Ruth Conniff

Ron Johnson Attacks Vindman, Defends Trump

“I was the only member of Congress joining” delegation to Ukraine, he notes.

By , Wisconsin Examiner - Nov 20th, 2019 11:50 am
Ron Johnson

Ron Johnson

In a letter to House Republicans on Monday, Wisconsin’s U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson evoked Hillary Clinton’s emails and questioned the loyalty of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.

Johnson, a Republican, addressed the letter to Reps Jim Jordan of Ohio and and Devin Nunes of California, who had requested “any firsthand information … about President Trump’s actions toward Ukraine.”

Johnson, chairman of the European subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations panel, began by condemning the impeachment inquiry as a politically motivated attack on Donald Trump, and then touched on a series of discredited theories, including “the FBI’s investigation and exoneration of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, combined with Fusion GPS’ solicitation and dissemination of the Steele dossier — and the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation based on that dossier [which] laid the groundwork for future sabotage.”

“As a result,” He wrote, “my first-hand knowledge and involvement in this saga began with the revelation that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton kept a private email server.”

As for Johnson’s specific knowledge of Trump administration policy in Ukraine, he wrote: “I was the only member of Congress joining the executive branch’s inaugural delegation led by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Special Envoy Kurt Volker, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, representing the National Security Council,” for the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

As part of the U.S. delegation that met with Zelensky, Johnson has a strong memory of an incident involving Vindman that he described in the letter:

“I had just finished making the point that supporting Ukraine was essential because it was ground zero in our geopolitical competition with Russia. I was surprised when Vindman responded to my point. He stated that it was the position of the NSC that our relationship with Ukraine should be kept separate from our geopolitical competition with Russia. My blunt response was, ‘How in the world is that even possible?’

“I do not know if Vindman accurately stated the NSC’s position, whether President Trump shared that viewpoint, or whether Vindman was really just expressing his own view,” Johnson continued. “I raise this point because I believe that a significant number of bureaucrats and staff members within the executive branch have never accepted President Trump as legitimate and resent his unorthodox style and his intrusion onto their ‘turf.’ They react by leaking to the press and participating in the ongoing effort to sabotage his policies and, if possible, remove him from office. It is entirely possible that Vindman fits this profile.”

Johnson’s statement, coming just before Vindman gave public testimony Tuesday in the House impeachment inquiry, gave Trump’s defenders on the House Intelligence Committee ammunition to attack Vindman, whom they tried to portray as having questionable allegiances and failing to respect the “chain of command.”

Nunes pressured Vindman to reveal a national security source he had spoken with about Trump’s phone call with Zelensky, and suggested that if Vindman didn’t want to reveal the name he might want to invoke the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination (Vindman’s lawyer objected that this was unnecessary.)

Republicans have repeatedly impugned Vindman’s integrity and suggested that, having immigrated to the United States from Ukraine as a toddler, he might be more loyal to his birth country.

During the hearing, when Nunes referred to him as “Mr. Vindman,” Vindman replied, “Ranking member, it’s Lt. Col Vindman, please.”

Vindman told the committee that he drafted talking points for Trump ahead of the president’s April phone call with Zelensky, including a section on Ukrainian corruption. “Those were the recommended talking points that were cleared through the NSC staff for the president,” Vindman said. But a White House transcript of the call shows that Trump did not talk to Zelensky about corruption.

“Vindman testified that an ‘alternative narrative’ pushed by the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was ‘inconsistent with the consensus views of the relevant federal agencies and was ‘undermining the consensus policy,’ Johnson wrote in his letter.

“Vindman’s [closed-door] testimony, together with other witnesses’ use of similar terms such as ‘our policy,’ ‘stated policy’ and ‘long-standing policy’ lend further credence to the point I’m making” Johnson continued. “Whether you agree with President Trump or not, it should be acknowledged that the Constitution vests the power of conducting foreign policy with the duly elected president. American foreign policy is what the president determines it to be, not what the ‘consensus’ of unelected foreign policy bureaucrats wants it to be.”

In his closing statement Tuesday, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) praised Vindman and condemned the president and his supporters for questioning his loyalty. Schiff decried the “failed effort to bribe Ukraine” by President Trump, by demanding that the country investigate Joe Biden even as U.S. military aid was being held up.

That demand, he pointed out, was contrary to U.S. anti-corruption efforts in the country.

“My colleagues have tried to make the argument here today that the president was just trying to fight corruption … the evidence all points in the other direction,” Schiff said. “The president was inviting Ukraine to engage in a corrupt action.”

Reprinted with permission of Wisconsin Examiner

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4 thoughts on “Ron Johnson Attacks Vindman, Defends Trump”

  1. jayoak says:

    Oh Ronnie you drank a triple portion of the kool-aid .

  2. Barb- West Bend says:

    IMHO: Defending the indefensible, attacking a military officer for his sworn testimony, is a sign of a mind devoid of a moral conscience.

  3. mkwagner says:

    Senator, you are an embarrassment. You complain the impeachment inquiry is politically motivated and then cite discredited, politically motivated Republican investigations against Democrats. What I truly find incomprehensible is your continued support for Trump in spite of everything Trump has done to promote Russian interests over those of the US. The latest has been the sudden withdrawal of US troops from Syria, which left Russia as the major power in that region. If Trump was really unorthodox, should we not be seeing some positive results? Yet, Wisconsin farmers suffer under the trade war with China. Our allies no longer trust us. Most embarrassing, Trump was publicly laughed at the last time he spoke at the UN General Assembly. What Trump has done in 3 terrible years is to diminish the standing of the US in the world while promoting Russian standing. In my book that is treason.

  4. says:

    Ron- Ron- Ron, give the Hillary Clinton email thing a rest. Do you realize how many hundreds of emails on private servers Trump and his family have sent on national/international business? Can we lock them up yet?!

    How long are you going to keep your head in the sand with this Ukraine business? Perhaps we can include you as part of the corruption trial. This has nothing to do whether people like or don’t like Trump–it is all about corruption, lies and the threat to our national security. Come up with an alternative for the Republican party and we can get rid of this joker.

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