Donald Trump has a problem. The defense Republicans have been using for weeks - that the whistleblower is passing along second or third hand information - is effectively gone. Why? Because a witness to the phone call and other disturbing interactions between Donald Trump and his staff and Ukrainian officials is testifying tomorrow. Furthermore, he is more or less untouchable.
Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman is a recipient of a purple heart for his time in the Iraq War. In his opening statement he talks about his background prior to working at the White House:
"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 a deployment to Iraq for combat operations. In Iraq, I was wounded in an IED attack and awarded a Purple Heart."
He has also served in embassies around the world, including Kiev, Ukraine and Moscow, Russia. He also previously worked for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and in 2018 joined the National Security Council.
After talking about his childhood as an immigrant from Russia, he makes it clear that what he is going to say in the deposition is not politically motivated:
"I have a deep appreciation for American values and ideals and the power of freedom. I am a patriot, and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend OUR country, irrespective of party or politics. For over twenty years as an active duty United States military officer and diplomat, I have served this country in a nonpartisan manner, and have done so with the utmost respect and professionalism for both Republican and Democratic administrations."
He adds that he is not the whistleblower, which is bad news for Donald Trump, because this means there more people willing to talk and he can't control or stop them. Vindman adds that he does not know who the whistleblower is.
After some more background Vindman gets into detail about what he saw when he joined the NSC in 2018. And wow, he gets RIGHT INTO IT. Giuliani?
"In the Spring of 2019, I became aware of outside influencers promoting a false narrative of Ukraine inconsistent with the consensus views of the interagency. This narrative was harmful to U.S. government policy."
Then we get into what happened after Zelensky won the election and his interactions with Donald Trump. He notes that the first phone call was normal, nothing unusual, but during a visit in DC where the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council for Ukraine, things got weird.
"The meeting proceeded well until the Ukrainians broached the subject of a meeting between the two presidents. The Ukrainians saw this meeting as critically important in order to solidify the support of their most important international partner. 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.
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. 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."
This totally goes against what Sondland remembers (or fails to remember) about various meetings. This also shows a record of both Vindman and Fiona Hill reporting these concerns to the NSC's lawyer. Which led...nowhere.
Then we get to the second call, the one where Trump called Zelensky to congratulate him on July 25, 2019. Vindman was on the call from the Situation Room. This was the supposedly "perfect call" that Trump had.
"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."
Well. This isn't going to be good for Donald Trump or his cronies in the GOP.
Read the full statement below: