The wife of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key witness in Trump’s impeachment, spoke out for the first time Friday, accusing the president of putting their family in danger and stoking white nationalism in the United States.
In an interview with CNN, Rachel Vindman said that Trump destroyed her husband’s career after he testified about what he heard Trump say during a phonecall with Ukranian leader Volodymyr Zelensky in July 2019.
She also claimed that the US would descend into total authoritarianism if Trump is re-elected.
The interview came hours after she and her husband were featured in a new anti-Trump ad from the conservative Lincoln Project.
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Rachel Vindman said in an interview with CNN on Friday that Trump destroyed her husband Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s career after he testified about what he heard Trump say during a phonecall with Ukranian leader Volodymyr Zelensky in July 2019
Rachel told CNN’s Brianna Keilar that she felt Trump’s obsession with talking about her husband, even after he was cleared in his impeachment trial, ‘continued to put us in danger’.
‘He just continually put Alex’s name put there,’ she said.
‘He seemed to be a little bit obsessed with it and he would continually comment on Vindman and I think, by constantly saying his name, by telegraphing it to his supporters, that he continued to put us in danger.’
She also accused Trump of ending Vindman’s 21-year military career by ensuring that he would not be promoted after his testimony, and by ensuring his ‘enablers’ knew that he didn’t want him around.
Vindman, who provided damning impeachment evidence the president, retired from the US Army in July after being subjected to a campaign of ‘bullying, intimidation and retaliation’, his attorney said at the time.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman gave damning evidence that lead to Trump’s impeachment
Rachel Vindman claimed that Trump, pictured, will become ‘full authoritarian’ in re-elected
The 45-year-old was fired from his position on the National Security Council at the White House in February, two days after Trump was acquitted by the Republican-majority Senate.
He was up for promotion to full colonel, but his attorney, David Pressman, said in a statement that would clearly not be forthcoming.
‘I think he [Trump] also ended Alex’s military career,’ his wife said Friday.
‘Whether he directly asked that Alex not be promoted, that’s probably not the case, but his enablers and the people around him knew that he would never find it acceptable if Alex were permitted to be promoted and have a normal career,’ she added.
Rachel and Alex Vindman pictured with their daughter in front of the White House
‘With or without the president asking for it, they decided to deliver to him, which is exactly what happens in authoritarian governments.’
Rachel accused Trump further of authoritarianism, but claimed that she believed that was not what the country really wanted.
‘We’re choosing to be a country that celebrates white nationalists, that we’re a country that celebrates division and is ok with it, and I don’t believe that’s who the United States is,’ she said
‘I don’t think that’s what the people want and I think we’re seeing that.
‘Four more years is kind of full authoritarian, I think that’s what we’re going to see,’ she added of Trump’s potential reelection.
‘Not authoritarianism light, I think people giving up their rights, I’m not sure why, giving up their rights and freedom.’
She added that she also ‘feels sorry’ for Trump as ‘he can’t understand the beauty of service to others, of serving something more than himself’.
‘It is the privilege of my lifetime to be married to a military servicemember,’ Rachel said.
‘I will always be proud to be an American and I will always be proud to have been able to serve beside him.
‘Obviously we have friends who husbands have made the ultimate sacrifice and to not understand why someone would do that, I feel sorry for him, that he can’t understand that.’
The couple also featured in a new anti-Trump campaign ad from the Lincoln Project
The couple speak about the fallout from Vindman’s testimony in the campaign ad
Earlier on Friday, both Rachel and Alex Vindman featured in a campaign ad by The Lincoln Project and VoteVets.
In the video, she claimed that, following his testimony, untrue stories began to spread on social media regarding emigration conspiracies about her Ukraine-born husband.
She accused Trump of amplifying these claims and revealed that they had begun to receive threats on Twitter and mail threats as a result.
‘The most powerful man in the world came after our family,’ Rachel said in the ad. ‘What happened to us can happen to anyone.’
She added that she expects people to criticize them after the ad but that she felt it was important to encourage people not to vote for Trump.
‘I just refuse to be bullied,’ she said. ‘I don’t look as young as I used to or as skinny as I used to and know putting my face out there and everything, people will make those comments.
‘Doing the right thing is always worth it,’ she concludes.
Vindman was fired from his position on the National Security Council at the White House in February, two days after Trump was acquitted by the Republican-majority Senate. He is pictured here in November 2019 giving his testimony on the phone call
National Security Council Ukraine expert Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman as he testified during the House Intelligence Committee hearing into President Donald Trump’s alleged efforts to tie US aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents
Vindman was present during the July 25, 2019, phone call during which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open an investigation into Biden.
Subpoenaed by Congress to testify at the House impeachment hearings, Vindman, who received a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in Iraq, said Trump’s actions were ‘improper.’
That testimony helped build the case leading to Trump becoming only the third president ever impeached by Congress.
Vindman’s twin brother, a lawyer on the National Security Council, was not called to publicly testify but was also forced out of his White House position in February.
On his retirement, Vindman wrote a scathing op-ed that accused Trump of forcing him out.
‘At no point in my career or life have I felt our nation’s values under greater threat and in more peril than at this moment,’ said the Ukrainian-born lieutenant colonel.
‘Our national government during the past few years has been more reminiscent of the authoritarian regime my family fled more than 40 years ago than the country I have devoted my life to serving.’