Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an Army officer assigned to the National Security Council, is scheduled to be deposed by House impeachment investigators on Tuesday, and a draft opening statement obtained by news organizations looks pretty damaging for President Trump.
Vindman, a top Ukraine expert on the NSC, will be the first House witness who listened to Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and he writes in his opening statement that he was so concerned about Trump's ask that Zelensky open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, he reported it to the NSC's top lawyer.
Vindman's opening statement corroborates testimony from William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and former NSC official Fiona Hill that Trump and outside advisers were pressuring Zelensky to help Trump politically in exchange for critical U.S. support.
Vindman's family emigrated to the U.S. from the former Soviet Union when he was 3, and he has served multiple tours of duty as an infantry officer, taking shrapnel in Iraq and earning a Purple Heart. Not long after The New York Times first teased Vindman's testimony, Fox News host Laura Ingraham and former U.S. Deputy Attorney General John Yoo were questioning Vindman's loyalty. This did not escape notice at MSNBC, where Brian Williams played a clip from Ingraham's show in which Yoo — himself an immigrant — suggests Vindman might be a spy.
"What are they getting at?" Williams asked Jeremy Bash, a top Pentagon and CIA official under former President Barack Obama. "I think they're alleging that a U.S. Army colonel is a traitor," Bash said.
The Washington Post's Robert Costa added that "as a reporter, I wonder is this really the line the Republicans are going to take, conservative critics of this impeachment inquiry, that someone who's an immigrant and has served this country is now a questionable person, without any kind of evidence to make this case?"