House Intelligence Ranking Member, Devin Nunes (R-CA), questioned Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an Army officer who works for the National Security Council, on Tuesday pertaining to information about President Trump’s phone call on July 25 with Ukranian President Zelenksky.
During his line of questioning, however, House Intelligence Chairman, Adam Schiff (D-CA) interrupted Nunes after Vindman admitted that he gave out information about the call to people “outside of the White House.”
“Lt. Col. Vindman, did you discuss the July 25th phone call with anyone outside the White House on July 25 or July 26? And if so, with whom?” Rep. Nunes asked.
“Yes, I did. My core function is to coordinate U.S. government policy, interagency policy and I spoke to two individuals with regards to providing some sort of readout of the call,” Vindman answered.
“Two individuals, that were not in the White House?” Nunes asked, to which Vindman responded, “Two individuals that were cleared U.S. government officials with appropriate need to know.”
“And what agencies were these officials with?” Nunes asked, to which Vindman replied, “Department of State, Deputy assistant secretary George Kent, who is responsible for the portfolio– eastern Europe, including Ukraine. And [an] individual ‘in the intelligence community.'” (Continued Below)
“As you know the intelligence community has 17 different agencies; what agency was this individual from?” Nunes asked.
Schiff immediately interjected to say, “We don’t want to use these proceedings to… we need to protect the whistleblower. I want to make sure that there is no effort to out the whistleblower through these proceedings. If the witness has a good faith belief that this may reveal the identity of the whistleblower, that is not the purpose that we are here for. And I want to advise the witness accordingly.”
Nunes reclaimed his time and asked, “You testified in your deposition that you did not know the whistleblower, to which Vindman responded, “Ranking member, it’s Lt. Col. Vindman, please.” (Continued Below)
Nunes repeated the question and addressed Lt. Col. Vindman as asked, to which Vindman said he does not know who the whistleblower is.
“How is it possible for you to name these people and then out the whistleblower?” Nunes asked.
“Per the advice of my counsel, I’ve been advised not to answer specific questions about members of the intelligence community,” Vindman claimed.
Nunes then asked, “Are you aware that this is the Intelligence Committee that’s conducting an impeachment hearing?”, to which Vindman replied, “Of course, I am.”
“Wouldn’t the appropriate place for you to come to, to testify, would be the intelligence committee about someone within the intelligence community?” Nunes asked, to which Vindman responded, “Ranking member, per the advice of my counsel, and the instructions from the Chairman, I’ve been advised to not provide any specifics on who I’ve spoken to with inside the intelligence community. What I can offer is that this was a properly cleared individual with a ‘need to know’.
“You can plead the fifth, but you’re here to answer questions and you’re here under subpoena. So you can either answer the question or you can plead the fifth,” Nunes demanded. (Continued Below)
Lt. Col. Vindman’s council interjected to say, “On behalf of my client, we are here following the rules of the committee, rule of the chair, with regard to this issue. And this does not call for an answer that is invoking the fifth or any theoretical issue like that. We’re following the ruling of the chair.”
“What ruling is that?” Nunes asked, to which Schiff interjected again to say, “The council is correct. The whistleblower has the statutory right to anonymity used to out the whistleblower.”
“Well we’ve attempted to subpoena the whistleblower to sit for a deposition, the chair has tabled that motion and unwilling to recognize those motions over the last few days of this impeachment inquisition process,” Nunes explained.
Last month, former Fox News’ Chief Intelligence correspondent, Catherine Herridge, however, pointed out last month the law Lt. Col. Vindman may have violated with his post-Ukraine phone call actions, according to his opening statement of his deposition that was conducted behind closed doors. (Video Below)
“One thing that caught my attention is that Vindman said he shared it with people who were relevant and had sort of a ‘need to know’ and ‘proper security clearances,’” Herridge said. “The reason that matters is that presidential phone calls are ‘highly classified’, and if they’re shared with people who don’t have a ‘need to know’, that would be a potential violation of the ‘leaking statute’, which is 18 U.S.C. 798”. (18 U.S.C. 798: Disclosure of classified information)
Rep. Devin Nunes questions Lt. Col. Vindman: