Republican politicians and cable news "experts" have a new talking point about President Trump’s Ukraine scandal: If you weren’t born in the U.S., the government shouldn’t trust your testimony.
On Tuesday, White House official Alexander Vindman will tell a House committee that he was present for Trump’s now infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and that he considered it so harmful to U.S. interests he twice reported the call to a superior.
Vindman, a lieutenant colonel and Purple Heart recipient who is the National Security Council’s expert on Ukraine, noted in his opening statement that he'd fled to the U.S. with his family from Ukraine as a refugee when he was 3 years old.
The GOP now wants to use that fact to discredit Vindman’s testimony.
"It seems very clear that he is incredibly concerned about Ukrainian defense. I don't know that he's concerned about American policy,” former Rep. Sean Duffy, a Tea Party Republican from Wisconsin, said on CNN this morning.
(Duffy, a paid political commentator for CNN, is also a known conspiracy theorist, who has tried to downplay Dylann Roof’s murder of nine black churchgoers in 2015, and previously claimed that an aide to Hillary Clinton has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.)
“We all have an affinity to our homeland where we came from,” Duffy said of Vindman. “He has an affinity for the Ukraine."
And on Monday night, Fox News host Laura Ingraham suggested that Vindman is too friendly with Ukrainian officials, who she says “sought advice from him about how to deal with [Rudy] Giuliani.”
One of Ingraham’s guests, John Yoo — who worked for George W. Bush’s Justice Department and penned a memo justifying the use of torture — chimed in, “Some people might call that espionage.”
Fox News host and Trump favorite Brian Kilmeade also suggested on air Tuesday morning that Vindman has little allegiance to the U.S.
"We also know he was born in the Soviet Union, emigrated with his family. Young. He tends to feel simpatico with the Ukraine," Kilmeade said.
According to a copy of Vindman’s testimony obtained by the New York Times, Vindman plans to tell members of the House that Trump’s July call with Zelensky — in which the U.S. president tried to strongarm Zelensky into opening a corruption investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter — alarmed him.
“I did convey certain concerns internally to national security officials in accordance with my decades of experience and training, sense of duty, and obligation to operate within the chain of command,” Vindman will testify on Tuesday.
Trump, as he is wont to do, weighed in on Vindman’s testimony on Twitter.
“Why are people that I never even heard of testifying about the call. Just READ THE CALL TRANSCRIPT AND THE IMPEACHMENT HOAX IS OVER! Ukrain [sic] said NO PRESSURE,” Trump wrote.
Cover: Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director of European affairs at the National Security Council, arrives at the Capitol for his deposition as part of the House's impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)