Nunes acolyte misrepresented himself to Trump as Ukraine expert politi.co/2qZI53N via @politico
Lt. Col. Vindman told lawmakers on Tuesday that a close associate of Republican Rep. Devin Nunes “misrepresented” himself to President Donald Trump in an effort to involve himself further in Ukraine policy.
Vindman, the National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert, told lawmakers that after attending Ukrainian President Zelensky’s inauguration in May, Vindman had been looking forward to debriefing Trump and giving a positive account of Zelensky’s vision for Ukraine’s future.
But he was instructed “at the last second” not to attend the debriefing, Vindman told lawmakers, because Trump’s advisers worried it might confuse the president:
Trump believed at the time that Kashyap Patel, a longtime Nunes staffer who joined the White House in February and had no discernible Ukraine experience or expertise, was actually the NSC’s top Ukraine expert instead of Vindman.
Vindman testified that he was told this directly by his boss at the time, NSC senior director for European and Russian affairs Fiona Hill.
Hill told Vindman that she and national security adviser John Bolton thought it best to exclude Vindman from the debriefing to avoid “an uncomfortable situation,” he said.
This helps explain why the president tweeted on Tuesday that he’d never met Vindman despite his clear interest in Ukraine — senior officials have said that Trump directed them to consult with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on matters of Ukraine policy.
Vindman also testified he was told Patel had been circumventing normal NSC process to get negative material about Ukraine in front of the president, feeding Trump’s belief that Ukraine was brimming with corruption and had interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Democrats.
It’s still not clear what materials Patel was giving Trump, or where he was getting them. But he was not interacting with Ukraine experts at the State Department and Pentagon on the issue.
Further, Patel never had a conversation with Vindman, the NSC’s director for Ukraine, about Ukraine — or about anything for that matter, Vindman testified.
Patel joined the National Security Council’s International Organizations and Alliances directorate in February and was promoted to a senior counterterrorism role around the same time as Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky
Patel had previously served as Nunes’ top staffer on the House Intelligence Committee and worked to discredit the FBI and DOJ officials investigating Russia’s election interference.
In sum, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified on Tuesday that the National Security Council staffer and Nunes acolyte, Kash Patel, (who has no noted expertise on Ukraine) fed the president disinformation about Ukraine.
Patel was the primary author of the controversial memo and the key “drafter and pusher of the memo,” released by Nunes, of alleged bias by the Justice Dept and the FBI against President Trump that attempted to discredit the FBI’s investigations of Trump’s collusion with Russia.
Detailed and rather interesting background on Patel's move from Nunes staffer to the NSC is here indiaabroad.com/us_affairs/tru…
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