House impeachment investigators just released the testimony of decorated war veteran Col. Alexander Vindman, and his recollections place President Trump’s “acting” Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney right in the center of their plot to extort the Ukrainian government in exchange for political favors.
Col. Vindman is the National Security Council’s (NSC) Ukraine expert, who late last month gave crucial eye-witness testimony about the President’s solicitation of a political favor from a foreign leader and his unsuccessful attempts to correct the memorandum of that phone conversation.
But the complete transcript House impeachment investigators released today adds a major piece in the puzzle, linking former South Carolina House Republican Mick Mulvaney directly to Trump withholding of $391,000,000 in Defense Department and State Department aid to Ukraine.
Mick Mulvaney is not just Trump’s “Acting” Chief of Staff—which is the literal gatekeeper to the office of the President—but he also is still the head of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which is the controls financial and management operations for the entire executive branch. This morning, the President’s top aide Mulvaney refused a Congressional subpoena to appear at an impeachment deposition in front of House investigators.
Newly released testimony from Col. Vindman indicates that at a West Wing meeting in the White House this past July, EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland—who abruptly changed his testimony to admit that he knew Trump was directing him in an illegal scheme—told the NSC staffer, National Security Advisor John Bolton, former NSC Russia expert Fiona Hill, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and a delegation of two high-ranking Ukrainians that it was Mick Mulvaney who was “coordinating” getting the “deliverable” in his role as OMB Director.
In this case, the “deliverable” Trump’s EU Ambassador outlined was a public statement by the President of Ukraine that he would investigate the 2016 election. The transcript of Col. Vindman’s testimony (embedded in full below) with questioning by former SDNY prosecutor Daniel Goldman (Q) reads:
New testimony today shows that the effort to get Ukraine to investigate 2016 was actually an idea that originated with convicted former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, as a cover story for Donald Trump to pardon him on tax crimes and charges of unregistered foreign lobbying for pro-Kremlin oligarchs. The president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani met with Manafort in prison to discuss the scheme.
From Vindman’s testimony, it appears that Vice President Joe Biden’s April 25th public start of his campaign for the Democratic nomination in 2020 was a direct impact on the thinking of the three officials—known as the “Three Amigos“—who wrested Ukraine policy away from the experts and who later attended the above-referenced meeting in July outlining the “deliverable.”
Amazingly, the Colonel described an ever-increasing series of demands to House investigators, coming from the President’s crony Ambassador, the Portland hotelier Gordon Sondland. He says that initially, the President’s private diplomatic team was more concerned with getting an investigation of Democrats and the 2016 election. The transcript reads on page 30, also with Mr. Goldman asking questions:
A: Initially… the narrative was just about 2016. As time moved on through the spring and summer, the narrative had changed to both the preceding, I guess, issues that — with Ukraine and interference to also the Bidens and their involvement in, you know, any misdealings there.
Q: And when you say “the narrative ” what do you mean?
A: So I saw this unfold, a lot of this unfold, frankly, in the press. And the initial stony line was on, you know, on — the initial story line was focused on Ukrainian interference in 2016 elections. And then, subsequently, it was the Bidens began to be incorporated into this narrative and that Hunten Biden, who was on the board of this firm Bunisma…
In short, the Iraq War veteran’s testimony drives home the point that the President was not withholding hundreds of millions in security aid for any legitimate national security purpose but just to get help in next year’s election.
Mick Mulvaney was the key link to both President Trump and the money.
Chief of Staff Mulvaney is the same official who shocked the President and his Republican defenders at a press conference last month when he admitted the truth—under questioning by an ABC reporter—about how he and the President were demanding a quid pro quo from Ukraine in exchange for the release Congressionally appropriated funds that he, a former legislator, would know is both improper and illegal to do.
Today’s release of the impeachment evidence from Col. Vindman’s sworn testimony provides an exclamation point to the Mulvaney “quid pro quo” press conference because he is the one person with the raw authority as OMB Director to stop payment on America’s foreign aid obligations, and with unfettered full-time access to the President.
Here’s a copy of the complete transcript of Col. Alexander Vindman’s testimony to the impeachment inquiry:
— Grant Stern (@grantstern) November 8, 2019
Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report. Find out more at grantstern.com.