Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman emphasized his loyalty to the “government interagency” over his loyalty to President Donald Trump during his public testimony in Congress on Tuesday.
Vindman worked on the National Security Council at the White House for President Donald Trump, but his testimony makes clear that his loyalty, trust, and preference was devoted to the “government interagency” when it came to concerns about the president.
After the call between President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Donald Trump in July, Vindman spoke with two separate people who were not in the White House but were “cleared U.S. Government officials with the appropriate need to know” about his concerns.
He confirmed that one of the people he spoke with was George Kent, the State Department official in charge of European affairs, who testified in the impeachment hearings last Tuesday.
When Ranking Member Rep. Devin Nunes asked Vindman to identify the second person he discussed the call with, House Chairman Adam Schiff interrupted him, citing his emphasis on protecting the identity of the whistleblower.
Vindman admitted he spoke to “folks in the interagency” about his concerns with the call before he even spoke to the National Security Council’s John Eisenberg. Under questioning from Rep. Jim Jordan, Vindman also admitted that he did not talk to his direct superior, Tim Morrison, about his concerns about the call.
“I did my core function which is coordination, I spoke to the appropriate people within the interagency, and then circling back around, Mr. Eisenberg came back to me and told me not to talk to anybody else,” Vindman said.
Eisenberg advised Vindman not to speak to others about the call, but he had already briefed interagency officials.
When asked by Democrat Counsel Daniel Goldman if the Trump administration supported giving security assistance to Ukraine, Vindman clarified that it was the “interagency policy” that guided him, not Trump.
“The interagency policy was to support security assistance for Ukraine,” he said.
Vindman also testified that he frequently spoke with his “colleagues in the interagency” who were increasingly concerned about the reporting from John Solomon about the story of Ukraine meddling in the 2016 election.
During his testimony behind closed doors with House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff last month, Vindman frequently referred to his loyalty to the “interagency” process and his “contacts in the interagency” when discussing his concerns about the president.
“In my position, I coordinate with a superb cohort of interagency partners,” he said during his opening remarks of his closed testimony in October, describing himself as “the point man for coordinating the interagency.”
Vindman expressed concerns that “outside influencers” – people working with the president like Rudy Giuliani – were “inconsistent with the consensus views of the entire interagency,” which he viewed as “harmful” to the interagency process.
He also spoke about three meetings with the “interagency” and focused his priority on following the “interagency process” despite the hold on the Ukrainian aid placed by the Office of Management and Budget.
Vindman also expressed his belief that the “interagency process” had decided that it was the administration’s priority to “seize the opportunity to work with Ukraine,” questioning the president’s approach to diplomatic relations.
Vindman’s boss at the National Security Counsel, Tim Morrison, confirmed in testimony behind closed doors to Republicans that his protegé was very concerned with impressing his interagency colleagues, recalling one time when he was upset that he was not allowed to travel to Ukraine with National Security Advisor John Bolton.
“He was concerned that by not being included in certain discussions, the trip, he would be seen, he would be less effective because he would be seen by the interagency as not being relevant,” Morrison testified.