Saturday, November 16, 2019

UPDATED: Did Vindman Falsify Trump's April Call With Zelensky?

The reason for the White House's release of the President Trump's first phone call on April 21, 2019, with the newly elected Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is now coming into focus. According to the Washington Examiner,

The White House is blaming Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman for misleading reporters about the contents of an April 21 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

At the time of that first phone call a "readout" or summary of the call was provided to the press. The "readout" was prepared, according to the White House, by the NSC's "Ukraine expert"--which can only mean Alexander Vindman. According to that "readout", Trump

"underscored the unwavering support of the United States for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity – within its internationally recognized borders – and expressed his commitment to work together with President-elect Zelensky and the Ukrainian people to implement reforms that strengthen democracy, increase prosperity, and root out corruption."

However the just released transcript of the conversation reveals that Trump said none of those things. The call was basically an exchange of congratulations and pleasantries, with Trump assuring Zelensky that high level US officials would attend Zelensky's inauguration, and inviting Zelensky to visit Washington, D. C.

What's the significance of this? It appears that Vindman--who is scheduled to testify publicly next week--was putting into Trump's mouth an affirmation of "Interagency" Ukraine policy, to try to box Trump into a position that may not have been his own policy. But that was all invented by Vindman, who is almost certainly the source for Eric Ciaramella's "whistleblowing".

The affirmation of "unwavering support of the United States for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity – within its internationally recognized borders" would naturally put Trump in direct conflict with Russia. The claim that Trump had made such an affirmation, as witnessed by the provision of a "readout" in those terms to the press, would make it more difficult for Trump to deal freely with Putin.

The "commitment to work together with President-elect Zelensky and the Ukrainian people to implement reforms that strengthen democracy, increase prosperity, and root out corruption," might seem at first glance to be unobjectionable. However, in context, that could be construed by the "Interagency" to authorize continued support for George Soros funded NGO "anti-corruption" activist groups--whose true aim was to smear Soros' competitors in Ukraine. (Cf. Impeachment Theater #2, and The Swamp Of Ukraine Corruption--And The Dems)

If Trump strayed from the "Interagency" policies, damaging leaks could be fed to the press, claiming that Trump was overturning policy that had been settled by his own administration. Now we also see why Trump approved the policy to place these call transcripts on a separate secure server.

This could make for interesting "theater" when Vindman testifies next week.

Other sources:

White House releases transcript of first Trump-Zelensky call

Summary of earlier Trump-Zelensky call released

UPDATE 1: I've been reviewing the testimony of Timothy Morrison, who replaced Fiona Hill in July, 2019, as head of the NSC Eastern Europe desk--meaning, Morrison succeeded Hill as supervisor of Alexander Vindman. Without getting into extracts from the transcript of Morrison's testimony, a certain consistent theme re Vindman jumps out:

1. During the transition of leadership, Morrison and Hill discussed the current status of the Eastern Europe desk, strengths and weaknesses--and personnel.

2. Hill told Morrison that she had concerns about Vindman's "judgment," obviously meaning that he exercised bad judgment and that Vindman was suspected of being a leaker.

3. Morrison testified that Vindman--who testified that "chain of command" was important to him--repeatedly failed to stay within the "chain of command".

4. Morrison was admonished not to provide a full answer to questions regarding examples of Vindman's disregard for the "chain of command" for the specific reason that a full answer might lead to identifying the "whistleblower".

5. In other words, Morrison is in possession of information that would show that Vindman was sharing information with Eric Ciaramella that Ciaramella was not entitled to have.

UPDATE 2: More from the Morrison transcript. Vindman was "not included", i.e., was excluded from foreign trips and was not allowed at meetings on certain (unspecified) policy areas, because of his "bad judgment" on who to share information with. Morrison also made sure that he never spoke with Vindman one-on-one. He was always careful to have someone else present when he spoke with Vindman.


  1. Since he proclaimed himself as such, it's good bet he did it.

    What hubris these people have.

    1. I read those articles several times and I don't think I misunderstood them. If this is what happened, Vindman should be in a world of hurt.

  2. Falsifying official government records?

    Seems to be a lot of that going around. Like it's unofficial SOP.

  3. I just read part of Morrison’s (Vindman’s boss’s) deposition and am struck by his civil servant attitude that the rule book rules - which is why those pesky irregulars like Sondland and Volker and Giuliani and…. are so troubling to him and to other ciphers like Taylor. But then Morrison knows what Hill told him - that Vindman’s judgment was poor - and he knows that Vindman did not follow the chain of command he always touted so highly. So who is really the weak link here? Morrison. The person in authority is responsible for the actions of those under his supervision. He knowingly let Vindman do all sorts of “irregular” things while he, Morrison, joined the chorus slamming “the irregulars”.

    I saw the same thing as an 18 year old clerk (GS2 or something) in a military supply base office. It is stunning to see it at this high level of our nation’s government.

    All of them would do well to read George Schulz’s anecdote about his test for new ambassadors - requiring them to spin the globe and put their hand on their country. They invariably went for their assigned country. He admonished them that “Your country is the United States.” Taylor, Morrison, Yovanovitch and Vindman could use that lesson.

    With all that we know now, it will be interesting to watch Vindman’s performance on Tuesday. It will be highly structured, very disciplined (by Schiff) and has been somewhat truncated to allow for less exposure. Will he show up again in his full dress uniform? I believe it was his idea to wear it for his deposition, not necessarily Lawfare’s as CTH opined. Along with his other faults, Vindman is a popinjay...

    1. "Along with his other faults, Vindman is a popinjay"

      I like that.

      We always used to say, the only thing required for adminstrative advancement was a willingness to relocate.

  4. Connecting dots.

    Roger Stone was recently prosecuted by DOJ (arguably over-prosecuted) for process crimes including perjury and then convicted of seven counts. Stone is a civilian allegedly involved in an election interference conspiracy.

    Alexander Vindman will soon be testifying under oath (again) in regard to conduct which may be construed as participation in a conspiracy to influence next year's presidential election. Vindman is government employee.

    It will be interesting to see if Barr holds Vindman to the same standard as was applied to Stone.

    Moral of this story. The insanity will not stop until someone pays a significant price for treachery and sedition.

    P.S. We are now two months away from the 3rd year anniversary of the coup against a duly elected president and not one single participant has been indicted.

    1. Accurate facts matter:

      1. Stone was not prosecuted by "DOJ". He was prosecuted by the USA for the District of Columbia--a presidential appointee in her own right. Mueller's remaining active cases--Concord Management, Flynn, Stone--were farmed out to local USA's before Team Mueller was disbanded. I presume because that would insulate the cases from Barr. Ask who was in charge before Barr.

      2. Barr, I'm confident, will hold Vindman to whatever standard is appropriate to Vindman. That may involve leaving his case to be handled under USCMJ--I have no idea who would have jurisdiction over Vindman.

      3. We're 9 mos. from Barr's appointment. Again, ask who was running things for the other 2+ years.

    2. When connecting dots, the first step is always: correctly identify the dots that are to be connected.

    3. Yes, yes and yes.

      Re Marks’s #2, as I understand it, the chain of command for Vindman is a bit muddy. He is a military officer but he has been detailed to various civilian agencies, most recently the NSC. In that position he has reported to a civilian supervisor, most recently Tim Morrison, who appears to have disregarded his predecessor Fiona Hill’s warning that Vindman’s judgment was faulty and his own assessment that Vindman did not follow the chain of command although he spoke of its importance. Another knot for Barr to disentangle.

      Re #3, as for the 3 year time frame for the coup that so many refer to when criticizing the time it has taken “and still no indictments”, does no one recall that a great deal of the evidentiary material was locked away because it was said to be part of the Weissman-Mueller investigation? That, plus Barr’s relatively recent arrival on the scene, plus the masses of additional information that have come to light recently do not make for a whiz-bang, quick and dirty “Law & Order”- type process.

      I have observed that those who admit to being lawyers are more sanguine about the time it is taking than some of the rest of us legal amateurs out here.

      PS. Rep. Ratcliffe is just telling Maria Bartiromo that IG Horowitz’s report is 500 pages long. He opines that it doesn’t take 500 pages to say everything is just fine. That there have to be some referrals for indictment in all those pages. He went on to say that Pelosi and Schiff are “racing” to get to the impeachment vote - to “frame the President” - before the Barr and Durham criminal reports become public.

    4. It sure looks like they're gonna lose that race.

  5. Would anybody be surprised if Vindman tampered with the 'readout'? Not me. Very sad, really. Sad for our country.

    On a different note, I've been cogitating about the concerns raised by many about the current performance of the GOP Senators.

    At first blush, and based on what we know as of now, it’s inconceivable, isn’t it? -- that all 53 Republicans wouldn't vote to acquit in the Senate. So why are most of them remaining quiet as the deeply-flawed House inquiry rolls out?

    Here're a few guesses.

    Unlike the 2018 midterms, the 2020 election puts the GOP majority in the Senate on the defensive. The GOP can only afford to lose three seats, provided Trump wins, two if he loses. It’s a slender lead and McConnell must avoid any missteps in the impeachment process that puts his party’s majority at risk.

    There will be 35 seats contested, 23 of which are held by Republicans, 12 by Dems. The Republicans have got more seats to lose and more which are thought to be vulnerable. Of the Republican seats, four are apparently rated ‘at risk’: McSally (AZ), Collins (ME). Gardner (CO) and Tilley (NC). Neither Collins nor Gardner voted for Trump in 2016. Given their reelection prospects, one can imagine these four being reluctant to commit now to any position they might regret later. Among the Dem seats, apparently only Doug Jones’ (AL) seat is rated ‘at risk’.

    That’s not to say that there couldn’t be a few upsets (on both sides), but its easy to see that the GOP majority in the Senate isn’t a lock.

    In addition to the four ‘at risk’ Republicans, the following six sitting Senators didn’t vote for Trump in 2016: Lindsey Graham (SC), Mike Lee (UT), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rob Portman (OH), Ben Sasse (NE) and Dan Sullivan (AK). You can draw your own conclusions which one's support Trump today.

    Then there are the eight Republican members of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee: In addition to Sasse and Collins, these are Burr (NC), Risch (ID), Rubio (FL), Blunt (MO), Cotton (AK), and Cornyn (TX). A couple of the foregoing are staunch Trump supporters but others have waffled and in any event the SSCI may have issues of its own regarding its actions in the early days of the unfolding Russia Hoax.

    And then there’s Pierre Delecto.

    I’m not suggesting that the afore-mentioned 19 GOP Senators (plus another one or two) will defect in an impeachment vote. What I am suggesting is that the Senate majority is precarious and that numerous GOP Senators either have, or have had, conflicting loyalties.

    This may explain the lack of thunderous support for Trump coming from the this stage of the game.

    1. It's frustrating, but we do need to allow for time to tell what's strategy, what's tactics, what the big picture of it all is. While reading the tea leaves to the best of our ability.

      I will say this. 2016 is totally different than 2020. In 2018 Trump with his barnstorming non stop campaigning for the Senate pulled off an unprecedented coup of his own--he grew the Senate majority in an off year election for his party. I'm sure that hasn't been lost on GOP senators.

    2. Mark, I think/hope we agree.

      To be clear, I suspect (based on what we know today) there will be overwhelming support for Trump among GOP Senators if and when they must vote. I'm also certain Mitch McConnell and friends appreciate what Trump did for them in 2018.

      I was only suggesting that there are some logical explanations (and probably many additional reasons) why 53 GOP Senators are not appearing on the Sunday shows to shout down Schiff from the rooftops -- as some have wanted them to.

    3. I wasn't intending to disagree, just trying to add additional context.

    4. So, GOP Senators are not full throated defending a president from their own party against seditious actions because they are afraid for their jobs?

      If that is anywhere close to being true, the GOP is dead.

    5. Cassander,

      On Fox News Sunday, a Dem from a red state came out against impeachment. He speculated that more than a few Dems want to move on. Not all Dems want to drive over the cliff.

      With respect to the Senate, the Reps would be suicidal to not acquit the President. But, I don't even think it goes that far.

      This has been an epic fail.

    6. Joe, that Dem wasn't from a Red State--he was from NJ, a predominantly Blue state.

      TexasDude, if the GOP loses the Senate they could be dead, anyway. This is politics, not theology. At this point there's not much that Senate GOPers can do that hasn't been done. Many probably believe--and not without reason--that when the Dems are out on a limb doing rope tricks the wise course of action is to simply watch.

    7. Thank you for correcting me.

      Bartiromo refers to red state Dems.

      My point is that there are a lot of left-wing crazies in the House but not all are. Some may privately want to impeach Trump but realize it's career suicide. And some may resent Adam Schiff, Nadler and others.

      I believe that the Kavanaugh farce helped save the Senate for the Reps. Sure Pelosi and others realize that the American People are not going to support impeachment if it's unwarranted.

    8. Joe -- Speaking of Nadler, Mark Levin asked Devin Nunes last night where Jerry Nadler has been recently and Nunes said, "I don't know. A witness protection program?" It was pretty funny.

      Nunes continues to impress me -- bigly.

      His interview with Levin was excellent. It seems the links on YouTube have been mysteriously cut short, however. Here is the best link I can find as of this morning (although its missing the last few minutes when they discuss Obama's involvement in all of this).

      Two takeaways (FWIW):

      1. The part of the interview where Nunes says that under Schiff the House Intelligence Committee has totally abdicated its responsibility to oversee intelligence matters as it pursues impeachment is chilling.

      2. Its a shame Trump was tricked into defending himself on 'quid pro quo'. Its so clear that there has been gross misconduct involving Ukraine and Trump was and is absolutely justified in trying to get to the bottom of it. This has nothing to do with the 2020 election (per se): it is all about the lawlessness and corruption of the Obama Administration and Trump's right to conduct his foreign policy based on a full understanding of all of the facts. The 'quid pro quo' claim, which I guess is now the 'bribery' claim, is simply a red herring -- all made up.

      Or so I think.

    9. Cassander, I'm mulling over a new post that will address #2 from a more general perspective of the way foreign policy was done throughout the Obama years. It's a bit of a slippery topic from a legal standpoint, but the implications for running a republic are very deep.

  6. I had no doubt that Vindman or whoever fabricated the press release description of the phone call. Anyone who has listened to Trump speak on such matters should have known that. However, it is likely the description was approved by Hill, even if Vindman prepared it.

    1. One would think so, but there's that story of how Vindman was caught trying to get access to the later call transcript.

  7. Vindman seems to be actively seeking indictment--none of what's described can be described as innocent mistakes or accidents of omission. He's overtly attending to an agenda.

    How is it that a Lt Col is a staff seat warmer working for a senior director of the NSC??

  8. "Vindman seems to be actively seeking indictment"

    Which fits with characterizations of him exhibiting "bad judgment." Or maybe, "very bad judgment."

    It seems crystal clear, as another commenter pointed out, that he was being groomed by the Army for mandatory retirement, because he was being passed over for promotions.

  9. If Vindman is actively seeking indictment, his case may be the Left's first opportunity to deploy its Guerilla Theater-type strategy, e.g. w/ activists blocking courtroom doors.

    1. They'll be gambling, that the MSM ballyhoos their whining about "police brutality".
      This just seems right up their alley, even if the odds don't favor it working as they hope.

    2. "Activists blocking courtroom doors." Mouse, if they do, we'll see how much resolve they have when they are getting hit by batons.

      As I have often commented here, these types are not profiles in courage. They haven't been tested. The cops stand by. Watch federal agents defend courtroom doors and they'll stand down.

  10. I believe little nebbish Vindman sees himself as a (Ukrainian) patriot, fearlessly going to bat for his native country. His real and true homeland. Invading the White House and taking on the President of the United States. (!) The irony in his needing his United States Army officer’s dress uniform to give him some clout - gold braid, medals, badges and all - seems to be lost on him.

    1. I've wondered where he's coming from in that regard. He was originally supposed to be dealing with Russian affairs on the NSC. Accounts of him from his fellow officers are that he was suspiciously chummy with the Russian officers they dealt with--even derisive of America and Americans. I've often thought that the hostility toward Putin in our globalist elites is driven by Putin's anti-globalism. Maybe that ideological tendency is at work here?

  11. Yeah, the hostility toward Putin in our globalist elites is driven by Putin's anti-globalism. And, his 2013 anti-gay propaganda legislation.

    1. Putin's friendships in Syria, Iran, and Iraq probably trouble some of our neo-con friends a bit, too, n'est-ce pas?

    2. Probably, but to be honest I'm not really sure how that works.

  12. I had forgotten the anecdote about Vindman’s having been in a class with Russian and American military personnel and mocking the Americans. Maybe he’s just been an opportunist playing all sides against the middle - or maybe the person telling the anecdote didn’t know the difference between Ukrainian military personnel and Russians?