According to Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, “[T]he White House transcript of a July call between President Trump and Ukraine’s president omitted crucial words and phrases.”
More from the explosive piece of reporting from The New York Times:
The omissions, Colonel Vindman said, included Mr. Trump’s assertion that there were recordings of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. discussing Ukraine corruption, and an explicit mention by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, of Burisma Holdings, the energy company whose board employed Mr. Biden’s son Hunter.
Colonel Vindman, who appeared on Capitol Hill wearing his dark blue Army dress uniform and military medals, told House impeachment investigators that he tried to change the reconstructed transcript made by the White House staff to reflect the omissions. But while some of his edits appeared to have been successful, he said, those two corrections were not made.
Colonel Vindman did not testify to a motive behind the editing process. But his testimony is likely to drive investigators to ask further questions about how officials handled the call, including changes to the transcript and the decision to put it into the White House’s most classified computer system — and whether those moves were meant to conceal the call’s most controversial aspects.
Vindman’s testimony confirms the cover-up
It’s important to know that even the edited White House version of the Ukraine call transcript was damning. It confirmed the initial whistleblower complaint that Trump put national security at risk by shaking down a foreign power for political assistance.
Still, Vindman’s testimony shows that Trump’s call with Ukraine was much more controversial and damning than previously known. Both presidents discussed Biden and his son in more detail than the initial transcript indicated, undercutting Trump’s argument that he was more interested in the general subject of corruption than he was about the Bidens.
Vindman’s testimony also confirms that the White House did, indeed, try to cover up the contents of the call – not only by putting it in a top-secret server but by essentially scrubbing the transcript of the most damning words and phrases.
“It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up,” is a phrase commonly associated with presidential scandals dating back to Watergate. In Trump’s case, there is ironclad evidence of a crime and cover-up.