A key member of the nation’s forum on national security, military, and foreign policy matters admitted he added incorrect information to a summary of the president’s phone call with Ukraine on Nov. 19.
U.S. National Security Council Director for European Affairs Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified at a public hearing for the impeachment inquiry that he added inaccurate details to his summary of Donald Trump’s April 21 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Counsel Daniel Goldman (D) grilled Vindman about the summary he wrote after the phone call ended, and questioned why the director added the words “root out corruption” when the official transcript showed the president did not end up using those words.
“President Trump underscored the unwavering support of the United States for Ukraine’s sovreignity and territorial integrity–within its internationally recognized borders–and expressed his commitment to work together with President-elect Zelensky and the Ukrainian people to implement reforms that strengthen democracy, increase prosperity, and root out corruption,” Vindman said in his summary according to Breitbart.
Vindman initially struggled as he tried to explain how he had gotten the summary wrong.
“That’s that’s maybe that’s a bit of a–it’s not entirely accurate,” he said according to the official video of the hearing. “I’m not sure if I would describe it as false. It was consistent with U.S. policy.”
He defended his summary as a platform for raising matters of national importance.
“These items are used as messaging tools also so a statement that goes out, in addition to reading out the meeting itself, is also a messaging platform to indicate what is important with regards to U.S. policy,” Vindman said.
Counsel Steve Castor (R) separately asked about former Ukrainian President Oleksandr Danylyuk’s proposal to appoint Vindman as the country’s next defense minister. Vindman confirmed he was approached and offered the job three times.
“I think it would be a great honor and, frankly, I am aware of service members who have left service to help nurture the developing democracies in the world, certainly in the Baltics, former officers and Air Force officers that became the minister of defense,” Vindman said at the hearing.
He found Danylyuk’s approaches amusing because he did not think he was the kind of high ranking officer who would typically receive such high interest and politely refused each time.
“The whole notion is rather comical that I was being asked whether I wanted to be the minister of defense,” Vindman said. “I did not leave the door open at all but it is pretty funny for a Lt. Col. of the U.S. Army, which really is not that senior to be offered that lustrous of a position.”