Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director for European Affairs at the National Security Council, arrives in uniform to testify at the U.S. Capitol.

With Accusations of Espionage, Fox News Hosts Are Sinking to New Lows to Smear Impeachment Witnesses

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Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, who is the White House’s top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, is speaking to Congress today to add his testimony to the ongoing impeachment hearings. According to his opening statement (via the New York Times), Vindman says he is not the original whistleblower who spoke out about the troubling phone call between Donald Trump and the Ukranian president, but he was listening in on that call and he too was so concerned about what was said that he reported his objections to his superiors two times.

Obviously, this is making Republicans and conservative pundits panic, since one of their biggest defenses has been that the whistleblower wasn’t on that call, so how did they know what was said, who was leaking them information, and how do we know they’re not some sort of spy?

So how are those same people reacting to Vindman’s testimony? By calling him a spy, too.

On her show Monday night, Laura Ingraham spoke to former Justice Department official John Yoo and law professor/Jeffrey Epstein’s former lawyer Alan Dershowitz about how weird it is (it’s not weird at all) that Vindman was allowed to do his job given the fact that he is an immigrant.

Ingraham says she found this “buried” in the New York Times article:

Because he emigrated from Ukraine along with his family when he was a child and is fluent in Ukrainian and Russian, Ukrainian officials sought advice from him about how to deal with Mr. Giuliani, though they typically communicated in English.

“Now, wait a second, John,” Ingraham said, laughing incredulously as Yoo shook his head. “Here we have a U.S. national security official who is advising Ukraine, while working inside the White House, apparently against the president’s interest, and usually, they spoke in English. Isn’t that kind of an interesting angle on this story??”

Yoo said he found it “astounding,” adding, “You know, some people might call that espionage.”

Yoo and Ingraham have been rightly torn apart for those comments. CNN’s John Berman called their insinuation “disgusting,” while former Defense Department and CIA chief of staff Jeremy Bash told MSNBC’s Brian Williams it was “absolutely despicable.”

But Ingraham and Yoo weren’t the only ones to make these accusations against Vindman, a decorated Iraq war veteran.

Fox & Friends’ Brian Kilmeade said Vindman “tends to feel simpatico with the Ukraine”–a statement based on nothing.

Former Congressman and host of The Real World Sean Duffy went on CNN to imply that Vindman put Ukranian interests above the U.S. because “we all have an affinity to our homeland where we came from.”

Trump is also attacking Vindman’s credibility, though he’s stopping short of calling him a traitor (so far) and just labeling him a “never Trumper”–another statement based in absolutely nothing.

These attacks are already backfiring. Republican Rep. Liz Cheney said at a press conference today that questioning Vindman’s patriotism is “shameful.” Even the ultra-rightwing Washington Examiner wrote today, “It shouldn’t have to be said, but Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council officer testifying in the House impeachment proceeding, is a great American patriot. He is not a Ukrainian agent.”

If there’s a line too despicable to cross, it’s good to remember Fox News hosts are always there to find it.

(image: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.