Trump defends Vindman ouster, calls him ‘very insubordinate’

President Trump on Saturday panned Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman after his high-profile dismissal from the White House the previous day while linking the former National Security Council (NSC) official’s ouster to his testimony in the House impeachment probe.

“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,” Trump tweeted. “In other words, ‘OUT.’”

The tweet comes a day after Vindman, the top expert on Ukraine at the NSC, was told to leave his position and escorted out of the White House.

Vindman’s lawyer David Pressman responded to Trump’s tweets in a statement, saying the president “made a series of obviously false statements concerning Lieutenant Colonel Vindman; they conflict with the clear personnel record and the entirety of the impeachment record of which the President is well aware.”

“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,” Pressman added.

Vindman was a key witness in the House’s impeachment probe, testifying mainly about Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during which Trump raised investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. 

Vindman, who listened in on the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky, testified publicly and privately that he believed the call was inappropriate and that he reported it to White House lawyers.

Trump has repeatedly insisted that his phone call with Zelensky was “perfect” and has cast himself as the victim of a partisan “witch hunt.” 

“There is no question in the mind of any American why this man’s job is over, why this country now has one less soldier serving it at the White House,” David Pressman, Vindman’s attorney, said in a statement. “LTC Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth.”

Vindman is expected to assume a position at the Pentagon before going to the National War College in July, according to reports. 

Former Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who also testified in the House’s investigation, was also dismissed Friday.

Vindman previously denied being the source of leaks within the administration, calling the claim “preposterous” during a public hearing in November.

He also pushed back on GOP lawmakers questioning his judgement, reading an evaluation from former NSC official Fiona Hill from earlier in 2019 in which she characterized him as “a top 1 percent military officer.”

“He’s brilliant, unflappable and exercises excellent judgment,” Hill said, according to a review read by Vindman.

The White House previously cited Tim Morrison, another national security official who replaced Hill as Vindman’s superior, in questioning Vindman’s judgement.

However Hill, who served as senior director for European and Russian affairs on the NSC, disputed that she related any general concerns about Vindman’s judgement to Morrison, saying she was “somewhat surprised” when she heard about the assertion.

Vindman insisted in his House impeachment testimony that Morrison clashed with him because of a difference in work culture.

Updated: 1:45 p.m.

Tags Alexander Vindman Donald Trump Gordon Sondland Joe Biden
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