Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the White House National Security Council, testified that a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes “misrepresented” himself to President Trump as the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, Politico reports.
Vindman told impeachment investigators this week that he attended Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s inauguration in May and planned to brief Trump on the new leader’s policies.
“The U.S. government policy community’s view is that the election of Zelenskyy and the promise of reforms to eliminate corruption will lock in Ukraine’s Western-leaning trajectory, and allow Ukraine to realize its dream of a vibrant democracy and economic prosperity,” Vindman said in his opening statement.
But Vindman said he was instructed “at the last second” not to attend the briefing.
Ex-Nunes aide claimed to be top expert:
Vindman said that Trump’s advisers worried that his presence would confuse Trump because the president already believed that longtime ex-Nunes aide Kash Patel was actually the White House’s top Ukraine expert.
Patel joined the White House after working for Nunes on the House Intelligence Committee.
Vindman said that his then-superior Fiona Hill, the director for European and Russian affairs, instructed him not to attend the meeting.
Hill told Vindman that then-national security adviser John Bolton believed it was the wise move to avoid “an uncomfortable situation.”
Patel pushed negative info about Ukraine:
“Vindman also testified that he was told Patel had been circumventing normal NSC process to get negative material about Ukraine in front of the president, feeding Trump’s belief that Ukraine was brimming with corruption and had interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Democrats,” Politico reported.
Vindman said he, Hill, and Bolton were forced to repeatedly counter that narrative.