Trump impeachment: Army officer raised alarm over Ukraine call due to 'national security concerns'

Ukraine expert will be first White House official to testify who listened in on now infamous 25 July phone call

Danny Hakim
Tuesday 29 October 2019 14:18 GMT
Donald Trump says he wants both Ukraine and China to investigate Joe Biden and his son

A White House national security official plans to tell House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he heard US president Donald Trump appeal to Ukraine’s president to investigate one of his leading political rivals, a request the aide considered so damaging to US interests that he reported it to a superior.

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, twice registered internal objections about how Mr Trump and his inner circle were treating Ukraine.

According to a draft of his opening statement that was obtained by The New York Times, he plans to tell the inquiry that he is doing this out a "sense of duty".

He will be the first White House official to testify who listened in on the 25 July telephone call between Mr Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

The call is at the centre of the impeachment inquiry, in which Mr Trump asked Mr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a US citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the US government’s support of Ukraine,” Mr Vindman’s statement said.

“I realised 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.”

Burisma Holdings is an energy company on whose board Mr Biden’s son served while his father was vice president.

“This would all undermine US national security,” Mr Vindman added, referring to the US president's comments in the call.

The colonel, a Ukrainian-American immigrant who received a Purple Heart after being wounded in Iraq by a roadside bomb and whose statement is full of references to duty and patriotism, could be a more difficult witness to dismiss than his civilian counterparts.

“I am a patriot,” Mr Vindman plans to tell the investigators. “It is my sacred duty and honour to advance and defend our country irrespective of party or politics.”

He was to be interviewed privately on Tuesday by the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight and Reform Committees, in defiance of a White House edict not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.

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The colonel, who is represented by Michael Volkov, a former federal prosecutor, declined to comment for this article.

The New York Times

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