Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified before a public hearing on the impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, told members of the committees involved that President Donald Trump’s words to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky seemed to him to be an order rather than a request.
Trump asked Zelensky during their July 25 phone call to investigate Joe Biden and his son, as well as look into a debunked conspiracy theory that alleges a DNC email server may be in Ukraine. Trump said he would like Kyiv “to do us a favor,” according to a memorandum of their call together.
That memorandum is not a verbatim transcript of the call between Trump and Zelensky, however — a point that is made on the document itself, as well as from prior testimony from Vindman behind closed doors, CNN reported.
On Tuesday, Vindman claimed that the request from Trump to Zelensky was more direct than the memo makes it out to be.
Vindman on Trump's conversation with Ukraine's president: "In this case, the power disparity between the two leaders, my impression is that in order to get the White House meeting, President Zelensky would have to deliver these investigations" https://t.co/OZ2lHu07Z6 pic.twitter.com/JplStnxBVn
— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 19, 2019
“The culture I come from, the military culture, when a senior asks you to do something, even if it’s polite and pleasant, it’s not to be taken as a request, it’s to be taken as an order,” Vindman said in his public deposition.
Vindman added that, in order to secure a highly publicized meeting between the two parties, it was, in his view, necessary for Zelensky to adhere to Trump’s request.
“In this case, the power disparity between the two leaders — my impression is that, in order to get the White House meeting, President Zelensky would have to deliver these investigations,” Vindman said.