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Trump Defends Firing Alexander Vindman

Trump Defends Firing Alexander Vindman

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Saturday defended his decision to fire Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the national security aide who was marched out of the White House on Friday by security officers, calling the decorated Army officer who testified at a House impeachment hearing “very insubordinate.”

Mr. Trump denigrated Colonel Vindman, a veteran of the Iraq war who appeared in November before the House Intelligence Committee under subpoena and described the July 25 telephone call in which the president pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to announce investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

“Fake News @CNN & MSDNC keep talking about ‘Lt. Col.’ Vindman as though I should think only how wonderful he was,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, without explaining why he put the colonel’s rank in quote marks.

“Actually, I don’t know him, never spoke to him, or met him (I don’t believe!),” the president continued, “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. In other words, ‘OUT’.”

Mr. Trump offered no explanation for why Colonel Vindman’s twin brother, Yevgeny Vindman, who is also an Army lieutenant colonel and who worked as a lawyer on the National Security Council staff, was also fired and escorted out of the White House complex at the same time even though he did not participate in the House hearings. Nor did the president mention his decision to recall Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, who was also an impeachment witness.

The president’s dismissals of the Vindman brothers and Mr. Sondland opened a campaign of retribution just days after the Senate acquitted him on two articles of impeachment. Fresh from that political victory, Mr. Trump and his staff have made clear that they plan to “exact payback” on those they blame for his impeachment.

Colonel Vindman, a Ukraine expert on the National Security Council staff, and his brother were scheduled to remain at the White House until July but will now be sent back to the Defense Department. Mr. Sondland, a political appointee, will return to the United States and presumably leave government service.

A lawyer for Colonel Vindman said Mr. Trump’s Twitter messages contained “obviously false statements” about his client.

“They conflict with the clear personnel record and the entirety of the impeachment record of which the president is well aware,” said the lawyer, David Pressman. “While the most powerful man in the world continues his campaign of intimidation, while too many entrusted with political office continue to remain silent, Lt. Col. Vindman continues his service to our country as a decorated, active duty member of our military.”

Alexander Vindman will report to the Pentagon until a previously scheduled assignment at the Army War College begins in July while Yevgeny Vindman, who goes by Eugene, will join the office of the Army general counsel.

“Throughout this process the Army leadership has been supportive of both Alex and Eugene in terms of their detail to the National Security Council and throughout the impeachment process,” said Michael Volkov, who represented Colonel Vindman when he testified in the impeachment inquiry. “The Army has been supportive and would never participate in the president’s desire for retaliation.”

Mr. Sondland and Colonel Vindman were key witnesses in the House impeachment hearings. Mr. Sondland, who was deeply involved in the effort to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into Mr. Trump’s Democratic rivals, testified that “we followed the president’s orders” and that “everyone was in the loop.” Colonel Vindman, who was on Mr. Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president, testified that it was “improper for the president” to coerce a foreign country to investigate political opponents.

Democrats and some Republicans denounced Mr. Trump’s actions against impeachment witnesses, noting that other officials who testified have also been transferred more quietly, including Jennifer Williams, who was serving as an aide to Vice President Mike Pence but was recently sent back to the Defense Department.

“By firing Lt. Col. Vindman and Ambassador Sondland like this, the Trump administration signaled it won’t tolerate people who tell the truth,” Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, said on Saturday. “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.”

Danny Hakim contributed reporting from New York.


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Watch Vindman correct Nunes during impeachment hearing – CNN

Watch Vindman correct Nunes during impeachment hearing – CNN ‘);$vidEndSlate.removeClass(‘video__end-slate–inactive’).addClass(‘video__end-slate–active’);}};CNN.autoPlayVideoExist = (CNN.autoPlayVideoExist === true) ? true : false;var configObj = {thumb: ‘none’,video: ‘politics/2019/11/19/devin-nunes-alexander-vindman-lieutenant-colonel-correction-new-vpx.cnn’,width: ‘100%’,height: ‘100%’,section: ‘international’,profile: ‘expansion’,network: ‘cnn’,markupId: ‘large-media_0’,adsection: ‘const-video-leaf’,frameWidth: ‘100%’,frameHeight: ‘100%’,posterImageOverride: {“mini”:{“width”:220,”type”:”jpg”,”uri”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191120065327-nunes-vindman-split-small-169.jpg”,”height”:124},”xsmall”:{“width”:300,”type”:”jpg”,”uri”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191120065327-nunes-vindman-split-medium-plus-169.jpg”,”height”:173},”small”:{“width”:460,”type”:”jpg”,”uri”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191120065327-nunes-vindman-split-large-169.jpg”,”height”:259},”medium”:{“width”:780,”type”:”jpg”,”uri”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191120065327-nunes-vindman-split-exlarge-169.jpg”,”height”:438},”large”:{“width”:1100,”type”:”jpg”,”uri”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191120065327-nunes-vindman-split-super-169.jpg”,”height”:619},”full16x9″:{“width”:460,”type”:”jpg”,”uri”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191120065327-nunes-vindman-split-full-169.jpg”,”height”:259},”mini1x1″:{“width”:100,”type”:”jpg”,”uri”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191120065327-nunes-vindman-split-small-11.jpg”,”height”:100}}},autoStartVideo = false,isVideoReplayClicked = false,callbackObj,containerEl,currentVideoCollection = [{“descriptionPlainText”:”Lt. Col. … read more

Impeachment: Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman denounces character attacks | USA TODAY

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman offers his opening statement at impeachment hearing. RELATED: Devin Nunes questions Vindman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHyVR0JKMX8 Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, one of the National Security Council staff who listened to Trump’s call with Zelensky, begins public impeachment testimony. » … read more

Vindman corrects Nunes: ‘Ranking member, it’s Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, please’ | ABC News

Rep. Devin Nunes asked Lt. Col. Vindman about his knowledge of the whistleblower’s identity. Historic public impeachment hearing underway: Live updates and analysis https://abcn.ws/2Xuk7tB SUBSCRIBE to ABC NEWS: https://www.youtube.com/ABCNews/ Watch More on http://abcnews.go.com/ LIKE ABC News on FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/abcnews FOLLOW … read more

Rep. Himes asks Vindman, Williams: ‘Are you a ‘Never Trumper’?’ | ABC News

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Jennifer Williams respond to the president’s accusations. Historic public impeachment hearing underway: Live updates and analysis https://abcn.ws/2Xuk7tB SUBSCRIBE to ABC NEWS: https://www.youtube.com/ABCNews/ Watch More on http://abcnews.go.com/ LIKE ABC News on FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/abcnews FOLLOW ABC News … read more

Rep. Himes asks Vindman, Williams: ‘Are you a ‘Never Trumper’?’ | ABC News

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Jennifer Williams respond to the president’s accusations. Historic public impeachment hearing underway: Live updates and analysis https://abcn.ws/2Xuk7tB SUBSCRIBE to ABC NEWS: https://www.youtube.com/ABCNews/ Watch More on http://abcnews.go.com/ LIKE ABC News on FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/abcnews FOLLOW ABC News … read more