Yevgeny Semyon "Eugene" Vindman[1][2] (born June 6, 1975) is a United States Army colonel and a national security and international law expert. He was a deputy legal advisor for the United States National Security Council (NSC) until he was reassigned on February 7, 2020.[3]

Yevgeny Vindman
Personal details
Yevgeny Semyonovich Vindman

(1975-06-06) June 6, 1975 (age 48)
Kyiv, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union (Ukraine)
RelativesAlexander Vindman (brother)
Alma materBinghamton University (BA)
Central Michigan University (MS)
University of Georgia School of Law (JD)
Judge Advocate Generals Legal Center and School (LLM)
NicknameEugene Vindman
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1998–2022
Rank Colonel

Vindman came to national attention in October 2019 when his twin brother, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, testified before the United States Congress regarding the Trump–Ukraine scandal. Yevgeny received the report of President Trump's phone call from Alex and reported the call to senior White House Lawyers. Alex's testimony provided evidence that resulted in a charge of abuse of power in the impeachment of Donald Trump.

Early life and education Edit

Yevgeny Semyon Vindman (né Yevgeny Semyonovich Vindman) and his identical twin brother Alexander were born in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Soviet Union to a Jewish family.[4][5] After the death of their mother, the three-year-old twins and their older brother Leonid were brought to New York in December 1979 by their father, Semyon (Simon). They grew up in Brooklyn's Brighton Beach neighborhood. The twins appear briefly with their maternal grandmother in the Ken Burns documentary The Statue of Liberty.[6][7] Vindman speaks fluent Russian. He graduated in 1992 from Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School.

In 1997, Vindman graduated from the State University of New York at Binghamton in Binghamton, New York with a bachelor of arts degree in history.[8] He took part in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps while in college and received a second lieutenant's commission in the Army's Infantry Branch in January 1997. He later received a Master of Science degree from Central Michigan University in General Administration, a Juris Doctor (JD) from the University of Georgia School of Law in 2006, and a Master in Legal Letters (LLM) from the Judge Advocate Generals Legal Center and School (TJAGLCS).

Career Edit

Vindman completed the Infantry Officer Basic Course (IOBC) at Fort Benning in 1998 and was sent to the 82D Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, NC, where he led both airborne infantry and airborne anti-armor platoons. In addition to an overseas assignment to Germany, Vindman is a combat veteran of the Iraq War. He served in Iraq from January 2011 to June 2011 in Operation New Dawn. He was promoted to Major in 2006, to Lieutenant Colonel in 2016, and to Colonel in 2021.

During his Army career, Vindman earned the Expert Infantryman Badge, the Air Assault Badge, and the Parachutist Badge, as well as three Army Achievement Medals, three Army Commendation Medals, one Joint Service Commendation Medal, and six Meritorious Service Medals.

Vindman served in a variety of roles in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps, including senior policy attorney-adviser for the labor and employment division at the Pentagon, senior prosecutor (DA equivalent) for Fort Hood, and operational law attorney for U.S. Forces-Iraq. He served for 12 years as an infantry officer, including an assignment as an airborne infantry platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne Division. He is an expert in the law of armed conflict, military law, government ethics, and national security law. He is the author of multiple articles on national security, cyber, and international relations featured in Foreign Affairs magazine, Foreign Policy magazine, Lawfare, and Just Security blog.

Beginning in 2012, Vindman became an Army Judge Advocate. In this capacity, he served as a brigade judge advocate in Germany and senior trial counsel/ chief of justice for Fort Hood, Texas, at the time the busiest court martial judication in the world. As senior trial counsel, he tried 7 serious felony cases including kidnapping, sexual assaults, and fraud. Returning to Washington, D.C. he was then a senior labor attorney-advisor for the Department of the Army. Vindman was on the Army Staff at the Pentagon from July 2016 to July 2018.

National Security Council Edit

In July 2018, Vindman accepted an assignment with the National Security Council. In his role on the NSC, Vindman became a deputy legal advisor. He was later promoted to agency ethics official on the NSC and became the senior ethics official on the NSC. While he was assigned to the NSC, his portfolio included work with international organizations such as NATO, the International Criminal Court, African affairs, emerging technologies, international humanitarian law, human rights, and ethics.

Trump phone call to Zelensky Edit

On July 25, 2019, Alex Vindman listened to a phone call between Presidents Trump and Zelensky and was concerned by the contents, saying that he "did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen," and "was worried about the implications for the U.S. Government's support of Ukraine." Alex believed that the call would "undermine U.S. national security." Alex immediately reported the call to Y. Vindman, who was the lead ethics attorney and a deputy legal advisor. Vindman recognized the serious legal ramification of the call, including violations of law, and the legal/political jeopardy President Trump faced. Vindman advised that they both further report the call through channels to the NSC's lead counsel, John Eisenberg.[9] Vindman had two more conversations with Mr. Eisenberg about the July 25, 2019 phone call. The first follow-up conversation occurred on August 1, 2019. Vindman sought to clarify with Mr. Eisenberg their role and obligations as attorneys, and whether as attorneys they were duty-bound to represent the Office of the President of the United States or the individual serving as President. Vindman had a second conversation with Mr. Eisenberg on August 5, 2019, when he conveyed his concern that President Trump's request that President Zelensky investigate President Trump's political rival may have violated the Federal Bribery Statute, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and federal election laws. Once the call became public, both brothers received threats and denunciation, and reached out to the Army regarding their family's safety.[10]

Y. Vindman helped his brother throughout the impeachment, including by drafting the portion of the opening statement where A. Vindman assured their father that he had made the right decision in emigrating from the Soviet Union to the United States.[11] A. Vindman stated, "In Russia, my act of ... offering public testimony involving the President would surely cost me my life. I am grateful for my father's brave act of hope 40 years ago and for the privilege of being an American citizen and public servant, where I can live free of fear for mine [sic] and my family's safety. Dad, my sitting here today, in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected officials is proof that you made the right decision forty years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to United States of America in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth."

On February 10, 2020, then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sent a letter in an apparent response to the firing of the two brothers that requested federal Inspectors General investigate possible retaliation against "anyone who has made, or in the future makes, protected disclosures of presidential misconduct."[12] On February 13, Trump's former chief of staff, retired Marine General John Kelly, defended Vindman's actions and testimony. "He did exactly what we teach them to do from cradle to grave. He went and told his boss what he just heard," Kelly said.

During a panel discussion held on February 11, 2020, at the Atlantic Council, the president's National Security Advisor, Robert C. O'Brien said that it was his decision to transfer both Vindman brothers back to the Army for re-assignment and denied that the move was ordered by Trump in retaliation for Vindman's testimony. "I can absolutely tell you that they were not retaliated against", O'Brien told the panel. O'Brien also disputed the move as being characterized as "fired" since both brothers remain on active duty. O'Brien noted that their transfer was part of a larger NSA staff reduction. His remarks contradicted Trump, who tweeted that he had ousted Vindman for insubordination and for doing "a lot of bad things."[13]

Despite Yevgeny held the rank of colonel, he retired as a lieutenant colonel. This was because he had not served the minimum requirement of three years and due to his testaments against Trump, Yevgeny had to retire under his lieutenant colonel rank.[14] In 2022, supporters of Col. Yevgeny “Eugene” Vindman called on President Biden to allow Yevgeny to retire as a colonel.[15] Vindman himself emphasized that retiring at the rank of colonel would not affect his retirement compensation and would be merely “honorific” — an acknowledgment of Vindman's commitment to upholding the Constitution and the sacrifice he made.[16] The U.S. Army, the only body that can alter a military retirement title, declined to submit Vindman's request to President Joe Biden, explaining such a decision with the rarity of waivers of such type being granted.[17] Vindman's lawyer, Mark Zaid, who is also a founder of the nonprofit Whistleblower Aid offering legal services to others like Yevgeny, emphasized that the White House's failure to address Vindman's request might deter officials from speaking out about potential government wrongdoing in the future.[18]

Post-retirement career Edit

Since 2022, Eugene has held the position of Director of Military Analysis and Prosecution Support for the Atrocity Crimes Advisory (ACA) group.[19] The ACA was formed by the European Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom as an operational hub coordinating assistance to the Office of the Prosecutor of Ukraine. This collaboration aims to investigate and prosecute those responsible for war crimes committed on Ukrainian soil.[20] During his tenure at ACA, Eugene visited various war crime sites in Ukraine alongside Ukrainian prosecutors.

In March 2023, Eugene Vindman, together with his twin brother Alexander Vindman, initiated the Trident Support project. Its primary goal is to set up a weapon maintenance and training facility within Ukraine.[21] Within Trident Support, the Vindman brothers aim to enlist 100-200 adept Western contractors. These professionals will collaborate with Ukrainian forces close to the front lines, offering training on mending battle-affected equipment provided by Western countries.[22] The project's end goal is to hasten the repair of military gear, which currently requires transportation from Ukraine to Poland or other NATO

Personal life Edit

Vindman is married to Cindy Vindman, née Groff. The couple has two children, a son born in 2004 and a daughter born in 2010. His identical twin is Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman. Vindman has an older brother, Leonid Vindman, who also served in the Army.

Military awards Edit

At his retirement, Vindman is pending receipt of the Legion of Merit. Vindman's additional awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal with silver oak leaf cluster (6th award); Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters (3rd award); Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters (3rd award); National Defense Service Medal; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon (2nd award); Army Reserve Overseas Training Ribbon; National Defense Service Medal; Valorous Unit Award; and Joint Meritorious Unit award. He earned the Expert Infantryman Badge; Air Assault Badge; Basic Parachutist Badge; Presidential Service Badge; and the Army Staff Identification Badge.

References Edit

  1. ^ Beitsch, Rebecca (2022-08-26). "Biden faces calls to let Vindman twin retire as colonel". The Hill. Retrieved 2023-09-19.
  2. ^ "Eugene Vindman Release 82622 .docx" (PDF).
  3. ^ De Luce, Dan and Lederman, Josh (March 16, 2021) "Army promotes Yevgeny Vindman, brother of impeachment witness". NBC News.
  4. ^ Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (October 29, 2019). "Meet Alexander Vindman, the Colonel Who Testified on Trump’s Phone Call". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  5. ^ Shimron, Yonat (November 13, 2019). "Why are so many players in the impeachment trial Jewish?". Religion News Service. In fact, Vindman, Parnas, and Fruman were able to immigrate to the U.S. precisely because they are Jewish.
  6. ^ Burns, Ken. "Arrival". PBS. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  7. ^ Dolsten, Josefin (November 6, 2019). "A Jewish photographer has been capturing Alexander Vindman and his twin for nearly 4 decades". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  8. ^ "Binghamton University Graduates". Press & Sun-Bulletin. Binghamton, NY. May 16, 1997. – via
  9. ^ Kelly, Amita (October 28, 2019). "Ukraine Expert Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman's Opening Statement". NPR. Archived from the original on November 2, 2019. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  10. ^ Browne, Ryan (November 19, 2019). "Alexander Vindman has reached out to Army about his family's safety amid attacks by Trump and GOP lawmakers". CNN. Archived from the original on November 19, 2019. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  11. ^ Vindman, Alexander S. (2021). Here, Right Matters. New York, NY: HarperCollins. p. 229. ISBN 978-0-0630-7944-1.
  12. ^ Quinn, Melissa (FEBRUARY 10, 2020) "Schumer calls on inspectors general to investigate retaliation against whistleblowers". Archived from the original on March 17, 2020. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  13. ^ Brook, Tom Vanden (February 14, 2020). "Army Secretary: No investigation into Vindman, Army aide and impeachment witness fired by Trump". USA TODAY. Retrieved February 15, 2022.
  14. ^ "José Andrés, Garry Kasparov, Daniel Lubetzky and Alexander Vindman Team up to Launch Ukrainian Scholarship Program and Student Ambassadorship for Global Democracy" (Press release).
  15. ^ "Biden faces calls to let Vindman twin retire as colonel". 26 August 2022.
  16. ^ "Trump Whistleblower on Ukraine Seeks Retirement Help Only Biden Can Offer". Newsweek. 31 August 2022.
  17. ^ "Trump Whistleblower on Ukraine Seeks Retirement Help Only Biden Can Offer". Newsweek. 31 August 2022.
  18. ^ "Trump Whistleblower on Ukraine Seeks Retirement Help Only Biden Can Offer". Newsweek. 31 August 2022.
  19. ^ "Creation of Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group for Ukraine".
  20. ^ "Creation of Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group for Ukraine".
  21. ^ "Vindman leads new push to send military contractors to Ukraine". Politico. 2 February 2023.
  22. ^ "Vindman leads new push to send military contractors to Ukraine". Politico. 2 February 2023.