Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is a name that might not be familiar to you, and if not for the ongoing impeachment inquiry in the House, we may never have known him. That would be our loss, because on Tuesday morning he gave an eloquent opening statement that expresses with great poignancy the positive side of being an immigrant—a side that is all too easy to forget in light of our recent nightmares.
First, Vindman: He’s the “top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council,” to quote the Times, and his testimony on Tuesday in the public hearing follows closed-door testimony a month ago in which he outlined his misgivings with Trump’s Ukraine policy—misgivings he had reported to his superiors. His first report came in July after witnessing the U.S. ambassador to the EU tell Ukrainian officials of “the importance that Ukraine deliver investigation into the 2016 elections” and pursue a similar investigation into Hunter Biden. This, of course, was later repeated in a phone call Trump made with the Ukrainian president, but Vindman was one of the first to see it unfolding. After that phone call, which Vindman also listened to, he directly advised Volodymyr Zelensky, the president, to avoid getting entangled in Trump’s electoral drama.
As the Times noted, Lt. Col. Vindman served in Iraq and received a purple heart due to injuries sustained from a roadside bomb. And importantly, in the context of the video below, he and his family moved from the Ukraine, then a Soviet satellite, when he was only three years old.
With that knowledge in mind, watch the end of Vindman’s opening statement from Tuesday morning, in which he reckons with the difference between his own situation, and what that might look like in the Soviet Union, and concludes with a message to his father:
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Vindman’s testimony is ongoing at the time of writing.