Top White House Ukraine Expert Says Trump Request for Biden Probe Was Improper

A White House official testified in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump on Tuesday that a phone call the president made to ask Ukraine to investigate his political rivals was improper, and denounced attacks on witnesses in the investigation.

Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the White House National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert, testified at the third public hearing in the impeachment effort before the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.

The inquiry focuses on a July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to carry out two investigations that would benefit him politically including one targeting Democratic political rival Joe Biden. The other involved a debunked conspiracy theory embraced by some Trump allies that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 US election.

“It was inappropriate, it was improper for the president to request – to demand – an investigation into a political opponent, especially (from) a foreign power where there is at best dubious belief that this would be a completely impartial investigation and that this would have significant implications if it became public knowledge,” Vindman told the committee.

Vindman, an Iraq war veteran who appeared at the hearing wearing his Army uniform and medals, has been publicly criticized by Trump along with other witnesses.

“I want to state that the vile character attacks on these distinguished and honorable public servants is reprehensible. It is natural to disagree and engage in spirited debate, this has been our custom since the time of our Founding Fathers, but we are better than callow and cowardly attacks,” Vindman said without mentioning Trump.

This Tuesday, Trump told reporters he does not know Vindman. “I never saw the man. I understand now he wears his uniform when he goes in.” “Vindman, I watched him for a little while this morning, and I think he – I’m going to let people make their own determination,” Trump, who last month called Vindman a “Never Trumper,” a term to describe Republicans who oppose him.