|Director for European Affairs for the United States National Security Council|
July 2018 – February 7, 2020
Alexander Semyonovich Vindman
June 6, 1975 (age 46)
Kiev, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union (now Ukraine)
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1999–present|
Alexander Semyon Vindman (born June 6, 1975) is a United States Army lieutenant colonel who was the Director for European Affairs for the United States National Security Council (NSC) until he was reassigned on February 7, 2020. Vindman came to national attention in October 2019 when he testified before the United States Congress regarding the Trump–Ukraine scandal.
Commissioned in 1999 as an infantry officer, Vindman received a Purple Heart medal for wounds he received from an IED attack in the Iraq War in 2004. Vindman became a foreign area officer specializing in Eurasia in 2008, and assumed the position of Director for European Affairs with the NSC in 2018.
Early life and education[edit | edit source]
Alexander Semyon Vindman (né Aleksandr Semyonovich Vindman) and his identical twin brother, Yevgeny, were born in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Soviet Union. After the death of their mother, the three-year-old twins and their older brother, Leonid, were brought to New York in December 1979 by their father, Semyon (Simon). They grew up in Brooklyn's Brighton Beach neighborhood. The twins appear briefly with their maternal grandmother in the Ken Burns documentary The Statue of Liberty. Vindman speaks fluent Russian and Ukrainian. He graduated in 1993 from Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School.
Vindman graduated from the State University of New York at Binghamton with a bachelor of arts degree in 1998. He took part in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps while in college and received a second lieutenant's commission in the Army's Infantry Branch in January 1999. He later received a master of arts degree from Harvard University in Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian studies.
Career[edit | edit source]
Vindman completed the Infantry Officer Basic Course (IOBC) at Fort Benning in 1999 and was sent the next year to South Korea, where he commanded both infantry and anti-armor platoons. In addition to overseas deployments to South Korea and Germany, Vindman is a combat veteran of the Iraq War, and he served in Iraq from September 2004 to September 2005. In October 2004, he sustained an injury from a roadside bomb in Iraq, for which he received a Purple Heart. He was promoted to the rank of major in 2008, and to lieutenant colonel in September 2015.
During his Army career, Vindman earned the Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, and Parachutist Badge, as well as four Army Commendation Medals and two Defense Meritorious Service Medals.
Beginning in 2008, Vindman became a Foreign Area Officer specializing in Eurasia. In this capacity he served in the U.S. embassies in Kiev, Ukraine, and Moscow, Russia. Returning to Washington, D.C. he was then a politico-military affairs officer focused on Russia for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Vindman was on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon from September 2015 to July 2018.
National Security Council[edit | edit source]
In July 2018, Vindman accepted an assignment with the National Security Council. In his role on the NSC, Vindman became part of the U.S. delegation at the inauguration of Ukraine's newly elected President, Volodymyr Zelensky. The five-member delegation, led by Rick Perry, United States Secretary of Energy, also included Kurt Volker, then U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, Gordon Sondland, United States Ambassador to the European Union, and Joseph Pennington, then acting chargé d'affaires.
Vindman was subpoenaed to testify before Congressional investigators on October 29, 2019, as part of the U.S. House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump. He is the first White House official to testify who was actually on a July 25, 2019, telephone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump asked Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, who was campaigning for President. Based on his opening statement, obtained in advance by The New York Times, Vindman's testimony corroborates previous testimony from Fiona Hill, his former manager, and William B. Taylor Jr., acting Ambassador to Ukraine.
On October 28, 2019, Vindman's opening statement to a closed session of the House Intelligence Committee, House Foreign Affairs Committee, and House Oversight Committee was released, ahead of his testimony the following day. Vindman testified that: "In Spring of 2019, I became aware of outside influencers promoting a false and alternative narrative of Ukraine inconsistent with the consensus views of the interagency," which was "harmful to U.S. national security" and also "undermined U.S. Government efforts to expand cooperation with Ukraine."
File:Opening Statement of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman.pdf Vindman states that, additionally, he was concerned by two events, both to which he objected to senior officials in real time, and which he reported to the National Security Council's lead attorney. The first event occurred at a July 10 meeting between Ukraine's then Secretary of National Security and Defense Council Oleksandr Danylyuk, and then US National Security Advisor John Bolton, at which Ambassadors Volker and Sondland, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry were in attendance, and at which Sondland asked Ukraine to launch investigations into the Bidens in order to get a meeting with President Trump. Vindman states that Bolton cut the meeting short, and that both Vindman and Hill told Ambassador Sondland that his comments were inappropriate and reported their concerns to the NSC's lead counsel.
The second event occurred on a July 25 phone call between Presidents Trump and Zelensky. Vindman states, "I was concerned by the call. I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. Government's support of Ukraine. I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained. This would all undermine U.S. national security." Vindman also stated that he reported his concern to the NSC's lead counsel, John Eisenberg.
Vindman later testified in person before the US House of Representatives on November 19, 2019. In his testimony, Vindman stated that he made a report to an intelligence official about what he heard during Trump's call with the Ukrainian President and felt what the President mentioned during the phone conversation was "improper."
|Testimony of Vindman and Jennifer Williams to the House Intelligence Committee, November 19, 2019, C-SPAN|
Because of his testimony, Vindman was denounced by Trump and repeatedly attacked by Republican lawmakers and television commentators. As a result, he reached out to the Army regarding his and his family's safety.
In his opening statement, Vindman assured his father that he had made the right decision in emigrating from the Soviet Union to the United States. Vindman stated, "In Russia, my act of ... offering public testimony involving the President would surely cost me my life. I am grateful for my father's brave act of hope 40 years ago and for the privilege of being an American citizen and public servant, where I can live free of fear for mine [sic] and my family's safety. Dad, my sitting here today, in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected officials is proof that you made the right decision forty years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to United States of America in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth."
On February 7, 2020, Vindman told NSC colleagues he expected to leave the White House's National Security Council to return to the Department of Defense. Trump had earlier implied he might remove Vindman from his post. Later that day Vindman was escorted out of the White House, according to his attorney. His twin brother, Lieutenant Colonel Yevgeny Vindman, was also escorted off the White House grounds at the same time. Both were slated for reassignment within the Army. Subsequent news reports indicated that Vindman had been chosen to attend the in-residence course at the United States Army War College during its 2020-2021 session.
On February 10, 2020 Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sent a letter in an apparent response to the firing of the two brothers that requested Inspector Generals to investigate "any and all instances of retaliation" against witnesses who have made "protected disclosures of presidential misconduct." On February 13, Trump’s former chief of staff, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, defended Vindman's actions and testimony. “He did exactly what we teach them to do from cradle to grave. He went and told his boss what he just heard,” Kelly said.
During a panel discussion held on February 11, 2020 at the Atlantic Council, the president's National Security Advisor, Robert C. O'Brien said that it was his decision to transfer both Vindman brothers back to the Army for re-assignment and denied that the move was ordered by Trump in retaliation for Vindman's testimony. "I can absolutely tell you that they were not retaliated against", O'Brien told the panel. O'Brien also disputed the move as being characterized as "fired" since both brothers remain on active duty. O'Brien noted that their transfer was part of a larger NSA staff reduction. His remarks contradicted Trump, who tweeted that he had ousted Vindman for insubordination and for doing "a lot of bad things."
Personal life[edit | edit source]
Vindman is married to Rachel Vindman, nee Cartmill. His identical twin brother, Yevgeny S. Vindman, is an Army lieutenant colonel and JAG Officer who was assigned as an attorney on the National Security Council staff handling ethics issues, until he was dismissed from that post on February 7, 2020, the same time as Alexander was removed from his NSC post. Vindman has an older brother, Leonid Vindman, who also served as an Army officer.
Military awards[edit | edit source]
Vindman's awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Defense Meritorious Service Medal with bronze oak leaf cluster (2nd award), Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters (4th award), Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters (3rd award), National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (4th award), Valorous Unit Award, Navy Unit Commendation, National Intelligence Meritorious Unit Citation, and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation. He is a recipient of the Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Ranger Tab, Basic Parachutist Badge, the Presidential Service Badge, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge.
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Volz, Dustin; Restuccia, Andrew; Hughes, Siobhan (October 29, 2019). "Parties Spar Over White House Aide in Combative Impeachment Hearing". https://www.wsj.com/articles/house-panels-hear-officialsconcerns-about-trumps-ukraine-call-11572357591.
- Rempfer, Kyle (October 29, 2019). "Purple Heart, Ranger tab, FAO: Meet the Army officer testifying about Trump's Ukraine". Army Times. https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2019/10/29/purple-heart-ranger-tab-fao-meet-the-army-officer-testifying-about-trumps-ukraine-call/.
- Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (October 29, 2019). "Who Is Alexander Vindman? A Ukrainian Refugee Turned White House Official Testifies in the Impeachment Inquiry" (in en-US). The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/29/us/politics/who-is-alexander-vindman.html.
- Shimron, Yonat (November 13, 2019). "Why are so many players in the impeachment trial Jewish?". https://religionnews.com/2019/11/13/why-are-so-many-players-in-the-impeachment-trial-jewish/. "In fact, Vindman, Parnas and Fruman were able to immigrate to the U.S. precisely because they are Jewish."
- Burns, Ken. "Arrival". https://www.pbs.org/kenburns/unum/explore-timeline?film=statue-of-liberty&clip=808.
- Dolsten, Josefin (November 6, 2019). "A Jewish photographer has been capturing Alexander Vindman and his twin for nearly 4 decades" (in en-US). https://www.jta.org/2019/11/06/culture/a-jewish-photographer-has-been-capturing-alexander-vindman-and-his-twin-for-nearly-4-decades.
- Hakim, Danny (October 29, 2019). "Army Officer Who Heard Trump's Ukraine Call Reported Concerns". https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/28/us/politics/Alexander-Vindman-trump-impeachment.html. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
- Ramirez, Jeanine (November 19, 2019). "Before His Impeachment Testimony, a Lieutenant Colonel Was Raised in Brooklyn". NY1. https://www.ny1.com/nyc/brooklyn/news/2019/11/20/brooklyn-raised-lt--col--alexander-vindman-offers-compelling-testimony-in-impeachment-hearings. Retrieved December 1, 2019. "Vindman graduated from FDR High School in Bensonhurst in 1993, then went on to SUNY Binghamton and the Army, earning a Purple Heart after a roadside bombing in Iraq."
- "Nominations". Congressional Record Online (Government Publishing Office) 154 (147): S8894. September 16, 2008. https://www.congress.gov/congressional-record/2008/09/16/senate-section/article/S8890-5. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
- "Nominations". Congressional Record Online (Government Publishing Office) 161 (128): S6471. September 8, 2015. https://www.congress.gov/congressional-record/2015/09/08/senate-section/article/S6469-6. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
- Kelly, Amita (October 28, 2019). "Ukraine Expert Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman's Opening Statement". NPR. https://www.npr.org/2019/10/28/774256868/read-ukraine-expert-lt-col-alexander-vindmans-opening-statement. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
- "President Donald J. Trump Announces Presidential Delegation to Attend the Inauguration of His Excellency Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine". White House Press Office. May 18, 2019. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-announces-presidential-delegation-attend-inauguration-excellency-volodymyr-zelenskyy-president-ukraine/.
- "President Zelensky addresses heads of foreign delegations". The Ukrainian Weekly. June 2, 2019. p. 3. http://www.ukrweekly.com/uwwp/wp-content/uploads/current-pdf/The_Ukrainian_Weekly_2019-22.pdf.
- Cohen, Zachary; Tapper, Jake; LeBlanc, Paul (October 28, 2019). "White House Ukraine expert expected to testify about possible knowledge of Trump-Zelensky call". CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/28/politics/alexander-vindman-nsc-impeachment-testimony/index.html. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
- Andrews, Natalie; Tau, Byron (October 28, 2019). "House to Vote on a Road Map for Its Impeachment Inquiry". The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/impeachment-witness-fails-to-appear-waits-for-court-ruling-11572280661. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
- Jaffe, Greg (October 28, 2019). "White House official to tell impeachment investigators he feared President Trump's demands of Ukraine would undermine national security". https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/white-house-official-to-tell-impeachment-investigators-he-feared-trumps-demands-of-ukraine-would-undermine-national-security/2019/10/28/0fc8ab46-f9f1-11e9-ac8c-8eced29ca6ef_story.html. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
- "Read national security official Alexander S. Vindman's prepared remarks to Congress" (in en). October 29, 2019. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry/read-national-security-official-alexander-s-vindman-s-prepared-remarks-n1073156.
- "Who is Alexander Vindman and why does his public testimony matter?". The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/11/18/who-is-alexander-vindman-why-does-his-public-testimony-matter/. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
- "Impeachment hearings: Live highlights from Alexander Vindman and Jennifer Williams' testimony". Politico. January 1, 1970. https://www.politico.com/news/2019/11/19/impeachment-hearings-live-highlights-and-updates-071459. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
- "Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman reveals in testimony that he told an intelligence official about Trump's call with Ukrainian leader". The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/lt-col-alexander-vindman-reveals-in-testimony-that-he-told-an-intelligence-official-about-trumps-call-with-ukrainian-leader/2019/11/19/61c46b16-0ae4-11ea-8397-a955cd542d00_story.html. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
- Browne, Ryan (November 19, 2019). "Alexander Vindman has reached out to Army about his family's safety amid attacks by Trump and GOP lawmakers". CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/19/politics/vindman-trump-attack-army-safety/index.html. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
- "Read Alexander Vindman’s Prepared Opening Statement From the Impeachment Hearing" (in en-US). The New York Times. November 19, 2019. ISSN 0362-4331. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/19/us/politics/vindman-statement-testimony.html.
- Collins, Kaitlan. "Key impeachment witness expects to leave White House post in coming weeks". https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/06/politics/alexander-vindman-white-house-national-security-council/index.html.
- Shesgreen, David Jackson and Deirdre. "Trump says 'not happy' with Vindman, confirms he might be removed from White House job" (in en-US). https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/02/07/trump-may-oust-alexander-vindman-aide-who-testified-impeachment/4688662002/.
- "Impeachment Witness Alexander Vindman Fired From the White House". The New York Times. February 7, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/07/us/politics/alexander-vindman-white-house.html. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
- Gitt, Tammie (February 10, 2020). "Lt. Col. Vindman is part of this summer's incoming U.S. Army War College class". The Sentinel. Carlisle, PA. https://cumberlink.com/news/local/communities/carlisle/lt-col-vindman-is-part-of-this-summer-s-incoming/article_41596325-9bdf-55ad-acb0-f9513695cefa.html.
- "Schumer calls on 74 inspectors general to investigate witness retaliation after Vindman ouster" (in en). https://www.nbc-2.com/story/41679437/schumer-calls-on-74-inspectors-general-to-investigate-witness-retaliation-after-vindman-ouster.
- American Military News, "Gen. John Kelly: Vindman ‘did exactly what we teach;’ was right to testify in Trump impeachment" Feb 13, 2020 
- Restuccia, Andrew (February 12, 2020). "Official Defends Vindman Removal". The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/obrien-says-vindman-removal-wasnt-retaliation-for-impeachment-inquiry-comments-11581469686?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=1. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
- USA Today, "Army Secretary: No investigation into Vindman, Army aide and impeachment witness fired by Trump", February 14, 2020 
- McBride, Jessica. "Alexander Vindman’s Family: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know" (in en-US). https://heavy.com/news/2019/10/alexander-vindman-family-wife-parents-brother/.
- Siu, Benjamin (October 29, 2019). "Who is Alexander Vindman, the Army officer defying the White House to testify about Trump's Ukraine call?". https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/alexander-vindman-army-officer-defying-white-house-testify/story?id=66610499.
- Britzky, Haley (October 29, 2019). "Here's the military record of Lt. Col. Vindman, the soldier testifying at Trump's impeachment inquiry". Task & Purpose. https://taskandpurpose.com/vindman-military-record.
[edit | edit source]
|Wikiquote has media related to: Alexander Vindman|