On Tuesday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff quickly interrupted LTC Alexander Vindman’s testimony when Vindman admitted that he had spoken to others about the Ukraine call.
Ranking Republican member Devin Nunes was following a line of questioning into the July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President, asking who Vindman might have spoken to about the phone call and his concerns about the implications of that call.
“Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, did you discuss the July 25th phone call with anyone outside the White House on July 25th or the 26th and if so with whom?” Davin Nunes asked.
“Yes. I did,” Vindman replied. “My core function is to coordinate U.S. Government policy and I spoke to two individual with regards to providing a — some sort of readout of the call … Not in the White House. Cleared U.S. Government officials with the appropriate need to know.”
“And what agencies were these officials with?” Nunes pressed.
Vindman stated that one of the people he also spoke to was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, who testified before the committee last week. He also said that he told an unnamed official within the intelligence community, as The Daily Caller reported.
“As you know, the intelligence community has 17 different agencies. What agency was this individual from?” Davin Nunes asked for more clarification, at which point Adam Schiff interrupted.
“If I could interject here. We don’t want to use the proceedings…” Schiff began.
“It’s our time,” Nunes protested.
“But we need to protect the whistle-blower. Please stop. I want to make sure that there is no effort to out the whistle-blower through these proceedings. If the witness has a good faith belief that this may reveal the identity of the whistle-blower, that is not the purpose that we’re here for. I want to advise the witness accordingly,” Schiff continued.
Davin Nunes then pointed out that LTC Vindman had, in his deposition, stated that he did not know the identity of the whistle-blower — which Vindman confirmed. “How it is possible for you to name the people and then out the whistle-blower?” Nunes asked then.
“Per the advice of my counsel, I have been advised not to answer specific questions about members of the intelligence community,” Vindman said.
“This is — are you aware this is the Intelligence Committee that is conducting the impeachment hearing?” Nunes asked. “Wouldn’t it be appropriate for you to come to testify to the intelligence community about somebody about the intelligence community?”
Vindman stated his objection again and clarified only that the person or people he spoke to “were properly cleared individuals or was a properly cleared individual with a need to know.”
“This is — you can really plead the fifth,” Nunes pushed back. “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 also jumped to his defense, saying that he was just following the rules set forth by the chair. Adam Schiff concurred, repeating his concern that the hearing not be used as an attempt to out the whistle-blower.
“Well, we’ve attempted to subpoena the whistle-blower,” Nunes said. “The Chair has tabled that motion and has an unwilling to recognize those motions over the last few days of this impeachment inquisition process.”