UPI/Barcroft Media/Barcroft Media via Getty Images
Elections

Mr. Vindman’s—Whoops, Lt. Colonel Vindman’s—Opening Statement

A “transcript” in the spirit of committee chairman Adam Schiff’s understanding of the term, from the House Intelligence Committee on November 19, 2019.


- November 30th, 2019
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member, thank you for the opportunity to address the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence with respect to the activities relating to Ukraine and my role in the events under investigation. In particular, Chairman Schiff, I want to express my appreciation to you for your selfless efforts over the past several years to expose the crimes that never took place, committed by the commander-in-chief I supposedly serve.

Mr. Chairman, if I may say so, I consider you the single most honest and ethical individual to ever sit in that chair. You have proven your honesty and fairness time and time again over the past three years. If I could literally kiss your posterior right at this second, I would. Unfortunately, rules of decorum at this hearing prevent me from doing so.

Background

I am a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army. That means I am above a major, but not quite a colonel. I am hoping that once this whole little impeachment kerfuffle is over, my contribution will be appreciated, and they’ll make me a full-bird colonel.

Since 2008, I have been a foreign area officer specializing in European and Eurasian politico-military affairs. I served in the United States embassies in Kyiv, Ukraine and Moscow, Russia. I have observed many things while there. For example, the women in Russia are just as beautiful as the women in Ukraine, but the young women in Ukraine are friendlier, especially when I would put on my uniform and tell them that I am an American military officer.

My Ukrainian hosts were so impressed with me, that on three separate occasions they asked me to be the Ukrainian minister of defense, even though I was only a captain at the time. However, I told them that unless they made me commander-in-chief of all Ukrainian forces, I preferred to remain in the U.S. Army.

At the National Security Council, I am the principal advisor to the national security advisor and the president on Ukraine. My role at the NSC is to develop, coordinate, and implement plans and policies to manage the full range of diplomatic, military, and economic issues for Ukraine.

Specifically, given my personal experience with Ukrainians of every gender, appearance, and persuasion, I play a very important role in developing the “interagency consensus” on Ukraine. That interagency consensus is the product of many memos written by a number of officials at the level of deputy assistant to the deputy undersecretary in the respective agencies, though most of them are not as important or as informed as I am. In fact, after many months of working with those deputy assistants to the deputy undersecretary, I have reached the conclusion that I am more knowledgeable about most things than they are.

In other words, when it comes to our policy in Ukraine, I am the policy. I collate the memos from the respective agencies after they finalized, and I decide what the interagency policy consensus on Ukraine should be, and then I interface with people responsible for implementation of my policies, to verify that the interagency policy consensus is implemented in a manner that I consider most effective.

Relevant Events

In the Spring of 2019, I became aware of two disruptive actors, neither of whom asked for or received my counsel on matters in which I was expert. These were primarily Ukraine’s then-Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney. It is important to note that Mr. Giuliani has no business meddling in affairs that he knows nothing about, even if the president instructed him to be involved.

Ukraine policy is firmly and squarely within my purview—and regardless of what President Trump may have told Mr. Giuliani, he should have come to me first with any concerns, and I would have directed him properly.

As explained earlier, neither President Trump nor Mr. Giuliani has the authority to change the Ukraine policy without my prior approval. Instead of channeling all Ukraine policy through me, as Mr. Giuliani should have done and as the president should have instructed him to do, he was, in fact, undermining my Ukraine policy even as I was implementing it, by saying things at the president’s direction that ran counter to my Ukraine policy.

The talented people at the NSC and its inter-agency partners, including the State Department, grew increasingly concerned that the president did not share my policy objectives, or had a different view of my policy objectives. This was unacceptable. There were times when he even made statements that called into question my priorities on Ukraine. It was a universally held view on the under-sub-assistant deputy director level within the interagency community (which is also my own level) that President Trump should not be allowed to implement foreign policy as he sees fit, and that such policy should be left in the hands of experts, among whom I am the leading expert.

April 21, 2019: President Trump Calls Ukraine President Zelensky

On April 21, 2019, President Trump called President Zelensky to congratulate him for his election victory. I was the NSC staff officer who produced the materials in preparation for the call. I loaded paper into the printer, made sure there was toner in the printer, made sure the font was Calibri 14 point, printed out the document, and stapled the pages together. I used a Swingline® stapler from Staples® to do that. I then placed them into a folder, put a label on the folder, and delivered the folder to the assistant to President Trump’s secretary through interoffice mail.

It is clear that without my input, President Trump would not have known to congratulate President Zelensky, and would have talked about something else instead. Thankfully, given the thorough preparation that I provided to the president, President Trump did, in fact, congratulate President Zelensky, and my foreign policy objectives were safe for the moment. All of us in the interagency foreign policy community breathed a sigh of relief, and many people wanted to congratulate me on the thoroughness of my preparation.

May 2019: Inauguration Delegation Goes to Ukraine

In May, I attended the inauguration of President Zelensky as part of the presidential delegation led by Secretary Perry. After our return, President Trump signed a congratulatory letter to President Zelensky and extended an invitation to visit the White House.

This, of course, was entirely my idea.

Once again, I prepared the materials, including loading the paper into the printer and checking the toner. Selecting the right font and font size was also a critical step in the process. I also handed the president the pen, which he used to sign the letter.

Without my input, President Trump himself never would have thought of inviting a foreign leader to the White House, and might have forgotten to sign the letter, had I not given him the pen. Once again, the interagency foreign policy community, particularly the members of the community at the under-sub-assistant deputy director level, were happy that I showed initiative at that critical moment.

July 10, 2019: Danylyuk Visit

On July 10, 2019, Oleksandr Danylyuk, then Ukraine’s national security advisor, visited Washington, D.C. for a meeting with National Security Advisor John Bolton. Ambassadors Kurt Volker and Gordon Sondland and Secretary Rick Perry attended the meeting. I brought coffee to all the participants. When one of the visitors wanted a chocolate chip cookie with his coffee, and another wanted a croissant, I was the one who handled this critical task.

I can’t tell you what was discussed at the meeting, because I was busy during the meeting doing the important work of procuring the cookies, croissants, and the coffee, but I know that following this meeting, there was a short debriefing during which Ambassador Sondland emphasized the importance of Ukraine delivering the investigations into the pro-Hillary 2016 election interference.

I told Ambassador Sondland that this was inappropriate and had nothing to do with national security—the 2016 election was over, the result was not what I and many of my colleagues expected, and given my own strong disagreements with the American voters’ choice, I did not want Ukraine’s role exposed in that whole debacle. It is well known that Ukraine’s then-President Poroshenko was doing everything he could to help Hillary Clinton win the election, and prolonged public exposure of these facts could result in the loss of bipartisan support for Ukraine.

Following the meeting, I had decided to report my disagreements with the president’s Ukraine policy to the NSC’s lead counsel, Mr. John Eisenberg, given that the president not only had failed to consult me but evidently he insisted on consulting others, who were not as well-versed in Ukrainian policy as I was. I informed Mr. Eisenberg that I considered it unacceptable that the President was interfering with my handling of the Ukraine policy and of issues relating to Ukraine.

July 25, 2019: Parliamentary Election Call

On July 21, 2019, President Zelensky’s party won parliamentary elections in another landslide victory. The NSC proposed that President Trump call President Zelensky to congratulate him. On July 25, 2019, the call occurred.

After repeated requests, I was allowed to listen in on the call in the Situation Room with other White House staffers. I was concerned by the call, and in my expert judgment, I felt that what I heard was improper. I, therefore, reported my concerns to Mr. Eisenberg, again stressing my view that the president should not be making Ukraine policy, given that I was the designated expert on all things Ukraine.

As I told Mr. Eisenberg, it is not the job of the president to demand things from that foreign government without first clearing the idea with me. It is improper for the president to demand Ukraine investigate interference in our elections, particularly where that same government was involved in that interference in the first place, as in this case.

It was also clear to me that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the 2016 election, the Bidens, and Burisma, Ukraine almost certainly would uncover a great deal of compromising information on the Bidens. This was clearly not an outcome that the interagency working group on Ukraine wanted to see, given that the Biden candidacy was already struggling in July. I also felt that the president should have consulted me before mentioning these things to Ukrainian officials. At a minimum, such demands should have gone through me, and not be stated directly by President Trump to President Zelensky. Had the president done what he is supposed to do and talked to me first, I would have made sure that none of this ever made it past my desk.

I want to emphasize to the committee that when I reported my concerns—on July 10, relating to Ambassador Sondland, and on July 25, relating to the president—I did so out of a sense of justified self-importance. Following each of my reports to Mr. Eisenberg, I immediately returned to work to advance my foreign policy objectives. I continue to do so, and thanks to my tireless efforts, our Ukraine policy remains on track.

Conclusion

I want to take a moment to recognize the courage of my colleagues who have appeared and are scheduled to appear before this committee, as well as the courage of those who don’t want to appear. I especially want to recognize the whistleblower, whom I have known for many years, and with whom I have discussed the proper Ukraine policy on many occasions, as well as how we should implement that policy, despite the president’s silly orders to the contrary.

After I shared the details of the July 25 phone call with the whistleblower, we both agreed that there was only one way forward—he had to first contact this committee, and with the committee’s help, write a whistleblower report to the inspector general, citing anonymous “U.S. intelligence officials,” expressing his concerns about the president.  Obviously, Eric couldn’t mention me by name, but we fully expected that it would be a bombshell—and my presence here confirms that it was.

Thank you again for your consideration, and I would be happy to any answer questions from the Democratic members of this committee.

Get our
daily email

Our top articles every day

© Copyright 2012 - 2019 | All Rights Reserved