National Security Council official Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman refused to answer questions Tuesday about who he spoke to in the intelligence community about President Donald Trump’s July 25 call with the Ukrainian president during the third public impeachment inquiry hearing.
House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-CA) asked Vindman whether he spoke with anyone outside of the White House about the July 25 call. Vindman said he spoke to two people, and identified one as George Kent, a senior State Department official. The other, he said, was an individual in “the intelligence community.”
When pressed by Nunes about what agency the individual in the intelligence community was from, Vindman refused to answer.
“As you know the intelligence community has 17 different agencies, what agency was this individual from?” Nunes asked.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff jumped in: “If I could interject here, we don’t want to use these proceedings…we need to protect the whistleblower.” Schiff’s interruption prompted commotion in the room.
“I want to make sure there’s no effort to out the whistleblower through the use of these proceedings,” Schiff added.
Nunes asked Vindman about his testimony that he did not know the whistleblower. Vindman reiterated that he did not, but said, “Per the advice of my counsel I have been advised not to answer specific questions about members of the intelligence community.”
“Ranking Member, per the advice of my counsel and the instructions from the chairman, I’ve been advised not to provide any specifics on who I’ve spoken to with inside the intelligence community. What I can offer is that…it was a properly cleared individual with a need to know.”
Nunes told Vindman that he was subpoenaed to answer questions, and instructed him that he had the options of answering or pleading the fifth.
Vindman’s counsel then intervened that they were following the “rule of the chair” with regard to the issue.
Schiff interjected again, “Counsel is correct, the whistleblower has the statutory right to anonymity.”
The whistleblower has been alleged to be 33-year-old CIA analyst and former Obama National Security Council official Eric Ciaramella by RealClearInvestigations and other news outlets.
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