Alexander Vindman and his brother twin, Yevgeny, were 4 old when they landed in the United States, settling in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. As a kids, the twins often dressed alike.Now they both work in the White House, both for the National Security Council.
Grateful to the nation that adopted them, the twins enlisted in the U.S. Army and launched careers in government. Today, at 44, Vindman is a military man in a job that puts a premium on discretion — and the commander in chief, without evidence, calls him a “Never Trumper witness.” .
Because now Vindman is suddenly a crucial figure in a controversy that could lead to the impeachment of President Trump — hailed by many of Trump’s critics as a patriotic truth-teller yet dismissed by the president and some of his allies as a disloyal tattler who is somehow not fully American.
But those who have worked with Vindman describe him as a model officer.
“He was firm and he was balanced,” said Peter Zwack, a now-retired brigadier general who was Vindman’s boss when the young officer was a Defense Department official working in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
As director of European affairs for the National Security Council, Vindman was required to listen in to the July 25 phone call between Trump and the president of Ukraine, where Vindman was born. After the call, Vindman felt compelled to report his alarm over hearing the president request that Ukraine investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
Washington scandals have at times over the years featured previously anonymous bureaucrats who glimpsed wrongdoing and found themselves thrust into instant fame, their lives abruptly gone, their motives and histories examined for bias or venal intent.
In this time of political division and Internet-facilitated inspection, Vindman has lost the anonymity that served him well in Army positions at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and in the White House.
After consulting with an ethics lawyer — his twin brother, a National Security Council attorney who worked across the hall from him — Vindman took his concern up the chain of command. He was no whistleblower, but he ended up telling his story to investigators, to a congressional committee, and soon, he is expected to appear before lawmakers during nationally televised hearings.
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