Colonel Vindman was portrayed by the far-left media as something of a hero during his closed-door testimony for Democrat Adam Schiff’s totalitarian-styled impeachment inquiry.
Ah, but then the truth came out regarding Vindman’s true motivations and now Adam Schiff and the far-left media have a very serious Vindman problem.
Here are four problems with the Vindman testimony:
1) Beyond his opinions, he had few new facts to offer. Vindman seemed to be an important fact witness, the first who had actually been on the July 25 call when Trump talked to Zelensky. But the White House weeks ago released the rough transcript of that call, which meant everyone in the secure room in which Vindman testified, and everyone on the planet, for that matter, already knew what had been said.
…Vindman said he was “concerned” about Trump’s statements to Zelensky, so concerned that he reported it to top National Security Council lawyer John Eisenberg. (Vindman had also reported concerns to Eisenberg two weeks before the Trump-Zelensky call, after a Ukraine-related meeting that included Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.) Vindman said several times that he was not a lawyer and did not know if Trump’s words amounted to a crime but that he felt they were “wrong.” That was when Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe, a former U.S. attorney, tried to get to the root of Vindman’s concerns. What was really bothering him?
“I’m trying to find out if you were reporting it because you thought there was something wrong with respect to policy or there was something wrong with respect to the law,” Ratcliffe said to Vindman. “And what I understand you to say is that you weren’t certain that there was anything improper with respect to the law, but you had concerns about U.S. policy. Is that a fair characterization?”
“So I would recharacterize it as I thought it was wrong and I was sharing those views,” Vindman answered. “And I was deeply concerned about the implications for bilateral relations, U.S. national security interests, in that if this was exposed, it would be seen as a partisan play by Ukraine. It loses the bipartisan support. And then for — “
“I understand that,” Ratcliffe said, “but that sounds like a policy reason, not a legal reason.”
Indeed it did. Elsewhere in Vindman’s testimony, he repeated that his greatest worry was that if the Trump-Zelensky conversation were made public, then Ukraine might lose the bipartisan support it currently has in Congress. That, to Ratcliffe and other Republicans, did not seem a sufficient reason to report the call to the NSC’s top lawyer, nor did it seem the basis to begin a process leading to impeachment and a charge of presidential high crimes or misdemeanors.
At another point, Castor asked Vindman whether he was interpreting Trump’s words in an overly alarmist way, especially when Vindman contended that Trump issued a “demand” to Zelensky.
“The president in the transcript uses some, you know, words of hedging from time to time,” Castor said. “You know, on page 3, he says ‘whatever you can do.’ He ends the first paragraph on page 3, ‘if that’s possible.’ At the top of page 4, ‘if you could speak to him, that would be great.’ ‘So whatever you can do.’ Again, at the top of page 4, ‘if you can look into it.’ Is it reasonable to conclude that those words hedging for some might, you know, lead people to conclude that the president wasn’t trying to be demanding here?”
“I think people want to hear, you know, what they have as already preconceived notions,” Vindman answered, in what may have been one of the more revealing moments of the deposition. “I’d also point your attention to ‘whatever you can do, it’s very important to do it if that’s possible.'”
“‘If that’s possible,'” Castor stressed.
“Yeah,” said Vindman. “So I guess you can interpret it in different ways.” (In short, Vindman exposed himself as a partisan hack who disagreed with the president’s policy. That is hardly an impeachable offense. If anything, it puts Vindman himself in the legal crosshairs as he was attempted to conduct foreign policy which is far beyond the low-stature purview of his position.
2) Vindman withheld important information from investigators. Vindman ended his opening statement in the standard way, by saying, “Now, I would be happy to answer your questions.” As it turned out, that cooperation did not extend to both parties.
“Okay,” Castor said to Vindman. “Did you express concerns to anybody, you know, that doesn’t fall under this category of someone who might be the whistleblower, or is Eisenberg the only — “
“No,” said Vindman. “In my coordination role, as I actually said in the statement, in my opening … in performing my coordination role as director on the National Security Council, I provide readouts of relevant meetings and communications to [redacted] properly cleared counterparts with a relevant need to know.”
What did that mean, exactly? Vindman didn’t tell anybody else, he just provided readouts? On a need-to-know basis? Republicans tried on several occasions to figure it out. “Some of the other people that you raised concerns to, did you ask any of those folks to do anything with the concerns?” asked Castor.
That only prompted more bureaucratese from the witness. “I don’t think that’s an accurate characterization, counsel,” Vindman said. “I think what I did was I fulfilled my coordination role and spoke to other national security professionals about relevant substance in the call so that they could take appropriate action. And frankly, it’s hard to — you know, without getting into, you know, sources and methods, it’s hard to kind of talk about some of these things.”
So, Vindman’s basic answer was: I won’t tell you because that’s a secret. After several such exchanges, Volkov got tough with lawmakers, suggesting further inquiries might hurt Vindman’s feelings.
“Look, he came here,” Volkov said. “He came here. He tells you he’s not the whistleblower, okay? He says he feels uncomfortable about it. Try to respect his feelings at this point.”
An unidentified voice spoke up. “We’re uncomfortable impeaching the president,” it said.
3) There were notable gaps in Vindman’s knowledge. Vindman portrayed himself as the man to see on the National Security Council when it came to issues involving Ukraine. “I’m the director for Ukraine,” he testified. “I’m responsible for Ukraine. I’m the most knowledgeable. I’m the authority for Ukraine for the National Security Council and the White House.” Yet at times there were striking gaps in Vindman’s knowledge of the subject matter. He seemed, for instance, distinctly incurious about the corruption issues in Ukraine that touched on Joe and Hunter Biden.
Vindman had other blind spots, as well. One important example concerned U.S. provision of so-called lethal aid to Ukraine, specifically anti-tank missiles known as Javelins. The Obama administration famously refused to provide Javelins or other lethal aid to Ukraine, while the Trump administration reversed that policy, sending a shipment of missiles in 2018. On the Trump-Zelensky call, the two leaders discussed another shipment in the future.
“Both those parts of the call, the request for investigation of Crowd Strike and those issues, and the request for investigation of the Bidens, both of those discussions followed the Ukraine president saying they were ready to buy more Javelins. Is that right?” asked Schiff.
“Yes,” said Vindman.
“There was a prior shipment of Javelins to Ukraine, wasn’t there?” said Schiff.
“So that was, I believe — I apologize if the timing is incorrect — under the previous administration, there was a — I’m aware of the transfer of a fairly significant number of Javelins, yes,” Vindman said.
Vindman’s timing was incorrect. Part of the entire Trump-Ukraine story is the fact that Trump sent the missiles while Obama did not. The top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council did not seem to know that. (Or he did know it but was lying/spinning his version to better fit the anti-Trump narrative even though the facts are clear – President Trump has been far more supportive of Ukraine’s ability to defends itself from Russian aggression than Obama ever was. )
4) Vindman was a creature of a bureaucracy that has often opposed Trump. In his testimony, Vindman’s perspective could be mind-numbingly bureaucratic. One of his favorite words is “interagency,” by which he means the National Security Council’s role in coordinating policy among the State Department, Defense Department, the Intelligence Community, the Treasury Department, and the White House. His bible is something known as NSPM-4, or National Security Presidential Memorandum 4. He says things such as, “So I hold at my level sub-PCCs, Deputy Assistant Secretary level. PCCs are my boss, senior director with Assistant Secretaries. DCs are with the deputy of the National Security Council with his deputy counterparts within the interagency.” He believes the interagency has set a clear U.S. policy toward Ukraine.
…Vindman’s discussion of the interagency, while dry as dust, might contain the key to his role in the Trump-Ukraine affair. In the last few years, the bureaucracy with which he so clearly identified has often been at odds, sometimes privately and sometimes publicly, with the president. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, writing in a new book, said two top officials, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and White House chief of staff John Kelly, sought to undermine Trump to “save the country.”
“It was their decisions, not the president’s, that were in the best interest of America, they said,” Haley wrote. “The president didn’t know what he was doing.”
That view extended deep into some areas of the government. Now, parts of the foreign policy bureaucracy are in open war with the president, channeling their grievances through the House Democrats’ drive toward impeachment. When he testifies in public, Vindman will be the living embodiment of that bureaucratic war. (Bingo. Vindman is yet another Deep State example of lifetime D.C. beurocrats who are desperate to thwart the swamp-draining efforts of the first true outsider president of the modern political era.)