A former Trump administration adviser tweeted Saturday that U.S. Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman should be court-martialed for testifying against President Donald Trump.
“To protect the military from being seen as political, Vindman must be court-martialed for speaking contemptuously of the President and violating the chain of command,” former adviser Christian Whiton of the Center for the National Interest wrote. “The law isn’t optional just because an officer hates his commander in chief.”
To protect the military from being seen as political, Vindman must be court martialed for speaking contemptuously of the President and violating the chain of command. The law isn’t optional just because an officer hates his commander in chief.
— Christian Whiton (@ChristianWhiton) January 25, 2020
He’s not the only one who’s expressed this opinion.
Vindman was insubordinate, ignored chain of command, leaked, and lied to Congress about not knowing who the whistleblower is, when he clearly knows because he was the whistleblower’s primary source.
He deserves to be court-martialied under the UCMJ.
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) November 19, 2019
Vindman is an active duty Army officer. Court-martial under UCMJ Acticle 131 https://t.co/7KCkn7OP4M
— Jack Posobiec?? (@JackPosobiec) November 19, 2019
When will #Vindman be court martialed? Any other service man would have already been charged found guilty and serving time! #TwoTieredJustice one for liberal hacks and one for the rest of us! #FakeImpeachment
— Grace Vasquez (@itsYourGrace) January 24, 2020
Nor was the tweet posted by Whiton on Saturday the first example of him pushing for Vindman’s potential court-martial.
Speaking with Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs last November, he argued that Vindman’s behavior was a violation of military rules.
“You see Vindman, this bureaucrat who poured himself into an Army outfit to go and frankly speak contemptuous things against the commander-in-chief, incidentally, a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” he said.
“If you did that as a private in the Army you would get court-martialed. I guess if you’re, you know, a never-Trump bureaucrat deep state crybaby you get away with it.”
Listen (disable your adblocker if the video doesn’t appear):
(Source: Fox Business Network)
Could the “super patriot” actually be court-martialed, though? The answer is highly complicated and extremely murky, meaning there is, in fact, no clear-cut answer.
Starting with the basics, when Vindman testified before Congress last year, he did so in violation of an order reportedly issued from up top.
“When Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman appeared before members of Congress on Tuesday to discuss what he knew about President Trump’s conversations with Ukraine’s president, he was violating an order from his commander in chief not to cooperate with the House’s impeachment inquiry,” the Military Times confirmed last October.
But he could potentially be “protected” from any negative repercussions for his decision “to rebel against his White House chain-of-command.” It just depends.
“It comes down to whether Trump’s order was lawful. … If Trump was trying to prevent Vindman from sharing sensitive information, it could be. If he was trying to prevent testimony, period, it’s not,” the Times further noted.
“The Military Whistleblower Protection Act prohibits government officials from interfering with a member of the military in communicating with Congress or an inspector general. Adding to the complexity is that the president gets to determine what is and isn’t classified.”
But was he really a whistleblower? He bypassed the normal chain of command practiced by all military soldiers, including even whistleblowers. He admitted as much while testifying last year.
“In your deposition, you emphasize the importance of chain of command. You were a direct report to Dr. Fiona Hill and then Mr. Tim Morrison and they were your seniors, correct?” Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup asked him at the time.
“That is correct,” Vindman replied.
“When you had concerns about the 7/25 call between the two presidents, you didn’t go to Mr. Morrison about that, did you?” Wenstrup pressed.
“I immediately went to John Eisenberg, the [National Security Council’s] lead legal counsel,” the “super patriot” admitted.
“That doesn’t seem like chain of command,” Wenstrup replied.
Vindman claimed that he followed the chain of command in reporting July 25 call.
To Vindman, a direct report was to Tim Morrison.
Vindman excluded Morrison from his reporting, choosing instead to speak to his lawyer outside of chain.
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) November 19, 2019
Speaking with Fox News host Laura Ingraham last Thursday, Sen. Marsha Blackburn noted that both his commanders and his peers have had complaints about his behavior.
“You look at what his commanders said — he has a problem with his judgment,” she said. “That’s been pointed out. He had one commander who said he is a political activist in uniform. He has had problems with going outside of his chain of command, which is what he did here.”
“I talk to a lot of military members on a regular basis. They have a real problem with some of the things and the manner in which he conducted himself in this matter.”
The American people deserve the truth on the “whistleblower,” Vindman and how this impeachment got started. pic.twitter.com/halfuwJYbV
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) January 24, 2020
The Department of Defense has for its part pledged to protect Vindman.
In a statement to Senate Minority leader Charles Schumer issued last month, the department pledged that it “will not tolerate any act of retaliation or reprisal” against Vindman.
It’s not clear whether attempting to hold the “super patriot” accountable for his alleged breach of basic military rules would necessarily constitute “retaliation or reprisal.”