House Republican conference chair Rep. Liz Cheney blasted ‘shameful’ questioning of the patriotism of a key impeachment witness who served in
Cheney, a Wyoming Republican and the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, issued her public admonition hours after high-profile conservative commentators sought to discredit new impeachment witness Col. Alexander Vindman before his testimony – with a former top Bush administration comparing him to a spy.
‘I also want to say a word about something else that’s been going on over the last couple of hours, and last night, which I think is also shameful, and that is questioning the patriotism, questioning the dedication to country, of people like Mr. Vindman – Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, who will be coming today – and others who have testified,’ Cheney said at a House leadership press conference.
She spoke after former top Bush Administration official John Yoo even
‘And it is shameful to question their patriotism,’ Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney said of attacks on witnesses providing information to the Democratic-led impeachment probe
Former Bush Administration official John Yoo participated in a panel segment that undermined Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman before his testimony before congressional committees Tuesday
Host Laura Ingraham asked Yoo about a detail from a New York Times report that said Vindman advised Ukrainian officials on how to handle Rudy Giuliani
National Security Council Director for European Affairs Alexander Vindman(C) arrives for a closed-door deposition at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on October 29, 2019
About an hour afte rsaying he had ‘never even heard of’ Vindman, the president declared that he was a ‘Never Trumper’ – the name given to Republicans who opposed him beginning with his presidential campaign’s launch in 2015
President Trump vented Tuesday morning on Twitter, saying a simple reading of the call transcript combined with Zelensky’s own public comments should be enough to override the opinion of a junior official he has ‘never even heard of’
Former Wisconsin GOP Rep. Sean Duffy joined in the attack,
‘We all have an affinity to our homeland where we came from… He’s entitled to his opinion. He has an affinity I think for the Ukraine, he speaks Ukrainian, he came to the country, and he wants to make sure they’re safe and free, I understand that,’ said Duffy. He called Trump the one who sets the policy and ‘looks out for America first.’
Host John Berman whether he was saying Vindman, ‘a decorated war veteran, isn’t looking out for America first, yes or no?’
Duffy responded: ‘I don’t know what he …’ Duffy responded.
Duffy announced his resignation from Congress in August and now serves as a CNN commentator.
The extraordinary attacks – and the rebuke from an influential House GOP leader – came just hours before Col. Alexander Vindman appeared at the Capitol in his dress uniform to deliver a statement about how he raised alarms following President Trump’s July 25 call with the president of Ukraine.
But Vindman’s service as a policy expert on the National Security Council and military achievements (he was awarded a purple heart and served in combat in Iraq) did not shield him from attacks.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham on her program noted flagged a passage ‘buried’ in a New York Times story on his testimony. The report stated: ‘Because he emigrated from Ukraine along with his family when he was a child and is fluent in Ukrainian and Russian, Ukrainian officials sought advice from him about how to deal with Mr. Giuliani, though they typically communicated in English.’
The passage was referring to Donald Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who various witness have testified carried out Ukraine policy on a separate track while he pursued efforts to get the Ukrainians to investigate the Bidens.
Ingraham noted Vindman’s military record, saying: ‘He’s a decorated colonel, by the way, in the Iraq War,’ but then cast the facts in a more unflattering light.
‘Now wait a second, John,’ she said, chuckling. ‘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?’
That prompted a response from Yoo, who authorized the infamous torture memos on ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ following the Sept. 11th attacks.
‘I find that astounding. Some people might call that espionage,’ Yoo responded.
Yoo said Vindman’s testimony ‘doesn’t actually seek to add any new facts to what we know.’
He said: ‘I don’t see how this breaking news adds more facts to what we know about whether this isn’t an impeachable offense or not.’
‘I think that is something the American people should decide rather than just the House,’ he said.
Then co-panelist lawyer Alan Dershowitz called for the White House to add constitutional scholars ‘like John who can make it clear that there’s a difference between sin, which is a reason for voting against somebody, crime, which might be a reason for prosecuting somebody, and high crime, which is an impeachable offense.’
But Cheney blasted Republicans who question his patriotism. The officer has a Purple Heart and a string of commendations.
‘I think that we need to show that we are better than that as a nation’, she said, bluntly admonishing critics who have joined in the pushback.
‘Their patriotism, their love of country, we’re talking about decorated veterans who have served this nation, who have put their lives on the line.
‘And it is shameful to question their patriotism, their love of this nation. And we should not be involved in that process. We need to make sure that we are abiding by, upholding, the Constitution. Just because the Democrats refuse to do that does not mean that we ought to let ourselves be dragged down to the level at which they are operating,. And we won’t do that as Republicans.’
Trump vented that a transcript of the call makes it clear he did nothing wrong, and that Vindman is an unimportant figure who never crossed paths with him. He also included Vindman in a group of ‘never Trumpers’ who have provided testimony, without specifying why he applied the label.
‘Why are people that I never even heard of testifying about the call. Just READ THE CALL TRANSCRIPT AND THE IMPEACHMENT HOAX IS OVER! Ukrain [sic] said NO PRESSURE,’ Trump tweeted Monday.
LT. COL VINDMAN’S SERVICE
Army Lt. Col Alexander Vindman has a long military career as an infantry officer who has seen combat and diplomatic service.
Born in Ukraine, his mother died before he was three and his father took his older brother, his twin Eugene and his grandmother to the U.S. to escape persecution of Jews in the Soviet Union. They settled in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York, an area known as Little Odessa.
He and his twin featured in the Ken Burns documentary, America, in a picture emblematic of the immigrant dream.
Alexander Vindman joined the Army in 1998, after graduating from the State University of New York, and was commissioned the next year from Cornell University.
After basic training at Fort Benning in Georgia, he was deployed first to South Korea as a junior infantry and anti-armor officer.
He saw combat in 2003 and was wounded, gaining the purple star. Other foreign deployments include to Germany and he has a series of medals for his service.
Fluent in Ukrainian and Russian, he has a degree from Harvard in Eastern European Studies and since 2008 has held diplomatic posts for the Army.
Here is what his Army Service Uniform shows about what he has achieved.
On the left of his uniform he wears awards given to him as an individual:
Top: Combat Infantryman Badge – shows that Lt. Col Vindman has seen action as an infantry officer, which he did in Iraq.
Top row of ribbons: Purple Heart, awarded in 2003 after being wounded in an IED attack in Iraq.
Defense Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf. For distinguishing himself in non-combat operations; awarded twice.
Second row: Meritorious Service Medal – given to officers ranked major and above for outstanding service; can be awarded for combat but unknown if Vindland’s was.
Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaves – for sustained acts of heroism or meritorious service; Vindland has been awarded it four times.
Army Achievement Medal with oak leaf – for meritorious service as a junior officer. Awarded twice.
Third row: National Defense Service Medal – for honorable service since September 11, 2001.
Global War On Terror Expeditionary Medal – given for being deployed to Iraq.
Global War On Terror Service Medal – given for support duty to combat operations in Iraq or Afghanistan, or both.
Fourth row: Korean Defense Service Medal – for serving in Korea as an infantry officer in 2000. Army Service Ribbon – for completing training as an officer. Army Overseas Service Ribbon – for having served abroad.
Below (left): Ranger tab – meaning he completed the tough 61-day Ranger School course in small-unit infantry fighting.
Below (right): Parachutist wings: Is qualified to go into action in airborne operations.
Badge of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Vindman works for the Joint Chiefs in the National Security Council.
On the right of his uniform, Vindman wears decorations awarded to units he has served in:
Top: 2nd Cavalry Regiment. Was deployed to Iraq in 2003, suggesting that Vindman was serving with them when he was wounded. The unit includes infantry elements.
First row of ribbons: Joint Meritorious Unit Award. Equivalent to the Defense Superior Service Medal for an individual.
Second row of ribbons (from left): Valorous Unit Award. Equivalent to the Silver Star for an individual.
Navy Unit Commendation – suggests that he was attached to a Navy unit during his career.
Left: White House Service Badge, for being on active duty in the National Security Council. Right: 25th Infantry Division.