Posts tagged with "Lt Colonel Alexander Vindman"

No harm, no foul: Schumer asks Army to provide Vindman with same protections as whistleblower

October 31, 2019

Fearing that a crucial witness may now be in harm’s way, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York) has asked the U.S. Army to provide Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman—who testified behind closed doors as part of the House impeachment inquiry on October 29—with the same protections against retaliation that a whistleblower would receive.

According to a report by The Hill, Schumer sent a letter on Wednesday to Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy and Chief of Staff of the Army General James McConville raising concerns that Vindman could face retaliation for his testimony from President Donald Trump, his political base, and GOP supporters on Capitol Hill.

“I … ask that you provide me with a briefing on what actions the Army is taking to ensure that LTC Vindman and whistleblowers like him are afforded appropriate protections— both from retaliation and for the personal safety of him and his family,” Schumer wrote.

The Senate Minority Leader added that he also wants the Army leaders to “issue public statements indicating your support for him and others in the U.S. Armed Forces who fulfill their duty to tell the truth when asked to do so.”

Vindman told the three committees that he had raised concerns more than once about Trump and other officials pressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch politically motivated investigations that would benefit Trump, according to a copy of his opening remarks.

Trump and some of his allies attacked Vindman, questioning his credibility and patriotism and sparking bipartisan backlash on Capitol Hill.

Trump railed against Vindman on Tuesday, calling him a “Never Trumper witness.”

“Supposedly, according to the Corrupt Media, the Ukraine call ‘concerned’ today’s Never Trumper witness,” Trump tweeted. “Was he on the same call that I was? Can’t be possible! Please ask him to read the Transcript of the call. Witch Hunt!”

Schumer, in his letter on Wednesday, called the criticism “outrageous.”

“These attacks are outrageous and unacceptable, but more importantly, this vitriol toward LTC Vindman may result in professional reprisals and threats to his personal safety and that of his family,” he wrote.

“It is incumbent on the Army to ensure that he is afforded the same protections as whistleblowers and protected from reprisal for testifying before Congress.” 

Research contact: @thehill

Hear no evil? NSC official who heard July 25 Ukraine call testifies Trump undermined US security

October 30, 2019

A senior White House official who currently oversees Ukraine policy—and who previously served 20 years as an active-duty U.S. military officer and a diplomat—told House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he believes President Donald Trump undermined U.S. national security when he appealed to Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rivals, according to a copy of his opening statement obtained by Politico.

“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 National Security Council official, told investigators, referring to Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce probes into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

Vindman, who became the first White House official to testify as part of the impeachment inquiry, also said he reported Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky to the NSC’s top lawyer after listening in on the conversation from the White House situation room alongside other U.S. national security officials.

Politico revealed, this was the second time Vindman had raised concerns to the NSC’s lead counsel about a campaign by Trump, his associates, and some U.S. officials to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations intended to benefit Trump politically.

“I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and [Ukrainian 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 said.

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

In his appearance before House investigators on October 29, Vindman became the first official who listened in directly on Trump’s phone call with Zelensky to speak with investigators, providing a firsthand account of what House Democrats have said is a blatant abuse of power by the president. His opening statement leans heavily on his military service and a “sense of duty” to his country.

“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 in his opening statement.

“As an active duty military officer, the command structure is extremely important to me,” Vindman said, defending his decisions to express his concerns about Trump to his higher-ups. “On many occasions I have been told I should express my views and share my concerns with my chain of command and proper authorities.”

Ahead of Vindman’s testimony, Trump railed against the senior official on Twitter, calling him a “Never Trumper” and saying he “never even heard of” Vindman.

The Trump-Zelensky phone call is at the center of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, Politico noted. Investigators have gathered evidence that Trump sought to withhold nearly $400 million of critical military aid to Ukraine and refuse a White House meeting with Zelensky until the Ukrainian leader publicly stated his intention to launch Trump’s desired investigations.

Research contact: @politico