I have dedicated my entire professional life to the United States of America. For more than two decades, it has been my honor to serve as an officer in the United States Army. As an infantry officer, I served multiple overseas tours, including South Korea and Germany, and a deployment to Iraq for combat operations. In Iraq, I was wounded in an IED attack and awarded a Purple Heart. ...I sit here, as a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army, an immigrant. My family fled the Soviet Union when I was three and a half years old. Upon arriving in New York City in 1979, my father worked multiple jobs to support us, all the while learning English at night. He stressed to us the importance of fully integrating into our adopted country. For many years, life was quite difficult. In spite of our challenging beginnings, my family worked to build its own American dream. I have a deep appreciation for American values and ideals and the power of freedom. I am a patriot, and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend OUR country, irrespective of party or politics.
Vindman goes on to describe a meeting on July 10 with Oleksandr Danylyuk, the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council for Ukraine, national security adviser John Bolton and Ambassadors Kurt Volker and Gordon Sondland as well as Energy Secretary Rick Perry. “Amb. Sondland started to speak about Ukraine delivering specific investigations in order to secure the meeting with the President, at which time Ambassador Bolton cut the meeting short.” Afterward, “Sondland emphasized the importance that Ukraine deliver the investigations into the 2016 election, the Bidens, and Burisma.” Vindman stated this was inappropriate, and Fiona Hill entered and agreed. “Following the debriefing meeting, I reported my concerns to the NSC’s lead counsel. Dr. Hill also reported the incident to the NSC’s lead counsel.”
As an aside, this directly contradicts Sondland’s testimony, in which he pleaded ignorance of any discussions in which the quid pro quo was challenged.
Vindman’s testimony continues:
On July 25, 2019, the call occurred. I listened in on the call in the Situation Room with colleagues from the NSC and the office of the Vice President. As the transcript is in the public record, we are all aware of what was said. I was concerned by the call. I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine. I realized 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. This would all undermine U.S. national security. Following the call, I again reported my concerns to NSC’s lead counsel.
It is worth noting that officials including Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo either could not recognize that the president’s words were beyond the pale or have remained too frightened to voice objections.
The testimony is devastating to Trump and highly credible. Here is an eyewitness, a veteran with 20 years of military and civilian service. The go-to move for Republicans is to accuse him of espionage.
On an eye-popping segment on CNN’s “New Day,” CNN contributor and former Wisconsin congressman Sean Duffy declared: “It seems very clear that he is incredibly concerned about Ukrainian defense. I don’t know that he’s concerned about American policy ... we all have an affinity to our homeland where we came from ... he has an affinity for the Ukraine.” The scurrilous charge of disloyalty is entirely unfounded and frankly, slanderous. CNN is responsible for its contributor’s words and should immediately repudiate the comment. Duffy has previously engaged in right-wing, unsupported conspiracy-mongering. CNN needs to decide what value it is providing to viewers by having such a person on air.
Arguably worse were the comments of Berkeley law professor and former Justice Department lawyer (who drafted the enhanced interrogation memos under President George W. Bush) John Yoo, who should know better. He appeared on Fox’s Laura Ingraham show Monday night. Ingraham hinted at the disgusting and unsubstantiated accusation of dual loyalty: “Here we have a U.S. national-security official who is advising Ukraine, while working inside the White House, apparently against the president’s interest, and usually, they spoke in English. Isn’t that kind of an interesting angle on this story?” Yoo chimed in, “You know, some people might call that espionage.”
Yoo’s comment is utterly untoward, slanderous and unbecoming of a member of the bar, let alone someone teaching law school. (I am an alumna of the same law school.) He should publicly apologize for his remark and reiterate that accusations of disloyalty or “espionage” are entirely unfounded.
It is critical that those deliberately impugning the integrity of an American war hero be held accountable. Trump’s defenders have no facts or law on their side. They have only calumny. News organizations should not propagate slander and should take measures against those who do. Lawyers, member of Congress and other partisans should be held accountable for detestable lies that only confirm their cultlike reverence for Trump — and the absence of exculpatory evidence.