Houston Chronicle Sunday

Trump attacks Vindman as ‘insubordin­ate’ after firing him

- By Peter Baker

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Saturday defended his decision to fire Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the national security aide who was marched out of the White House on Friday by security officers, calling the decorated Army officer who testified at a House impeachmen­t hearing “very insubordin­ate.”

Trump denigrated Vindman, a veteran of the Iraq War who appeared in November before the House Intelligen­ce Committee under subpoena and described the July 25 telephone call in which the president pressured President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine to announce investigat­ions into former Vice President Joe Biden and other Democrats.

“Fake News @CNN & MSDNC keep talking about ‘Lt. Col.’ Vindman as though I should think only how wonderful he was,” Trump wrote on Twitter, without explaining why he put the colonel’s rank in quote marks.

“Actually, I don’t know him, never spoke to him, or met him (I don’t believe!),” the president continued, “but, he was very insubordin­ate, reported contents of my ‘perfect’ calls incorrectl­y, & was given a horrendous report by his superior, the man he reported to, who publicly stated that Vindman had problems with judgement, adhering to the chain of command and leaking informatio­n. In other words, ‘OUT’.”

Trump offered no explanatio­n for why Vindman’s twin brother, Yevgeny Vindman,

who is also an Army lieutenant colonel and who worked as a lawyer on the National Security Council staff, was also fired and escorted out of the White House complex at the same time even though he did not participat­e in the House hearings. Nor did the president mention his decision to recall Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, who was also an impeachmen­t witness.

The president’s dismissals of the Vindman brothers and Sondland opened a campaign of retributio­n just days after the Senate acquitted him on two articles of impeachmen­t. Fresh from that political victory, Trump and his staff have made clear that they plan to “exact payback” on those they blame for his impeachmen­t. Sondland and Vindman were key witnesses in the House impeachmen­t hearings.

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