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Mr. Veneman, you were treated to a July 10th meeting in the White House where you heard Ambassador Sandland raise investigations, conditioning a White House meeting on that investigations that you thought were unduly political. I believe that's how you described them. And you went to the NSC counsel and you reported it, right? Correct. And then later, you two were on the White House call. Am I right? You heard it with your own ears, correct? Not secondhand.


Not from somebody else. Not hearsay, right? Correct. You heard the president's voice on the call. I did. And you heard him raise that subject again that Ambassador Sandland had raised before about investigating the Bidens, right? I did. And I want to ask you, when you heard him say that, what was the first thought that went through your mind? Frankly, I couldn't believe what I was hearing. It was probably an element of shock that maybe in certain regards my worst fear of how our Ukraine policy could play out was playing out, how this is likely to have significant implications for U.S. national security.


And you went immediately and reported it, didn't you? I did. Why? Because that was my duty. Alexander Binmen was a key witness in Trump's impeachment trial. Everyone saw him up there, the lieutenant colonel who testified for more than 10 hours. I watched a lot of it and the guy was impressive. He didn't flinch even when the Republican congressman bullied him. Trump did get impeached by the House, but the Senate saved him. Ultimately, the president kept his job.


Binmen didn't.


So is that what happens when you stand up to power? What's the lesson here? Binmen had only been at his post at the National Security Council for a year when he heard the call, the call was perfect. It couldn't have been nicer. It was beautiful. It was just a perfect conversation. My conversation was perfect. On that, quote, perfect call, Trump asked for a personal favor from the president of Ukraine and seemed to imply that military aid would depend on it.


Cue the Godfather thing. Wenman could have done nothing. That's what most people in Trump's oily orbit seem to do. But he did something, just one thing. He reported it. Who does that and why? I needed to find out.


I get comfy, this is a long interview long as relative, because, you know, 10 and a half hours, you know, that was my first interview with the house, so. Oh, right.


Fair point. All right. What do we call you now, Colonel Binmen, retired Lieutenant Colonel Veneman, what is the correct designation of an ex military officer?


Sure. I think formally it's lieutenant colonel retired, but I don't tend to be very formal. So please go ahead and call me Alex.


So I'll call you Alex. Yes, please. So let's go back a little bit about talking about how power works and the changes in the Trump White House. So you join the White House during the Trump administration in July 2013. I actually my first day on the job was during that press conference in Helsinki. And I had to kind of deal with the fallout from that press inquiries and so forth.


This is where President Trump explained for people seem to be agreeing with Vladimir Putin and not his own intelligence officers, correct? Correct. He took Vladimir Putin's word for the fact that Russia wasn't interfering in elections over the consensus view of the entire intelligence community, that Russia had, in fact, substantially interfered in elections.


Why did you join this administration?


So maybe it's a little bit of naiveté thinking that I could make some sort of difference on things that matter for U.S. national security. How often did you interact with President Trump or was it through these these channels? I'm communicating through one level, the national security adviser with the president. You know, there was one time where I had the opportunity to participate in the meeting directly with the president. This was following the inauguration of President Zelinski. And I frankly declined it on the advice of John Bolton and Fiona Hill, because I had set the president's understanding on who was helping him with Ukraine policy askew.


There was this whole idea of some other actors within the NSC, political actors that were somehow involved in Ukraine policy.


So this sounds like what you're saying in a polite way is that there are other people sort of putting their fingers on the white shirt. So talk a little bit about how decisions get made at the Trump White House. What's the process and is it different than before? Definitely. So the way these things typically unfold is you could occasionally have direction from the president on a particular foreign policy approach. You know, for instance, maybe during the Reagan administration, you know, a harder line on the Soviet Union or, you know, in the ultimate stages of the IMF agreements, you know, there was some direction that came from the top.


But oftentimes you actually have departments and agencies that have a policy perspective while nested within the president's kind of worldview. Concrete example with Ukraine, for instance, that one was a combination of initiative from the National Security Council, as well as departments and agencies sharing a common view of the fact that we had to work more closely with Ukraine to help Ukraine. Yes, against Russia. And we had a unique opportunity, frankly, with President Zwolinski. He'd come in on a very strong reform anti-corruption platform and a view that he needs to integrate more closely with the European Union.


So we collaborated we developed policy through the interagency process, and it goes up and down the chain. You shape it for the president to make a decision. So what was different in the Trump administration was different. Give me an example. Sure, sure. What was different in the Trump administration is you have decisions that are purely driven by self-interest, purely driven by motivation to advance re-election efforts and so forth. So what I ended up becoming embroiled in was.


A effort to coerce the Ukrainians into providing dirt on Vice President Joe Biden, who was at that point likely to be the chief challenger of the United States, and this was exactly 180 degrees out from what the policy recommendations were from from below. So if we were recommending closer cooperation with the Ukrainians, aiding them in their anticorruption efforts, this was an enterprise to actually entrench them further in corruption and a corruption scheme because the president wanted some dirt on an opponent.


So had you seen this process before? Had you had you had moments where you were seeing this happening? Yes. So give me an example.


So, for instance, when Mr. Khashoggi was was assassinated by the Saudis, this is Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered by the Saudi government and dismembered. That's right. We had very good information suggesting that the decisions to assassinate Mr. Khashoggi were given by the senior most leadership in Saudi Arabia. But this would potentially undermine very, very large arms sales contracts that the Trump administration and Jared Kushner had basically coordinated. And in order to not upset this, you know, something that could again contribute to the president's views as a successful foreign policy dealmaker, we coldly suppressed this highly credible intelligence.


So what you're saying is that political considerations, you had started to see political considerations everywhere around you?


I did. There's a interesting phenomenon among Trump White House officials. The problem is that you have a series of professionals, foreign policy professionals that come from departments and agencies. And then you have what amounts to politicians?


Well, there is a lack of respect for experts, correct. This could not come as a surprise to you. Yes, but when I when I showed up, it still seemed like we were in a bounded world where you were still closer to the process.


So let's get to the call, which he called the perfect phone call. You're on this call. Tell me a little bit about what you could have done when you heard it. So you were ready to possibly hear political machinations.


What I had kind of almost refused to accept was that the president was party directly a party to this. You know, there are sycophants in any organization, many more so in this particular White House that are catering to the president's interests, aggrandizing themselves, ingratiating themselves, you know, for personal benefit, the kind of Rudy Giuliani's of the world and that were potentially carrying the president's water, indirectly acting as some sort of general intent. Right. I want to I want to win the re-election and come up with some way for me to do that.


I've seen this unfold from March through. This is July 10th meeting where Ambassador Bolton is meeting with the Ukrainian national secured adviser and songline pitches this idea. But none of this necessarily directly implicated President Trump.


So this is all happening in Ukraine. The idea of trying to find dirt on Hunter Biden, that's really what's going on here.


Well, it's not Hunter Biden so much. It's Hunter Biden as kind of almost a cutout. If you find dirt on Hunter Biden, then you could implicate the vice president in covering you had already run into Rudy Giuliani and others trying to influence this.


So you are poised to see this. But you didn't think the president had anything to do with it, really?


I mean, maybe because I'm military and the president's the commander in chief. There always a high regard for the office of the president, you know, rigid military hierarchy just like that. And he's the commander in chief. I frankly. Maybe refused to believe that the president was somehow directly involved. I thought maybe, again, it was folks catering to the president, but this was clearly the president himself saying it. And frankly, you know, being at the center, the kind of a driving force behind it.


So when you heard this, what went off in your head? Right. It's a congratulatory phone call. This is the second congratulatory phone call that President Trump was having with President Zwolinski. The first one went off really well. And the president basically, he had a series of talking points to congratulate President Zwolinski on his landslide victory. The tone of this call was, again, you know, the exact opposite. The president seemed from his voice. He was a reluctant participant.


He would call it a low energy phone call. And from the beginning, he, you know, starts commenting on how the US has done so much for Ukraine and Ukraine is not reciprocating. And it looked like it was going to be a bad call from the get go, but not until those kind of fateful words after President Hilinski mentions that he was going to buy javelin missiles and the president then proses. You know, we need you to do us a favor, though.


Tit for tat, tat for tat. And, you know, the conversation devolved with the president named Biden directly as the targets of this investigation. And to me, you know, there was it was absolutely wrong and potentially criminal. Were you surprised or I looked up and you kind of see if anybody else took note. I did. I did see similar at least from the kind of the folks that were in the no understanding what is going on with Ukraine.


But nobody did anything. I wasn't aware of that at the time, frankly. I knew that it was my responsibility as the Ukraine. Did anybody say anything in this room where we were? I mean, I didn't say anything either. I just continued to take notes in my government green notebook with as much fidelity as I could. Everybody else was doing the same thing. Frankly, not a word was uttered until after the call, at which point we had a press release that we had draft ahead of time.


And we we pulled it out and proceeded to quickly cross off all the things that we had put in there about fighting corruption reforms and just cross it all off. We didn't discuss this. We didn't discuss this. And I knew that my duty was to basically take my concerns to the legal office. So after after the call there, were there actually three things you could have done. You could have done nothing, which many people have done, done nothing.


You did tell the next lawyer or you could have gone to the press. Why? Why not go further? Right.


So I have heard criticism against me that I'm somehow a leaker. That's that's clearly not the case.


No, you're not a leaker. You could have been a leaker. There's lots of leakers here in this administration. It was to me there was no real choice about which course of action. I certainly was not going to not say anything. I wasn't going to abrogate my responsibilities, my duties to kind of raise this issue on a potentially criminal enterprise that frankly undermines the very foundations of our democracy. So with that in mind, I knew what the right channel was.


It was the equivalent channel, which would be the NSC legal shop. And my thought was that these would still be kind of even though they're political kind of appointees, that these would be the right people. You know, the president has a lot of lawyers. And I thought that these lawyers would potentially be able to say, hey, Mr. President, this is illegal and we need to put the kibosh on this. The following day, I had prepared for a deputies committee meeting in which we, frankly, substantiated what we had been working on, more cooperation with Ukraine, increased security assistance.


So we're trying to get it back on track. Yes. And I was working within the system to do that at the time. You thought the process worked and now you went to the NSC lawyer. Did you talk to other people? Did you express worries to other people just to to my twin brother, who's chief ethics official. And this was an ethical issue. So I wanted to pull him in. And it's very fortunate that he was there and I had another and he couldn't.


And I thought this would be also another way to avoid it getting swept under the rug, because now, you know, it's more people know, including the chief ethics official and action would have to be taken. So now let's talk. We know that former national security adviser John Bolton shows that the time to do nothing at the time of the call or the impeachment proceedings. Now, he wrote a book about it. How does that make you feel?


Because he was your boss at the NSA not doing it? There's a lot of people not doing something. I think, unfortunately, or maybe it's politics is a dirty game. And at that senior level, we've lost the kind of political leadership that is driven by values based decision making, integrity, ethics and so forth. And, you know, especially under this administration, there's been a shift to other driving forces like self-preservation in the case of Department Defense or the army or, you know, personal gain.


That's not the way I've lived my life.


You have a good relationship with Ambassador Bolton, though. I didn't have a bad relationship with him. I certainly sense that. After I made my complaint, there was some retaliation, I didn't go on a trip with him to countries in my portfolio, I attribute that to the fact that, you know, I kind of proved myself to be unreliable political actor. It's much more important, frankly, that my peers in the military respect the decisions I make rather than political actors.


OK, how did you hear about the whistleblower complaint? Did you feel betrayed? Because you you seem to be one of the sources.


So do I feel betrayed by it? No. I think the whistleblower was probably acting on his best view of how to address the situation. That's the way I kind of do the analysis that the whistleblower felt like he had no other choice but to take this to the channels, to the IG and the intelligence community. And then ultimately, when that didn't look like it was going to result in a reversal of behavior ultimately to the House committees. So I know I have no issues about it.


I mean, it's kind of funny to say, because in hindsight that, you know, ultimately cost me my military career. But there were bigger stakes here and others on that call.


Who were they and why didn't they act? Did you ever go to them and say, just did that sound funny to you? That's also something I've been thinking about quite a bit, because it turns out that other people did go including, you know, political actors like my boss, Tim Morsan, who claims that he only went because attorneys were in the room, felt it concerning enough where he had to go circle back around eventually and tell them under the guise of like, you know, just letting them know instead of being deeply concerned.


I remember having a conversation with him separately about whether the president's comments were an actual change in policy and him being extremely dismissive, saying, no, we're not going to take any action on this. It's it's not policy. It's almost like a President Trump tweet that really upsets the apple cart and you have to deal with. But it doesn't mean a change of policy.


So you told your brother, you told council. Did you tell anyone else? So I did tell two other people. And these were the two most essential people to have a conversation with inside the broader government. One was George, my counterpart, deputy assistant secretary at state, that covered Ukraine. And I gave them what I thought he needed to know without going into all the gory details. He's well positioned because he corresponds with a charge in Kiev on a regular basis.


You know, that he could then be alerted to how the Ukrainians respond to take this kind of call, this demand, because, you know, this is not an unusual natural tension between all the work that tends to go into policy and then an erratic decision. I mean, this has been templated in Syria with a withdrawal troops, Afghanistan also. These are these are decisions that literally happen almost on a whim with President Trump, with the president transactionally, because he thinks at that moment that might be something that benefits him in.


So snap decisions are not what Alexander Binmen does the snap or the government should snap decisions.


I don't know if that quite captures it. These are not these are instinctually driven decisions. The instinct that drives them is ego, self aggrandizement, personal gain. And that's the difference here.


Were you asked not to testify by the White House? The White House put out a general declaration that it doesn't want anybody from the executive branch to testify. In my case, you know, they would prefer I didn't testify. Absolutely.


So what did you all all of you as a group ever feel like it wasn't going to make a difference no matter what you said?


Absolutely. I absolutely thought about it. Congress exercising its oversight authorities as a coequal branch of government, had called me to provide witness testimony on something that I had already felt was wrong. And I could either sit on the sidelines or I could do my duty and make a material contribution to defense. Does that necessarily mean that the president's going to get removed? No, but there is still some accountability in the impeachment process. And in certain ways, I think the impeachment exposed a lot of the misdeeds of the president.


Does it have to make a difference to you? Do you ever think, you know, by yourself late at night? Well, I became a martyr and martyr is not really a job. And here I've given up everything.


You know, I think part of my family's history in this regard is maybe is helpful because my my dad had to reinvent himself a couple of times, including when he brought us here at the age of forty seven, leaving the Soviet Union and having to haul furniture for six months before joining the Department of Environmental Protection in New York City as an engineer and making things work. You know, having three young sons, mother in law that he didn't necessarily get along with.


But he made it work. And I was I knew that there would be a lot of difficulties in the short term. I was looking for Lifeline's along the way, but it was pretty clear to me that, you know, this was probably going to end my my military career, but I wasn't fearful about the fact I would. Land on my feet and I'd be OK. I mean, I'd had a pretty good run to that point and I thought I would be fine.


Eventually, you saying you were forced out of the military and the White House.


Nobody wants a famous lieutenant colonel in there in their command. This would be a stigma that I would have to, regardless of what administration this would be a stigma to have to live with. As you know, the guy that was involved in the Peachment affair, the guy that testified against the president, the guy that, you know, appeared in Congress, and every decision you made about my career in the future would be looked at from that lens. I was also in conversations with senior military officers, told that I wouldn't be able to serve in my region, that I had flown too close to the sun, you know, I guess like Icarus or something.


But that wasn't sufficient. Know, the president wanted to be vindictive. Him and his cronies want to be vindictive and retaliate and, you know, kind of demonstrate what happens to folks that are assessed to be disloyal or go against the president. And this is to not allow it to be promoted. That was ultimately a part of it. I knew I was supposed to be promoted because I was selected for what's called senior service college, commonly known as War College.


I found out about that the day before. I was notified about the fact I was going to be appearing in the closed door testimony. So I knew that I was I was set for kind of a still a very fruitful career and a lot of possibilities in front of me, at least on paper. But I also knew that, you know, the president is vindictive and vengeful and that I would have a major counterforce from the executive branch working against me.


But you believe in this process? I believe in American institutions. What I still believe in is that you have good people in government attempting to do the right thing. What I fear is with four more years in the damage that this administration has done to institutions, starting with the Justice Department, but then progressing to the intelligence community, the Department of Homeland Security and now my own department, Department of Defense and Army, is that there has been a significant erosion in how good governance, good institutions are supposed to operate and good people are leaving and those guardrails are falling aside.


And we're not going to have any guardrails if over the course of this administration you had, you know, the term the grown ups in the room have all kind of left and now you have cronies and political operatives, a future administration will be governed by the president's inconsistency, impulsiveness, conceits. And then you do have what devolves into purely transactional relationships. And it's going to be purely driven by ego, personal gain and kind of his general proclivities to consolidate power and better emulate the people that he most regards, which are not our allies.


It's Vladimir Putin, it's President Xi, and that's what he aspires to be. And that's what he's going to try to do. You know, your whole life will now forever be linked with Trump. How do you feel about that?


Frankly, one of the reasons I'm doing this doctoral program at Johns Hopkins writing on great power competition is because I still have aspirations to serve and contribute to U.S. national security. So, yes, I could choose to be defined by this and go out on some sort of circuit and talk about, you know, my my role in the impeachment. But that's while that's all there is a big anti Trump circuit. You know, there's there is and it's justified.


But that's not the sum total of who I am.


Do you regret. Do you regret doing this? Absolutely not. I think it goes back to what I said earlier about the fact that I felt like I made a material contribution to national defense. I, I can live with myself. I sleep well at night. I. Could look my young daughter, who's nine years old, in the eye now, and when she gets older and understands the role I played and not have to equivocate like many dozens of other people will have to do, they will have to explain.


There will be an accounting. There will be an accounting with their future selves where they kind of have to live with their decisions now being accounting with their kind of their loved ones, their children, that they will have to then say, why did you do this? You know, you had an opportunity to protect America and you chose to to be silent. You chose to kind of protect yourself or serve yourself. That is that is not who I am.


We'll be right back. This episode of Hsueh is brought to you by sales force these days, the office isn't always in office and a work from anywhere solution is more important than ever. That's why sales force Customer 360 helps everyone go digital faster. We'll give your teams all the tools they need to connect and collaborate on a single customer relationship management platform, giving you a unified view of your customer and helping to deliver the seamless experiences they've come to expect.


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This is Sam Dolnick. I'm an assistant managing editor at the New York Times. Our newsroom has been empty since March, but we've been busier than ever before. The pandemic has changed how we work, but it hasn't changed what we do. We are living through history. Every single one of our journalists is trying to match the moment. We have political reporters analyzing every development of this historic election. We have data journalists tracking every single virus case in America.


We've national reporters braving wildfires and floods to witness and understand the effects of climate change. And then there are food writers offering advice for what to cook during these many nights at home. This is why we became journalists to bring to light real verified information when the stakes couldn't be higher. We can't do this work without our subscribers. If you'd like to subscribe. Please go to NY Times dot com slash. Subscribe and thanks. I want to go very quickly into this, the Lanark reported recently that President Trump disparaged America's war dead as losers.


What's your sense about how the military feels about the president and about the Atlantic reporting?


Sure. So I think the military, which is representative of frankly, a large swaths of America, has recognized that the president is not advancing U.S. national security interests. And I think that polling, again, has indicated as much. It is not a surprise to anyone because we have heard the president use his own words to to call, you know, generals, babies and suckers and dupes and so forth. You know, what's interesting about the Atlantic reporting is not what it uncovered.


It's that it's a still a surprise to people that the president has no understanding of public service or service to anybody but myself.


Well, you called an interview with the president a useful idiot of Vladimir Putin. What did you mean by that? Because he doesn't seem like an idiot. He seems I mean, I know that's a term.


Yeah, it's a trade craft and it's a term of art. And what it describes is somebody that is an unwitting agent and basically advancing the interests of Russia without knowing him. And the way that he you know, Putin is able to use him. He doesn't even require kind of the compromise, the compromising material that's required typically to coerce behavior by an agent. He doesn't need that because what he has in the president is a fan, you know, for some personal gain.


He want he was he had the Miss Universe competition that he wants Putin to appear on that for multiple reasons, not the least of which is to poke opposition in the United States with his whole collusion narrative. He wants to just be provocative.


How would you say the relationships are going with China and Russia? How good a job as he done in managing those relationships? Terribly. And I'll explain. So and I'll start with almost the easier issue of China. There was some discussion about whether China is a kind of a revisionist power, meaning that it just wants to kind of work on the margins within the international system or if it wants to completely kind of upend it and establish a different kind of order because it's somewhat ambiguous still.


And up until relatively recently under President Xi Jinping, there were a lot more areas where we could potentially work together. Trump attempted to engage in a trade war which he mismanaged to costly effects for his own key constituencies, agricultural communities and the broader U.S. consumer. And frankly, in this most recent accommodation, where they kind of came up with an agreement of sorts, the president gave a huge amount of ground on the most important issues intellectual property theft. Now, the more problematic issue of Russia, Russia has not just doesn't just have the capabilities, it's weaker economically, but it's it's a very capable on the security and defense front.


You also have a Russia that's been highly aggressive in challenging US interests. And if in the past the Russians would be concerned about backlash, the cost that the US would impose in response, now the Russians are challenging our forces directly in Syria. They're also supporting, you know, the Iranians. We've gone into a world where the Russians are attacking the US interests directly and we're getting to the point where they're going to attack some core interests. And eventually we're going get to the point where there's going to be an accident or miscalculation and we're going to defend our interests and potentially get into a shooting match.


So especially in a Biden administration, for instance, when President Biden will defend our interests, unlike President Trump, we are going to be in a world where the risks are much, much higher, where where I think it could be directly with regards to elections. It could be well, they've done that right. But it could be in a much more robust way. For instance, post-election, this kind of in an outcome where where President Trump loses coming up with something that could discredit, let's say, President and Vice President Biden's victory.


All right. To the worst case scenario.


Two people show up for work at the White House on January 20th. The court is split trumps, ignoring it. And then for the first time in history, an American election has to be decided by the military. Talk me through what might happen.


Well, I mean, that is a foundational question is does the U.S. military have a role? The president has successfully I mean, he has, in fact, successfully co-opted large swaths of DHS and he has kind of his own personal, you know, law enforcement force that he can employ to prevent himself from kind of leaving office, who has the requisite power force to facilitate his departure. The military might be the only one. Would the military do that?


Do you see that? I think the military is going to do the right thing. And I expect my my military officers and soldiers to abide by the Constitution. They swore an oath not to the president of the United States. They swore an oath to the Constitution of the United States. And I expect them to uphold that oath. All right.


The president could marshal the DHS or other federal officers. Are you saying you could see this as a dispute between those two sides? So I'm I am worried about it, but I know that the military would do the right thing and not come out on the streets to suppress civilian protesters. I know that the military would, you know, follow the law, but that's as much as I could say definitively, frankly. But I think this is likely to play out in the courts.


OK, now, you were apolitical. Were you registered for a party before this? Did you tend to vote?


Sure. So because I was apolitical, I know that I registered at the age of 18 for Selective Service and vote as a New Yorker, as a Democrat. That was many, many years ago. And then I also know because of public record disclosures, people were trying to figure out whether I was like a Democratic hack or something like that. I registered as an independent sometime in 2010, 2012. I could say that I failed in my duty as an American on multiple occasions.


And by not voting in previous elections, I've shaken off that kind of complacency. So if in the past I failed to live up to my obligations as a citizen, I will not do that this time. And I encourage every American to go out and vote. Does that mean you're voting for Joe Biden in November? I'm absolutely going to vote for I'm a never Trumper. I am going to vote for Joe Biden. We have a binary choice.


Would you take a post in the Bush administration? I've made a commitment to my studies for two years in this doctoral program, I find it hard to imagine going into a Biden administration, but at the same time, my my feelings on public service are as strong as ever. And if I feel like there's some way that I could contribute beyond what I'm doing now, if there's a way for me to continue to serve, I'd be willing to do that.


Have you ever thought about running for office? People have mentioned that to me. I mean, I don't think my you know, my wife would not appreciate that. So I think that's the biggest hurdle. But I am being a little facetious. I would say that political office is important. Whether I personally want to expose myself to that. I find that hard to imagine at this point in time. But I very much applaud the people that do step into the fray.


So you what your wife several times, how does she feel about this? How do you have young children? How did they feel about this?


My daughter has an opinion. She's she's nine. And she she liked seeing me on TV. And I guess it's the age of, like, you know, social media and all that. So she liked seeing me on Colbert and Trevor Noah. Spy Baby is like her favorite skit where I come here, the three year old's fight. So, you know, she also is starting to recognize what role I played. And that's important to me. My wife, she feels this very, very poignantly.


Her husband was under attack. Our family was under attack. And she doesn't rationalize the Department of Defense's response to my situation as well as I do. The Department of Defense actually conducted this investigation in spite of the fact that the secretary of the army and secretary of defense had said that there would be no kind of negative action taken against me.


So you mentioned Ikarus, which suggests arrogance, that you decided you could do something about this and then got taken down. Do you think you're arrogant?


And if you're a martyr, was this the hill to die on? Well, I definitely don't consider myself a martyr. I consider myself kind of a duty bound public servant officer that did what he felt was right. The president politicized me and gave me a voice. And guess what? I'm using my voice. I think I see myself as emblematic of a cohort of subject matter experts that know their craft, have been doing their craft for a while, have operate within the system to help defend U.S. national security interests.


Has that group lost its power?


This group, this cohort of people, as the Republicans like to say, the deep state, well, deep state, but also that the depth of expertise is kind of another term of art? I don't think so. I think that we have a wonderful cohort of public servants whose contribution is valued. You know, there's definitely a loss of trust in government right now that has to be rebuilt.


So who did to do it for you? The country, your daughter? What if you had to pick one?


I did it for the country. I get it. I did it because to me, there was frankly, there was no choice. I saw something wrong. I suspected it could have amounted to something illegal. And as an Army officer, I've been it's been drilled into me for four decades. If you see something, say something. But I didn't pass the political loyalty test for this administration and for this president. All right. Thank you, Alex.


Thank you. Pleasure. Thank you for having me on. I have a confession then and reminds me a little of my dad, first of all, he kind of looks like him, which is just freaky. But also my dad served he was a lieutenant commander in the Navy almost until the day he died at age 34. When I was younger, I wanted to enlist. I couldn't, though. Don't ask because I won't tell. I know it may sound weird coming from someone like me, but not serving the military.


Well, it's been one of my greatest regrets in life. So both those men made me think of honor and duty and sacrifice for country, which Binmen talked about in his testimony and in this interview. They may be just words, but it's nice to hear them since such things seem so hopelessly lost in this shabby era of compromised ideals. Hsueh is a production of New York Times opinion, it's produced by name Marasa, Kibbler, Bonnie, Matchpoint and Vishakha Darba, edited by Adam Tie, Schulz and Paul Schoeman with Music and sound design by Isaac Jones.


Fact checking by Kate Sinclair. Special thanks to John Gwyther, Larry Higa and Kathy to. So here's the drill, and it's not a military one hit subscribe if you're in a podcast app already, if you're listening on the Times website and want to get a new episode delivered to you, if you can handle the truth, download a podcast app like Stitcher or Google podcast, search for Hsueh and hit subscribe.