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Vindman's Claims Don't Hold Up

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

For Tuesday's impeachment show, House Democrats are trotting out their star witness, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. He listened in on the July 25 call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that is central to the Dems' case. They allege that Trump demanded Zelenskiy dig up dirt on the Bidens in exchange for military aid.

At first glance, Vindman looks like the ideal witness, wearing U.S. Army dress blues with medals. The press portrays him as a hero reluctantly stepping forward to disclose the president's misconduct. But Vindman will wither under cross-examination, the same way he did during his closed-door testimony on Oct. 29. You haven't heard about that because the media's lying about what's in Vindman's testimony.

Vindman's job at the National Security Council is to write policy memos, schedule meetings and keep minutes of conversations with foreign diplomats. That's why he was on the July 25 call.

On page 316, Vindman claims that Trump "demanded" investigations from Zelenskiy in return for military aid, but that's Vindman's opinion, not fact. He admitted that the actual words spoken during the call don't support that claim: "I think people want to hear, you know, what they have as already preconceived notions." Vindman's damning admission is found on page 256 of the transcript.

Where did Vindman get his preconceived notion? He points to media stories accusing Trump and Rudy Giuliani of seeking investigations to damage Joe Biden. See pages 176-177 and 251-252.

Vindman confessed he never met or communicated with Trump or Giuliani and didn't know what Trump was thinking, according to transcript pages 36 and 177.

But on page 252, the Democrats hilariously argue Vindman's on solid ground because the stories quoted Giuliani, "so this is not some sort of media spin thing."

Are the Democrats suggesting a president can be impeached based on media accounts, without real evidence?

When Vindman was asked if he had knowledge of a quid pro quo communicated to the Ukrainians on July 25 -- or any other day -- he admitted, "no," says page 317 of the transcript.

That makes sense. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said Thursday he was unaware of any link between investigations and military aid.

Zelenskiy himself denied that Trump put him under any pressure. EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland reported to Trump that Zelenskiy "loves you're a--." That doesn't sound like someone having his arm twisted.

After the July 25 call, Vindman rushed to tell a NSC lawyer about his trigger-happy conclusion that Trump had committed a grave "wrong." Lucky that Vindman pushes paper and not nuclear buttons.

The whistleblower's complaint, filed Aug. 12, tracks Vindman's concerns. The whistleblower also relied on media stories and admitted he had no facts showing that Ukrainians were told aid depended on favors for Trump.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif., barred Vindman from naming anyone he talked to outside the NSC, on pages 105 and 277-281, apparently to protect the whistleblower. But on page 14, Vindman denies knowing the whistleblower. Schiff is protecting himself and his staff.

The scariest aspect of Vindman's testimony is his insistence that U.S. foreign policy should be made by unelected bureaucrats like himself. Vindman says he and his colleagues have formulated "the best, most informed judgment" about Ukraine and it wasn't "appropriate for government officials" like Trump's ambassadors to act "counter" to it. What arrogance. See pages 270, 336 of the transcript.

Vindman drafted talking points for Trump's July 25 call with Zelenskiy and grew "concerned" when the commander in chief "strayed" from them, according to pages 18, 42 and 93 of his testimony. Is this lieutenant colonel for real?

Similarly, Vindman was outraged over Trump's recall of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. But Trump had solid reasons. Zelenskiy said he disliked her and mistrusted her. She had sided with his rival during the election, as page 324 of Vindman's testimony reveals. It's smart to appoint an ambassador who can get along with the country's leader.

Vindman's testimony will be full of such blockbuster revelations, but none that support impeaching Trump.

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