The identical twin brother of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Purple Heart officer who sits on the National Security Council, may also be called to testify in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump.
Alexander Vindman, in his closed-door testimony to lawmakers, shared his concerns about Trump’s July 25 phone call with the president of the Ukraine, saying he did not think it was ‘proper’ to ask a foreign leader to investigate a U.S. citizen.
He also revealed his twin, Army Lt. Col. Eugene Vindman, also works for the National Security Council as a lawyer handling ethic issues and witnessed the decision to move the call’s transcript to a top secret server, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Officials on the House committees conducting the impeachment probe have contacted Eugene Vindman’s lawyer, although no decision has been made about his testifying.
Alexander Vindman (left) is seen with twin brother Eugene (right) and photographer Carol Kitman in October 2016 at a ceremony in Washington. Eugene – born Yevgeny – is also an Army lieutenant colonel serving in the National Security Council; the twins have offices in the same area of the West Wing
President Trump has denied any wrong doing in regards to the Ukraine
Eugene Vindman did not listen in on Trump’s call, where the president asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, but he was present when Alexander Vindman relayed his concerns to the NSC’s general counsel.
Alexander told lawmakers he brought his brother in as a witness to his conversation with NSC general counsel John Eisenberg.
After he relayed his concerns, Eisenberg and his deputy Michael Ellis discussed what to do with the call transcript given its ‘sensitive nature.’
Eisenberg suggested storing it on the top secret server, the Journal reported.
In September, the White House admitted it moved the transcript of the call to a more secure server after the transfer was flagged in a whistle-blower’s report on the conversation.
But the president’s administration blamed the move on lawyers from the National Security Council.
‘NSC lawyers directed that the classified document be handled appropriately,’ a senior White House official told CNN.
But the admission didn’t address two questions surrounding the move: why was the call transferred to a more secure server and have transcripts of calls Trump’s had with other world leaders received similar treatment?
Transcripts, readouts and memos on the president’s calls with his counter parts are stored on classified computer system.
But the whistle-blower’s complaint on the July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky claimed the information on that call was transferred to an even more restrictive system designed to protect sensitive government secrets.
The complaint details how the contents of the call were stored – saying senior White House officials intervened to ‘lock down’ all records related to the call, including the transcript, which the White House has released.
The contents of the call were put on a computer system managed directly by the National Security Council (NSC) Directorate for Intelligence Programs.
It is a ‘standalone’ computer system ‘reserved for codeword-level intelligence information, such as cover action,’ according to the whistle-blower. Codeword intelligence is the highest classification level.
The whistle-blower’s complaint led to the formal impeachment inquiry into Trump.
Alexander Vindman, in his testimony this week, told lawmakers he was on the phone call with Trump and Zelensky and ‘did not think it was proper’ – potentially a huge boost to the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
He also noted he made hand-written minor revisions on a hard copy of the transcript but noticed those were not included in the transcript of the call the White House released. There have been reports the transcript is incomplete.
Vindman was awarded a Purple Heart after being wounded in Iraq and arrived on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning in uniform with his medal visible.
The White House him not to testify, prompting the House Intelligence Committee to issue a subpoena directing him to give evidence.
Alexander Vindman (left) and twin brother Eugene Vindman
Both Vindman twins were in a meeting with NSC General Counsel John Eisenberg about Trump’s call with the president of the Ukraine
Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is escorted into his closed-door Capitol Hill testimony
Trump took to Twitter to attack Lt. Col. Vindman the morning of his testimony, calling him an unimportant figure who never crossed paths with him.
‘Why are people that I never even heard of testifying about the call. Just READ THE CALL TRANSCRIPT AND THE IMPEACHMENT HOAX IS OVER! Ukrain [sic] said NO PRESSURE,’ Trump tweeted.
In his opening statement, Vindman claimed the National Security Council proposed that Trump call President Zelensky to congratulate him after his party won parliamentary elections.
He explained: ‘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.
‘As the transcript is in the public record, we are all aware of what was said. 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.’
Burisma Holdings is the Ukrainian energy company where Biden’s son Hunter held a board seat while his father was vice president.
‘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.
Vindman claimed: ‘This would all undermine U.S. national security. Following the call, I again reported my concerns to NSC’s lead counsel.’
Vindman served multiple overseas tours, including South Korea and Germany, and was deployed to Iraq for combat operations. He was wounded in an IED attack and was subsequently awarded a Purple Heart.
He served in United States’ embassies in Kiev, Ukraine and Moscow, Russia. In Washington, D.C., he was a politico-military affairs officer for Russia for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before his appointment to the NSC.
Vindman is the latest in a line of subpoenaed witnesses who House Democrats hope will provide incriminating evidence against the president
Alexander Vindman is seen with wife Rachel and their daughter in front of the White House
In his statement he adds: ‘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.’
Vindman is due to tell the committee that he is not the whistle-blower who brought the issue to the CIA and the Committees’ attention. He also claimed he never had direct contact or communications with the President.
‘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.
‘As an active duty military officer, the command structure is extremely important to me.’ Vindman said there was another incident which he thought was improper and he reported it to the National Security Council’s lead counsel.
He claimed that on July 10, Oleksandr Danylyuk, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council for Ukraine, visited Washington, D.C. for a meeting with National Security Advisor John Bolton.
He said that Gordon Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt Volker, who resigned as U.S. special envoy to Ukraine earlier this month, were also in attendance.
The Trump campaign has alleged that Biden quashed a Ukrainian investigation into Burisma, where Biden’s son Hunter served on the board from 2014 until earlier this year, using the threat of withholding U.S. foreign aid. Biden is pictured with son Hunter in 2010
Vindman claimed that he reported an incident involving Gordon D. Sondland, United States ambassador to the European Union, to the National Security Council’s lead counsel. He claimed Sondman emphasized the importance that Ukraine deliver the investigations into the 2016 election, the Bidens, and Burisma at a debriefing which he claimed was ‘inappropriate’
On April 21, 2019, Volodymyr Zelensky was elected President of Ukraine in a landslide victory
Alexander Vindman, raised concerns about comments made by Gordon Sondland when Oleksandr Danylyuk, (left), the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council for Ukraine, visited Washington D.C. in July. Former U.S. special envoy to the Ukraine Kurt Volker, (right), had also attended the meeting
In his testimony he claimed the Ukrainians saw this meeting as critically important in order to solidify the support of their most important international partner.
‘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.’
Vindman is married with one child and has a twin brother named Eugene, who also serves in the military. It is understood he is a lawyer in the National Security Council.
In his statement, Alexander claimed his family fled the Soviet Union when he was three. Upon arriving in New York City in 1979, his father worked multiple jobs to support them while learning English at night.
The Trump campaign has alleged that Biden quashed a Ukrainian investigation into Burisma, where Biden’s son Hunter served on the board from 2014 until earlier this year, using the threat of withholding U.S. foreign aid.
Biden has denied any wrongdoing, and Trump’s phone call to the Ukrainian president asking him to look into the matter is at the heart of House Democrats’ mounting impeachment probe into Trump.