US embassies to Ukraine and Russia. He has been a staff member on the National Security Council since July 2018.
Vindman listened in on an April 2019 call between President Trump and then-President-elect Zelensky, which he called “positive,” and then was part of the US delegation that attended Zelensky’s inauguration in May.
The first sign that Vindman saw that something was wrong occurred on July 10 when Oleksandr Danylyuk, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council for Ukraine, visited Washington, D.C. for a meeting with National Security Advisor John Bolton that included Ambassadors Volker and Sondland and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
“Amb. Sondland started to speak about Ukraine delivering specific investigations in order to secure the meeting with the President, at which time Ambassador Bolton cut the meeting short,” Vindman says in his statement.
“Following this meeting, there was a scheduled debriefing during which Amb. Sondland emphasized the importance that Ukraine deliver the investigations into the 2016 election, the Bidens, and Burisma,” Vindman continues. “I stated to Amb. Sondland that his statements were inappropriate, that the request to investigate Biden and his son had nothing to do with national security, and that such investigations were not something the NSC was going to get involved in or push. Dr. Hill then entered the room and asserted to Amb. Sondland that his statements were inappropriate.”
“Following the debriefing meeting, I reported my concerns to the NSC's lead counsel. Dr. Hill also reported the incident to the NSC's lead counsel,” the colonel added.
On July 25, Vindman says that he listened in on the now-infamous phone call between Trump and Zelensky from the White House Situation Room. Regarding that conversation, Vindman says, “I was concerned by the call. I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government's support of Ukraine. I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained. This would all undermine U.S. national security. Following the call, I again reported my concerns to NSC's lead counsel.”
Vindman also discusses the high stakes of foreign policy involving Ukraine and Russia, noting that Ukraine has been “under assault from Russia for more than five years” but has still “taken major steps towards integrating with the West.”
“Absent a deterrent to dissuade Russia from such aggression, there is an increased risk of further confrontations with the West,” Vindman says. If left unchecked, Russian aggression could lead to more direct conflict with NATO and the United States.
Interestingly, the allegation that Donald Trump linked a meeting with Ukraine's president to performance of the personal favor of investigating the Bidens is similar to accusations against the Clintons. The Clintons allegedly linked donations to the Clinton Foundation to access to Hillary Clinton in her position as secretary of state for Barack Obama.
In summary, Lt. Col. Vindman, who is not the whistleblower but says he knows that person’s identity, heard disturbing demand placed on Ukrainian officials on two separate occasions. On both occasions, he raised red flags with his superiors. Vindman also corroborates other testimony that John Bolton also resisted the Trump Administration’s attempts to link Ukraine aid to investigations of Hunter Biden and Burisma.
Vindman, a military veteran who was wounded in the service of America, is no liberal Deep State member. As a refugee from the Soviet Union, he probably also understands better than most the danger of politicizing national security and law enforcement. While certain members of Republican media, such as Fox News host Laura Ingraham, are attacking Vindman as a traitor and a spy, there is no evidence that this spurious charge is true.
Instead, Lt. Col. Vindman seems to be one of many honorable Americans who have raised red flags about President Trump’s actions. Those Americans who oppose the president’s abuses of power cut across party and ideological lines with the common belief that American presidents are not above the law.
Originally published on The Resurgent