White House official to testify, Democrats call first vote in Trump impeachment
Lt Colonel Alexander S Vindman, who dealt with Ukraine as a member of the White House national security council, was among officials assigned to listen to the July 25 phone call involving Donald Trump.Updated: Oct 29, 2019, 22:17 IST
A White House official is slated to tell congressional investigators Tuesday he was “concerned” to hear President Donald Trump press the Ukrainian leader in a July phone call probe a political rival and House Democrats have announced the first floor vote in the impeachment inquiry process for later in the week.
Lt Colonel Alexander S Vindman, who dealt with Ukraine as a member of the White House national security council, was among officials assigned to listen to the July 25 phone call in which Trump asked the newly elected Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to probe former Vice President Joe Biden, who is running for the Democratic presidential ticket, and his son Hunter Biden, for latter’s business dealings with a Ukrainian company.
“I was concerned by the call,” Vindman plans to say according to his opening remarks that had become available ahead of the hearing. “I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a US citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the US government’s support of Ukraine.” He conveyed his concerns to the national security council’s counsel.
Vindman is the first White House official to testify who had listened to the call, which is key to the impeachment inquiry against Trump, and his testimony is expected to bolster those by his former boss Fiona Hill, who was the top Russia adviser to the president, and William B Taylor, the acting ambassador Ukraine.
Earlier, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a floor vote on Thursday to authorize the impeachment inquiry and lay down rules and procedures for holding public hearings, in contrast to the closed-door depositions so far, including by Vindman.
The White House has refused to cooperate with the inquiry saying it has not been authorized by the House as was done in the previous two impeachments, Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. It is not a constitutional requirement, but Republicans have used it to question the legitimacy of the inquiry.
The White House is still not on board. Spokesperson Stephanie Grisham declined comment without seeing the actual text of the resolution to be voted upon, but said “Speaker Pelosi is finally admitting what the rest of America already knew – that Democrats were conducting an unauthorized impeachment proceeding”.