Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s testimony in front of the House Intelligence Committee has started to raise serious questions about his credibility as an alleged expert on Ukraine as the recently released transcript of his testimony contained surprising excerpts.
Vindman, who was born in Ukraine and immigrated to the United States, is supposedly the White House’s top expert on Ukraine at the National Security Council (NSC), yet transcripts from his testimony showed that he appeared to lack even basic knowledge of recent events inside Ukraine.
During one exchange, Vindman thought that the Obama administration provided lethal military assistance to Ukraine when, in fact, the Obama administration did not.
CHAIRMAN ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): There was a prior shipment of Javelins to Ukraine, wasn’t there?
VINDMAN: So that was, I believe — I apologize if the timing is incorrect — under the previous administration, there was a — I’m aware of the transfer of a fairly significant number of Javelins, yes.
In 2014, it was widely reported that Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko begged the Obama administration for weapons to combat Russian forces and that the Obama administration refused to supply the weapons.
“Blankets and night vision goggles are important, but one cannot win a war with a blanket,” Poroshenko said, according to the Associated Press.
The New Yorker reported:
Ukrainian officials had appealed to the United States for military support, but Biden had advised them that it would be minimal, if at all. He told me, “We no longer think in Cold War terms, for several reasons. One, no one is our equal. No one is close. Other than being crazy enough to press a button, there is nothing that Putin can do militarily to fundamentally alter American interests.” The Ukrainians were not pleased. A senior Administration official said, “My read of the looks on their faces was ‘Holy God.’ ”
Washington Examiner Chief political correspondent Byron York noted the perplexing lack of knowledge from Vindman.
Top Ukraine guy at NSC apparently thought Obama administration had provided Javelins to Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/Gd1830At3K
— Byron York (@ByronYork) November 9, 2019
During another exchange, Vindman indicated that he knew that Ukrainian gas company Burisma was a company that had a “problematic history” but did not want to know more about Hunter Biden’s involvement with the company when he found out that Biden was Burisma’s board. Though Vindman said he had no interest in conducting any inquiries into Biden’s role in the company, he acknowledged that Ukraine certainly has a right to investigate it.
The following exchange took place between Vindman and Steve Castor, a top investigator from Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-OH) office leading the Republicans’ line of questioning:
CASTOR: Are you aware of any of the investigations [Burisma] has been involved with over the last several years?
VINDMAN: I am aware that Burisma does have questionable business dealings. That’s part of its track record, yes.
CASTOR: Okay. And what questionable business dealings are you aware of?
VINDMAN: I think that’s more of kind of a generalization. I’m just aware that it had questionable business dealings, and they were known for that fact. … the general answer is I think they have had questionable business dealings.
CASTOR: So money laundering, tax evasion, if they were subject to those investigations, that would comport with your understanding of the company?
VINDMAN: That would comport with my understanding of how business is done in Ukraine.
CASTOR: Okay. In 2014, they undertook an initiative to bring in some additional folks for their board. Are you aware of some of the folks they added to their board in 2014?
VINDMAN: The only individual I’m aware of, again, after, you know, as it’s been reported in the press is Mr. Hunter Biden.
CASTOR: Okay. And did you check with any of your authoritative sources in government to learn a little bit more about these issues?
VINDMAN: I did not.
CASTOR: Okay. Even when the narrative started to creep in?
VINDMAN: I did not. I didn’t think it was appropriate. He was a U.S. citizen, and I wasn’t going to ask questions. Frankly, that falls into the law enforcement sphere. I was not going to go and ask about — if there was a question about Burisma, I would — I inquired about it and determined that they had a problematic history, but I did not inquire about a U.S. citizen.
CASTOR: What other inquiries did you make with authoritative sources demanding Burisma?
VINDMAN: I think once I drew my conclusion of the company, I moved on.
CASTOR: Okay. If there was an allegation of wrongdoing by the Burisma board directors, that would be something that the Ukrainians could look into, right?
VINDMAN: I think so. They’re a sovereign state, they can choose to do that, yes.
CASTOR: So if there’s an American that is operating in Ukraine as a businessman and they are accused of wrongdoing, the Ukrainians can investigate that?
VINDMAN: Americans are not immune from criminal activity just because they’re Americans overseas. So, yes, if there’s a criminal activity, they should, yeah.
CASTOR: Okay. And do you have any knowledge as to why Hunter Biden was asked to join the board?
VINDMAN: I do not.
CASTOR: Did you check with any of your authoritative sources whether he was a corporate governance expert or–
VINDMAN: Like I said, I didn’t. He’s an American citizen. Certainly there is domestic political overtones. I did not think that was appropriate for me to start looking into this particular — I drew my conclusions on Burisma and I moved on.
York again noted the odd implication of what Vindman testified, writing: “Corrupt Ukrainian company owned by corrupt Ukrainian oligarch hires vice president’s son and top Ukraine guy on NSC doesn’t want to know about it.”
Corrupt Ukrainian company owned by corrupt Ukrainian oligarch hires vice president’s son and top Ukraine guy on NSC doesn’t want to know about it. From Vindman deposition: pic.twitter.com/yy3QLX0dqd
— Byron York (@ByronYork) November 10, 2019