'Ranking member, it's Lt. Col. Vindman': NSC director corrects Devin Nunes in testy exchange over House Intelligence Committee rules

'Ranking member, it's Lt. Col. Vindman': NSC director corrects Devin Nunes in testy exchange over House Intelligence Committee rules
Images via Screengrab.

The third day of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump started with testimony from two more witnesses: Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman (National Security Council director for European affairs) and Jennifer Williams (foreign policy adviser for Vice President Mike Pence). After House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Democratic Party attorney Daniel Goldman questioned Vindman and Williams extensively on Tuesday morning, Republican Rep. Devin Nunes (a member of the House Intelligence Committee) had a chance to ask them some questions. And things got testy right away.


Nunes — a far-right defender of Trump who has repeatedly described the impeachment inquiry as a “hoax” — immediately set out to discredit Vindman’s testimony. And when the California congressman referred to Vindman as “Mr. Vindman,” the decorated U.S. military veteran set him straight: “Ranking member, it’s Lt. Col. Vindman, please.”

The exchange was also testy when Schiff voiced concerns that Nunes might be trying to “out the whistleblower.”

Schiff asserted, “We need to protect the whistleblower…. I want to make sure that there’s no effort to out the whistleblower through these proceedings.”

Vindman was equally firm, telling Nunes, “Per the advice of my counsel, I have been advised not to answer specific questions about members of the intelligence community…. What I can offer is that these were properly cleared individuals — or was a properly cleared individual — with a need to know.”

Nunes told Vindman, “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.”

Vindman’s attorney interjected that his client was abiding by the rules of the House Intelligence Committee, and Schiff reiterated, “the whistleblower has the right, the statutory right to anonymity. These proceedings will not be used to out the whistleblower.”

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