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Republicans try to smear Alexander Vindman with dual loyalty attack

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During Tuesday’s impeachment hearings, Republican lawmakers suggested that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, had dual loyalty to Ukraine. 

Vindman, an Iraq War veteran who was awarded a purple heart after being wounded there, testified that Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate his political opponents was “improper.” He told Congress that he recognized “without hesitation” that he had to report Trump’s request after he heard the president make it on a July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.  

Steve Castor, the Republicans’ counsel, during his questioning alluded to a baseless allegation that Vindman could have dual loyalty to Ukraine.

“You went to Ukraine for the inauguration?” Castor asked, referring to Zelensky’s inauguration earlier this year.

“Correct,” Vindman said.

“At any point, did Mr. Danylyuk offer you a position of defense minister for the Ukrainian government?” Castor asked, referring to Oleksandr Danylyuk, Ukraine’s former national security chief.

“Yes,” Vindman said.

“And how many times did he do that?” Castor pressed.

“I believe it was three times,” Vindman said.

“Do you have any reason why he asked you to do that?” Castor asked.

“I don’t know, but every single time, I dismissed it,” Vindman replied. “Upon returning, I notified my chain of command and the appropriate counterintelligence folks about this offer.”

Trump has attacked Vindman, who was born in Ukraine when it was still part of the former Soviet Union, fled with his family to come to the US when he was a toddler.

 

Some critics accused Republicans of making anti-Semitic attacks on Vindman. Jews have for generations been targeted by the accusation — seized on prominently by the Nazis — that they’re loyal to their religion over the country where they have citizenship.  

“Castor’s line of questioning implying that Vindman is potentially more loyal to Ukraine than to the United States is anti-Semitic,” Julia Ioffe, a national security reporter at GQ, tweeted. “Full stop.”

A host of conservatives and right-wing media outlets have suggested the Vindman might secretly be working for Ukraine, rather than the United States. 

 

Sonam Sheth contributed to this report. 

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