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Impeachment probe told of ‘improper’ Trump phone call with Ukraine leader

Nine current and former US officials are giving evidence as the House’s impeachment inquiry accelerates.

State Department official and advisor to Vice President Mike Pence Jennifer Williams and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an expert on Eastern European affairs on the National Security Council.
State Department official and advisor to Vice President Mike Pence Jennifer Williams and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an expert on Eastern European affairs on the National Security Council.
Image: UPI/PA Images

ONE TOP NATIONAL security aide who listened to Donald Trump’s July call with Ukraine’s president called it “improper” while another said it was “unusual”.

The two gave evidence today at impeachment hearings as the inquiry reached deeper into the White House.

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, an Army officer at the National Security Council, and Jennifer Williams, his counterpart at Vice President Mike Pence’s office, said they had concerns as Trump spoke on July 25 with the newly elected Ukraine president about political investigations into Democrat Joe Biden.

“What I heard was inappropriate,” Lt Col Vindman told politicians.

Williams said: “I found the July 25th phone call unusual because, in contrast to other presidential calls I had observed, it involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter.”

Lt Col Vindman said he reported his concerns “out of a sense of duty”.

He did so, he said, “because they had significant national security implications for our country”.

An immigrant, who arrived in the US as a toddler from Ukraine, Lt Col Vindman told the panel he was grateful his father brought the family to the US 40 years ago and for “the privilege of being an American citizen and public servant, where I can live free of fear for mine and my family’s safety”.

In the audience was his twin brother, also an official at the National Security Council and among those he told about his concerns over Trump’s phone call.

Addressing his late father, he said: “Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.”

In all, nine current and former US officials are giving evidence as the House’s impeachment inquiry accelerates.

Democrats say Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rivals as he withheld US military aid Ukraine needed to resist Russian aggression may be grounds for removing the 45th president.

Trump says he did no such thing and the Democrats just want him gone.

The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Devan Nunes, began the hearing with an extended attack on the media and dismissed last week’s evidence as “second-hand and third-hand conversations”.

He blasted the hearing as a “hoax”.

Lt Col Vindman and the other witnesses have given evidence in earlier, closed-door sessions.

Their depositions have been publicly released.

“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a US citizen,” said Lt Col Vindman.

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