Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was a feature of Tuesday’s testimony in the House Intelligence committee. His statements led to more questions than answers about his role in the White House National Security Council. When visiting the Ukrainian President in April, Vindman appeared to oppose the White House when he spoke to the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy. Watch the moment below at the 4-minute mark.
“I offered two pieces of advice – to be particularly cautious with regards to Russia and its desire to provoke Ukraine and the second one was to stay out of U.S. domestic policy,” said Vindman.
Schiff corrected him quickly, “you mean politics?”
“Politics, correction,” agreed Vindman.
Schiff asked Vindman “Why did he felt it was necessary to advise President Zelensky to stay away from U.S. domestic politics?”
“Chairman, in the March and April timeframe, became clear there were actors in the U.S. …public actors, non-governmental actors that were promoting the idea of investigations and 2016 Ukrainian interference…and it was consistence with U.S. policy to advise any country…all the countries in my portfolio, any country in the world to not participate in US domestic politics,” said Alexander Vindman.
In contrast, Vindman never directly discussed this with Trump and even admitted that he never met President Trump. Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) teased this out of National Security Council adviser in his quick line of questioning. Watch it below.
Remarkably, in attempting to build their impeachment case, House Democrats are using yet another witness who has never met or talked to @realDonaldTrump.
They are relying on the witness' disputed interpretation… of someone he's never worked directly with.
This is a farce. pic.twitter.com/ljE7SvXdAW
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) November 19, 2019
The biggest question from the testimony is who was it that told Vindman to define U.S. policy in direct contrast to directions given by the President of the United States. Vindman is a Ukraine and Russia analyst and works for the White House National Security Council.
The office of President is given broad powers under the constitution to define international diplomacy. Vindman was advising against that. Policy directives given to a foreign leader must be given by the White House.
Why was Vindman concerned by accusations of Ukrainian influence in the 2016 election?
The Lt. Col. said repeatedly that he believed it was wrong that Trump discussed Biden corruption with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy. These are just Vindman’s opinions, though. He still has not given any evidence that Trump was wrong.
Instead of following his chain of command after Trump’s July 25th call, though, Vindman took his concerns to senior lawyer at the National Security Council, John Eisenberg. He did not discuss them with his superior, Tim Morrison, former senior National Security Council Russia expert. Morrison said much later in the hearing that he learned of Vindman’s report to the lawyer much later.
Rep. Jim Jordan, (R-OH) asked why Vindman didn’t follow his chain of command. The NSC official replied, it “was a busy week” and that he was later told by Mr. Eisenberg not to speak to anyone else.
Jordan then followed with questions as to why Vindman spoke to his bother, the whistleblower and other people about the July 25th call, instead of to Morrison – his superior.
Alexander Vindman looks really bad here as he gets grilled by Jim Jordan pic.twitter.com/3rq8qIGpM3
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) November 19, 2019
Rep. Mark Meadows summed up the Lt. Col Vindman’s testimony succinctly when he tweeted after, “To say this impeachment case is collapsing is an understatement.” Well said.
Vindman had no problem voicing his concerns to the President of a foreign country, but felt it necessary to go outside the chain of command in his role in the White House.