‘Our citizens are being subjected to the same kinds of attacks tyrants launch against their critics and political opponents’
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key impeachment witness against President Trump, wrote a scathing op-ed Saturday calling the Trump administration reminiscent of an “authoritarian regime” on the first day of his retirement from the Army.
“At no point in my career or life have I felt our nation’s values under greater threat and in more peril than at this moment. Our national government during the past few years has been more reminiscent of the authoritarian regime my family fled more than 40 years ago than the country I have devoted my life to serving,” Vindman wrote, referring to Ukraine, where he was born.
Vindman chose to leave the military after 21 years because of a “campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation” he said Trump and his allies waged on him that “forever limited the progression” of his military career in the wake of his impeachment testimony for the House of Representatives.
“Our citizens are being subjected to the same kinds of attacks tyrants launch against their critics and political opponents,” he said of the administration. “Those who choose loyalty to American values and allegiance to the Constitution over devotion to a mendacious president and his enablers are punished.”
He also said Trump “recklessly downplayed” the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last fall, Vindman testified in the House’s impeachment hearings that he had raised concerns over Trump’s July 2019 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump asked him to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.
Vindman was fired from his position at the National Security Council days after Trump was acquitted in February and escorted from the White House grounds. His twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, also was removed from the NSC.
Trump said Vindman had been “very insubordinate” and had reported the president’s “perfect” phone call “incorrectly.”
Earlier this month, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who lost both of her legs in combat, said “Lt. Col. Vindman’s decision to retire puts the spotlight on Secretary of Defense Mark Esper’s failure to protect a decorated combat veteran against a vindictive commander in chief,” Politico reported.
After Vindman’s op-ed was published, some reacted by calling him a patriot while others defended the president.
“Thank you, Lt. Col. Vindman. For reminding us that here, right matters. And that even with a president with no regard for the Constitution or anything beyond himself, The strength [of] our democracy is the character and commitment of citizens like you,” Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, former House impeachment manager, tweeted.
Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, however, said Vindman was “no martyr. He lied under oath about not knowing who the whistleblower was.”
Vindman concluded in his op-ed, “Despite some personal turmoil, I remain hopeful for the future for both my family and for our nation.” He said after his retirement, he will continue to “defend” the country.
“I…believe in the American Dream,” he wrote. “I believe that in America, right matters. I want to help ensure that right matters for all Americans.”
Vindman is a veteran of the Iraq War and a Purple Heart recipient.
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.