Trump threatens to expose information about Alexander Vindman “real soon”

Trump makes cryptic threat about Ukraine-born Army officer whose testimony has paved the road to impeachment

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published November 5, 2019 7:00AM (EST)

Donald Trump and Alexander Vindman (Getty Images/AP Photo/Salon)
Donald Trump and Alexander Vindman (Getty Images/AP Photo/Salon)

President Trump threatened to reveal some sort of information about Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the senior White House official who testified that key references to Joe Biden were omitted from the partial White House transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Vindman, a decorated Iraq war veteran who serves as the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, testified that he twice reported his concerns about the call, which he viewed as a national security threat, but was told to stay quiet by Trump administration officials.

Hours after Vindman’s opening statement was reported in the press, Trump baselessly claimed that Vindman is a “Never Trumper,” as he did after his own Ukraine envoy, Bill Taylor, confirmed to Congress that there was a quid pro quo between Trump and Ukraine.

On Sunday, a reporter asked Trump outside the White House what “evidence” he had showing that Vindman was a Never Trumper.

“We'll be showing that to you real soon, OK?” Trump cryptically replied.

The president did not elaborate and ignored follow-up questions about the information he claimed to have.

“It’s a whole scam ... it’s between the Democrats and the fake news media,” Trump declared, even though numerous officials from his own administration have confirmed the quid pro quo.

Vindman was the first official who heard Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky firsthand and refuted Trump’s claim that the partial transcript released was a “word for word, comma for comma” transcript of his call. Vindman testified that the partial transcript released by the White House “omitted crucial words and phrases” that specifically related to Trump’s demand that Ukraine investigate Joe and Hunter Biden.

Vindman said he brought his concerns about the call to superiors but was told by John Eisenberg, the top legal adviser for the National Security Council, to keep quiet about the conversation, The Washington Post reported.

Numerous Trump supporters in the media have attempted to smear Vindman, who was born in Ukraine and came to the United States when he was three years old, as a double agent.

The attacks were condemned by Democrats and Republicans alike. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., chair of the Republican House caucus, called the attacks “shameful.”

The transcript of Vindman’s testimony is expected to be released along with those of other depositions in the coming days, according to House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff. Trump on Sunday said that Republicans should release their own transcripts, even though each witness will have a chance to review the official transcript to ensure accuracy.

Trump claimed that Schiff “will change the words that were said to suit the Dems purposes” even though many of the revelations were already released in opening statements made by the witnesses themselves.

“Republicans should give their own transcripts of the interviews,” he wrote.

On Monday, Democrats released the first two transcripts, which they said showed the “contamination of U.S. foreign policy by an irregular back channel that sought to advance the President’s personal and political interests, and the serious concerns that this activity elicited across our government.”

Vindman, who showed up to testify in his Army uniform, returned to work at the White House the following day. CNN reported that Vindman was at work on Monday following Trump’s threat, as he had been every day since.

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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