Alexander Vindman: They Aren’t Paying Me $1 Million for My Memoir for Nothing

On August 1, the Washington Post published an op-ed by the now-retired Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, of impeachment fame. The paper’s editors had to heavily revise the piece prior to publication. American Greatness has obtained the text of Vindman’s first draft. 

After 21 years of playing soldier, I am now a civilian. I decided to retire, as difficult as it was, because I am getting a cool $1 million for my upcoming memoir, and no longer need to pretend that I care. I was hoping for $2 million, but I suppose $1 million will have to do. Besides, I had every expectation of being promoted to a general, but after a campaign of ridicule by various people, I decided it simply wasn’t worth it. So I’ll take the million bucks, have someone ghostwrite my memoir, and to hell with my military career.

This whole experience has not been what I thought it would be. After I leaked the details of President Trump’s phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to my good friend Eric Ciaramella, President Trump became suspicious of me. 

I am not alone in this ignominious fate—other proud public servants, who have been leaking worse than Niagara Falls, have also been dismissed from this administration—in my view, entirely unfairly. Leaking to the Washington Post and the New York Times is as American as apple cake. 

A year ago, I was the most important person wearing a uniform in the United States, serving in a critical position on the National Security Council. I wrote memos. I coordinated the process of writing memos with other people in the memo-writing community. I distributed memos (both my own memos and other people’s memos) to people who were supposed to read those memos. I helped develop the interagency memo-writing consensus by organizing meetings about writing memos, and summarizing people’s notes from those meetings in separate memos. I made sure that NSC staff had coffee and bagels in the morning, for the daily NSC briefing. I was in charge of the Ukraine desk at the NSC—and, by extension, given Ukraine’s overwhelming importance to America, in charge of the entire U.S. foreign policy. 

It would be fair to say that I was U.S. foreign policy.

In recognition of my unparalleled diplomatic, military, and foreign policy achievements, I was on the cusp of a promotion to general of the Army, skipping a few ranks. It was, in fact, no less than I deserved, after repeatedly turning down a position as Ukraine’s minister of defense when I was still a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. 

And yet, a year ago, unknown to me, my concerns over the president’s conduct and the president’s efforts to undermine my attempts to conduct and direct our foreign policy were precipitating tremors that would ultimately shake loose the façade of good governance and publicly expose the corruption of the Trump administration. (I don’t know what this sentence means, to be honest—my lawyer wrote it, and it sure sounds good!)

Our nation’s values are under threat and in peril at this moment—and this is why I felt it was critical for me to get together with my friend Eric, and leak the Trump-Zelensky phone call to him so that he could immediately leak it to others. I would have done it myself, but I needed plausible deniability. 

Without my leaking, today our national government has become reminiscent of the authoritarian regime my family fled more than 40 years ago. This is why I am planning to move to Moscow in the near future. I am currently in ongoing discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s representatives about becoming Russia’s minister of defense, or, failing that, a Washington lobbyist for RosTech, a Moscow-based umbrella corporation that produces virtually all of Russia’s weapons. Those weapons work some of the time, let me tell you! And I look forward to helping sell those weapons to the Pentagon when the time comes.

And if things don’t work out, I’ll move to Gibraltar.

During my testimony in the House impeachment inquiry, I reassured my father, saying “Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.” I practiced telling that truth with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff a few times in private, then a few more times in secret committee sessions. Finally, when I was ready, I went on TV. It was the moment of my greatest glory—millions of people watching me, hanging on to my every word. Nothing compares to that feeling of historic importance when your face is on all three networks plus CNN.

Even as I experience the low of ending my military career, I have also experienced the loving support of countless people. Nancy Pelosi loved me. Chuck Schumer spoke on my behalf. Jerry Nadler and Adam Schiff both praised me, and graciously helped me rehearse my testimony. This chorus of love from Pelosi, Schumer, Nadler, and Schiff drowns out the spurious criticisms from a president who never should have won the election, whom I never respected, and whom I never had any intention of serving.

Since the struggle for our nation’s independence, America has been a union of purpose: a union born from the belief that although each individual is the pilot of his or her (or xis) own destiny, when we come together, we change the world. I believe that I, together with my dear friend Eric Ciaramella, changed the world.

Despite some personal turmoil, I remain hopeful for the future for both my family and for our nation—the $1 million for the memoir, sitting pretty in my bank account, certainly makes me more hopeful than having to live just on my military pension. 

It is true that impeachment was a big bust, as was the Mueller persecution, but the confluence of a pandemic and a financial crisis can finally bring Trump down. A groundswell is building that will issue a mandate to return to the ideals that set the United States apart from the rest of the world. I look forward to contributing to that groundswell as Russia’s future minister of defense.

In retirement from the U.S. Army, I will demand accountability from Republican leadership and call for leaders of moral courage and public servants of integrity. Obviously, only Joe Biden can be such a leader and public servant. From my perch in Moscow, I will promote the Biden candidacy and exalt the contribution that public service (in Moscow and elsewhere) brings to all areas of society.

The 23-year-old me who was commissioned in December 1998 could never have imagined the opportunities and experiences I have had. I traveled all over the world. I had an expense account. I even flew business class occasionally. I met important people (though, ultimately, none as important as myself). When Rep. Schiff asked me if I was worried about my testimony, my response was, “Congressman, this is America. This is the country that gave me everything, and it is now my job to help you, the most honest congressman we’ve ever had in our history, to impeach Trump and take him down.” 

To this day, despite everything that has happened, I continue to believe that only I, alone, held U.S. foreign policy together for three years. Others, like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and even President Trump himself, tried to interfere with my handling of our foreign policy. Nevertheless, despite their best efforts, for the three years that I was in the Trump White House, I successfully guided our foreign policy. I want to thank all the millions of Americans who have expressed their gratitude and appreciation to me for this achievement.

And please don’t forget to buy my book when it comes out.

About George S. Bardmesser

George S. Bardmesser is an attorney in private practice in the Washington, DC area. He is a contributor to The Federalist and American Greatness, and is sometimes heard on the "Inside Track" radio show on KVOI in Tucson, Arizona and sometimes seen discussing politics (in Russian) on New York’s American-Russian TV channel RTVi.

Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

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