Not in Westchester?
December 7, 2019
Celebrate the holidays by supporting local news. Use code GIFTOFJOURNALISM at checkout. Ends 12/31/19.

Politics

Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney questions Lt. Col. Alexander Vidman on Tuesday, Nov. 19 during the third day of impeachment hearings.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified on Tuesday during the House impeachment inquiry.

Westchester Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney Defends Lt. Col. Vindman's Impeachment Testimony

During House impeachment testimony on Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat from Cold Spring representing northern Westchester and parts of Rockland, Orange and Putnam counties, attempted to refute what the he called a smear campaign against Alexander Vindman, the decorated U.S. Army veteran and National Security Council expert on Ukraine and Eurasia.

Maloney told Vindman: "You  may have noticed there have been a lot of complaints... that your service is not to be trusted."

Republicans questioned why Vindman wore his military dress uniform to the hearing. Maloney gave the Lt. Colonel a chance to explain.

"Why would you wear a dress uniform today?" Maloney asked. 

“I have dedicated my entire professional life to the United States of America,” he said.

Vindman pointed out that he was a lifelong U.S. Army officer awarded the Purple Heart ribbon and Combat Infantry Badge in 2014 during a large urban battle outside Fallujah, Iraq.There, his vehicle was pierced by an Improvised Explosive Device, or IED. Although he was injured, Vindman returned to battle later the same day.  

"It was improper for the President to demand an investigation into a political opponent, especially by a foreign power," Vindman said during Maloney's questioning.

"What I heard was not appropriate,'" Vindman said of the July 25 call between President Trump and Ukraine's newly elected president. "I knew I had to report this to the White House counsel and report my concerns to the proper people in my chain-of-command."

Maloney then asked Vindman to reread a paragraph addressed to his father, who was a 47-year-old immigrant when he came to the United States, fleeing Russia: "Dad, my sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol is proof you made the right decision 40 years ago... Do not worry, I'll be fine for telling the truth. This is America. All my brothers served. Here, right matters."  

This triggered applause from the audience.

Maloney also asked if Vindman would call himself a "Never Trumper."

"I'd call myself a 'Never Partisan,'" Vindman replied. 

"We do not serve any political party. We serve the nation. The Army is the only profession I've known."

Ohio GOP Congressman Jim Jordan and fellow Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee asked Vindman if he was willing to help overturn the nation's 2016 presidential election mandate of 63 million American voters with his sworn testimony. He did not answer that question directly although it was repeated several times.

In his opinion, Vindman said that Russian President Vladimir Putin "was pushing the narrative that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election" in which Trump beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of Chappaqua.

Vindman described Ukraine as a "frontline state," meaning its leaders consider themselves a barrier between Russian aggression and Europe. Russia is still actively trying to expand into Ukraine, according to Vindman, who called the situation "stable but still a hot war."

In opening remarks, Rep. Devin Nunes, the committee's ranking Republican member from California, said, "Act one of the circus is over," before adding, "Democrats continue to poison the American people with this nonsense..."

Schiff, meanwhile, brought up former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who traveled to Ukraine as Trump's personal lawyer to follow-up on requests by Trump in his July 25 phone call. 

In Schiff's opinion, "Giuliani was not fighting corruption but inviting investigations of the Biden family." (Former vice resident-turned-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's son, Hunter, is accused of engaging in questionable business dealings overseas including in Ukraine.)

Tuesday's other leading witness was Jennifer Williams, a career service officer who joined the Department of Homeland Security in 2005. Williams said she previously worked in field operations for the the 2004 Bush/Cheney presidential campaign before serving at the U.S. Embassy in London. In 2019, Williams became special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence.  

Maloney's questioning, as broadcast by CNN, was posted on the New York congressman's Twitter page. It can be watched by clicking here.