Former Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key witness in the first impeachment of former President Donald Trump in 2019, has filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani, and two former White House staffers, alleging that they engaged in witness intimidation against him.
Citing the Ku Klux Klan Act – a 19th century law that bars threats or intimidation toward government officials who are carrying out their constitutional duties – Vindman alleged that the group of Trump allies engaged in a conspiracy of witness tampering against him over his testimony in the 2019 impeachment proceedings; in his testimony, Vindman discussed the former president’s attempts to compel Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to find him political dirt on Joe Biden a year ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
“It has always been fair game to criticize public figures,” Vindman wrote in an op-ed for USA Today following the submission of his lawsuit. “But what happened to me was something different. I was attacked in a way calculated to inflict maximum personal and professional damage likely in order to prevent me from testifying or to punish me for doing so. In this country, that violates the law.”
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At the time of his testimony, Vindman was director for European Affairs at the National Security Council. At least twice, he raised concerns to his superiors about Trump’s intimidation of Zelensky in the July 2019 call.
Vindman alleges that the Trump operatives named in his lawsuit retaliated against him by temporarily blocking his promotion in the Army, and by removing him and his brother from White House positions.
There was “an intentional, concerted campaign of unlawful intimidation and retaliation” against him, the lawsuit alleges.
“This campaign of intimidation and retaliation has had severe and deeply personal ramifications for Lt. Col. Vindman,” the lawsuit goes on. “It also left a stain on our democracy.”
Although Donald Trump Sr. is not named in the suit, the former president did engage in what could be considered retaliatory action against Vindman. In the fall of 2019, around the time Vindman gave his testimony, Trump told the press that he would share damaging information that revealed the former Army official was acting in a partisan manner when he decided to speak to impeachment investigators.
However, Trump never followed through on his threat and it’s unclear if such evidence even exists.
Rather, Vindman explained during his testimony that he decided to speak out about Trump’s attempted quid pro quo with Ukraine because the former president’s actions could “undermine U.S. national security.”
“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine,” Vindman said during his deposition more than two years ago. “I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma (the energy company) it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play, which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained.”