WASHINGTON—A top official with the National Security Council plans to tell House impeachment investigators that he was concerned by President Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President
saying that the president’s request to have the Ukrainians investigate
and his son may have been interpreted as a “partisan play.”
Alexander Vindman, an Iraq war veteran who currently oversees Ukraine policy at the NSC, will be the first official with firsthand knowledge of the phone call at the heart of the impeachment inquiry to testify when he appears before House investigators on Tuesday.
According to a statement obtained by The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Vindman also plans to tell investigators that the U.S. ambassador to the European Union,
told a Ukrainian delegation in early July that the government in Kyiv needed to deliver specific investigations to secure a meeting with Mr. Trump. The statement says that the July 10 meeting was cut short by then-national security adviser
which corroborates with what others have testified to.
Mr. Bolton didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Trump sought to play down the testimony Tuesday morning, tweeting: “Why are people that I never even heard of testifying about the call.”
Mr. Trump added: “Just READ THE CALL TRANSCRIPT AND THE IMPEACHMENT HOAX IS OVER! Ukrain said NO PRESSURE.”
“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,” the statement says. “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.”
The statement was earlier obtained by the New York Times.
Mr. Vindman’s statement notes that he listened in on the call in the Situation Room with colleagues from the NSC and the office of the Vice President, adding, “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.”
Mr. Sondland testified to House committees that he raised investigations in the July 10 meeting but has said he was not aware of concerns from NSC officials about his doing so, a person familiar with his testimony said.
An expert on Ukraine and Russia, Mr. Vindman represented the administration as the lead NSC official on Ukraine policy and advocated for warmer ties with Ukraine at a time when Mr. Trump had been inclined to foster closer ties with Russia. Mr. Vindman was part of the U.S. delegation that attended Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration, along with Energy Secretary Rick Perry and ambassadors
Joseph Pennington and Mr. Sondland.
The role of former Vice President Biden’s son Hunter at energy company Burisma Holdings Ltd. has come under intense scrutiny following unsupported accusations by Mr. Trump that the Democratic front-runner for president improperly tried to help his son’s business interests in Ukraine.
Mr. Trump, in a July 25 call, asked his Ukrainian counterpart, Mr. Zelensky, to “look into” Mr. Biden and his son and said he would direct
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the president’s personal lawyer, and Attorney General
to contact Mr. Zelensky to help him in a possible investigation, according to a rough transcript released by the White House.
Before asking Ukraine to examine actions by Mr. Biden’s son, Mr. Trump reminded Mr. Zelensky that the U.S. sends security aid to Ukraine, according to the transcript, which was released in late September.
Mr. Vindman says that an investigation into the Biden family and Burisma “would likely be interpreted as a partisan play” which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained. As a result, he reported his concerns to the NSC’s lead counsel.
In his prewritten testimony, Mr. Vindman also states that he is not the whistleblower whose official complaint triggered the impeachment inquiry, adding, “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,” he adds.
The Ukraine Witnesses
- Oct. 3: Kurt Volker, former U.S. special representative for Ukraine negotiations, testifies and hands over text messages with other State Department officials that showed officials attempting to use a potential meeting between Mr. Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart as leverage to press Kyiv to investigate Joe Biden.
- Oct. 11: Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, testifies that Mr. Trump sought for over a year to remove her and that his allies, including Rudy Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, targeted her in a “concerted campaign.”
- Oct. 14: Fiona Hill, President Trump’s former top Russia adviser, testifies that she and other White House officials grew so alarmed by the administration’s efforts to push Ukraine to open certain investigations that they raised objections with a White House lawyer.
- Oct. 15: George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state, testifies that he had grown concerned that he had been sidelined from Ukraine diplomacy and that he raised concerns in 2015 about Joe Biden’s son serving on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.
- Oct. 16: Michael McKinley, former top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, testifies that he left his post over frustration with Mr. Pompeo regarding the treatment of Ms. Yovanovitch.
- Oct. 17: Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, criticizes President Trump over his efforts to enlist Ukraine in investigating a political rival and says he and other U.S. officials were “disappointed” by the president’s directive to work with Mr. Giuliani on Ukraine matters.
- Oct. 22: William Taylor, chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, testified that President Trump made nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine contingent on the Ukrainian president investigating two matters related to U.S. politics.
- Oct. 23: Laura Cooper, Defense Department official overseeing Ukraine, was the first Pentagon official to testify before investigators.
- Oct. 26: Philip Reeker, acting assistant secretary of European and Eurasian affairs, said that top officials stymied a show of solidarity for Ms. Yovanovitch.
Scheduled to Testify:
- Oct. 29: Alexander Vindman, the director of European affairs at the National Security Council who attended the Ukrainian president’s inauguration in May
- Oct. 30: Kathryn Wheelbarger, the acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs; Catherine Croft, who served at the State Department as special adviser for Ukraine; Christopher Anderson, who was a special adviser to Kurt Volker, the former U.S. envoy for Ukraine negotiations
- Oct. 31: Tim Morrison, the National Security Council’s Russia and Europe director
—Rebecca Ballhaus contributed to this article.
Write to Vivian Salama at email@example.com
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