Just moments after Donald Trump ended a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July, a national security aide reportedly rushed to a White House lawyer with an ominous warning — “The president did something wrong.”
A report from The Washington Post is shedding new light on the events that immediately followed the July 25 phone call, which has now sparked an impeachment inquiry of the president. As the report noted, Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was listening to the call and became so troubled after hearing Trump press his Ukrainian counterpart to dig up dirt on political foe Joe Biden that he sought out White House lawyer John Eisenberg to report what he had heard.
As the report added, Eisenberg allegedly tried to hide evidence of Trump’s attempts to pressure Zelensky by moving the notes of the call into a highly classified server.
“Scribbling notes on a yellow legal pad, Eisenberg proposed a step that other officials have said is at odds with long-standing White House protocol: moving a transcript of the call to a highly classified server and restricting access to it, according to two people familiar with Vindman’s account,” the report noted.
Vindman testified this week as part of the impeachment inquiry, reportedly telling members of Congress that he objected to Trump’s attempts to place pressure on Ukraine even before the call took place. During the phone call, Trump reportedly asked Zelensky to investigate a debunked theory that a computer server for the Democratic National Committee was being stashed in Ukraine — a server that conspiracy theorists claim has evidence that Russia did not hack the DNC during the 2016 presidential election. Trump also called on Zelensky to launch an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Donald Trump and some Republican pundits have responded to Vindman’s testimony with personal attacks against the U.S. Army colonel. Trump referred to him as a “never Trumper” in a statement on Twitter, and Fox News host Laura Ingraham led a discussion that questioned whether the Ukrainian-born Vindman could really be loyal to the United States.
But many other top Republicans stepped in to defend Vindman, with Mitt Romney saying that the attacks against him were “disgusting” and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remarking that he would not question the patriotism of any of the people who came forward to testify in the impeachment inquiry. Liz Cheney also slammed Fox News as “shameful” for some attacks and for questioning Vindman’s loyalty.
Donald Trump has claimed that there was nothing wrong with his phone call with Zelensky, saying that the impeachment inquiry is a politically motivated witch hunt.