- "Fake News @CNN & MSDNC keep talking about 'Lt. Col.' Vindman as though I should think only how wonderful he was."
- "The truth has cost Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman his job, his career, and his privacy."
- “By firing Lt. Col. Vindman and Ambassador Sondland like this, the Trump administration signaled it won’t tolerate people who tell the truth.”
U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday defended his decision to fire an army officer who provided damning evidence against him during the investigation that led to his impeachment trial. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was fired from the White House on Friday, where he served on the National Security Council as a specialist in Ukraine.
His lawyer considered the measure an act of vengeance by the president, two days after he was acquitted by the Senate. Trump attacked Vindman in a tweet posted on Saturday. “Fake News @CNN & MSDNC keep talking about ‘Lt. Col.’ Vindman as though I should think only how wonderful he was,” Trump wrote in a tweet on Saturday morning, purposely conflating MSNBC with the Democratic National Committee.
“Actually, I don’t know him, never spoke to him, or met him (I don’t believe!) but, he was very insubordinate, reported contents of my ‘perfect’ calls incorrectly, & was given a horrendous report by his superior, the man he reported to, who publicly stated that Vindman had problems with judgement, adhering to the chain of command and leaking information,” he continued. “In other words, ‘OUT’,” Trump concluded.
Vindman, who was director of European Affairs at the National Security Council, was present during the famous July 25 phone call, during which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open an investigation into his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. House Democrats, who accused Trump of abusing power and obstructing Congress, argued that the move was part of a joint effort to force a weakened foreign ally after the war with Russia to help him play dirty in the US presidential election scheduled for November this year.
Cited by Congress to testify at the House of Representatives’ impeachment trial hearings, Ukrainian-born Vindman said Trump’s actions were “inappropriate.” That testimony helped build the case that led Trump to become the third president to be impeached by Congress.
Vindman’s lawyer, David Pressman, said the military man was “escorted out of the White House, where he adequately served his country and its president.” Pressman added that “the truth has cost Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman his job, his career, and his privacy. . . They conflict with the clear personnel record and the entirety of the impeachment record of which the President is well aware,” said the lawyer in a statement to American media. “While the most powerful man in the world continues his campaign of intimidation, while too many entrusted with political office continue to remain silent, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman continues his service to our country as a decorated, active duty member of our military,” he added.
On Friday, Gordon Sondland, the United States’ ambassador to the European Union, and who also testified against Trump, said he had been informed of the president’s intention to “remove him immediately” from his position in a statement obtained by The New York Times. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Democratic Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, criticized Trump Saturday for his “personal insecurities and revenge.”
“By firing Lt. Col. Vindman and Ambassador Sondland like this, the Trump administration signaled it won’t tolerate people who tell the truth,” said the Rhode Island senator. “The fact that Lt. Col. Vindman’s brother was also removed from the N.S.C., as well as the transfer of Ms. Williams from Vice President Pence’s staff, are signals that the president places blind loyalty above all else, including testimony under oath,” he said in a statement. “It is a dangerous time for our democracy,” Reed added.