Impeachment witness Alexander Vindman calls Trump Putin's 'useful idiot'

Former National Security Council Ukraine expert Alexander VindmanAlexander VindmanShould reporters Woodward, Costa have sat on Milley-Trump bombshell for months? Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE called President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinClinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Hillicon Valley — Facebook 'too late' curbing climate falsities France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE’s “useful idiot” in a new interview.

“President Trump should be considered to be a useful idiot and a fellow traveler, which makes him an unwitting agent of Putin,” Vindman told The Atlantic's editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Goldberg.

“They may or may not have dirt on him, but they don’t have to use it,” he said when asked if the Kremlin has material to blackmail Trump­­. “They have more effective and less risky ways to employ him. He has aspirations to be the kind of leader that Putin is, and so he admires him. He likes authoritarian strongmen who act with impunity, without checks and balances. So he’ll try to please Putin.”

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Vindman gained a national profile with his testimony against the president in the House’s impeachment inquiry last year. He retired from the military this July, saying a retaliatory campaign by the president had stalled his promotion to the rank of colonel. White House communications director Alyssa Farah, however, has called the allegation that Vindman was the victim of retaliation “ridiculous and false,” although Trump has tweeted that he was “very insubordinate.”

“The president destroyed my Army career,” Vindman told Goldberg in the interview published Monday. “I’m not crying over spilled milk. I have other things to do.”

The Atlantic interview marks Vindman’s first public remarks against Trump since the impeachment hearings.

“I was drawn into this by the president, who politicized me. I think it’s important for the American people to know that this could happen to any honorable service member, any government official,” he said. “I think it’s important for me to tell people that I think the president has made this country weaker.”

Goldberg was the first to report earlier this month that President Trump had called American troops buried in a French cemetery “losers.” The Washington Post, The Associated Press, The New York Times and Fox News have since backed up parts of the reporting. Trump has denied the allegations.