Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman is a decorated combat veteran whose career in the armed services spanned more than two decades. Republicans are now trying to paint Vindman as having dual loyalty to Ukraine, the country he emigrated to the United States from as a small child.
During Vindman’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, Republican Counsel Steve Castor asked Vindman about receiving an offer to serve as Ukraine’s defense minister. The implication was that Vindman may not have been working in the best interest of the United States while serving on the National Security Council. Vindman seemed amused, if not offended, by the counsel’s line of questioning.
“I’m an American,” Vindman said. “I came here when I was a toddler. I immediately dismissed these offers. I did not entertain them.”
GOP counsel questions Lt. Col Vindman on offers to be the Minister of Defense for Ukraine.
Vindman: "I'm an American. I came here when I was a toddler and I immediately dismissed these offers. Did not entertain them…the whole notion is rather comical." https://t.co/I5tJy8CV9K pic.twitter.com/6mtDTGi8Xe
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) November 19, 2019
Castor wasn’t satisfied. “When he made this offer to you, initially, did you leave the door open?” he pressed. “Was there a reason he had to come back and ask you a second and third time, or was he just trying to convince you?”
Vindman laughed. “Counsel, you know what? The whole notion is rather comical that I was being asked to consider whether I’d want to be their minister of defense,” he said. “I did not leave the door open at all. It is pretty funny for a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, which isn’t really that senior, to be offered that illustrious of a position.”
The line of questioning came after conservative pundits have repeatedly highlighted Vindman’s birthplace as a reason to question whether he’s working on behalf of the United States. That includes Laura Ingraham. “Here we have a U.S. national-security official who is advising Ukraine while working inside the White House, apparently against the president’s interest,” she said last month on her Fox News show.
The White House joined in on Tuesday. Trump’s social media guru Dan Scavino tweeted about the job offer shortly after he testified, cutting out the portion of the video in which Vindman explains that he is an American and never considered the proposal.
— Dan Scavino Jr.🇺🇸 (@Scavino45) November 19, 2019
Democrats have lashed out at the attacks, both on Twitter and during the impeachment hearing. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) slammed the GOP’s line of questioning, making explicit its motives and implicit subtext. “That was designed exclusively to give the right-wing media an opening to question your loyalty,” he said.
This post has been updated.