Retired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman Declares Himself a ‘Never Trumper’ and Will Vote for Joe Biden
Former Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, who was a key witness in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, declared himself a “never Trumper” in an exclusive interview on Monday night’s NBC Nightly News.
“I love this country. The President loves only himself,” Vindman tweeted on Monday afternoon ahead of the interview’s airing. “Yes, I am now a never-Trumper!”
I love this country. The President loves only himself. Yes, I am now a never-Trumper! https://t.co/cpT5TQnhK1
— Alexander S. Vindman (@AVindman) September 14, 2020
Lester Holt asked Vindman: “The president suggested that you are a never Trumper Are you a never. Trumper?”
“I joined this administration; I joined the president’s team; I joined this administration well into this administration with the hopes of being able to do my job, with the hopes of being able to advance US national security interests,” Vindman replied. “I can say that I am now a never Trumper.
Vindman, who prior to Trump’s impeachment prided himself on being an apolitical military officer, said that although he was “not a never Trumper before,” “non-partisan, regardless of administration,” and that he “would try to do the best I could to advance national security interests,” he can no longer remain neutral amid the barrage of personal attacks from Trump:
But I think as the president has attacked and politicized me directly, and in taking a very view of where this president is taking this country – the divisions, the catering to our adversaries, the undermining of our national security interests – that I am absolutely a never Trumper.
As retribution for Vindman’s damaging impeachment testimony, Trump mounted a “vindictive” campaign to prevent him from being promoted to full colonel, which forced him to retire from the US Army in July, Vindman explained. But he stands by his decision to testify against the president.
“I suspected, as soon as I heard the call, that if this became public that the president would be impeached, no doubt about it,” Vindman said, referring to the now infamous phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
“The whole enterprise from start to finish seemed un-American,” Vindman said. “It seemed wrong, it seemed corrupt, and frankly I suspect that it could have been criminal.”
Vindman, who was born in Ukraine, accused the Trump Administration of leaking classified information to Republicans in Congress to make his Ukrainian heritage appear suspect.
Vindman recalled that during his testimony in November, Steve Castor, a lawyer representing Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, asked if he had entertained accepting multiple offers to be Ukraine’s defense minister.
“I’m an American. I came here when I was a toddler,” Vindman told NBC. “And I immediately dismissed these offers, did not entertain them.”
Vindman maintained that the only way Castor could have known about the offer – which Vindman documented, reported to his superiors, and rejected three times – is if the White House told them about it.
“That memorandum that I had classified, the White House leaked to the Republicans, a classified memo, to try to trip me up,” Vindman says. “That could have only come from one place, could have only come from the White House.”
Vindman also said that Trump is “infatuated” with Russian President Vladimir Putin and that Trump acts as if the two men are having “a kind of a love affair.” Whether or not the bromance stems from Putin having kompromat on Trump, however, is “unclear,” he said.
“I know that other senior government officials suspect that Putin might have dirt on him,” Vindman said. “But frankly, they don’t have to use coercive force. What they have is a willing participant in their enterprise.”
Regarding the election, Vindman said that he has taken “a significant amount of personal risk” in his efforts to “inform an electorate going into the most important election of our lifetime, and maybe persuade them to choose an alternative to what we have.”
The United States “cannot have four more years of this president and the kind of damage that he’s done to American institutions. We have other choices,” Vindman said. “And frankly, it’s a binary choice. It’s one or the other. We can’t sit out on the fence.”
Thus, Vindman vowed to vote for former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, though he did not mention Biden by name.
“The choice for me is clear,” Vindman said. “I’m going to be voting for the other guy.”