Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the decorated war hero who retired from the Army in July after calling out "intimidation" from the White House, said in an interview published Monday morning that Trump is a "useful idiot" for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Donald Trump fired Vindman from the National Security Council in February, a move largely seen as retaliation for Vindman's congressional testimony during the House impeachment investigation.
"President Trump should be considered to be a useful idiot and a fellow traveler, which makes him an unwitting agent of Putin," Vindman said in an interview with the Atlantic's editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Goldberg.
Vindman added, "They may or may not have dirt on him, but they don't have to use it. 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."
Vindman is the latest former American intelligence official to question Trump's relationship with the Russian dictator, as Trump has made numerous comments and taken a host of actions that benefit Putin's nefarious intentions.
For example, Trump has pushed Putin's anti-Ukraine propaganda, legitimized Russia's hacking and interference in American elections, and even let Putin's bounties on the heads of American troops slide.
Those actions, among others, have led intellgience officials to wonder whether Putin has dirt on Trump.
Former FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who led the United States' investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election, said on NBC News' Meet the Press on Sunday that, "Donald Trump is compromised by the Russians."
"And when I say that I mean that they hold leverage over him that makes him incapable of placing the national interest, the national security ahead of his own," Strzok said.
Meanwhile, Bob Woodward reported in his forthcoming book that Trump's former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats had a "deep suspicions" that Russian "had something" on Trump.
And Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general, said in June that Trump "cannot be trusted."
"Trump is supporting Putin and Russian interests for whatever reason," McCaffrey tweeted.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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