UPDATE, 6:48 AM: MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace and CNN’s Jake Tapper are among the anchors who called out attacks on the loyalty of Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the decorated Purple Heart recipient who testified in the impeachment inquiry.
After playing a clip of Fox News host Laura Ingraham and her two guests, John Yoo and Alan Dershowitz, Wallace called them “chickenshit,” noting that Vindman “passed a background check that the president’s daughter and son-in-law didn’t.”
Tapper and other CNN anchors blasted some of the remarks of Sean Duffy, the former congressman and MTV’s Real World star who recently became a CNN special contributor. Earlier on Tuesday, Duffy suggested that Vindman was more concerned about Ukrainian defense than U.S. interests. Tapper said that Duffy “smeared” Vindman.
Vindman testified for 10 hours on Tuesday. In his opening statement, he said that he was concerned over what President Donald Trump told the president of Ukraine in a July 25 phone call, including when the president urged an investigation of Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
PREVIOUSLY, 9:46 AM, Oct. 29: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), a member of the Republican leadership in the House, said that the attacks on the patriotism of a key impeachment inquiry witness were “shameful,” after media figures like Fox News host Laura Ingraham and CNN commentator Sean Duffy questioned his motivations.
The witness, Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukrainian expert on the National Security Council, testified behind closed doors on Tuesday that he was concerned over President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine. Trump asked for an investigation of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who was a board member of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma.
“I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained,” he said, according to a release of his opening statement. He was among the U.S. officials who listened in on the call, a common practice when a president talks to a foreign leader.
As word of his testimony began to leak out on Monday night, Laura Ingraham, host of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, noted that Vindman emigrated from Ukraine when he was a child and is fluent in that country’s language and Russian.
The Ukrainians, Ingraham said, sought advice from Vindman on how to deal with Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney who was also conducting a shadow diplomacy.
“Here we have a U.S. national-security official who is advising Ukraine while working inside the Ukraine, apparently against the president’s interest, and usually they spoke in English. Isn’t that kind of an interesting angle to this story?” Ingraham said on her show.
On CNN, Sean Duffy, a CNN commentator and former congressman, said in a segment on Tuesday, “It seems very clear that he is incredibly concerned about Ukrainian defense. I don’t know that he’s concerned about American policy.”
Host John Berman then compared his comments to those made by Ingraham. He called Duffy’s comment “stunning” in that the first thing he brought up was Vindman’s Ukrainian heritage.
In her comments to reporters, Cheney said that while she found the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry “shameful,” she also warned against questioning the patriotism of figures like Vindman, who is a Purple Heart recipient and Iraqi war veteran.
“I also want to say a word about something else that has been going on over the course of the last several hours and last night, which I think is also shameful,” she said.
“That is questioning the patriotism, questioning the dedication to country, of people like Mr. Vindman, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, who will be coming today, and others who have testified. I think that we need to show that we are better than that as a nation.”
“We are talking about decorated veterans who have served this nation, who have put their lives on the line. And it is shameful to question their patriotism, their love of this nation, and we should not be involved in that process.”
Trump also questioned Vindman’s motivations. He wrote on Twitter, “Supposedly, according to the Corrupt Media, the Ukraine call “concerned” today’s Never Trumper witness. Was he on the same call that I was? Can’t be possible! Please ask him to read the Transcript of the call. Witch Hunt!” “Never Trumpers” refer to conservatives who have opposed Trump’s presidency, but there is no evidence that is Vindman’s affiliation.
Vindman arrived for his testimony around 10 a.m. on Tuesday in uniform.
Later on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also weighed in, telling reporters, “I am not going to question the patriotism of any of the people coming forward.”
And on her show, CNN’s Brianna Keilar called out Duffy’s remarks, saying it was “anti-immigrant bigotry and it is an odd questioning of patriotism” coming from someone “who spent part of his 20s on MTV’s The Real World and The Real World/Road Rules Challenge while Alexander Vindman spent his on foreign deployments, including one to Iraq.”