The Democrats’ star impeachment witness Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman refused to characterize former Vice President Joe Biden’s (D) threat — to withhold aid from Ukraine unless it fired a prosecutor investigating Burisma Holdings — as “wrong,” admitting that he viewed the video showing Biden bragging about his threat but refraining from condemning it.
During his line of questioning, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) noted that Vindman’s concerns of the July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky were based on “moral, ethical, and policy differences” rather than legal concerns.
“So your concerns regarding this phone call were not legal. They were based on moral, ethical, and policy differences. … To use your word. You said this was wrong. Not illegal, but wrong,” he said, asking Vindman if he considered Biden’s actions “wrong” as well.
“There are dozens of corrupt nations in the world. Hundreds of corrupt government officials. Exactly one time did a vice president go to a nation and demand the specific firing of one individual and give a six-hour time limit and withhold or threaten to withhold a billion dollars in aid if not,” Stewart said, referencing the video of Biden bragging about his threat during an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations last year.
“It was the one individual who was investigating a company who was paying his son. So I’ll ask you, was that also wrong?” Stewart asked.
“I frankly don’t have any firsthand knowledge of that,” Vindman began.
“Did you not see the video?” Stewart asked.
“I’ve seen the video,” Vindman admitted.
“That’s all I’ve described is the video. Everything I just said to you is in the video. Was that wrong as well?” Stewart asked again.
“Congressman, this is something I actually participated in,” Vindman began, with Stewart adding, “Well I think the American people can make a judgment.”
“The time of the gentleman has expired,” Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) said, giving Vindman an option to answer the question.
Once again, Vindman refused to describe Biden’s action as “wrong.”
“I frankly don’t know any — that much more about that particular incident,” he said. “I saw the snippet of the video, but I don’t know if I could make a judgment off of that.”
The exchange centered around a video featuring Biden’s braggadocious recount of threatening to withhold $1 billion in aid from Ukraine unless officials fired the prosecutor investigating Burisma, where Hunter Biden was making tens of thousands per month despite a stunning lack of qualifications for such a position on the board:
“And so I got Ukraine. And I remember going over, convincing our team, our leaders to—convincing that we should be providing for loan guarantees. And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kiev,” Biden said on January 23, 2018.
And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t. So they said they had—they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I’m not going to—or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said—I said, call him. I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.
“Well, son of a bitch. He got fired,” Biden bragged.