Impeachment witness Vindman blows apart 'preposterous' Ukraine story cited by Trump as excuse for firing ambassador

Impeachment witness Vindman blows apart 'preposterous' Ukraine story cited by Trump as excuse for firing ambassador
Vindman Screengrab

On Saturday, The Daily Beast reported that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council official who offered extensive testimony on the events of the Ukraine scandal, went out of his way to debunk the "investigative reporting" of a right-wing journalist whose work formed the basis for President Donald Trump and his allies to go after former Vice President Joe Biden's family.

John Solomon, a longtime reporter who served as a columnist and executive vice president for the D.C.-centered newspaper The Hill, wrote several articles about the supposedly corrupt efforts by Biden to push out a Ukraine general prosecutor, and made appearances on Sean Hannity's Fox News show to promote them. Later reporting revealed that Solomon was in contact with allies of Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani, and his colleagues at The Hill have blasted him for embarrassing their newsroom.

One of Solomon's most influential pieces was an interview with former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, who claimed that officials in his country leaked information on Paul Manafort to help Hillary Clinton and that former U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovith gave him a "do-not-prosecute" list while working to help Clinton sabotage Trump. This likely formed the basis for Trump's decision to fire Yovanovitch — who was trying to raise red flags about Trump's efforts to extort Ukraine with military aid — as ambassador.

According to The Daily Beast, when Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) — an ally of Trump — asked Vindman about Solomon's reporting, Vindman called it a "false narrative," which he knew to be untrue based on "authoritative sources." He added that he talked to "interagency colleagues from State and the Intelligence Community" who found Solomon and Lutsenko's claims against Yovanovitch "preposterous ... I think all the key elements are false."

"Just so I understand what you mean when you say key elements," Zeldin said. "Are you referring to everything John Solomon stated or just some of it?"

"All the elements that I just laid out for you," Vindman said. "The criticisms of corruption were false. Were there more items in there, frankly, congressman? I don’t recall. I haven’t looked at the article in quite some time, but you know, his grammar might have been right."

Vindman's testimony matches up with that of U.S. diplomat George Kent, who said in his interview with impeachment investigators that Solomon's reporting, "if not entirely made up of full cloth ... was primarily non-truths and non-sequiturs."

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