Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Ukraine specialist with the National Security Council, testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday morning under congressional subpoena.
Vindman, who is one of the Democrats’ “star” witnesses in the investigation, previously testified behind closed doors where he said he did not know who the whistleblower was but that he was directly aware of the phone conversation President Trump had with Ukrainian President Zelensky on July 25.
“Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member, thank you for the opportunity to address the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence with respect to the activities relating to Ukraine and my role in the events under investigation,” Vindman said before the committee per Politico.
“I have dedicated my entire professional life to the United States of America,” he continued. “For more than two decades, it has been my honor to serve as an officer in the United States Army. As an infantry officer, I served multiple overseas tours, including South Korea and Germany, and I was deployed to Iraq for combat operations. Since 2008, I have been a Foreign Area Officer specializing in European and Eurasian politico-military affairs. I served in the United States embassies in Kyiv, Ukraine and Moscow, Russia.”
Vindman testified on a series of events that led up to the July call, providing a context for concurrent Ukraine-American relations.
The witness said “on April 21, 2019, Volodymyr Zelensky was elected President of Ukraine in a landslide victory on a unity, reform, and anti-corruption platform.” That day, President Trump called him and congratulated him on the victory. Vindman testified that he listened in on the call and that it was “positive.”
The next month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent a delegation over to Ukraine which included Vindman. The delegation met with Zelensky and provided Trump with information about him.
Then, “on July 10, 2019, Oleksandr Danylyuk, then Ukraine’s National Security Advisor, visited Washington, D.C. for a meeting with National Security Advisor Bolton. Ambassadors Volker and Sondland and Secretary Rick Perry also attended the meeting.”
Vindman attended this meeting as well.
It was during this initial meeting that the issue to investigate the Bidens was first introduced, Vindman said.
Following this meeting, there was a short debriefing during which Amb. Sondland emphasized the importance of Ukraine delivering the investigations into the 2016 election, the Bidens, and Burisma. I stated to Ambassador Sondland that this was inappropriate and had nothing to do with national security. Dr. Hill also asserted his comments were improper. Following the meeting Dr. Hill and I had agreed to report the incident to the NSC’s lead counsel, Mr. John Eisenberg.
At this part of his remarks, he also described Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, as a “disruptive actor… promoting false information that undermined the United States’ Ukraine policy.”
Then came the July 25 conversation between Trump and Zelensky. From Politico:
On July 21, 2019, President Zelenskyy’s party won parliamentary elections in
another landslide victory. The NSC proposed that President Trump call President Zelenskyy to congratulate him. On July 25, 2019, the call occurred. I listened in on the call in the Situation Room with White House colleagues. I was concerned by the call, what I heard was improper, and I reported my concerns to Mr. Eisenberg. It is improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and political opponent. It was also clear that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the 2016 election, the Bidens, and Burisma, it would be interpreted as a partisan play. This would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing bipartisan support, undermine U.S. national security, and advance Russia’s strategic objectives in the region.
I want to emphasize to the Committee that when I reported my concerns — on July 10, relating to Ambassador Sondland, and on July 25, relating to the President — I did so out of a sense of duty. I privately reported my concerns, in official channels, to the proper authorities in the chain of command. My intent was to raise these concerns because they had significant national security implications for our country. I never thought I would be sitting here testifying in front of this committee and the American public, about my actions. When I reported my concerns, my only thought was to act properly and to carry out duty. Following each of my reports to Mr. Eisenberg, I immediately returned to work to advance the President’s and our country’s foreign policy objectives. I focused on what I have done throughout my career, promoting America’s national security interests.
Watch the full opening statement of Alexander Vindman👇, a Ukraine specialist with the National Security Council who listened in on President Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine’s president, as the House opens its second week of impeachment hearings https://t.co/F88Wqa5nHn pic.twitter.com/J9hAOMNVlH
— POLITICO (@politico) November 19, 2019
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