10/29/2019 1:19:00 PM Army officer says he raised concerns about Ukraine
WASHINGTON (AP) — An Army officer at the National Security Council who twice raised concerns over the Trump administration’s push to have Ukraine investigate Democrats and Joe Biden, testified behind closed doors against White House orders today in the impeachment inquiry.
Alexander Vindman, a lieutenant colonel who served in Iraq and later as a diplomat, told House investigators that he listened to President Donald Trump’s July 25 call with new Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and reported his concerns to the NSC’s lead counsel, according to an advance copy of his testimony.
“I was concerned by the call,” Vindman was saying, according to the testimony obtained Monday night by The Associated Press. “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.”
Vindman, a 20-year military officer, was the first official who listened in on that phone call to testify as the impeachment inquiry reaches deeper into the Trump administration and Democrats prepare for the next, public phase of the probe. He was also the first current White House official to appear before the impeachment panels. With the administration directing staff not to appear, he was issued a subpoena to testify.
The inquiry is looking into Trump’s call, in which he asked Zelenskiy for a “favor” — to investigate Democrats — that the Democrats say was a quid pro quo for military aid and could be an impeachable offense.
Trump took to Twitter today to denounce the probe as a “sham,” adding: “Why are people that I never even heard of testifying about the call. Just READ THE CALL TRANSCRIPT AND THE IMPEACHMENT HOAX IS OVER!”
Vindman, who arrived in the United States as a 3-year-old from the former Soviet Union, wrote that it was his “sacred duty” to defend the United States.
Some Trump allies, looking for ways to discredit Vindman, questioned the colonel’s loyalties because he was born in the region. But the line of attack was rejected by some Republicans, including Rep. Liz Cheney, who said it was “shameful” to criticize his patriotism.
His appearance came a day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the House will vote on a resolution to affirm the impeachment investigation, set rules for public hearings and outline the potential process for writing articles of impeachment against Trump. The vote is expected Thursday.
Vindman said he is not the whistleblower, the still unnamed government official who filed the initial complaint over Trump’s conversation with the Ukraine president that sparked the House impeachment inquiry. He said he does not know who the whistleblower is.