Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn doubled down on accusation she lobbed against Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman Thursday, alleging he's the whistleblower’s handler who leaked the July 25 call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky—despite his attorney accusing her of “slander” and “defamatory tweets.”
The Republican senator launched her latest criticism of Vindman as Rep. Adam Schiff spoke in the Senate impeachment trial Thursday evening.
“Adam Schiff is hailing Alexander Vindman as an American patriot. How patriotic is it to badmouth and ridicule our great nation in front of Russia, America’s greatest enemy?” her Twitter account posted in response.
“Alexander Vindman broke the chain of command and leaked the contents of the President’s July 25th phone call to his pal, the “whistleblower.” Over a policy dispute with the President!” she followed up. “How is that not vindictive?”
She then provided three similarities between Vindman and the “whistleblower”: they both worked under President Obama, had an interest in taking out President Trump, and held the same position within the National Security Council.
Blackburn also quoted Vindman’s commanding officer, Army Lt. Col. Jim Hickman, as saying: “Do not let the uniform fool you. He is a political activist in uniform.”
At one point during his impeachment testimony last year, Vindman was caught in an apparent contradiction late in the day by Republican Ohio Rep. Brad Wenstrup. Vindman testified that he did not discuss his concerns about Trump's July phone call with the NSC's Tim Morrison, his superior, because he was unavailable. But, under questioning from Wenstrup, Morrison confirmed that Vindman had given him edits of the transcript of the call, on the same day that Vindman testified Morrison was unreachable.
Morrison further testified he had heard others express concern that Vindman was a leaker, and could not be trusted with key information. Asked about that allegation, Vindman read from a glowing performance review that described him as an exemplary officer. (Fox News)
Vindman’s attorney responded, defending his client’s patriotism and accusing her of “cowardice.”
"That a member of the Senate – at a moment when the Senate is undertaking its most solemn responsibility – would choose to take to Twitter to spread slander about a member of the military is a testament to cowardice,” David Pressman, a lawyer with Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, said in a statement. “While Senator Blackburn fires off defamatory tweets, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman will continue to do what he has always done: serve our country dutifully and with honor."
Blackburn refused to back down, however, later telling Fox News’s Laura Ingraham that many members of the military have criticized Vindman for not following the chain of command and trying to interfere in President Trump’s foreign policy decisions.
"We honor the service of every man and woman in uniform," Blackburn told anchor Laura Ingraham. "You look at what his commanders said. He has a problem with his judgment. That's been pointed out. He had one commander who said he is a political activist in uniform. He has had problems with going outside of his chain of command, which is what he did here.
"I talk to a lot of military members on a regular basis," Blackburn continued. "They have a real problem with some of the things and the manner in which he conducted himself in this matter. What we want to do is make certain that we get to the heart of the issues here; we want to be certain the president is treated fairly. We want to make certain that we move through this and that we get back to the people's business, things they want to see us do, like putting more judges on the federal bench."
The American people deserve the truth on the “whistleblower,” Vindman and how this impeachment got started. pic.twitter.com/halfuwJYbV— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) January 24, 2020