A White House National Security Council official who listened to President Donald Trump’s July phone call now at the center of an impeachment inquiry says he was so concerned about the president’s demand that his Ukrainian counterpart investigate a chief political rival that he reported it to his superiors out of a “sense of duty and obligation.”
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a director on the council with expertise on national security issues in Ukraine, is scheduled to testify Tuesday before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight committees as part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry. Vindman's prepared opening statement was published Monday night by multiple media outlets, including the New York Times and Politico.
"This would all undermine U.S. national security," said Vindman, who has served in the US Army for more than two decades, of the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Vindman, who has served in the US Army for more than two decades, said in the statement that he believed statements by Trump and other officials had hurt US national security. He said he is not the whistleblower who went on to file a complaint.
"I did convey certain concerns internally to National Security officials in accordance with my decades of experience and training, sense of duty, and obligation to operate within the chain of command," he said.
As part of his responsibilities, Vindman listened in to the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky, a rough transcript of which was later released publicly. In the call, Trump asks Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son Hunter's work for a Ukrainian gas company.
Vindman said he was concerned by the call and reported what happened to the NSC lead counsel.
"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," he said. "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."
Vindman also reported a July 10 meeting involving then–national security adviser John Bolton, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, then–special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, and ambassador Gordon Sondland with a Ukrainian official to set up a meeting between the country's presidents.
Sondland started to emphasize the importance of Ukraine investigating the Bidens as well as the 2016 election, Vindman said. After the meeting, Vindman said he told Sondland that his remarks were inappropriate and also reported them to the NSC lead counsel.
Vindman added that false narratives about Ukraine are undermining the country's cooperation with the US, which is critical to standing against Russian aggression.
Reporting conversations that could harm US policy and security was part of his duty, he added. Vindman's family fled the Soviet Union when he was 3, and he said he has dedicated his life to the US, serving multiple tours of duty as an Army officer including combat in Iraq that left him injured.
"I have a deep appreciation for American values and ideals and the power of freedom," he said. "I am a patriot, and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend OUR country, irrespective of party or politics."