STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Trump defends firing of key impeachment witness Vindman

CNN senior political analyst David Gergen scrutinizes President Trump's firing of two key impeachment witnesses, Gordon Sondland and Alexander Vindman.

Posted: Feb 8, 2020 3:30 PM
Updated: Feb 8, 2020 3:30 PM

President Donald Trump on Saturday defended the firing of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from the National Security Council.

The President complained about news coverage of the firing in a tweet, saying reporting was done "as though I should think only how wonderful he was. Actually, I don't know him, never spoke to him, or met him (I don't believe!)."

On Friday, Trump fired two key impeachment witnesses, dismissing Vindman, the top Ukraine expert at the council, and US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. An adviser to Trump told CNN the firings of the major impeachment witnesses was meant to send a message that siding against the President will not be tolerated.

Trump on Saturday claimed that Vindman "reported contents of my 'perfect' calls incorrectly," which those close to Vindman have disputed. Vindman reported concerns about Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to other officials with the National Security Council.

The President also attacked Vindman's work performance, claiming he was given a "horrendous" report by his superior that he had problems with judgment and leaking information. Tim Morrison, Vindman's boss at the time and a former top Russia and Europe adviser on the National Security Council, did question Vindman's judgment during congressional testimony in November. He testified he had been warned about Vindman's judgment when he took over the position and claimed Vindman did not keep him in the loop.

Vindman defended himself during his testimony saying he reported his concerns about the July 25 phone call as he was directed to do. Also he brought with him a review from his former boss, then-White House Russia adviser Fiona Hill, who praised his performance, to rebut the issue Morrison raised.

Morrison had testified it was Hill in addition to others who warned him about Vindman's judgment.

When she testified as part of the impeachment inquiry two days after Morrison's testimony, Hill clarified the conversation she had with Morrison about Vindman. Hill said that she was aiming to convey a specific concern about Vindman transitioning to a more political role and not meaning to raise a general concern about his overall judgment.

"I was concerned that if, for example, Colonel Vindman might decide to leave the military, that perhaps he wasn't as well suited for something that would be much more political," Hill testified. "I did not feel that he had the political antenna to deal with something that was straying into domestic politics. Not everyone is suited for that. That does not mean in any way that I was questioning his overall judgment, nor was I questioning in any way his substantive expertise."

Vindman's attorney criticized Saturday's tweets from Trump, saying the comments are "obviously false."

"The President this morning made a series of obviously false statements concerning Lieutenant Colonel Vindman; they conflict with the clear personnel record and the entirety of the impeachment record of which the President is well aware. While the most powerful man in the world continues his campaign of intimidation, while too many entrusted with political office continue to remain silent, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman continues his service to our country as a decorated, active duty member of our military," attorney David Pressman said in a statement to CNN.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer weighed in on the President's Saturday tweets about Vindman, posting on Twitter, "Has any 'President' ever been more disrespectful to U.S. service members?"

Vindman's departure

Vindman, a decorated veteran who was born in Ukraine, was escorted out of the White House by security and told his services were no longer needed, according to Pressman.

Pressman said in a statement that it is clear his client was fired for testifying in the impeachment probe.

"There is no question in the mind of any American why this man's job is over, why this country now has one less soldier serving it at the White House," Pressman said. "LTC Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth. His honor, his commitment to right, frightened the powerful."

He added, "Truth is not partisan. If we allow truthful voices to be silenced, if we ignore their warnings, eventually there will be no one left to warn us."

Alexander Vindman's twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, a National Security Council attorney, was also fired, "suddenly and with no explanation, despite over two decades of loyal service to this country," Pressman said. He was walked off the White House grounds alongside his brother.

Yevgeny Vindman had never testified or spoke publicly about the Ukraine saga. "He deeply regrets that he will not be able to continue his service at the White House," Pressman said in a statement.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 65436

Reported Deaths: 1848
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5487116
DeSoto352328
Madison238763
Harrison237835
Rankin222032
Jackson220142
Jones184258
Forrest172155
Washington158237
Lauderdale139090
Lee133232
Neshoba127891
Lamar118414
Bolivar116333
Oktibbeha109037
Lowndes103935
Warren100731
Scott98720
Panola98012
Sunflower96723
Copiah94128
Lafayette93714
Leflore89362
Pike87734
Holmes86348
Grenada83021
Yazoo80712
Pontotoc7918
Lincoln79041
Leake77925
Simpson77930
Wayne74921
Monroe74751
Coahoma69711
Tate69227
Marion63819
Marshall6389
Covington60713
Winston60415
Adams60225
Union56215
George5484
Newton53511
Pearl River52037
Attala51324
Walthall48919
Noxubee44411
Chickasaw44119
Tallahatchie40710
Calhoun4009
Claiborne39913
Smith39413
Prentiss3869
Alcorn3825
Clay38214
Jasper3819
Hancock36314
Tishomingo3505
Itawamba33710
Tippah32513
Clarke32425
Tunica3176
Montgomery3073
Yalobusha30710
Lawrence3067
Humphreys28211
Carroll25411
Quitman2401
Greene23111
Kemper22815
Jefferson Davis2266
Amite2206
Perry2207
Webster21612
Jefferson1946
Wilkinson19413
Sharkey1903
Stone1633
Benton1330
Choctaw1304
Franklin1162
Issaquena251
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 94827

Reported Deaths: 1674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12486232
Mobile9420204
Montgomery6449148
Madison516130
Tuscaloosa405769
Baldwin338023
Unassigned319060
Shelby316432
Marshall306034
Lee258844
Morgan229517
Etowah204128
DeKalb174513
Calhoun167213
Elmore167238
Walker149864
Houston134812
Dallas130523
St. Clair128915
Russell12772
Limestone126113
Franklin123820
Cullman118912
Colbert114113
Lauderdale112315
Autauga105021
Escambia104416
Talladega96713
Jackson9244
Tallapoosa84179
Chambers83538
Dale80223
Blount7593
Butler75635
Chilton7456
Coffee7365
Covington71620
Pike6877
Lowndes56724
Barbour5655
Marion56224
Marengo53614
Clarke4949
Hale46426
Bullock45011
Winston44011
Perry4364
Wilcox41410
Bibb4134
Monroe4084
Randolph39410
Conecuh37810
Pickens3779
Sumter36018
Lawrence3321
Macon32013
Washington32012
Crenshaw3123
Choctaw27712
Cherokee2587
Greene24911
Henry2493
Geneva2480
Clay2375
Lamar2122
Fayette1835
Cleburne1251
Coosa1012
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 82°
Columbus
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 76°
Oxford
Overcast
73° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 73°
Starkville
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 72°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather