Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified that his participation in the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump put him at “risk,” but he seemed a man very much at ease after returning to his job at the White House on Wednesday.
CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang tweeted a video of Vindman, who serves on the National Security Council, entering what appears to be Eisenhower Executive Office Building, near the West Wing. The NSC offices are located in the Eisenhower EOB.
“Our sharp @CBSNews photographer captured a good spirited Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman returning to work after testifying in #ImpeachmentHearings,” Jiang tweeted. “Here, Vindman is with his twin brother clearly wanting to be seen as they take a selfie in front of the West Wing.”
Exclusive: Our sharp @CBSNews photographer captured a good spirited Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman returning to work after testifying in #ImpeachmentHearings. Here, Vindman is with his twin brother clearly wanting to be seen as they take a selfie in front of the West Wing. pic.twitter.com/qrbf14M6oy
— Weijia Jiang (@weijia) November 20, 2019
Former White House staffer Sebastian Gorka responded to the footage, showing Vindman with all smiles, by tweeting, “Looks exactly like a man in fear for his life.”
“Alexander – Don’t Call me Mr.! – Sasha Vindman,” Gorka added.
Looks exactly like a man in fear for his life.
Alexander – Don’t Call me Mr.! – Sasha Vindman. https://t.co/99MEWrakx5
— Sebastian Gorka DrG (@SebGorka) November 21, 2019
Gorka was referencing Vindman’s exchange on Tuesday with House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes of California, who referred to the Army officer as “Mr. Vindman” at one point during the hearing.
“Ranking member, it’s Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, please,” the NSC staffer responded.
Nunes obliged Vindman’s request.
“It’s Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, please.”
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) November 19, 2019
Visions of a scene from “The Lion King” go through my mind: “They call me Mr. Pig!” But I digress.
During the hearing, Democratic Rep. Sean Maloney of New York sought to build up Vindman as being very heroic for agreeing to testify.
“You realized when you came forward out of a sense of duty that you were putting yourself in direct opposition to the most powerful person in the world,” Maloney said. “Do you realize that, sir?”
“I knew I was assuming a lot of risk,” Vindman responded, with a smile.
He then went on to explain that he felt fine about taking the risk, because unlike the Soviet Union, where his father served in the military, “This is America.”
“And here, right matters,” Vindman said.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman said, to some applause, that he took the risk of testifying today because, “This is America. This is the country that I’ve served and defended, that all of my brothers have served. And here, right matters.”https://t.co/V4mnB21Ay4 pic.twitter.com/3BHEekSeGU
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 19, 2019
In a letter to Fox News this week, the officer’s attorney claimed his client is in fear of his and his family’s physical safety because of how he has been portrayed during the impeachment inquiry.
“LTC Vindman and his family have been forced to examine options, including potentially moving onto a military base, in order to ensure their physical security in the face of threats rooted in the falsehood that Fox News originated,” wrote David Pressman, who is with the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner.
Pressman’s letter accuses Fox News of helping put Vindman’s life at risk with an Oct. 28 segment on “The Ingraham Angle.”
By the attorney’s account, host Laura Ingraham said of Vindman, “Here we have a U.S. national security official who is advising Ukraine, while working inside the White House, apparently against the president’s interest, and usually, they spoke in English. Isn’t that kind of an interesting angle on this story?”
Former George W. Bush Justice Department lawyer John Yoo responded, “I found that astounding.”
“Some people might call that espionage,” he added.
Yoo has since sought to clarify in an Op-Ed for USA Today he meant that the interactions Vindman had with Ukrainian officials “sounded like an espionage operation by the Ukrainians.”
Vindman has received a lot of criticism for his decision to bypass his chain of command and go directly to the NSC’s legal counsel with his concerns about Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The implication appears to be that Vindman had an agenda, which was only strengthened by his claim in his opening statement that the president made a “demand” of Zelensky to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. According to the White House’s partial transcript of the call, the commander in chief did no such thing.
Not one witness was able to testify to firsthand knowledge that Trump made the alleged quid pro quo of military aid in exchange for investigations. They just surmised it to be so.
Vindman, like nearly all of the witnesses whom House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff allowed to testify in the impeachment inquiry, appears to be a bureaucrat with an ax to grind.
After all the public testimony of the last two weeks, two central facts remain: Trump released aid to Ukraine and Ukraine did not open any investigations into the Bidens.
Thank you, Mr. — I mean Lt. Col. — Vindman, for your service, but I would say it’s time for your duties at the White House to end.
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