O ne phone call changed my life. On Thursday, July 25, 2019, I was seated at the table in one of the two Situation Rooms in the basement of the West Wing. The bigger room is famous from movies and TV shows, but this room is smaller, more typically businesslike: a long wooden table with 10 chairs, maybe a dozen more chairs against wood-paneled walls, and a massive TV screen. This was the room where President Barack Obama and his team watched a feed of the Osama bin Laden raid. This morning, the screen was off. We were all focused intently on the triangular conference-call speaker in the middle of the table. President Donald Trump's communications team was placing a call to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, and we were there to listen. I was a 44-year-old U.S. Army lieutenant colonel assigned to a position equivalent to that of a two-star general, three levels above my rank. Since July 2018, I'd been at the National Security Council, serving as the director for Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Russia. Recently, deep concerns had been growing throughout the U.S. foreign-policy community regarding two of the countries I was responsible for. We'd long… Read full this story
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