Tag Archives: Alexander Vindman

U.S. Army losing a patriot because of politics

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The United States Army is about to lose a patriot, someone who shed blood on the battlefield for the country he loves.

And why? Because he had enough of a conscience to testify under oath before Congress about things he heard from the commander in chief … things that led the commander in chief’s impeachment by the House of Representatives.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman became a household name during that troubling episode. He has served more than two decades in defense of the nation. He once worked as a staffer for the National Security Council and reported to Congress that he heard Donald John Trump ask for a political favor from a foreign head of state in exchange for weapons the United States would provide that nation.

Trump called Vindman a “never Trumper” and dismissed his testimony as fake.

According Vindman and his lawyer, Trump’s anger reportedly got in the way of Vindman being promoted to full colonel.

This is despicable if true. I happen to believe it is true. Thus, the nation is now the poorer because a war hero and a patriot is surrendering his service to his beloved country.

This is so par for the course for this president.

“The President of the United States attempted to force LTC Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a President. Between honoring his oath or protecting his career. Between protecting his promotion or the promotion of his fellow soldiers. These are choices that no one in the United States should confront, especially one who has dedicated his life to serving it,” Vindman’s lawyer, David Pressman said.

Thus, according to Pressman, Trump engaged in standard bullying of a career public servant.

This is another chapter to add to Trump’s growing list of disgraceful acts — allegedly! — while masquerading as commander in chief.

Kelly vs. Trump: Who’s more trustworthy?

Donald John Trump is engaging in a verbal skirmish with another of his top former advisers.

The foe this time is a decorated combat veteran, a retired U.S. Marine Corps general, a Gold Star parent whose son was killed in Afghanistan, a gentleman who served as White House chief of staff: John Kelly.

Gen. Kelly has come to the defense of Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, whom Trump fired after he testified to the House about concerns he had over the phone call Trump made to the Ukraine president. This was the call in which Trump asked Ukraine for a political favor. Vindman said the nature of the conversation worried him.

Kelly said Vindman was following military protocol when he reported his concern to his superior officers.

Kelly, in an article in Atlantic, had questioned the president’s decisions relating to North Korea and has challenged Trump’s description of immigrants as murderers and rapists.

Trump’s response has been to say that Kelly can’t keep his mouth shut.

Hmm. Who am I to believe? An honorable Marine who spent his adult life serving the public and defending this nation against its enemies? Or do I believe an admitted philanderer, a man who couldn’t tell the truth under any circumstances, and someone who spent his entire adult life seeking to enrich himself, quite often at others’ expense?

I believe I will stand with the general on this one.

It was the manner of the firing that rankles us, Mr. POTUS

Hey, I absolutely understand that a president of the United States needs to trust those who are closest to him and that the POTUS has the authority to hire and fire staffers at will.

Thus, when Donald John Trump, the nation’s current president, fied Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from the National Security Council staff after Vindman offered negative impeachment testimony to congressional questioners, I get it.

However, the manner of the dismissal and the spectacle that Trump and his senior White House staff made of it is what gets under my skin.

Lt. Col. Vindman is a war hero. He is a decorated Army officer who has shed blood on the battlefield in defense of his adopted country. He is a Ukraine native who came to this country as a toddler when his parents fled the Soviet Union.

How did the president let him go? By ordering him escorted out of the White House in broad daylight. He was shown the door and told, in effect, to “hit the road.” What’s more, so was Vindman’s twin brother, who had not a single thing to do with the Ukraine matter that got Vindman on the wrong side of the president. Yevgeny Vindman’s only “sin” is to be related to twin bro Alex.

Why couldn’t Trump have shown just a touch of discretion, of class, of empathy for a war hero? He could have issued a private directive, told Vindman to vacate his White House office. Then he could have issued a simple statement declaring that he had relieved Vindman of his duties based on, oh, “differences in policy.” Sure, those who had paid any attention to what Vindman said during the House impeachment hearings would know what he means … but that would be for us to determine.

That isn’t how Donald Trump rolls. He wants to make spectacles of others around him, not to mention of himself.

Trump’s scorched-Earth policy taking hold

Gordon Sondland is a goner. So is Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.

What did these two men do to lose their high-powered jobs within the Donald John Trump administration? They told the truth to congressional committees seeking answers to a phone call that the current president made this past July to the president of Ukraine.

Sondland, a hotel magnate, was the U.S. ambassador to the European Union. Vindman, a native of Ukraine (which was part of the Soviet Union when he was born) served on the National Security Council staff as an expert on Ukraine; oh, and Vindman also is a decorated Army hero who was wounded in battle.

The men told the truth as they understood it. They told congressional questioners about Trump’s phone call in which he asked Ukraine for political help. Vindman said the request troubled him when he heard the president ask for it. Sondland said it was “understood” that Trump was asking for a favor.

Trump won his acquittal this week from the Senate. He went to the National Prayer Breakfast and trashed Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Mitt Romney, the first senator in U.S. history to vote to convict a president of his own party. It was Donald Trump at his vengeful worst.

Now he has canned two men. One of whom, Vindman, is a proven patriot; the other, Sondland, is a dedicated Trump supporter who gave lots of money to elect the president in 2016. I should mention as well that Trump canned Vindman’s brother, who also served on the NSC. Vindman’s brother, Yevgeny, another Army officer, did not testify. Trump fired him, I guess, because his brother Alexander might have said something to him about the Ukraine matter. So, if one Vindman gets fired, let’s make it a clean sweep and get of them both.

Trump is mad as hell at them. There likely will be more firings to come.

Hmm. Rather than invoking the call for harmony and unity in the wake of his acquittal of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Donald Trump appears to be setting a course that seeks to exact maximum vengeance.

Yes, he is entitled to act this way. It still packs a serious stench.

Freshman senator challenges war hero’s patriotism

Now it’s Marsha Blackburn’s turn to etch her name onto my sh** list.

What has the freshman U.S. senator from Tennessee done to incur my wrath? She is questioning the patriotism, his loyalty to our country and the honesty of a decorated Army officer who has been wounded on the battlefield in Iraq.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s only sin, if you want to call it that, is to challenge some decisions made by the current president of the United States, Donald John Trump.

Sen. Blackburn has been on a monthlong tirade against Vindman. She calls him “vindictive” for suggesting that he believes it was wrong for Trump to ask a foreign government for a political favor.

She suggests that Vindman, whose parents fled the Soviet Union when he was a toddler, may be more loyal to Ukraine than he is to the United States. Wow! Amazing, if you ask me.

Never mind that Lt. Col Vindman is a highly decorated U.S. Army officer, that he thrust himself into harm’s way on behalf of this country. Or that he has professed his love of country and his dedication to public service by serving for as long as he has as a military officer.

I happen to be proud of the service that Lt. Col. Vindman has given to this country and I daresay that it vastly overshadows the service that most — if not all — of his critics have delivered.

Does that shield him from any criticism? Of course not! The criticism just needs to be deserved. So far, as far as I can tell, Marsha Blackburn has besmirched her own character.

Immigrant patriots get slimed by House GOP members

What do Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, Fiona Hill and Marie Yovanovitch have in common?

Two things: They all are naturalized U.S. citizens and they all have been smeared and slimed by congressional Republicans who have questioned their loyalty to the country they chose to call their home. Moreover, they all have chosen to serve their country with distinction, valor and heroism.

They all testified over the past two weeks before the House Intelligence Committee, which conducted its inquiry hearings into whether to impeach Donald J. Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors.

First up was Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who Trump recalled earlier this year, citing his prerogative as president to do what he did. He smeared the decorated envoy prior to removing her and then afterward, even while she was testifying to the House panel about what she saw and heard regarding Trump’s asking the Ukrainian government for a personal political favor.

Then we heard from Lt. Col. Vindman, a Ukrainian immigrant who came to this country with his family when he was a toddler. The National Security Council adviser joined the Army and has served for two decades as an infantry officer, receiving the Purple Heart after he wounded in battle in Iraq. GOP lawmakers and their friends in the conservative media have questioned Vindman’s loyalty to the country, suggesting he was secretly more loyal to his native Ukraine than to the nation he has served heroically.

Finally, we had Fiona Hill, the British immigrant and former NSC adviser who testified this week about her concern over whether the nation was sacrificing national security for the sake of a “political errand” being run by European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland on behalf of the presidents of the United States and Ukraine. She, too, has been dismissed in some circles because she is, um, an immigrant.

These people all represent the best of this great nation. They are proud patriots who love this country deeply and have stepped forward to serve with the highest honor imaginable. They represent millions of Americans who are themselves immigrants or the direct descendants of immigrants who chose to venture many thousands of miles to build new lives.

That their loyalty would be questioned at any level by anyone is shameful on its face.

Lt. Col. Vindman is entitled to wear his uniform whenever he wishes

Simply astonishing.

That’s my first reaction to questions raised today during Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s testimony before the U.S. House Intelligence Committee.

Vindman sat before the panel in his Army dress blue uniform. It then fell to a Republican member of the committee, Chris Stewart of Utah, to ask why he wore what was “not the uniform of the day.”

Vindman works on the National Security Council. He is an active-duty Army officer. He wears a civilian suit to work … usually. He chose to wear his uniform today, I suppose, because he thought it would be proper for him to wear the attire he is entitled to wear as a commissioned officer.

I want to mention this because other NSC officials have testified before Congress in their military uniform. One is most notable, as Roll Call notes: Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, who sat before Congress during his testimony into the Iran-Contra matter of 1987. Did anyone raise a ruckus then? I do not recall it.

Moreover, other active-duty officers have worn their uniforms while at work in the federal government. Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the former national security adviser to Donald Trump, being one of them.

Vindman  was in Congress today to testify about what he heard during that infamous phone call with Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that has prompted the impeachment inquiry against the president. He said some important things today and made some important assertions.

So, let’s not get sidetracked by something as ridiculous as whether an Army field-grade officer is entitled to wear his dress uniform.

Of course he is!

Patriot getting a dose of typical Trump response

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is no one’s puppet. He is the farthest thing I can imagine from being a political creature.

Vindman is a career military man. He is an immigrant who came here to this country as a toddler. The United States is the only country he has known. It is the country he loves and for which he has shed blood on the battlefield.

Yet he has run straight into a fusillade of fire from allies of Donald Trump. Why? Because he had the courage to tell congressional questioners what he heard in real time on July 25, which was the president of the United States seeking a political favor from a foreign government.

He now is getting the Trump treatment. The president decided to label Lt. Col. Vindman a “never Trumper.” Granted, it’s not nearly as hideous as the comments from some of Trump’s media allies, who have questioned the soldier’s loyalty to his country, suggesting he is more loyal to Ukraine, the Soviet state he and his parents fled.

To their great credit, many high-level Republican politicians have stood up for Alexander Vindman. They have praised his service to his country and said the dubious accusations of disloyalty to the United States have no place in the current discussion. I am heartened to hear such rhetoric from the nation’s GOP political leadership.

Still, that doesn’t lessen the idiocy that continues to flow from right-wing media and, yes, from the president of the United States.

Career military personnel take an oath to defend that nation against its enemies. They do not take political oaths. They are as non-political as anyone in public service. So, for the president to call Lt. Col. Vindman a “never Trumper” is to disparage the oath he took when he donned the nation’s military uniform.

To think that this president, who famously avoided (or evaded?) military service during the Vietnam War, would even assert such a thing about an actual patriot is utterly beyond belief.

A glimmer of sanity emerges from GOP congressional leadership

How about this bit of sanity from the ranks of senior Republican congressional leadership?

It comes in the form of pushback from GOP politicians against conservative media pundits who have questioned the patriotism of a decorated combat veteran who has testified about what he heard in real time when Donald Trump spoke to the Ukrainian president.

Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified today that he heard Trump ask Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for a personal political favor and that he expressed concern about the propriety — even the legality — of that overture.

Conservative media pundits have actually questioned whether the combat veteran, who was wounded in combat in Iraq, is loyal to the United States. I should add that Lt. Col. Vindman came to the United States from the Soviet Union when he was 3 years old. He has dedicated his life to public service.

It turns out that senior GOP politicians are standing behind Vindman. They are calling him a patriot and a war hero. As U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., noted, you can question what he is saying, but his patriotic credentials are out of bounds. “You can obviously take issue with the substance and there are different interpretations about all that stuff. But I wouldn’t go after him personally. He’s a patriot,” Thune said.

I hope such wisdom silences the right-wing media hyenas who have attacked this dedicated soldier. It might, but I won’t hold my breath believing they will heed this bit of political advice.