One of Donald Trump’s least persuasive defenses in the Ukraine scandal is his assertion that his White House team wasn’t bothered by his “perfect” July 25 conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “There were many people listening to the call,” the president wrote on Twitter yesterday. “How come they … found NOTHING wrong with it.”
Keep this in mind when reading the Washington Post’s overnight report on what transpired at the White House in the immediate aftermath of the call.
Moments after President Trump ended his phone call with Ukraine’s president on July 25, an unsettled national security aide rushed to the office of White House lawyer John Eisenberg.
Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine adviser at the White House, had been listening to the call and was disturbed by the pressure Trump had applied to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rivals, according to people familiar with Vindman’s testimony to lawmakers this week.
Vindman told Eisenberg, the White House’s legal adviser on national security issues, that what the president did was wrong, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.
According to the Post’s reporting, Eisenberg heard Vindman out, took some notes, and proposed moving a rough transcript of the Trump/Zelensky call “moving a transcript of the call to a highly classified server and restricting access to it.”
In other words, based on this account, the White House’s legal adviser on national security issues heard a witness present him with credible evidence of presidential wrongdoing, and the lawyer’s next step was to try to cover it up.
What’s more, as the Post’s article added, Eisenberg was “already familiar with concerns among White House officials about the administration’s attempts to pressure Ukraine for political purposes,” because earlier in July, Vindman had reported on European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian officials to go after the Bidens.
Obviously, this makes Trump’s assertions from yesterday appear ridiculous, but more important is the implications of the breadth and scope of the White House scandal.
All of this, of course, is information the congressional impeachment investigators are now aware of. Lawmakers have also invited John Eisenberg to testify on Capitol Hill on Monday.
Among the questions: who else was involved in the decision to hide the call?