Republicans have been mostly silent since Donald Trump unceremoniously fired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a decorated Army officer and National Security Council staffer, and his twin brother on Friday afternoon.
Vindman was escorted from the White House Friday afternoon, a move largely seen as retaliation for Vindman’s congressional testimony during the House impeachment investigation. Vindman testified in November 2019 that he was troubled by Trump asking the Ukrainian government to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and relayed his concerns to NSC lawyers.
Vindman received the Purple Heart after he was injured by an improvised explosive device while serving in Iraq in 2004. Until Friday, he served as one of the NSC’s top Ukraine experts.
Not a single Republican member of Congress has defended Vindman publicly since his dismissal.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who voted to acquit Trump on articles of impeachment claiming Trump had learned his lesson, said Friday that she was opposed “any kind of retribution” against administration officials who provided evidence in the impeachment investigation, but did not defend Vindman by name.
Neither Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell nor House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy responded immediately to requests for comment on the matter.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, also did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
At least three GOP members have defended Trump’s retaliatory actions.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) tweeted that Trump “has a right to have people he trusts on his staff.”
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) attacked Vindman as “a leaker, not a whistlblower,” adding that Trump “made the right decision to remove Vindman” from the White House.
There is no evidence Vindman leaked any information.
On Monday morning, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) shared a video on Facebook attacking Vindman as having “poor judgment.”
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), a member
of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, repeatedly attacked the integrity of Vindman before the White House fired him, falsely accusing Vindman of badmouthing the United States in front of Russian officials.
After Vindman was escorted from the White House last week, Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s eldest son, suggested on social media that Vindman was dismissed in retaliation for testifying. The younger Trump thanked Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who led the impeachment investigations, for “unearthing who all needed to be fired.”
When Vindman, who fled the former Soviet Union with his family as a child over religious persecution, testified before Congress in November 2019, he noted that “in Russia, my act of expressing my concerns to the chain of command in an official and private channel would have severe personal and professional repercussions.”
He thanked his father, reassuring him that he had made the right decision to immigrate to the united States.
“Dad, my sitting here today, in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected officials is proof that you made the right decision forty years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family,” Vindman said. “Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.”
Trump also fired Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, on Friday.
Sondland, like Vindman, gave testimony to before Congress during the House impeachment investigation, stating absolutely that Trump had a quid pro quo arrangement with Ukraine, and that Trump had conditioned a coveted White House meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the leader’s willingness to open investigations into Trump’s political rivals.
“I know that members of this committee frequently frame these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a ‘quid pro quo’?” Sondland said. “… With regard to the requested White House call and the White House meeting, the answer is yes.”
The New York Times reported last week that several Republican senators privately urged Trump not to fire Sondland, because he was a major Republican donor.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.