Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert for the National Security Council, told his father not to worry and that he would “be fine” as he delivered his opening remarks before Congress during the impeachment inquiry hearing Tuesday.
Vindman, appearing before the House Intelligence Committee, said his father was 47 years old when he “left behind his entire life and the only home he had ever known to start over in the United States so that his three sons could have better, safer lives. ”
“Dad, my sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected professionals ... is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to United States of America in search of a better life for our family,” Vindman said.
“Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth,” he added.
Vindman privately testified last month that he heard in real time President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, the subject of a subsequent whistleblower complaint and focal point of the House’s impeachment inquiry.
He said he twice reported it internally to the NSC’s lead counsel John Eisenberg because he felt it was his duty to share his concerns about Trump using U.S. military aid as leverage in his efforts to get Ukraine to commit to investigating political rival Joe Biden.
On Tuesday, Vindman said that he is grateful for his father’s decision to leave the Soviet Union and forthe privilege of being an American, where can live “free of fear for mine and my family’s safety.”
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“In Russia, my act of expressing my concerns to the chain of command in an official and private channel would have severe personal and professional repercussions and offering public testimony involving the president would surely cost me my life,” he said.
Vindman noted that his family is present during the hearing Tuesday, including his “little brother.” His twin brother Yevgeny is an ethics lawyer for the NSC.
“[My father’s] courageous decision inspired a deep sense of gratitude in my brothers and myself and instilled in us a sense of duty and service,” Vindman said. “All three of us have served or are currently serving in the military. Our collective military service is a special part of our family’s story in America.”
Jennifer Williams, a top foreign policy adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, testified alongside Vindman on Tuesday. She testified behind closed doors earlier this month that Trump’s call with Zelensky struck her as “unusual and inappropriate.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.