Trump Campaign Attacks Another Impeachment Witness as He Testifies

Army Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, director for European Affairs at the National Security Council, is sworn in before testifying in the House impeachment inquiry. Bill Clark/Congressional Quarterly via Zuma

President Donald Trump’s campaign attacked Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman as he testified during Tuesday morning’s impeachment hearing. Using one of its Twitter accounts as the hearing unfolded, the campaign sought to undermine Vindman’s integrity and paint him as part of a deep-state coup leaking information to overthrow the president—a strategy echoed by Republicans across Washington in the lead-up to Vindman’s testimony.

Vindman is a Purple Heart recipient who serves as the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council. But ever since Vindman testified behind closed doors last month, Trump and his allies have sought to discredit him as someone disloyal to the president. Trump called Vindman a “Never Trumper witness.” Fox News’ Laura Ingraham described him as “working inside the White House, apparently against the president’s interests.” John Yoo, a former Justice Department official under President George W. Bush, even suggested without evidence that Vindman had committed “espionage.”

Those attacks were ramped up again on the eve of Vindman’s public testimony. “A significant number of bureaucrats and staff members within the executive branch have never accepted President Trump as legitimate and resent his unorthodox style and his intrusion onto their ‘turf,’” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) wrote Monday in a letter to House Republicans. “They react by leaking to the press and participating in the ongoing effort to sabotage his policies and, if possible, remove him from office. It is entirely possible that Vindman fits this profile.”

The Republican counsel for the House Intelligence Committee, Steve Castor, also used his time at Tuesday’s hearing to raise questions about Vindman’s loyalty. Vindman’s father brought his family to the US from the Soviet Union as refugees nearly 40 years ago, a fact that Vindman raised in his opening statement. But Castor raised an incident in which a Ukrainian official offered Vindman the job of defense minister in Ukraine. Vindman laughed it off as an absurd offer and possibly a joke, and he made clear that he turned it down. 

The attacks on Vindman have created worries about his security. 

This isn’t the first time a witness in the impeachment inquiry has been smeared in real time. On Friday, Trump himself used Twitter to attack former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch while she testified. But the attacks on Vindman appear to be part of a more coordinated strategy to discredit a key witness. 


as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.


as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.