WASHINGTON (AP) — Defying White House orders, an Army officer serving with President Donald Trump’s National Security Council testified to impeachment investigators Tuesday that he twice raised concerns over the administration’s push to have Ukraine investigate Democrats and Joe Biden.
Alexander Vindman, a lieutenant colonel who served in Iraq and later as a diplomat, is the first official to testify who actually heard Trump’s July 25 call with new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. He reported his concerns to the NSC’s lead counsel.
Vindman also told investigators he tried to change the White House’s rough transcript of the call by filling in at least one of the omitted words, “Burisma,” a reference to the company linked to Biden and his son, according to people familiar with his testimony. But Vindman was unsuccessful.
His concerns, though, were far bigger than the transcript. And lawmakers said his failed effort to edit it didn’t significantly change their understanding of what transpired during Trump’s call that sparked the impeachment inquiry.
Vindman’s arrival in military blue, with medals, created a striking image at the Capitol as the impeachment inquiry reached deeper into the White House. He testified for more than 10 hours.
“I was concerned by the call,” Vindman said, according to prepared remarks obtained by The Associated Press. “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.”
Vindman, a 20-year military officer, added to the mounting evidence from other witnesses — diplomats, defense and former administration officials — who are corroborating the initial whistleblower’s complaint against Trump and providing new details ahead of a House vote in the impeachment inquiry.