Army backs Purple Heart recipient Lt. Col. Vindman after Trump's attacks

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Officials praised Vindman for 'a long history of selfless service to his country.'

The Army affirmed its support this week for Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert, the same day Donald Trump attacked his testimony before the House impeachment inquiry.

"Lt. Col. Vindman, who has served this country honorably for 20+ years, is fully supported by the Army like every Soldier, having earned a Purple Heart after being wounded in Iraq in 2004," Army spokesperson Matt Leonard told Task & Purpose.

"As his career assignments reflect, Lt. Col. Vindman has a long history of selfless service to his country, including combat. Lt. Col. Vindman is afforded all protections anyone would be provided in his circumstances."

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Vindman serves as the NSC's top Ukraine adviser. He testified on Tuesday that he alerted lawyers to concerns he had about a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky after Trump pushed Zelensky to investigate his 2020 political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

The White House later tried to hide a partial transcript of that phone call — which Vindman said during his testimony was incomplete and missing details, according to the New York Times — by stowing it in a top secret codeword system to which few had access.

Trump is also said to have withheld crucial aid to Ukraine, authorized by Congress to help the nation defend itself against Russia, in exchange for an investigation. Multiple officials have confirmed the existence of such a quid pro quo, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who later attempted to walk back comments he made during a press conference earlier in October.

Trump has said his requests were focused on rooting out corruption more broadly and were all above board.

Vindman is the latest in a line of witnesses who have testified to Congress corroborating an anonymous whistleblower complained released earlier in the year. That complaint detailed concerns about Trump's efforts to pressure Zelensky and triggered the current House impeachment inquiry.

Trump attacked Vindman ahead of his testimony this week, calling him a "Never Trumper."

"Supposedly, according to the Corrupt Media, the Ukraine call 'concerned' today’s Never Trumper witness," Trump tweeted. "Was he on the same call that I was? Can’t be possible! Please ask him to read the Transcript of the call. Witch Hunt!"

Following Vindman's testimony, Trump claimed the Purple Heart recipient was part of a partisan witch hunt to undermine his presidency.

"Yesterday’s Never Trumper witness could find NO Quid Pro Quo in the Transcript of the phone call," he tweeted. "There were many people listening to the call. How come they (including the President of Ukraine) found NOTHING wrong with it. Witch Hunt!"

Trump's allies have also attempted to smear Vindman, calling into question his loyalty to the United States.

Vindman, born to Jewish parents, came to the United States as a child, after his family was forced to flee persecution in the Soviet Union.

Attacks on Vindman's loyalty have been widely labeled as anti-Semitic.

The attacks this week were a bridge too far for even Trump's strongest congressional defenders.

"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 and their love of nation," said Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY).

In the past, Cheney has claimed that the impeachment inquiry led Trump to abandon Kurdish allies in northern Syria. She has also refused to condemn Trump for his many anti-Semitic remarks over the years.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.