Alexander Vindman is a U.S. Army official and the Director of European Affairs for the National Security Council. He was awarded a Purple Heart for his service in Iraq, after he was injured from an IED attack during his deployment. He is also known as the top Ukraine expert for the National Security Council, and was one of the government officials present for the July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelensky, in which Trump asked the foreign leader to investigate the Biden family.
Vindman is expected to testify Tuesday about the concerns he had regarding the July 25 phone call. In an opening statement acquired early by The New York Times, Vindman confirmed that he first flagged his concern by moving through the appropriate chains of command. He said,
I did convey certain concerns internally to National Security officials in accordance with my decades of experience and training, sense of duty, and obligation to operate within the chain of command. As an active duty military officer, the command structure is extremely important to me.
You can read the full opening statement here. In it, Vindman further confirms that he is not the original whistleblower, but that the phone call did raise concerns of his own. He was expected to testify on November 19.
On November 19, 2019, Vindman brought up his brother (who was present) and father during testimony to Congress. He declared himself “grateful to be a U.S. citizen,” in a country where “I can live free.” He then spoke to his father (who was not present), saying that the fact he was sitting in the U.S. Capitol speaking freely as he was was “proof you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union… do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.”
Here’s what you need to know about Alexander Vindman:
1. Vindman Is the Top Ukraine Expert on the National Security Council
Vindman, a Ukranian-American immigrant, is the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, according to the New York Times. He was elected to the council in July 2018. Prior to his work on the National Security Council, he was working as a military affairs officer for Russia for the chairman of the joint chiefs, according to his opening statement.
Per his LinkedIn, Vindman attended Binghamton University as an undergraduate. He later attended Harvard University for graduate school. Specifically, he enrolled in Harvard’s REECA Master’s Program, which is based at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
2. Vindman Was Awarded a Purple Heart After He Was Injured in an IED Attack in Iraq
Vindman has served for over two decades in the United States Army. He was awarded a Purple Heart after being injured in an IED attack while he served in Iraq. Per his opening statement, he also served overseas tours in Germany and South Korea.
Vindman’s military career began in January 1999, according to his LinkedIn. He worked as an infantry officer for just under ten years, before being promoted to a foreign area officer in 2008. He is still serving as a foreign area officer, per his LinkedIn. In total, he has served for the U.S. Army for just shy of 21 years.
Vindman’s LinkedIn bio reads,
Service in political-military advisory roles.
Specialties: Extensive leadership experience.
Russian and Ukrainian language fluency.
Expertise in civil-military relations.”
Vindman is now a director for European affairs at the National Security Council as well. He offered up some details about his daily work life for the NSC in his opening statement, explaining, “In my position, I coordinate with a superb cohort of inter-agency partners. regularly prepare internal memoranda, talking points, and other materials for the National Security Advisor and senior staff.”
3. Vindman Was Present for the July 25 Phone Call Between Trump & the President of Ukraine
Vindman is the first official who was present for Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelenksy to speak out publicly on the matter. In his opening statement, he emphasized that he is not the whistleblower, nor does he have interest in speculating over who the whistleblower is.
However, Vindman does confirm that he had his own apprehensions about the details of the call in his opening statement. He references various aspects of the phone call in the opening statement, but focuses primarily on a section of the call where Trump asked Zelensky to “look into” the Biden family.
Specifically, Trump said, “There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it…it sounds horrible to me.”
Vindman addresses this request by Trump in his opening statement. He says,
I was concerned by the call. I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen , and I was worried about the implications for the U .S . government’ s support of Ukraine. realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained. This would all undermine U.S. national security.
4. Vindman Is a First-Generation American Whose Family Fled the Soviet Union
Vindman’s opening statement, as initially acquired by The New York Times, reveals a bevy of information about the Lieutenant Colonel’s early days. The first generation American immigrated from the Soviet Union when he was only three years old, he explained.
He says further in the statement,
Upon arriving in New York City in 1979, my father worked multiple jobs to support us, all the while learning English at night. He stressed to us the importance of fully integrating into our adopted country. For many years, life was quite difficult. In spite of our challenging beginnings, my family worked to build its own American dream. I have a deep appreciation for American values and ideals and the power of freedom.
Vindman emphasizes his immigrant roots within the opening statement. He says at one point, “The privilege of serving my country is not only rooted in my military service, but also in my personal history. I sit here, as a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army, an immigrant.”
A page by Carol Kitman photography describes the Vindman family in greater detail. The page says the photographer “first saw Sanya and genya Vindman and their grandmother, Mrs. Kalmanovitch, under the El on Brighton Beach Avenue in Brooklyn’s ‘Little Odessa'” Sanya and Genya were the names given to Vindman and his twin at that time.
That was more than 30 years ago. “The Vindman family had emigrated to the US from Kiev in the Ukraine in December of 1979. Semyon Vindman wanted a free and better life for his 3 sons – the twins, then 4, and 11 year old Leonid. Their mother had recently died, in Kiev and when they came to America, their maternal grandmother came along to help with the boys,” the page continues.
“I think their father felt they would do better in the United States as Jews,” Kitman told The New York Times. Kitman’s page is filled with pictures of the Vindman family throughout the years.
5. Vindman, Who Has a Twin Brother, Married Rachel Cartman
The Kitman photography page contains a photo of Alexander Vindman’s wedding to Rachel Cartmill. They married in Oklahoma City OK on May 18 2006. She is the daughter of a high school football coach from Oklahoma, according to her father’s obituary. An obituary for her mother described Rachel’s husband as “US Army Major Alex Vindman of Moscow, Russia,” at that time, in 2013.
He has a Facebook page but it doesn’t have anything visible on it except a profile picture. Online posts show he enjoys hiking.
Alex Vindman’s older brother Leonid Simon Vindman is “founder and Managing Partner, Tungsten Capital Advisors” and “has approximately thirty years of experience in the financial markets.”
“During the past twenty five years, he has been focusing predominantly on Central Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia where he completed some of the biggest investment and advisory transactions in the region,” his company website says. “He also completed transactions in the Middle East, and traveled extensively in Asia and Africa.’
Vindman has a twin brother named Yevgeny, who “is a lieutenant colonel in the Army and serves on the NSC as a lawyer handling ethics issues,” Daily Beast reports.
According to his opening statement, Vindman never met or spoke with Trump personally. He said specifically, “I have never had direct contact or communications with the President.”
Vindman does have other ties to the Oval Office, though they are indirect and professionally related. He was sent as a part of a presidential delegation to attend the inauguration of Zelensky in May, per a White House press release.
Per the release, the following members comprised the delegation:
His Excellency Kurt Volker, United States Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations
His Excellency Gordon D. Sondland, United States Ambassador to the European Union
Mr. Alexander Vindman, Director for European Affairs, National Security Council
Mr. Joseph Pennington, Acting Deputy Chief of Mission for the United States Embassy in Ukraine
Vindman’s expected testimony marks the first time for a White House official who directly listened to the Ukraine call to testify.