Impeachment inquiry: Alexander Vindman, White House official on Trump-Zelensky call, to testify

Oct. 29 (UPI) — House impeachment investigators will hear for the first time on Tuesday testimony from a top White House official who was on the controversial phone call this summer between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is set to testify before the House intelligence, foreign affairs and oversight committees to answer questions about whether Trump threatened to withhold military aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations involving Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

A Ukraine policy expert for the National Security Council, Vindman monitored the July 25 phone call, which served as the basis of a whistle-blower report that spurred the impeachment inquiry.

In prepared remarks, Vindman writes that Trump undermined national security by pressuring the government in Kiev to dig up dirt on Biden and his son, Hunter, a former executive for a Ukrainian gas company.

“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 writes in his statement, which was obtained by Politico and ABC News.

Investigators are trying to determine whether Trump threatened aid to Ukraine for the Biden investigations. Vindman is the first White House official to testify in the impeachment proceedings. The Trump administration has made efforts to block other officials from giving depositions to the committees.

“I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and [gas company] 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,” Vindman’s remarks state.

“This would all undermine U.S. national security,” he added. “Following the call, I again reported my concerns to NSC’s lead counsel.”

Vindman’s testimony follows that of other key witnesses, including U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. In his remarks, Vindman said Sondland had stressed to him the importance of Ukraine’s cooperation, and that he’d been supported by former national security officer Fiona Hill.

“I stated to 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,” he wrote.

“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.”

Vindman said in his statement he feared Trump’s efforts would be seen as political and lead to the end of Ukrainian bipartisan support. He also worried the dealings would undermine U.S. interests in eastern Europe.

He said he decided to testify out of a “sense of duty.”

“I am a patriot, and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend our country, irrespective of party or politics,” Vindman wrote. “For over 20 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.”

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