Accuracy in Media

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman must be telling the truth and President Donald Trump must be lying about Ukraine policy because Vindman is a decorated combat veteran who wore his uniform to the secret congressional hearing where he testified against the president, according to the mainstream media.

Vindman “has left Donald Trump and his allies in a difficult position,” wrote Steve Benen of MSNBC in “Trump takes aim at war hero on his own White House team.”

His opening statement “painted a highly unflattering portrait” of the president, Benen wrote. And “complicating matters, Vindman is a difficult witness to dismiss: He’s a current White House official with direct, first-hand information about what transpired – he was, for example, on the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky – and has the credibility that comes from being a decorated American combat veteran.”

First-hand information about what transpired does not carry its usual value because President Trump released a transcript of the conversation.

Vindman claimed he tried to get edits made to the transcript because he thought it did not fully capture the conversation. But officials who outrank him, including Tim Morrison, the National Security Council’s senior director for European Affairs, said he had no issues with the transcript as released by the president and “was not concerned about anything illegal that was discussed during the Trump-Zelensky phone call but has had issues with Vindman in the past.

And Jim Hickman, a retired lieutenant colonel who served with then-Major Vindman during military exercises with Russia in Germany, said he had to discipline Vindman then for inappropriate and partisan behavior.

Hickman’s account, relayed in a series of tweets, said Vindman “was sitting in one of the classrooms [where the military simulated exercises were taking place] talking to the U.S. and Russian soldiers, as well as the young Officers & GS employees about America, Russia & Obama. He was apologetic of American culture, laughed about Americans not being educated or worldly & really talked up Obama & globalism to the point of being uncomfortable.

“He would speak w/ the Russian soldiers & laugh as if at the expense of the US personnel. It was so uncomfortable & unprofessional one of the GS employees came & told me everything above. I walked over & sat w/in earshot of Vindman, & sure enough, all was confirmed. One comment truly struck me as odd, & it was w/respect to Americans’ falsely thinking they’re exceptional, when he said, “He [Obama] is working on that now.’ And he said it w/a snide ‘I know a secret’ look on his face.

“I honestly don’t know what it meant, it just sounded like an odd thing to say. Regardless, after hearing him bash America a few times in front of subordinates, Russians, & GS employees, as well as, hearing an earful about globalization, Obama’s plan, etc., I’d had enough. I tapped him on the shoulder & asked him to step outside. At that point, I verbally reprimanded him for his actions, & I’ll leave it at that so as not to be unprofessional myself.

“The bottom line is LTC Vindman was a partisan Democrat at least as far back as 2012. So much so, junior officers, soldiers felt uncomfortable around him. This is not your professional field-grade officer, who has the character & integrity to do the right thing. Do not let the uniform fool you … he is a political activist in uniform.”

None of this found its way into the MSNBC story. Instead, Benen says Vindman not only has testified in secret, but he has also expressed interest in testifying in public, and “it’s against this backdrop that the president’s rhetoric starts to resemble possible attempts at witness intimidation.

“What’s more, Trump also appears to be sending a public signal to others who may have information to share with Congress: If the White House is willing to go after Vindman, the White House will come after you next.”  

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