If there is one person besides Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy whose career and public profile has seen the biggest upgrade over changes in U.S.-Ukraine policy since 2019, it would be Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. A U.S. Army officer and National Security Council official assigned to Europe under President Donald Trump, Vindman became one of the principal witnesses in the impeachment inquiry that led to the first impeachment of Trump for allegations of conditioning U.S. aid on assistance from Zelenskyy in investigating the activities of then former VP Joe Biden and his son Hunter to Ukraine. Now that he is out of uniform and not needed at committee hearings, Vindman is no longer content with defending the “interagency consensus” of aiding Ukraine but according to Human Events is attempting to benefit from military contracts with the Ukrainian government. The low-key effort by the former Army officer, who has written numerous op-eds urging the United States to invest more in the defense and rebuilding of Ukraine, shows how steep the ramp has become from being a figure ennobled by the media for safeguarding national security to using one’s connections to benefit financially from that experience.
Recently Vindman has made headlines both in right-leaning and mainstream publications like Politico for proposing new maintenance facilities staffed by U.S. military veteran personnel embedded near the front lines in Ukraine in order to cut down on the down time for military equipment. The three principal officers appearing on their literature are Vindman, his twin brother and U.S. Army Col. Yevgeny Vindman (ret.), and former Brig. Gen. Steven M. Anderson (ret.). However the journey from the Capitol to a capital venture wasn’t made in one leap.When the impeachment effort did not yield a conviction Vindman was transferred out of the NSC and the White House in February 2020. After briefly threatening to sue the White House and Defense Department for retaliation he retired in July of that year, and would later file a different lawsuit against various Trump-aligned figures such as Donald Trump, Jr. and Rudy Giuliani for violating witness protection laws when they criticized him during the impeachment. The suit was tossed by a federal judge in 2022.
But thanks to his notoriety and military background, Vindman had already landed on his feet by then. In November 2020, scarcely a year after his name had appeared as an impeachment witness, he was named the first fellow of the Pritzker Military Foundation, a non-profit owned by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s cousin and fellow billionaire Jennifer Pritzker (born James), a retired Illinois National Guard colonel. The fellowship paid for Vindman to be a writer for the Lawfare Blog, a publication of the Lawfare Institute that the Pritzker Foundation contributed $400,000 to in 2020 according to year-end tax disclosures. His first entry in February 2021 was about how the military under Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and Defense Sec. Mark Esper had delayed promotion of female officers out of a supposed fear that they would have been criticized by President Trump, throwing in his own complaint that he had been passed over for promotion to full colonel before deciding to retire. In the next month’s entry Vindman lamented not having sued Fox News for defamation while lauding Twitter and other social media companies for banning Donald Trump. All told Vindman only contributed to six articles, most of them sharing a byline with other writers.
Since then it seems Vindman has found a more rewarding organization to represent him that cloaks its defense spending agenda in a veteran packaging. In March 2022 he joined VoteVets.org and the related Vet Voice Foundation as a “senior policy advisor” and principal, respectively. VoteVets.org was originally a group that had formed in 2006 in order to criticize the Bush Administration’s Iraq War strategy and support for combat troops and veterans, but was not an explicitly anti-war group. It has since become more explicitly partisan in favor of Democrats in its ads, public communications, and spending.
Coincidentally, one of the directors of VoteVets.org and Vet Voice is Steven Anderson, a partner with the Vindmans and Trident in his capacity as VP of Global Logistics and Training at All Native Group, a federal defense contracting firm owned by the Winnebago Nation of American Indians in Nebraska. In January 2022 he was given a guest spot on CBS News on behalf of VoteVets.org to call for the arrest and prosecution of Capitol Riot defendants that he called “the domestic cancer that continues to grow from within.”
The managing director of VoteVets/Vet Voice is Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton (ret.). Eaton retired from the military in 2006 and is best remembered for being the commander who trained Iraqi troops in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion who were disastrously deployed to Fallujah and melted away in combat after he claimed they were “battle ready.” He recently wondered whether the decision by New Mexico prosecutors to indict Alec Baldwin for involuntary manslaughter carried “Trump’s fingerprints.” Eaton and Anderson were co-writers of a Washington Post op-ed in January 2022 calling for the military to be prepared for a 2024 insurrection ahead of the next presidential election, and both are also participants in the Consensus for National Security, a project of the American Security Project, which issues public statements calling for more financial and military aid to Ukraine.
Should Trident be awarded the contract, the company would be a beneficiary via the Ukrainian government of U.S. military aid that totaled $44 billion in 2022 and continues to grow in the present year. When it comes to providing services in a warzone, the Vindmans have an experienced partner in Anderson, who was the Afghanistan Country Manager for the Fluor Corporation from 2016 to 2018 during which he addressed logistical needs for American forces there and managed 6300 employees in 8 locations. Last July, Vindman penned an editorial called “Build Ukraine Back Better” for Foreign Affairs magazine with Dominic Cruz Bustillos, his erstwhile collaborator at Lawfare. In it he called for supporting Ukraine’s calls for $750 billion in aid as a “twenty-first century Marshall Plan.” He stated that what Ukraine really needs are “a series of multibilion-dollar reconstruction funds” and in the next sentence writes “Western countries should provide the capital and technical expertise.” He goes on to address objections about corruption:
Given the history of corruption in Kyiv, some may balk at making such sweeping donations. But even if the problem of graft has not fully disappeared, the political circumstances in Ukraine have fundamentally changed since February 24 [when the war began].
The insinuation here is clear now. At the time Vindman was not just demanding more aid to Ukraine and attempting to assuage detractors by saying that political circumstances trumped corruption concerns. It was also a “trust me” plea from a person who since then has sought to benefit financially from providing the services that he was asking American legislators to fund.
And this is how self-dealing can be marketed as patriotism to an apathetic public.