Today’s impeachment inquiry witness is military veteran and purple heart awardee Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. Normally, a figure like this would be paraded about on the stage at one of Trump’s political rallies, but because he’s a fan of the truth, this decorated veteran is being viciously attacked by the right, up to and including death threats that prompted Vindman to send reassurances to his father.
“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... Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.”— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) November 19, 2019
-- Lt. Col. Vindman
Vindman, in opening statement, thanks his father for fleeing the Soviet Union and bringing his family to America. Vindman says that in the U.S. he can express concerns about leaders without fear: "Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth." https://t.co/OZ2lHu07Z6 pic.twitter.com/sovrfdjYs2— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 19, 2019
Republicans have been busy attacking Vindman for things like wearing his formal military uniform to the hearing (which is army policy), for correcting Rep. Devin Nunes in calling him “Mr. Vindman” instead of using his rank, and for being from the area now known as Ukraine, suggesting that he could have “dual loyalty” to the U.S. ally.
Vindman’s family fled the then-Soviet Union in the 1970s when he was a toddler as Jewish refugees from antisemitic Soviet political oppression.
NUNES: “Mr. Vindman, you testified in your deposition...”— CAP Action (@CAPAction) November 19, 2019
VINDMAN: “Ranking member, it’s Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, please.”
The disrespect that Trump and Republicans in Congress have shown an active duty Army officer is shameful. pic.twitter.com/f5HkhnH3yt
“In Russia, my act of expressing concern to the chain of command would have severe personal and professional repercussions, and offering public testimony involving the president would surely cost me my life,” Vindman said during his testimony.
Attacks from Trump and other Republicans have fueled hateful actions by members of the public, some of whom have sent Vindman anonymous death threats. However, he remains confident that present-day America is better than Soviet Russia.
“I’m grateful for my father’s brave act of hope 40 years ago and for the privilege of being an American citizen, where I can live free of fear for mine and my family’s safety,” he added.
Maloney: "You're putting yourself in direct opposition to the most powerful person in the world... Why do you have confidence that you can do that, and tell your dad not to worry?"— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) November 19, 2019
Vindman: "Congressman, because this is America... Here, right matters."pic.twitter.com/1NBTRTnLjH
In spite of this intensely patriotic testimony, Republicans continued to question Vindman’s loyalty in a way that reminded many of the antisemitic idea that Jewish individuals have “dual loyalty” to Israel. Republican counsel Steve Castor pressed the veteran about a day when Ukraine’s former national security chief repeatedly (and jokingly) offered him a job. Vindman testified under this questioning that he was asked to be the Ukraine defense minister three times and refused three times.
“Upon returning, I notified my chain of command and the appropriate counterintelligence folks about this offer,” said Vindman.
Castor's line of questioning implying that Vindman is potentially more loyal to Ukraine than to the United States is anti-Semitic. Full stop. #ImpeachmentHearings— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) November 19, 2019
Meanwhile, Democrats have widely condemned the repeated attacks on Vindman’s patriotism and lauded the veteran as an ideal example of a public servant and citizen.
This is an official government account.— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) November 19, 2019
A White House official is continuing to smear Vindman, suggesting he has dual loyalties
Clip leaves out context: that he flatly rejected the offers and appropriately reported it to his superiors
This is no better than McCarthyism https://t.co/DP4izi80ZQ
Still upset about attempts today to smear Vindman because of his heritage and ethnicity. And just to be clear, Vindmans family fled the Soviet Union, not Ukraine. And for those that feel the need to use hyphenated adjectives, he is Jewish-American not Ukrainian-American.— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) November 19, 2019
I’m proud of the courageous testimony by Ms. Williams and Lt. Col. Vindman. Today is a great day for our country. I loved what Vindman said about America: “This is the country that I have served and defended, that all of my brothers have served and here, right matters.”— Chris Matthews (@HardballChris) November 19, 2019
Why are Republican Members of Congress & the @WhiteHouse trying to smear Lt Col Vindman, a Purple Heart recipient and combat veteran?— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) November 19, 2019
Because his testimony was devastating to @realDonaldTrump.#VindmanTestimony https://t.co/IFFdAT9u8z
Raise your hand if you agree Lt. Col. Vindman is a hero. 👋#VindmanIsAHero— Jon Cooper 🇺🇸 (@joncoopertweets) November 19, 2019
Today’s shameful, partisan attacks on Lt. Col. Vindman for having been born in the Soviet Union before immigrating and devoting his life to honorably serving the country he calls his was as vulgar and offensive as anything I have ever seen in the halls of Congress.— The Hoarse Whisperer (@HoarseWisperer) November 19, 2019
Let’s be clear — this smear restarted because Nunes directed his counsel to ask Vindman about it. The GOP owns this. https://t.co/Apm1E1ZxWa— Eric Columbus (@EricColumbus) November 19, 2019
Attacking decorated veterans is never a good look.