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Impeachment witness Alexander Vindman calls Trump a 'useful idiot' and 'fellow traveler' of Putin

 Former national security official Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman called President Donald Trump a ‘useful idiot’ for Vladimir Putin in his first interview since serving as a star impeachment witness.

Vindman, who testified in Congress about Trump’s infamous call with the president of Ukraine, spoke about his time on the Trump national security council as a Ukraine expert.   

‘President Trump should be considered to be a useful idiot and a fellow traveler, which makes him an unwitting agent of Putin,’ Vindman told the Atlantic.

Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, former director for European Affairs at the National Security Council, said in an interview President Trump 'should be considered to be a useful idiot and a fellow traveler' for Russia's Vladimir Putin

Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, former director for European Affairs at the National Security Council, said in an interview President Trump ‘should be considered to be a useful idiot and a fellow traveler’ for Russia’s Vladimir Putin

He describes Trump as an ‘admirer’ of the Russian strongman – and says Putin is able to have a hold over Trump even without the presence of any ‘dirt’ as leverage. 

‘They may or may not have dirt on him, but they don’t have to use it,’ he told the magazine. ‘They have more effective and less risky ways to employ him. He has aspirations to be the kind of leader that Putin is, and so he admires him. He likes authoritarian strongmen who act with impunity, without checks and balances. So he’ll try to please Putin,’ he said.

He colorfully described it as ‘free chicken.’ 

Vindman called Trump a 'fellow traveler' of Russian President Vladmir Putin

Vindman called Trump a ‘fellow traveler’ of Russian President Vladmir Putin

The former NSC expert said Russia 'may or may not' have leverage over the president

The former NSC expert said Russia ‘may or may not’ have leverage over the president

Vindman retired this summer and says the events began by the Ukraine call kept cost him his chance of being promoted to full colonel

Vindman retired this summer and says the events began by the Ukraine call kept cost him his chance of being promoted to full colonel

‘In the Army we call this ‘free chicken,’ something you don’t have to work for—it just comes to you. This is what the Russians have in Trump: free chicken,’ he said. 

Vindman was escorted from the White House in February, weeks after the impeachment saga ended, and was removed from his NSC post. 

He made the comments to interviewer Jeffrey Goldberg, who produced this month’s bombshell report citing unnamed officials that Trump had called fallen U.S. troops ‘suckers’ and ‘losers.’

Trump defended Vindman’s firing at the time, tweeting that he was ‘very insubordinate, reported contents of my ‘perfect’ calls incorrectly, &. was given a horrendous report by his superior, the man he reported to, who publicly stated that Vindman had problems with judgement, adhering to the chain of command and leaking information. In other words, ‘OUT.’

Vindman’s lawyer countered that Trump’s statements ‘conflict with the clear personnel record and the entirety of the impeachment record of which the President is well aware.’ 

Vindman says of Trump: ‘The president destroyed my Army career.’

He added: ‘I’m not crying over spilled milk. I have other things to do’ but says the episode prompted him to miss a chance to get promoted to full colonel.

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