Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified on Tuesday that he bypassed his chain of command and went directly to the National Security Council’s legal counsel to raise his concerns about President Donald Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The implication appears to be that Vindman had an agenda, which was only strengthened by his claim in his opening statement that Trump demanded Zelensky open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, though according to the White House’s partial transcript, the commander in chief did no such thing.
Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio — an Army Reserve officer and Iraq war veteran — and fellow Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan pressed Vindman on his decision not to follow the chain of command.
“In your deposition you emphasize the importance of chain of command. You were a direct report to Dr. Fiona Hill and then Mr. Tim Morrison and they were your seniors, correct?” Wenstrup asked Vindman, who is currently serving on the NSC staff at the White House.
“That is correct,” the officer answered.
“When you had concerns about the 7/25 call between the two presidents, you didn’t go to Mr. Morrison about that, did you?” Wenstrup asked.
“I immediately went to John Eisenberg, the [NSC’s] lead legal counsel,” Vindman responded.
Vindman claimed that he followed the chain of command in reporting July 25 call.
To Vindman, a direct report was to Tim Morrison.
Vindman excluded Morrison from his reporting, choosing instead to speak to his lawyer outside of chain.
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) November 19, 2019
“That doesn’t seem like chain of command,” the GOP lawmaker said.
Vindman then said he attempted to convey his concerns to Morrison, but was not able to do so.
Wenstrup responded by reading from the officer’s closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee from late last month.
“‘I forwarded my concerns through the chain of command, and the seniors then decide the action to take,'” the congressman said, quoting Vindman.
Wenstrup confirmed again that Vindman had not followed his chain of command: In other words, his earlier testimony was false.
The lawmaker then delivered a final blow, pointing out that Vindman had the opportunity to offer his own edits to the transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky.
In those edits, the officer never used the word “demand” to describe Trump’s requests during the call, but that is how Vindman characterized the president’s conversation in his opening statement to the committee on Tuesday.
“It is improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and political opponent,” Vindman said, according to Politico.
Wenstrup asked, “In your edits did you insist that the word ‘demand’ be put into the transcription?”
“I did not,” Vindman answered.
“But you did say that in your opening statement today,” Wenstrup pointed out before his time for questioning ended.
.@Jim_Jordan asks Vindman why he didn’t go directly to his superior with his concerns about the phone call instead of George Kent and an unnamed CIA person.
“It was a really busy week…”
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) November 19, 2019
Jordan also delved into Vindman’s decision not to follow the chain of command.
“It was an extremely busy week,” the officer explained.
“I attempted to try to talk to Mr. Morrison. That didn’t happen before I received instructions from John Eisenberg to not talk to anybody else any further.”
Jordan continued to press Vindman.
“The lawyer told you, ‘Don’t talk to any other people,'” the Ohio Republican said. “And you interpret that as not talking to your boss, but you talked to your brother, you talked to the lawyers, you talked to [Deputy Assistant] Secretary [of State George] Kent, and you talked to the one guy Adam Schiff won’t let you tell us who he is.”
Vindman insisted he did his job and that he stopped talking to others after Eisenberg instructed him to do so.
So Vindman talked to the NSC lawyer and perhaps the whistleblower or an associate of that person — since Schiff won’t let him tell the committee who he is — but did not raise the issue to his superiors.
Once again it appears Schiff has called another witness with an ax to grind, but who could offer no real proof of wrongdoing by the president.
The two central facts remain: Trump released aid to Ukraine and Ukraine did not open any investigations into the Bidens.
So no quid pro quo, bribery or whatever Schiff and the Democrats want to call it now.
The longer the impeachment inquiry continues, the more it becomes a political disaster for the Democrats, while the Republicans on the Intelligence Committee shine through as among the most capable public servants in Washington.
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