Impeachment Update: Lt. Col. Vindman Testifies Transcript Omitted Details
“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.”
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a decorated Iraq War veteran and National Security Council expert on Ukraine and Russia, offered a firsthand account of how President Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rival on Tuesday, the latest in a series of damning testimonies that have emboldened Democrats ahead of their first impeachment vote on Thursday.
Most importantly, Vindman said the transcript of the phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Vlodymor Zelensky omitted crucial details, including: “Mr. Trump’s assertion that there were recordings of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. discussing Ukraine corruption, and an explicit mention by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, of Burisma Holdings, the energy company whose board employed Mr. Biden’s son Hunter,” as per the New York Times.
The president has repeatedly claimed that the rough transcript, which many believe already provides proof of a quid pro quo, was “perfect.”
“This is damning: for weeks Trump called the call record which showed he sought foreign influence in our elections a ‘perfect transcript,'” tweeted Rep. Don Beyer. “It was a doctored transcript. The White House cut out some of his words, refused to restore them, and hid the transcript in a secure server.”
“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 told lawmakers. “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.”
President Trump dismissed Vindman as a politically motivated “Never Trumper.” Last week, the president referred to “Never Trumper Republicans” as “human scum.”
“Never Trumper Republicans, though on respirators with not many left, are in certain ways worse and more dangerous for our Country than the Do Nothing Democrats,” tweeted Trump. “Watch out for them, they are human scum!”
Vindman Accused Of Dual Loyalty
Despite Vindman’s history of public service, multiple Trump-supporting commentators insinuated that the witness, whose Jewish family fled from persecution in the Soviet Union when he was three, acted out of loyalty to his birth country rather than genuine concern for U.S. national security. Critics argue the efforts to discredit Vindman, who earned a purple heart for his service in Iraq, reveal the president’s defenders’ desperation in the face of mounting evidence.
“It seems very clear that he is incredibly concerned about Ukrainian defense,” former Republican Rep. Sean Duffy said on CNN. “I don’t know that he’s concerned about American policy, but his main mission was to make sure that the Ukraine got those weapons. We all have an affinity to our homeland where we came from. … He has an affinity I think for the Ukraine. He speaks Ukrainian. He came from the country, and he wants to make sure they’re safe and free.”
“We also know he was born in the Soviet Union, emigrated with his family — young,” said Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade. “He tends to feel simpatico with the Ukraine.”
Fox News host Lauren Ingraham and her guests, Epstein lawyer Alan Dershowitz and former deputy attorney general under George W. Bush John Yoo, similarly questioned Vindman’s patriotism.
“Here we have a U.S. national security official who is advising Ukraine while working inside the White House — apparently against the president’s interest and usually they spoke in English,” said Fox News host Lauren Ingraham. “Isn’t that kind of an interesting angle on this story?”
“I find that astounding and some people might call that espionage,” said John Yoo, who provided the Bush administration’s legal argument for torture.
MCNBC anchor Nicole Wallace was among the critics, some of whom were Republican lawmakers, who denounced the smearing of Vindman.
“Except those people aren’t chickenshit like the three of you,” the MSNBC anchor said on Tuesday night, referring to the “some people” Yoo said “might call that espionage.”
“And they know he passed a background check that the president’s daughter and son-in-law didn’t,” Wallace said in a jab at Jared Kushner, who struggled to gain clearance until May 2018 and has come under scrutiny for his ties to foreign figures like Mohammad bin Salman.
Coming Impeachment Vote
On Thursday, the House will take a formal vote to launch impeachment proceedings. So far, witness depositions have taken place behind closed-doors with select congressional committees, a process Republicans have complained is unfair and secretive. After the vote on Thursday the impeachment process will transition to public hearings, undermining a key objection of Republican lawmakers.
“The message this week is going to be: You asked for it, you got it,” Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman told the Washington Post.