During the first few moments of public testimony in the impeachment inquiry, witness George Kent, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, spoke candidly and with great admiration toward other witnesses in the impeachment saga so far who have been attacked by some on the right over questions of loyalty to America.
Kent concluded his opening statement by making sure there were no doubts about it: these career civil and military servants deserved respect, not admonitions, from Republican lawmakers and their media sympathizers.
Ambassador Marie Yovanovich, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, and Dr. Fiona Hill “were born abroad before their families or they themselves personally chose to immigrate to the United States,” Kent noted in his statement, per reporting from CNN. “They all made the professional choice to serve the United States as public officials, helping shape our national security policy, towards Russia in particular. And we and our national security are the better for it.”
Kent compared their service to former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, executive branch aides to presidents in the past who were also born outside of the United States.
“Like the Brzezinskis and Kissingers, the Yovanovitches and Vindmans fled Nazi and communist oppression to contribute to a stronger, more secure America,” Kent said.
Service from trusted individuals not born in the U.S. was a tradition that “goes back to the very founding of our republic,” Kent added, citing “the French-born Lafayette and Rochambeau, the German-born von Steuben, and the Poles Pulaski and Kosciuszko” who helped aid the American cause of Revolution.
And here is the opening statement of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, testifying today in an open hearing in the impeachment inquiry https://t.co/fzaqkSW5AS
— Alex Leff (@alexleff) November 13, 2019
Vindman, a Purple Heart recipient, received quite a bit of criticism from conservative media after certain parts of his testimony became public.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham doubted Vindman’s dedication to the U.S. on her program shortly after he had testified, stating it was “interesting” that Ukraine officials sought advice on how to handle President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the Washington Post reported. Giuliani was allegedly conducting a backchannel diplomacy effort beyond the State Department.
Former Bush administration Justice Department official John Yoo responded to Ingraham by saying “some people might call that espionage.”
Former Rep. Sean Duffy, a Republican from Wisconsin, also opined on the subject of Vindman’s loyalty to America.
“It seems very clear that he is incredibly concerned about Ukrainian defense,” Duffy said last month. “I don’t know that he’s concerned about American policy…He has an affinity I think for the Ukraine.”