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

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

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. 

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

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.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

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

Donate

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.