Alexander Semyon Vindman (born June 6, 1975) is a United States Army lieutenant colonel who was the Director for European Affairs for the United States National Security Council (NSC) until he was reassigned on February 7, 2020. Vindman came to national attention in October 2019 when he testified before the United States Congress regarding the Trump–Ukraine scandal.
Commissioned in 1999 as an infantry officer, Vindman received a Purple Heart medal for wounds he received from an Improvised explosive device (IED) attack in the Iraq War in 2004. Vindman became a foreign area officer specializing in Eurasia in 2008, and assumed the position of Director for European Affairs with the NSC in 2018.
Opening Statement of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman (October 29, 2019)
- Before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Source
- I sit here, as a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army, an immigrant. My family fled the Soviet Union when I was three and a half years old. Upon arriving in New York City in 1979, my father worked multiple jobs to support us, all the while learning English at night. He stressed to us the importance of fully integrating into our adopted country. ...In spite of our challenging beginnings, my family worked to build its own American dream. I have a deep appreciation for American values and ideals and the power of freedom. I am a patriot, and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend OUR country, irrespective of party or politics.
- For over twenty years as an active duty United States military officer and diplomat, I have served this country in a nonpartisan manner, and have done so with the utmost respect and professionalism for both Republican and Democratic administrations.
- I am not the whistleblower who brought this issue to the CIA and the Committees’ attention. I do not know who the whistleblower is and I would not feel comfortable to speculate as to the identity of the whistleblower.
- I did convey certain concerns internally to National Security officials in accordance with my decades of experience and training, sense of duty, and obligation to operate within the chain of command. ...the command structure is extremely important to me. On many occasions I have been told I should express my views and share my concerns with my chain of command and proper authorities. ...any good military officer should and would do the same, thus providing his or her best advice to leadership.
- When I joined the White House’s National Security Council (“NSC”), I reported to Dr. Fiona Hill, who in turn reported to John Bolton, the National Security Advisor.
- My Service on the National Security Council
- [A] strong and independent Ukraine is critical to U.S. national security interests because Ukraine is a frontline state and a bulwark against Russian aggression.
- In spite of being under assault from Russia for more than five years, Ukraine has taken major steps towards integrating with the West. The U.S. government policy community’s view is that the election of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the promise of reforms to eliminate corruption will lock in Ukraine’s Western-leaning trajectory, and allow Ukraine to realize its dream of a vibrant democracy and economic prosperity.
- The Geopolitical Importance of Ukraine
- On July 10, 2019, Oleksandr Danylyuk, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council for Ukraine, visited Washington, D.C. for a meeting with National Security Advisor Bolton. Ambassadors Volker and Sondland also attended, along with Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
The meeting proceeded well until the Ukrainians broached the subject of a meeting between the two presidents. The Ukrainians saw this meeting as critically important... Amb. Sondland started to speak about Ukraine delivering specific investigations in order to secure the meeting with the President, at which time Ambassador Bolton cut the meeting short.
Following this meeting, there was a scheduled debriefing during which Amb. Sondland emphasized the importance that Ukraine deliver the investigations into the 2016 election, the Bidens, and Burisma. I stated to Amb. Sondland that his statements were inappropriate, that the request to investigate Biden and his son had nothing to do with national security, and that such investigations were not something the NSC was going to get involved in or push. Dr. Hill then entered the room and asserted to Amb. Sondland that his statements were inappropriate.
Following the debriefing meeting, I reported my concerns to the NSC’s lead counsel. Dr. Hill also reported the incident to the NSC’s lead counsel.
- Oleksandr Danylyuk Visit – July 10, 2019
- On July 21, 2019, President Zelensky’s party won Parliamentary elections in a landslide victory. The NSC proposed that President Trump call President Zelensky to congratulate him. On July 25, 2019, the call occurred. I listened in on the call in the Situation Room with colleagues from the NSC and the office of the Vice President. ...I was concerned by the call. 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. I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained. This would all undermine U.S. national security. Following the call, I again reported my concerns to NSC’s lead counsel.
- Election Call – July 25, 2019
Impeachment Inquiry: Ms. Jennifer Williams and Lietenant Colonel Alexander Vindman (Tuesday, November 19, 2019)
- U.S. House of Representatives, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Washington, D.C. Source.
- It is important to know that our countries' policy of supporting Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, promoting Ukrainian prosperity, strengthening a free and democratic Ukraine as a counter to Russian aggression has been a consistent, bipartisan foreign policy objective and strategy across various administrations, both Democratic and Republican, and that President Zelensky's election in April 2019 created an unprecedented opportunity to realize our strategic objectives.
- p. 17.
- In the spring of 2019, I became aware of two disruptive actors... Ukraine's then-prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko, and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the President's personal attorney, promoting false narratives that undermined the United States' Ukraine policy. The NSC and its interagency partners, including the State Department, grew increasingly concerned about the impact that such information was having on our country's ability to achieve our national security objectives.
- p. 18.
- On July 10, 2019, Oleksandr Danylyuk, then Ukraine's National Security Advisor, visited Washington, D.C., for a meeting with National Security Advisor Bolton. ...Ambassadors Volker and Sondland and Secretary Rick Perry also attended the meeting. I attended with Dr. Hill. ...Ambassador Bolton cut the meeting short when Ambassador Sondland started to speak about the requirement that Ukraine deliver specific investigations in order to secure the meeting with President Trump. Following this meeting, there was a short debriefing, during which Ambassador Sondland emphasized the importance of Ukraine delivering the investigations into the 2016 elections, the Bidens, and Burisma. I stated to Ambassador Sondland that this was inappropriate, and had nothing to do with national security. Dr. Hill also asserted these comments were improper. Following the meeting, Dr. Hill and I agreed to report the incident to NSC's lead counsel, Mr. John Eisenberg.
- pp. 18-19.
- On July 21st, 2019, President Zelensky won a parliamentary election in another landslide victory. The NSC proposed that President Trump call President Zelensky to congratulate him. On July 25th, 2019, the call occurred. I listened in on the call in the Situation Room with White House colleagues. I was concerned by the call. What I heard was inappropriate, and I reported my concerns to Mr. Eisenberg. It is improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and a political opponent. I was also clear that if Ukraine pursued an investigation—it was also clear that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the 2016 elections, the Bidens and Burisma, it would be interpreted as a partisan play. This would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing bipartisan support, undermining U.S. national security, and advancing Russia's strategic objectives in the region.
- p. 19.
- [W]hen I reported my concerns on July 10th relating to Ambassador Sondland, and then July 25th relating to the President, I did so out of a sense of duty. I privately reported my concerns in official channels to the proper authority in the chain of command. My intent was to raise these concerns because they had significant national security implications for our country. I never thought that I would be sitting here testifying in front of this committee and the American public about my actions. When I reported my concerns, my only thought was to act properly and to carry out my duty.
- pp. 19-20
- Following each of my reports to Mr. Eisenberg, I immediately returned to work to advance the President's and our country's foreign policy objectives. I focused on what I have done throughout my military career, promoting America's national security interests.
- p. 20.
- I want to... recognize the courage of my colleagues who have appeared and are scheduled to appear before this committee. ...[T]he character attacks on these distinguished and honorable public servants is reprehensible. It is natural to disagree and engage in spirited debate, and this has been the custom of our country since the time of our Founding Fathers, but we are better than personal attacks.
- p. 20.
- The uniform I wear... is that of a United States Army... The members of our all-volunteer force are made up of... people from all ethnicities, regions, socioeconomic backgrounds, who come together under a common oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. We do not serve any political party; we serve the Nation.
- p. 20.
- As a young man, I decided I wanted to spend my life serving this Nation that gave my family refuge from authoritarian oppression. For the last 20 years, it has been an honor to represent and protect this great country.
- p. 20.
- When my father was 47 years old, he left behind his entire life and the only home he had ever known to start over in the United States so his three sons could have better and safer lives. His courageous decision inspired a deep sense of gratitude in my brothers and myself, and instilled in us a sense of duty and service. All three of us have served, or are currently serving in the military.
- p. 21.
- [M]y simple act of appearing here today, just like the courage of my colleagues who have also truthfully testified before this committee, would not be tolerated in many places around the world. In Russia, my act of expressing concern to the chain of command in an official and private channel would have severe personal and professional repercussions, and offering public testimony involving the President would surely cost me my life.
I am grateful to my father—for my father's brave act of hope 40 years ago and for the privilege of being an American citizen and public servant, where I can live free, free of fear for mine and my family's safety.
- p. 21.
- Dad, I am sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected professionals. Talking to our elected professionals is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth.
- p. 21.
Quotes about Vindman
- We are not a country where a group of lieutenant colonels can get together and dictate what the policy of the United States is...
- Robert O'Brien, "National security adviser says Vindman brothers weren't fired -- Trump says military should decide their fate" (February 12, 2020) as quoted by Nikki Carvajal and Paul LeBlanc, CNN.
- Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, who testified in the impeachment hearings, was sacked from his post on the National Security Council, in what presidential aides made very clear was revenge. For good measure, so was his twin brother, a lawyer at the NSC and a fellow Army officer. Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, was asked to resign, and when he refused, he was fired Friday night. Elaine McCusker, who had been tapped to be Pentagon comptroller but clashed with the White House over freezing military aid to Ukraine, will have her nomination withdrawn, according to the New York Post.
- David A. Graham, "This Is What an Unleashed Trump Looks Like" (February 11, 2020 ) The Atlantic.
- He did exactly what we teach them to do from cradle to grave... He went and told his boss what he just heard.
- I obviously wasn't happy with the job he did... First of all he reported a false call... what was said on the call was totally appropriate.
- Donald Trump, "Trump Says Military May Consider Discipline for Ousted Aide Vindman" (Feb. 11, 2020) The New York Times.
- "Purple Heart, Ranger tab, FAO: Meet the Army officer testifying about Trump's Ukraine" (October 29, 2019) Army Times.