Strange media silence after Vindman testified he was offered job of Ukraine Minister of Defense 3 times
How is this not the major story coming out of the House Intelligence Committee “impeachment inquiry” hearings yesterday? A United States military officer serving in the White House with responsibilities for relations with a foreign country being offered the post of minister of defense of that country is shocking.
Yet, yesterday’s testimony by Lt.Col. Alexander Vindman that he was offered the position of Minister of Defense of Ukraine is not the subject of banner headlines today.
Vindman duly reported the offer up his chain of command, as any such offer must be reported. The fact that 2 other embassy staffers sitting with him when the offer was made, as he subsequently noted, made that report inescapable. He says that he did not take it seriously, calling it “somewhat comical” and “funny.” And the former Ukrainian official who made the offer, Oleksander Danylyuk, the former Chairman of the National Security and Defence Council in Ukraine, now claims it was made in jest. Erin Banc of The Daily Beast:
[A] former top national security official in Ukraine told The Daily Beast that he was “joking” when he offered Vindman the post and never actually had the authority to make such an offer.
Oleksander Danylyuk, the former Chairman of the National Security and Defence Council in Ukraine, said he only remembers speaking with Vindman once about the defense minister position. He said it he and Vindman had engaged in a light-hearted conversation about how the two used to live close to one another in the former Soviet Union. It was then that Danylyuk jokingly told Vindman that he should take the defense minister job in Ukraine.
“We both smiled and laughed,” Danylyuk said. “It was clearly a joke.” Danylyuk said he wouldn’t have been able to seriously offer Vindman the position without direct sign off from President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Even if we accept this account, people often make jokes about serious matters as a way of saying things they can’t directly address without the deniability humor provides. It’s hard to read a “joke” like this without understanding that Danylyuk was conveying a message that he sees Vindman as closely aligned with Ukraine’s interests – so much so that he could be in charge of its entire military.
But as a military officer with national security responsibilities, Vindman’s sole consideration ought to be the interests of the United States, not Ukraine. In the case of allies – even close allies – national interests are often somewhat different, and diplomats of the allied countries find themselves opposing each other on that basis. Excessive sympathy toward the goals of the counterpart state is not acceptable.
Tucker Carlson raised these concerns last night on his Fox News program:
Tucker: Wait, what? He was offered defense minister three times? Keep in mind that Alexander Vindman was born in Ukraine, speaks Ukrainian and clearly has strongly held views about Ukrainian Politics, views that may or may not align with U.S. Policy on the subject. Now we learn that the Ukrainian government repeatedly asked vindman to take formal control of the entire Ukrainian military, which, for the record, it is a very strange thing to ask of an active-duty American military officer. And yet somehow, that constellation of facts did not raise a single red flag for our self-appointed watchdogs in the news media. Alexander Vindman is hurting Trump, therefore he is an American hero. That’s what they know, and they don’t want to know any more than that. They are adamantly uninterested, for example, in the identity of the so-called whistle-blower.
The entire five-and-a-half-minute segment:
It seems pretty clear that the genesis of Vindman’s “concern” over the Trump-Zelensky phone conversation was his disagreement with the policies of the Trump administration toward Ukraine. He, like the Ukraine government, did not want US aid held up. Even though that was the policy at that moment of the United States Government as determined by its elected chief executive, a policy Vindman was duty-bund to support.
Update: I wish that Republicans had asked Vindman about his intereactions with Ukraine'sofficials when that country's government was interfering with the US presidential election in 2016. Victoria Toensing remembers:
Hey Dems. #ukraine ALSO interfered in 2016 election ...to help HRC. @NellieOhr testified Ukrainians helped her write dossier; Ukr Amb to US wrote OpEd in @thehill criticizing candidate @realDonaldTrump; DNC and Obama WH in Jan 2016 asked Ukr Embassy for dirt on Manafort. #maga— Victoria Toensing (@VicToensing) November 20, 2019
Photo credit: Grabien screen grab