On Monday, the New York Times published a story about the fact that Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, a Ukraine expert serving on the National Security Council, was going to testify in the House’s Impeachment Inquiry about President Trump’s efforts to get the Ukrainian government to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. The story included the following sentence regarding Vindman:

Because he emigrated from Ukraine along with his family when he was a child and is fluent in Ukrainian and Russian, Ukrainian officials sought advice from him about how to deal with Mr. Giuliani, though they typically communicated in English.

This is a reference to President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was talking to Ukrainian government officials and trying to get them to start an investigation into Joe Biden. (President Trump urged the Ukrainian President to work with Giuliani on this.) In any case, Republicans seized on this sentence, accusing Vindman of dual loyalties or even espionage on behalf of Ukraine.

My question is, has Vindman commented on the nature of his communications with Ukrainian officials, like whether they were part of his duties on the National Security Council? Was he asked any questions about this when he appeared before Congress?


1 Answer 1


Yes, he has commented on his conversations. Quoting from the transcript of the impeachment hearing with Lt. Col. Vindman on November 19th, as transcribed by rev.com:

With President Zelensky of Ukraine

Will Hurd: (03:53) When you talked about … How many times have you met President Zelensky?

Lt. Col.Vindman: (04:00) I think it was just the one time from the Presidential Delegation. Multiple engagements, but just the one trip.

Will Hurd: (04:06) And that’s a one on one meeting?

Lt. Col.Vindman: (04:08) That was in a larger, bilateral format. Then there were a couple of smaller venue … There was never a one on one, but there were a couple of, again, touchpoints. So the bilateral meeting, handshake, meet and greet. He had a short-

Will Hurd: (04:26) So there was a lot of people in the room-

Lt. Col.Vindman: (04:28) Yeah.

Will Hurd: (04:29) When you met with him.

Lt. Col.Vindman: (04:30) Yes.

Will Hurd: (04:30) But you still advised the Ukrainian president to watch out for the Russians.

Lt. Col.Vindman: (04:35) Yes.

Will Hurd: (04:35) And everybody else in the room I’m assuming, the national security advisory was there, I believe. In this case, you had other members of the administration. Were your points pre approved? Did they know you were going to bring up those points?

Lt. Col.Vindman: (04:52) We did have a huddle beforehand and it’s possible I flagged them, but I don’t recall specifically. It’s possible I didn’t.

Will Hurd: (05:00) And you counseled the Ukrainian president to stay out of US politics?

Lt. Col.Vindman: (05:05) Correct.

With Secretary Danylyuk of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, regarding the Ukrainians offering Lt. Col. Vindman the position of Minister of Defense of Ukraine

Steve Castor: (23:37) Okay. You went to Ukraine for the inauguration, May 20th?

A. Vindman: (23:43) Correct.

Steve Castor: (23:44) At any point during that trip, did Mr Danylyuk offer you a position of defense minister with the Ukrainian government?

A. Vindman: (23:49) He did.

Steve Castor: (23:50) And how many times did he do that?

A. Vindman: (23:52) I believe it was three times.

Steve Castor: (23:54) And do you have any reason why he asked you to do that?

A. Vindman: (23:57) I don’t know, but every single time I dismissed it. Upon returning, I notified my chain of command and the appropriate counterintelligence folks about the offer.

Steve Castor: (24:11) I mean, Ukraine’s a country that’s experienced a war with Russia. Certainly their minister of defense is a pretty key position for the Ukrainians. Presidents Zielinski, Mr Danylyuk to bestow that honor on you, at least asking you, I mean, that was a big honor, correct?

A. Vindman: (24:28) I think it would be a great honor, and frankly, I’m aware of service members that have left service to help nurture the developing democracies in that part of the world, certainly in the Baltics. Former officers, and if I recall correctly, it was an air force officer that became minister of defense. But I’m an American. I came here when I was a toddler and I immediately dismissed these offers. Did not entertain them.

Steve Castor: (24:58) When he made this offer to you initially did you leave the door open? Was there a reason that he had to come back and ask a second and third time, or was he just trying to convince you?

A. Vindman: (25:06) Yeah, Counsel, you know what? The whole notion is rather comical that I was being asked to consider whether I’d want to be the minister of defense. I did not leave the door open at all.

Steve Castor: (25:18) Okay.

A. Vindman: (25:18) But it is pretty funny for a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army, which really is not that senior, to be offered that illustrious a position.

Steve Castor: (25:30) When he made this offer to you, was he speaking in English or Ukrainian?

A. Vindman: (25:35) Oh, Mr Danylyuk is a absolutely flawless English speaker. He was speaking in English?

Steve Castor: (25:39) Okay.

A. Vindman: (25:41) And just to be clear, there were two other staff officers, embassy key of staff officers, that were sitting next to me when this offer was made.

Steve Castor: (25:49) Okay. And who were they?

A. Vindman: (25:52) So one of them you may have met, it was Mr David Holmes, and the other one was… I don’t know, I mean, I guess I could… It’s another foreign service officer, Keith Bean.

Steve Castor: (26:04) Okay. Yeah, we met Mr Holmes last Friday evening.

A. Vindman: (26:07) I understand. He’s a delightful fellow.

Steve Castor: (26:13) And you said when you returned to the United States, you papered it up given your… You know, with SCI clearance, whenever a foreign government makes a overture like that, you paper it up and you tell your chain of command?

A. Vindman: (26:27) I did. But I also don’t know if I fully entertained it as a legitimate offer. I was just making sure that I did the right thing in terms of reporting this.

Communications with Andriy Yermak, senior adviser to Ukrainian President Zelensky

Steve Castor: (28:48) Okay. And during the times relevant of the committee’s investigation, did you have any communications with Mr Yermak or Danylyuk outside of the July 10th meeting?

A. Vindman: (29:01) I recall a courtesy note for Mr Yermak within days of his return to July, in which he wanted to preserve an open channel communication. And I said, “Please feel free to contact me with any concerns.”

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